Optimize Your Web Pages | Tips & Crucial Guidelines
Importance of Web Page Optimization:
Have you ever noticed that even patient people can’t stand waiting in lines at the supermarket, amusement park, restaurant or wherever lines form? They (maybe even you) either get bored or angry when it is taking longer than expected.
With that said, the faster the page loads, the more likely it is for people to visit and click through your pages. However, due to large file sizes and content, web pages can sometimes load slowly, which can cause people to leave your site early or not even wait for the first page to load. To solve such a problem, you need to optimize your pages.
Optimizing your website is crucial for your site to be seen and approved by the public, and also searched and ranked by the search engines.
If you are not satisfied with your website’s performance, a few simple fixes can improve your website’s rank in search engines to increase traffic flow and conversions.
A very crucial aspect of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is making sure your website is easy for its users and search engine robots to understand. Search engines have become much more sophisticated than they were in the past, yet can't see a web page the same way as a human can. SEO helps the search engines read and figure out what your pages are about to determine how they may be useful for users.
Optimizing a website refers to search engine optimization, which is a means to increase your website's ranking on search engines. It also refers to performance optimization, which ensures that your pages run quick and smoothly. Search engines rank sites and discover keywords to attract new visitors to your site. Dig into the code and look for improvements to keep your visitors around instead of getting upset due to poor content or having to wait for slow pages to load.
Meta tags were valued as a factor in rankings until people started abusing them to get top ranking on Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) in response to keyword queries. As a result, Google decided to exclude meta tags in its ranking factors. But that doesn’t mean meta tags are not important anymore. Meta tags still play quite a big role in your site’s SEO.
Your title and meta tags are located inside your html’s <head> </head> area.
Search engines use crawl robots to analyze your HTML meta tags and do not alter your page's look, or it's visible content. Your title tag goes at the top of each page between the <head> </head> tag to identify the page's general content. Be sure to write an accurate description in the description tag, as it is used by most search engines to describe a site in search results. Add a meta keyword tag as well to reveal the most important keywords for each page to search engine bots.
NOTE: Just because Google's search bots do not look at meta keywords, other search engines may.
Your title tag goes in the <head></head> section of your HTML file.
<title>Your Page Title Goes Here</title>
Your title tag is visible at the top of your browser and is an important element of your website’s content, as it defines the title of your document. A title element is a requirement in all HTML/XHTML documents and is one of the key on-page SEO elements. So make your title compelling to increase click-throughs.
Your page titles should have the keyword phrase you’re targeting but also be descriptive for the reader. For example, if your article is about “Website optimization,” then a good title might be “How to optimize your web pages”.
Focus on primary keywords and work them in if you can and use a secondary or other keywords. Place your primary keywords right at the beginning of the title. But don't stuff it with too many keywords, as a long list of keywords looks suspicious to both Google and your site visitors.
Make sure the primary keywords in your title are relevant to the content on your page. Otherwise, you'll lose ranking if there's no relevance and users won't stay on your site.
Restrict your title tags to 69 characters. Although search engines will index longer titles, anything over 69 characters will be truncated by Google. If your title tag is over by even one character, you'll lose a whole word in the displayed search results.
Use a distinctive title tag for every page so that Google doesn't see you as duplicate content.
Use the pipe ( | ) symbol or dash ( - ) symbol. Anything else diminishes your intended message.
Meta Description Tag:
Your META tags go in the <head></head> section of your HTML file (below your title tag).
<title>Your Page Title Goes Here</title>
<meta name="description" content="A short description of your web page goes here" />
Description tags do not play a role in search engine rankings but are critical in getting users to click on your page in the SERPs. Description tags let web surfers know if the page contains the information they're seeking.
The description should be a to-the-point narrative of the content of your page with a bit more detail than what you can place in your title. Try including a strong call to action to spur your prospective customers into action.
The reader should be able to make sense of your description, as you want it to draw the reader to your website from the SERP, an extremely important part of online marketing.
It should reinforce your title tag. Confusion will take supremacy if your description has nothing to do with your title tag, and the searcher will pass over your site listing in the search results.
Again, place your primary keyword near the beginning title and description and don't irritate search engines by using too many keywords.
Your description tag should not contain more than 160.
Include your brand name to increase brand name awareness, which helps establish credibility.
