Google and Bing offer webmaster tools that are free to use and provide valuable insight into how search engines view your website and make recommendations for any potential red flags as well as how to increase visibility in search engines. Both tools allow users to start with the basics of submitting sitemaps and monitoring website performance or expand into deeper levels of understanding search queries and showing/hiding content from search engines. Bing has a helpful tool called the ‘SEO Analyzer’ that scans a page for SEO compliance.
Submitting a sitemap to search engines enables them to see all the pages of a website, including URLs that might be hard for a web crawler to discover. Web crawlers do just that: they crawl the internet to reference pages and content they can return to users who submit questions or queries to search engines. When a web crawler is aware of all content on your website, this will help improve your visibility to search engines. Sitemaps can also include metadata about the pages they list. Metadata provides additional facts about a website page, including when it was last updated, how frequently it changes and its relevance in relation to other pages within the site. There are three types of sitemaps that should be submitted to search engines: HTML sitemap, XML sitemap and KML sitemap.
Have you ever moved and provided the post office with a chance of address so you will still receive your mail? That is essentially what a 301 Page Redirect is to search engines. If you edit or delete a page URL address, a page redirect will inform search engines of where they should send a user who has clicked on an old link. If there is no 301 page redirect setup, users will receive a 404 page error and this is considered a red flag for search engines. AYC Media has a Page Redirect module that we offer on our custom CMS platform; however, there are alternate methods of coding in such redirects and in some cases using a plug-in.
Search engines not only look to provide users with the most relevant content, but also with an optimal user experience. This experience includes website speed and how quickly users can access the answers they are searching for. Google has stated in their guidelines, “ Fast sites increase user satisfaction and improve the overall quality of the web.”
Website speed has been shown to increase visitor engagement and keep users on a web page with higher conversions. With only a few seconds to keep a website user’s attention, the faster a page will load, the more likely they are to stay on a particular website.
Schema Markup: Schema is a type of microdata that speaks the language of search engines, allowing them to parse and read the information on a website in more detail. A few examples of types of schema that can be beneficial are Video Schema (translating the content of a video to a search engine) and Social Schema, which indicates a company’s social profiles to search engines. Currently, Google accepts social markup for profiles of the following social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, Linkedin and Myspace. You may have noticed when searching for some companies in Google, a highlight box displays in the right side of the results. This box is generated from having a Google+ business page, and adding Social Schema markup to your website will display your profiles in this box.