How to properly position your new website in search engines?

How to properly position your new website in search engines?

Getting your website properly positioned in search engines is not always a priority when creating a new website. As a company or an independant, you immediately think about the information you want to share with your audience, the business objectives you need to set, the colours and the design of your future project.

If it’s not part of your job, you don’t right away think about SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). And yet it is this criteria that will make (or not) the success of your website. Whether you like it or not, if your new website does not appear in the search engines (and most of the time in the first results), there is no chance that its traffic, i.e. the number of your visitors, will magically grow, unless you invest a lot of money in paid advertising.

SEO must therefore be one of the key variables during the development of a website and here are the 3 pillars on which to focus your attention to optimise your SEO:

  • The technique
  • The content
  • The backlinks

The technical pillar: the basis of SEO

The technical elements consist of the code of your site. They define how the site is organised and whether the search engines understand what this is about. There are 6 key elements to take into account when you want to improve your SEO and assess the “technical pillar” of your site:

  • the code and the tags
  • the “responsiveness” of the chosen theme
  • the optimisation for the mobile format
  • the security protocol : https
  • the duplicate content
  • the loading speed.

1. The code and the tags

A quick look at the “demo” of a site will allow you to check that the code is “clean” and the tags used properly. Remember your 6th grade history lessons. We were asked to write the headlines in red, then the subheadings in green, and eventually the titles of the different sections in black. In your site, it’s the same. Each element must have its own tag (its title colour) so that search engines understand the organisation of your content. If you put a title in green pervious to a big title in red, it is no longer understandable for your visitors. And neither it is for the search engines.

florian-olivo-4hbJ-eymZ1o-unsplash

1. The code and the tags

florian-olivo-4hbJ-eymZ1o-unsplash

A quick look at the “demo” of a site will allow you to check that the code is “clean” and the tags used properly. Remember your 6th grade history lessons. We were asked to write the headlines in red, then the subheadings in green, and eventually the titles of the different sections in black. In your site, it’s the same. Each element must have its own tag (its title colour) so that search engines understand the organisation of your content. If you put a title in green pervious to a big title in red, it is no longer understandable for your visitors. And neither it is for the search engines.

sigmund-65u8D-iNh0M-unsplash

2. The "responsiveness" of the your theme

If you work with an external provider

If you use an external provider (agency or freelance), do not forget to mention the need for responsive in your brief. This will avoid unpleasant surprises. Ten years ago, when tools were not offering such a great experience on different formats, it was easy to forgive display errors or overlapping elements when consulting a website on a tablet or mobile. Today visitors expect quality and search engines will “punish” you if your site does not display properly on tablets or mobiles.

If you use a Content Management System (CMS)

If you use a CMS (website creation platform) and you choose a theme from a library, it is essential to check that the site will be displayed properly whatever the format in which your visitor views the site. It is very simple to do this. Open the demo in a web page (via Chrome for example) and change the display size of the page. If all the elements are properly displayed in the page and in different sizes, then your site is “responsive”. If some of the elements overlap when you reduce the size of the screen then it is better to look for another theme.

2. Le "responsive" du thème choisi

sigmund-65u8D-iNh0M-unsplash

If you work with an external provider....

If you use an external provider (agency or freelance), do not forget to mention the need for responsive in your brief. This will avoid unpleasant surprises. Ten years ago, when tools were not offering such a great experience on different formats, it was easy to forgive display errors or overlapping elements when consulting a website on a tablet or mobile. Today visitors expect quality and search engines will “punish” you if your site does not display properly on tablets or mobiles.

If you use a Content Management System (CMS)...

If you use a CMS (website creation platform) and you choose a theme from a library, it is essential to check that the site will be displayed properly whatever the format in which your visitor views the site. It is very simple to do this. Open the demo in a web page (via Chrome for example) and change the display size of the page. If all the elements are properly displayed in the page and in different sizes, then your site is “responsive”. If some of the elements overlap when you reduce the size of the screen then it is better to look for another theme.

