Robots.txt Files: What They Are and Why You Need Them For SEO

Robots.txt files are a must-have for any website that wants to rank higher in the search engines, and they're easy to create! In this article, we'll talk about what robots.txt files are, how they can help your site's SEO ranking, and why creating one is so important.

What Are Robots.txt Files? 

Robots.txt files are the simplest way to communicate with search engine crawlers, and they come in two forms: Disallow and Allow (or "Allow" for short). The Disallow form lets you specifically tell a crawler not to access certain parts of your website or online store; on the other hand, "Allow" simply lets a crawler know that it can visit everything.

Why Are Robots.txt Files Important? 

In the eyes of search engines, it's important that every page on your site is crawlable. This includes pages that are not optimized for crawlers (like password protected ones), as well as those with errors in them. Robots.txt files can help you keep these pages off limits to crawlers and maintain a higher ranking in Google by making the rest of your site clean and navigable.

The Disallow form tells crawlers not to access certain parts of your website or online store, while "Allow" simply lets a crawler know that it can visit everything on the page. By using Robots.txt files correctly, you're able to maintain a higher ranking in Google by making sure that the rest of your site is clean and navigable.

How Do Robots.txt Files Impact SEO? 

Robots.txt files tell crawlers whether they should crawl a page or not, and this can have an impact on your SEO ranking in the long run. If you want to rank higher in Google for certain keywords that are only found on pages of your site which are set as "Disallow," then it's important to make sure those pages are set with the Disallow command.

This may include password protected pages, or certain sections of your site that include duplicate query parameters (like on e-commerce websites).

Different Types Of Robots.Txt File Directives

When you create your robots.txt file, you should always use the Disallow form and list one URL per line, like so:

Disallow: /blog/

That means that our blog is not accessible by search engine crawlers. We could also make this more specific by adding a path to the Disallow directive:

Disallow: /blog/category/*

That means that our blog is not accessible by crawlers with URLs that contain "category/". We can also make this more broad and tell search engine crawlers they cannot access any of our content, like so:

Disallow: /*  This is the broadest way to tell crawlers not to visit our website

In this case, we're telling all crawling bots that they should not access any pages on our site. With Disallow, we can use as many lines of code as needed; also keep in mind that you don't need a forward slash before every line:  Disallow:  /blog/*

If we were to add a line for the Allow directive, this is telling search engines that they can access the content in the subfolder, such as:

Allow: /blog/

Crawl-delay: This command is used to regulate the amount of requests a spider bot puts in, and it works by specifying how long the bot should wait between each request. Here's a Crawl-delay example with an 8 millisecond crawl delay:

Crawl-delay: 8

One thing to note is that Google doesn't use this type of directive, although other search engines like Bing do.

Where Does A robots.txt File Go On A Site?

The robots.txt file should be uploaded to the root level of your site, or in other words: "in the home directory". It's possible that you'll have a subdirectory inside of this folder (such as blog), but it doesn't matter where you place it for search engines' purposes.

Checking if you have a robots.txt file

Many hosting systems come with a robots.txt file installed by default, but it's always possible that you've deleted the one they provided and need to create your own. If this is the case, here are some ways to check:

  1. The easiest way is to open up Google Search Console and fetch a desired URL using the URL inspection tool. It will tell you if a robots.txt file was used to help retrieve the page.
  2. Most of the time, robots.txt files can be accessed at the end of your root domain, such as example.com/robots.txt. When accessing the file in this way, you can see what directives you have in place within your site's robots.txt file.

Do I Need A Robots.txt File?

Robots.txt files are not a requirement for your website, though they can help you maintain better rankings in Google by making sure that the rest of your site is clean and navigable.

Many site owners may have robots.txt files automatically added, depending on their CMS like WordPress, but never update the directives.

The only time that robots.txt files become important are if you have a large website and want to influence Google's crawl budget, or if there are certain sections of the site that you don't want crawled.

Even then, a better solution is to add noindex or nofollow meta tags to these types of pages of site sections to ensure that Google doesn't crawl or display them in the search results.

However, this can get tricky for multimedia elements like images or PDFs, which is where a robots.txt file comes into play.

How To Set Up Your Robots.txt File

The first step to setting up your robots.txt file is to write one. You can either use WordPress plugins, or write one in a notepad document.

Robots.txt Files typically have the following format:

User-agent is the label for a specific type of bot.

And after "disallow" in robots.txt, you put any page that you want to block.

Here's an example of what that looks like:

The robots.txt rule is beneficial for SEO as it tells Googlebot not to index the Image folder of your website.

In addition, you can use an asterisk (*) to stop any bots from searching your site.

So in this example:

The "*" prevents all search spiders from crawling your images folder, not just Google.

Make Sure Your Robots.Txt File Is Discoverable

The most important thing you can do for your SEO is apply a robots.txt file to your site in a way that's easily discoverable by search crawlers.

You don't want to place the file in any random directory, but preferably at:

https://example.com/robots.txt

(It doesn't matter what it's called, but make sure that you use lower case, because it is case-sensitive).

You'll also need to upload it to your web host's FTP client, or the root of your domain.

Check for Errors and Mistakes

It's vital that you ensure there are no errors or mistakes associated with your robots.txt file, or you run the risk of accidentally deindexing your entire website.

You can use Google's Robots Testing Tool to make sure that it's set up properly.

Include Your Sitemap

You also want to include your sitemaps within your robots.txt to help search engines crawl and discover your web content. This helps with discoverability, as well as crawl budget.

How To Optimize Your Anchor Text For SEO

When it comes to SEO, internal linking and using optimized anchor text is an often overlooked practice that may be holding your website back from ranking well in the search results.

Read our latest article to learn what anchor text is, why it's important, and how to optimize it for SEO.

What is Anchor Text, and Why is it Important?

Anchor text is the hyperlink that displays on a web page and points to another webpage. It typically displays as blue text in most browsers, but it can also be styled differently depending on your preference.

A good way to optimize anchor text for SEO best practices is to use keywords or phrases that are related to the content of the target page.

How Does Anchor Text Affect SEO?

Anchor text should be relevant to your content and consist of keywords or phrases that are related to the topic you're writing about. This will help with search engine optimization, as it will make the link more relevant in a way that Google can understand what the page you're linking to is all about.

By providing Google with that context, it can better understand what phrases that destination page should rank for, using your anchor text as a signal in its algorithm.

Different Types of Anchor Text

Below we'll walk through the different types of anchor text that are used across various websites.

Branded Anchor Text

Branded anchor text is an example of keyword-driven anchor texts. These are phrases that include the brand name, such as "Acme shoes." This helps to strengthen your site's credibility and build up its reputation online through links from external websites.

Exact Match Anchor Text

Exact match anchor text is often used as a way to increase rankings for specific keywords. For example, if you want your page to rank higher in the search results for "Acme shoes review" then use an anchor text with that exact keyword phrase.

Partial Match Anchor Text

Similar to exact match, partial match anchor text is a way to increase rankings for specific keywords. The difference is that partial match anchor text will often include other keyword variations that only partially include your target keyword, such as "acme shoe shops near me".

Related Anchor Text

Related anchor text is used to link to other parts of your website. For example, if you have a "men's shoes" category on your site and want this section linked from the homepage then use related anchor texts such as:

This type of anchor text links two pages together without using keywords that are specific to one page or another. It will help users find what they're looking for while also adding in descriptions about other products or sections on your site. This helps keep visitors more engaged with everything you offer because it keeps them guessing and browsing through different areas instead of simply leaving when they don't find an answer right away.

Random Anchor Text

The last type is random anchor text. This type of anchor text isn't contextually relevant and may include phrases such as "click here" or "buy now".

Which Type Of Anchor Text is Best For SEO?

Typically, you want to stick with exact match or partial match anchor text when optimizing for SEO. This ensures Google has the most relevance to determine how your destination pages should rank in its search engine.

While branded or random anchor text aren't necessarily bad, they should be used sparingly for specific use cases.

Optimizing Your Anchor Text For SEO

Now that we've covered the different types of anchor text, let's dive into how to optimize your anchor text for SEO.

Include Target Keywords Within Anchor Text

Choosing a good keyword to use for your anchor texts is crucial because it will be the most prominent part of your content.

You should focus on using long-tail keywords, which are phrases that have more than two words and generally are three or four words in length.

The anchor text should properly describe what your destination page is all about while including the target keyword phrase that you want it to rank for.

However, you want to avoid overstuffing. Don't simply include a target keyword to include it for SEO. It should appear natural to the user.

Avoid using the URL of a page as the anchor text

Using the URL as anchor text is generally not a good idea because this does nothing to give your content any context.

A better strategy would be using keyword phrases that are related to what you're linking to, which will help improve sales conversions and click-through rates.

Write short anchor text

While I did mention to incorporate longer-tail keywords into your anchor text, you should try to keep them as short and succinct as possible. This is to provide Google the best relevance - if your anchor text is too long, it starts to lose context.

It's also best practice for your users. The shorter the anchor text, the more likely the will be to click through to your next page on the website. Aim to keep your anchor text between 1-7 words.

Format links differently from normal text

When you are linking to another page or website, it's best practice to format that text differently from the normal content. This is so Google and other search engines can recognize which words should be linked - without any formatting, they will just assume a sentence of text is the same as anchor text and not clickable.

Doing this also helps your user experience by making sure readers know what links are actually supposed to do something for them!

How To Remove Your Website From Google Search

In some instances, you may want to remove your URLs or website from the Google Search Results pages. Whether you have a beta testing environment, or you’re setting up your website before launching it to the public, it’s important that you prevent it from appearing to users searching on Google and Bing. 

Luckily this guide will teach you how to remove or block your website from appearing on search engines. 

What Does It Mean To Remove Your Website From Search Engines? 

In a nutshell, when we say that we’re going to remove a website from search engines, it means that we’re blocking the crawlers from accessing your website’s content, or feeding it directives so that your website won’t be indexed. 

Users still have the ability to access your content, whether it’s internal employees or external visitors, but the only way to view the website is if they have direct links guiding them to your web pages. 

Four Ways To Remove Your Website From Google

Below are four ways that you can remove your website from Google. 

Option 1: Add NoIndex Tags To All Site Pages

The first option is to add noindex tags to all of your website pages. Noindex tags are directives telling search crawlers that your web pages shouldn’t appear as results on search engines. They can still find and discover your content, but with the directive in place, they won’t index your content. 

Noindex tags should be placed on all site pages in the <head> section as HTML code.  

Option 2: Add Disallow Directives To Robots.txt File

The second option is to add disallow directives to your website’s robots.txt file

When a search crawler visits your website, one of the first things it does is checks your robots.txt file to see what directives are in place for the crawler to follow. 

Your disallow directives should look something like this in your robots.txt file: 

User-agent: *

Disallow: /

However, Google may still index your pages if it’s being linked to from other websites, so you should still set noindex tags as a safety precaution to prevent indexation. 

Option 3: Use The Site Removal Tool In Google Search Console

Let’s say that you were too late in implementing the first two options, and Google is already indexing your website. 

In this instance, you can remove your website from Google using the site removal tool in Search Console. 

You’ll first need to create an account, and after accessing the web site removal tool, select New Removal Request and fill out the required information in order to submit your removal request. 

Option 4: Hide Your Site Behind A Login Firewall

The safest way to ensure that your website isn’t indexed is by requiring crawlers and users to sign in before accessing your web pages. 

Google and other search engines aren’t able to mimic user behavior, which means they can’t sign in to move beyond the login barrier or your website’s firewall. This will 100% prevent your website from ever appearing in the search results.  
Now that you’ve read our latest article on how to remove your website from the SERPs, be sure to check out our robust search engine optimization guide for more SEO tips and content.

Soft 404 Errors In Search Console: What They Are and How to Find Them

What are soft 404 errors and what do they have to do with search engine optimization? In this article, we will answer that question as well as talk about how you can find them on your website and how to fix them. 

What Is A Soft 404 Error? 

Soft 404s happen when the web server cannot find the requested resource or file. This causes an error message to pop up instead of a page for visitors to see. You don't want these errors because they affect your search engine optimization by not providing valuable content for Google's crawlers and it frustrates visitors who click on links expecting something different than what is actually there. 

Difference Between 404 Not Found and Soft 404 Errors

When the web server can't find what it's looking for, there are two possible errors that will happen. The first type is a 404 Not Found error which means that the file or resource was never created in the first place or has been deleted since then. A soft 404 error occurs when what you're looking for is still on your site but not where Googlebot thought it would be.

Why 404 Errors Are Bad For SEO

404 Errors are bad for SEO for a number of reasons.  First, they make it more difficult for Google or other search engines to find what you're looking for and that can negatively impact the way your site is ranked. Second, not only does a 404 error discourage visitors who are trying to get something from your website but also takes them away from where they came in on which means fewer opportunities for conversions. Thirdly, because of all this frustration with these errors people might start avoiding your website altogether meaning no traffic at all- sounds like a recipe for failure!

It can also harm what is known as your website's crawl budget. Google only has a finite number of resources to crawl and index the millions of web pages out there on the internet. After a while of crawling your website, Google will reach its "crawl budget" and stop crawling your other site pages.

