SEO for 2016: The Complete Do-It-Yourself SEO Guide (2015)
Chapter 4. SEO and Website Structure
This chapter needs to be more about how to apply Schema.org compliance, Rich Snippets, and W3C compliance because applying those principles to your website as these help to improve your ranking. However, this book is about SEO and I would have to create a 500 page book on each of those subjects. So before I delve in to this chapter, I am going to point out that you need to research these items and have SEOAudits.com or AccuQuality.com do an audit on your current website to learn how out of compliance your website really is.
Schema.org Microformats and Data Markups are definitely a plus for any website. Schema.org was a project launched in June of 2011 with Google, Bing, and Yahoo! collectively. They introduced a reorganization of websites for many reasons but the best part is for Rich Snippets. If you are unfamiliar with Rich Snippets you probably have seen them and didn't even know it. Let's look at an example. Below you see the Trailblazers website at NBA.COM. Underneath you see four additional links directly to the rich content. These are Rich Snippets and you configure these using coding for structured data learned at schema.org.
Google also has Rich Snippets testing tool at :
The way you design your website may allow you to fall victim to many ranking pitfalls. Google has several new make it or break its where before not doing these just caused you a few ranking points. The most serious of which is bad coding, secondly is not being compatible with the different browsers, smart phones, IPAD and IPods. Another is having more than two broken links on a page. The last is having slow hosting speeds. Google requires a hosting score of 70 or above for good rankings. You can test your website at:
If your website is written in Wordpress most commercial hosting companies cannot give you speeds well enough to rank well. The reason is Wordpress loads a database, plug-ins, a theme, pictures, and widgets simultaneously. You need so much more power in hosting than the cheap hosting can provide. Google loves Wordpress more than any other development platform but it loves Wordpress a lot more if the hosting speeds are better. If you are hosting a business I highly recommend that you host your website at either of the following:
There are other lesser evils with Google as well though. I often hear similar things from prospective customers when I tell them their old site won’t work: “What do you mean? My site looks awesome! It’s all flashy and things move here and there. It’s awesome!”
One of the most severe is designing your website as a giant picture then adding mappings or building your website in Flash and not having any data to index. You wind up getting a website that Google can't index or find relevant for anything as you can see from the Google Caches snapshot of page below.
A website that doesn't use Flash or pictures would be indexed with lots of text as shown on the next page. Search engines cannot look at the text on pictures and index the information. Although Google says it can index some Flash better, for the most part Googlebot can’t look at Flash or video either. Not only that but Flash is not compatible with Apple devices.
It seems that a couple of times a month I consult with a company that has a Flash website and loves it to death. It is so tough for them to part with it and sometimes I have to have a overwhelmingly convincing argument and still they ask what I can do to optimize it. The fact is I can do a few things with Meta data and maybe add a secondary website in Wordpress to work alongside their website. If they choose not to listen to my advice and stick with their Flash or picture website I cannot feel bad. The client got what they paid for, competent advice. If someone pays me for advice I am going to give it to them. If they choose not to use my advice, I will have no problem taking their money. They got what they paid for.
Also, this is something new that never came up before until this week. If you pay an SEO company to optimize your site during a site redesign, don’t change the URLs of the pages that are indexed with the search engines. When a person does find you and the site file names have been changed, when they click on the link to your site, it won’t work. There is a process to doing this if you really want to do this using 301 redirects. If you are changing technologies such as from Joomla or ASP to some other technology be it HTML5 or Wordpress, CONSULT AN SEO PROFESSIONAL if you don't want to pretty much disappear from Google completely for a while or lose all the ranking work you have done on your website URLs before the redesign.
Do not trust your webmaster if he tells you that nothing is going to happen. He most likely doesn't know SEO or how search engines work and you will lose your positioning and you will be pretty much gone from Google for some time if you don't takes steps before you move to the new technology to redirect old links to the new ones. Not just in any, the right way.
SEO or Design Should Be Considered First?
A graphic designer tell you that in a majority of cases the design comes first, of course. Without an aesthetically pleasing design, a visitor will bounce off your site within a matter of seconds. Not so fast. How did they get to your website in the first place? A great-looking website is nothing if there is no one to look at it.