3. The optimisation for mobile

Today Google is testing your website on its mobile format first. If the content of your site isn’t displayed properly, if there are bugs or if the font size is way too small to be read on a mobile screen, you will automatically be stricked

charles-deluvio-6OF-Ly-5oJY-unsplash

3. The optimisation for mobile

charles-deluvio-6OF-Ly-5oJY-unsplash

Today Google is testing your website on its mobile format first. If the content of your site isn’t displayed properly, if there are bugs or if the font size is way too small to be read on a mobile screen, you will automatically be stricked

daniel-jerez-CD4WHrWio6Q-unsplash

4. The security protocol : HTTPS

Safety is a key element of the technical pillar. When you are surfing on the Internet and the website you are visiting is using thr http protocol, Google indicates that your navigation is not secured. This means that if a hacker wants to see the data exchanged on this site, he can. Like a helicopter above the motorway: he will be able to see all the car plates coming from both directions. If you install the HTTPS protocol on your site, you enter a tunnel under the mountain. The hacker in his helicopter can no longer see vehicles passing by and he becomes blind.

4. The security protocol : HTTPS

daniel-jerez-CD4WHrWio6Q-unsplash

Safety is a key element of the technical pillar. When you are surfing on the Internet and the website you are visiting is using thr http protocol, Google indicates that your navigation is not secured. This means that if a hacker wants to see the data exchanged on this site, he can. Like a helicopter above the motorway: he will be able to see all the car plates coming from both directions. If you install the HTTPS protocol on your site, you enter a tunnel under the mountain. The hacker in his helicopter can no longer see vehicles passing by and he becomes blind.

5. Duplicated content

The obsession of search engines such as Google is to offer to the visitor the most qualitative content in relation to his/her query. If your site displays the same content, the same paragraph, the same visuals several times, Google will devaluate this content which does not look so specific. Worse case scenario, if you take over some of the content from another site, Google will know exactly who posted first and will strick you heavily for “copying” the neighbour.

jack-robinson-oc4kVkjQJmI-unsplash

5. Duplicated content

jack-robinson-oc4kVkjQJmI-unsplash

The obsession of search engines such as Google is to offer to the visitor the most qualitative content in relation to his/her query. If your site displays the same content, the same paragraph, the same visuals several times, Google will devaluate this content which does not look so specific. Worse case scenario, if you take over some of the content from another site, Google will know exactly who posted first and will strick you heavily for “copying” the neighbour.

chris-liverani-HUJDz6CJEaM-unsplash

6. The loading speed

Again, since Google wants the user to have the best possible experience, the website loading speed will be one of the parameters it will take into account when rating your site. Indeed, in most cases, users exit a site that takes too long to load. By using features such as “purge / cache” you improve the loading time of your site and therefore the user experience.

6. The loading speed

chris-liverani-HUJDz6CJEaM-unsplash

Again, since Google wants the user to have the best possible experience, the website loading speed will be one of the parameters it will take into account when rating your site. Indeed, in most cases, users exit a site that takes too long to load. By using features such as “purge / cache” you improve the loading time of your site and therefore the user experience.

To sum up, working on the “technical” pillar of your SEO means making sure that your website is light, secured and that it is displayed quickly

The content pillar

The unique purpose of a search engine is to find you the most relevant content related to your query. It is therefore essential that the content of your site responds to the needs, questions or problems of your visitors in order to generate real interest from him/her.

Consequently, you should focus your energy on the following criteria in order to improve the perceived quality of your content:

  • Site architecture
  • Copywriting
  • Content optimisation

1. The website architecture

This is the organisation of your site. What tree structure have you chosen to present the information on your site? Furthermore, how is this information organised in the different pages? Have you “split” your content into sections and/or sub-sections? Do you use categories to organise the content of your blog, and have you tag each article? All this information will allow search engines to anticipate the perceived quality of your site by potential visitors. If it is poorly organised, if the information is complicated to find or not properly categorised, a search engine like Google will anticipate that the user will be disappointed with his/her visit.

kelly-sikkema-gcHFXsdcmJE-unsplash

1. The website architecture

kelly-sikkema-gcHFXsdcmJE-unsplash

This is the organisation of your site. What tree structure have you chosen to present the information on your site? Furthermore, how is this information organised in the different pages? Have you “split” your content into sections and/or sub-sections? Do you use categories to organise the content of your blog, and have you tag each article? All this information will allow search engines to anticipate the perceived quality of your site by potential visitors. If it is poorly organised, if the information is complicated to find or not properly categorised, a search engine like Google will anticipate that the user will be disappointed with his/her visit.

glenn-carstens-peters-npxXWgQ33ZQ-unsplash

2. The copywriting

It is essential to focus on the quality of the content of your new site. Does this content answer well your visitor’s questions or issues?

