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10 Best Practices for Structuring URLs to Improve SEO Rankings

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If you want to rank higher in the search results, you need to understand the underlining factors. In most cases, this is the content of your site, incoming links to your site and the overall structure of links throughout your site.

The structure of domain names and URLs is one of the fundamental building blocks of SEO. Given that you have 100% control over your URLs you should make sure yours are working to maximum benefit for your rankings.

Let’s take a look at how you should do it.

In addition to each of the key point and SEO tips below, I also commend you take a look at my WordPress SEO tips guide on Udemy. It’s a great way to get visuals and walkthroughs on what’s working best to rank websites and blogs on the internet today.

#1 Make Your URL Easy to Read

The easier your URL is to read, the easier it will be to index and search. This advice makes common sense, and accessibility has always been a large part of SEO.

The requirement of the search engines is not that the URL is perfectly clean, but rather that it is easily comprehended and understood by those people searching for it.

In addition a simple, easily understood URL is more likely to be clicked on in Google’s organic results improving your CTR. When using WordPress, this can easily be done through the use of permalinks.

#2 Use a Single Domain & Folders Whenever Possible

The evidence suggests that moving content from a sub-domain to subfolder on your main domain will improve search results. Search engines don’t seem to consistently pass ranking to sub-domains.

This does not mean that if a sub-domain is the only way you can set up a blog the idea should be abandoned. Setting up a high quality blog will create tremendous value and should be done regardless of the outcome.

However, the blog is likely to perform better in the rankings and assist the rest of the site’s content performance if it’s all together on one domain.

If you’re unsure on the difference between a domain, sub-domain and folder see this excellent article.

#3 Place Your Keywords in the URLs

Using keywords that you are targeting in your URLs is still an excellent idea. Keywords help search engines understand what your page is about and also help people who are searching using social media platforms or emails. Research has shown that an easy to understand ULR is very helpful to searchers.

Don’t repeat your keywords or make your URLs unnatural however. If there is an opportunity to use you keyword do but not at the expense of misleading searchers.

Using Keywords in URLs

URLs are often copied and pasted. When there is no anchor text in the link, the URL then serves as the anchor text. This means that using your keywords in your URL will also mean that they become part of the anchor text of some of the links which while point at your site.

Anchor text is another very important way that search engines determine what you site is about.
Using URLs in SERPs

Use keyword explorer to do your research on the most effective keywords for your URLs. There is a myriad of free research tools you can use to find out the most searched keywords to include in your URLs.

#4 Shorter is Better than Longer

Keeping your URL as short as possible is recommended. However, you do not have to take this to an extreme. If you can cut it down, then do so, but don’t sacrifice understanding for length.

A good length for an URL is between 40 to 60 characters. Interestingly enough, the issue with a long URL is not due to the search engines being confused; they process long URLs quickly.

Instead, the problem comes with the user experience where research suggests that searchers prefer URLs that are short, easy-to-read, as well as, easy to copy and paste.

Checking URL length can be laborious often it’s quicker to export your URLs into Excel and use Excel to check them.

#5 Stop Words for URLs Are Not Important

Using stop words such as; but, of, the, or, and, a, etc., in the URL is not necessary. Leaving them out may make the URL shorter and easier to read by searchers and so many people do.

Use your best judgment and try to find a balance between URLs that are easy to read and as short as possible.

#6 Match URLs to Titles when You Can

Your titles and URLs do not have to match perfectly but they should send the same signal to search engines about what your article is about.

For example, search engines are now smart enough to figure out that if you have ‘automobile’ in a URL and ‘SUV’ in a URL that your articles is about cars. They know that automobile and SUV are very similar words.

#7 Avoid Unusual Characters or Punctuation from Your URLs

Using characters, symbols, or unknown text will cause havoc on your site. It can break browsers and confuse search bots. Remove or control the utilization of these specific characters.

#8 Use as Few folders as You Can

Generally our home page will have the largest number of links on your website and so it is viewed as the most authoritative on your site as a consequence.

This means that articles that are close to your home page will be viewed as authoritative and those that are far away will be viewed as less authoritative in general.

Slashes, or folders, show search engines how far from the root domain your article is. This means you should try to avoid putting too many slashes or folders into your URLs.