If you're wasting crawl budget by directing Google to 404 error pages, this can lead to new or important pages on your site not being crawled, indexed, or ranked on Google.

How To Find Soft 404 Errors

Google Webmaster Tools is a great place to start. All you need to do is log in and click on "Crawl" then under Crawl Stats, select 404 Errors from the drop-down menu. This will show how many times Google has found an error message that we can't find any webpage for at all (404).

Another way to check your website's soft 404 errors are by using Screaming Frog SEO Spider which can quickly crawl through your site as well as analyze it thoroughly - even checking what pages have been indexed or not! After running this analysis, make sure to open up the HTML Code tab where there should be a list of URLs with status code 200 but no content.

How To Fix Soft 404 Errors On Your Website

Fixing soft 404 errors on your website is easier than it sounds. We'll walk through a few reasons why your website may have soft 404 errors and provide solutions on how to fix them, depending on the root cause.

404 Page Is Returning A 200 HTTPS Status Code

A page that isn't found is still returning a 200 HTTPs status code, which is a confusing signal to Google's search crawlers because it's telling them that the page still exists.

To fix this, simply return a 404 or 410 HTTPs status code to inform Google that the page has been permanently deleted.

Thin Content Issues

One way to create a soft 404 error is if you have thin content on your website. Thin content can be anything from spammy blog posts or pages with only images and no text, for example. There isn't enough content on the page to signal to Google that it's either valuable.

To fix the problem, try adding more unique content that provides value to users and search engine crawlers alike.

301 Redirect Isn’t Relevant

Another common way to create a soft 404 error is if you 301 redirect a page that's no longer relevant or active. For example, if you once had an entire blog post talking about the best places in California to visit and now it only has one sentence on what they are, then Google will think this content was never important for users to see because of how outdated it seems.

This also happens if the page you're redirecting to isn't relevant or similar to the old page. So if you have an article on the best places in California to visit, but you're redirecting users to a page about credit cards, this isn't a 1:1 301 redirect, so Google will consider the old page to be a soft 404.

To fix the problem, make sure your website is updated with fresh new content so readers don't feel like their time reading through something old. You can also consider removing any redirection links from pages that don't have a relevant page to drive users to, or create a new page that is relevant.

Google Is Mistaking The Page For 404 Error

This may happen if the verbiage on your web page has 404-like messaging. So in the case of an e-commerce website, using verbiage like "out of stock" or "not available" may signal to Google that the web page is actually a 404 "not found" because the inventory doesn't exist.

The fix to this is to update the content to avoid these types of phrases.

Blocking Google Access

If certain aspects of the website are blocked or not properly rendered by Google, such as Javascript or CSS files, then Google may mistake the page for not having content because it isn't able to see these coding elements.

Make sure that your Javascript / CSS files are being crawled / rendered by Google - one way to check is to use Google's URL inspection tool in Search Console to identify any potential issues  in this regard.

Are PDFs SEO Friendly? How To Optimize Them For SEO

A PDF is a document that is created in Adobe Acrobat and designed to be read on screen or printed. A PDF file can also be viewed by someone who does not have Adobe's software installed on their computer. This article will discuss if pdfs are good for SEO, and how you can optimize them for search engine optimization (SEO).

Are PDFs SEO Friendly? 

A big question that webmasters often have is if PDFs are SEO friendly. In most cases, PDFs aren't an ideal format to use if you want your content to rank on Google.  The problem with PDFs is that Google sees them as a static document and they are unable to crawl the text from inside of the file. This means it's difficult for Google to understand what your content says, which will keep you from ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).

However, in some cases, if you have a long form pdf (a pdf over 20-50 pages) then it may be suitable for SEO purposes. If this is the case, there are three things you can do to optimize your PDF:

The first is through Adobe Acrobat Writer:

The Document > Save As > Select "PDF/A+" under Format options and select Optimize For Fast Web Viewing within Preset options to help with user readability for long documents.

Another way would be to use a headings and subheadings  to break up the document into smaller chunks. This will allow Google to better organize your content on their SERPs so that you can rank for keywords relevant to specific sections of your pdf.

Lastly, if you are looking at adding SEO optimization right after uploading or converting from another file type, then there are plugins such as PDF Optimizer which can help with optimizing your files without having to do anything manually like adding tags or inserting hyperlinks. Using this plugin is easy- just upload it onto any site hosting your pdf (such as WordPress) and click "optimize". 

Main Reasons PDFs Aren't Good For SEO

Are PDF Files Indexed By Google? 

Google indexes PDFs and most other page formats. However, it isn't an ideal practice compared to incorporating HTML and other coding elements like CSS and Javascript on a web page.

Optimizing Your PDFs For SEO

If you decide that you want to use PDFs as your content format, we'll walk through how to optimize your PDFs for SEO below.

Optimize Your PDFs File Name

First, you'll want to optimize your PDFs file name before uploading it on your website. Performing keyword research is essential before crafting content if you want to rank on Google. Make sure that your PDF file name includes your primary keyword that you want to target and show up for in the search results.

Use A SEO Friendly Title and Meta Description

Next, you'll want to include a title and meta description for your PDF. The primary keyword that best represents the content of your PDF should be used in both fields. Keep in mind Google uses these two fields when it displays search results pages so this is an important step to take if you want visitors who are looking for content like yours on Google's SERPs (search engine result page).

Structure Your PDFs With The Right SEO Headings

Next, you'll want to structure your PDFs with the right SEO Headings, such as H1s, H2s, and H3s. This will help Google better understand what your PDF is about and better contextualize the content so it can rank more effectively. It also helps with user engagement as they scroll through your PDF to find specific information that's outlined within them.

Include Internal Links In Your PDFs

Another way to optimize your PDF files for SEO is by including internal links within them. This helps users navigate through the content, but it also has a positive effect on search engine crawlers because they are able to crawl and index more of your PDFs in less time so you'll end up with better rankings that are faster.

Canonicalization Tags For PDFs

Canonicalization tags are another way to optimize PDFs for SEO. These tags are used when you have duplicate content across your website, such as a blog post that has been published on more than one page, or even two separate WordPress blogs with the same content. A canonical tag helps Google choose which URL to show in search results so it's important that they're implemented correctly into your PDF files if you happen to have duplicates of them on different web pages.

You want to make sure that your PDF as a self-referencing canonical tag so that it can rank independently on Google compared to other web pages (while ensuring that you aren't copy and pasting duplicate content in the form of a PDF).

Avoiding Saving Your PDFs As Image Files

One of the easiest ways to optimize your PDFs for SEO is by saving them as text-based files instead of images.

There are many formats you could save your file as, but if you're not sure then use .txt or HTML format so that it can be indexed in Google's search results pages. If someone has trouble opening a .html file on their computer and they want to save it with another extension like .pdf, this will mess up the tags which will break any linkages between webpages and make optimization difficult.

Some people might think that PDF documents are an image type and therefore not accessible to crawlers found within search engines such as Google or Bing, but this couldn't be further from the truth! Therefore you want to make sure that your PDF is saved as a text-based format so Google and Bing can crawl its content, rather than an image file.

Use A Responsive PDF For Mobile-Friendliness

In the age of cell phone use, people are using their phones more than they're using a computer. This means that you need to make sure your pdf is mobile-friendly because a large number of people will view it on screens smaller than what's found on PCs and Macs. A responsive PDF ensures that text, images, columns or other elements in your document adjust automatically depending on how big or small the browser window is!

How To Make My PDF File Size Smaller? 

The simplest PDF optimization is to save a reduced-size version of the file. To do this, open the PDF in Acrobat and choose File > Save As Other > Reduced Size PDF.

Conclusion

Are pdfs a good way to get your content online? Well, it's all about how you optimize the PDF. If you have invested in creating an informative and useful pdf that is well-optimized for SEO best practices, then PDFs are an option as a content format, although it won’t perform nearly as well as a standard web page on your site.

This article has provided some great tips on what you need to do when optimizing a PDF file so that search engines can find them easily. We hope this helps solve any questions or concerns of yours regarding whether or not pdf files are helpful for SEO purposes. Thanks for reading!

Internal Linking for SEO: How to Create an Effective Internal Linking Strategy

Internal linking is one of the best ways to help your website rank better in search engine results pages (SERPs) for the keywords and topics that are most relevant to your business. It's also an effective way to increase traffic, which will lead to more conversions and sales. 

The following article discusses how internal links work, what they're good for, and some of the best practices you should follow when creating a strategy for internal linking on your site!

What Is Internal Linking In SEO? 

Internal linking is the process of connecting pages on your site to one another, usually through hyperlinks. This technique can be used for a variety of purposes, but it's primarily associated with search engine optimization and getting you higher rankings in SERPs. It works by strengthening the connections between related content on your website which makes it easier for Google bots to crawl, discover, and rank them in the search results. 

How Does Internal Linking Help SEO? 

Internal linking can help the SEO efforts for your website in a number of ways.  For one, it's a great way to link to content on other pages on your site that are relevant and valuable. 

By doing this, you'll be able to rank these pages higher in the SERPs as their connections become stronger. Linking also helps Google understand what topics exist on your website which will help them better determine how powerful each page is within its niche. 

It can also help improve click-through rates by making visitors more likely to navigate between different sections of your site and stay there longer than they normally would have.

Internal links also have the added benefit of passing SEO authority from other pages. For example, let’s say your web page has a score of 50. By introducing internal links to two pages with optimized anchor text, you’re passing “half” of that authority to those two other pages, which can help them rank better as a result. 

Read our latest guide to learn more about search engine optimization and what tactics you should be incorporating into your SEO strategy. 

How Many Internal Links Is Too Many? 

In general, it’s fairly safe to assume that one link per 100 words of content is a good number. However, this isn't an exact science and the amount can vary depending on various factors, like the purpose of your web page (is it a resource blog article or a product page?). 

If you have more than one page with valuable information relating to one another (such as a series), then it's okay to link back-and-forth between each individual page in order to provide value and really make readers feel like they're getting something out of their visit.

The biggest thing is to keep user experience in mind. If you’re injecting too many internal links that become obtrusive to the user reading your content, then it’s safe to say that you’re inserting too many links on your web page. 

What Is The Difference Between Internal Vs. External Links? 

External links are hyperlinks that take a user off the page and to another website. 

Internal links, on the other hand, are those links (text or images) within your web content that point back-and-forth between pages of your site.

From a SEO standpoint, you always want to optimize to keep users within your web experience and navigating to other pages on your website. 

However, Google does take into consideration in its ranking algorithm web pages that link out to other quality / authority resources on external websites. 

Again, best practice is to keep the user in mind - if you’re referencing content, quotes, or statistics on external websites, you want to link to them to show not only those users, but also Google, that your information comes from a trusted source. 

Think of it like writing a research paper - if you have quality content, but no sources to back up that information, is it going to be trusted by your professor or stand up to peer review scrutiny? 

Should I Use Nofollow On Internal Links? 

This largely depends on the purpose of your web  page. NoFollow tags tell search engine crawlers not to crawl / follow the link to that page and in turn won't pass any authority from one page to another. 

The question you should ask yourself, is “do I want this page being crawled, indexed, or ranking on Google, but still want users to find that content?” If the answer is no, you don’t want that page appearing in the search results, then you should use a nofollow attribute. Otherwise, don’t  include nofollow tags on the internal links for your website. 

Internal Linking Best Practices For SEO

Now that we’ve covered the basics of internal linking, let’s review best practices for crafting and implementing an internal linking strategy for your website. 

Create Your Ideal Site Structure

The first step is to create your ideal site structure. What do you want the user experience of navigating through your website to be like? How will they move from page to page? 

Perhaps you’ve noticed that content on a certain topic tends to perform well in Google search results, and it seems as though these pages always rank highly for this keyword when there are other unrelated topics mixed with them. 

This could indicate that if those irrelevant pages were taken out, then the higher performing ones would probably stay at or near the top because all of their relevancy factors would still apply. To implement an internal linking strategy successfully, focus on what kind of information architecture works best for SEO rankings rather than simply trying not duplicate links on your website. 

Identify Important Content / Pages

Next, you want to identify your most important content or pages on your website for internal linking.  The most popular way to do this is by using Google's Webmaster Tools, which will show you the pages on your website that are receiving traffic from search engines. If one of these pages has a high number of backlinks and also receives a lot of organic traffic then it would be good for SEO purposes.

These types of pages should be used as targets for internal links. As an example, if someone were wanting to rank well in Google searches for "dog food" they might want to link all other dog related content including "puppy pictures" or even articles about training dogs internally throughout their site so there isn't any chance that another competing article can take over their position in SERPS when people google "dog food". 

Conduct An Internal Linking Audit

After you’ve identified your priority pages to target for internal linking, you should conduct an internal linking audit to discover the following issues on your website. You can either utilize Google Search Console to discover what pages on your website have internal links pointing to them, as well as Screaming Frog to uncover technical issues that are hurting your page’s keyword rankings due to internal linking issues. 

Broken Internal Links

Broken internal links are one of the most common problems that websites run into, and can sometimes be a huge problem when they go unnoticed! 

