10 Easy SEO Wins

Posted by on May 9, 2011 in SEO | No Comments

Optimising your  site for search engines is an important part of the development process and there are dozens of ways of making sure your content stands out in the rankings.

Here are my top tips that take very little implementation and will imminently improve your visibility in search. If you’re interested in getting a more thorough review of your site’s SEO performance, get in touch.

Insist on www.

It doesn’t matter whether your URL starts with www. or not, but it is important that you don’t have duplicate content at http://www.mydomain.com and http://mydomain.com. A simple solution is to add an entry in to your .htaccess file in the domain root to 301 redirect any addresses which aren’t prefixed with www. to the equivalent address with www.

RewriteEngine on

# insist on www
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^(www.|$) [NC]
RewriteRule ^ http://www.%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

Insist on Trailing Slashes

Make sure your URLs don’t have duplicate content with and without a trailing slash. If your URLs don’t end in a file extension like .html then it is good practice to insist on a trailing slash which will mark the end of the URL. Once again, your .htaccess file can keep an eye on this and make sure that any URLs which don’t end in a slash are 301 redirected to a URL with a slash. For example mydomain.com/page1 would redirect to mydomain.com/page1/

RewriteEngine on

# insist on trailing slash
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !(.*)/$
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ %{REQUEST_URI}/ [L,R=301]

XML Sitemap

Make sure you have an XML sitemap which lists all the pages in your site. The location of the sitemap should be referenced in your robots.txt file. It doesn’t matter what your sitemap file is called, just make sure it is correctly named in the robots file.

User-agent: *
Sitemap: http://www.mydomain.com/sitemap.xml

Title Tags

Make sure your page title tags are unique, not too long and contain the page title followed by the brand. e.g.

<title>10 Easy SEO Wins | Sandjam</title>

Only One H1

Make sure there is only one H1 tag on each page, and it should be around the actual content title on the page. Not around the logo, or header image or nav button.

Verify Your Site

Set up your site in Google Webmaster Tools and Bing. Each will ask you to add a tag to your header or a file to your domain to prove you own it. Once verified you will be able to track any crawl errors, sitemap errors and other ways of improving your site’s visibility.

Home Page Content

You can easily get tied up in the design and functionality of your site and end up creating a home page which has very little text on. Make sure there is space on your home page for a couple of sentences of text explaining what the site does, including all your main keywords. It doesn’t need to be prominent for the user, just prominent for search engines.

Canonical Links

Some pages in your site are going to produce duplicate content, that’s unavoidable. For example search results, category indexes, preview pages. These types of pages should all include a canonical tag in the header to tell search engines which page you would rather they used. This will avoid you getting penalised for the duplicate content on these pages.

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.mydomain.com/product/black-hat/"/>

Alt Tags

It may seem like an obvious one, but remembering to add good alt tags to images is something I often see getting missed out. Good image alt tags will not only help the page ranking, but help your images appear in image searches too.

Why stop at images? adding title tags to links or buttons is less important, but still good practice and gives you the option to add different keywords in the title to those in the link. e.g.

<a href="gallery.html" title="Photos from Antigua and Barbuda">View Gallery</a>

Just Make a Great Site

SEO is an important tool, but I think it’s also important to not loose focus on what really matters. You can spend hours trying to trick search engines in to thinking that your site is important. The best thing you can do is to create good, clean HTML markup with genuine well constructed content that your market will appreciate. Sell your site well, and you’ve already got a good head start on your SEO strategy.


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