The main factors that Google takes into account when it comes to positioning a website, you need to learn what you have to do so that your page has opportunities to position up in the SERPs .

In today’s post, we will talk about how to optimize some important positioning factors as well as the main SEO problems that arise when optimizing the web and its possible solutions.

We will divide the themes of this post into 4 big blocks:

  • Accessibility
  • Indexability
  • Content
  • Meta tags

1.   Accessibility

The first step in optimizing SEO for a website is to allow search engines to access our content. So you have to check if the web is visible in the eyes of the search engines and especially, how they are viewing the page.

For several reasons that we explain later it can be the case that search engines can not read the web correctly, absolutely necessary requirement for positioning.

Things to keep in mind for good accessibility

  • Robots txt file
  • Meta robots tag
  • HTTP status codes
  • Sitemap
  • Web structure
  • JavaScript and CSS
  • Speed of the web

Robots txt file

The robots.txt file is used to prevent search engines from accessing and indexing certain parts of a web. It is very useful to prevent Google from displaying the pages we do not want in the search results. For example in WordPress, so that they do not access the administrator files, the robots.txt file would look like this:

Example

User-agent: *

Disallow: /wp-admin

You should be very careful not to block the access of the search engines to your entire web without realizing it as in this example:

Example

User-agent: *

Disallow: /

We should verify that the robots.txt file is not blocking any important part of our web. We can do this by visiting the URL www.example.com/robots.txt, or through Google Webmaster Tools in “Crawl”> “robots.txt Tester”

The robots.txt file can also be used to indicate where our Sitemap is by adding it to the last line of the document.

Therefore, an example of full robots.txt for WordPress would look like this:

Example

User-agent: *

Disallow: / wp-admin

Sitemap: http: //www.example.com/sitemap.xml

Meta Label Robot

The meta tag “robots” is used to tell search engine robots whether or not they can index the page and whether they should follow the links it contains.

When analyzing a page you should check if there is a meta tag that is mistakenly blocking access to these robots. Here’s an example of how these tags would look in the HTML code:

Example

<Meta name = “robots” content = “noindex, nofollow”>

On the other hand, meta tags are very useful to prevent Google from indexing pages that will lead our site toward duplicate content, such as category and tag pages, but follow the links to continue tracking our website. In this case, the label would look like this:

Example

<Meta name = “robots” content = “noindex, follow”>

We can check the meta tags by right clicking on the page and selecting “view page source”.

Or if we want to go a little further, with the Screaming Frog tool we can see at a glance which pages on the whole web have such a label implemented. You can see it in the “Meta Robots” field in screaming frog. Once you have located all the pages with this tags you just have to delete them.

HTTP status codes

In the event that an URL returns a status code ( 404, 502, etc.), users and search engines will not be able to access that page. To identify these URLs we recommend that you also use Screaming Frog because it quickly displays the status of all URLs on your page.

IDEA: Every time you do a new search on Screaming Frog it exports the result into a CSV. So you can put them together in one Excel later.

Sitemap

The sitemap is an XML file that contains a list of the pages of the site along with some additional information, such as how often the page changes its contents, when it was last updated, and so on.

A small excerpt from a sitemap would be:

Example

<Url>

<Loc> http://www.example.com </ loc>

<Changefreq> daily </ changefreq>

<Priority> 1.0 </ priority>

</ Url>

Important points to check with the Sitemap are:

  • Follow the protocols, otherwise, Google will not process it properly.
  • Upload it to Google Webmaster Tools.
  • When updating your website, make sure you have all the new pages in your sitemap.
  • Make sure all pages in the sitemap are being indexed by Google.

Web structure

If the structure of a web is too deep, so in that case, it will be more difficult for google to reach all the pages. So it is recommended that the structure does not have more than 3 levels of depth (not counting the home) since the Google robot has a limited time to crawl the web, and the more levels you have to go through the less time you will have to access To the deepest pages.

That’s why it’s always better to create a web structure in a horizontal rather than vertically.

Vertical Structure

Vertical Structure

 

Horizontal structure

Horizontal structure

Our advice is to make a scheme of the whole web where you can easily see the levels you have, from the home to the deepest page and calculate how many clicks it takes to reach it.

