SEO Check: What should be considered?

Anyone who runs a website will certainly know this abbreviation: SEO. These three letters stand for "Search Engine Optimisation", which can be translated as search engine optimisation. Today we are doing the SEO check! What is current and new in the SEO universe? There are various techniques for optimising your website for search engines, which I would like to present in this post.


Samuel Rhyner - 31. March 2020

CONTENT MARKETING - SEO

How it all began


Let's take a brief trip down memory lane (of Google). Long ago at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergei Brin were students. They both spent a lot of time reading the scientific papers. They both always noticed: Many papers always refer to "famous" papers such as Einstein's theory of relativity. They recognised that these references functioned like a "voice". The more such voices a paper had, the more important it must be. Larry and Sergei came up with a plan: they would download every paper, analyse them according to the "voices" and could then rank all the papers, with the most important first.


At that time, as the internet slowly emerged, they recognised similarities with the papers. There too, there were "links" from page to page that could act like votes in a ranking. So they took it upon themselves to download (crawl; gradually/not all at once) the entire internet and also produce a ranking. Now, if you search for a term, you can list all the pages with the keyword and sort them by rank.


And today?


Basically, Google works in a similar way as before. Only there are many more factors that influence the ranking. These include, for example, the speed of the website, topicality or an optimised display for smartphones.


The BOT of Google


"So how does that work, Google downloaded the whole internet?". Factually, yes. The Googlebot (bot is short for robot) indexes several billion web pages every day - sometimes several times a day - to keep Google's search results up to date and improve them. Unlike a user, the bot does not download any images or videos. On the one hand, the bot saves a lot of internet bandwidth and on the other hand, we also search for text (the Google image search is another topic - at a later time). So the bot scans the text on each web page and remembers the prominent words and phrases. This is where the topic of "keywords" or "keyphrases" comes from. Searching for the right keywords is essential for SEO!


In addition to the pure text, the page structure and layout are also important for the Googlebot. We usually perceive websites as beautiful pages that present content with a pervasive design. If you press "Ctrl" + "U" / "Cmd" + "U" once on a website in Chrome and Firefox, you will be presented with a desert of text. This is called source code, and this is what the beautiful website looks like to the computer. In the source code of the page you will see many such '<div></div>' pairs, also called tags. These come with a wide variety of texts. These tags give structure to the content and also lend weight to the text.


Example headings


Whether you search the source code or just take my word for it, the most important title on the web page will be in an '<h1>...</h1>' tag. This tag 'h1' is an abbreviation for 'Heading 1' and signals to the Googlebot that this is the most important heading on the whole page (note that this does not mean the whole website but only the currently open page). It is important that this heading contains the keyword that you want to have on the page. However, if there are two 'h1' headings, the Googlebot will be confused and will rank your website lower (one of thousands of factors).


On-page and off-page SEO


It continues in the SEO Check: As mentioned above, links act as voices from the internet. We have also already learned that we need to optimise the texts and structure of the website so that it can be indexed easily and logically. At this point, the field of SEO separates into two parts: On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO.


On-Page SEO


This field of SEO includes everything that I, as a website operator, have 100% influence on. This includes optimising the website texts, optimising the speed and equipping every page with meta tags. Meta tags? Exactly, this is information that is not displayed to you as a website viewer, but is displayed to the Googlebot. To go into detail about meta tags is beyond the scope of this article, but if you work with WordPress, you can fall back on very good plugins that make SEO much easier.


Off-Page SEO


Off-page SEO is where it gets exciting. You can only influence this to a limited extent. If another site (e.g. 20 Minutes) links to your website, Google recognises this as soon as the Googlebot indexes the page of 20 Minutes. Now, on the internet, it is not like in a democracy that every site has an equal vote. This voting process is complicated and sometimes confusing. It basically works like this: If one site links another, that's one vote. But if an "important" page links an "unimportant" page, the "unimportant" page becomes more important. If an "unimportant" page links an "important" page, the latter becomes slightly more important. This process is called "link juice". These crosslinks (also called backlinks) are important for the ranking position. That is why many website owners want a report in a newspaper with a link - because this can be very lucrative for the ranking.


If the New York Times links a small website, it is worth 10'000 times more to Google than links from 10'000 small websites. This means that the New York Times, for example, distributes a lot of "link juice".


Off-page SEO is becoming increasingly important with social media. A post on Twitter with a link to your website is one thing, at most it generates traffic. But it is more important that the link is written in bios and status. If you include your own website in the profile description, you have created another off-page link.


