August 17, 2017

Improve your Google search results today

shoes-wires

 

Follow the tips below to speed up and clean up your site.

Do you use a CDN? Do you blog? Do you optimize your images? Do you pay proper homage to the Google gods? And other tricks of the SEO trade

Chris AbrahamThere are so many things you can do on your own site today — starting now — that will help you in real ways with Google Search and your search results on Google’s SERP. Here are nine things you can do starting today to improve your search results and the quality of your visitors’ experiences.

Because so many people presumably make so much money “doing SEO,” there’s a lot of confusion as to what search engine optimization is and all the little things that you can do right now, today, to improve your the results on your SERP — search engine results page. OK, let’s start.

  • Go Rewrite As Many Titles as You Have Time For Right Now: According to Moz, “Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag. If you keep your titles under 60 characters, our research suggests that you can expect about 90% of your titles to display properly.” You should keep the titles concise, but also descriptive. Don’t be cute. All of my titles are cute and I waste them. Remember, all anybody knows about any of your pages — including Google’s spiders and bots — is the title of your pages.  So, if your title currently is “Check Out My Latest Project” you really should actually describe the subject of the blog post or site page. Be descriptive and be specific.
  • Don’t Let Google Define Your Page Descriptions for You — Do It Yourself: You don’t have to care about the description of your page. There are two ways to get a little control: rewrite your first paragraph to describe what your page is about exactly the way journalists and reporters are supposed to, in the first paragraph. According to Moz, “Meta descriptions can be any length, but search engines generally truncate snippets longer than 160 characters. It is best to keep meta descriptions long enough that they’re sufficiently descriptive but shorter than that 160-character limit.” So, if you don’t actually write a meta description, Google will always steal your first 160 characters. If your site (say, a WordPress blog) allows you to write a summary or your page allows you to define a description, do it. And, if you come up with an excellent summary for your page, that description should include similar turns of phrase and keywords in both your title and your full content. And, if you really like your summary description, then please be sure to integrate it into your writing. Make it better, make it newer, and take it out of “archive,” which is what Google does if you don’t update your site’s content and copy every once in a while.
  • Add 500 Words to a Product or Service Page by Close of Business: Over 90% of all the outdated, over-synthesized, or over-edited sites I have seen just don’t have enough text for Google to really get a handle on. Everybody’s trying to be so succinct. I blame the elevator speech for this. We’ve boiled our business plans and our visions and mission statements down so far — a réduction, if you will — that they’re worthless to both Google and to someone who actually wants to use your website — your corporate site, your only cornerstone, your online HQ, your Internet everything! Why are you keeping it so brief? Why are you being so sneaky? Why don’t you sit down, fire up a stogie, pour yourself a deep one, and let’s talk about who you are, what you really do, why you’ve been so inspired, and what your real and true capabilities are.  As in long form. And, if all of this text and all these words break the aesthetics of your proper website, then be sure to share all of these cigar and rum moments on your blog or on a deeper, secondary page.
  • Link Keyword Phrases from Content Pages to About and Offerings Pages at Once: You probably haven’t done the most effective thing you can do on your own site right now: Every time you see a mention of your products, your services, or the names of your employees, executives, and cast of characters, you should hyperlink them all to the pages on which they live. For example, I will link my name, Chris Abraham, to my page on Socialmedia.biz.  See, it’s as easy as that. You should really do it.
  • Add ALT Text to All Your Photos and Images Right this Minute: All modern content management systems (CMS) have some place to customize all the images on your site. Even if you don’t know how, ask your geek. If you still have your website designer on speed dial, maybe you can encourage your web designer or your template-developer to help you out. Most downloadable templates these days make it easy to associate words with photos and words with images. Now, baby we can do it take the time, do it right, we can do it, baby, do it tonight! Why didn’t your web developer do it? Laziness. It’s probably even in your contract. You didn’t care at the time. The more pretty images, the better. But now you need to care. Why? Because Google can only read — and index and return results for — text so if a lot of your site is made up of images and graphics and graphics of text (are you kidding me), then they’re all invisible to Google. You always need to look at your site as if you were blind or visually impaired. By the way, here is how a search engine sees your website.
  • Connect Your Site Immediately to Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Webmasters: You really should have done this already. Click me: Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Webmasters — also, if you don’t have an SEO tool for your site, look into Yoast SEO for Drupal or Yoast SEO for WordPress. They have the tools required to make it super-simple to make all the proper connections you need. Also, bonus points: Google Analytics.
Night falls on a dock in the Yucatan (click to enlarge). Make sure to optimize your images for faster page loading times.