Even if you intend to employ Google Adwords, you will soon realize you are spending a fortune to get visitors. As soon as you stop paying money, you stop getting visits. That is usually when the SEO expert gets called in because of some research someone did to see how to properly market a website without paying Google and Bing their kids inheritance or future retirement.
Then you learn from your poor design and lack of social media, link sharing, etcetera that it will take 6 months or so for the major search engine marketing campaign to try and rescue your website rankings and start getting a scalable number of visitors.
As a business owner you soon learn after soaking tons of money in Pay-Per-Click that in the long run you get so much more business cheaper and easier by going the SEO route. So much so that as I mentioned earlier in this book, PPC garners only about 11% of all clicks on the Internet. The organic results which are the more trusted results get the other 89% of the clicks.
The thousands of business owners that have been through this exact cycle of PPC versus SEO, will certainly argue that PPC is most definitely is not the way you should go, especially when the owners of these sites realized when it was too late. There was too high an amount of profit, potential, and clients lost because the design looked great to humans but was invisible to the search engines and no SEO was utilized.
What is really laughable, though, is that if you actually read the sales pitch on any one of the many of web design companies that own websites, many of them blatantly claim to be SEO experts. You need to watch out because many wear it as if it is a badge of honor or to help them make sales. A quick check of their portfolios soon reveals that if they are search engine marketing experts, then it is clearly evident that their clients are definitely not on the receiving end of any claims they make.
Implementing SEO in tDesign Before It Is Live
Many people call me and ask if you can implement site optimization into the design before you launch a website? The answer is absolutely, yes! The web design and SEO should go hand in hand. The thought process of optimizing a website and creating SEO-friendly website design should form the foundation right from the outset... Ultimately the content and design will capture free organic search engine traffic and also mark the website as a potential authority on the product or service.
Many times when I take on a website for professional SEO, the cost to optimize or change the website is greater than if we just started from scratch. But it has to be done. I tell family and friends starting a business, have the SEO company design and create your website. That is where a successful business venture starts!
Search engines absolutely do not care about what the site looks like: it is what’s behind the scenes that makes the site so much more relevant to them. If we go back to the example a few pages back, my new client’s initial chance to make the best impact on the search engine when the site first got indexed was wasted. In contrast, the extra time and money spent on redevelopment for SEO, including the keyword research and SEO copywriting after the initial design was an added expense. It took an extra two months to get it all done and start garnering page positions on Google.
If you want a far better chance of getting good website ranking from day one and even, in some cases, a page-one result faster than you might think start with SEO.
Design and Optimizing For Devices
It is amazing how much traffic is now generated by mobile devices. Just two years ago most website averaged less than 10% traffic from mobile devices. Today it about 35% of all traffic is from mobile devices. These devices include Android, IPHONE'S, IPAD, IPAD Mini's, Car GPS, ONSTAR, and yes even Blackberries, IPODs. My new Tesla Roadster electric car even has a built in mobile device for going to the Internet.
Mainly these devices have all the Internet capabilities of getting on the Internet as a regular PC just with some limitations and a smaller screen. I haven’t even seen this addressed in any books yet. Creating a specific mobile website and websites which are compatible with all mobile devices translates in to more sales, more traffic and better rankings.
As a company we have been doing mobile web SEO for larger enterprise companies for quite a while. Just recently has small and medium sized businesses approached us to create a mobile website. Here are some links to help you if you want to do mobile yourself:
o Bing Mobile: http://onmobile.msn.com/en/Products/MobileWeb/BingMobileWeb (Don't forget Bing Business for creating a quick mobile website as we discussed earlier in Chapter 3.)
o Google Mobile: http://www.google.com/mobile/
o Google Mobile Sitemaps: www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=34627
o Google Mobile View: www.google.com/gwt/n
o Technorati Mobile: http://m.technorati.com
Add your mobile-optimized site to search engines and let retailers know here:
· Abphone: http://www.abphone.com
· Bango: http://www.bango.com (One Click Payments)
· Dotmobi: http://mtld.mobi/sitesubmit
· Medio: http://medio.com/partners/addyourmobilesite/
· Mobiseer: http://www.mobiseer.com
· Nokia: http://www.nokia.com/global
Focus On Your Websites Impact
You should focus on the results you want. These usually include more visitors, leads, customers and sales. Every decision you make should be focused on fulfilling those goals. Keeping that in mind, you might spend a bit less time worrying about the exact shade of blue on the callout background, and more time worrying about things that will improve your marketing results and keep visitors directed toward your goals.
