Technical SEO - Site Set up

Embarking on your website’s set up can be lengthy and highly technical often involving the use of an array of tools to aid the process. When it comes to SEO, you do not want to simply be focusing on content and links but will also rely on technical configurations to ensure that that content is better received and highly optimised.

Within this post you will find outlined the what’s and they why’s for technical SEO.

Site Setup

Whether you have just had a website built or had one passed over for SEO rebranded your first steps will involve getting an overview of the overall dynamics and maps of the site.

The first things you must check the website for are the following.

  • The URL – Need to make sure that your site with www does redirect to www (or the opposite).

Reason – You need to check that you can access the website with and without the www. Search engines consider URLs with and without "www" as two different websites so make sure you site is being seen as one site.

  • Favourite’s icon – does the website have this icon (Fav icon) which is likely to be located in your tab?

 

I would recommend every website has a fav icon as you will be more likely to be

  • Recognised
  • Unique compaired to others
  • Professional

If you dont have a Fav icon set up, and you would like one, your Web Designer/Developer should be able to help you create one for you.

However if this is not possible you can always do it yourself.

For more information about adding and creating a Fav icon yourself,

  • Check for a sitemap.xml

Sitemaps are required to enable Google to navigate around your site and know what pages to crawl. It also means there is less chance of pages getting missed.

Submitting your xml sitemap to Google and Bing gives them a backup incase there are unable to crawl all apges when crawling your site. Also add xml sitemap link to robots.txt for ease.

  • Check for robots.txt

The first thing search engines does when it crawls your website is look for the robots.txt file. This enables it to find the right pages to crawl as enabling a robots.txt file tells Google which pages and directories that you do not want or it is not required to crawl. You can test your robots.txt in webmaster tools before uplaoding to make sure you are not blocking pages that you do not want to be blocked.

Tip: If you want to confirm the website pages that Google will or will not crawl then it is as simple as adding the suffix ‘/robots.txt’ to the URL.

  • Duplicated content

Initiating your own crawl of the website will determine if there are any duplicated pages which you are likely to get penalised for when Google crawls the site itself.

This not only involves checking content on pages, but also meta titles and meta descriptions.

Embarking on this task physically yourself will take up a lot of time which is why it is advantageous to use an SEO tool to assist you in identifying the problems and the changes that are required. Unfortunately such tools don’t resolve the problems themselves but they do assist you in finding duplicate pages, content and broken links so that you can put them right.

However if you cannot avoid this there is away around it: this is called “rel-canoncial” which will need to be inputted into the code, so if you have a URL called

http://www.example.com/index.html

With the “rel-canonical” you can change it to your preferred address such as.

http://www.example.com

For more information on rel canonical see this post from Google

  • Keywords – Are your keywords identified clearly and linked up directly with the appropriate pages?

Clearly defining your keywords will enable you to determine what pages you are targetting making it easier to follow their progression in rankings in the future. When you first build or acquire a website it will also assist you in identifying if you need to alter your keywords or not.

When you are targeting the apporpiate pages you must make sure that that keyword relates to that page.

  • Social Media icons – does your website have these present?

Having a social media icon linking to your social media pages such as Facebook, Google+ and Twitter will not only widen your audience but give you a presence around your website and provides you and your customers a platform for each of you to converse, whether this be about products, discounts or events.

Should your company or website not have any social media accounts then it may be beneficial for you to set one up.

The three main social accounts are:

Twitter - This method is perfect for companies who are trying to promote their goods in a short and snappy way

Facebook- More for people who like to give a detailed description and provide a place for discusses.

Google+ – Help build a brand with Google and to also engage with other people and companies locally and worldwide.

When you’ve checked all of these points, you will need to sort out all of the advanced technical problems, these errors include.

  • 404 errors – broken pages

In order to fix 404 errors you need to redirect the pages to a relevant page turning the 404 error into a 301 making the value of this page not lost (a 301 means redirects for content that has been permanently moved). Some 404 issues you won’t want to do this on as you may bring this page back in the future so doing a 302 will help this (a 302 is a temporality redirection) .

  • Malware – including but not limited to viruses such as worms and Trojan horses

You must check your website for malware, as any form of virus will affect your website will also affect your rankings on Google. For example, if you have a worm on your site, this will affect the speed of you website making it slower, so make sure that your website is FREE of viruses before doing anything else

  • Meta Data - such as descriptions and titles that are too long or short

The Meta description is the blurb for your website so it needs to be neat, accurate and tidy so make sure that you don’t have any that are:

  • Missing
  • Duplicated
  • Too short
  • Too long

If you can try and write meta descriptions with sole aim of drawing the customers in as this is the first thing that the customer will see when they hit search in Google.

Tip – The perfect amount of characters for a Meta description is 156 characters if you were to go over this limit Google would just cut off the Meta description.

Tip: Search Engines such as Google love it when your website has a unique page title for each page. Although this can be a huge task, depending how many pages you have, it is likely to be worth it for the end results.

  • Content – any pages with low word counts and of duplicate content

Remember that refreshing your content is important, but make sure that the content that you put up is unique and not copied from anywhere as Google will penalise you and your rankings will drop ... fast.

  • Links – Broken links, internal and external

Double check all the links on your website as some links could be broken especially if they are external links. Have you put a wrong link in or even outdated links to external websites? If so, this could lead to a 404 error.

  • Images – Broken images, missing ALT text

The reason you need ALT text is to help the “visually impaired” as when you hover over an image you will see what that image is called. On top of that Google cannot crawl images as well as text so instead Google will crawl the ALT text to identify the image.

  • Google – Are your Google analytics set up? What about Webmaster Tools

Using Google Analytics will allow you to see which keywords are getting the “clicks” and the keywords that are not performing so well and need improving. Settign up Webmaster tools gives you the chance to see how Google is seeing your website and can make the necessary changes.

I hope that you guys find this blog informative and that you now know how to do a site set up correctly.

If you think that you have a better way to set up your SEO site set up or if I have missed out anything then me please tweet me – @ISD_Richard

Google Partner