Every website is different, but no matter what your site is about, there are 13 things your website should have to allow you to to make the most of search engine optimisation on your website and improve it.
All of the content managed (CMS) and e-commerce websites we build either include these things or include optional support for these things.
- Human readable addresses – This is one of the easiest ways to ensure your website performance in search results improves. Just tell the search engines what the page is about in your address. In doing so, you are also making it easier for people to see what your page is about before they get to it. An example of a human readable address is this one – https://terramedia.com.au/13-things-your-website-should-have-to-help-your-seo-efforts. A non-human readable address might be something like http://www.example.com/node/15963.
- Page titles – This is the text that is shown in the toolbar of your web browser and is also often used in search results and social media links (such as Facebook Likes, Pinterest Pins, etc). Page titles should be short but descriptive, giving potential visitors as well as search engines a quick overview of what your page is going to be about.
- Meta tags – Less important than they used to be, meta tags allow you to define things like keywords, page descriptions, location information and more. While these are not always used in search results, every piece of data you can give search engines to ensure they know exactly what your page is about and rank it appropriately is important.
- Semantic title tags – Title tags are used throughout your website and it’s page content to signify what the content directly below the title is going to be about. You can have titles within titles but they should be nested correctly, ensuring that the main title is only used once on a page to tell users and search engines what that page is about.
- Human readable sitemap – This is very important for both end users and search engines. If a user can’t find something on your website it can be useful to be able to access a full sitemap that shows a rundown of all the content on the website they can quickly skim over to what they are searching for. As an added bonus, this links all of your content together in a list structure that allows search engines to get an idea of how your website is structured and where all of your content is.
- XML sitemap – This doesn’t mean anything to your end users, but can be submitted directly to search engines as new pages are added, changed or removed, meaning search engines know your content has changed and they need to reindex it. This can improve your site’s index speed and can also help search engines determine your site structure and content relevance.
- Logical site navigation – A logical navigation structure on your website not only makes it easy for users to find their way around your website but it allows search engines to more accurately determine the relationships between content on your website and where the more important pages are.
- Robots.txt file – Not everyone will use this, but this file gives you the ability to tell search engines to do or not do certain things. One example is to tell search engines not to index a particular page or to ignore links from a certain page. This gives you a bit more control over how search engines behave regarding your pages.
- Contact details – One of the most important things for end users, but also important for search engines. Your contact details lend legitimacy to your website, but also give search engines an idea of what geographic location your website is going to be the most relevant to. Search engines are getting smarter and smarter, so make it as easy as possible for them to use their brains to rank you well for your target audience.
- Breadcrumbs – These handy little links are a trail leading back to the home page of a website. As with a logical site navigation, they make it easy for users to backtrack their steps, or if they entered via a web search, determine where on the website they are. Similarly, it helps search engines determine page relevance and relationships.
- Page tags – You’ve probably seen these on blogs a lot. Tags can be used on other websites too though. Tags and tag pages allow content to be grouped together based on a particular tag outside of the standard navigation structure. This gives you another way to tell both users and search engines how your content is related, even though it might be in completely separate sections of your website normally.
- RSS feeds – These feeds can be scraped by third party websites and search engines to assist in indexing your content as new content is published. These feeds can also be subscribed to by end users who have an RSS reader, automatically notifying them as new content becomes available.
- Analytics – While not strictly a website feature, analytics tools allow you to analyse how your website is performing and what keywords people are using to find you. This means you can fine-tune your pages, adjusting content, titles, links and just about anything else you want to in order to improve your search results. We recommend Google Analytics.