There are countless ways a website design can negatively impact your results. In fact, I would say that more often than not, website designs done without an SEO professional tend to have a negative impact on marketing results.
Another problem occurs when you attempt to implement too many strategies in your SEO. For one, you won’t be able to tell which of your strategies are successful and two, search engines don’t like it when you lose focus. Most major search engines like to see each of your website landing pages centered around one topic.
Implementing one strategy at a time allows you to determine which strategies are working and which strategies are not. SEO campaigns are the most successful when you concentrate on one effort at a time. If you have an existing website you usually have a lot of material that has accumulated over time. These items help your prospects find your website and help you turn them into leads and customers.
When you do a site redesign, make sure you use the same links and file names for your new sites URLs. If you don’t, the links that are on search engines will become useless and broken links. The proper way to change the site is to create the new pages with new file names. Use the Robot.txt file to tell search engines not to index the old links. In a few months you can get rid of the old files as they will no longer show on the search engines.
A good general rule is to add new content every day and change the old content as often as possible. The more content you have the more visitors you will have and the longer they will stay. This will in itself grow your business faster. A 100 page website will beat a 10 page website 90% of the time on search engine rankings. A 500 page website is even better. If some of those web pages were written recently, that’s even better. But remember, always keep the focus of each page as close as you can to a single topic and optimize that page, the Meta Tags, Title, and keyword density to that topic.
A little known rule that helps add to your imaginary point standings with search engine rankings is that the more often you update your content (while keeping it relevant to your website subject matter), the better.
NOTE: Blogging makes creating new and updated content easy.
You want your website design to attract new visitors and increase your conversion rate and the number of leads you get from your website. Over time you should constantly improve the effectiveness of your conversion tools, including your landing pages.
If you build a completely static website and have to go to a web designer, every time you want to set up a new landing page or to change an existing page, you are limiting your ability to quickly experiment and improve on the design. You should have a website that lets you edit content and build landing pages without having to know website code unless you know HTML, PHP, or XML well.
One of the rules you should live by is that you should spend money on resources and relevant content that attracts and converts as well as optimizes your site. You should not overdo a design that limits you to only one type of code, such as websites that used to be designed in Flash or another video technology. The code should be dynamic and easy to change. Of course, sometime the easily changed part costs a little more upfront, but not at the end.
If you follow the rules set forth in the last paragraph, you should be able to create ongoing content with a building strategy. When you have more content, you can grow your website. This will help you increase your visitors and grow your business faster.
When you have finished your website, you should constantly have conversion experiments. The key to driving your conversion rate and the number of leads you get from your website over time is to constantly improve the effectiveness of your website. Several sites can be used to test your website:
· Website Grader (www.WooRank.com) – Has a useful tool for measuring the marketing effectiveness of your website.
· SEO Audits (www.SEOAudits.com) - Can check your website for W3C compliance, browser compatibility, broken links, mechanical errors, SEO issues, and much more.
· AccuQuality.com (www.AccuQuality.com) - AccuQuality.com is the best website report you can get on the mechanics of your website and costs more than SEO Audits reports. Although the reports between the two are similar, AccuQuality.com Reports gives more in-depth analysis and actually gives instructions how to fix many compatibility issues with browsers which can help you fix errors. AccuQuality.com reports actually spell check your entire website as well.
The Very Basics of SEO in Design
We have already hit on the points here, but they fall into this chapter as well. So let’s make sure our design or redesign has these points covered:
· Meta and HTML Tags
· Header Tag Content
· Body Text
· Alternative Tags
· Header Tag Content
· Other Items You Should Make Space For
· RSS Feeds
· Other Valuable Content
· Other Tips
Meta and HTML Tags
Meta tags are HTML tags; they just appear in very specific places on a web page. There are two Meta tags which are given more weight than the others on most search engines. Those are the keyword tag and the description tag.