This happens when you link to pages that either don't exist anymore (and result in 404 errors); or the URLs have changed, but a 301 redirect wasn't implemented from the old version to the new version of the page. 

You can use Screaming Frog to discover broken internal links on your website and work to fix them by either removing those links, or updating them to current pages. 

301 Redirect Chains

A 301 redirect is the process where you set up redirects that go from one webpage to another using 301 status codes, which tells Google that this page has permanently moved and should be redirected accordingly. 

In the case of 301 redirect chains, there are multiple redirects in place. So let’s say you have Page A that redirects to Page B. But Page B then redirects to Page C, and so on. 

Every time this happens, your page loses a little SEO value with each redirect in the chain, which can hinder your keyword rankings because you’re losing that SEO value along the way. 

Another analogy is like a leaky bucket - your bucket is losing water due to the leak. And the more 301 redirects you have in the chain, the more leaks pop up in your bucket, so you lose more water with each leak. 

Again, Screaming Frog can help identify 301 redirect chains so you can fix them so that your page is linking to the final destination URL in the path. 

Links To Unimportant Pages

While not hurtful, linking to unimportant pages isn’t beneficial for SEO. An unimportant page meets the following criteria: 

For pages like this, that you aren’t actively driving users to read or browse, you want to remove those internal links and replace them with links that point to more valuable pages to encourage users to continue browsing other content on your website (as well as pass SEO value to more worthy pages). 

Orphan Pages

Internal links can be helpful for orphan pages. An orphan page is a webpage that has no incoming hyperlinks, internal or external and it ranks at the bottom of search engine results pages (SERPs).  

An example might be an old product page about a discontinued item; this could have been removed from your navigation menu due to lack of interest in the product but may still receive some organic traffic through Google searches. 

Orphan pages are problematic for SEO - Google relies on search crawlers to discover pages on a website. If that page isn’t linked anywhere, Google won’t be able to find that page, and because it isn’t able to find that page, it won’t rank in the search results. 

Google may also deem that page to be unimportant because it has no internal linkings point to it. 

If you find one of these pages on your website, which are not ranking well on SERP’s then consider linking internally to other relevant content as a way to give more value back towards those orphans while also passing SEO value too since they will appear higher up on SERPS if linked by other pages on your website. 

Update Menu Navigation and Footer

Updating your menu navigation and footer of your website is vital for internal linking. You want to take your priority pages that you pulled and ensure that they're being linked in your website's menu or footer with optimized anchor text to help promote crawlability and improved keyword rankings. 

Create Related Content Site Section

Creating a related content section on your website can help with internal linking if you're churning out a lot of content on a regular basis.  You want to make sure that the content you're creating is related and a good fit for your website's niche. You can also use this section as an opportunity to promote some of your other top pages on your site which will help improve their ranking too.

Add Links To High-Performing Posts

If some of your pages are struggling to rank, or aren't performing as well as they should be, take stock of your highest performing posts on your website. When relevant, include internal links from these posts that point to your underperforming pages. 

These top-performing posts likely have backlinks from external websites that are boosting their rankings (Google considers backlinks to be one of the biggest ranking factors in its algorithm). 

Because they perform well, Google is also likely to crawl them more frequently, so you're encouraging its search crawlers to follow and crawl your underperforming pages more frequently as well, which can help drive more organic traffic / keyword rankings for them.

Optimize Anchor Text

Optimizing your anchor text for SEO is vital when internal linking on your website. Anchor text is the clickable hyperlink that you create in your web content to point to other pages on your website. 

When someone clicks on an anchor, they are taken directly from one page or post to another. This means that by optimizing them with keyword phrases and relevant words, Google will likely prioritize these posts higher when it comes time for search engine crawling - which can help boost their rankings and drive more organic traffic/keyword ranking results.

Anchor Text Best Practices

The best practice for maximizing your SEO benefits of this strategy is to include keywords into each link as well as using natural language (not just gibberish) so readers understand what's being linked without having to hover over it. 

For example, if you have a mortgage rates page, you want to make sure that the anchor text for your internal link is something like “today’s mortgage rates” or “current rates for 30 year fixed mortgages”. 

Anchor text helps Google better understand the context and relevance of the web page you’re linking to. The more times Google sees that anchor text used, the more confident it will be in determining that’s what your web page is all about, which will boost your keyword rankings for that phrase. 

So make sure that you aren’t using generic terms like “click here”, or unoptimized anchor text that isn’t targeting specific phrases that you’ve conducted keyword research for. 

Conclusion

As you can see, internal links are a fantastic way to boost your search engine rankings. However, don’t just create any old link that has the keyword in it - use words and phrases that properly represent what your web page is all about. This will help Google better understand where you want them to go when they click on an internal link from one of your pages.

Rich Snippets for SEO: What They Are, Why They're Important, and How to Get Rich Snippets on Google

Did you know that rich snippets can help your website rank higher on the Google search results page and drive more traffic to your website? 

If so, then it's time to learn what they are and how to get them. In this article we will discuss what rich snippets are, why they're important for SEO, and how to make sure that your website is eligible for getting them in Google. 

What Is A Rich Snippet? 

A rich snippet is a special HTML tag that you can place on your website in order to increase its visibility and rank higher on the Google search results page. 

Rich snippets are created using a special code called schema markup (or structured data). This HTML-based markup helps search engines better understand your webpage and what it’s all about. 

Why Are Rich Snippets Important For SEO? 

Rich snippets are important for SEO because they increase your website’s visibility on the Google search engine results page. In other words, a high rank means that you will have better luck converting visitors to customers from those who visit your site as a result of these keywords in the SERP (search engine results pages). 

There is also plenty of anecdotal evidence showing how rich snippets can lead to an increased conversion rate and higher engagement rates.  

But it's not just about driving more traffic - there are many other benefits too: 

Google considers schema markup to be a small ranking factor in its algorithm. Schema also helps Google better understand the relevance of your content. The more context it has, the better your web pages will rank for your target phrases. 

Read our latest guide to learn more about search engine optimization basics for your website. 

Examples Of Rich Snippets

Below are a few examples of rich snippets that can appear for a website: 

Review

The star rating under the review, as well as the knowledge panel's stars option, help users and search engines rank a website higher in Google.

Product

Product markup provides a unique opportunity to tell your customers more about your product and encourages them to make the move from browsing on a website to purchasing it directly.

Recipe

Recipe markup is a way to show snippets of information about a recipe in search engine results.

Music

Music rich snippets in Google search results give much more info about the artists and albums the users are searching for.

Events

For any event, this markup highlights important details such as time, date, and location.

FAQPage

This markup will create dropdowns beneath your web page result that offers Q&As to entice users to click through to your website to read more of your content. 

Video Schema

Video schema is another great way to improve the SEO of your videos. It will also generate videos in Google's video carousel.

What’s The Difference Between Rich Snippets and Rich Results?

There are a few differences between rich snippets and rich results (despite them sounding similar). 

How Do I Know If My Website Has Rich Snippets?

There are a few ways you can find out if your website has rich snippets.

How Do I Get Rich Snippets For My Website? 

The main way to get rich snippets for your website is to add structured data to your web pages. We’ll walk through the basics of what you need to know when adding schema to your website. 

Choose The Right Schema Markup

First, you want to choose the right schema markup for your web page. For example, Product schema is a great fit for your product listing pages if you’re an ecommerce website. 

If you write reviews on products or services, then Review schema is another great fit. 

You should check out schema.org for a full list of available schemas that you can add to your site pages. 

Add Schema Markup To Your Site Pages 

Next, you’ll want to add the schema markup to your site pages. Read our latest article to learn more about schema and how to write it for your website. 

But generally you want to create structured data as JSON-LD code (Google prefers this method) with the required and preferred attributes for your schema markup, either by inserting it manually or through a schema plugin for sites like WordPress

After writing your structured data, you’ll simply insert it into the <head> section of your web page. Read our guide to learn how to add schema markup to your website. 

Check Your Markup For Warnings / Errors

After implementing your schema markup, you want to check for any warnings or errors. There are many structured data testing tools available, but the two most common ones are Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool, and Rich Results Testing Tool.

You can either plug in your HTML code snippet to check for errors; or you can validate with your web page URL if you already added the schema to your page’s source code. 

Using SEMRush To Find Rich Snippet Opportunities

Semrush can help monitor rich snippets and find pages that could benefit from having a snippet applied. To see if your website has pages that would work with this feature, click on the markup tab in Semrush while you're conducting an audit to see which of your website's content is structured data. You won't know exactly what markers to use until you do this review and speak with your site designer about the best option for rating systems on specific types of content.

Conclusion

This article has discussed how to use rich snippets for SEO. It's mentioned what they are, why they're important, and the steps needed to get them on Google. The next step is to learn about which types of content require a specific type of rating system or markup in order for pages that contain this data to be called out by search engines like Yahoo or Bing and start implementing it on your website!

LSI Keywords: What Are They And How To Use Them For Your SEO Content

In the fields of artificial intelligence and deep learning, Google has made significant progress over the years. 

No longer are the days where you can use exact match keywords to effectively rank for a target phrase on Google. LSI keywords are increasingly being used by search engines to determine the meaning of any piece of content, so it's worth taking the time to learn how to use them in your SEO approach and content marketing strategies.

Read our latest article to learn more about LSI keywords; what they are; how to find them as part of your keyword research strategy; and how to properly use them to improve your keyword rankings on your website. 

What Are LSI Keywords? 

The tool used by Google and other search engines to research and compare relationships between various words and concepts is known as latent semantic indexing (LSI). These keywords can be used to boost SEO traffic, increase popularity, and enhance search rankings.

Keywords like "free," "ubuntu," and "facebook" may be initially unfamiliar in a search engine and may be less likely to appear in search results. But by analyzing the relationships between what is commonly searched as if the search engines had access to the LSI, a new keyword is introduced to the search engine that has a higher probability of appearing in search results.

SEO isn’t always about the right set of keywords; instead, it requires you to create content that relates to problems, insights, emotions, or statements that others have expressed, and so, it provides a more accurate reflection of beyond what most search engines can process then a latent semantic indexing, which evaluates what content would be good to relate to your target topic / keyword phrase.

LSI Keywords Vs. Synonyms

While it’s a common misconception, LSI Keywords aren’t always synonyms. LSI Keywords are typically phrases or words that are closely related to a target keyword, but aren’t synonymous with it. 

An example of a synonym for “car” might be “sedan”. But LSI keywords may include words such as eco-friendly, 4-door, 4-cylinder, hybrid, and so on. 

One way to better tell what is considered a LSI keyword is to perform a Google Search to see what suggestions appear for your search phrase: 

How Does Latent Semantic Indexing Work? 

Latent Semantic Indexing is a natural language processing method that was created as far back as the 1980s. 

The problem latent semantic indexing aims to solve is that the words a searcher uses don’t always exactly match the content that’s already indexed. 

One example of latent semantic indexing in play is if you’re looking for information about the season “Fall.” 

While you may be expecting information regarding “Autumn”, an exact match result would provide you with information about “falling” off ladders or buildings. 

This obviously doesn’t match with your search intent. 

Latent Semantic Indexing helps to tie threads and index “Fall” with articles that include “Autumn” as a synonym. 

Why Are LSI Keywords Important For SEO? 

There are several benefits to using LSI keywords to improve the SEO of your website, which we’ll explore below: 

Content Relevance

By including related keywords in your content, it helps Google to better understand the relevance of your topic and rank it for other similar keywords without resorting to keyword stuffing the same phrase over and over again. 

Improvement Of On-Page Ranking Factors

Simply put, LSI keywords help to provide a better search experience, which can improve several on-page ranking factors such as bounce rate, time spent on page, or conversion rates. 

Improved Keyword Rankings

Because Google is better able to understand the relevance of your content, your keyword rankings will improve for your target phrases as long as your web page matches the user intent for that query. 

How LSI Keywords Influence Google’s Algorithm

Back in 2014 Google introduced latent indexing into its algorithm to help serve better results to users. 

In the past Google relied on exact match keywords to return search results - this method is easily manipulated, with webmasters either stuffing content with the same keyword, or even cloaking (hiding keywords on the page that were invisible to users, but visible to Google’s crawlbot for indexing). 

Once Google changed its algorithm to analyze related keywords in content, it drastically changed what it considers to be the most valuable content to more appropriately match user searches. 

Google Can Better Understand Your Content

Like I mentioned before, Google is better able to understand your content by searching for related keywords to identify what the overall topic of your page is. 

This allows Google’s algorithm to analyze your content beyond looking at how many times your web page uses the exact same keyword. 

Your Page Is Contextually More Relevant To Google

Google’s algorithm attempts to interpret the content on a page in the same way a human would. This helps it to categorize keywords by analyzing the context of your web page. 

For example, there’s a significant difference between the terms “mortgage” and “mortgage rates”. Some users are interested in learning more about mortgages in the home buying process, whereas others are looking for today’s mortgage rates with intent to purchase or refinance. 

By analyzing LSI keywords, Google may see phrases such as mortgage pre-approval, buying a house, and home loan requirements to determine that a user is seeking to learn more about mortgages. 

Whereas for mortgage rates, Google may look at phrases like today’s rates, FHA loan rates, and current mortgage rates to determine that a user’s intent is rates-specific. 

