Extreme Makeover: SEO Edition
The winter weather is finally starting to subside, which means that spring is right around the corner and it’s a time for new beginnings. For business owners, webmasters and online marketers, this means doing a little spring cleaning the form of an SEO makeover for their websites.
Regularly performing a checkup on your website and giving it a bit of a facelift when and where it’s necessary are kind of essential to maintaining a solid SEO strategy. However, it can be easy to overlook at times and before you know it, a few weeks (or even months) have gone by since you last fixed things up, and by this time, you’re site may need a more extensive overhaul.
If your site is in dire need of a makeover and you’re wondering where to begin, look no further, because below we’ve listed a handful of nips, tucks and alterations that can help you totally reimagine your website for SEO.
Dust Off the Old Keyword Research Tool
Keyword research is the backbone of any SEO strategy, but it is also one of the easiest things to forget to revisit when turning up your site. That’s why the first step in an SEO makeover should be visiting the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to find the keywords in your niche that are not only most popular, but are also most suitable to your particular Web business. If this new report returns information about new keywords that you’re not currently using, make sure to find a way to work them into your site’s title tags and meta descriptions.
Clean Up URLs
One of the easiest and yet most effective ways to improve your website’s search rankings is by beautifying your URLs to make them easier for search engines to read, which means getting rid of long query strings. Clean, easy-to-understand URLs should include a hypertext transfer protocol, the website’s domain name, the subdirectory of the file or page (if applicable) and the file name of the requested resource, all of which are separated by backslashes. Moreover, different terms within directory or file names should be separated by dashes (-), rather than underscores (_); the URL should not include auto-generated IDs and/or numbers; and they should remain as short as possible. Luckily, there is a tool that helps users rewrite requested URLs on the fly called mod_rewrite.
Refine the Site Architecture
This is the big one, as refining your site’s architecture not only makes it easier for search engines to crawl your content, but it also makes the site more user friendly and increases load times, so it’s a great idea all around. For starters, you should make sure the site follows the basic rule of thumb that it takes no more than three clicks to reach your deepest content. Other handy little tweaks you can make include making it possible to access your homepage in one click from any other page on your site (which could include placing a link your logo image), cross-linking related pages to open the navigation flow (for both users and search engines) and by utilizing text-based links for your menu and page navigation buttons, since that’s the only thing that search engine crawlers can read, which is particularly important for the more crucial aspects of your website.
Purge Your Link Collection
If you like back to all of the websites that link to you, that tells Google that all of your inbound links are not earned, as sites with real authority don’t have to practice link sharing. You may also have a list of outbound or internal links on your site that go to broken pages, downed websites or other places that you may not want them going to various reasons. An SEO makeover is the perfect opportunity to perform a full-scale link checkup on your website to make sure that your site provides only the best and most necessary links for visitors and search engines. Remember, the number of outbound links you have doesn’t matter, as long as you’re linking to authoritative (and working) sites.
Weed Out Irrelevant Content
Finally, you should also do a site-wide examination of all of your content to ensure relevance and quality and help you move up the search rankings, as better content means more visitors and links and, thus, more attention from Google and Bing. Review your blog posts, Web pages and other copy to suss out anything irrelevant or outdated and make changes as necessary. This includes (but is not limited to) updating titles and headlines to include keywords and adding links to trending topics, which can help you get more relevant content and increase your search engine placement.