Chapter 4 - Structuring your website and your pages

OK, this might be a section to skip for experienced SEOs. Even, if you are relatively new to the field then you will likely have read plenty of advice from industry veterans on how to structure your website properly for search engines.

So we won’t go into huge detail in this section, but suffice to say here’s a list that conventional wisdom amongst SEOs says is generally accepted best practice.

  1. Ensure your URLs are search engine friendly – Keep URLs short and sweet. Use relevant keywords and try and keep your site structure simple and not too deep. e.g. Only 1 or 2 folder levels deep. www.[yourdomain.com]/folder1/your-keyword-friendly-page/ or www.[yourdomain.com]/folder1/folder2/your-keyword-friendly-page/
  2. Ensure your internal links are meaningful and don’t cannibalise yourself  – Try and keep the anchor text of your internal links consistent (e.g. Using synonyms for the keywords you want the target page to rank for) and do not link to different pages with the same anchor text if you can to avoid sending mixed messages to the search engines.
  3. Ensure your Web Server is properly configured – A fast well configured Web Server that caches static content to serve content fast to users is essential nowadays – as is using tools like image compression and CDNs to serve content to users as fast as possible. But don’t forget simple SEO checks like that the HTTP Response Header the server returns is valid and does not contain ‘no-index’ or ‘none’ – this is not the message you want to be giving to search engines!
  4. Double-check Basic Technical SEO Health Checks – It’s worth checking that your robots.txt file is properly setup and that you’re not using meta data tags like this in the head of your page <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”> or to prevent only Google web crawlers from indexing a page: <meta name=”googlebot” content=”noindex”>.
  5. XML Sitemaps – Googlebot will probably discover and index your content anyway. But why not make it easy for it by ensuring your sitemap(s) are listed in Google Search Console. This will help you spot any issues – but also check key landing pages are included. We’ve seen plenty of examples over the years where key category or product pages are missing from a site’s XML sitemap.
  6. Breadcrumbs – Implementing breadcrumbs are a great way to help users and search engines understand and navigate your site.
  7. Schema Markup – It’s no secret that Google, Bing, Yandex and Baidu all use plenty of machine learning algorithms to help them with Natural Language Understanding of your unstructured content. But you can make more of your content machine readable simply by adding structured data to your content. This will help search engines understand what your site is really about and will also increase your change of ranking for certain SERP features like Featured Snippets, People Also Ask and Organic FAQs.
  8. Get the SEO On-Page basics correct – Use your favourite SEO tool to ensure you have solid foundations to build on:
    1. Unique page titles and descriptions
    2. Logical heading structure
    3. Canonical tags to resolve duplicate content issues caused by common problems like faceted search in eCommerce sites
    4. Correct use of Href lang tags for international site
    5. Image alt tags
    6. Ensure your pages serve a purpose and reduce or eliminate thin pages that will reduce your overall site quality
    7. Compare the content and layout of your pages to your key competitors – what are you missing? What are they doing that’s better than your page? Imitate and improve!
  9. AMP – Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages project is designed to solve one of the common pain points for mobile users of slow loading pages (especially on poor internet connections) by pre-caching the pages the user is likely to visit. AMP pages load almost instantly. You can read more about AMP here – you will also find a good selection of plug-ins for most content management systems which make it easy for you to AMP enable your website.
  10. (Advanced) Build your own Knowledge Graph! Google understands entities not just keywords and it uses this to power its Knowledge Graph and in return this has an impact on its ranking model for certain queries.

This is a big topic – if you would like a simple primer then try this article by one of our Tea Time SEO speakers Dave Davies of Beanstalk Internet Marketing. Bill Slawski has also analysed related Google patents to shed light on how Google may be using its understanding of entities in its ranking models.

As it relates to on-page SEO what relevant advice can we give you?

Tip 1 – Reference relevant entities in your content and consider linking to them.

Tip 2 – Mark-up your content to show how you relate to these entities. This goes beyond basic schema markup to create a vocabulary of relevant entities that relate to your content that you can mark-up using linked data publishing mark-up to reference.

There are some great tools like WordLift.io that can do the heavy lifting for you. (Editor’s Note: We’ve just implemented this and will update this guide when we have more results).

Laurence+O%27Toole

Laurence O'Toole

Authoritas CEO

Hopefully, Laurence needs no introduction. He’s the CEO and founder of Authoritas and has been actively involved in the SEO market since hiring his first SEO agency about 20 years’ ago. He has the grey hair and scars to prove it.

Watch our Tea Time SEO session here:

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