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A high-performing website can be an essential tool for your business, and is becoming increasingly important as more and more transactions are carried out over the internet. Yet not all web platforms are designed to be SEO friendly. Some require extensive customisation and coding to get them working to their full potential.
Of course, it is possible to hire an SEO specialist to do all the clever stuff for you. But taking matters into your own hands, or working closely with specialists, gives you more control and lets you design and build your site in your own way. It’s also true that many small businesses just don’t have the budget for an expensive outsourced specialist. But it may be easier than you think to make your site SEO-friendly, with affordable options out there. Here are 15 things you need to think about.
Support canonical rule sets
Your site needs to support canonical rule sets. This will allow the user to eliminate duplicates and low-quality content. Speaking from an SEO point of view, this gives the site owner the power to take back control of their pages. It might be the case that your site already supports canonicals, but you need to make sure it is doing so to make it easy to integrate advanced rules.
Freedom to customise title tags
Your page title should be telling the search engine what your page is about in 60 characters or fewer. Any unique page on your site should have a title that is relevant to what the page represents. It is possible to auto-generate page titles but for more advanced SEO purposes, you should be able to customise every page title.
Customise the meta-description tags on each page
The role of meta-description is to give the search engine more information about your page. It should be written for human audiences too, however, as it is your chance to give the reader a small insight into the kind of information your page includes. Its role in SEO rankings is still up for debate so try and keep it catchy and simple.
No session IDs
Session IDs should not be required by your page URLs. Very often they just end up duplicating content so they are no longer recommended.
Support automated XML sitemap
A well-structured website shouldn’t really need an XML sitemap to assist the search engine. However, this is still an essential tool for interacting with the search engines’ webmaster tools. It also allows you to call attention to any new pages or URLs on your site. You can tie a URL to several attributes which means an XML sitemap is a good starting point for your SEO-friendly site.
Support custom robiot.txt file
This should help you to index the admin and cart sections of your website, giving you control of further details such as directory and permissions at the file level.
Navigation in plain HTML supported
You need to make sure that your navigation links are working and clickable even when cookies, CSS and JS are disabled. This will allow search engine bots to crawl your site and boost your rankings.
Index location pages
You should make sure that your chosen platform deals with location pages and these should be easily integrated with ‘store finder’ widgets. Once you have made sure that your chosen platform does provide location pages, use a widget that can spider down to the level of an individual store, which is essential for SEO rankings.
Customise the content headers
It’s very important that you use the content headers to describe what it’s all about – in much the same way as you would for meta description and title tags. This will make your site more SEO friendly as it means every page can be unique and achieve optimal results.
Customise inclusions and navigation depth
In short, this means that your platform should be completely customisable, giving you the freedom to choose your own subcategories and display them at the top of the navigation. Being able to customise your website is an essential tool for making it more user friendly and letting you fine tune internal links.
You should try to support mobile features, whether this is a priority for your site or not. Make sure that each page has its own specific viewport that matches the device it is being viewed on, and ensure all other content can be viewed accordingly.
Support ad hoc 301 redirect mapping
Currently, you’ll find that most platforms allow you to create 301 redirects, with some even insisting that you do it through their GUI. If you have any ability to author the redirects then you can do this with few problems, but you need to make sure it’s not too complicated.
Customise URLs for each page
Google suggests that you customise the URLs for each page which will really help with organising. Try to use readable words rather than long numbers which will appeal more to the human eye – even if it doesn’t have any specific SEO relevancy.
Host on dedicated IPs
Try to choose a platform that can host your site on a dedicated IP. Too many platforms use IPs along with dozens of other sites that don’t enjoy the same reputation and this can damage the SEO friendliness of your site.
Ensure that any images you use are properly tagged. People often forget the alt attribute when they add images to their online content. Because Google can’t read your images but can read the alt text, this is very important for maximising the SEO for any visual content that you add. It can also help to boost the accessibility of the site for anyone using screen reader software.
Building a strong site in terms of SEO will help engines to index your site quickly and easily. It will also provide a valuable user experience and keep visitors coming back, which will further boost your rankings. In fact, Google is increasingly paying more attention to the user experience.
In terms of the ongoing importance of SEO, a substantial amount of traffic is still driven to your site from search engines. Around 64% of traffic comes from organic searches compared to around 2% from social, 6% from paid searches and 12% from direct searches. So, making sure you build your website on a platform that allows you to take care of the SEO essentials is key to improving your online visibility.
It’s also worth remembering that search engines are looking for relevant and quality content that will be useful to readers, not just keyword-stuffed text. If you are unsure about any of the above, then it is well worth employing the help of an SEO development company. They will be able to create a site that takes care of all the essential SEO tactics that you can employ to maximise your potential.