This is also good advice to help keep your URLs relatively short and easy to read. When in doubt simplify.

#9 How to Use Hashes in URLs

Hashes should be used in URLs to direct users to a particular page or comment. Use hashes for tracking purposes and to provide parameters. Using hashes for tasks unrelated to these two functions is a poor idea. See this article for more details on using hashes in URLs.

Wrapping Up

Choosing the right URL can improve levels of traffic to your site and help it rank better in search engines. Follow these simple steps and create URLs that will optimize your site and make it easy for search engines to understand. Implement as many of the ideas as you can and use them as guidelines for all URLs that you create in the future. Go back to all your old URLs and review them against these standards.

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7 Quick Tips on How to Best Optimize Your Images For SEO

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Images are an often overlooked part of SEO and the whole search engine experience, however they can play an important part and proper utilisation can be very beneficial. So, here are some tips to help you optimise for the best SEO.

Focus On Quality And Originality When Choosing Your Images

Images can add a lot to the overall user experience. Ideally, all of the images that you use on your website should be original. They should also be highly relevant to the content of the page where they are shown.

There are a couple of different ways that you can go about getting original images. For photographs, you can take your own pictures using a high-quality camera. For other types of graphics, you can use an in-house designer or you can outsource them, hiring a graphic design firm to create them for you.

Ultimately, all of your images should serve a purpose on your website, providing your visitors with a good experience every time they land on one of your pages.

Stock photographs are so common that most people ignore them. Matt Woodward advises you take your own photos, on the other hand, makes it much easier to grab people’s attention when they spot your one of your photos in the search results.

If you aren’t sure where to find the best images for your site, and don’t want to pay for them, check out this list of free image sites that offer royalty free graphics and images.

Make Sure Your Images Serve A Purpose

The best images are the ones that reinforce an idea or that make it easier for users to understand a concept or a product.

Many people are visual learners, meaning that they learn best when content is presented to them in a visual format. From an emotional standpoint, images are also typically far more impactful than big chunks of text.

Ideally, you should try to add images to all of your content. Just make sure that they are relevant. It is better to have no image than to add an image that doesn’t relate to your content.

Screenshots are another valuable type of image to add to your website. You can use them to explain concepts or to help people understand how to perform certain actions. They are particularly beneficial when you are writing about a topic that is complex or difficult to understand.

In terms of content creation, the goal of images should be to serve as a complement to your written content. They should enhance your writing, making concepts easier to understand or showcasing products. They can also be used to break up large blocks of text.

Select the Correct Format For Your Images

Deciding on an image is only the first part of the process. Once you find the perfect picture, you need to decide what format to save it in. The three most common file types used on the web are JPEG, PNG, and GIF.

JPEG is the best option for photographs. It compresses images, helping to keep the file size down. Unfortunately, this compression can result in a loss of quality. Another drawback to JPEGs is that they don’t support transparency. However, when you are dealing with photographs, it is usually the best file format since it helps keep the file size as small as possible, ensuring that the photos will load quickly.

GIFs are the best choice for basic art or for animated images. GIFs can only contain 256 colors, meaning that this file format is usually not appropriate for photographs. For simple graphics or business logos, however, it does a great job of keeping the file size small while at the same time creating crisp, clean images.

PNG files combine the benefits of GIFs and JPEGs. Like GIFS, they support transparency, making them a good option for logos or other types of digitally-created content. At the same time, they also have much greater color support, meaning that they can be used for photographs, as well. Although the file size of PNG images can be somewhat larger than JPEGs, you may find that it is a good option for situations that call for high-quality images that are as crisp and clear as possible.

Check the File Size Of Your Thumbnails

Thumbnail images are a great way to give people a preview of larger images that reside on another page. For instance, in an e-commerce store, products may have a thumbnail image on the store category page with a larger image on the product detail page.

The only thing you have to keep in mind when using thumbnail images is that the file sizes can quickly get out of control. Instead of just shrinking down a larger image, you should save each thumbnail individually, making sure that it has the smallest file size possible. That way, your category pages won’t take too long to load.

Because thumbnail images are so small, you can usually sacrifice a little bit of quality in order to keep the size of the file small. Since most pages with thumbnails include more than one image, you need to focus more on small file sizes than on the quality of the images.