Looking at LSI keywords in this way helps Google contextualize your web page and serve it for the appropriate searches that properly match the user’s intent when looking for information / products online. 

Google Can Better Understand Your Website As A Whole

Furthermore, their algorithm is programmed to take into account the company name, domain, and sector in order for Google to gain a comprehensive understanding of each page on your site and how it contributes to your company as a whole.

Google's primary mission is to offer the most important results possible to searchers, except for the 15% of search keywords that have never been searched before. That is an incredible level of accuracy that the search engine will not be able to attain without latent semantic indexing.

Read our latest guide to learn more about search engine optimization basics you should be considering when fleshing out your SEO strategies.

How To Find LSI Keywords

Below we’ll walk through how to find LSI keywords for your content. 

Google Auto Complete

Using Google’s Auto Complete feature is a great way to find LSI keywords as it tries to predict what you might type next. 

You’ll want to look at the keywords that are bolded and use them in your website’s content when trying to beef up an existing topic. 

Related Searches On Google

At the bottom of the Google Search Results is a “related searches” box that you can also use to generate LSI keywords when creating content for your web pages. 

People Also Ask Snippets

The People Also Ask snippets on Google are one of my most preferred methods for identifying LSI keywords to incorporate as subheads / additional context to flesh out my content. 

LSI Keyword Generator

The LSI Graph is a free generator tool for ideating LSI keywords to include in your content - enter your keyword into the generator and it will automatically pull a list of LSIs as part of your keyword research strategy. 

Serpstat

Similar to the LSI graph, Serpstat will pull a list of LSI keywords, whether you’re looking on an individual keyword basis, or even entering a whole domain / link to generate ideas from. 

SEMRush

SEMRush is great for pulling LSI keywords. When performing keyword research, it can offer a list of commonly asked questions associated with your primary keyword. 

As part of it’s on-page optimization audit tool, it will also display a list of similar keywords you should be including in your content as you write it, which is incredibly convenient. 

Clearscope

Clearscope is an industry leader when it comes to ideating LSI keywords. Similar to SEMRush, it will generate an article brief for your desired topic and list all of the LSI keywords you should include, filtering them by relevance, importance, and the number of times you should include them in your content. It will then provide you with an overall grade for how well your content is optimized, that you can improve upon before publishing your content on your website. 

Rankiq

Rankiq is similar to Clearscope, but a much cheaper alternative that delivers the same level of quality. I’m currently using Rankiq for my content optimization efforts and it’s helpful in determining if my content has a high enough content grade to rank well for my target keywords in the search results. 

How To Use LSI Keywords In Your SEO Strategy

Now that we’ve walked through tools that you can use to find LSI keywords, let’s go over a few ways you can use them in your SEO strategy. 

Include In Subheads and Meta Elements

Once you’ve pulled a list of LSI keywords, you want to include them in your subheads and meta elements, like your title tag, H1 header, meta description, or additional subheads (H2s and H3s). 

Add LSI Keywords To Surrounding Content

Beyond your primary page elements, you want to sprinkle in your LSI keywords in your supporting body content as much (and as naturally) as possible.

Prioritize User Experience First

Before you go overboard with LSI keywords, you want to keep the user experience top of mind as you create your content. 

You do want to include them in a natural sounding way. A good check to ensure you aren’t overdoing it is simply reading your content. Does it sound spammy, choppy, or does the insertion of the LSI keywords sound unnatural? Is this how you would normally write, or does it properly emulate your natural tone of voice? 

A good rule of thumb is to use a fixed ratio of about 1-2 LSI keywords for every 150-200 words of content. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it will help to ensure that you’re writing in a way that’s concise and conveys useful information to your target audience. 

Focus on providing value first and you’ll most likely include LSI keywords naturally as you write your content.

Article Schema: What Is It And How to Add It To Your Blog Posts

With millions of pages all vying to rank in the top spots of Google, getting a competitive edge is vital for driving organic traffic to your website. 

One of those competitive edges is using schema markup on your site pages. 

Schema (or structured data) is a coding language developed by search engines to help them better understand the content on a web page. 

There are hundreds of different schema types available, but one that you should be using is article schema. 

Read our latest guide to learn more about article schema, what is it, and how to add it to your website in as little as 15 minutes. 

What Is Article Schema? 

Article schema is structured data that webmasters can use for their news articles and blog posts. 

Why Is Schema Markup Important For SEO? 

Schema markup is important because it’s considered to be a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. 

By adding schema markup, you can anticipate a boost in keyword rankings for your priority pages. 

Some schema markups, like FAQPage schema, can also generate what are known as rich results, which can help increase the CTR of your pages that appear in the search results. 

Different Types Of Article Schema

Below we’ll walk through the two different types of article schema that are available to publishers. 

NewsArticle

NewsArticle schema is for websites that report the news, or conduct data journalism in an effort to provide context or supporting materials to existing news content. 

BlogPosting

Most websites will incorporate BlogPosting schema for their blog posts. The main rule of thumb - if it isn’t a news article, or you aren’t reporting on timely trends, then it isn’t eligible for NewsArticle schema. 

How To Create Article Schema

Below we’ll walk through how to create article schema for your blog posts. 

Required Fields

First, let’s walk through the required fields you need to include for article schema: 

From there, you can either work with your engineering team to automate the addition of article schema on your new and existing articles. 

You can also create article schema on a page-by-page basis. I personally use Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator tool. It’s incredibly easy to use - all you have to do is fill out the required fields and it will automatically generate the JSON-LD code to include in the <head> section of your web page. 

How To Add Article Schema To Your Website

Now that you have created your article schema, you’ll need to add it to your website. 

Again, you should work with your engineering team to accomplish this, but your article schema should be marked up in JSON-LD format and included within the <head> section of your web page (or above the <body> section). 

I’ve written a more comprehensive walkthrough on how to add structured data to a website, but if you’re a WordPress user, you can also use the Insert Headers and Footers plugin to help with this, or use a schema markup WordPress plugin.

There are also schema markup plugins available on WordPress, like Yoast SEO or Snippetron

Testing Your Article Schema For Errors or Warnings

Now that you’ve added and published your schema changes to your web page, now you’ll need to test it to ensure there are no errors or warnings associated with the structured data markup. 

Google Structured Data Testing Tool

The first tool you should use to check for warnings and errors with your schema markup is Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool. 

This tool will show you if there are any errors or warnings that need to be resolved, and which line in the code is triggering those issues for easy resolution. 

Google Rich Results Tester

You can also use Google’s Rich Results Tester. This tool is similar to the previous one listed above, but will also allow you to preview what your schema will look like in the search results if it’s eligible for rich result features.  

There are also a slew of other schema markup testing tools that are available when checking for structured data errors on your website. 


Looking for more information on SEO? Make sure to read our beginner’s guide to search engine optimization for all the trends and ranking factors you should be considering when improving the organic visibility of your website.

How to Remove An Object In Photoshop

Scattered toys, withering plants, and dirty equipment are just some of the out-of-place elements you probably don't want in your photos. The good thing is that you can easily remove these in Adobe Photoshop using tools like Content-Aware Fill, Spot Healing Brush, Patch tool, and Clone Stamp.

For this quick tutorial, I'm going to walk through how to remove an object in Photoshop using various tools to improve your images.

Use Content-Aware Fill

Using Content-Aware Fill feature is one of the fastest ways to remove undesirable elements in an image and fine-tune the output. This is particularly helpful when you need to eliminate large objects on both simple and complex backgrounds.

  1. With the Object Selection tool, drag a loose rectangle around the object you want to remove. The Object Selection tool typically creates a tight selection at the edges of an object.
  1. Click on Select > Modify > Expand and enter at least 8 pixels. This will create a thin buffer zone between the selection and the object's edges.
  2. Click on Edit > Content-Aware > Fill. Once you click OK, the tool will look at the selection's surrounding pixels to produce a blended fill.

Overall, the Content-aware tool works pretty well. If it didn’t fully remove an object, you can use the clone stamp tool to make any micro adjustments to the image.

Use the Spot Healing Brush Tool

Before you optimize images for SEO, it's best to edit and remove imperfections first. Another way to delete objects is to use the Spot Healing Brush tool.

  1. Go to the Layers panel and select the layer that has the object you need to remove.
  2. Click on the Spot Healing Brush tool.
  3. In the options bar, modify the brush's hardness and size to fit the item you wish to remove. 
  4. Click on the unwanted object and paint over it until it’s fully covered.
  1. The brush will automatically fill the area with similar content it found around the object.
  2. You may need to go over the object a few times in order to have it blend it with its surroundings. 

Remove Objects with the Patch Tool

The next option to remove an object in Photoshop is using the Patch tool. This is only ideal if the thing you want to cut out doesn't have an overly complicated background around it. The tool uses a completely different area of an image for the removal.

  1. Create a Background Copy layer for the patching.
  2. Choose the Patch tool from the Healing toolset.
  3. Click and drag the cursor to form a loose selection around the object.
  1. Click inside the selection and drag it to the part you want to use for the patch.
  1. Release the mouse button to apply the patch.
  2. Specify on the Structure field how much detail blending you want. Afterward, input in the Color field how much color blending you prefer.

Cover Objects Using the Clone Stamp Tool

If Healing Brush, Fill, and Patch tools don’t produce the realistic edit you desire, you can use the Clone Stamp tool for optimum control. This tool copies the pixels from one area onto another.

  1. Click on the Clone Stamp tool.
  2. Go to the area of the object you want to eliminate. 
  3. Hold the Alt key and wait for the cursor to turn into a crosshair.
  4. Click on the part you want to sample, then brush over the area where you want to add the sampled detail. This should copy the pixels of the sample area you selected and then cover the unnecessary object.
  1. When a small plus sign appears, this means that the sample area is copying over the item you wish to take out of the image.
  2. Continuing sampling various parts of the image until your object is removed and you’ve replaced the area with the proper background information.

Recap

Whether you prefer to use the Content-Aware Fill, Spot Healing Brush tool, Patch tool, or Clone Stamp tool, you can easily remove blemishes to polish up your images. Regardless of the tool you choose, be sure that as you remove the object, you are replacing that section of the image with something that looks realistic and not overly edited.

Crawl Budget Guide For SEO: Why It’s Important And How To Optimize It For Google

Crawl budget is an often overlooked area of search engine optimization that can have serious implications for your website. 

If Google isn’t actively crawling or discovering new site pages, it won’t index them in the search results, which will hurt your keyword rankings and minimize opportunities for driving more organic traffic to your website. 

Read our latest guide to learn more about crawl budget, why it’s important for SEO, and how to optimize it for search engines like Google. 

What Is Crawl Budget? 

Crawl budget is a broad term that specifies how often Google crawls and indexes your site’s pages in a given period of time.

Website and navigation layout, duplicate content (within the site), soft 404 errors, low-value sites, website speed, 5xx error codes, and hacking problems are all factors that influence crawl budget.

This is one of the most surprising facts. It may be surprising because a website crawler may be active on a site for weeks or months while barely ever marking its pages as crawler-friendly.

Why Is Crawl Budget Important For SEO? 

Crawl budget (or crawl demand) is important for SEO for the following reasons: 

A massive amount of duplicate content, such as large sites with thousands of articles, or ecommerce websites with millions of product pages, can be a huge drawback for websites that are suffering from crawling issues..

However, if your website is properly crawled, and you have a large amount of content on your website, Google will be able to index it. 

If you don’t have a huge amount of content, and you’re not on every platform that’s ranking for your keywords, you can get by with a smaller crawl budget.

Through search engine optimization, you can ensure that all of your website’s pages are useful and up to date, and can be crawled by Google and ranked for searches.

What Does It Mean to Optimize My Crawl Budget? 

Crawl budget optimization is the method of ensuring that search engines will crawl and index all of the site's relevant pages in a timely manner.

Like I mentioned, small websites don't normally have a problem with crawl budget optimization, but large websites with thousands of URLs do.

However, as you'll see farther down, the easiest approach to optimize your crawl expenditure is to adopt SEO best practices, which will also have a good influence on your keyword rankings.

A comprehensive crawl budget optimization plan will include things like setting a time frame in which to achieve a certain level of mobile-like speed and load times. You should also set and implement a crawl budget best practices for each piece of content, as this will ensure that the page you optimize is continuously crawled by search engines over time.

Looking to learn more about search engine optimization? Read our SEO beginner’s guide for everything you need to know about SEO and how to drive business results through search engines like Google and Bing. 

How Do I Optimize My Crawl Budget? 

Below we’ll walk through all the ways you can optimize the crawl budget for your website. 

Optimize Your Site Structure And Minimize Page Depth

The first step is optimizing your site’s navigation and overall structure. Make sure that your most important pages are linked within your navigation, as well as the homepage. 

You also want to reduce the page depth of the URLs on your website. 

Page depth is how many clicks it takes a user before they can navigate to that web page. Pages that are closer to the homepage, the more important they’re considered to be by Google.

Best practice is to ensure that your page depth is 3 clicks or less from the homepage. The further your web pages are from the homepage, the less likely it is that they will be crawled. 

