I am the last one to tell a website owner that his job is to become the local SEO or usability expert. That would be unrealistic. Why should a constructor learn SEO? He should not. Why should a gardner know all about user experience? He should not. But how about applying some common sense to your website?
Let’s go over an imaginary website, top to bottom:
Your browser has a couple of spots where your <title> is shown, like in the upper left and on a tab. That means your page title should start with he main subject of the page, not your site name. If it would start with your site name, all tabs would read the same title.
Do your really think putting all these items in your header help visitors or Google:
- RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Google+
- Telephone number
- Subscription form for email newsletter
- Banner for your own or even worse other company’s products
- Quality Marks
And all that in the first 100px of your website. Squeezed together and made to be skipped anyway. That header area should contain only the necessary, all other items should be in a sidebar or footer area. If you want people to call you, list your phone number. Make it large, but no larger than your logo. If you are the best painter in Maine, make that statement in the header. No need for all the other fuzz.
With your header comes the menu (in most cases). If you would list 30 items in the menu, do you think that would add focus to your website or do you think just using six items would guide your visitor more? Consider creating a submenu and add that structure to your breadcrumbs as well.
So far I have not mentioned anything strange or difficult to implement, right? It’s all common sense and you have thought at least 10 times “I know that already”. So why are not all websites set up with these basics? Why is there so much crap on the web?
Your page content should contain at least 300 words. That has a simple reason: would your page be a great source for the topic or keyword you want to rank for when it would only contain 50 words? Is that all there is to say about that keyword? I don’t believe that, you don’t believe that and Google does not believe that. There should be a significant amount of content for your page to be considered a great source of information.
Of course you will write some posts or pages that are much shorter, like your contact page, but do your really want to rank that page? No, not on most websites. Don’t go crazy over this on pages like that, that’s not worth the effort. Get them on your site with other pages and guide them to your contact form.
An easy way to do that is by using a call-to-action. Make that call-to-action stand out by using colors that are not overused in your design or use a much larger font. Surround the call-to-action with enough whitespace. If you are adding your fourth call-to-action, please realize that that again is killing all focus on the website. Stick to one and let the content do the rest.
Focus in your content can be achieved by adding subheadings to your text that should be structured in (again) a logical matter, pretty much the same way you should set up a Word document:
That also means one H1 per page, being the site name on the homepage and the page title on the other pages.
I think we all agree nowadays that reading on a computer screen is not as pleasant as reading text on paper. But we should make things as convenient as possible: make short sentences and even more important, create short paragraphs. I’d like to create paragraphs that are four to eight lines long and I hope this is a nice read ;)
In these paragraphs you should link to your own pages as well as to other websites. The great thing about these links to your own pages is that these links are really valuable as they are surrounded with relevant, related content. Next to that, you can easily use your keywords of choice in the anchor text. Unfortunately most people seem to think that these links should only go to other websites. A regrettable misunderstanding.
If you write great content.. Let me rephrase that: provided you write great content, people will be more than willing to tell others about your piece. Of course you should add social sharing buttons below the content. These buttons should not be styled in some fashionable way, but should look like the commonly used share buttons – see below this post ;) – for better recognition as sharing buttons.
I’d use Facebook, Twitter, Share-by-email and Google+ for all websites, Linkedin for business news / economy related websites and Pinterest only when you have that amazing image in the post that people might want to share. Do not list a share option, just because people you know are using it, but only use those sharing options you think are relevant for your website.
The fashionable buttons can be used for subscription options, like links to your Facebook profile or your Youtube channel. In most cases, the square icons are used for this, or the round icons you find on yoast.com.
This is not a great footer:
© SomewebsiteImade.com. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this content only after written permission.
First: really? Share buttons and telling people they should not use your content on other websites? We actually encountered this in one of the websites we have reviewed.
Next to that, I think the entire footer should be used for extra contact information (or a small form) and other information that you really want to list on your website like a small link list, perhaps some recent news items and a small category list (max 8 items or so). Not sure about this, but why not throw in some social profiles as well..
What I really dislike is a footer that has one million links in it. That reduces the value of all other links and all focus on the page.
So, in conclusion, I think you should not so much focus on hearsay about SEO, but think about what seems logical and makes the most sense. Only when your website makes common sense to you, you should go look for someone that can help you with the not so logical Search Engine and Usability optimization issues ;)
Common sense is not as easy as it looks for a lot of people. If you have any comments or additions to the list above, please drop me a line in the comments!