Meta Keyword Tag:
<meta name="keywords" content="keywords and short phrases (separated by commas) go here" />
Do not misuse your keyword tag. Cramming it full of as many keywords as you can think of is unethical and can cause search engines to ban your site.
Examine your page content and find the right keywords first. Doing this before publishing your page(s) can save you a lot of wasted effort in the future.
Your keywords tag should have around ten or fifteen words, twenty at the very most. You may repeat your top three keywords once, but repeat them more than three times and search engines are likely to ignore them, or, worse, not list your page at all.
Use diverse keywords that may contain text included in relevant site links. Don’t use too many variations of keywords and phrases, such as ‘link, links, linking, link to my site’. When you attempt to squeeze more than three of the same keywords into your tags by using variations of them, search engines can view them as spam and penalize your page.
It’s not realistic to think that your site is going to rank high for the keywords you choose, as many keywords are simply too competitive. When creating or optimizing a new website, you must first do proper keyword research to find the right keywords. Finding the right keywords should bring in traffic to your site.
Ever since Google released the new Hummingbird update, search engine optimization has switched to topics from individual keyword phrases. There is now more focus on the intent of the phrase giving Google a better understanding of what the context is.
The Google Adwords tool is a great tool for doing keyword research. It can give you some good ideas for keywords. Try to find keywords that have low to medium competition in an area.
Natural Keyword Usage:
Mix your keywords into your page content. The primary rule for mixing keywords into your page content is to make sure they flow with the topic and sound like natural speech. When you write for your reader (and not to spam search engines), use natural keyword placement. Proper keyword placement can help you rank better in search engine results.
After you pick your keywords, create relevant and outstanding content that users and search engines want to see.
Page content is probably the most important consideration when building traffic to your website. Quality content will naturally build traffic.
Quality content is now a requirement to rank well (the longer, the better). Search engines rank pages with bad grammar and spelling lower. Each page should be optimized and have sufficient text that is of relevance to your visitor to rank well in the search engines. Your page content should appear in your page URL, title, H1 heading, description and meta tag keywords.
Some say 500 words is a good minimum length for your normal page or blog post, but some argue that 250 words are sufficient, and others argue at least 2000 words are needed. There is also the argument that anything over 1000 words can penalize your page. But what is really important is that your page is fun to read and relevant to what the reader is seeking.
Header Tags - H1, H2, H3 up to H6 Maximum:
You should look at these tags the same way you would look at the headlines of a newspaper, as it is the first element a user sees when landing on your page. There is a hierarchy with the H1 through H6 elements with H1 being the most important heading and H6 as the least important. Therefore, I recommend that you use the H1 tag as your headliner on every page and so on with the other heading tags considering their importance in relationship to page content.
In using the H1 tag, be sure to include your primary keyword phrase in it, as search robots are looking at them too (but don't overdo it). Further, it is not a good idea to try to spam the robots by frequently using the H1 tag on the same page. But, it is usually safe to use the H2 tag more than once on a page, as also with the H3 tag and so forth.
Optimize Your URLs:
Use keywords in your URLs, but don’t overdo it. (e.g., www.joes-auto-repair.com/joes-repair.html)
Readers often view an exact domain name match and a keyword-optimized URL as suspect. However, a branded root domain with an optimized URL is fair game, such as http://seopractices.com/learn-seo.
Use targeted keywords in URLs because search engines read them so they can better connect their users with relevant content (e.g. http://yourdomain.com/target-keyword).
Use 301 Redirects:
Tell Google about changes to your URLs so you don’t lose your ranking. When changing the URL of a page as shown in search results, use a server-side 301 redirect to be sure users and search engines get sent to the correct page. A 301 status code tells search engines that the page has permanently moved to a new location and redirects users to the correct page.
Upload A Favicon:
Build your brand and build trust with your visitors and search engines. Favicons are an essential piece of your website but often overlooked. They help viewers recognize your page amidst the slew of other tabs and pages that they might have open in their browser at any particular moment. The favicons are located in the upper left-hand corner of the web browser tab as indicated in the photos.
To make a Favicon, create a 32 x 32 or 16 x 16 (pixels) image and format it as .gif with the transparency on, then name and save it as 'favicon.gif'. Navigate to the file and rename it 'favicon.ico' and upload it to the root folder of your server.
Once the favicon.Ico file is in the root folder; it will appear in the upper left corner of your browser tab when users load your page. If using WordPress, upload the favicon.ico file to the template folder for it to work.
