search-engine-optimization

SEO Tutorial – Search Engine Optimization

SEO Tutorial – Learn how to improve your website for Search Engine Optimization.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”.

It represents the process of improving your site rating to increase its visibility for relevant searches. Its purpose is to improve the quality of the website content and the quantity of the traffic.

SEO targets the increase of unpaid traffic rather then paid traffic or organic traffic (direct traffic).

SEO Key Aspects

Bellow are some key aspects that you should go through when not pleased with the search engine results position. Have fun 😀

Website Meta Tags

Meta tags are crucial to the health of a website. They define how should the visitors browser treat your website. If a website would have a mandatory configuration file, well the meta tags would be it.

Your website must have at least the bellow meta tags defined, but if quality optimization is what you need, you should be aware of all available meta tags and their purpose.

Charset – The charset attribute of the <meta> element specifies the character encoding for the HTML document.

Viewport – Setting the viewport meta tag that controls the width and scaling of the viewport so that it’s sized correctly on all devices.

Title – The title of a HTML document displayed both in Search Engine result snippets as well as the page’s tab in browsers.

See a complete list of the most important meta tags here and their definition.

Website content is the advertised product. Search Engines will rank your website depending on the quality of the content. However, more content doesn’t mean higher ranking.

Duplicate content actually decreases the ranking so we need to let Search Engines know what is the original content of a duplicate content.

For example if we have a product on the website and multiple URLs open that products page, we need to refer the main product page on all secondary pages using canonical links.

This pages’ URL is https://www.catalinmunteanu.com/seo-tutorial/ but it can be also accessed using the post id: https://www.catalinmunteanu.com?post=591. When accessed using the post id we need to set the canonical URL:

<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.catalinmunteanu.com/seo-tutorial/" />

Heading and Description

Images

Images have an important role in SEO. One might say they can replace a thousand words… or was it pixels… See bellow some aspects that can be optimized.

Image Size Optimization

Your images need to be optimized for web. You can’t expect all visitors to have a great bandwidth connection so instead of including images with sizes greater than 50-100Kb, you should consider optimizing them before.

There are plenty tools out there that can help with image optimization. Consider using PJPEG if in no way you can optimize their size.

Image Attributes

Any image on your website needs to have attributes set. You need to set the alt and title attributes. The values must describe in words the content of the image.

Image Lazy Loading

You can never know if a visitor will scroll all the way down or will stop as soon as he finds what he was searching for. So for the short period in which your visitor browses, make sure all goes smooth.

One way of achieving this is to not load all the images that are not visible in the Viewport, but actually use Lazy Loading.

Sitemaps

Sitemaps serve a single purpose: Help search engine bots to understand what pages does your website expose. They have a huge role in Search Engine Optimization process and should be one of the first actions your take in this direction.

Some search engines provide a Web Console in which you can submit your sitemaps which will end up being used by their bots. Google offers the Search Console where you can manage your sitemaps.

There are two types of sitemaps: Sitemap Index and Sitemap.

Sitemap Index should be used when your website has multiple Sitemaps and should link each Sitemap URL. Sample Sitemap Index bellow:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<sitemapindex xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
   <sitemap>
      <loc>https://www.catalinmunteanu.com/sitemap-1.xml</loc>
      <lastmod>2020-10-25</lastmod>
   </sitemap>
   <sitemap>
      <loc>https://www.catalinmunteanu.com/sitemap-2.xml</loc>
      <lastmod>2020-10-25</lastmod>
   </sitemap>
</sitemapindex>

The Sitemap contains the actual links to each page available on the website and some optional properties regarding each page. Sample Sitemap bellow:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
   <url>
      <loc>https://www.catalinmunteanu.com/</loc>
      <changefreq>daily</changefreq>
      <priority>1.0</priority>
   </url>
   <url>
      <loc>https://www.catalinmunteanu.com/about/</loc>
      <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
   </url>
</urlset>

Additional information can be found on https://www.sitemaps.com.

Mobile Compatibility

Some Search Engines give extra points for responsive or adaptive websites. So having a mobile-optimized website will increase your SEO rating.

A few things that might affect your mobile compatibility:

  • viewport meta tag not set
  • viewport width is not responsive
  • content requires horizontal scrolling which determines content not to fit in viewport
  • interactive elements are not optimized for touch devices
  • font is not readable – maybe too small or colors not optimized

Even if you plan on building native mobile applications, you should consider configuring your website as a PWA. Additional details about Progressive Web apps here.

Optimizing your website for mobile is an easy task and there are plenty tutorials out there. However, check this great article on how to start.

Social Platform Integration (Twitter, Facebook Open Graph)

Your website needs to have the Twitter Card and Facebook OG configured. You’ll need to create a Facebook Application by accessing https://developers.facebook.com. For Twitter the configuration doesn’t require any custom app. There are plenty tutorials out there where you can learn how to do this. After you have configured both integrations, you can check the validity using:

Facebook Open Graph -> https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/

Twitter Cards -> https://cards-dev.twitter.com/validator

If your Twitter Card is valid you should see something like this in their console:

Facebook OG integration is valid if the Facebook Debug tool doesn’t list any errors.

You can also use https://www.opengraph.xyz to quickly review the integration of both social networks.

Website SSL Certificate

A key aspect that should be addressed before all other aspects is the SSL Certificate. Missing SSL Certificate or poor configuration determines a low SEO score.

Your website needs to have a valid and trusted SSL Certificate. You might get more ranking points if your website has the TLSv1.0 and TLSv1.1 disabled. It is good practice to disable deprecated protocols and to prepare for the future.

You can check your websites configuration using the following tools:

Basic check -> https://www.sslshopper.com/ssl-checker.html

Comprehensive check -> https://www.ssllabs.com/ssltest/

Certificate chain check -> https://whatsmychaincert.com

SSL Certificate Rating A+

Your target is to get A+ Rating so do everything that you can to achieve this. Having a lower rating will impact the overall website Search Engine Optimization.

Website Content

Maybe you have thoroughly configured all the above listed aspects but you’re still not in top 10 search results?

The question is: Do you have content? Does your website provide useful, clear, properly formatted information? The content displayed on your website is as important as any other SEO Key Aspect.

Your websites content is the most important aspect so make sure you have quality information. However, it’s not impossible to get in top 10 search results with a blank page. Leave me a comment if you know the secrets.

Conclusion

Congratulations! You have come a long way 🙂

Search Engine Optimization is about calibration, precision, dedication.

Each aspect needs to be carefully optimized and if you ignore a single aspect, your SEO rating will be impacted.

Some people consider SEO to be an art. It’s like manually crafting a piece of jewelry.

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