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Ok, so you have a lovely new website. Now what?

How to optimise your website for SEO. To get your website performing well in the search engines requires time and effort. But the good news is that you don’t have to be an SEO expert to boost your website’s search engine cred.

Is do-it-yourself (DIY) search engine optimization (SEO) possible if you lack SEO experience? Absolutely! Here’s some top tips to help get you started.

10. URLs Must be 100% Readable

If you can’t read every word in your URL, neither can search engines. Search engines know that people read URLs before clicking them. Search engines can’t unscramble dynamically generated URLs, nor do they even try. Instead they just read the words in URLs, just like they read the content on your page. This helps them better understand your content, so they can connect you with your target market.

Example: If you want to buy a brown leather couch, which URL would you click on?

Correct URL: http://yourdomain.com/red-leather-couches
Incorrect URL: http://yourdomain.com/index.php?=6512524=t55=?p=127

9. Use Hyphens, Not Underscores

If your url needs to include more than one word, it makes sense to separate them to make them more readable. To do so, use dashes or hyphens, instead of underscores. Google has been very clear about this. Their algorithm was written to read hyphens, not underscores. If you want to get ranked high in the biggest search engines in the world, you have to play by their rules.

Correct URL: http://yourdomain.com/red-leather-couches
Incorrect URL: http://yourdomain.com/red_leather_couches

8. Top Content in Top Folders

Search engines consider web pages in your root folder as top level content and attribute it a higher authority than content in sub-folders. So, be strategic about how you structure your URLs. URL structure can signal the importance of a page on your site.

More Authority: http://yourdomain.com/target-keyword
Less Authority: http://yourdomain.com/category/subcategory/target-keyword

7. No Capital Letters

Capital letters can be confusing to both people and search engines. Adding capital letters, ichanges the way that search engines read the url. Yourdomain.com/target-keyword is a different URL than yourdomain.com/Target-Keyword.

6. Block Bad URLs with Robots.txt

Avoid duplicate content by blocking search engines from indexing multiple URLs to the same content.  For example, having a search feature on your site will generate dynamic and duplicate URLs to the same content, depending on the user’s filtered search. Block extra dynamic URLs pointing to the canonical URL.

5. Add Mobile URLs to a Sitemap

Tell major search engines like Google which web pages on your site are mobile friendly in a sitemap. Mobile friendly pages tend to rank higher in mobile search results and Google even provide a tool to enable you to add them. Sign in to google and, if you haven’t done so already, add your website to their webmaster console. To validate your site you will need to upload a snippet of code – which yuor web developer will be able to add for you.

Some people say you don’t need to indicate mobile friendly pages if your site is responsive. But to be safe, many still do include responsive mobile URLs in a sitemap.

This is how Google’s explain how to include mobile URLs in sitemaps

4. Use Canonical URLs

Dynamic pages can sometimes accidentally create duplicate content, andyou don’t want to get penalized for something you didn’t intentionally do, hence using canonical URLs.

Here are a few important ways to use canonical URLs:

Dynamic Content
If you want  http://yourdomain.com/brown-leather-couches to be a the preferred URL, even though other URLs access this same content, then add a rel=”canonical” link element in the head of each of those pages with the same content. This will tell search engines to only index http://yourdomain.com/brown-leather-couches.

Example of the rel=”canonical” link element:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://yourdomain.com/red-leather-couches” />

Preferred Domain Redirect
Avoid the possibility of Google and other search engines thinking you have duplicate content. Yourdomain.com and www.yourdomain.com are looked at as two different websites in the eyes of search engines. To fix this, set your preferred domain redirect as either yourdomain.com or www.yourdomain.com. This will redirect your non-preferred domain to your preferred domain.

How to Set Your Preferred Domain and Double the Power of Your Backlinks

Canonicalize Your IP
This is another way to avoid being penalized for duplicate content. Simply redirect your IP address to your preferred domain. Otherwise, search engines may think your IP address and your website are two different websites with the same exact content.

Indicate How to Handle Dynamic Parameters
Tell Google and other search engines when to ignore any parameters added to your URL, such as a session ID or pagination. By doing this you are telling Google that http://yourdomain.com/keyword?sessionid=54 has the same content as http://yourdomain.com/keyword.

Try using the URL Parameters tool in Google Webmaster Tools.

3. Upload a Favicon

The tiny little icon next to your URL in a browser is a favicon. Adding one has many benefits. Search engines like Bing and Google have toyed with including favicons in the search results. Favicons also stand out more in browser bookmarks, helping with brand recognition and trust.

There may not be any direct SEO causation from the effects of having a favicon on your site, but there is a definite correlation. In all, it’s better to have one.

2. 301 Redirect Broken URLs

If you must change a URL for any reason, just remember you are removing a page that Google has potentially indexed and other sites have linked to. You don’t want search engines to remove a high ranking web page from the search results because they can’t find your content on your old URL. Simply notify search engines by adding a 301 redirect from your old URL to your new URL.

Google’s advice on 301 redirects
How to 301 redirect

1. Include the Exact Target Keyword

When possible include your exact target keyword or phrase in your URL. This is usually difficult to do on your home page, but it should be easy on your service pages or blog articles.

How to target the exact keyword “brown leather couch”:

Great URL: http://yourdomain.com/furniture/red-leather-couch
OK URL: http://yourdomain.com/couches/red-leather
Bad URL: http://yourdomain.com/color-234-couches

how to optimise your website for SEO

Infographic by: MySiteAuditor.com