If you are launching a new website or are having issues with your website in Google, we have put together a simple 10 point guide that offers some valuable information that you may not know about.
If you need help with your website, please get in touch with us here.
Let’s take a look at some of your options:
When you create a new website, there are a number of ways that you can stop search engines from crawling your new website; one of the safest ways is to put the website behind a login. As long as this remains in place it is the best option, and also the hardest one to forget to remove once you want to allow search engines in when your website is complete.
Other options would be to apply a “NoIndex” tag across the site, or you could apply a blanket ”nofollow” to all the links. The issue with the latter would be that it then hides any links internal or external which are genuinely required to be “nofollowed” after a site launch. Search Engines will also need to crawl the site to read the “noindex”, and if you have any slight coding insecurity to allow the search engine in, they will index those pages.
Another option would be to stop search engines from crawling the site via your robots.txt file, this though would only be instruction and wouldn’t necessarily stop them from indexing your website. You could pair this with an onpage “noindex” but it’s still more work and not as quick as a login box option.
Unless no-one actually tells you this is a bad idea then you would never know, but you should never upload photos to your website directly from your camera. Even photos taken from camera phones can be up to 4MB in size; using a DSLR Camera will see those sizes increase massively.
Software such as Adobe Photoshop can be used for resizing, editing and compressing photos. If you are looking for a free image resizing program, Pixresizer from Bluesoft is a program that we have used for years. There are also online websites which can offer resizing and compression, so it’s worth finding one you like and settling with it, some may offer a monthly charge to unlock better features or more allowances.
The main images of your website can easily be made to be under 500KB, this can be achieved by resizing them down from a larger resolution of 4032×3024 to a more manageable size, around 1024×768 would suffice then reducing the quality slightly will help dramatically in reducing the file size in MB.
There are also now new image formats such as webp which offer even better image file sizes when used.
Not only do friendly URLs help search engines identify what your page is about, but it also makes them easier for a user to recite and know where they are. If you are using non-descriptive URLs, then there certainly is a ranking boost to be had in Google at least by creating new keyword-based friendly URLs such as https://domain.com/widgets/large-blue-widget.html when compared to https://www.domain.com/category123/product1.html. Google really does prefer a nice descriptive URL.
If you are using WordPress then there are numerous SEO plugins that will help create clean URLs or Permalinks as WordPress refers to them.
If you have had a custom-built website, your development agency should be using pretty URLs to start with, but if not it is something they can change.
Much like a descriptive and keyword rich URL, search engines love content. Text is one of the most important on page factors for telling search engines what your page is about.
Ideally, every page will have content and, whilst it might seem like a daunting task, break each page down into subsections if required and you’ll soon have focus and a clear topic to write about in a short section.
Product content on e-commerce sites can often be the most daunting especially if you have hundreds or even thousands of products to list. Our advice is to start as soon as possible writing compelling and sales-led content where required; your content is your online salesperson, so you need to sell your expertise.
Whilst it might seem easiest to copy your product content internally, we wouldn’t advise it. If it’s the case that two products are very similar, there are better ways to handle the two products by making a product with options and saving you time in only writing one description. Include videos and images within content to help break down larger portions of content to make them more engaging to read.
Your time will eventually pay off with stronger organic rankings in search engines.
This is less of a problem if your website is new if you have no data to lose, but launching a new site for an established domain and forgetting to put tracking codes on can cause an issue. Your tracking code is one of the most important factors, along with any search console HTML tags that may be on the site. The best thing to do here is run through the source code on your current site and find what codes are hardcoded in. If this is something that you don’t feel you can do, your website development agency would be able to do this for you.
If you are an e-commerce site, a manufacturer or brand might say that it is ok to use their content and this might seem like Christmas has come early in saving you writing content, but avoid doing this at all costs if you want your website to rank well organically.
Search engines love fresh new content which is relevant to your product or website as it gives them a better understanding of your website and products. They will soon realise if all your content is copied and you are highly unlikely to rank as high as you would be if writing fresh content.
Don’t pinch content from a competitor’s website either. If they are on the ball and do checks for plagiarism, you’re likely to find yourself getting contacted by them or potentially a DMCA notice and your page removed from the search pages.
If you are e-commerce, copying images isn’t as bad as copying content, just make sure you have permission but there are valid arguments & research that self-taken unique product photos do have a small positive advantage in Google’s search results. Also don’t just head over to Flickr or Google and acquire images from there. Flickr or Shutterstock will quickly find out you are using their images and get their legal team onto you.
Shutterstock image packs can be purchased for a minimal fee usually of around £30 for a 5 pack download see Shutterstock pricing.
One to check upon launching is that your checkout works, order emails are sent and payments are received. There’s nothing worse than not doing these checks and wondering why orders aren’t coming through a week or so later.
If you are launching a larger site with more than 50 pages, it’s hard to check that everything works so it’s worth using software such as Screaming Frog to crawl the website to make sure that you don’t get any dead pages which would be reported as 404 pages or even a misconfigured redirect which creates a loop and never ends. These can all be picked up on and fixed.
If you have an eCommerce website, we would strongly recommend that all category pages and non product-based URLs have bespoke Title Tags and Meta Descriptions. If you have a large number of products, these can be templated, but we would advise looking at your best selling products and writing bespoke Meta Data for these.
Smaller portfolio style websites should have Meta Data written for all pages.
Before writing your Meta Data, it’s always worth seeing what competitors are doing and then looking to make the most of keywords and encouraging information to help increase click-through rates.
Our 10 bullet points are really only scratching the surface on some of the important checks that should be carried out on a new website. There are of course daily, weekly and monthly checks that can be and should be carried out. If you have any questions or problems with your website or search visibility, use our contact form to get in touch
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