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Do You Have These 7 SEO Friendly Website Features ?

You are a website owner. You’ve engaged a great website developer who has crafted you a really attractive website, with awesome functionality. Every thing is moving along smoothly.

Your website developer delivered a:

  • Superb website / web page design
  • Promises that the design will look jaw dropping good across all mobile devices

Then you casually ask for a list of SEO friendly site features that the developer has thought through and included in the website design that actively supports Search Engine Optimization (SEO). That is when the fumbling and the humming and hawing starts.

All of a sudden the awesome, responsive, design is not so hot any more. You are stressed because as some level it is apparent to you that SEO friendly website features many not have even been considered. Additionally, it’s also unlikely any specific SEO friendly web design features were thought through and incorporated in the building of your website.

You do not need to be worried.

Here are seven, simple (but Oh! So important) SEO friendly website tips, so that you can tell your web developer what you want incorporated into your webpage. These will help ensure your website has been built as search engine friendly from the ground up.

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Ensure That Your Website Uses Semantic URLs

Today, a large number of websites are built using a Content Management System like Joomla or WordPress. Often these CMS create URLs for the web pages they deliver to requesting Browsers structured as follows : www.mywebsite.com/index.php?page_id=46

While such a URL will deliver the correct webpage to the requesting Browser, its structure is really a bit of a disaster from an SEO point of view.

The best SEO friendly URL structure , is a URL, which has keywords embedded within its structure. The URL above has none. Unfortunately neither is the URL human readable, which is because most CMS structure URLs convenient for them to locate and deliver the correct content to the Browser requesting it and not for human beings.

A semantically correct URL will be structured as follows:

www.ivanbayross.com/bookspublished

Such a URL ( essentially a Browser understandable address for a web page ) is human readable and conveys useful information.

All the modern versions of CMS have settings that allow the web page developer to determine the structure of the web page URL. Hence, ensure that your web developer implements semantic URLs on your website at development time, no excuses. Attempts to convert to semantic URLs after the website is created and released into the wild is pretty painful. More so if search engines have already indexed the website and subsequently semantic URLs are implemented.

Now a lot of the links within the search engines will lead to 404 Page not found errors on your website.

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Website Analytics ( Google Analytics )

As website owner, you need to access and analyse website analytics every day, to understand exactly how well your website is doing on the Internet.

Are the number of site visitors increasing or decreasing?

Are these visitors staying on your website or almost immediately bouncing off?

What pages are they spending the most time on?

Stuff like this.

It’s based on the analysis of such website statistics that you will begin to tweak various aspects of your website to make the website more visitor friendly, which in turn would help in the conversion of those site visitors to paying customers.

Google Analytics gives you all of this and more.

Ensure that you’ve created the website’s GA account. Next ensure and that the GA code is embedded in each web page that you want to track and tweak based on verified data, by your web developer.

Make Sure That An XML Sitemap Is In Use On Your Website

There are a lot of free to use XML sitemap plugins available for use today. Hence, there is no real reason for your website not to deliver an XML site map.

The truth of the matter is that search engines love a website that delivers an XML based site map. Search engine robots find it most convenient to traverse and index a website’s pages using the content of it’s XML site map.

Keeping search engines happy is really great idea for any website.

The main reason that I recommend the use of an XML site map plugin for any website is that manually creating an XML entry in the site map can become quite a pain especially if your websites pages are growing quickly.

Since most XML site map plugins are easy to install and configure, they are great to have on your website even if website pages are few. If your web developer is hand coding the XML site map, ensure that the code created is such that the XML site map content is updated automatically whenever any website content is added.

Controlling What’s Indexed In Your Website

If you have a really large website, i.e. one that has a huge number of pages, Google will all most never index all the pages of your website because they have a percentage cap on the number of pages they will hold of a specific website in their index.

While you have no way to tell Google which pages to index, it is quite possible to indicate which pages you do not want indexed.

This is done by using a META tag placed in the <head></head> section of the HTML page.

