SEO: 8 tips to improve your ranking in 2021 for self-webmaster.

This article is brought you by Jitt.

If you have a website and want some organic traffic on your website then your SEO should be within you top priority. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a list of recommended tweaks to improve your ranking on search engine website like Google, Bing, DuckDuck Go.

Most of the people that are running a website on their own tend to forgot some important steps making their website search engine friendly.

Today, we have listed a top ten of our recommendation. You may already have done some of them, but be assured that we would tell you why they are important.

1. Verify your website with Search Engine.

Verifying your property with Search Engine can help you manage your organic listing on their platform. Find and resolve issues that crawler encountered while processing your website such as dead link (404) or view the performance of your organic listing (total impressions, clicks, position and more).

Errors or poor compliance against the search engine platform rules may cost you a few points which would most likely reduce your ranking. Some search engine requires a good compliance note to have you listed on a higher position.

We have included the list of guidelines for the top two search engines:

Google: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/beginner/seo-starter-guide

Bing: https://www.bing.com/webmasters/help/webmaster-guidelines-30fba23a

2. Create and submit a sitemap.

A sitemap is a great way to optimize your search engine ranking. Basically, a sitemap is a file (usually .xml file type) hosted on the root of the website.

If your domain name is example.com then the sitemap should be accessible on example.com/sitemap.xml.

What does a sitemap do?

A Sitemap is an XML file that lists the URLs for a site. It allows webmasters to include additional information about each URL: when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important it is in relation to other URLs of the site.

Wikipedia

It’s nothing to crazy, but just a simple file that has all your URLs for your website. The file itself can specify to crawler (robots) the following.

A crawler is a bot that was designed by search engine to index web content such as webpages, videos, images and files.

The sitemap files contain some data about the pages hosted on your website.

  • When was the last time the page was modified/updated.
  • The location of the page (URL).
  • When does the page get changed (frequency).
  • Priority of the page. (It tell to the crawler how important the page is).

According to Google, a sitemap isn’t required for everyone and is not mandatory to setup a website, but is highly recommended for some specific use cases.

  • Your website is bulky (a large website with tons of pages).
  • Your website has a lot of pages that aren’t liked between them.
  • Your website contains a lot of rich media (image or videos).
  • Your website is shown on Google News.

A sitemap may not be useful if

  • Your website contains less than 500 webpages.
  • Your pages does have a link to all your other pages.
  • You don’t want to index’s some medias content such as videos or images.

If your website does need a sitemap then, you can create one by yourself. If your website is powered by a CMS (Content Management System) such as WordPress then it does it automatically without any prompt from the user.

Even if your platform does it automatically, it’s better to review the sitemap to ensure if it’s accurate. Platforms may indexed pages that you don’t want to be indexed by search engine or that are dead (404 error) which could impact your ranking on search engine.

If your CMS or platform doesn’t generate own, you can use free tools online to create or generate one.

You can do it the old way, if your website contains a few pages by following this article or you can generate one by using a tool online.

Now it’s time to submit your sitemap to search engine.

As we discussed on the previous tip. If you followed or already have an account with a search engine provider to monitor your ranking then you also have the possibility to submit a sitemap.

You’ll need to upload it on your web server using SFTP/FTP and store it on the root of the public folder. Verify prior submitting the sitemap URL that this is accessible and then you can submit your sitemap.

If your website domain name is example.com, then the sitemap file should be accessible through example.com/sitemap.xml.

It is really important to name the file sitemap.xml!

3. Meta Description

The meta description is an HTML attribute that provides a brief summary of a web page. Search engines such as Google often display the meta description in search results, which can influence click-through rates.

Moz.com

Meta description provide a brief summary of the page content. This element doesn’t factor anything on Google’s ranking algorithms.

But the job of a search engine is to provide relevant information to the user as fast as possible. Having a good description of the content of your page can increase the page’s CTR (click-throught-rate) on search engine. As this is an indication that the page is relevant because of the ratio of clicks which would most likely boost the ranking of your website.

