Techniques to improve website ranking in Google – SEO

blog_post_img_seo

In this article we’ll explore how Google Search works and we’ll talk about some safe SEO techniques which we can apply to improve our website. This article aims to improve organic search for a website to be easily discovered in Google search results.

You can think of searching for content on Google like searching in a very large phonebook. Every time you search for something it has to check it’s index for the most relevant search result.

Contents

  1. What is SEO and Why is it important?
  2. How Google actually works?
  3. Basic SEO
  4. Advanced SEO
  5. Asking Google to Re-crawl URLs
  6. Tools

What is SEO and Why is it important?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in search engines.

SEO brings high quality traffic to our websites without having to pay Google for Ads, so it’s a good return on investment.

High quality traffic means that people are actually looking for our products or services and thus good SEO has a higher chance for conversion.

For a website to show up in a Google search result first of all it must be crawled by Googlebot, which basically means Google knows about your website. It must be index and it has to have relevant content based on the user’s search query.

The most important factors which have high impact on search results for a website are:

  • High quality content
  • Mobile friendly website
  • Informative titles and meta tag descriptions
  • Structured data
  • Follow Google guidelines – click here for Google guidelines

 

When Googlebot is crawling a website it goes through each link it can find and it builds a massive index of all the words it can find in each page. This is used in serving results for google search. Therefore we can help Google in identifying which words are most relevant for the content of our website. And we can also let it know what type of content can be found on a specific page of the website (products, recipies, reviews, events, video, articles, etc) with structured data markup.

To submit your website to Google, visit this web page and add your URL: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/submit-url

Furthermore you can use Google Search Console tool to get reports and learn new ways of improving your website visibility: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6258314

How Google actually works?

Google follows many smart algorithms and has over 200 factors to consider when displaying search results. Furthermore Google changes their algorithms frequently from minor changes to major ones.

Due to these facts it’s impossible to predict how it actually works. Therefore it’s important to follow their guidelines and do as much as it’s in our power to help Google index our web pages to the best of it’s ability.

Basic SEO

Authorship (backlinks)

The first technique is called “link building”. In this technique we want other people to link back to our website, if the entity that’s linking to us is from a similar field as our website or it’s a website with more content than ours the better.

Here is a more detailed video directly from Google on how we can achieve this:

google search explained

google search explained

The title tag

The <title> tag of a page is the first line of any search result, so it’s important to set meaningful titles for our web pages not just for the user, because they show up in the browser’s tab, but also for SEO purposes.

<title>Meaningful page title</title>

The meta element

Metadata elements are used to provide more information about a web page. Metadata will not be displayed on the page but it will be machine parsable.

Meta elements can take many attributes, some of the most important are:

  • keywords
  • description
  • author
  • language
  • robots

The keywords attribute is a highly debated topic regarding if search engines take it into account. It’s generally a good practice to use the keywords attribute, if it doesn’t help in google searches as much as other tags it does not mean it won’t help other search engines like Yahoo! or Bing.

<meta name="keywords" content="HTML,CSS,XML,JavaScript">

The description attribute is used to provide more details about the page and describe how it relates to the search query.

<meta name="description" content="page description here" />

The author attribute is used to define the author of a page.

<meta name="author" content="Catalin Scaesteanu">

The language attribute tells the search engine what language the web page is written in.

<meta http-equiv="content-language" content="en">

The robots attribute tells search engine crawlers if they are allowed to index a page or not and if they should follow links from a page or not.

<meta name="robots" content="noindex">

It’s also worth mentioning that if no page title or meta description is provided Google will try to create these based from link titles or other parts of the website.

Sitelinks are links Google thinks are useful for users and it may display them beneath a search result. This process is automatically done by Google and can’t be influenced but good website structure can help in this process.

These are the basic element every page of the website should have.

