How to improve SEO for your website?

Introduction

Many Webmasters out there are looking to increase their website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – but how does one do this when everyone is fighting for the top spot? Implement relevant meta tags? Devise better search titles & SEO focus keywords? Create some super clean looking website URLs? Or maybe all of the above?

In this article we will discuss some of the methods we use here at Nott Studios to make our websites highly ranked in major search engines such as Google and Bing. We’ll be looking at various ways to improve SEO to get your website to the top of the search and above competitor websites.

 

When working on website SEO, there’s one simple formula you should keep in mind:

Quality of Information + Web Page Semantics = More visitors to your website & a Higher Page Rank

Let’s break down this formula so you can gain more knowledge on these SEO methods and how they’re applied in improving website SEO:

Information

There’s one main reason people come to your website – for Information. Information is a key part of any website SEO factor because humans like absorbing it and robots like collecting it for us to absorb. This means any information on a web page must be relevant to your visitors for them to gain any interest or potential understanding from it. If a user is searching for keywords relating to a query they’ve made on a Search Engine, for example:

“Cardiff Web Design” or “Web Development in Cardiff”

They’re probably expecting to find Web design or Web development services in Cardiff and don’t want to see , read, or learn about anything else relating to any other topic within your page. If they do then they have too much time on their hands, or they probably came across your webpage by accident.

The quality of your written content really does matter. The more effort you put into constructing a well written piece of information, the more likely people will share it so more traffic is directed to your website. Think of writing website content in a fun and enjoyable style so more people are likely to read it.

You can use tools such as Google Analytics for gaining insights into how people interact with your webpage. This should give you some hints on the areas of your website you could improve if you are having a problem driving traffic to it.

Semantics

Semantics? What’s that? Never heard of it, mate. Adding Website Semantics is the process of giving a webpage contextual meaning in it’s HTML source code. Semantics should describe more information about a piece of information on a webpage and give meaning to it. In technical terms, we call this extra information ‘microdata’.

Semantics is how robots link up information on the web so they can provide us humans with even more information which may be relevant to us. For example, if we search for the keywords “Nott Studios” in Google, you will see our company web page listed in the search results. In addition to this, you also see our business information on the right hand side of our search result because the business information on our website has been ‘tagged’ / ‘linked’ with schematic data using a scheme defined on schema.org.

Website semantics schema example
Website semantics schema example

Automating SEO testing

That’s the foundation of SEO, but now we want to introduce you to a very useful tool which can automate the process of testing SEO on your website.

When we build a new website here at Nott Studios, we use a very handy tool to help us determine if we’ve built a website to a good enough standard. This tool is called Nibbler and was created by a company called Silktide.

nibbler-silktide-homepage

Nibbler gives your website an overall SEO score by looking at various SEO factors associated with it. These factors include: Accessibility, Experience, Marketing, and Technology. Each of these factors have associated tests to go along with them. Some tests are repeated as they may effect multiple website factors. E.g. Mobile Optimisation is an Accessibility factor as well as a Technology factor.

Here’s an outline of Nibbler’s tests for reference:

Accessibility

  • Headings
  • Code quality
  • Mobile
  • Page titles
  • Internal links
  • URL format

Experience

  • Popularity
  • Google+ page
  • Facebook page
  • Twitter
  • Amount of content
  • Images
  • Mobile
  • Server behavior
  • Internal links
  • Printability
  • URL format
  • Freshness

Marketing

  • Incoming links
  • Domain age
  • Popularity
  • Google+ page
  • Facebook page
  • Social interest
  • Twitter
  • Amount of content
  • Headings
  • Analytics
  • Page titles
  • Internal links
  • Meta tags
  • Freshness

Technology

  • Domain age
  • Headings
  • Images
  • Code quality
  • Mobile
  • Server behavior
  • Internal links
  • Meta tags
  • Printability
  • URL format

Getting SEO right

As with all automated tools, you should be careful to not take all the feedback you get from Nibbler as a fact, and purely as a guideline. After some deep testing, we’ve noticed that Nibbler does tend to cache results sometimes. This is due to the way the W3C validator caches results on its own server when checking for errors in HTML code. If you happen to hit this issue, we suggest going to the W3C validator directly and testing your URL with a random query string at the end of your URL each time you make a change to your page. e.g. ?foo=bar

Here at Nott Studios, we believe the most important factor for any website should be that it’s built properly with valid HTML code (Seriously, the amount of commercial themes we’ve come across with invalid HTML is actually quite embarrassing). This test in turn relates to the section aptly named: ‘code quality’.

In the code quality section of Nibbler, you should aim at getting a score higher than 8.5 for your website. Obviously a 10 would be the best result, but this score is not always achievable. Anything less than a score of 8.5 just shouts sloppy code and a search engine will pick up on this and lower you in their index which is really bad if you want to hit the top spot.

To achieve the highest score possible for code quality, simply follow all W3C HTML standards and you should have completely compliant W3C code in just a few hours. You can use W3C’s validator on your webpages to check what you need to fix. Once you have no more errors or warnings within your Nibbler report, you should be getting a high score in your test. Another thing we noticed is that Nibbler does class <i> tags being bad for icons, as you should really be using <span> tags to stick with HTML standards. This is just one of those webpage semantics things where a lot of developers think the <i> tag makes more sense for an icon and is actually OK to use in practise.

nibbler-code-quality-test

Next, we want to look at the server behaviour of our website. After all, a faster server and quicker loading times is always in the interest of the end user – and therefore yours & the search engine’s. The most important things to look for in this test is server response time and if your URL’s have trailing slashes. This is quite a simple modification, but isn’t something that many people look out for.

The final tests to look out for would be an array of simple SEO enhancing tips. Here’s the full list: Freshness, URL Format, Printability, Meta Tags, Internal Links, Page Titles, Analytics, Headings and Images. All of these small tests are quite easy to achieve a good score in. Simply follow what each test is asking for and change your site meta tags and URL’s to keep Nibbler happy.

Below is a screenshot of our website going through the test a couple days after we launched, just so you get an idea of what kind of stats you should be going for with your own website.

nibbler-nott-studios-test

Conclusion

When building new websites, always be sure to write your content whilst thinking about SEO. When you’ve finished writing it, you should test your website with Nibbler to ensure you haven’t missed anything out. Don’t try to get that perfect ’10’ score on Nibbler as it’s not a perfect test.  You should get rid of the easy mistakes and you should be looking at a website which has a good SEO score and a higher chance of going up in the search the ranks with of Google and Bing.

Once you’ve got any ideal Nibbler score, you should focus on creating microdata for your website using the schema.org example we mentioned above. This is still a new thing to the web, but you should still focus on semantics for the time being to make your website future proof.

Always keep in mind that Search Engine Optimisation is a very time consuming task and Search Engines do change their SEO factors from time to time. This means it’s never possible to be completely consistent with gaining a good SEO ranking, but you should always focus on keeping up to date with SEO methods if you’d like to stay at the top of search rankings. If you simply don’t have time for this and you’d like Nott Studios to take care of SEO for your website, don’t hesitate to contact us as we are currently looking to take on some new work.

That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more awesome web development tutorials!


Note: We are in no way affiliated with Nibbler, but we love their tool and think it deserves more recognition so we decided to write about it. Nibbler provide a free version of their service, but also paid plans for more in depth website analysis. We’ve found the free version to work really well and all credit goes to nibbler for making this super awesome SEO testing tool!