Internal Linking

When it comes to crawling and indexation, search engines will choose the most relevant pages on your website.

Internal links are also a big factor for enabling Google’s spiders to properly crawl your website. 

Internal linking optimization that aids crawl budget entails:

A combination of pagination and infinite scrolling can help with improving your internal linking for your website to ensure that your web pages are being discovered and indexed by search engines.

Improve Page Speed Performance

Simply put, a fast-loading website allows the Googlebot to crawl more pages on the same domain in less time. This is an indicator to Google that you have stable website architecture, as well as a signal to crawlers that your site is worth visiting because it can offer a good user experience due to quick page load times.

A fast site speed encourages users to visit your website and make online transactions. This is because more users are able to see your products and services quickly, which is a key factor in increasing your traffic to your site.

The more that users can browse your web pages within a quick time frame, the higher the chances are that those pages will rank at the forefront of Google's Search Results. Page speed is also considered an important ranking factor in Google’s algorithm with their latest announcement of Web Core Vitals. 

Incorporating things like dynamic rendering and optimizing JavaScript-heavy scripts running on your website are vital for improving your website's page speed performance.

Minimize Duplicate Content On Your Website

Duplicate content is one aspect that can have a detrimental effect on crawl expenditure.

In this case, duplicate content refers to the same or quite close content that appears in several URLs on your website.

When related goods are classified in several categories on larger sites, or eCommerce sites with the same content, this is a prominent SEO issue because it signals to Google that it shouldn’t crawl your other product pages.

Duplicate material is also a problem for blogs. For instance, if you have many pages that target the same keywords and the content on those pages is identical, Google can consider this duplicate content.

Because of this, it makes Googlebot's task to crawl your site more challenging since it must pick which pages it should index.

Since the crawl rate cap could have been hit crawling and indexing redundant content, pages that are more important to the web may not be indexed.

Another way duplicate content can cause problems is when Google’s crawler treats websites differently in content preference.

In fact, Google is very strict in this respect. With some exceptions for particular types of sites, such as eCommerce or magazines, Googlebot will only allow the content on a website to match one or at most two queries to list in its search results (in what is known as keyword cannibalization).

If you have duplicate content that fails to match one of those queries, Googlebot can detect this duplicate content and eliminate it.

An example of such criteria would be:

Reduce Thin Content Issues On Your Website

Another aspect that may affect crawl budget, similar to redundant material, is thin content.

Thin content refers to web pages with little or no content and have little benefit to the customer. They're often known as low-value pages or low-quality pages.

Pages with no text material, vacant pages, or outdated pages are all examples of pages that are no longer relevant to both search engines and consumers.

To get the most out of your crawl budget, optimize for and repair thin content pages by:

Thin content often isn't worth the money or effort a web designer or content writer would put into it. In some cases, the efforts to increase your website's quality may cost more than you get in the end.

Nevertheless, you can still afford to invest in fine-tuning your website's content and content-seeking strategy.

When you do invest in it, however, you may be able to get a higher return on your investment by working with a website developer who has some SEO experience. They may be able to spend less of your precious budget, know what web pages to remove, or work around these inconsistencies.

Resolves URLs With 404 Error Codes

404 errors are a prevalent problem for crawl budget because Google is wasting resources trying to recrawl pages that are missing on your website. 

To minimize this, you want to 301 redirect any web pages that result in 404 error code statuses, or update any broken links on your website. 

To find 404 errors, you can either view these URLs in Google Search Console, or run a technical audit using the Screaming Frog tool. 

Resolve Crawling Errors On Your Website

Reducing the amount of crawl errors on your website  is another way to optimize your crawl budget. It's a waste of resources to spend time crawling for mistakes that shouldn't happen in the first place.

To locate and correct crawl mistakes, the best approach is to use the Google search console's "Index Coverage Report" (or crawl stats report in the legacy version of the tool).  You can identify any server errors within this report. 

Resolve 301 Redirect Chains

Another problem that can cause crawl budget issues are 301 redirect chains. 

Let’s say URL A points to URL B. But if URL B then points to URL C, Google is wasting resources crawling this redirect chain. 

You want to ensure that you don’t have 301 redirect chains occurring on your website. Again, you can use Screaming Frog to identify and pull a list of URLs that are suffering from 301 redirect chains. 

You also want to ensure that you don't have redirect loops occurring on your website as well.

Drive More Backlinks From Quality Referring Domains

Since search engines choose to frequently update their index with the most current content, popular URLs are crawled more often by search engines.

The number and quality of external links from referring domains can be considered one of the most important factors in determining whether a page is authoritative and should be crawled frequently.

Backlinks aid in the establishment of credibility with search engines, as well as the improvement of a page's PageRank and authority, which leads to higher rankings.

It's one of the most basic SEO principles that hasn't changed in years.

As a consequence, driving backlinks from other websites to your target pages encourages search engines to access those pages more often, increasing crawl budget.

Obtaining links from other websites is challenging, and it is one of the most difficult facets of SEO, but it can strengthen your domain and boost your overall SEO.

Finding reliable links isn't as easy as people think.

One of the factors that can adversely affect your site's search rankings is acquiring links from sites with low authority.

Search engines and other websites will never link to a low-quality page.

A link is only considered a backlink if the original author believes it is a relevant one. You cannot bid for link opportunities and then pay for them.

Many businesses who pay for link opportunities and feel that they are being exploited can be sure that they have lost a large piece of their overall SEO marketing link building budget.

Such practices rarely offer a solid return on investment.

Still, using a link building service provider is a good way to increase link building opportunities.

They will take on the responsibility of finding and executing a link building strategy. This allows you to spend more time on your core business.

Read our latest guide on linkbuilding for SEO for the top methods for driving backlinks to your website. 

Add Directives To Robots.txt File

Robots.txt files are great for telling Google which pages on your website you want crawled. When Google’s crawl bot hits your website, it will first look at your robots.txt file to determine which directives to follow before crawling your site pages. 

If you have low quality pages, or want to prevent others from being crawled or indexed on Google, you can add these types of directives directly within the robots.txt file, which will help with optimizing your crawl budget. 

Implement Canonical Tags

All of your site pages should have canonical tags. These are HTML tags you insert into the <head> section of your site pages and are mainly used if you have duplicate content, or slight variations of the same page. 

These tags basically tell Google that one URL is the “master copy”, and all of the other variant URLs should either be ignored, or pass SEO value to the “master copy”, which will help improve your keyword rankings for that page. 

Canonical tags are especially important on ecommerce sites that use URL parameters to filter products based on things like color, price, or year. 

Update Your XML Sitemap

It's also a smart idea to stop directing Google to pages with non-200 status codes.

Make sure you're linking to the live, preferred version of your URLs in your content to stop wasting your crawl budget. As a general rule, you should stop referring to URLs that aren't the content's ultimate destination.

For instance, you should not link to:

This is especially important in your XML sitemap. Google uses your XML sitemap to discover your site pages and check for things such as when that page was uploaded or last updated. 

If you’re XML sitemap contains any of the above URLs or status codes, you’re wasting valuable crawl budget. 

Update Old Content

If a page hasn't updated on the few occasions Google has crawled it, that page may no longer be crawled by Google because the search engine tries to avoid sites in their index that are stale (otherwise known as Google’s “freshness ranking factor”). 

Google prioritizes new content that’s frequently updated, not outdated pieces that haven’t been touched in years and may be unsatisfactory to searchers. 

Having fresh content helps keep your site relevant for new search results. It has the added bonus of helping your site rank better and keeping users on your web pages because it has the most up-to-date information.

Make sure you have an aggressive writing cadence (multiple articles per week) and that you’re updating your site pages as regularly as every 3-6 months. 

Read our latest guide on how to update old content for SEO. 

Breadcrumbs: What Are They, Why They’re Important For SEO, And How To Add Them

Breadcrumbs are an essential component to almost any decent website. These little navigational aids help Google figure out how your web is organized as well as remind users where they are on your site. 

Read our latest guide to learn more about breadcrumbs, what they are, and how to add them to your website. 

What Are Breadcrumbs?

A breadcrumb is a tiny text path that appears at the top of a website to show the consumer where they are in relation to the structure of your website. This breadcrumb trail will show exactly where you are. Any page in that path, all the way back to the homepage, is clickable. An example of this is: 

Home > SEO > What Are Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs can also appear in the Google search results, giving users a clear picture of where a page on the blog or website is located.

Different Breadcrumbs Used On Websites

There are a few different formats that breadcrumbs come in, which we’ll cover below: 

Hierarchy-Based

Hierarchy-based breadcrumbs are the most popular option used on a majority of websites. They show where you’re at in the website and offer an easy way to get back to previous pages that you may have visited. Like the last example, hierarchy-based breadcrumbs come in the following format: 

Home > SEO > What Are Breadcrumbs

History-Based

Breadcrumbs based on the history of your searches / navigation on the website are ordered based on what you've been doing, or the pages that you’ve been visiting, on the website. It’s like your browser's history bar, resulting in something like this: Home > Previous post > Previous Post > Previous Post > Current Post.

Attribute-Based

Attribute-based breadcrumbs are mainly used when a visitor is shopping on an ecommerce site and the breadcrumb consists of product attributes, such as Home > Category > Price > Size > Color for a product page or product category pages. 

Are Breadcrumbs Good For SEO? 

Simply put, breadcrumbs improve the UX of your website due to easier breadcrumb navigation. 

They reduce bounce rates of users, therefore increasing the amount of time people are spending visiting your web pages. 

They can also improve your website rankings on Google, because Google uses breadcrumbs to contextualize and categorize content. Search engine crawlers will use breadcrumbs and display them within the search results for website URLs, which can have the added benefit of increasing clickthrough rates to your web pages, thus increasing the number of organic clicks come from the search results pages. 

It's easy to understand the importance of breadcrumbs: users have limited time on a computer, and if they have to go back and forth searching for the information they want, they might give up. The breadcrumbs you provide will ensure that your users can find the information they want quickly.

They make navigation easier – that's the main role of breadcrumbs and this is why users love them. They encourage people to visit more pages of a website before they exit and reduce bounce rate as a result. 

They are also easy to understand – Breadcrumbs are effectively written and you don't need to spend a lot of time reading them. They often have the color scheme of your website and are easy to recognize. So no matter what you are writing on your website, a breadcrumb is almost guaranteed to make the design better.

Be sure to read our latest beginner’s guide for search engine optimization to learn more about how you can optimize your website to drive more organic traffic and leadflow. 

When Should I Use Breadcrumbs On My Site? 

If you have a large website that has hundreds of pages and several different categories, you should consider using breadcrumbs to aid in navigation. 

The only time I would recommend against using breadcrumbs, is if all of your site pages are one click away from the homepage. In this instance, it  isn’t inherently useful to have breadcrumbs because users can simply click your website logo to return to the homepage, or for certain types of e-commerce sites. 

Having breadcrumbs won’t hurt your search engine optimization, but it won’t be directly beneficial either. A better alternative for this kind of situation would be history-based breadcrumbs, rather than hierarchy-based. 

Best Practices For Creating Breadcrumbs

Now that we’ve covered the different types of breadcrumbs, we’ll dive into best practices you should follow when incorporating them on your website. 

Use The Right Size

Breadcrumbs should always be placed at the top of the web page. You also want to ensure they’re a proper size for users to click on and read. Not so big that they’re an eye sore, but not so small that they’re indistinguishable from the rest of the web page. 

Still Use A Navigation Bar

When incorporating breadcrumbs, you still want to have a navigation bar on your website. However, you want to make sure that your breadcrumbs aren’t duplicating what’s already listed within the navigation bar on your website, otherwise they won’t serve a purpose to users on your site. 

Use The Right Breadcrumbs

Like I mentioned, location (or hierarchy) breadcrumbs are one of the most common types of breadcrumbs that are implemented on a majority of websites. However, different types of breadcrumbs can better meet the needs of your users. 

For example, history-based breadcrumbs are better suited for websites with a majority of pages that fit under only a small number of categories. 

Keep Mobile Friendliness Top Of Mind

Tying back with using a proper size, you want to keep responsive design and mobile-friendliness in mind for users who are viewing your pages on their mobile devices. Make sure that your breadcrumbs aren’t pushing too much of your page content below the fold, or that the titles in your breadcrumbs aren’t overly long. It’s okay to truncate article names to offer a better mobile experience for users. 

Make All Jump Points Clickable

Breadcrumbs are useless if users aren’t able to click back to previous pages, based on their navigation history or site hierarchy. Make sure that all jump points within your breadcrumbs are clickable for a better user experience, kind of like a back button. 

Reflect Current Page The User Is On

The last tip is to make sure you’re reflecting the current page the user is on, to avoid confusion as they navigate through your website. You should also reference the previous page the user visited, or was the previous one in the category hierarchy. 

How To Add Breadcrumbs For Your Website

Now that we’ve walked through the best practices you should consider for your website, let’s explore a few common ways that you can easily include breadcrumbs in your website structure. 

For WordPress users, this is very simple. There are a few different breadcrumbs plugins available that you can add to your dashboard, but for users that already have the Yoast SEO plugin, it has breadcrumbs available and ready to integrate in as little as 3 clicks. 