Most of the Meta tags are also given some weight on less major search engines and directories. However, not all search engines take keyword and description Meta tags into consideration because in the past, these tags have been overloaded with keywords that were irrelevant to the website.
Header Tag Content
This is a simple attribute but about as commonly overlooked by web designers as the Meta tags are. The header tags are a bit different from other tags discussed earlier in this book. These are the attributes that set up the different levels of headings and subheadings on your website. There can be as many as six different levels of headings but typically search engines only look at the first four.
To help you understand this, the title or topic of a web page should be the H1 title that the human side can see. Subheading of the topic should be tagged with the H2 tag and so on–kind of like a tree as above.
So let’s say you have a website page that sells motorcycle helmets. The heading hierarchy in this example should look like this:
H1: (Page Topic) Motorcycle Helmets
H2: (Main Topic) Buy Motorcycle Helmets and Accessories
H3: (Sub Topic) Motorcycle Face Shields
H3: (Sub Topic) Motorcycle Custom Straps
…and so on.
If there is a new sub topic such as there is in the example, you would start again with an H2 tag.
H2: (Main Topic)
Headings denote important information and enable users to quickly skim the page to find the information they are seeking. The search engines use this in their scanning of web pages to determine what’s vitally important.
Header tags on a web page should contain your most important keywords in a contextually appropriate manner. Specifically, search engine spiders, bots, and crawlers take into consideration the text within a header tags. Looking at the different levels of headings, first-level headings should contain the most important keywords on your web page.
NOTE: You should use your most important trophy keywords in the level-one heading, then lower-level headings (levels two through six) should contain decreasingly important keywords.
The heading tags are similar in format to other tags that you’ve examined to this point and used after the <Body> tag of the website:
WARNING: Search engines are smart enough to know when your keywords are the same shade or color as your back ground and will penalize you for hiding the H1 tags or text that contains your keywords.
Header tags should be included before the body-text tags of your website, and the text of the header goes in between the opening and closing tags.
Like the Header tags, the Body text is also text that is visible to human readers of your site. When you look at the pages of this book, for example, the text that is between each of the headings would be the body text – the same way as it is for a web page.
The body text is another place where you want to include your keywords. A good rule of thumb is to use your keywords once in every paragraph as long as it makes sense to a reader.
Sidebar: Keywords in Text
Having your keyword strategically placed in your text on every page is one of the most important elements of any website. Of particular importance are the trophy keywords which we determined in Chapter 2 and 3. The trophy keywords need to be placed throughout the text on your primary landing page. It is of particular importance where those keywords appear and how often they appear on the page.
The keywords you choose must match the words and phrases that potential visitors will use when searching for the products or services your website provides.
You can also use additional tags to indicate special formatting in text. Those tags are as follows:
<li>New Line in List</li>
Each of these special tags indicates special formatting for the word or phrase in between the opening and closing tags, and the special emphasis makes a search engine crawler take notice of those words.
NOTE: You should try to use keywords within the special tags if possible. Only use keywords where appropriate, and avoid stuffing keywords into your site simply to improve your search engine rankings. If you use those tactics, they will most likely fail and may even get your site banned from some of the search engines.
Sidebar: Things to Avoid
To make your website’s body text visible to spiders, bots, and crawlers, avoid the following:
· Text contained in images such as those with extensions .jpg, .gif, .png, and .bmp cannot be seen.
· Text that is accessible only on a submission form is not readable.
Most of these things make your site look flashy and cool. Site designers struggle with these issues and sometime choose looks over site optimization on purpose to make the site owner happy. There are only about 8 different fonts that can be used on a website without pictures because of the standards. Also, certain text styles cannot be indexed by search engines.
If search engine spiders, bots, and crawlers can’t see your website text, then they can’t index that content for visitors to find.
You should have an area of your landing page dedicated to links. The links should be related to the content of the page and be active links to real websites. Broken links will lower your search engine rankings on major search engines.
Links have always been an important factor in how websites rank on the different major search engines. Most important are not only links from your site but to your site as well, as we discussed earlier in the book.