Here’s the syntax to do this : meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, follow”

If you have a website with just a few pages then this is not a problem, but if you have a website with a large number of pages, then doing the manually may not be such a great idea.  Figure out if this can be controlled through the Content Management System (CMS) upon which the site is built.

If your website has a large number of pages, then it also is a great idea to develop a strategy for no indexing of specific web pages in the website especially if they are not getting a lot of organic search traffic.

Oh Yes, I agree you probably do not want to make these kind of decisions on your web pages, but if you know that Google is not going to index all the pages in your website, I think it’s a great idea to help ensure that the pages important to the core of your website do get indexed, don’t you ?.

Writing 301 Redirects – When You Migrate Your Website

At some time or the other you would migrate your website, either because you want more powerful hosting, or you want to use the cloud to host your website or you need cheaper hosting or whatever reason(s). Once you migrate your website to another host, nothing can be more important than writing 301 redirects for your website.

Unfortunately a lot of website developers do not consider writing 301 redirects as important. In fact many a developer considers this an unnecessary load on their coding resources.

If you’ve used a CMS to deliver your website pages then do check to see if the CMS it self will create the 301 redirects it self automatically. If you are changing web pages actively on your CMS you should create a 301 redirect for the changed page especially if the web page URL has changed to deliver a different set of keywords.

Not writing appropriate 301 redirects ensures that specific indexed pages are going to result in a 404 Page not found error when site visitors click on the link returned in a search engines result page. Many of those and Google gets unhappy.

Another issue is that a search engine will have two links in its index, both pointing to the same page content with one throwing a 404 Page not found error until its purged from the search engines index.

All in all, ensure that your web developer creates appropriate 301 redirects for all the pages in your website when you migrate the website to different hosting.

Canonicalization Of Your Website URL

There are two different URLs that a Browser can use to access the same website, for example:

  1. www.opensourcevarsity.com
  2. opensourcevarsity.com

Rather unfortunately, both these URL’s are recognized as legitimate URL’s by Google and other search engines. Hence a single web page can actually be accessed using two different URL’s, for example:

www.opensourcevarsity.com/mybooks

opensourcevarsity.com/mybooks

Therefore, in the search engine index, there will be two entries, both that reference exactly the same web page. Unfortunately, this is recognized by search engines, like Google, to be duplicate content. Google (and other search engines) penalize websites for duplicate content.

Search engines believe that it’s the responsibility of the website owner to prevent this happening.

This brings us to the idea of canonicalization of a website’s URLs, which is basically :

www versus no www of website URL’s.

From an SEO perspective, it does not really matter which you choose, but what’s important is that one approach is decided on and you stick with it.

Additionally, you have to make sure that your CMS is not :

  • Generating multiple URL’s for the same web page
  • Adding a lot of extraneous data to the web page URL

NOTE : Magento a really good, E-Commerce CMS, makes each webpage it delivers available via three different URL’s.

How does one solve this problem ?

  • Rationalize your webpage URL structure ( Using an XL sheet to do this is a big help )
  • Ensure the CMS is not generating multiple URLs pointing to the same webpage
  • Write 301 re-directs for all duplicate URLs that for one reason or the other slip through.

Lastly, but equally importantly, implement the canonical Tagon every webpage in your website.

Here is what the canonical Tag looks like:

<link rel=”canonical” href=http://www.example.com/page.html>

And would be placed within the <head></head> section of your web page.

Google seems to be giving some share of importance to the rel = canonical Tag so it’s worth implementing as it helps Google and other search engines when indexing your website.

Website / Webpage Load Time In The Requesting Browser

Web pages consist of multiple assets that are included in them, such as CSS files, JavaScript files, Image files, Videos, Podcasts and so on. Each of these assets add a specific value to the web page.

Unfortunately, the Browser has to make a separate request to the web server, for delivery of each of these assets. Obviously, the Browser cannot render the web page until after all its assets have been individually downloaded from the web server on which the site has been hosted.