Within your Yoast SEO settings, go to Breadcrumbs and select Enable Breadcrumbs. That’s it! Your WordPress website now has breadcrumbs added. 

A few other WordPress plugins to consider are Breadcrumb NavXT and the WooCommerce Breadcrumb Plugin. 

If you’re uncomfortable using plugins, several WordPress themes, such as Ocean WP, offer breadcrumb options that you can enable as well. 

For websites that don’t utilize WordPress, such as Wix or Squarespace, manual coding may be required to add breadcrumbs to your site pages. In this case, I recommend working with a developer to automate breadcrumb creation on your pages and to work on a functional design that adheres to the breadcrumb best practices that I outlined.

How To Find And Fix Orphan Pages To Improve Your Website’s SEO

Orphan pages can be a serious detriment to your website’s organic health. 

The goal for webmasters is to ensure that all of their website pages are crawled and indexed by search engines like Google. 

If search engines can’t discover your site pages, they will never rank in the search results pages (SERPS). 

Read our latest guide to learn about orphan pages, how to find them, and taking the necessary steps to fix them. 

What Are Orphan Pages? 

In a nutshell, orphan pages are URLs or pages that cannot be reached by internal links and they are not connected at all in your website’s linking structure (menu, navigation, footer). 

Google uses internal links to find new content and site pages. If pages aren’t linked in any way on your website, Google’s search engine bots won’t find them when it performs a crawl of your site. 

Are Orphan Pages Bad For SEO? 

Yes, orphan pages are bad for SEO. Like I mentioned above, if Google can’t find and discover your web pages, it will never rank them in the search results. 

Because orphan pages are the result of no internal linkings being pointed to them on your website, they’ll never be discovered, and will never rank. 

This ultimately prevents you from driving more organic traffic to your website, which in turn, hurts your conversion rates of getting those searchers to transact on your site. 

Difference Between Orphan and Dead End Pages

While they have similarities, there is a key difference between orphan pages and dead end pages. 

Dead-end pages are simply pages that become a dead end for your visitors, with no prompts or direction to other pages they should visit, or ways to progress further in the customer journey on your site. 

A few examples of dead end pages include 404 error pages; author pages; and eCommerce checkout pages (what do you do when anyone buys something from your online store? If you don't give them any other opportunities, such as checking out similar items, they'll leave).

Be sure to check out our beginner’s guide to search engine optimization to learn more about SEO and what you should be considering for your website in 2021. 

How To Find Orphan Pages On Your Website

Below we’ll walk through a few different ways that you can find orphan pages on your website. 

SEMRush

The first method is to conduct a SEMRush technical audit of your website. First, create a project within SEMRush and enter your domain for the project. 

After creating a project, you can conduct a site audit, which will run a comprehensive technical audit uncovering any errors or warnings that are harming the organic health score of your site. 

Once the site audit has been conducted, you’ll want to select the “issues” tab and filter by “orphaned pages” - this will pull a list of pages that SEMRush discovered as being “orphaned” when running the audit of your website. 

For better results, it’s recommended that you connect your Google Analytics account to SEMRush. 

Yoast Plugin (WordPress)

If you’re a WordPress user and have the Yoast premium plugin installed, you can also discover orphaned content in the Post overview section of your WP dashboard. 

After clicking on the Orphaned Content tab, Yoast will show you all of the orphaned pages and blog posts on your WordPress website. 

Screaming Frog

My preferred method of discovering orphan pages is through the Screaming Frog SEO spider tool, one of the industry standards for conducting technical SEO audits for websites. 

First, you’ll want to assign the parameters for Screaming Frog before it crawls your website. You usually don’t have to do anything, but I make sure that it renders as “HTML only” and deselect CSS, Javascript, and Image elements to get a more accurate measure of what pages / URLs are orphaned. 

You’ll also want to enable “crawl outside starting folder” in the “configurations” tab. 

After entering your domain and conducting your crawl, you’ll filter the URLs to discover any orphan pages that Screaming Frog found during its audit. You can export that list of URLs and begin working to fix these orphan pages. 

For better results, you’ll also want to follow these steps: 

From there you’ll be able to view which URLs weren’t included in your site’s sitemap and other orphan pages that Search Console or Google Analytics have in their repositories. 

You can also filter your crawled URLs by HTML and search by any pages with a blank crawl depth. This means that URLs weren’t discovered naturally via internal linking, and won’t have a crawl depth associated with them. 

How To Fix Orphan Pages

Now that you’ve pulled a list of the orphan pages on your website, the next step will be to fix them. 

This part is easy - all you have to do is add internal links from other pages on your website that point to your orphan URLs. 

Sometimes it isn’t relevant from a business point of view to link to every single one of your site pages. But for the pages that are important, you want to point internal links to them. 

My biggest tip is to make sure that the internal links are relevant with optimized anchor text. If it doesn’t make sense to point a link from one page to another, then don’t brute force it. If it isn’t relevant to a user, it won’t be considered relevant to search engines crawling your website either. 

Should I Fix All Orphan Pages On My Website?

Having a handful of orphan pages won’t negatively affect your website’s organic performance, like if you have Thank You Pages set up after a client transacts. 

The biggest harm of orphan pages is when you have too many of them. This signals to Google that your website architecture is bad or that the user experience is suboptimal. It also means that these pages aren’t being found by Google, so they can’t rank, or they may be undiscovered by people visiting your website. 

Are Broken Links Considered Orphan Links? 

No. Orphan pages are URLs with no internal links pointing to them. Broken links are links that don’t exist anymore and result in 404 error status code pages. 

Can XML Sitemaps Help Google Find Orphan Pages On My Website? 

Yes. XML sitemaps make it easier for search engines to find and discover new pages on your site that may not be linked elsewhere, or if they have a higher crawl depth. A XML sitemap also help improve crawl budget and indirectly improve keyword rankings by increasing Google’s chances of finding your pages as you create new ones, or update old content regularly. 

What Should I Do To Avoid Orphan Links? 

The simplest way to avoid orphan links to ensure that you’re interlinking between all of your relevant and important pages. This has the added benefit of passing link juice (otherwise known as link equity) to your other pages, which will improve their keyword rankings. 

When you upload a new article, you should check to make sure that it’s being linked to from other relevant pages, and vice versa.

How To Change Your Website Favicon In WordPress

Not using a favicon is a big mistake that can deter users from visiting or returning to your website. Read our latest guide to learn how to make a favicon and upload it to your WordPress website in as little as five minutes.

What Is A Website Favicon? 

The Favicon, or Site Icon, is a small symbol that appears in the window next to the website's title. 

Benefits To Adding A Favicon To Your Website Website

Having a favicon for your website assists your users in recognizing your website, and more regular visitors can develop an immediate recognition for that small picture. This raises brand awareness and aids in the development of trust and authority among your target audiences. 

It also increases the accessibility and user interface on your website. 

In most cases, users have a large number of tabs open in their browser window. As the number of tabs grows, this masks the title of the website. The favicon assists users in easily recognizing your website and switching to the tab they want.

On mobile devices, you can ask your users to connect your site to their homescreen. When a user connects your tab to their homescreen on a mobile computer, your site icon or favicon is still included.

How To Create Your Website Favicon

You’ll want to use your brand’s logo as your favicon. The width and height of your site icon image should be at least 512 pixels. The site icon image should be a 1:1 aspect ratio, or a square, but if you need to crop your image, you can do so in the WordPress dashboard. 

You should also use either png or jpeg format for your file, and either fill the background with a solid color, or leave it transparent. 

Steps To Adding Your Site Favicon Within The WordPress Dashboard

Below we’ll walk through three options that are available for adding your site favicon to your website. 

Option 1: Use WordPress Customizer

For users that are updated to WordPress 4.3 or later, you can add a favicon or site icon from the WordPress admin tab. Log into your WordPress dashboard, and go to Appearance » Customize and choose the ‘Site Identity' tab from the drop-down menu.

This menu will allow you to edit your site favicon, as well as other options such as your site title or description. 

Like I mentioned before, if your image is too large, WordPress will allow you to crop it to a smaller size. 

Option 2: Installing A Favicon Plugin

If you have an older version of WordPress, or would rather use a plugin, this option is the one you’ll want to follow. You can use the common free plugin Favicon by RealFaviconGenerator if you want a plugin alternative to the native WordPress site icon feature. 

This plugin is as simple to use as WordPress's native Customizer. It does, however, include additional interface and software icon compatible options. To use it, go to your WordPress dashboard and install and trigger the free plugin:

WordPress plugin RealFaviconGenerator's Favicon

To build your favicon package, go to Appearance Favicon after you've enabled the plugin. All you have to do is choose or upload an image with a resolution of at least 7070 pixels (ideally 260260 pixels):

Pick your picture and then press Generate favicon. When you click the button, the plugin will take you to the RealFaviconGenerator website, which is separate from your WordPress account.

Scroll down to Generate your Favicons and HTML code at the bottom of the page (see the previous section). Real Favicon Generator will take you back to your WordPress dashboard as it works:

This is the tab where you can see how your WordPress favicon would look.

Your favicon will then be produced and ready to use. In the plugin's interface, you will see how it would look on various computers.

Option 3: Adding Your Favicon Through FTP

If your host uses cPanel, you can add a favicon to your WordPress account using File Transfer Protocol (FTP) or File Manager if you want to do it manually.

You'll also need to make your own favicon picture if you use this tool. Follow the actions discussed earlier in this article to accomplish this.

You'll need to do the following to manually apply a WordPress favicon to your website:

Use an FTP client or the File Manager in your hosting cPanel to access your site's archives.

Locate your site's root directory and upload the contents of your favicon kit there (favicons.zip)

The files can be located in the same directory as your wp-admin and wp-content directories. Take the code RealFaviconGenerator gave you earlier and do one of the following:

To apply it to your theme's header, use a plugin like Insert Headers and Footers.

By modifying your theme's header.php file, paste it directly into the head> portion of your theme.

It's best to use the Insert Headers and Footers plugin so it means you won't miss your favicon whenever you switch WordPress themes later.

Install and activate Insert Headers and Footers to do so. Then go to Insert Headers and Footers in Settings and paste the your into the header section of the Insert Headers and Footers plugin. 

How To Write SEO Friendly URLs For Your Website

What Are SEO Friendly URLs? 

URLs that are designed to fulfill the needs of users and searchers are SEO friendly URLs. Specifically, SEO optimized URLs tend to be concise and include a primary SEO keyword to target.

Does URL Structure Affect SEO? 

URLs are one of many factors that search engines use to determine how well your content should rank in its search engine results pages (SERPs). 

They also can directly influence clickthrough rates as users determine which page they want to visit when looking for answers relating to their search on Google. 

What is the Best URL Structure For SEO? 

While there isn’t a catch-all best URL structure for SEO, below is a list of best practices you should follow when optimizing your URLs: 

Include Primary Keyword

First, you want your URL to include the primary keyword that you want your web page to rank for. 

This is a signal to Google that helps them determine what your web page is all about, so they can rank it accordingly in the search results. Google has also said: 

“URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site.”

Keep URL Structure Short

You want to also make sure that your URL structure is short. Long URLs are confusing to both Google and searchers who use URLs to better understand what the main topic of a web page is. 

Having shorter URLs benefits Google in that it allows them to preserve crawl budget and find more of your site pages in a shorter period of time. 

It also has the added bonus of encouraging a higher number of social shares and more organic clickthroughs from the SERPs compared to long, unruly URLs. 

Do Use Hyphens

Google has stated that they prefer hyphens, rather than spaces, to separate words in a URL. 

Hyphens serve as “spaces” between words in a URL - so “/urls-for-seo” is viewed as three different words, rather than “/urlsforseo”, which Google views as a single word, which can get confusing. 

Avoid Underscores Or Special Characters

In that same vein, you want to avoid underscores or special characters in URLs. Google can’t understand special characters, and has difficulty parsing underscores in URL structures, which can hurt your overall website rankings if you use either of these in your current website architecture. 

Avoid Uppercase

While servers have come a long way, some types of servers view /URLs-for-SEO as a different URL than /urls-for-seo, so best practice is to stick with lowercase for the entirety of your URL structure. 

Avoid Including Dates

While dates themselves aren’t a bad thing, they can lead to unnecessarily long URLs, which isn’t good for SEO or users viewing URLs when determining which search result they want to click on. 

This ties in with keeping your URL structure short and succinct. It’s also difficult to actively update your content and have that reflected in your URL structure when it’s showing an old date from the original publication. 

Looking to learn more about search engine optimization? Read our SEO beginner’s guide for everything you need to know about SEO and how to drive business results through search engines like Google and Bing. 

Make Sure URLs Are Best For Content Navigation On Site

Organizing your site sections using subfolders is a great way to help Google and readers understand where they are in your site map. 

An example of a subfolder is /blog, which shows that a user is visiting the site’s content section. If your blog is split up among different categories, like /blog/seo, this goes even further in both enhancing the user experience, and helping Google better understand the relationship of your site’s content as it pertains to a specific category or section. 

Make Sure URLs Are Served As HTTPS

This recommendation is more for security, but you want to make sure your website is SSL encrypted and serving URLs as HTTPS instead of HTTP. 