Find out what level each page is on and if you have links pointing to it using Screaming Frog again.

JavaScript and CSS

Although in recent years Google has become more intelligent when it comes to reading such technologies we must be careful because JavaScript can hide part of our content and CSS can clutter it by showing it in another order that Google sees it.

There are two methods to know how Google reads a page:

  • Disable HTML [ Js, CSS ]
  • Cache command

Disable-HTML

Disable-HTML method helps us to see how a web browser “crawls” the web. You have to disable all javascript and CSS for testing purpose, to see the actual order of your content.

Cache: Command

Another way to know how Google sees the web is through the command “cache:”

Enter “cache: www.mieexample.com” in the search engine and click on “Text-only version”. Google will show you a photo where you can know how to read a website and when was the last time you accessed it.

Of course, for the command “cache:” to work correctly our pages must be previously indexed in Google index.

Once Google index a page for the first time, it determines how often it will revisit for updates. This will depend on the authority and relevance of the domain to which that page belongs and the frequency with which it is updated.

Please make sure that you complete the following points it doses not matter which method you are using either it is cache: command or Disable-Html:

  • You can see all the menu links.
  • All links on the web are clickable.
  • There is no text that is not visible when CSS and Javascript are enabled.
  • The most important links are at the top.

Load speed

The Google robot has a limited time to browse our pages, the less time each page take in loading more pages will get crawl by google bot.

Also, note that a very slow page load can cause your rebound percentage to shoot, so it becomes a vital factor not only for positioning but also for a good user experience.

To see the loading speed of your website we recommend Google Page Speed tool, there you can check what are the problems that slow down your site in addition to finding the advice that Google offers you to stop them. Focus on those who have high and medium priority.

search

2.   Indexability

Once the Google robot has accessed a page the next step is to index it, so how to check if Google has indexed my web correctly?

The first thing you have to do to know if Google has indexed your web correctly is to perform a search with the command “site:” , this way Google will give you the approximate figure of the pages of our website that has been indexed by google.

If you have linked Google Webmaster Tools in your web you can also check the actual number of indexed pages by going to Google Indexing Status.

Knowing (more or less) the exact number of pages that your website has, this data will serve to compare the number of pages that Google has indexed with the number of real pages of your website. There are three scenarios:

  • The number in both cases is very similar. It means that everything is in order.
  • The number that appears in Google search is lower, which means that Google is not indexing many of the pages. This happens because you can not access all the pages of the web. To solve this check the accessibility part of this post.
  • The number that appears in Google search is higher, which means that your web has a duplicate content problem. Surely the reason why there are more indexed pages than actually exist on your website is that you have duplicate content or that Google is indexing pages that you do not want to be indexed.

Duplicate Content

Having duplicate content means that for several URLs we have the same content. This is a very common problem, which is often involuntary and can also have negative effects on the positioning in Google.

Here are the main reasons for duplicate content:

  • “Canonicalization” of the page
  • URL Parameters
  • Pagination

This is the most common reason for duplicate content and occurs when your homepage has more than one URL:

Example

example.com

www.example.com

or

example.com/index.html

www.example.com/index.html

Each one of the previous ones direct to the same page with the same content, if it is not indicated to Google which is correct Google will not know which one has to position.

Solution

Make a redirect on the server to ensure that there is only one page that is displayed to users.

Define which subdomain we want to be the main (“www” or “no-www”) in Google Webmaster Tools.

How to define the main subdomain?

Add a “rel = canonical” tag in each version that points to the one that is considered correct.

URL Parameters

There are many types of parameters, especially in e-commerce: product filters (color, size, etc.), sorting (price lower, by relevance, higher price, grid, etc.) and user sessions.

The problem is that many of these parameters do not change the content of the page and that generates many URLs for the same content.

www.example.com/bag?color=green&minimum-price=10&maximum-price=50

In this example, we find three parameters: color, minimum price, and maximum price.

Solution

Add a “rel = canonical” tag to the original page, so you will avoid any confusion on the part of Google with the original page.

Another possible solution is to indicate through Google Webmaster Tools > Crawl > URL Parameters what parameters Google should ignore when indexing the pages of a web.

