When we’re doing a website audit for our clients, we look at a number of elements that can affect your SEO. Here are 33 factors that you should consider in any search engine optimisation work that you do.
Keeping the following 33 factors in tip-top shape means you have a greater chance to get on the first page of Google and other search engines, which will bring you more traffic and higher chances of more business.
We have written this article to help you, the website owner, to review your own website in order to improve your SEO. You may want to save this page, so you can refer to it often, with any changes you make to your website.
Index to article
This is a detailed article, so we’ve broken down the 33 search engine optimisation factors into links, so you can jump straight to that specific factor. Otherwise, we encourage you to read from the top, and cover each point, step by step.
- Use of headings
- Keyword consistency
- Amount of content
- Image ALT tags
- Number of backlinks
- On page link structure
- Broken links
- SEO friendly URL’s
- XML sitemaps
- Mobile ready
- Use of Flash
- Use of iframes
- Legible font sizes
- Tap target sizing
- Page speed
- Page size
- Number of resources
- GZIP compression
- Optimise images
- W3C Validity
- Deprecated HTML
- Inline styles
- Social connections
- SSL enabled
- HTTPS redirect
- Malware check
- Critical software up to date
- Email privacy
33 Search engine optimisation factors
When writing text content for a page on your website, you should pay particular attention to the use of Heading 1, Heading 2, etc. These are HTML tags, however most content management systems will allow you to format the text in one of these. For example, this article uses Heading 1 for the title above and then Heading 2 for the subheadings, such as the words ‘use of headings’ above.
You want to try and ensure the keywords you are trying to target on a specific page appear in these headings. Make sure they are easily readable by humans as well – nobody likes spammy headlines.
Say we’re creating a page that targets Perth SEO services. You should try and get that exact phrase within a specific page, and not on every page of your website. Just as importantly, don’t have one page called Perth SEO Services, and the next page Perth real estate. That can be confusing to search engines, who won’t find a common theme running across your website.
See our article on long tail keywords for more great keywords information.
A large part of what a search engine such as Google will look at is the amount of text on a page. Every single page of your website needs at least 300 words, if not plenty more. For an example, we try and write a minimum of 850+ words when it comes to blog posts such as this one, to ensure that our search engine optimisation for this specific page is high.
This particular article, for example, has 3,045 words on this page.
At the same time, you don’t want to just keyword stuff a page and have your target keywords repeated over and over to meet some invisible text content minimum. Your human readers won’t appreciate the lack of clarity and they naturally prefer concise language.
The image ALT tag is another HTML tag, however, every credible CMS allows you to set one when you add an image to a page. ALT tags help people with sight impairment, and people on low bandwidth or browsers who don't display images.
For example, say I inserted a picture of a kitchen on a page that is using the keyword ‘new Perth kitchen’. I may make the ALT tag ‘Example of a new Perth kitchen’, so it both describes the image and provides another chance to repeat your target keyword.
You can think of a backlink as a vote on your website. If you write a well-written page that provides advice and great content, there is a good chance that another website may eventually link to that page. This is a backlink. You want to try and encourage as many of those as possible, yet naturally.
You can find services that will spam blogs and directories with backlinks to your website, however, if Google notices this (they have anti-spam automated measures), they will penalise you as a result – we always recommend spending the time to write great content overusing some ill-advised dodgy search engine optimisation tricks.
Backlinks aren’t the only links that count either. Ideally, your page features links within the content to other pages within your website, as well as outbound links to other websites.
You want to keep these links relevant too – back to the Perth new kitchen and Perth SEO services examples; you don’t want to have the same links on the same page, they should be broken down into topics on different pages.
The web is ever-evolving, which is fantastic and useful, however, this means over time, certain links you have added may end up broken – another website may change their page address, which leads your link to an error page. This frustrates users and search engines.
You should get in the habit of checking all of your links, to ensure they end up at the correct target page. Some content management systems may do this, or you can use special software that monitors these automatically.
As a manual process, this tool may help you find broken links to fix.
Look up at your browser address bar (at the top, above this page) – see how the address for this page features actual words that make sense? The last part of the address, the /search-engine-optimisation-factors/ shows what the topic of this article is all about.
You don’t want to have your website using nonsensical addresses, such as /page=ID382 or /article/1872 – these don’t help search engines understand what is meant to be the topic focus of that particular page.
This is a little text file that website developers create, that tells a search engine robot or crawler, where the pages are on your website, and what pages to ignore. You can view your own robots.txt by going to yourdomain.com/robots.txt – this file always lives in the ‘root’ of your website, immediately after your domain name.
Google provides a handy tool that allows you to check a robots.txt file is working correctly. I recommend you try it out.
An XML sitemap is a specific file, similar to robots.txt, which includes information about every page on your website and the particular address for each page. Search engines use this as a way to have a checklist of sorts when crawling a website.
Anyone serious about improving their search engine optimisation will have one of these. Many content management systems create them automatically, otherwise, you can use a service such as this one, to create your own XML sitemap.
Whilst not specifically an SEO factor, every website should have some form of website analytics code, to ensure you can track the performance, such as traffic to the pages, which pages are viewed most, etc.
Not having some form of analytics tool, means that you are flying blind and will never know what you should focus your energy on. We recommend the fantastic and free Google Analytics for this purpose.
The way people visit websites has changed drastically in the last ten years. It is common to see more than 30% of your website traffic coming from mobile devices, such as phones or tablets than typical desktop computers.
Having a mobile-ready website means that your website is viewable and usable by that 30%, and doesn’t turn visitors into frustrated users. The simplest way to check if your website is mobile friendly is to use this free Google tool that will show you.