Google's ranking factors


There are two camps on the Internet. On the one hand, there are the search engine programmers, who constantly adapt their algorithms to offer their users better and better results. The other side is us, the programmers and optimisers of websites, who have the goal of achieving the highest possible ranking. It would not be difficult to optimise a website if Google simply provided us with a checklist of all the points that have to be fulfilled. Unfortunately, this is not the case.


There are many articles and blogposts on the internet trying to figure out Google's ranking factors. There are theories that Google has over 200 ranking factors, each with up to 50 variations and nuances allowing further leeway. Others think there are over 10,000 factors by which Google ranks your site.


Of course, the industry hasn't just given up and said the game is chanceless. Through the collective experience from the internet, some (decisive) factors are definitely known. But at the end of the day, you can't pinpoint every factor. SEO always has something to do with speculation.


An outdated website is not a website


Now we come to the most important factor at the moment: content. Modern search engine optimisation is based on content. You may have heard the term "content marketing". That is one form of it. And that's exactly what I'm doing with this blogpost here. The search engines are increasingly looking for high-quality content that offers the searcher real added value. The content has to be relevant and good to achieve this goal.


Content quality


The Googlebot is able to evaluate content quality. So it determines how high quality the content is, how useful it is for the searcher and whether there are links to (good and authorised) other sources. Even grammar, formatting and spelling can be included in this evaluation. There are also voices on the Internet that say that Google even evaluates the language level and adjusts the results depending on the searcher and his history.


Content length


The length of the text is relevant for Google. The longer the text, the more depth it offers for a topic. Experts argue about exactly how long the text should be. But as a rule of thumb, more than 1000 words is good. Shorter ones are also possible, depending on the form.


Content update


The search engines prefer websites with content that is constantly updated. This is not only about new blog posts but also about corrections in old posts. Google recognises this and thus knows that the site operator cares about his content and updates it.


Relevance


The content must be relevant to the website. At the very least, the terms and keywords must fit the page in order to be ranked better. Important: The page serves a purpose (again, the "page" means the currently open page and not the whole website). So don't talk about SEO and apple varieties in the same blog post.


The user experience


Also very relevant for Google is how users feel on the page. Also known as "user experience", the website must be as pleasant as possible for the user to use. This ranges from design and readability to the navigation structure. Google does not want to link websites in the search results that users do not want to open. Therefore, attention must also be paid to this.


Loading times


I don't like loading times at all. They should be avoided as much as possible. If a website takes too long to load, it will be listed worse in Google. You have to optimise the images and graphics - of course. But also under the bonnet you have to make sure that the scripts and other files are loaded correctly.


Multimedia


Multimedia is very important on a website. But doesn't that interfere with the loading times? No! Multimedia content brings real added value to the user and enhances the content. It is important that the user can request the content and is not taken by surprise (keyword: autoplay). In other words, the user should be presented with a video, but click "play" himself.


SEO Check, now what?


SEO can be confusing. And we have only touched on the subject in passing. There is now a whole industry of SEO experts who deal with it all day long. In addition to the factors mentioned above, there are also 9,980 other factors to discover. But one thing can be assured: With the basics as described in this article, you can already achieve a lot - certainly 90%! However, if you as a business depend on SEO (example: online shop, news magazine, travel agency, etc.), you need experts to get the last 10% out in order to be better than the competition.


To give you a final overview, I have created a ranking list. So you can also do your SEO check for your website:


1. content / content

  • Qualitative content

  • Content with added value

  • Content length

  • Relevance


2. user experience

  • Site is easy to use

  • Responsive on all devices

  • Page loads quickly


3. off-page links / social media

  • Links on other websites / news platforms (as votes)

  • Links on social media profiles

  • Links within the website


4. page structure

  • Logical page structure

  • The user finds his way around


5. programming & implementation

  • The website is programmed according to the latest findings

  • Page structure is correct

  • Meta tags are good


We hope this article has given you some inspiration! If you also want to optimise your website for Google, we are your contact! Get in touch with us!

Samuel Rhyner, Gründer von Code Crush
Autor:in

Samuel Rhyner

I am Samuel. My world revolves around programme code most of the time. I love understanding stubborn problems and finding solutions for them. I like to be on the train and work best when the landscape is passing me by at 130 kilometres per hour. To switch off, I like to watch real-fiction series - and hate being spoiled. If I have to wait for the stream, I always make a mental note to myself: my applications are programmed with high performance and the waiting times are as short as possible. They are the TGVs among the programmes!