HTTPS makes it harder for hackers to view user data as they visit your website because it “encrypts” that data more securely than an unencrypted HTTP URL. 

This is especially important if your website handles sensitive client information or conducts online transactions. 

Google has also stated that HTTPS is another ranking factor in its search engine, so if your site resolves as HTTP, you’re leaving this easy optimization on the table. 

A best practice is to make sure all URL variants 301 redirect to your preferred URL version.

Avoid URL Parameters

URL parameters make your web page URL long and unruly, which goes against our best practice of being short and succinct. 

The biggest component of avoiding URL parameters is mainly because Google views URL parameters as unique URLs. As an example /seo-for-urls and /seo-for-urls?UTM_1234 are different URLs in the eyes of Google. 

This can create problems if Google chooses to index both of them, or the URL parameter rather than your preferred URL. Google will also view these pages as duplicate content, which can hurt your overall keyword rankings as you have two “unique” pages competing for the same keywords. 

Use Subfolders, Not Subdomains

Subfolders are much easier for Google to navigate compared to subdomains. 

For context, Google views subdomains as separate websites. Because of this, domain authority between your “main” website and your subdomains are split/not shared, which can significantly hurt your keyword rankings. 

Subfolders, on the other hand, do share/pass on any domain authority your site generates through backlinks from other quality, relevant websites (for context, backlinks are considered one of the top ranking factors for Google in its algorithm). 

Google also knows that a subfolder is a section of your website, compared to subdomains, which it views as a separate entity. 

Make Sure You Only Have A Single URL Version

Tying back to my URL parameters best practice, you want to make sure your website has a single version of its URLs accessible to users. Here’s an example of different URLs that Google views for a website: 

Google views all of these URLs as unique, rather than the same, which can cause your rankings to drop because Google sees “duplicate content” among 4 different URL variations on your website. 

How To Write Meta Descriptions For SEO

For on-page optimization, there are several different factors that you need to consider, with meta descriptions being one of the top ones. 

Read our latest guide to learn how to write meta descriptions for SEO. We’ll cover: 

What Is A Meta Description? 

A meta description is a short snippet, or an HTML meta tag, that summarizes the content of your webpage. Meta descriptions are placed beneath the page title/URL in the search engine result pages (SERPs). It will also appear as a description for pieces of content that are shared on your social media channels, like Facebook or Twitter. 

Where To Add A Meta Description On Your Website

Meta descriptions should be placed in the header code of your web pages as a HTML snippet. This can either be done manually, or through certain plugins or content management systems, depending on what your site currently operates on. 

What A Meta Description Does

The key point of the meta description of a webpage is to drive visitors from SERPs and social media and entice them to click on your link. In a way, it’s giving a preview of the content of the page. This is vital for verticals such as optimizing SEO for recruitment marketing.

Why Meta Descriptions Are Important For SEO

Like I mentioned before, the meta description helps influence the click-through rate (CTR) of your website in the SERPs. 

Users will click on content that appeals to them and respond to their question, so make sure to keep your target audience in mind as you write the meta description. 

Looking to learn more about search engine optimization? Read our SEO beginner’s guide for everything you need to know about SEO and how to drive business results through search engines like Google and Bing. 

How To Write SEO Meta Descriptions

Below we’ll walk through a two considerations to keep in mind as you begin writing your meta descriptions for SEO: 

Best Meta Description Length

Google bases meta description lengths dependent on pixels, so be mindful of this specification for the presence on the SERPs of your meta descriptions. The screen limit is 920 pixels on desktop, so a good rule of thumb is to aim for about 160 characters. For smartphones this limit is shortened to 680 pixels, or about 120 characters.

Keep in mind that the character limit is a soft rule - each letter will take up different amounts of space, so when in doubt, defer to the pixel limit. 

If your meta descriptions are above the defined pixel limit, it will be truncated by ellipses (...), so you’ll want to keep your meta description within the pixel limit or run the risk of it being cut off. 

Best Meta Description Format

When writing a meta description, you want to avoid being overly spammy. It should be unique and entice users to click through to your web page without being clickbaity or overselling. 

Meta Description Best Practices

Here are six other best practices to follow when writing your meta description: 

Leverage Strong Ad Copy

The meta description acts like advertisement copy, attracting readers to your website and influencing CTR. 

Try writing your meta description as you would ad copy. You can also leverage existing ad copy from competitors and mimic their verbiage / tone of voice.

The benefit of doing this, is you know that the copy from paid search placements are vetted (because companies are spending a lot of money for the placement) and because Google uses a quality score to determine which ads get the best placements, depending on the ad copy / budget for that keyword. 

Include A Strong Call To Action

This ties in with leveraging strong ad copy, but be sure to include a strong call to action to entice users to click-through to your result. 

Include Your Primary Keyword

As part of on-page SEO for your web pages, you should identify a primary keyword that your page is targeting / trying to rank for. Use the primary keyword in your meta description to help improve your chances of ranking well in the search results. 

Make Sure It Matches The Intent Of Your Page

Similar to researching a primary keyword to target, make sure that the meta description captures the intent / purpose of your web page. 

It’s a bad signal to Google if users click through to your web page expecting one experience, but having the page not match their intent, causing them to quickly leave your website. 

Avoid Duplicate Meta Descriptions On Site Pages

One key SEO best practice is to avoid duplicate content on your site pages. Having duplicate content can cause keyword cannibalization, or confuse search engines. When a search engine is faced with trying to rank several similar pages for a keyword, it can reduce your overall rankings, or may even choose to not show any of your pages for that query. 

Avoid Quotation Marks

When quotation marks are used in a meta description, Google will cut off the description at the quotation mark because of the HTML rules it has in place. Make sure to remove any special characters or symbols from your meta descriptions to avoid truncation. 

Why Isn’t Google Using My Meta Description?

Search engines can, in some cases, override the meta description defined by a webmaster in the HTML of a website. It is unpredictable exactly when this happens, but it always occurs when Google does not think that the current meta definition sufficiently addresses the query of a user and finds a fragment from the target page that better suits the query of a searcher.

How To Write H1 For SEO

Every page or post on a website will often contain multiple headings. H1 tags are typically served as the first header that users view as the title for a page or post. These types of tags are different from the other headers, or subheads that you might find on a page, like h2s and h3s. 

Read our guide to learn about the importance of H1 tags for SEO; best practices for writing them; and great examples of H1 tags that you can draw inspiration from when crafting your own web content. 

What Is An H1 Tag? 

The first header tag available on a website is the <H1> HTML tag. It is used for a page or post title. The H1 value is enclosed in <h1> tags as HTML.

Aside from being written this way in HTML, the H1 tag is often formatted differently from other page headers (like H2s and H3s) to make the text stand out.

Difference Between H1s And Page Titles

Most people assume that H1s are the same as page titles / title tags that are displayed as <title> in the HTML code of a web page. These are two different tags and we’ll cover the main differences below: 

Looking to learn more about search engine optimization? Read our SEO beginner’s guide for everything you need to know about SEO and how to drive business results through search engines like Google and Bing. 

How Do I Find An H1 Tag On My Web Page? 

To find H1 tags on a web page, go into the source code of a web page. Hit CTRL + F and search for h1.

You can also find H1 tags using chrome extensions like SEO Minion or tools like Screaming Frog

How Many H1 Tags Should I Have On A Single Page? 

In the past, best practice was to only include a single H1 tag on a web page. I still follow this practice, but in recent years John Mueller from Google has stated that you can have multiple (or even no) H1 tags on a page: 

"You can use H1 tags as often as you want on a page. There's no limit — neither upper nor lower bound.

H1 elements are a great way to give more structure to a page so that users and search engines can understand which parts of a page are kind of under different headings, so I would use them in the proper way on a page.

And especially with HTML5, having multiple H1 elements on a page is completely normal and kind of expected. So it's not something that you need to worry about. And some SEO tools flag this as an issue and say like 'oh you don't have any H1 tag' or 'you have two H1 tags.' From our point of view, that's not a critical issue. From a usability point of view, maybe it makes sense to improve that. So, it's not that I would completely ignore those suggestions, but I wouldn't see it as a critical issue.

Your site can do perfectly fine with no H1 tags or with five H1 tags."

Moz wrote a case study after testing this theory on their blog articles and found the results to be inconclusive - they didn’t experience notable growth or decreases after switching their titles from h2s to h1s. 

I prefer having a single h1 per page, but it really comes down to making sure your website hierarchy and information flows in a way that’s best for users. 

Consider headers to serve as a weight - with h1s signaling the most important content, h2s signaling the second most important content, and h3s, h4s, h5s holding progressively less weight. 

You wouldn’t want to have an h3 tag serve as your title, followed by h2 or h1 tags as your subheads. 

Why H1 Tags Are Important For SEO

The interpretation or context of a website is one of the most complicated challenges that search engines face when deciding what pages should rank well for a given user query. 

They use data from hundreds of signals to be able to do so in the most accurate and quickest way.

The page title is one of those signs, and another one is the H1 Tag.

Search engine spiders read the HTML code as they crawl the content of a website and attempt to recognize the sentences that are contained in the heading tags because they consider these to be representative of the content of the website.

So, you're making search engines understand the context and intent of your web page through the inclusion of keywords within your H1 tag.

Another explanation why headings are important for SEO is that they make browsing the page simpler for users.

By staring at the H1 tag, the user will see at a glance what your web page is about. The remainder of the headings also give users a major clue as to what to expect in the various sections in your article.

Best Practices For Writing H1 Tags

Here are a few best practices to consider when writing H1 tags for SEO: 

Keyword Research

First, you’ll want to perform keyword research and identify a keyword that has higher search volume and espouses what your web page is about. As an example, if you’re working on a guide that teaches users the basics for buying a house, a primary keyword to be “how to buy a house” - which has 22,000 monthly searches on Google. 

You can use keyword research tools like Ubersuggest, Keysearch, or SEMRush to help research and target keywords. 

Optimal H1 Tag Length

You’ll want to avoid lengthy headings for your web pages - a good character length is about 65 characters or less. If you want to add more information that won’t fit within 65 characters, you could consider adding a subhead underneath your h1 tag. 

Relevancy Of Your H1 For Your Topic

H1s should be used to describe what your web page is all about. This is best for both Google and users to help your articles rank for appropriate searches. 

Answer User Intent

This also ties in with the prior best practice - make sure that your H1 (and content!) answer the appropriate user intent. 

For example, users searching for mortgage rates are likely looking for current rates among different loan types (30 year, 15 year, FHA loans, etc…) - they wouldn’t be looking for the history of mortgage rates, or mortgage rates from two years ago. 

Keep User Experience In Mind

User experience has become a strongly integrated part of SEO over the years. 

Search engines have developed to such a high degree that they can understand the intent behind what users are searching for.

Search engines are continuously shifting due to machine learning and changes in their algorithms - the latest change for search ranking criteria is now based on the billions of users on Google and Bing, and what they’re doing when visiting web pages.

And h1s are one of the most significant elements that influences their behavior on your website because they serve to enhance the user experience. 

Not only do search engines use h1s as a  signal for ranking, but they also look at how h1s are formatted and placed on your website through the lens of the user. 

Make Sure Your H1s Are Unique

When I say unique, what I really mean is to make sure that every page on your website has a different h1 tag. 

Google hates duplicated content on web pages because it can be hard for them to determine out of several of your web pages that have the same content, which one should be ranking in its search engine results pages for a given query. 

If Google can’t determine which page best serves that query, it may choose to not display any of those pages, which is bad for your site. 

Keep Your Page Title and H1 Closely Related

Make sure that your page title (meta title) and H1 are somewhat similar. If a user enters your website after reading the meta title in the search results, but see that the H1 isn’t closely related, it can provide a jarring experience that may cause them to bounce from your website back into the search results to find a different website that matches their query. 

This hurts your website’s SEO, because Google uses bounce rates and time spent on a page as a ranking signal in its algorithm. The worse these metrics are, the worse your pages will perform organically. 

Make Sure Your H1 Stands Out And Is Visible To Users

Like I mentioned with H1s playing to a good user experience, you want your H1 tags to look different compared to the other subheads on your page. Design-wise, you can style your H1s to be big, bold, and noticeable. 

You also want the H1 to be… visible to users. In the past, webmasters would stuff their web pages with keywords and either style them to blend into the background of a web page. Users wouldn’t see these keywords, but search engines would in the page source code, which was an old blackhat tactic of manipulating keyword rankings for a page. 

Google has since grown significantly to where it doesn’t consider keyword density to be a ranking factor. It will, however, actively penalize websites that try to hide content in this way from users. 

It’s also a poor practice to hide H1s for users via CSS - some site themes may do this, so it’s a good idea to check that any enclosed <h1></h1> tags are displaying properly on a page. 

H1 Tag Examples

Here are a few examples of good H1 tags that you can draw inspiration from: 

Example 1

The below example is targeting the term "SEO" - it's short, succinct, and matches the intent of a user who is looking to learn more about search engine optimization.

Example 2

Another term targeting "SEO", it targets the term "SEO", and matches the intent of most users by offering a step-by-step guide that alludes to it being geared toward beginners.

