It is said by the experts that combination of good web design and search engine optimization goes hand in hand. Website SEO is a well-known and well-appreciated process by the experts and website owners always strive to improve search engine ranking, as it influences the website’s ranking in search engines that can lead companies towards success. According to Rand Fishkin (Moz’s co-founder), SEO is any input that search engines use to rank pages and it comprises conversion rate optimization, user experience and design, analytics, public relations and advertising.
An important aspect of SEO is making your website easy to understand for both users and search engine robots. SEO helps search engines to figure out what each page is about, and how it may be helpful for the users. Following amazing statistics helps you to understand the importance of search engine optimization:
- 70-80% of users ignore the paid ads, focusing on the organic results. Source
- 75% of users never scroll past the first page of search results. Source
- Organic search is the top driver of traffic to content sites, beating social media by more than 300%. Source
- 79% of search engine users say they always/frequently click on the natural search results and 80% of search engine users say they occasionally/rarely/never click on the sponsored search results. Source
- For Google, 18% of organic clicks go to the first position, 10% of organic clicks go to the second position, and 7% of organic clicks go to the third position. Source
These statistics clearly shows that SEO is quite important if you want to lead in your domain. After an in-depth research work, I have summed up some important aspects about SEO that you should use while designing your website so as to make your business more profitable. Let’s begin.
1. SEO friendly URL structure
An SEO friendly URL structure is one of the most important SEO friendly optimization techniques that you should keep in mind while designing your website. At first sight, a URL might look very simple, but actually it comprises several important pieces of information. Different parts of a URL are mentioned below:
1. Hypertext Transfer Protocol: the most popular application protocol used on the World Wide Web. Other familiar types of application protocols include FTP and telnet.
2. Domain name of the website.
3. Subdirectory of the file.
4. File name of the requested resource
An SEO friendly URL should be:
Meaningful: Each URL name of your website should have keywords in them and it should not contain gibbering numbers and punctuation marks.
Straightforward: If you have URLs with duplicate content, then you should do canonicalization and picking the best URL for the users.
With emphasis on the right URLs: In your website, all URLs are not equally important and these should be concealed from the search engines. Further, it is important to check that your web pages that should be accessible to search engines are actually open for crawling and indexing.
You can use following tips to achieve an SEO-friendly site URL structure:
a. Avoid dynamic and relative URLs- According to your CMS, your URL can be static like www.company.com/topic-name, or it can be dynamic like www.company.com/?p=578544. I suggest you to use static URLs rather than dynamic ones. Google also recommends using hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in URL names. Furthermore, you should avoid using relative URLs, as they are dependent on the context in which they occur and once the context changes, the URL may not work. Therefore, you should use absolute URLs instead of relative ones.
b. Create an XML Sitemap- An XML Sitemap is a list of your site’s URLs that you submit to the search engines and it helps search engines to find your site’s pages more easily. Search engines also use the sitemap as a reference when choosing canonical URLs on your website.
c. Close off irrelevant pages with robots.txt- You may have different web pages on your site like Terms and conditions” page and pages with sensitive information that you want to conceal from the search engines. It’s better not to let these pages get indexed, since these usually don’t contain your target keywords. A robotx.txt file contains instructions for search engines as to what web pages of your site should be ignored during the crawling. These pages will get a noindex attribute and do not show up in the search engine result pages.
d. Consolidate your www and the non-www domain versions- There are two major versions of your domain indexed in various search engines, which are www and non-www version. You can consolidate these by specifying your preferred version in Google Webmaster Tools in Configuration >> Settings >> Preferred Domain.
2. Use silo structure for maximizing on-page SEO effectiveness-
If your site’s content is well structured and search engines can make a distinction to the theme of each page, then you’ll have a much better chance of high ranking for the keywords you are optimizing for. One of the best ways to accomplish this task is to use Silo Structure which organize the content of your site and make it easy for users to access your content.
You should put your website content in silos, or better yet, in categories that make it easier for users to find relevant content. You can create silo structure through smart internal linking and classifying all your website content under ‘Categories’, ‘Sub-Categories’ and ‘Topics’. Following image shows an example of silo structure:
You can follow below mentioned simple rules for silo websites:
a. Keep separate categories- You can use nofollow attributes when linking between categories.
b. Link often between posts- Many people only link from new posts to older posts, but I suggest you to go back to the older posts and add updated links to your newer posts. In this way, your older posts will have more pagerank.
c. Keep the categories on the same topic- Every page in your site should have a different title-tag, meta-tags, headers, etc. While organizing your silos, make sure that you have distinct keywords that follow everything in that category. For example- if you are blogging about vehicles, you should set up a silo for cars, trucks and motorcycles. In the truck silo, your title should “All about trucks”, your category slugs should be “trucks”, as well as your meta keywords should have “trucks”, and most importantly, all the posts in this silo should have “trucks” in the permalink and title.
d. Analyze your website content through various tools- You can analyze your website content using Google webmaster tools that will show you everything you need to understand how Google-bot spiders your website.
3. Use navigation in your website
If you want to make your website search engine friendly as well as user friendly and effective, then website navigation should not be overlooked. Navigation is one of the most important aspects of web designing and if your website is lacking in effective navigation, it is not going to work for your business the way you need it to. According to Usability.gov (an official U.S. Government Web site managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services):
- People can’t find the information they seek on a website about 60 % of the time.
- 50 % of potential sales are lost because users cannot find information and that 40 % of users do not return to a website when their first visit is a negative experience.
- A study by Zona Research found that 62 percent of web-shoppers give up looking for the item they want to buy online
This statistics show that effective navigation is quite important for your website. A navigation structure of your website has to be smooth, clear and well-structured to encourage visitors to explore the site further. If your website is designed on various platforms like WordPress, Joomla, Magneto etc., you can also install various navigation plugins.
4. Enhance crawlability and indexability-
Crawlability and indexability are considered some of the most important aspects of SEO, as you need your website to get both crawled and indexed to get organic traffic. Without good deep level crawling, your site’s pages (and especially deep level pages) might not be getting indexed. Crawlability and indexability are separate from another, if your site is getting crawled, this does not mean that its pages are necessarily getting indexed. This could be because Google algorithm feels there is not a strong enough case to keep that web page in the index, for example web pages with duplicate content and web pages with very little content. Some tips to enhance crawlability are as follows:
- You should have good interlinking between the most important web pages. Good opportunities for interlinking are blog-posts, related products/services, and locations.
- You can build inbound links to both the homepage and deeper level hubs of the site to enhance crawlability.
- Make sure you have a good and dynamically updated sitemap which is submitted to both Google and Bing Webmaster Centrals.
- You have to make sure that your page load time is fast. If you have a big site then you need a fast server to allow search engines to crawl as many pages as possible in the shortest time.
While designing your website, you should keep these points in mind to enhance ranking of your site in search engine result page. If you want a professional assistance, then you can take help from experienced and dedicated SEO experts to bring your website in the first page of search engine in less time.