SEO is currently one of the best (if not THE best) sources of traffic for a website. In fact, 7 out of 10 adults never click on the advertising results and go directly to the organic results. As the amount of bids on Google Ads (Google’s advertising platform) increases steadily from year to year, an increasing number of companies are deciding to focus their efforts on organic SEO, which in turn increases the competition on the first page. Many people still think that SEO is mainly about keyword research and text optimization. This article illustrates that we are a long way from that era. Enjoy the read 😊
The loading speed of your website
Since 2010, Google has included the loading speed of your pages in its ranking factors and introduced a new update in 2018 that prioritizes the time your pages take to load on mobile devices (phones, tablets). Mobile traffic accounts for more than 70% of total internet traffic (and the trend is not declining) so websites need to offer an increasingly fast display time if they want to maintain or increase their traffic. Who hasn’t closed the window of a page before it had time to load? Not only did you not visit the page in question, but it probably irritated you. For a company that invests time and money in traffic generation (via SEO, online advertising or other means), not optimizing your website is like throwing your money out the window and paying to tell the world “come see how slow my site is!”
There are several ways to improve the loading speed of a website. First, you should make sure that your images aren’t too heavy (less than 250kb) because they will take longer to load, especially on a mobile device. For users of content management systems (such as WordPress), you should avoid using too many plug-ins because their software runs constantly on your site. If you don’t know which plug-in is the most energy-intensive, simply run your speed test via Google’s website, disable a plug-in and redo the test. This task may take some time, but at least you will know how to optimize your site in this area.
Another interesting trick is to use the browser caching function. You may not know this, but browsers can keep a certain amount of information in memory to make a site load faster the next time you visit. For WordPress users, we recommend the plug-in “W3 Total Cache” which has many useful features. Before installing a plug-in, however, you should backup your site as a precaution.
Publish quality content
While this advice may seem very logical, it is worth recalling that content quality is the foundation of a good SEO strategy. Keep in mind that Google’s goal is to list websites that offer quality content to its users. You can optimize your site as much as you want, but if your content is not interesting, Google will also have no interest in ranking you well. Now you may be wondering how Google knows whether your content is interesting. Note that Google knows a lot about your visitors thanks to the different software provided “free of charge” (Google Chrome, Google Analytics etc.).
This is why it is important that you take the time, like Google, to analyze your performance statistics and find out what type of content your visitors are interested in, which articles/pages are most visited, the average time spent per visit, etc.
Secure your website
The switch to https has been a factor taken into account by Google since 2017. When you visit a site, you can see next to the address whether it is secure or not:
As you can see, it’s difficult to miss the “not secure” note when you visit a website that has not yet switched to https. The goal is of course to get website owners to take action, but this rating obviously has an influence on traffic volume.
Installing an SSL certificate is not complicated and some companies like WHC have very competitive offers (small ad for our friends at WHC 😊). However, be careful when installing an SSL certificate because it means that your URLs will change! This is why it is important to make a redirection file before notifying Google of this change. Your site with the home page URL www.mysite.com will become https://mysite.com. This change will of course affect all your pages so you need to make the redirection file for all your pages or set a rule (make sure it is implemented correctly if you put this type of rule on your site).
Users of content management platforms such as WordPress will be tempted to install a plug-in to do all this automatically. We do not recommend it. This is because it is important to ensure that the old pages redirect to the correct “new version”. Using a robot to do this task is fine, but having a human, especially an SEO expert, do it is even better. Although the operation is not inherently complex, we see customers several times a month who have seen their traffic drop due to a poor implementation of their redirection file. We encourage you to contact us if you don’t know how to make a redirection file because it’s a bit tricky and we wouldn’t want to risk explaining it to you in writing and creating a mess on your site.
Optimize your images
Image size has a significant impact on the loading time of your pages. This is because they are often the heaviest files to load and the larger they are, the more data your visitors consume (imagine they are using a phone with a small data plan). As explained above in this article, your images should ideally not exceed 200 to 250kb. However, the size of the image should be adapted according to its usefulness on the site. A full-screen image on your home page should have a higher resolution than an illustrative image on a service/product page. You can find out the weight of your images by using extensions compatible with your browsers (such as Image Size Info on Google Chrome for example).
Since the weight of your images impacts the loading time of your pages and the loading time of your pages influences the user experience, this impacts your SEO.
Fix your 404 errors
404 errors are broken links that most often occur when a URL has been modified. For example, if you click on the URL https://mylittlebigweb.com/en/seo-services-search-engine-optimization/, you will land on our SEO page but if you change even one character in this URL (example: https://mylittlebigweb.com/referencement-naturel-so/), you will get a 404 error:
Google obviously doesn’t like 404 errors because your site doesn’t display the information your visitors are looking for. You should therefore regularly check the pages/articles of your site so that you can locate and correct them quickly. For those who have a large number of indexed pages and wouldn’t want to waste time on this task, you can go to the Broken link Checker site to identify your broken links. For WordPress users, Broken Link Checker offers a free plug-in that includes some great features. However, we do not recommend leaving it activated all the time because the plug-in can influence the loading time of your pages. It is better to activate it once a week or every two weeks, correct the errors and disable it.
We hope you enjoyed this article and that it helps you improve your SEO performance. As you probably know, there are more than just 5 ways to improve your SEO and that’s why we have an entire category on our blog dedicated to SEO. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you want us to support you in your efforts to optimize your SEO.