3 Small Search Engine Optimization Tips that Make a Huge Difference
Search engine optimization, or SEO, doesn't need to seem like sorcery
Just about everything about a website can be scrutinized for its impact on whether or not the site shows up on the first page of a Google search - which can make a person wonder whether or not it's even worth it to try to optimize your site at all.
But truthfully, small changes can make a difference and you don't need to be a web expert to create and maintain a site that's pleasing to Google and Bing. Just a few subtle tweaks improve your search engine optimization by a surprising margin and make the experience of your website substantially more enjoyable.
Fix broken links
Broken links—whether internal (pointing back to your own site) or external (pointing outside of your site) pose two huge threats to your web traffic: First, they’re immensely irritating to your users. Second, they ding your SEO.
Linking to both your own site and external sites is a smart thing to do for SEO—it helps Google see that your content is dynamic and well-sourced—but broken links have the exact opposite effect. Plus, they make your user experience terrible.
Just take this explanation from SEO Site Checkup:
When a visitor clicks a link on your page that takes them to the dreaded 404 error, the most common thing that happens next is they leave your site. In most instances, the visitor does not hit the back button, and they do not revisit your page. Now, this is not true in all instances, there are those loyal visitors that know you do not make a habit of sharing useless links, but for all the rest…expect them to leave and never return.
Fortunately, it’s extremely easy to ensure that your site is free of broken links. Sites like DeadLinkChecker can scan your content for links that are pointing nowhere. This is an especially good thing to do if your website is older, or has a lot of blog content going back many years. As sites change, migrate, or are deleted, it’s easy to rack up dead links, which can frustrate users and tank your search traffic. Consider doing a link inventory monthly—if only to ensure that nothing is broken inside your own site.
Optimize your URLs
Back in the Web 2.0 days, people didn’t think much about URLs; it was common for brands and websites to use URLs strictly for the benefit of their own developers, not for the user. These days, though, an optimized, easy URL can make a huge difference in your SEO and user experience.
“It should come as no surprise that the easier a URL is to read for humans, the better it is for search engines,” wrote Moz’s Rand Fishkin last year. “Accessibility has always been a part of SEO, but never more so than today, when engines can leverage advanced user and usage data signals to determine what people are engaging with vs. not.”
The difference between an optimized URL and a non-optimized URL is pretty clear—if you can look at the link and know exactly what you’re getting, it’s a good URL.
That doesn’t mean you should skip keywords, though; for blog posts, make sure the text in your URL (sometimes called the “slug”) is indicative of what your article is about. A quality CMS (like ours!) makes this extremely easy.
One word of caution, though: Once a piece is published, don’t change the URL. This will result in dead links, so make sure you focus on URLs before you hit “publish.”
Prioritize quality and size of photos
Big, beautiful photos are all the rage in today’s web designs for good reason; elegant, evocative, high-quality images improve the user experience for people visiting your website. Unfortunately, the difference between a large photo and a gigantic photo can have a sizeable impact on your search traffic.
- Photos that are especially high-resolution or very large in size can slow the loading speed of your site, which is detrimental to SEO. This is easy to fix, though:
- Upload photos that are the exact size that your site requires. Try to find photos that are scaled to the dimensions of your site’s needs, or crop or resize images to get them close. If a photo is 8,000 pixels by 4,000, it’s two big—resize it using Photoshop or any other software to save space.
- Stick to .JPGs and .PNGs. These are more compressed photo files, which improve loading speed.
- Use photos for SEO. Your CMS should have a space for alternate text in a photo; this is what populates Google’s image search. Put some relevant keywords in that space.
Your site’s traffic impacts its ROI—and your bottom line. By taking just a few extra steps when uploading blog posts and other content, you can give both Google and your users what they want.
SEO is complicated. We can help!
efelle creative is a Seattle-based web marketing firm that specializes in website design and development, website content management, search engine optimization, and other online marketing services. Since 2005, efelle has worked with hundreds of businesses to help them with their web development needs. Call us at 206.384.4909 or fill out our online contact form to get in touch with a custom web design specialist.