Andrea Ranieri Palma
From 2016 to the present, the number of websites online has doubled, totaling 1.8 billion (at the beginning of 2016 there were just under a billion). This has resulted in a rapid increase in irrelevant web pages, in content and intent, decrying a deleterious effect on our ability to find credible information in a short period of time.
For this reason, the acronym SEO has become increasingly popular in recent years. Videos and articles by gurus who, often for several thousand dollars, dispense advice and devise strategies for businesses of different sizes, willing to do anything to increase the traffic directed to their website, are all over the web.
SEO is an acronym that stands for "Search Engine Optimization, " the literal translation of which is "search engine optimization." By this acronym, we mean the set of practices and tools designed to improve the exposure and visibility of a website in response to a search "query" (request) relevant to a word or phrase entered by the user.
The result of such a "query" is a SERP (Search Engine Results Page): literally a page containing search results related to a particular word or set of words.
Lately Google, which holds a, de facto, monopolistic position in the search engine market, has become the main technological reference underlying such an acronym, thus imposing a standard for defining the most profitable and performing actions and tools to be used.
Like all technical aspects that affect the development and maintenance of a website, the practices of SEO are also shrouded in a blanket of mystery, often mixed with reverential awe. This happens for several reasons: one of them is mainly the exquisitely technical nature of these operations, followed by the lack of accessibility to a website's source code, which determines the difficulty of implementation.
As a result, the web is flooded with sites indexed in a cursory manner, or even lacking any expedient to improve their exposure and visibility on search engines. All, to the detriment of the quality of web traffic a site is able to receive, impoverished by the position in search engine results pages that increasingly push down websites that do not meet certain standards-compliant features.
So, we on the Fontoso SEO team decided to write this short guide, with 5 tips that will improve the SEO performance of any site to which they are applied:
Any properly indexed website is built on a solid foundation conferred by textual content. Search engines, in fact, "examine" the HTML structure of each site, and rank its performance based on the textual content and in particular the keywords used within it.
These algorithms are called web crawlers and are, in part, responsible for scoring, and thus ranking, a website against other results within a given search.
So, it is extremely important to identify a set of keywords that best describe your business so that you can curate your textual content in a detailed manner that conforms to the business goals to be achieved.
Our advice is to monitor competitor websites that are among the first results of a search page consistent with one's business, analyze their content, identifying their keywords, and then calibrate the drafting of one's content in such a way as to use as many of them as possible while within unique content that is functional to one's business purpose.
However, it is worth mentioning that websites on which textual content obtained (or rather say copied) from other sources (without citation) appears, are incredibly penalized by search engines, in addition to the fact that they constitute blatant plagiarism of material prepared by other people, which in case of public reporting, would consist of an image damage also avoidable. Therefore, we strongly discourage their practice.
In a Web site, within each HTML file, there is a section that determines certain fundamentally important technical and functional characteristics. One of these is the set of "meta-tags" contained within it. Below, we list the most important ones:
The title is what will signal to the search engine, the nature of the page content. Our advice is to structure it as per the example, preceding the two main keywords to your company name (for the home page). It is important that each page of a website have a unique title. The recommended length is between 50 and 60 characters.
- Page description
The description will be useful for the search engine to delve into the nature of the content of the referenced web page. A good description will contain the main keywords, possibly not repeating them, and will be about 50 to 160 characters long.
In a world where people are increasingly browsing from their smartphones, this tag has become crucial for optimizing the display of your website on mobile devices. For more information on this, you can visit this page, where Google's expert developers dispense very useful advice on the most popular viewports.
Structured meta-data, in English structured data, is information embedded in the HTML code of each page of a Web site in order to provide additional data about the domain on which the Web site to which it relates is hosted and the pages that comprise it. This information is particularly useful in enabling semantic search engine crawlers to classify correctly the content on the page.
This information is often included between tags in the form of a script in JSON-LD format. Such a script can be included within the tags preferably at the beginning of the tags.
To get more information regarding the fields with which to populate this file, the open source association schema.org has provided useful guidance regarding the attributes to be made explicit for each type of page to which structured meta-data is to be applied.
In particular, we strongly recommend its use of structured meta-data for the homepage, for pages containing blog articles, and those containing descriptions of services and/or products offered by your company and/or organization. ####2.3 Meta-tags for Social Media - Open Graph Protocol
Consistent with the evolution and renewed strategic importance of social media, the usual meta-tags have been joined by Open Graph tags, a standard protocol used by platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp to populate link-sharing previews.