We suggest to use a free tool called Metatags.io, it provide a simple and easy to use tools to create meta tags for the following services:

  • Google (same standards are used from Bing, Yahoo and other search engines).
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Slack

It is important to past the meta descriptions on all pages within the <head> tags.

Some CMS (Content Management System) would automatically generate the tags by themselves. Please verify with your platform provider about this.

For static page, you’ll need to implement it manually.

4. HTTPS

A few year ago, most of the websites online didn’t offer encrypted connection which could probably harm the visitors and the business as well.

By the end of 2017, The biggest search engine company through it’s web browser started marking website without any encryption (HTTPS) protocol as unsecured.

This is where everything started.

Before 2018, for the average joe browsing the web on a website using the secure protocol HTTPS or not wasn’t a big deal. There was no obvious difference directly available to the end-user.

So for businesses it didn’t make sense to invest in a SSL certificate.

With big company comes big responsibilities. To ensure a safer web for everyone. Google decided to add a new security policy on Chrome regarding SSL/HTTPS.

After this specific update for website without any HTTPS protocol enabled by default. It was displaying a warning advising the end-user (visitors) that the website isn’t secure due to the lack of encryption.

That’s a big hit for businesses since it would influence the purchase decision of their clients. Nobody want to deal with a suspicious merchant online.

Later, Google implemented the SSL factors into its search engine ranking algorithm. Websites without SSL would appear really low in the search result.

It used to cost money to get your website secured. It’s still cost money, but nowadays there’s a free option called Let’s Encrypt.

Basically, to get the HTTPS protocol on your website you need to get what we called a SSL certificate. This certificate ensure that the website is legitimate, the connection is encrypted and the business is somewhat verified.

The certificate itself need to be issued by a CA (Certificate Authority) that is recognized. This is a for-profit entity that is issuing SSL certificates to businesses or people that require it.

CA needs approbation from operating system and web browser provider such as Google, Microsoft, Apple, Mozilla and others to be part of their Root Certificate Program. Therefore, they would be recognized to signed certificates and be trusted on the platform.

Each service providers has their own certificate program.

Certificates issued by a CA that isn’t part of the Root Certificate Program of the provider won’t be recognized as valid and not trusted unless the end-user add it manually as trusted by the client.

In terms of the price, it really does varies a lot. You can find SSL certificate that cost $15 to +$500. The main difference would be that coverage against any data breached. If a website that has SSL occurred a data breach then they would file a claim.

Since Let’s Encrypt was launched in 2015, they offer free SSL for websites. They are basically a CA that was launched with the goal to make the web safer.

The process is pretty technical for beginner, but the good news is that the most popular web hosting providers (or pretty much every web hosting company) does provide Let’s Encrypt out-of-the-box.

They may offer SSLs from other CA that isn’t Let’s Encrypt, but it comes to the same thing.

You may have seen CA that are still selling SSL certificates for some pretty money. Indeed, the SSL business is still going strong and price have quite dramatically been lowered compared to before since there was no free SSL CA.

You may ask why CA are still in business selling SSL certificates when people and businesses can get a free SSL from Let’s Encrypt.

Well… there’s some difference between the SSL issued by CA and Let’s Encrypt.

Commercial SSL does still offer insurance protection against data breach. Depending on the certificate, you may be eligible for filling a claim and get some money-back if a breach has occurred.

We suggest you to reach out to your CA for more information about the claim process.

For businesses that requires what we call EV (Extended Validation) which is a subtype of SSL certificate designed for specific use cases. They would need to reach out to a Commercial CA to get it issued.

Let’s Encrypt only does offer basic domain validation certificate to increase and enable encryption while transmitting data. For any kind of use case, you’ll need to go with a Commercial CA.

5. Speed (Loading)

When browsing online either on your phone or computer. What does annoy you the most? Pretty sure it’s waiting for a page to load.