The visitor does not just come out of nowhere. He has entered a query into his/her search engine and is looking for answers to his/her questions. Will this be the case in the long term with content that will not become obsolete in a few weeks. If you have to modify the content of your articles on a regular base, perhaps this content is not well phrased to answer the majority of your visitors’ questions. Finally, once the content has been defined, it is mandatory to present it in a structured page with titles and subtitles, to illustrate your wording with a diversity of content: illustrative images, video, quotes, bullet points; and to adapt your style to your audience with mostly short sentences.

2. The copywriting

glenn-carstens-peters-npxXWgQ33ZQ-unsplash

It is essential to focus on the quality of the content of your new site. Does this content answer well your visitor’s questions or issues?

The visitor does not just come out of nowhere. He has entered a query into his/her search engine and is looking for answers to his/her questions. Will this be the case in the long term with content that will not become obsolete in a few weeks. If you have to modify the content of your articles on a regular base, perhaps this content is not well phrased to answer the majority of your visitors’ questions. Finally, once the content has been defined, it is mandatory to present it in a structured page with titles and subtitles, to illustrate your wording with a diversity of content: illustrative images, video, quotes, bullet points; and to adapt your style to your audience with mostly short sentences.

3. The content optimisation

If you use a CMS, you will have a number of tools at your disposal to optimise your content. You can start with basic elements such as :

  • the url (address of a page or slug),
  • the page title,
  • the page description,
  • the titles of the graphic elements composing the page (images, videos, computer graphics, etc.).

The objective is not to over-optimise all these elements but to simplify the life of the robots in order they understand what your site is about.

stephen-phillips-hostreviews-co-uk-shr_Xn8S8QU-unsplash

3. The content optimisation

stephen-phillips-hostreviews-co-uk-shr_Xn8S8QU-unsplash

If you use a CMS, you will have a number of tools at your disposal to optimise your content. You can start with basic elements such as :

  • the url (address of a page or slug),
  • the page title,
  • the page description,
  • the titles of the graphic elements composing the page (images, videos, computer graphics, etc.).

The objective is not to over-optimise all these elements but to simplify the life of the robots in order they understand what your site is about.

The backlinks pillar

Backlinks are the last pillar of your SEO. They would account for about 60% of your “rating” but it is the pillar that is most generally neglected. Indeed, most of the time, when a site is finalised and push online, the content changes doesn’t change so much in the following months.

Yet a website is a living element that must evolve with your business. There is always innovation or new elements that regularly enter the game in any industry and it is therefore logical that the content of your website evolves on a regular base too.

To assess the quality of your site, a search engine like Google will map all the incoming links that lead to your site, i.e.all the links belonging to sites other than yours that lead to one of your pages.

In order to rate your site and to define if the content on your page is worth consulting, it will, on top of looking at the quantity of backlinks, look at their quality:

  • Do those links come from sites that have “authority” over a domain? If you work in the food industry, a link coming from a large culinary blog on the front page of Google with 15K visits per day will carry more weight than a link coming from the local grocery store which receives 20 visits per day. In this case we say that we “inherit” part of the authority of the site which redirects to our page.
  • Do they come from a site in the same domain as you or in a completely different domain? If we still consider that you work in the food industry, a link from a food blog will carry more weight than a link from a fly-fishing tackle shop. Google understands better in the first case why the blog recommends your page.
  • Where were those links placed in the original site? If we break down a web page, we can see that it is often organised as follows: a header, a “content” part, a footer and possibly a sidebar. If the backlink comes from the content part, it will carry more weight than if it was placed in the footer or sidebar.

A final tip: Google monitors the acquisition of backlinks. If it finds out that you have simply exchanged a backlink for another with company, it will strick you. Wait several months between the appearance of the two links. Also, try to acquire backlinks on a regular base to build your authority.

Properly position your website in search engines : a long term journey

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In order to position your website properly, you need to work on the 3 pillars of SEO which are the technical pillar, the content pillar and the backlinks pillar. It is much easier to work on these pillars when you start a new website project. Of course you will always be able to do it afterwards, but it will require extra effort.

If this is not your job or if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, you can work with an agency or freelancer who specialises in SEO. They will be able to drive you step by step on this long journey to the 1st page of Google.

Indeed, even by working on these 3 pillars, it is a long way to the best places on the front page. You are not alone on the market and your competitors, just like you, are regularly investing resources to improve their own SEO.

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