As with their classic counterparts, we list the Open Graph tags most commonly used:
The "site" property suggests the name of the site, often reflecting the keyword used for the domain of the website in question.
The "title" property indicates the unique title of the page in which it is embedded.
The "description" property briefly (between 50 and 160 characters) describes the content of the page in which it is inserted.
The URL property suggests to the platform the destination URL of the sharing preview. This can be very useful for masking very long URLs that are also excessively long to be used.
The "image" property tells the platform the path to the graphic resource to be used for sharing preview among the website assets. Our advice is to use images with a size of at least 1200 x 630 and whose file size does not exceed 8mb.
To check that the sharing preview of your link meets the conditions set in the meta tags, you can use the very useful Facebook debugger.
The HTML programming language provides a wide variety of tags that can be used, some used to accomplish the same purpose, albeit in different ways.
Below are five easy rules to follow in order to write HTML code that will enable proper indexing of your Web site:
La struttura e la composizione degli URL di un sito correttamente indicizzato rispecchierà coerentemente la struttura della navigazione al suo interno. Eccone un’esempio pratico, estrapolato dal nostro sito:
As you can see, in the screenshot the section visited is the services section, and consequently the structure of the page reference URL is https://nomeazienda.it/pagina. In this case, https://www.fontoso.it/servizi.
As written in point 1) of this guide, Google is the undisputed leader in the search engine market, and fortunately for us, it offers a variety of very useful tools to optimize the performance of one's site, increasing its so-called "Quality Score", a qualitative score assigned by Google's indexing algorithm, according to several criteria, some of them unspecified.
Below, we list 5 tools that every SEO Professional should have within their technical background to increase the quality score of their website:
- Keyword planning tool.
This tool offered by Google is extremely useful for conducting targeted research on keywords to be included within your site. Just enter a few suggestion words, and the algorithm will suggest new related keywords, also indicating an estimate regarding the search volume. You can also geo-localize the suggestions, so you can increase the consistency of the suggestions with your target market and geographic areas.
- Google Search Console
This platform is free and is made available to every webmaster to analyze organic searches related to the keywords used on our website. Also noteworthy is the section dedicated to entering your own sitemap.xml, an indispensable tool for suggesting to "web crawlers" the pages to analyze.
If you are not familiar with writing an .xml file containing a sitemap, you can generate one by simply entering the URL of your website using an online tool: Sitemap Generator.
- Google Analytics
On this platform, you can monitor the main vital indicators of your website, such as number of visits, bounce rate, number and type of events (to be set), conversions etc.
Within the Admin Menu, you can copy the global tag linked to your Google account, to be placed within your HTML file, as indicated here. Moreover, the use of this platform is preparatory to the verification of the domain ownership of one's own site, which is required when logging into Google Search Console.
- Google My Business
Surely you have happened to search for the name of a business on Google, and surely you have seen this box appear at the top of one's search page (on mobile devices) or next to it (on fixed devices). That box contains the information in the Google My Business profile related to the business that is the subject of your search.
A properly verified Google My Business profile gives access to a set of features that are very useful in improving the search performance of your site.
The following are some of the main features of Google My Business:
Management of videos and photos related to your business, including those posted by user visitors
Allows the posting of opening hours, phone numbers and directions to reach us, allowing geo-location of our business on Google Maps.
Allows sharing of posts, listed among google news, related to promotions, events and/or other initiatives of a commercial and/or informational nature.
Allows you to monitor reviews posted by your customers, and possibly respond to them (a practice we strongly recommend to improve your brand image).
Allows you to know the keywords used in searches by customers who have viewed our website. Very useful in the embryonic stage of one's business, to know little considered but still profitable keywords.
This is definitely the most technical tool among those listed, and certainly among the most valuable for the insights we can gain from it.
By inserting the link to your website within the search bar, you will be able to have a detailed report on the performance of your page according to a list of indicators.
Much of this information is technical in nature, so not immediately understandable. However, we recommend its use to everyone in order to have a snapshot of the health of one's web page, and why not, maybe start a restyling process that will lead to an improvement of the indicators contained in the report.
Although these 5 tips do not exhaust all topics related to the SEO performance of your website, they are certainly a great starting point to begin a process that will have to last over time, but that will surely bring concrete advantages and benefits to your business.
For any clarification or further information regarding the content of this article, our team is at your complete disposal. Contact us using the form provided in the Contact section.