28 Apr How to Optimise Your New Website to Be Found on Search Engines
Without search engine optimisation (SEO), you aren’t going to be found on search engines and rank for the terms that will bring new visitors to your website. For example, if your business is called Bill’s Brilliant Bikes and you’re located in London, no-one on the internet is going to use the search term “Bill’s Brilliant Bikes” if they’re looking for bikes in London, they would use search terms such as “Bike Suppliers in London”.
Solution – Optimise Your New Site for Search Engines With a Few SEO Essentials
Page Titles and Meta Descriptions
First of all, you need to do go through every page on your website and add a meta page title and meta description. A page title is a critical element for ranking in search results, and while a meta description doesn’t help you rank, it does make your appearance in search engines look better i.e.
The page title is optimised for the search terms we expect people who are looking for our services to search for, and our meta description is under 165 characters so it doesn’t trail off. I have written a blog post on optimising your page titles here: https://www.bowlerhat.co.uk/optimise-page-titles/
If this is your first website, you can ignore this one, but if you’ve had previous iterations of your website, you should read on. Historic redirects are redirects for links from your old website to your new one.
So, if your old website had a contact page with a URL such aswww.example.com/get-in-touch, but your new contact page’s URL is www.example.com/contact, then anyone who clicks the old URL would go to a 404 error page, which is a bad customer experience. Also, Google can penalise your website if lots of users are landing on 404 pages, so you need to make sure that every user is finding the page they want.
Instead, if you redirect your old URLs to go to the most relevant page on your new website, everyone will go to the page they are looking for and have a good customer experience. Ensure that your redirects are 301 redirects so that web crawlers know that the page has permanently moved to the new URL.
You may be tempted to just redirect all of your old URLs to the homepage of your website, but if a user clicks on an old URL expecting to go to a specific page such as a service page, and they end up on the homepage, that would also be a bad customer experience.
Another reason for doing this is that if your old service page used to rank really well, but now it just goes to the homepage, it will start to lose those rankings because the page it is redirecting to isn’t relevant enough anymore.
To obtain the URLs for your old website, you may need to use a tool such as Web Archive to check every iteration of your website and make a list of all the URLs. Also, if you’re about to have a new website, you should crawl your website using software such as Screaming Frog before launching the new version, so that you have a list of URLs for that iteration, and should save you time in Web Archive.
This is often a forgotten part of on-site SEO optimisation, but it should be done nonetheless. I have split image optimisation into four parts: file name, alt text, image size, and file size.
File Name – When you upload your image, make sure that it isn’t named something like DSC7920.jpg or kldlgbpfgr.jpg. Give it a meaningful name e.g. if the image is of the skyline in New York, call it something like new-york-skyline.jpg. The file name is an area to include keywords, so make sure that your file name accurately describes the subject of the image, but also make sure that you don’t make it spammy.
Alt Text – This is another area where you can include keywords and is also used for describing images to people who use screen readers and otherwise can’t see the image. What you should include here is an explanation of what the image is, as if you were describing the image to someone.
So for instance, if you intend to include a photo of the New York skyline for a website that sells apartments, your alt text could be “photo of the skyline taken from one of our apartments in New York”. Anyone using a screen reader or who have disabled images would be able to envisage what the image is even if they can’t view it.
Image Size – If you have a 2000 x 2000 px image, but you only plan on displaying it at 250 x 250 px, even though the image will be displayed at that size, the original image still has to be loaded, so the image could be making your website unnecessarily slow, and speed is an important factor for SEO. You should instead resize images to what they need to be and not have them unnecessarily large.
File Size – Having a huge file size for an image on your website can also slow it down. I would recommend using an online tool to optimise your images such as https://kraken.io/web-interface which gives you different choices for how you want your images compressed. Also, you can bulk-upload your images so you do not have to optimise each image one-by-one.
If you want to go one step further, you could add title text to the image as well, although this has no impact on SEO. Image title text is what shows when you hover over an image and should provide additional information along with the alt text. So if your alt text is “photo of the skyline taken from one of our apartments in New York” the title text could be “get in touch to see how you could experience a view like this”.
The image title text should be different to the alt text as people using screen readers will have the same sentence read out to them twice.
These are the very basic SEO optimisations that all websites should be able to implement. However, you should remember that on-site SEO isn’t enough to get you to the first position on the first page of results in Google, you will need to undertake off-site optimisation as well, which you can get started with this blog post: https://www.bowlerhat.co.uk/nap-local-business-listings/.