Example 3

Lastly, the below example is a guide on how to buy a house. It promises to go step-by-step into the home buying process and has an added bonus of being timely (updated in 2021).

How To Add A New User & Author To Your WordPress Dashboard

Looking to add a new user to your WordPress account? It’s a relatively easy process that takes less than 5 minutes to do. Read our guide below to learn how to add new users and authors to your WordPress website. 

Adding Users For WordPress.org Site

Below we’ll cover how to add users for your self-hosted wordpress.org website (if you have a WordPress.com site, skip to the next section outlined further in this guide).

Log Into WordPress Website

First, you’ll need to log into your WordPress dashboard. 

Select Users In Sidebar

After logging into your dashboard, you’ll click on the “users” tab in the left panel. 

Click “Add New User”

In the Users dropdown, click on “Add new”, which will take you to the next screen. 

Fill Out Information And Assign User Role

Click on “Add New” in your users dashboard. You’ll then be prompted to fill out the information of your user, which includes their username, email, first and last name, as well as password to log in. 

You’ll also be asked to assign a role for your user access: 

User Roles

Adding User For WordPress.com Website

If you have a WordPress.com website, the process to add a user is similar to the method outlined above, with a few small differences. 

Log Into WordPress.com Website

First, you’ll want to log into your WordPress dashboard

Click On Settings

On the left-side panel in your dashboard, you’ll want to click on settings. 

Select “Security”

At the top of the screen, click “security”. 

Turn Off “Allow Sign In Using WordPress.com Accounts”

In your WordPress.com sign in section, scroll down to turn off the above setting. 

Click On WP Admin

Clicking here will send you back to your WordPress dashboard.  

Click On Users

After clicking on WP Admin, you’ll want to click on users, and “add new”. 

Fill Out Information And Assign User Role

You’ll then be prompted to fill out the information of your user, which includes their username, email, first and last name, as well as password to log in. 

You’ll also be asked to assign a role for your user access: 

User Roles

Microsoft Clarity: What Is It, Key Features, And How To Install It On Your Website

Microsoft recently launched its free analytics tool called Microsoft Clarity that allows webmasters to track website usage statistics, heatmaps, session recording and more. 

Read our latest overview that will dive into what Microsoft Clarity is, key features included in this tool, and how to install it on your website. 

What Is Microsoft Clarity? 

In a nutshell, Microsoft Clarity tracks metrics about how users engage with your website. it summarizes that information and helps you to discover and highlight interesting segments and behaviors of your site visitors. 

It offers simple sessions, experiences and engagement information and breaks users down by type device, country and other metrics. You can explore heatmaps and session recordings with both of those views, which will help you to improve your site’s design to offer a better user experience and potentially convert more users. 

Key Features Of Microsoft Clarity

Clarity presents an extensive summary in its analytics dashboard, as you would expect from an analytics tool. It provides all the normal types of metrics one would expect; session counts, overall visitors, specifics of page views, and the like. 

Surprisingly, in a device like this, the dashboard lacks any of the metrics you would anticipate. There is no 'bounce rate', no 'conversation rate' and none of the kinds of tables from applications like Google Analytics that you might use. You also can’t compare performance between dates.

However, Clarity does offer some unique insights, including unique reports such as 'anger taps' and 'excessive scrolling' that reflect people who may have been confused or angry when navigating your web page. 

It can be a perfect way to figure out where your website is getting your customers down by diving into these. It may be a perfect way to boost interaction, minimize bounce rates, or raise conversions to solve those problems.

Session Recording and Playbacks

One highlight of Clarity is its session and playback recordings, allowing you to track mouse movements, scrolling, and clicks from users on your web pages. 

Clickmaps and Heatmaps

Clarity offers heatmap tools that will record where users are clicking on your website to help you understand where your users are navigating/interacting with the most. 

It would be great if Clarity introduced scroll depth as an addition to its tool tracking to see how far users are scrolling on your page before abandonment. 

Custom Filters

Filters are fantastic for really digging into user behavior and Clarity allows you to set basic and advanced types of filters. 

Whether you’re looking to track sessions in which users filled out a lead form or create heatmaps that show which users might be frustrated by your page design, you can set filters in a variety of different ways within Microsoft Clarity.

Below are the most standard filters you can set in Microsoft Clarity: 

Time frame

Insights

Device

User actions

Additionally, here are several advanced filters you can leverage in the tool: 

User info

Path

Session

Page

Insights

User actions

Insights Dashboard

This insight dashboard gives you a rundown of metrics about the success and actions of the customers and visitors to the site. 

The dashboard provides aggregate analytics to help you achieve an all-encompassing view of the traffic on your platform. You can see the number of people who have tapped on non-existent links at a glance. 

You can also find other bits of statistics such as the amount of mistakes occurring on your users and the total time spent by a user when visiting the website. Microsoft also offers filters that let you zoom in on some stuff.

Here’s a list of the most common metrics included in the Microsoft Clarity dashboard: 

Other Benefits Of Microsoft Clarity

Beyond the features listed above, Microsoft Clarity has some other beneficial features, which we’ll cover below: 

Privacy Focused

Clarity is GDPR compliant, taking care in hiding sensitive information, such as numbers, images, and form contents not being tracked in all of its recordings or heatmaps, which is ideal so you aren’t accidentally storing sensitive data like a user’s address or credit card information. 

Machine Learning Filters

Microsoft Clarity handles machine learning to recognise behaviors such as 'excessive clicking',' rage clicking',' dead clicking' in the dashboard, heatmaps, and session logs, rather than the usual filters such as OS, country, timeline, browser, etc. 

This can help to differentiate the pieces of a web page on a website that will be counterintuitive to consumers.

Improving Your Website’s SEO Through UX Data

To customize your website for search engines, the primary goal is to draw more traffic to your website. 

But in the long term, this would not help you if consumers struggle to find what they are searching for on your website, which is harmful for your overall business goals if users aren’t converting once they land on your web pages. 

If you are able to recognise the main parts on your website that guide visitors to your priority pages for better conversions, you will be able to boost your performance and productivity. 

The details in Heatmaps will show you which location gets more clicks and operations. Studying and evaluating them will then guarantee that information of greater meaning is accessible to the customers. In the same way, you can churn more intuitive pages with rage-click content. 

How To Install Microsoft Clarity On Your Website

If you own a WordPress website, Clarity is easy to set up. 

Microsoft launched its own plugin that you can download from the WordPress repository. Simply install the plugin and you’ll have Microsoft Clarity tracking for your website. 

You can also install the tracking code manually - simply copy and paste it into your <head> section of your website, similar to Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager tracking. 

Impact On Site Speed

Surprisingly, there isn’t much, if any, impact on your site speed load time when installing Clarity’s tracking tag. 

Integrating Other Analytics Tools With Clarity

While Clarity is relatively new, you have the option of integrating it with your Google Analytics accounts. 

How Much Does Microsoft Clarity Cost? 

As of 2021, Clarity is free for all users and doesn’t have a pricing option available yet. 

How To Optimize Images For SEO

When people think of SEO, optimizing images is usually a low hanging fruit. 

However, while image SEO has an effect on how the photographs are ranked in Google Photos, it also positively impacts your organic rankings as a whole. 

Read our guide on how to properly optimize your images for SEO. 

Optimizing Your Image File Name

First, you’ll want to make sure your image file name is optimized. 

Image names should be short and descriptive - the best performing image names are typically 8 and 16 characters long, or about 2-3 keywords. 

Here is an example of what that might look like: 

Good: Bird.jpg

Bad: bird-birds-wings-swallow.jpg

An HTML example of your image file name will look something like this: 

<img src=”image-name.jpg”>

You want to make sure that while your file name properly captures the essence of the photo, that you aren’t keyword stuffing/over optimizing your image for the types of searches you want to rank for. 

Use The Right Image Format

There are a few different types of formats that you can use for your images. 

The best format does not exist for images, as different formats serve different purposes. However, here are a few considerations: 

Proper Image Resolution and Size

Loading times are very critical for UX and SEO. The quicker the page is, the easier it is for visitors and search engines to access (and index) the website. 

Images may have a massive effect on loading times, particularly when you upload a large image to show a very tiny image, such as a 1920x1080 pixel image viewed at 300x200 pixel resolution. 

Make sure to adjust the scale of the file to how you want it to be viewed. For example, WordPress lets you achieve this by instantly supplying an image of various sizes after it has been uploaded. 

Unfortunately, it doesn't mean that the size of the file is fixed, it's just the size of the image being shown while still loading at a larger resolution, so make sure that you’re creating file sizes based on the viewing parameters of your website. 

Responsive Images

With mobile becoming the most used device when browsing the web, you’ll need to ensure that your images employ responsive design. This means that they automatically resize to fit all types of device screens, whether on mobile, tablet, or desktop. 

Images should have a srcset attribute that will allow them to serve different image sizes per screen width. 

Looking to learn more about search engine optimization? Read our SEO beginner’s guide for everything you need to know about SEO and how to drive business results through search engines like Google and Bing. 

Compress Image Size

Not only should you create a proper image resolution for your images, but you should try to reduce the overall image file size without compressing quality to help boost page loading times. 

Here are a few tools that you can use that will automatically compress your images before upload: 

After optimizing your images on your target web pages, you can test your page speed with the following tools to check for additional compression opportunities to prevent poor load times: 

Include Captions

The image caption is the text that follows the image on the page—when you look at the pictures in this post, it is the text in the gray box underneath each one. Why are captions relevant for image optimization? 

Image captions are read on average 3 times more than the body copy itself, so by not using captions, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to engage users on your website. 

It isn’t always relevant to add a caption to every single image, but if it DOES make sense, be sure to include a caption for relevant images. 

Include Alt Text

The alt text (or alt tag) is applied to the image such that the informative text is in place if the image cannot be shown to the visitor for whatever reason. 

Alt text is typically used for visually impaired or blind users using screen readers that can read the alt text of an image. It’s also useful as a backup in case an image isn’t served properly on your website and helps with SEO by improving the semantic meaning of your page. 

Make sure alt text is added to each picture you use and that it has the SEO keywords included for the page. Be sure to explain what's in the picture so that both search engines and users can better understand it. The more relevant knowledge the image has, the more search engines have to work with when ranking it in their results pages.

An example of alt text could be “picture of new Chevy Volt parked.” 

An HTML example of alt text is: <img alt=”image description”>

Your Alt Text should be short but descriptive while avoiding keyword stuffing. You should also avoid using terms like “image” or “picture of”, as it’s redundant. 

Include Title Text

Title texts are displayed when your mouse hovers over an image. Title text for pictures is similar to that of alt text, but many people who use image titles will often reuse the old alt text or leave it out altogether. 

It’s better to include that type of supporting information within the page itself, rather than serving it as strictly Title text, but it doesn’t hurt to include alt textfor the SEO benefits (although some recent studies have shown that title text doesn’t have a direct impact on SEO, whether good or bad). 

Include FigCaption

Like the caption, the FigCaption is the HTML code found alongside your image source code. Using FigCaption is important in showing search engines the relationship between the image and its context, while also emphasizing the images keywords or call to action. 

An HTML example of FigCaption includes <figcaption>I love parking my Chevy Volt at my new office building in Detroit!</figcaption>

Make sure that your caption captures the essence of your image while also including keywords that you’re trying to target on your web page. 

Include Image Structured Data

Adding organized data to your sites will help search engines generate rich results of your images. Google has mentioned that structured data is a small ranking factor in its search engine. It also helps in obtaining better search results within Google Images. 

Google Images supports the following types of schema markup: 

There are a number of guidelines that Google recommends following when adding schema to your website, which you can read here. 

Create XML Image Sitemap

As stated by Google: 

“Additionally, you can use Google image extensions for sitemaps to give Google more information about the images available on your pages. Image sitemap information helps Google discover images that we might not otherwise find (such as images your site reaches with JavaScript code), and allows you to indicate images on your site that you want Google to crawl and index.”

A sitemap is an XML file that includes details about your website URLs. Sitemaps are great for assisting search engines in discovering new content - and an image XML sitemap can help to ensure that all the images on your website are being crawled and indexed by search engines like Google and Bing. 

Read our latest guide on how to create XML sitemaps for your website.

Serve Images Through CDN

CDNs are one of the best speed optimization tools available for your website. Many websites with CDNs usually have separate CDNs specifically for images. The goal of using a CDN for your photos is to help organize your pictures and load them for your site users as soon as possible. Running a CDN image will speed up the distribution of the pictures on your web pages.

Here are a few different CDNs to choose from: 

Lazy Loading Images

Lazy loading is where the browser defers the loading of images before they’re viewed on your web browser. Other images are loaded when and where they need to be loaded, or when a user either scrolls/clicks to that image element on the page. 

Lazy loading will dramatically speed up loading on long pages that have several images below the fold by loading either as required or when the primary content has finished loading and rendering. 

There has been a lot of discussion in the past about whether lazy photos are good or poor for SEO. Google has also sent out mixed signals in the past. However, with web core vitals becoming more important for Google’s SEO algorithm, it’s better to ensure that your perceived load times are great, both in the eyes of Google and your site users.