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Is Your Website Ready for the Search Engines?


Photo by sarah b on Unsplash

Let's be clear. When it comes to search engines, keep in mind that SEO is an experiment, there are no rules. The algorithms changes regularly (estimated 400 times a year) and Google doesn’t share specifics on those changes except general guidelines on their site.  That being said, there are some best practices to help improve the rank of the website. We can't cover all of them here, but there are some obvious ones.

This applies to the majority of search engines, so don't feel like you need to cater to each one individually. 

Most of all, if this is greek to you, consider hiring someone to handle your SEO. Also, if they make promises of specific results, run far away. SEO is a slow, continuous process.

Make Your Content Clear

According to Google, they want to "see your page the same way the user does". That being said, when you see a search engine entry, you notice the title and a brief description. These are placed are placed in the "head" section of the HTML. The title can provide more information than just your business name. It can have a brief few words or a phrase such as "McAllister Park Design - Web Design and Hosting Services".  Your description needs to be an accurate summary. Avoid default words like "Page 1" or Untitled".

Mobile Friendly 

Your website needs to be mobile friendly. That means it is responsive and can resize to accommodate the various cell phone screens, tablets and laptop or desktop computer.  You can check how mobile friendly your website is by visiting Google's mobile friendly test area.

Your website also needs to load FAST. How fast? Well, Google doesn't say, but most agree with less than 2 seconds. The reason? People leave the website if it doesn't load quickly. They might feel it isn't working or that they don't have time. 

Maile Ohye, states in a  Google Webmaster video, that “2 seconds is the threshold for e-commerce website acceptability. At Google, we aim for under a half-second.” 

SSL Certificate 

Your website must be secure, even if you aren't selling anything. Many hosting companies provide free certificates, so consider this when looking at hosting. I recommend WebHostPython for shared hosting and yes, this is an affiliate link. I have been with them for years and they provide great support and have dealt with various issues promptly and with grace, even when I messed up! They aren't my only hosting company as I have various options for my clients and their needs but for shared hosting, I recommend them.

Organize Your Website 

Just like your cabinets, keeping things organized makes it easier to locate for you and anyone using your kitchen! This applies to your website as well. Keep topics together, Use headers appropriately with H1 at the top and reduce down with subtopics using H2 and below. This also benefits accessibility.

Google also recommends using breadcrumbs, a way of providing navigation in addition to the menu. 

Most of all avoid complex web of navigation links as well as going overboard by "slicing and dicing your content" so it takes a large amount of clicks to get to the information.   

Know What Your Readers Want 

Provide fresh content with proper spelling and grammar, If you have difficulties with this, Grammarly is your friend. Make your content and writing user friendly to fit your visitor's needs. The days have passed for keyword stuffing or hiding text from users, making it only available to the search engine bots. 

Cultivate Trust

Most of all, your site needs to be trustworthy.You are the expert and you provide quality in your product and/or service. Your pages need to reflect this good practice. 

There are many other "Do's and Don'ts, but like Googles SEO Basics documentation is about 50 pages. I will most likely address more in the future. 

And let me remind you...
SEO is an experiment, there are no rules...
just a good website that caters to its audience with quality content that loads quickly.







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