When filling in the alt attribute for these images, try to use different text than the text that you use for the larger, higher-quality images. Imagine how disappointing it would be if your thumbnail image got indexed by the search engines while your larger image got ignored. Some experts even recommend avoiding using the alt tag on thumbnail images.

Use A Sitemap Specifically For Your Images

When creating sitemaps for your website, consider creating one specifically for your images. Google actively encourages webmasters to take this step since it makes it easier for them to find and index images. This is particularly important if you have images on your site that are loaded via JavaScript.

You can either add image information to your existing sitemap or you can create a second sitemap that is devoted only to images. The process is a lot easier than you might think. In essence, it just involves adding a small amount of image information for each URL.

There are even plug-ins available for WordPress that you can use to easily create a sitemap for your images.

Use Descriptive Names For Your Images

When you pull images off of your camera, they have a default filename. As tempting as it might be to leave this file name, it is generally a bad idea from an SEO standpoint.

Renaming them using relevant keywords is a great way to help the search engines better understand what the pictures are all about. The more descriptive you can be with the titles, the better job the search engines will do of listing your images.

Here is a great example:

Imagine that you are selling a Hyundai Elantra. When you take a photo of the car, your camera automatically assigns it a name, which is usually made up of a jumble of letters and numbers. Instead of sticking with this original name, you should change the name of the file to something like 2018-Hyundai-Elantra-blue.jpg.

When coming up with names for your images, think about the types of search terms that your customers are the most likely to use. Then, name your images accordingly. You can find detailed information about the phrases that your customers are searching for by checking the analytics of your website.

Share Your Images

Sharing your content is a great way to get noticed. As long as you are providing high-quality images, people who discover your content after you share it may decide to link to it on their own, which can be beneficial from an SEO standpoint.

Luckily, visual content performs extremely well on social media and in newsletters. People are naturally drawn to images, making this content ideal for sharing through these channels. The more often you share your content, the more likely it is to get shared with others, helping to expand its reach. You can make it easier for your visitors to share your content, as well, by adding social media sharing buttons to your site.

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5 No-Brainer Solutions to Increase Organic Traffic to Your Website

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Starting a blog or a website isn’t the hardest part, getting noticed and attracting the right audience is. Many blogs and websites have gone into oblivion not because they lack content, but because no one actually notices the hard work put in place to create the website and so their posts are just one of many—hidden deep down in the archives of the internet.

To get noticed on the internet, you need exposure and one of the best ways of getting the right exposure is gaining organic traffic. Organic traffic is traffic from search engines and this can be one of the most rewarding ways of generating traffic. Before we talk about how to increase organic traffic to your website, you should keep in mind that your organic traffic would only spike if your search engine optimization (SEO) game is 100%.

The tips that we’re going to share would guide you in the right path to optimizing your website for search engines and how to do SEO the right way—which would make search engines fall in love with your website.

1. Choose a Reliable Web Host and Site Design Platform

Before you even start to think about how to get your site to rank in the search results, and the thoughts of massive traffic and cash flowing in… you need to first make an important decision on who is going to host your website. This decision will be important for many reasons, such as — every site needs to have a reliable host to keep their site active on the internet, making sure you go with web host that has not only a 99.9% uptime rating but also loads your content fast, and also to choose a host that can grow and scale with your business in the process.

When it comes to cost, it’s also important to know your budget. Most shared hosting plans will cost less than $10 a month, but if you are going to have an e-commerce site or one that you know is going to get a lot of traffic or make some serious money, it might be best for you to go with a virtual, private, or dedicated server. To learn more about all of your options in the world of web hosting, be sure to check out HostAdvice’s cheap web hosting service reviews and guides.

2. Perform Extensive Keywords Research

When it comes to creating content for your site, one of the first and most important steps prior to creating and publishing content is keyword research. Adequate keyword research will point you in the right direction of search queries people are using to find topics that matter to them on Google. Using the Google keyword tool to find valuable, popular keywords prior to writing your content is one way to attract search engines. Spicing these keywords (a mix of long and short-tailed keywords) will help you get better rankings on the web.

Another popular research method is the Ubersuggest tool from Neil Patel. This tool will provide you with all of the same data from Google Keyword Planner, but also make it more visually appealing and easier to sort through as well. The more you know about your content, and how to make it the best possible, the more likely you are to find with SEO and promoting it to the right audiences.