Pagination

When an article, product list, or tag page and category has more than one page, duplicate content issues may occur even though the pages contain different content because they are all focused on the same topic. This is a huge problem in e-commerce pages where there are hundreds of articles in the same category.

Solution

Currently the rel = next and rel = prev tags allow search engines to know which pages belong to the same category/publication and so it is possible to focus the entire positioning potential on the first page.

How to use the NEXT and PREV parameters

  1. Add the label rel = next in the part of the code to the first page:

Link rel = “next” href = “http://www.example.com/page-2.html” />

  1. Add on all pages except the first and last tags rel = next and rel = prev

Link rel = “prev” href = “http://www.example.com/page-1.html” />

Link rel = “next” href = “http://www.example.com/page-3.html” />

  1. Add to the last page the tag rel = prev

Link rel = “prev” href = “http://www.example.com/page-4.html” />

Another solution is to search the paging parameter in the URL and enter it in Google Webmaster Tools so that it will be not indexed by google.

Cannibalization

The cannibalization of keywords occurs when in a web there are several pages that compete for the same keywords. This confuses the search engine by not knowing which one is most relevant to that keyword.

This problem is very common in e-commerce. For example, if you sell a book in soft cover, hard cover, and digital version, you will have 3 pages with virtually the same content.

Solution

Create a main page of the product, from where you access the pages of the different formats, where we will include a canonical label that points to the main page.

3.   Content

Nowaday’s, It has become quite clear that content is the king for Google. Content is the most important part of a website and no matter how well optimized it is at SEO level if it is not relevant with regard to the searches that the users perform it will never appear in the top positions.

To make a good analysis of the content of our website, you can use Javascript and CSS deactivated method as explained above. This way you will see what content Google is actually reading and in what order it is arranged.

When analyzing the content of the pages you must ask yourself several questions that will guide you in the process:

Does the page have enough content? There is no standard measure of how much is “sufficient,” but at least it should contain 300 words.

Is the content relevant? It should be useful to the reader, just ask yourself if you would read that. Be sincere.

Do you have important keywords in the first few paragraphs?

Do you have keyword stuffing?

Do you misspellings?

Is it easy to read? Paragraphs should not be very long, the letter should not be too small and it is advisable to have images or videos that reinforce the text.

Can Google read the text on the page? We have to prevent the text from being inside Flash, images or Javascript. This will be verified by seeing the text-only version of our page, using Google the cache: command.

Is the content well distributed? It has its corresponding H1, H2, and etc. tags, the images are well laid out etc.

Is it linkable? If we do not give the user how to share it, it is very likely that he will not do so. Includes sharing buttons on social networks in visible places on the page that do not interfere with the display of content.

Advice

You can create an excel sheet with all the pages, their texts and the keywords that you want them to appear in them, this way it will be easier to see where you should reduce or increase the number of keywords in each page.

4. Meta tags

The meta tags are used to convey information to search engines what the page is about when they have to sort and show your results. Here are the most important tags to keep in mind:

Title

The title tag is the most important element within meta tags. It is the first thing that appears in the results in Google.

When optimizing the title, keep in mind that:

The tag should be in the <head> </ head> section of the code.

  • Each page must have a unique title.
  • It should not exceed 60 characters, 55 char are Recommended.
  • It must be descriptive with respect to the content of the page.
  • It must contain the keyword for which we are optimizing the page.
  • We should never abuse the keywords in the title.

Meta-description

Although it is not a critical factor in the positioning of a web it affects considerably the click-through rate in the search results.

For the meta-description, we will follow the same principles as the title, except that its length should not exceed 155 characters. For both titles and meta-descriptions, we must avoid duplication, we can check this in Google Webmaster Tools > Search Appearance > HTML improvements.

Labels H1, H2, H3 …

The labels H1, H2, etc. Are very important to have a good information structure and a good user experience, since they define the hierarchy of content, something that will improve SEO. We must give importance to the H1 because it play very important role for search engines to understand the content.

“Alt” tag in the image

The “alt” tag on the images is added directly into the image code itself.

Example

<Img src = “http://www.example.com/logo.jpg” alt = “Zoom Digital” />

This tag has to be descriptive with respect to the image and content of that image , since that is what Google reads when crawling it and one of the factors that it uses to position it in Google Images.