A common problem for both small and mid-sized businesses is their branded website failing to rank where they would like it to on the SERPs. That's when they call in the digital marketing consultants.
Even after hiring a third-party search agency claiming to be the “fastest growing” company in the industry to perform on-page optimization and perhaps build somewhat of a backlink portfolio, business owners are still left scratching their head wondering why their website cannot be found on search listings.
Regardless of how many new articles your search agency writes and publishes each month, and beyond their ability to create directories that provide miniscule support for increasing online authority, most agencies do not consider the technical components of a site that allow for search efficiency.
The technical integrity of your website and its ability to allow search engines to easily crawl, identify and pull specific forms of information is significant for achieving excellent visibility through search listings.
If you are the owner of a business who has been working with a search agency for quite some time and still feel that the results are not there, hold your vendor accountable for the following technical considerations.
How a website is organized in terms of its vertical and horizontal structure can have a significant impact on search rankings and user experience.
Make sure that your navigation menu contains the most straightforward, rewarding keyterms that relate directly to the top-level categories of your business.
For example, if you are a Ford car dealership, then build your navigation menu so that it offers specific sections dedicated to:
- New Cars
- Used Cars
This structure allows users to understand exactly who you are and what you have to offer, while also signaling to search engines that these are the terms/concepts you want to build primary authority around.
Additionally, this particular setup creates a diverse navigational structure that allows search engines to view your site as both in-depth and diverse; making you much more attractive when crawlers are looking to provide the greatest experience for the end user.
Another common oversight is the creation of a navigation menu located on the footer of the website that does not directly align with the information contained within the top menu. This information is often automatically generated by a template in the site's CMS, so it can be easily overlooked. Make sure that each menu is completely in sync with each other in order to allow for maximum search efficiency.
If you are concerned over the aesthetics of your site and are not interested in having text take over the homepage, have your search agency create accordion scripts that allow search crawlers to recognize what content exists on your site without intruding on any images or space.
Navigation Menu & Links
Information architecture is concerned with organizing webpages and other digital assets so that they can be readily understood and used by both online users and search engines alike. Search engines analyze how pages are grouped together via directory structure, main menu and in-line linking in order to identify and classify website at the page, section and site level.
If you have ever heard the term “breadcrumb URL structure,” this refers to the ability to create URLs for landing pages that encompass all associated primary and subcategory information.
Breadcrumb structures allow search engines to understand relationships between various forms of content and concepts throughout a website. Connecting landing pages that build off of each other in meaning and function integrates your website as a whole, which creates an online presence that is both intuitive and meaningful for users both human and robot.
This type of structure significantly increases search efficiency and keyword authority to a degree.
As you can see in the example above, “Innovation Capitalist” is directly connected to its primary category and the main domain, following a logical progression of how users and crawlers can move from “A” to “C.”
An HTML sitemap enables visitors and search engines to easily find all of the pages within a site. Sitemaps are significant for creating a well-rounded intuitive experience because they facilitate easy movement for both engines and users and provide direct links to main pages. A sitemap is especially helpful for larger sites that include many sub-levels with numerous pages.
This example demonstrates how each subcategory section of the site is attached to a specific primary destination related to the brand’s navigation menu. Not only does this support user experience, but also provides a degree of authority and depth that can translate into visibility and rankings when combined with other optimization tactics.
An XML Sitemap is designed to provide search engines with a detailed roadmap of each page's location, change frequency and priority. Extremely large sites can have multiple sitemaps with an index file linking to each. An individual XML Sitemap file can have no more than 50,000 URLS and must be no larger than 10MB. The XML Sitemap tells search engines exactly how the content on your site is organized. Given how important a sitemap can be for indexing your site's content, you would not believe how many agencies do not create and upload a new XML Sitemap on a regular basis!
If you are actively publishing new forms of content on a regular basis, creating a new XML Sitemap and submitting it to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools for insight should be performed on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. Doing so ensures that all of your efforts, every single blog article and image are recognized by search engines and indexed accordingly.
You can use tools like Screaming Frog to generate new sitemaps with complete ease.
Text vs. Images
Frequently, images of text are used for page headers and navigation links. While this approach may be desirable from a design perspective, it is important to include as much text on a page as possible to increase the overall content of a site. There is some debate among younger search strategists who believe that word count doesn’t affect visibility or rankings. Instead, they recommend creating an aesthetically pleasing site that is built around attractive fonts, images and banners.
However, many studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between landing pages that contain at least 750 words and being positioned on the first page of search listings.
So while every user who lands on your site might not be interested in reading each word placed on a particular landing page, do yourself a favor and please the “Google Gods” who are looking for in-depth, diverse destinations that are setup to meet the expectations and demands of any possible online consumer.
When it comes to word count, think of your website as a library. You may not ever go to the Science Fiction section, but the fact of the matter is that this genre exists in case you are interested. Search engines like Google will connect users with these types of dynamic, diverse destinations nine time out of ten because they want to provide online consumers with the most robust experience possible.
Technically Sound, Search Engine Happy
Addressing each of these elements will create a more well rounded, technically sound website that allows for greater search efficiency.
While adhering to these recommendations is not enough for maximizing opportunity around rankings, authority and visibility, it can take you to the next level when combined with strategic onsite optimization and publishing new relevant forms of content on a regular basis.
Image credit: Pixabay