Once upon a time, in the dark ages of the internet, many websites used Adobe Flash to show animations and the like. Nowadays, it is plainly evident that Flash works against your best SEO efforts and should be avoided at all costs.
Most web browsers by default, block Flash content now, so it's a usability issue as well as negative for your SEO.
An iFrame is a little snippet of code which will pull in another web pages content into your page, and displays it. This is not ideal for search engine optimisation, because it makes the page show very little natural content.
Short story: avoid iframes whenever possible, and only use them if there are no other alternatives.
Look at the top of your browser again – see that little image to the left of the website address? That’s a favicon. Nearly all websites have one, and it is normally a simple representation of your brand.
If your website designer hasn’t created one for you yet, ask them to do so, or alternatively create your own using a free service like this one.
Who likes reading text that is tiny, and you need to zoom in to read? Me neither! Your users expect to find a well-formatted page, with obvious signs that you have put thought into the legibility of the content.
There is anecdotal evidence that search engines are now using this text size as a weighting to how you should rank – this, along with tracking how many users enter your website and then bounce straight out, means even your text size can have an impact on your search engine optimisation efforts.
As I mentioned earlier, many users are now using smaller devices to view your website. That means they are navigating using their fingers, both big and small. The last thing you want to do is frustrate users by providing tiny links that are seemingly impossible to click with your finger.
The way your website is written in code means that web developers can control the tap size area, ensuring that frustration doesn’t occur. The easiest way to test this, is to open your website on your mobile phone and try navigating through it – do you find it easy to do, or frustratingly hard?
We have written about the need to ensure your website is fast before. Not only do human visitors lose patience with slow loading websites, so does search engine crawlers such as Google’s. They consider site speed an important factor nowadays when looking at where to rank your website.
There are literally hundreds of ways to improve your site speed, such as using small images, having a fast server, and advanced methods such as CDN networks and load balancing.
This handy tool from Pingdom may help isolate where the speed delays are coming from.
Following on from page speed, the page size is an important factor when it comes to how fast your website loads. Whilst we may be on super-fast broadband, it doesn’t mean that your website visitors also enjoy fast bandwidth.
Make a point to keep your file sizes to a minimum – our optimise images section below will definitely help you.
Try to keep the amount of required files on every page to a bare minimum, without making your website look ugly. Your web developer can help give you direction on how they can reduce the files needed to render a page.
Gzip is similar to ZIP or TAR file compression. It typically lives on web servers, and means we can automatically zip a file, send it to your browser with the least amount of traffic used, and then your browser can automatically unzip it and display. In fact, there are tens of thousands of websites doing this already, and so there’s a good chance you have visited on in the last 24 hours and not even noticed.
Turning this server setting on will definitely help speed up most websites.
The biggest offender on site speed is typically the file size of your images. Whilst the actual viewable size is a certain factor in this, most image manipulation software allows you to reduce the file size with massive results.
For example, here is an image showing the same image, both before and after. See how they look the same, visually?
The original file, on the left, was 137Kb in file size. With some simple compression, we reduced the file size by a whopping 40%, making it only 82Kb. This was done using the free and easy Optimizilla tool.
Having valid code powering your website has three great results; it improves your website accessibility, it improves the likelihood it looks great on mobile devices, and finally, it now helps with your search engine optimisation efforts.
That’s right – Google looks at how valid your code is when making a determination on where to rank your website, so definitely don’t cut corners with this!
Here's a handy validator from W3C which may help.
The programming language of the web, HTML, changes over time just like other programming languages and software. As such, an old website will likely use old HTML tags that are no longer supported by web browsers, if it isn’t regularly updated and maintained.
Allowing these old tags to remain on your website is akin to broadcasting to search engines that your website is out of date and not maintained, which means they will slowly remove it from search results.
Another code related factor, that has an impact on your search engine optimisation, is having too many inline styles. This is something your web developer, rather than your marketing manager, should be in charge of.
Keeping your HTML as clean as possible helps speed up your website, and causes fewer issues with web browsers. Putting as much of your CSS code in a separate CSS file helps dramatically in improving this.
Just about every company also spends time on social channels they have created. If you aren’t using social media for your business, you definitely should be. One way to improve the chances of people following you on social media is to ensure that you link to your official social accounts from your website.
These links are often found in the footer of most websites, such as ours. Add links to your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or other services that you regularly use and update.
See the little padlock icon at the top of this page? It means that our website is secured with an SSL certificate. Google in particular is leading the push to make every website secure, regardless if you take payments or personal information or not.
It makes great sense to have your website always secure, and for most website developers and hosting companies, it is fairly easy to do.
Now that your website is protected with an SSL certificate, you need to ensure that your website also redirects people to the secure version.
Similar to the malware software you may use on your own computer, checking for malware relating to your website. Sadly, malware affecting websites is only on the increase and you have to stay on top of it.
A frustrating situation, however, security is always a top priority for any technology.
Just like your computer needs constant updates, so does the server your website is hosted on. Most professional and reputable hosting companies make a point to regularly update and patch their servers, to ensure you have better security and a great platform.
We always recommend to our customers to use one of these services, rather than attempt to host their own website on internal servers – without dedicated employees on the case, your server could end up outdated and attract security issues later on.
Whilst not specifically an SEO factor, having plain text email addresses on your website increases the chance of nasty spam crawlers finding them, and sending you unsolicited emails.
You should provide a contact form, or show your email address as an unlinked image or such, to avoid becoming a spam magnet.
Ensuring that you keep an eye on the above list, will make it more likely that your website will be found for the SEO keywords you target. The aim of a website for most businesses is to attract new enquiries, and search engine optimisation plays a large part in this success.
Need assistance? Get in touch with the Bam Creative team for a no-obligation quote on improving your websites search engine optimisation.