3. Publish Quality Content Regularly, but Focus on Quality

Yes, content is king. An even truer statement is ‘quality content sells itself’. Once you pen down top-notch content, you’re more likely to get noticed with links pointing to your posts from other websites, as well as receive social media shares. These social signals would tell search engines that your website users are finding insight and value with that content, leading to a higher ranking on search engine result page (SERP). Staying ahead of your competition by churning out quality content on a regular basis is definitely a helpful way of increasing your organic traffic.

As important as content is, it’s important to know how to create the best content possible. For example, these days, it’s much better to create an article or blog post with 2,000+ words, versus going live with different articles that are just 500 words each. There are many reasons for this, such as quality and text within one article, the ability to promote and focus your efforts on just one article versus four, and the various reports (shown above) that continually back up the claims that more words continue to rank better in Google.

In addition to creating the best content possible, it’s also important to make sure you are linking internally within your site as well. This will help with both SEO and users navigating through your site. A good internal linking system helps you get backlinks to your sales pages or articles easily. Internal links are helpful for SEO as it keeps visitors engaged on your site for longer (reducing bounce rate). All you need to do is to link to relevant but articles or pages on your website using strategic anchor texts.

4. Optimize Your Content and Metadata

If you’re planning to rank on Google for a specific keyword, you want to optimize your metadata with that keyword as that’s one of the first places Google checks. Google gives ranking preference to websites which have information regarding the user’s queries. To improve your search ranking and organic traffic, the following are highly required to be optimized:

  • Meta titles, keywords and descriptions
  • Image title, alts and description
  • Adding your target keywords in the first paragraph of your content

A perfect example of this can be seen through the content creation and promotion efforts from Canterra Suites Hotel, a downtown Edmonton hotel. In most cases, people traveling to Edmonton might not know of the name of the hotels in the area. So for a business or brand that is location-based, it’s important to know what keywords they want to rank for, and how to secure their positions in Google for them. In the case of Canterra Suites, anything related to ‘hotels’ and ‘Edmonton’ would be the keyword.

In short, know how your audience is going to search for content online, and it will be much easier for your site or brand to attain those rankings and be seen by the right audiences.

5. Contribute to Different Reputable Sites in Your Niche

Getting noticed, especially for a new website is very difficult. Becoming a contributor to popular and highly revered websites and blogs in your niche will give you that visibility you crave. Aside from getting your website in front of an established audience and potentially sending you referral traffic, you get a link back which is gold and impacts your SEO positively. Please note that guest blogging on websites with low-quality could negatively impact your website instead of helping you grow and increase your organic traffic.

While the concept of guest blogging is easy enough, it’s definitely going to take some manual work and time to find results. This means going to Google, searching for sites that allow guest blogging, building relationships with those sites, and then creating high-quality content for each of those sites. You can also find a list of 75+ sites accepting guest bloggers here.

Site Optimization and SEO is Always Changing — So Should You!

With so many different options out there for gaining backlinks, improving the on-site experience, and ranking higher in the search results, make sure you don’t just stick to one working method. At the same time, try not to cut corners and use shady methods to rank higher as well. The best way to see longterm growth and solid rankings in Google, is to create pillar content that can continually be referenced to time and time again. This content creation and marketing method worked ten years ago, and it will likely still be just as effective ten years from now.

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Exploring The Best Resources for Mastering the Art of SEO

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In all likelihood, you’ve heard that search engine optimization can lead to a massive return on investment. This is undeniably true, but SEO is not something that can be mastered overnight. In fact, gaining a full understanding of SEO can be tedious and very time-consuming. If you want to get into SEO, you must set your sights on the future. You’ll need to work diligently for a lengthy period of time, while also experimenting on your own. Within this guide, you will find tips for mastering SEO and expanding your horizons.

Winging It

When it comes down to it, reading about SEO and actually engaging in SEO is entirely different. Even after you’ve watched numerous tutorials and have read through hundreds of books, you’ll need to put your knowledge to work. It is absolutely essential to wing it. Start a website and begin optimizing your site for the search engines. There is no doubt that you’ll likely fail in the beginning. However, you can use your failure as a learning experience.