Alternative tags for pictures and links are also important to have on your pages. These are the tags that are a brief description of a picture or graphic on a website to explain to spiders, bots, and crawlers what is displayed.
These Alt tags are also a good place to include additional keywords to make your site more relevant. Human visitors will never see your Alt tags unless they intentionally turn off images to enable web pages to load faster.
Other Items You Should Make Space For
Your website should have some of the items below on its main landing pages. The more of these the better. Each one of these increases your site’s value on different major search engines.
· No little flash
· Conversion page (submission page)
· RSS Feed
· Video (YouTube if possible. It is owned by Google.)
· Blog (BlogSpot if possible. It is operated by Google.)
· Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest links to company page.
· Links to other pages in your body text.
· Text links to other pages in your website if you use pictures, maps, or Flash for buttons.
· Text that can change frequently.
Adding RSS Feeds
Really Simple Syndication(RSS) or it's sometimes referred to as Rich Site Summary is an XML-based content format for distributing news, headlines, content, and more about a website. It is almost a requirement now for higher rankings to have an RSS feed on your website or blog to rank well.
RSS Feed readers come in all shapes and sizes these days. The Firefox browser has one built right into the Bookmarks feature. I personally use Google Reader.
You can also create feeds for your own website so your audience can subscribe to them. If you update your content frequently and promote the feed effectively, it can help drive more steady traffic to your website.
Advantages of Creating RSS Feeds
This is an excellent way to bring repeat traffic to your site. Think about it, every time a web surfer opens their RSS reader to get the headlines for all the sites they monitor, they'll also see your site's updates.
Instead of relying on them to bookmark your site and return at a later date, their RSS reader keeps your site fresh in their minds.
Many entities are now pushing out their newsletters and switching to this method of content distribution because you don't have to worry about dodging the spam filters.
When you send an email newsletter more than half of those people won't even receive it due to spam filters or junk mail algorithms. With RSS feeds, you don't have to worry about that because you're not sending an email, you’re simply sending out a news feed for all the readers to pick up.
How to Create an RSS Feed for a Static Website
If you are novice in creating XML code, I recommend using www.feedforall.com for static websites. They have an easy-to-use feed builder that lets you create and manage all your feeds in one place.
Once you have created your feed you have to upload the XML file to your web server. FeedForAll.com will automatically convert your feed into the XML format so you don't need to worry about additional formatting or coding and make your RSS Feed URL something like:
Anytime you add a new article to your feed, that XML file is updated. FeedForAll also has a built-in upload feature so you can upload the XML file right to your web server with their software, as long as your web host has FTP access.
Creating an RSS Feed From a Blog
Google allows you to create an RSS feed using their blog website Blogger.com. WordPress is another website type that offers a free blog equipped with RSS feeds.
Other Valuable Content
Other Items that can be considered great content:
· A free whitepaper
· A how-to or manual
· A series of articles
· A YouTube video
· A podcast
· A badge or image
· A proprietary study
· A quiz, poll, or test
· A joke or cartoon
· A calculator or free software
· A blog or forum
· A wiki or knowledge base
Other Website Considerations
For a website to rank well, the search engines must retrieve information from the website – not so much from the human side but from the coding side. The retrieval of data is a combination of the activity from the crawler, spider, bots, the database, and the search algorithm used by each search engine. These three elements work together to retrieve web pages that are related to the word or phrase that a user enters into the search engine’s user interface.
The algorithms change frequently, which is one reason this book is updated every year. In SEO, ranking is what you’ll spend the most time and effort trying to change. Your ranking in a search engine determines how often people see your page.
How search engines rank a page or pages is a difficult science to figure out and changes frequently. Search engines don’t want everyone to know the exact science. If it were known to everyone it would be tough to get on the first or second page of a search.
Ranking is such a large part in search engine optimization and appears frequently throughout book. There are some things that can give your website an advantage right from the beginning. Let us take a look at two: hosting location and frequency of keyword use.
There are a lot of locations that we talk about in this book. In this section of the book, I will specifically refer to the location where you host your website. I have a customer who is in good straights now but had tried to handle his own optimization. No matter what he did he couldn’t get his website off of page 68 on a Google search.