Hence, a site visitor may just be sitting looking at an empty Browser, ( or partially rendered page ) until all the web page assets have been downloaded.

This is what is considered the Page Load Time, and can vary surprisingly across web pages.

Google (and other search engines) penalize websites for long page load times.

NOTE : Here penalization means a webpage link, with a long load time may not come up in the very first search engine result page delivered to the information seeker’s Browser. This usually results in a sharp fall in site visitors.

What You Can Do

Talk to your website developer and find out what they know about speeding up Page Load Speed.

Page Load Speed is a bit complex and is normally a product of :

  • Reducing the number of HTTP requests made from the site visitors Browser to the web server for web page assets.
  • Keeping a balance between the size of the web page asset, and the visual quality of the web page asset.

NOTE : This has a dramatic impact on, image size, video size and so on. Large high resolution images will take a lot longer to download than a smaller sized medium / low resolution image. The same goes for the time to download HD videos versus time to download medium to low definition videos. The rule of thumb is as long as the visual quality of the image or video is acceptable, compromise on its size.

  • Loading JavaScript, CSS, Image, Video files asynchronously.
  • Using Cookie less domains for the storage and delivery of such web page’s assets.

I’m sure that all of this is pretty technical for a website owner, but that is the exact reason why you engaged a web developer in the first place. Hence, make sure that your web developer knows what they are doing when it comes to the web Page Load Time of your website.

If you want to check your Page Load Time and get written suggestions on how to improve them us a Free Browser plugin called YSlow. The YSLow plugin is freely available for Chrome, FireFox, Opera and other such Browsers. YSLow will check your page load time and give you a detailed report on what is slowing down your Page Load Time and offer concrete suggestions on what you can do to improve this.

Another tool you can use to test your Page Load Time is Google’s Page Speed suite.

Please focus sharply on getting the very minimum Page Load Time for each web page of your website, your site visitors and all search engines will love your website for this.

In Conclusion

Applying these seven simple, yet important, tweaks to your website after its released into the wild is a really time consuming exercise. Worse, too often a slip shod job is done with a pain point glossed over. Regretfully, this will have an impact on the SEO of your website.

Insist that these issues are addressed and rectified while the website is being built, web page wise, not fixed subsequently, web page wise.

Once proper attention has been paid to these issues, your website SEO will fall into place perfectly.

You are then free to focus your attention to crafting the very best possible content for delivery to your site visitors. Super lative content being the very best thing for getting your website found in search engine result pages.

Please Leave Your Comments They Are A Huge Help

If you liked this Blog post, I’d love to read your comments. If you thought that this Blog post was not up to your expectations, I’d love to read your comments.

It’s your comments that helps me get better each day. Please pass on your bouquets or brickbats in the comments section right below.

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Ivan Bayross
Digital Marketing Evangelist, International Author & Business Mentor
I've been an entrepreneur for more than 33 years.

I've taught marketing and finance at a few MBA schools in Mumbai, India. These subjects are like a horse and carriage. You can't have one without the other.

I am technology savvy too as I am armed with an M.Tech from Manchester University, UK. In that sense, you could call me a geek-marketer, as I’m comfortable with both technology and marketing.

I have written and published 83+ books in tech and digital marketing. Many of these are available on Amazon.

I've been working in digital marketing for around 24+ years. I love to teach the subject, plus define, execute, and tweak digital marketing strategies for my own websites and my clients.

I'm moving my love for teaching to the web.
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May 20, 2017

4 responses on "Do You Have These 7 SEO Friendly Website Features ?"

  1. Thanks for the list. For Rel Canonical on WordPress, do you have any tips for easy implementation via plugins?

    • Hi Alexander, Thanks for commenting. Appreciate the time you took. I’m not sure about WP plugins that handle this task. That said, its really easy to handle using FTP and editing your .htaccess file. If you would like to know the exactly how to do this, just reply to this with your Email ID and I’ll send you an MS Word document which has all the steps on exactly how to do this.

  2. wow great list.. I will check with all this features.. Thanks for posting..

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