SEO Part 1: Perfecting SEO, Technically

SEO Part 1

Getting technical SEO right may not be for the fainthearted, especially if you are not a geek and HTML is alien to you. On the other hand, SEO may just mean keywords to you because that’s what search engine pick out. In this blog, we try to simplify it as much as possible for you and not scare you off with too much geekish jargon – we promise. But first, let’s introduce our search engines robots.

Search engines use a crawler[1] to browse every page on the internet. As it crawls through the content (relevant text and pictures) on the web, it picks them out and indexes them. Search engines rank results based on an algorithm[2] that factors keywords, popularity, links, speed.

SEO is doing things that get the crawler to take note of your website and fetch it, even technically.

1) Site/Information Architecture.

A site architecture comes before writing the web pages. There are different ways in which you can structure your information. Bottom line however is that there is a hierarchy. If you are a raw organic restaurant, here are some examples you can structure your webpage for users, depending on what you offer.

What do you think IKEA’s website structure would look like? Try practising using IKEA.

If your website is Amazon, it could even look like this! – Just saying. Anyway, thanks to draw.io for the chart!

Your site structure should be logical and users (crawlerbots and especially humans) greatly enhance their experience. It’s like visiting a beautiful home and knowing immediately where the kitchen, the bedrooms, the dining area, the bathrooms are. It should make the reader want to stay and return and these repeat visits send signals for the search engine to rank it higher. You’ve optimised your site – organically! However, your site would need some introduction. Simply do a keyword research to source for words with high traffic for your homepage (most importantly) and the pages closer to the homepage (in other words, those higher up in the hierarchy). This would enable the crawlerbot to index* your page as relevant.

SEO Hack: Search crawlers have a limit (officially known as budget) to the percentage of webpages it crawls. Hence, placing your keywords in areas for it to catch in your more important pages (usually those at the top of your hierarchy) could improve your chances.

*Index: The process of compiling all the relevant words it sees and their location on each page.

2) Internal Linking

After you have built your information architecture, you now want to link your pages to each other. Let’s use the organic restaurant as an example and you want to add a link on “who we are” to “write to us!” so people can go immediately to “write to us!” without returning to a mainpage (psst – idea is that fewer clicks the higher the chances on the algorithm), then you will have to include a link in your webpage.

To add a link, you can insert it in an anchor text. A link looks like this on your HTML 5 document. It starts with a href:

<a href=”/raw-cakes/“>Whole Raw Cakes</a>

Linking is important because search engine’s crawlers follow link paths to rank websites. It’s like walking from one room through to another via a door inside without coming out of the room. Just imagine links as pointing the way for a crawler to go to next room/page. If a link is broken, the crawler may miss out the page, and that’s not a good thing if it has a lot of keywords on it. In other words, ensure that your webpage is not isolated from the website and repair all broken links. Broken links and error pages (like 404 error) get a disapproval from the crawlerbot and punishes you for it.

SEO Cheat 😉  If your strength is not in HTML, right click on the mouse and click on “view page source” on any webpage. You will be able to see how HTML text like the a href above is written in a new tab.

3) Construct a Sitemap

Hence, you need to submit a sitemap. If your website is really large, like Amazon, chances are, you might miss out a link. Or, if you only have a few pages and have not linked them yet, you can still make your site appear by submitting a site map to the Bing /Google Search Console. Simply, a sitemap is a way to ensure that you have told the crawlerbot that “these are all the pages on my website.” If you keep updating your webpages, the search engine is alerted in an instance of submitting the sitemap instead of waiting for it to crawl. If your webpage content is like cupcakes fresh from the oven, you will want it to be known immediately.

A sitemap is in XML, RSS or Text format.

SEO Reminder: Search engines rank web pages, not just websites.

4) Robot.txt.

There will be pages that you do not want the crawlerbot to find. Maybe they are unglamorous or you want to hide some secrets for a reason. In that case, use “robot.txt”. Recall that we mentioned the crawl budget? Well, this will enable the crawler to crawl through all the pages that you want and not waste the time on pages you don’t want it to appear.

Don’t sweat – creating robot text is very simple. First, save your file as “robots.txt” on Microsoft Word or Notepad. (You can’t use HTML for code for this or HTML editors!) Next add it at the end of your web domain. It will result in something like this: -> www.mybeautifulwebsite.com/robots.txt.

Or let the experts do it for you.

5) Going mobile friendly. Being mobile-friendly will boost your rank on the search engine[3]. Luckily for us, this is not as difficult as it seems in this sharing economy. Google suggests 3 mobile strategies to make your website mobile friendly – Responsive Web Design, Dynamic Serving and Separate URLs. Simply these help you to launch your website on a mobile platform, assuming your website is ready for a great user experience (e.g. responsive images). Google hints that loading speed is important as it rolled out a “special flavour of HTML” called AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages).

6) Speed

Each crawler has a crawl budget as mentioned above and this means it has a limited time on each page. The faster your page loads, the more time you give to the crawler to crawl the page. No kidding, but Google has factored loading speed into its algorithm (to search and rank pages). To keep on the fast track, it may be helpful to remember that less is more. So it will be helpful to reduce the size of your image and simplify your page, right?

7) “Alt” Attribute

Sometimes our beautiful pictures fail to load. Google understands your feelings and hence suggests an alternative. Hence, it suggests the “alt” tag. This adds a descriptor to images. For example, “Honeykids Asia” in below image.

seo4

To get it displayed, here’s how it is written:

<img src=”https://d2q2f0pfv13tpb.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/04/New-Logo-1.png” alt=”Honeykids Asia” id=”header-logo”>[5]

If your image fails to load, Google will still sympathetically display “Honeykids Asia”. This means that Google did not read it as an error and penalise the page ranking.

[1] Img src is the descriptive file name while “Honeykids Asia” is the description for images. Since this is one of the components hidden behind an image to optimise your result on  the search engine, it is best to keep it short and friendly and avoid keyword stuffing and generic names like jpg1. (taken from their HTML document via “view page source”)

 

SEO Insider: Google is better at reading text than images. Bing however, is a notch better than Google at reading images.

6) Black Hat practices

There are a lot of Mafias around. Some try to cheat the search engine by sneaky redirects, malicious behaviour, hidden text or links. Now, there is no getting around them when found. Even poor content and mostly keywords are punishable. Hence, SEO is a lot like an art, where you also have to play the good guy and win the game.

SEO Myth: “It’s all about Keywords!” –> False. Search engines search webpages, not just keywords.

Probably you are nodding and agreeing with the above and need to un-stuff your webpage from keywords. Let us cover it in Part 2 on optimising content. Stay tuned!

 

 

[1] *crawler – basically it’s a software that crawls pages from the web and indexes them. To crawl is the process of looking for new or updated web pages (i.e. scan). (Glossary from Google). 
[2] * algorithm – a formula to rank pages
[3] In late 2016, Google has begun experiments to primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content for ranking, parsing structured data and generating snippets.
[4] Img src is the descriptive file name while “Honeykids Asia” is the description for images. Since this is one of the components hidden behind an image to optimise your result on  the search engine, it is best to keep it short and friendly and avoid keyword stuffing and generic names like jpg1.
[5] Img src is the descriptive file name while “Honeykids Asia” is the description for images. Since this is one of the components hidden behind an image to optimise your result on  the search engine, it is best to keep it short and friendly and avoid keyword stuffing and generic names like jpg1. (taken from their HTML document via “view page source”)