On-page SEO GuideSEO Checklist - Guide

Below are just some of the on page changes you can make to improve the SEO value of your website.

Hosting and Domain

For country specific SEO it is always advisable to have a located in the same country as the target market as this is an indicator of regional relevance to Google and other search engines.

Dedicated Server

For SEO purposes all commercial websites should be hosted on a dedicated web server, as having multiple sites sharing resources can have an impact on the page load speed of sites hosted on the server.

Using shared hosting can also be an issue when the other websites on the server fall into what Google would describe as a bad neighborhood.

Having the website on a dedicated server will also be beneficial when we start to create information sites, which we will essentially fill with useful relevant content to deep link back the relevant page on the page website. (see Blogs and Information sites)

Domain Age

Search engines typically associated trust with older more established domains – an older domain is considered to hold more authority than a newer one.

Expiry Date

Google are known to look at the length of registration for a domain as an indicator of stability and therefore quality.  A domain that has been registered for a longer period is deemed to be more trustworthy, as the owners are seen to be investing in the long term.

The domain is due to expire soon and we would recommend that the domain registration is extended further when updating registration details next time around to establish greater trust.

Canonical Domain

If a website resolves at both www and non-www versions of the domain, Google and other search engines could find two versions of the content, which would raise the possibility of duplicate versions of pages being found.  This would then prevent the site’s full ranking potential from being achieved. Server configurations can also lead to a /index.html version of a homepage appearing which also contributes to a duplicate version of a home page.

User Friendly URLs

When URLs include multiple parameters, they can be confusing for users, and this can lead to problems with external links pointing to non-existent pages if the URL is copied incorrectly.

The website will generally use PHP throughout which will create dynamically created pages, this would normally be an issue, but we will use URL re-writing techniques to create static urls. This will allow you to get keywords into the urls which will help with SEO.

Navigation

The navigation needs to be simple to understand. All links within the website need to be correctly formatted and titled.

Faceted Navigation

Faceted Navigation is common to many websites where multiple user journeys are possible, and can create multiple versions of web pages that lead to duplicate content issues within the site.

Rel Canonical

Rel Canonical is often used to identify which version of a page is the correct one for users.  It can be used in conjunction with the Robots.txt file to prevent search engines from caching multiple versions of the same content if a query string is appended to a URL for tracking purposes.

Frames Present

When a website is presented using frames, search engines may arrive at pages where there is no navigational access back to the rest of the website. We will not be using framesets on the website.

Accessible Navigation

Presenting drop down menus using Flash or JavaScript controls can prevent links to internal pages from being found by search engines when no alternative is available.

Errors

Major errors within a website can create problems for the search engines in finding pages within the website, and additionally in discovering the content on particular pages within the site.  Well-constructed HTML ensures that the content can be parsed correctly and “understood” by search engines, and that the site will rank at its potential.

Custom Error Page Present

A custom error page should include a message stating that the content is not available, and offer links back to the key areas of the website. This will improve the chances that the person who has arrived at the website will find the information that they are looking for.

HTTP Status of Error Page

If content is not found on the server, a 404 response should be sent to the browser to ensure that the correct status is given.  If an error page returns a 200 OK code, it would inform the search engines that the content of the error page was a legitimate part of the website.  In cases where a website has multiple error pages within it, this can lead to a duplicate content problem.

Another potential issue when an error page returns a 200 OK code is that the integrity of all other pages in the site can be called into question, as there is no difference between an existent and nonexistent page.

When a custom error page is added to the website it is important to ensure that the correct 404 header response code is given by the server.

Valid Code W3C

While having 100% valid code is not a pre-requisite for ranking well in Google, it is helpful, as pages that are error free are more likely to be fully indexed.

In most cases, a large number of errors such as those seen in this case are created by incorrect code being used compared to the correct syntax for the doctype.  The declaration on the pages of the website states that the each site has “xHTML 1.0 Transitional”, however there are numerous syntax errors which are not permitted in xHTML.

Semantic HTML

Search engines can find clues about the relevance of a document to a particular subject from the way in which the pages are structured.  It is best practice to use <h> elements within the page structure to identify the hierarchy of concepts within a page.

Good practice SEO states that the keyword which we are targeting should be in the URL, the title tag, the description tag,  the <h1> tag and possibly the <h2> tag.

Associated Files

It is always best practice to have as much code removed from a website and placed into an external page as possible. For example the CSS style sheets or java script. This makes the page load times faster. This is something Google has looked very closely at. (see Page Speed)

XML Sitemap

The XML Sitemap is used by Google and other search engines to identify pages within the website and find new content as it is published.  It should be updated on a regular basis or whenever new content is added.

We will be creating a dynamic sitemap which will be updated automatically when new content is added. We will create webmaster accounts in Bing and Google and this will be auto submitted.

Robots.txt

The Robots.txt file is used to control access to certain parts of the site, and should be present and include a link to the sitemap, as it is the first file that search spiders check when they arrive at a website.

Images

Every image on the website will need an alternate text description of the image it portrays. This not only helps with accessibility for partially sighted users, but we can use this text space for SEO purposes.

All the images must be optimised for weight. For example a heavy image will take longer to load than a lighter image file size. This directly impacts the web page load times.

 Additional Domains

Having the content of a website available at different domains – for example http://www.xxxxxx.co.uk and http://www.xxxxxx.com/  can create a serious issue for search engines, as it is not clear which is the true version of the content. Typically, when websites are published at multiple domains, the result is poor rankings.

Indexation

Having a well indexed website indicates that the search engine spiders are able to fully download the content from the server and follow all internal links. Having more pages indexed allows a website to capture a larger volume of traffic from the long tail search terms.

Internal link structureinternal link structure

Making use of the internal content of the website we will be able to sculpt the importance of key areas of the website. Within the main body text we will place text links to the main key areas of the website. If you imagine a link to be a vote, Google will see on the website the area with the most internal links of a website to be the most important areas.

Site Speed

Google has advised that page download speed has become increasingly important as part of their ranking algorithm, and that fast websites would be deemed to provide a better user experience, and therefore promoted in the rankings.

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