A little bit of experimentation and dedication will go a long way towards making you a success. If you are going to take the time to invest and learn the process of SEO yourself, make sure that you document your progress along the way. There are many different on-site and off-site factors that result in ranking changes. When measuring and tracking the success of your SEO efforts, be sure you aren’t testing too many different elements at any given time.

While there is always going to be a great benefit in ‘doing it yourself’ SEO, there are also plenty of resources and guides out there for you to learn from as well. A perfect example of this can be seen in this SEO Audit guide. Many site owners and bloggers know the concept of a good SEO audit, but actually walking through the process step by step isn’t something most will accomplish. By following a simple guide like this one, it will allow you to work are your own pace, while also making sure the job is done right.

Training Courses

Today, it is possible to obtain a wealth of knowledge online. In fact, there are many virtual academies that can help you learn about a new subject or two. Websites, such as Gotch SEO Academy, will put you through a comprehensive course, so you can gain more insight into the latest SEO practices and techniques. If you want to gain more knowledge and increase your likelihood of success, you’ll definitely want to complete as many courses as possible.Just be aware that some of these classes are free, but others can be costly. Regardless, they’ll all be well worth it.

Just be aware that some of these classes are free, but others can be costly. Regardless, they’ll all be well worth it. In addition to individual training courses from well-known SEO experts and marketers, there is also a wide range of courses available online through learning marketplaces like Udemy. If you are going to pick up any of the video courses offered through such sites, be sure to look for Udemy coupons before making a purchase. In most cases, customers can save anywhere from 50-95% off if they look in the right places.

Forums

Joining with likeminded individuals and brainstorming can prove to be enormously beneficial. This is where forums enter the picture. By utilizing forums, you’ll be able to discuss search engine optimization with people that are skilled and experienced in SEO. You can use their advice and guidance to strengthen your own portfolio. Utilize forums to gain more knowledge and to help guide you to success. Just make sure that you are also willing to share your own personal experiences. The other forum members may benefit from your experiences.

When it comes to finding the most accurate information and latest updates in the world of SEO, you are going to want to choose your forums wisely. This topic recently came up on Quora, where they recommended the following forums for SEO: SEO Chat, Warrior Forum SEO, The MOZ Q&A Forum from Rand Fishkin and MOZ, Link Assistant SEO Forum, Search Engine Optimization by SEO Forum, SEOBook Community Forums, BlackHatWorld and much more. Be sure to check out the full list on Quora to take advantage of each forum and Facebook group.

Take Advantage Of Books

Throughout the years, SEO has grown greatly in terms of popularity. Not only are large businesses taking advantage of SEO techniques and methods, but even single owned and operated businesses are taking advantage of SEO to soar their websites in the search engine rankings. How is everyone learning all these methods and techniques? Due to the increased popularity of SEO, many experts have been prompted to share their knowledge and advice by writing books. Just do a simple search and you will find that there is a variety of different books that have been written and composed by different authors that will explain everything the beginner should know about SEO.

One of the best books for learning pretty much everything there is to possibly know about SEO, is “The Art of SEO: Mastering Search Engine Optimization” 3rd Edition by Eric Enge, Stephan Spencer, and Jessie Stricchiola. This isn’t your traditional online marketing or industry book, this is a huge resource guide with nearly 1,000 of written content.

Tutorial Videos

With the growing popularity of social media, more and more people are posting videos and pictures of their life experiences. Well, the same can be said about tutorial videos. There are a wide variety of SEO experts out there that are more than willing to share their knowledge of all things SEO through tutorial videos. Videos are great because they actually will show you what needs to be done, which is much easier for visual learners.

Another great thing about tutorial videos is that there are literally thousands of them for viewing on YouTube. The only downside is that with so much free content out there on SEO, it might be tough for you to find the latest and most trustworthy resources out there. This is ultimately why many people will go with a premium course or online training from a trusted expert.

How to Master the Art of SEO in 2017

At the end of the day, everyone is going to have their own thoughts and working methods for SEO. Google will give you guidelines on what it takes to rank a website or blog in their search results. The common factor and influence that is agreed upon by nearly all SEO experts, is that you need quality content and quality backlinks to your site. This is ultimately the best, fastest and most effective way to rank higher in the search results.

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