Advanced SEO

Structured Data

Further we’ll look into structured data markup which can help search engines index content better and enhance search results. https://developers.google.com/structured-data/

  • Rich Snippets
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Sitelinks Search box

Google supports schema.org vocabulary for structured data. http://schema.org/

Here is an example schema for a local businesshttp://1.schemaorgae.appspot.com/LocalBusiness

And here is a snippet of how we can use this in web pages:

<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/LocalBusiness">
<h1><span itemprop="name">Beachwalk Beachwear & Giftware</span></h1>
<span itemprop="description"> A superb collection of fine gifts and clothing
to accent your stay in Mexico Beach.</span>
<div itemprop="address" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/PostalAddress">
<span itemprop="streetAddress">3102 Highway 98</span>
<span itemprop="addressLocality">Mexico Beach</span>,
<span itemprop="addressRegion">FL</span>
</div>
Phone: <span itemprop="telephone">850-648-4200</span>
</div>

Schema supports three formats:

The most used data formats are Microdata and JSON-LD.

Google provides a tool for testing structure data snippets: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/

Knowledge Graph

The knowledge Graph is used to organize information about people, places and organizations.

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
"@context" : "http://schema.org",
"@type" : "Organization",
"url" : "http://www.your-company-site.com",
"logo" : "http://www.example.com/logo.png",
"contactPoint" : [{
"@type" : "ContactPoint",
"telephone" : "+1-401-555-1212",
"contactType" : "customer service"
}] }
</script>

Google Knowledge Graph

Google Knowledge Graph

Rich Snippets

Rich snippets within the search results are structured data which can be created to help Google index and understand the content better.

Google Rich Snippets supports the following data types:

Breadcrumb trails indicate the site hierarchy and can show up in search results. More information and examples about breadcrumb here: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/breadcrumbs

This is useful if you want your users to search for items in your website directly from Google search results page. To enable this you must create a Google Custom Search Engine, more details about enabling sitelinks search box here: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/slsb-overview

Pagination

To improve search results for paginated pages Google supports markup rel=”next” and rel=”prev”.

<a href="/shop?p=3" rel="next">Next</a>
<a href="/shop?p=1" rel="prev">Previous</a>

Sitemaps

Sitemaps are used by search engines to better understand how they can crawl a website.

Sitemaps are usually in XML file format and help search engines discover links which they could not be reached from crawling.

More information about sitemaps here – http://www.sitemaps.org/

In it’s basic form a sitemap file looks like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
<url>
<loc>http://www.example.com/</loc>
<lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>0.8</priority>
</url>
</urlset>

For large dynamic website there are tools that generate sitemap files. For example xml-sitemaps.com is a tool for generating sitemaps – https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/

PrestaShop comes with a free module called “Google Sitemap”, which has many options for generating sitemaps.

Rel=”nofollow”

With rel=”nofollow” attribute you can link to a resource and it basically tells the search engines to not follow the link.

<a href="http://www.example.com" title="Example" rel="nofollow">Example Link</a>

Rel=”canonical”

A rel canonical tag is a way to tell the search engine that one URL is equivalent to another URL.

It’s a means of preventing link duplication to the same web page.

For example if we our website is at http://example.com, and we have a link http://example.com/index.php basically we have 2 links pointing to http://example.com. We have to tell the search engine that http://example.com/index.php is actually the same as http://example.com by adding the rel canonical tag to the index.php page:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com">

5 common mistakes with rel canonical – https://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ro/2013/04/5-common-mistakes-with-relcanonical.html

Asking Google to Re-crawl URLs

After we make changes to our web pages we can ask Google to re-crawl our we pages and index them with the new updates. More information about re-crawling can be found here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/6065812

Tools

I hope this guide is informative and provides a solid starting point to building higher quality structure to your website, not only for search engine machines but for humans too.

We use these techniques in all our PrestaShop theme and modules to provide high quality SEO out of the box.

  • John432 Brown

    Gratitude for sharing this post on the techniques to improve website ranking in Google – SEO. I am also going to launch my art and craft blog so would like to advertise it using SEO. I might need to learn the basic skills so if anyone here knows about a good seo company, please let me know.

  • On-page and Off-page SEO are important to get organic traffic and improve in website ranking. Off-page activities are guest blog, blog posting, blog commenting, forum and more helps to improve ranking in search engine.

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