‘It's not what you say about your company, it's what Google says about it’ref
SEO was once a black art. Getting your website onto the front page of Google often involved secret 'black hat' techniques. Luckily, those days are long gone.
Don't get us wrong, were not saying it's quick or even that with a few tweaks any website could outrank it's competitors; it takes time and plenty of commitment.
With SEO, there are many myths and rumours, plus loads of out of date advice.
We aim to bust many of those myths.
There are plenty of user friendly tools out there to help you.
Evaluate what you have
Before any improvements are made, you first have to establish a base line. From this, any changes can be monitored, strategies formed and resources assigned.
SEO is not a one time operation, it takes constant attention, understanding and research.
Which pages currently get traffic and why?
Visitors to a website can be broken down into 2 categories. Potential customers and those just hungry for knowledge. In SEO terms, each group is equally important. For instance, a site crammed with useful tips and valuable information can rank very highly, yet a site that is little more than a glorified business card has little hope. By making your site a 'online resource' for casual browsers, you are making it more visible and respected to those you really care about.
As an analogy, on the high street, customers are more likely to browse a shop if people are already inside, the same applies to a website.
It's quite common for seemingly insignificant pages; that produce no financial gain; to get the most traffic - often higher than the home or contact pages. Don't ignore this traffic; capitalise upon it.
Where are your current visitors coming from?
- Search Engines
- Returning visitor
- Social Media
- Advertising campaigns (such as mailshots or flyers)
Is your site mobile friendly?
- More people in the world own smartphones than electric toothbrushes.
- 70% of mobile searches lead to an action within the hour.
- 84% of local searches have resulted in an action
- 4 out of 5 consumers shop on smartphones.
- 1 in 3 kids in the UK owns their own tablet.
- 45% of users ages 18-29 use their smartphones for searches every day.
- Payment processing company Square passed 1 billion transactions per month.
- 40% of people will choose a different search result if the first is not mobile friendly.
- 74% of users say that if a site works well on their phone, they’re more likely to visit it again
- Facebook’s Messaging App has over 1 billion users.
- Users are 2x more likely to share content on their mobile device than on their computer
- Phablets outsold PCs in 2014, and tablets in 2015.
Does your site contain errors?
When a page is error free, it will load faster and stand a greater chance of being cross-browser and cross-device compatible. Every time an error is encountered, an error_log is updated. The bigger it gets, the slower that site becomes.
If a page is just a jumble of errors then search engine bots will have trouble indexing your content. Search engine referral traffic drops as the errors go up.
- W3C Mark-up Validation
- W3C CSS Validation Service
- W3C mobileOK Checker
- W3C Feed Validation Service
- W3C Broken link Checker
How quickly does your page load?
A quick history lesson…
A long time ago, everybody used a dial up modem, with a cable direct to back of their desktop pc. To retain a customer, pages needed to load quickly and content was highly optimised.
Along came broadband, followed by fibre and page sizes grew at an incredible rate. Developers got greedy and somewhat lazy, hogging every byte of the available bandwidth.
…Along came the mobile phone and 3G.
All of a sudden, the available bandwidth dropped for 80% of visitors, to a level reminiscent of dial up days. On many networks, a 100K webpage takes over 1 minute to load. With mobile devices now the most popular method of surfing, the page load times are once again critical. As a consequence, websites now have to be designed for mobile first and desktop second.
The modern approach is:
Start small and add code only if the browser supports it.
Less than 0.1% of all sites are built this way.
Current state of affairs
Many developers think making a site responsive, simply means that it resizes to meet the screen dimensions.
Wrong - That is just a very small part of being 'responsive'. Mobile visitors should see code tailored specifically to their device; they may even be re-directed to sub-domain.
Commonly, when viewed on a mobile, load tons of code that isn't or cannot be used on that device is loaded but ignored by the browser or hidden by CSS. That is the opposite of what is needed.
Unfortunately what seems to be currently happening is webpages designed for desktop computers are having extra code added to make them resize to smaller screens. This adds extra code to already swollen pages make the load times even worse for mobile devices. Everything might fit on the screen, but when it takes 10 minutes to load, what's the point?
The realistic page size for mobiles is 10K-20Kbytes (~10 seconds load time). However, many pages are 100 times that size.
Website accessibility traditionally meant that your website could be read by people with disabilities. Now that term has expanded to cover mobile and tablet users.
Many developers believe that to make a site mobile compatible, they simply have shrink and squash the content until it fits onto a tiny mobile display.
- Words end up so small that they are only a couple millimetres tall. To read anything, you'll need to use the zoom facility.
- Buttons and links become tiny and over-crowded, meaning the average finger tip would cover several at once.
- Graphics become pixilated and blurred, reducing the legibility and colour definition.
- Image formats such as png are not always supported and are large compared with optimised jpg or gif images
- We've seen pop-ups so big, that they are impossible to close - leaving battery removal the only option.
- Mobiles and tablets do not have mouse pointers, so they aren't any css hover states. This can leave site navigation less obvious. With some drop-down menu structures non-functional on mobiles, whole areas of the website are inaccessible.
- Many hover state pop-ups are invisible to mobile users leaving vital content invisible.
- css2, css21, css3 element such as position, float etc can trigger scrolling events