At WebSEOPros.com, we do an initial complete SEO Report to find issues with the website both on the website and externally and what we found was that the website was being hosted on the same server as several porn-related websites. In SEO terms we call this being in a “Bad Neighborhood.” That is where porn or blacklisted websites are using the same IP or IP Range as your website.
In this case, the website owner had bought his hosting on eBay for $42.00 per year. If you have a respectable business website, you have to be hosted on a respectable hosting provider. The Major search engines do not like to rank websites that contain pornography, racial comments, or other such content or are on very slow hosting.
Websites must be relevant to the keywords you choose. So the frequency with which the keywords appear on a web page may also affect how a page is ranked in search results for that keyword. For example, on a page about office furniture, one that uses the words “office furniture” five times might be ranked higher than one that uses the words only two or three times.
When word frequency became a well-known factor, some website designers began using hidden words hundreds of times on pages, trying to artificially boost their rankings. Almost every search engine recognizes this as keyword spamming and ignore or even blacklist pages that use this technique.
· Don’t repeat keywords in your title tags. Repetition can occasionally come across as spam when a crawler is examining your site, so avoid that in your title if possible, and never duplicate words just to gain a spider, bot, or crawler’s attention.
· Include a call to action in your title. There is an adage that goes something like, ‘‘you’ll never sell a thing if you don’t ask for the sale.’’ That’s true on the Web as well. If you want your users to do something, you have to ask them. The title is never a bad place to ask. But include your trophy keywords there, too.
· Create a website that contains Meta tags, content, graphics, and keywords that help improve your site ranking.
· Use keywords liberally on your site, so they are used in the correct context of your site topic and content. Keep them relevant and search engines will keep you relevant.
· Include reciprocal links to your site from others as long as those links are legitimate and relevant to the topic of your website.
· Continuously encourage website traffic through many venues, including keyword advertising, reciprocal links, and marketing campaigns.
· Submit your website to search engines manually, rather than wait for them to pick up your site in the natural course of cataloging websites.
One of the biggest design rules to keep is the number of times you use your keywords (known as keyword density). Most search engines allow a relatively low keyword density. Google is by far one of the less lenient in this regard when ranking websites. Google likes to see a keyword density of 3 to 5 percent – much lower and you risk one of your competitors outdoing you in the optimization area or much higher than that and you risk your website bring penalized. Bing, Yahoo!, MSN, and other search engines seem to be stricter and want keyword densities of about 5 percent.
Use a word processing program to find out your total word count. Paste the HTML source code of the page into a blank document, then choose File, Properties, Statistics, and Word Count. In Microsoft Office it is found at File, Prepare, Properties, and Statistics.
Let's move on. If you are optimizing that page for a single keyword, you need to figure out how many times that particular word is repeated within that 250 word total.
Manually scan the page and count every repetition of your keyword. If you have Microsoft Word 2007/2010/2013/2016, you should also have Find and Replace function under the Home tab all the way to the right in the newer versions of Office. Paste in the code and then type in the keywords in both the edit box and the replace box.
The program will replace each occurrence of the word with itself...and produce a total count for the number of repeats.
Let us assume for this exercise that you have used a keyword 10 times on your page. To calculate the keyword density - take that figure and divide it by the total number of words on your page.
So in this case 10 divided by 250 = .04
Keyword density is always referred to as a percentage of the total word count for the page. So now you need to multiply .04 by 100 to get the percentage figure. Your calculation would look like this:
.04 x 100 = 4%
The page has a keyword density of 4%.
For effective optimizing that will boost your pages into the Top 20 spots on the major search engines you are aiming for a keyword density of between 5-7%.
What you have just been shown is about as simple as it gets for working out the keyword density of a web page. To recap, the formula looks like this:
10 divided by 250 = .04 x 100 = 4%
The keyword count divided by total word count x 100 = keyword density in percent.
So you can add your keyword another few times without getting a penalty on most major search engines.
Algorithms fluctuate constantly at the major search engines so it is much simpler to optimize a few pages for different weighting or densities. A few pages at 5%, 6%, and 7% keyword density will mean at least one of your pages should rank well on each major search engine.