Use Canonical URLs:
Use canonical URLs to avoid a duplicate content penalty by telling search engines what your preferred domain and preferred web pages are. Pick a URL as your preferred (canonical) destination, and use 301 redirects to send traffic from the other URLs to your preferred URL. A server-side 301 redirect is the best way to ensure that users and search engines get redirected to the correct page.
Add mobile URLs to sitemaps. Identify mobile friendly pages in sitemaps so they get ranked higher in mobile search results.
Use robots.txt to block bad URLs and tell search engines to ignore dynamic URLs that point to your canonical URL.
DO NOT USE CAPITOL LETTERS IN URLS
URLs are case sensitive, so avoid confusing visitors and search engines.
Put top content in the root folder. URL structures can signal top content because it’s in your root folder (e.g. http://yourdomain.com/best-content.htm - and not - http://yourdomain.com/secondary-folder/best-content.htm).
Use readable URLs only. If humans cannot read or understand your URLs, neither can search engines (e.g. http://yourdomain.com/my-content.htm - and not - http://yourdomain.com/sdxchgplurim.htm).
Page Load Time:
Slow load time is now taken intro consideration with Google's new algorithm, which will cause a drop in your web traffic .
Periodically check page load time on your pages to make sure changes to your site have not affected performance.
Internal linking is a critical part of search engine optimization. Your internal links aid in website navigation and defines the architecture and hierarchy of a website.
The goal of internal linking is to provide a clear path for web surfers to have access all pages pertinent to their search criteria, which also makes it possible for spiders to crawl and properly index your pages.
Make sure you link your content to other internal pages that would be beneficial to your readers. Internal links improve your site’s SEO and will make it easier for your readers to navigate and find more of your useful content.
In today's world, nearly everybody has a smartphone and use them to browse the Internet. Therefore, it is imperative your website has a responsive design allowing your pages to easily show up on a small screen. A responsive design helps your pages to load faster on a smartphone because the pages don't have to redirect to another URL.
You should occasionally check your web pages at random for file size and load times. Expect many users to visit your site on mobile devices, so make sure your site is ready. The easiest way to check file sizes and load times is to Google keywords phrases like 'web page file size checker' or 'website speed test'. Your search results should provide you with a variety of websites that will do this for free. Optimizing your pages with reduced file sizes and faster load times will increase your site rankings.
Image File Names & Sizes:
Proper image SEO starts with the right file name, which is a good location to place keywords. You want Google to know what the image is without looking at it. So if your image is a sunset in Milwaukee showing Miller Park, the file name shouldn’t be pic2134.jpg, but should be miller-park-milwaukee-sunset.jpg. The main keyword would be Miller Park, as that is the main subject of the photo, which is why it is at the beginning of the file name.
Image file sized play a huge role in the time it takes for your web pages to load. As such, you should reduce the image’s file size as much as possible to minimize the amount of time it takes to upload. At the same time, be careful you don't reduce it to the point of causing it to lose its visual clarity.
There is a variety of free and paid image optimizers available on the web, such as Image Optimizer, TinyPNG, JPEGmini and so on, but I like to use Photoshop.
In Photoshop, simply open your image, resize it to the size you want (the smaller, the better) and click ‘Save for Web & Devices’. Then you simply adjust the quality level to suit your page and click ‘save’.
Image ALT Tags:
ALT tags describe your images to those who are blind or can't see well and search engines by providing a text alternative to your images. Many users who are blind or can’t see well often have software to pronounce the entire page aloud. So, you should not use keywords in your ALT tags, as this could irritate blind web surfers when they have to listen to the tags constantly repeating your keywords. If an ‘exclamation point’ icon or image is used to represent a page regarding more information, then the alternative text should be 'more information' or something similar.
<img src="images/house.png" alt="my house" width="350" height="145" " />
When you have incoming links (a/k/a backlinks, inward links, inlinks, and inbound links) and outbound links on your site, be sure they are relevant and reputable links. Some SEOs seem to think it is a good practice to have as many incoming links as possible. But that is only true when those links are relevant to your site content and are not from black hat websites (websites that may be violating Google terms of service).
The same applies to sites that you link to. If you are going to link to other sites, link to websites that are relevant to your website’s content. For example, if your website is about a floral shop, do not have links to or from websites that are about car repairs. When you do link to other websites, only link to reputable sites.