Night falls on a dock in the Yucatan (click to enlarge). Make sure to optimize your images for faster page loading times.

  • Optimize Your Images If That’s Something You Can Easily Do Soon: Don’t assume that your content management system automagically takes your 4MB and 2MB and 10MB and 14MB(!)images and squishes them down from your crazy 8 megapixel cameraphone photos to images that are especially optimized for the web. All of your 5184 × 3456 pixel images really need to be brought down to 1600×800 pixels — or even smaller.  If you can’t get your images under control via your server or your CMS, then you’re going to need to use Photoshop or something else. If your images are too big, your site will take too long to load; and, if you make your visitors’ experience sluggish, then Google will punish you and your search results will suffer.
  • Get a Faster Web Hosting Company and Learn About Caching and CDNs: Google be taxing! If your site isn’t mobile native or friendly, you’ll face a tax! If your images are huge and fat and take forever to load: tax! And, if your site isn’t responsive in the hand-off between when someone clicks on your Google Search result and the time when she gets to your page, then tax! If your JavaScript and CSS is cluttering up the page (instead of actual content): tax! So, you’ll need to spend some money on getting a fast server, a server with RAM and an SSD HD, super-close access to the Internet backbone, with the ability to scale if you get a flood of visitors, or not get flooded if someone else on your shared server scores a sticky meme. More than the $3.95 that you’re spending now or the half-assed server setup that your CMS website service providers have you on (they need to make as much delta as possible, right, we’re capitalists, after all). And, even then, you need to learn about how to make your slow-ass database-backed websites, your WordPress or Drupal or whatever site, faster through caching. WordPress caching’s pretty easy. And then, since you can’t be in all places at once, a content delivery network (CDN) allows you to distribute your site and all its contents across the globe. I have sorted out how to use CloudFlare for free over on my “I don’t want to be fat, sick, and weak forever” blog, RNNR. Not only do CDNs help quicken up your site, they also make proximity to the server a non-issue. If your servers are in Northern California and someone’s checking out your site in London would need to burrow through MAE-East to get to it. But, with a CDN, presumably there’d be a working copy of RNNR somewhere in the UK. All of this is worth looking into. At least for SEO, at least for Google. Because, if all things are equal, then the speed, quickness, and responsiveness of your site is going to be the x-factor.
  • Write a Blog Post About Everything On Your Site As Soon As You Can: See what I am doing right now? You might think that we’re doing all of this to help you. Well, yes, but I’m also doing it to help myself. Because Google loves engagement and popularity and visits and social shares and reshares and retweets. I have been taking my own advice since 1999. I do this as a burnt sacrifice and offering to the altar of Google Search. You should start blogging. Not for me, not for fame, not to pursue your writer’s life, but for Google. To Google Be the Glory Forever and Ever, Amen. And, don’t start your blog in WordPress.com or on Medium.com or on Blogger/Blogspot, but on your own domain. Like, on Gerris Corp’s site, the blog post is gerriscorp.com/blog — you should do it like this.
  • Use Images in Your Blog Posts (not like this one). You can find plenty of free ones at Pixabay and on Flickr under a Creative Commons license and on dozens of other sites.

Good luck. This should get you through the next day. Let me know if I missed anything down in the comments. I hope it’s useful for you. If you won’t do it, make me do it. I actually consult on SEO — check me out over on www.chrisabraham.com or email me at [email protected].Chris Abraham is a partner in Socialmedia.biz. Contact Chris via email, follow him on Twitter and Google Plus or leave a comment below.

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