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If SEO is like building a house, your website’s site code and structure is that house’s foundation. When you optimize the structure and code of your company’s website, you help ensure your content is ranked by search engines and found by customers. That’s why when we sign on new clients at Blue Corona, one of the first things we do is analyze their site code and structure for errors.
Site structure errors include problems preventing search engines from finding, reading, and properly indexing your web pages. Site warnings include items on your site that are not optimized (poor URL structure, missing title tags and meta description tags, etc.). When marketing your company online, your goal is to build the best possible site for users (and not take the easy road by creating a free website).
In addition to basic protocol for website structure, there are more technical aspects that can only help your site appear in searches. Below, I’ve hashed out different technical SEO areas of your website that you should focus on (…or that Blue Corona can help you with!).
Visually Appealing v. Crawl-able Websites
Many websites incorporate video and images onto their pages to add value and enhance the user experience. But since Googlebot and other indexers are robots, they (as of 2013) still cannot tell how to categorize non-text items. This can hinder how your site gets ranked, but there are easy fixes to ensure everything you have is indexed.
The first task is to create image alt tags that describe the image, as well as optimized image file names (rather than leaving the file name as “597002.jpg” try “burrito-bowl-extra-rice.jpg”).You should then ensure that the text surrounding the image and the link for the image includes keywords you are targeting for that specific page.
301 v. 302 Redirects
On a basic level, there are two different types of redirects (when a URL forwards right on to another URL). They are temporary (302 redirect) and permanent (301 redirect). Google will read both of these, but keep data from the 302 temporary redirects – understanding that web users may once again be able to see the original un-forwarded site. The problem with temporary 302 redirects is that they do not pass on link equity (AKA the positive optimization weight of internal and external links).
Optimizing Your Site Speed
We all remember the days of dial-up speed online browsing—when you could wash and fold an entire load of laundry before your online list of Sims cheat codes loaded. These days, we are used to—and expect—fast loading sites, often clicking “back” if a selected site takes too long to load. This click-back action by users can impact your bounce rate (percentage of people who navigate away from your site almost immediately) and can negatively affect your SEO.
On the other hand, if your website loads quickly, users are able to consume (and share) more content they find. This will then ideally increase your SEO and rankings, as Google will sense users engaging and enjoying your content.
Slow loading times can be caused by multiple page elements, slow third-party features, and several hosts. There are online tools to check and compare your site speed (I’ve also seen my coworkers at Blue Corona regularly check clients’ web pages and immediately call up our web-experts if they see a lag).
The Importance of Sitemaps
Google has a hard time crawling your website without an outline, or in industry jargon, an XML sitemap. A sitemap is used by SEOs and webmasters to clearly tell Google of their website structure and URLs. Think of it as a hierarchical break-down of how your website flows and links together.
Why do you need an XML sitemap for your website? It will guarantee that the search engines index all of your webpages, which will allow them to show up on search engine results pages. With consistently updated sitemaps, the search engine crawlers are able to discover great new content on your site or blog. As you read before, identifying keywords in your image alt tags is crucial, but creating image site maps of those optimized images can earn you more traffic, too!
You can help your website on its way to great rankings by submitting your sitemap through Google Webmaster Tools. For larger sites, you can even submit multiple XML sitemaps and Google will take it from there by updating and indexing and the most recent URLs found.
Not fluent in web code protocol like our Blue Corona web team? Drop us a line!
About The Author: Hannah is the SEO Team Lead at Blue Corona. If she's not busy daydreaming about the training session for her team, you can find her improving client conversion rates and planning her next trip.
View more blogs by Hannah Nelson