Search Engine Optimization

Applying Search Engine Optimization (SEO) best practices can help pages on your site rank higher in search engines. Therefore increasing overall traffic and establishing trust, credibility, and engagement with your users.


SEO Influencers

The factors that influence search engine optimization include:

  • The content on the page
  • The keyword or phrase
  • The trustworthiness of the website (https)

Page Content

Overall, having quality content on the page is one of the most important factors that influence your page’s relative rank on search engines. Always create content for your primary users that is relevant, well-written, uses proper formatting, is easy to read, and includes a call to action. When users arrive on a page, the content should answer the users’ questions. The more users that find your page content useful, the higher your page will rank.


Keywords

Keywords are particular words and/or phrases that users enter into search engines, they are also called “search queries.” By including specific keywords that match search queries in your page content, you can improve your page’s rankings and therefore its overall visibility.

Keywords or phrases should be present in:

  • Page titles
  • Page content
  • Headings
  • The first paragraph of the page
  • The alternate text for any images on the page
  • URLs

Tip: Do not force or “stuff” keywords onto a page. Make the page content flow naturally for your users so that they can find the information they are looking for. Remember, page content is one the most important factors for higher rankings.

Tip: Remember to conduct keyword research to find specific words and phrases that users are searching for.


Yoast SEO Plugin

In addition to following content best practices, you should also update the Yoast SEO section of the page to help further optimize your website. The three main features you should input into your pages are:

  • SEO title (65 character limit): Title tags should include your primary keywords and be unique for every page. These tell search engines what the page is about and that the page is relevant to that keyword or keyword phrase.
  • Meta description (156 character limit): While not as important in search engine rankings, meta descriptions are important in getting users to click through from the search engine results page (SERP) to your website. Much like title tags, meta descriptions will highlight keywords that the user searched for, increasing the likelihood of the user clicking through to your website.
  • Focus keyword: After you’ve done some keyword research (using Google Search, Google Trends or Google Adwords), include specific keyword phrases, rather than singular keywords on your page. Never duplicate focus keywords on multiple pages — each page should have its own unique focus keyword or phrase.

Tip: To follow SEO and accessibility best practices, make sure to include a descriptive title, description, and alt text for your images and files. Use dashes between each word.


Upload Your Sitemap to Google

A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. Search engines like Google read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.

It is recommended to upload a sitemap to Google when you add new pages to your website.

Submit a sitemap for crawling

  • Retrieve your sitemap by adding “/sitemap.xml” after your site’s URL
  • Select “/page-sitemap.xml” to view your sitemap
  • From your Google Search Console, select Crawl > Sitemap
  • Select “Add/Test Sitemap” and insert “page-sitemap.xml” into the text field after your site’s URL
  • Select “Submit”

Remove Search Result for Old Webpages

The following section lists out common approaches to troubleshoot old webpages listed on Google Search results.

Please note that these approaches will only affect Google Search engines, and may not affect other search engines (eg. Yahoo, Bing)

Prerequisite
Before going through these steps, please ensure that a Google Search Console account is linked with your site.

Removing old webpages from Google Search results
By default, Google automatically removes webpages that are no longer available on your website. This process can take some time before a page can be fully removed, and will depend on Google’s crawlers. If your webpage is still showing up on specific search results, you can troubleshoot by trying the following:

If there is an updated version of the old webpage on your site, you can set a redirect on your website to ensure users clicking on the old link will be redirected to the new page.


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