According to some studies, your page should load under two seconds. If your website is taking more than 2 seconds to load then you’ll need to up your sleeves and optimize your website.

We suggest to use these two tools available online.

Google PageSpeed Insights: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

GTMetrix:

https://gtmetrix.com/

Once you have done the test, you’ll be able to identify which resources take the most time to load.

GTMetrix results for jitt.io
Google Pagespeed Insights results for jitt.io

As you can see, we scored quite high on average for the speed and efficiency of resource sharing.

Google Pagespeed Insights results for jitt.io (mobile).

But… we still need some improvements. Trying to redesign your website layout by removing less interact part of your website could help you reduce the loading speed of your pages.

You can reorganize your content on your pages and make it more speed-friendly and efficient for your visitors.

Jitt’s behaviours analytics tools such as Heatmap and Session Replays does allow you to understand, analyze and monitor how your audience uses your website.

You can then reorganize your website layout, remove unnecessary objects from your pages which would increase speed, efficiency and the overall user experience.

Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Another way to increase speed and reliability at the same time is to serve content with the help of a CDN.

A Content Delivery Network is a service used for delivering your website faster. With no help of a CDN, your content need to travel from point A (your server) to B (your visitor).

A CDN help you to deliver pages faster since they locally store some of the content nearby of the location of your visitor. Instead of travelling from the original source, the request from your visitors is redirected to a nearby servers who would fulfil the request faster.

CloudFlare is a free and reliable Content Delivery Network used by corporations and businesses to speed up the loading of their website.

The good news is that you can enjoy the premium benefits of a CDN for free. CloudFlare is the only provider who’s offering a free Content Delivery Network to everyone.

Eligibles assets such as images, JavaScript and CSS are compressed and duplicated on servers around the world. Videos can also be served through the extensive network, but it is a paid feature.

Configuring CloudFlare would requires access to the registrar of your domain name to update the nameservers associated, but the process is quite straightforward and fast.

6. Responsive (mobile-friendly)

The design of your website may impact your business. A poorly designed website can increase cost and also decrease revenue, sales and traffic.

responsive web design automatically adjusts for different-sized screens and viewports. 

That’s all about the user experience. Since 2016, the biggest search engine decided to take in consideration how websites are responsive. With the spectacular growth of mobile devices sales, it is now the most used devices around the world to browse online.

Due to the big market share of users using a mobile device. The search algorithm would decide if your website offer the best user experience in terms of accessibility on mobile devices. This is called Google Mobile Friendly.

Other search engines offers a similar approach as well.

Nowadays it shouldn’t be something you should be worried about it. Most CMS like WordPress templates are responsive (pretty much any recent templates, at least).

Design flaws still exist which would affect the user experience. With the help of our Heatmap and Session Replays solution, you can see how your website design impact the engagements.

A well designed website would always be pleasant and easy to use which would increase sales, growth and revenue.

7. Engagement through social media.

When people share your content online, it bring traffic and engagement. Search engines doesn’t take in consideration engagements from other sources such as Facebook or Twitter, but it can help people share your content to their network of friends or followers.

The more your audience share content on social media, the more it create backlinks.

Backlinks are basically a link that redirect to your website. The more people share, the more backlink it create. Since search engine index tweets or public post from Facebook, it helps for organic ranking (unpaid ranking, not sponsored).

8. Well structured content.

Organize and structure your content by using headline text such as H1, H2, H3 to segments your content.

  • H1/Title should be used for the most important title or content in your webpage.
  • H2 should be used for sub header of the content.
  • H3 should be used for description purposes of a sub header.

These must be followed per numerical order from the most important content of the page to the lowest.

But why heading is important for SEO?

Search engine crawlers love structured content since it easier to analyze content. Even though heading doesn’t impact really the SEO, it still good and a big part of the user experience.

Conclusion

We hope you have liked our article about how to improve your SEO. If you have any suggestions about this article please leave it below or if this helped you then you can share it with your network.

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