How To Fix The Top Tech Issues I Regularly See In SEO
As an SEO consultant, I see all sorts of SEO issues. It really keeps things interesting! But there are definitely a handful of very common technical issues I find regularly with SEO, many that require very simple fixes.
Forms for Navigation or Linking
Suppose you have physical store locations and want to provide a store locator on your website. This is often achieved by using a form, typically requiring a zip code or other geographic information, then returning the pages for the stores located near that location. However, there's only one problem with that approach - search engine robots cannot fill out forms! They aren't people!
From a usability perspective, clearly it's a good idea to use the aforementioned approach on the website. However, from a SEO perspective, you need to go one step further - you need to provide a clear path for search engine bots to follow to find these location pages through direct links. I often recommend a "location directory," which contains a listing of links of all of the locations on one page. If you have many locations across the country, you can even break the directory down into several pages, organizing by state, then city, the individual store. Either way, it's important to provide the bots with a way around the form so that they can index this valuable content.
A little over a year ago, Google announced that site load time would be a factor in search rankings moving forward, and I can attest that I've seen crawl rates decrease when site load time increases. With that, it's important to have your website and web pages load as fast as possible, but a common culprit in slow load times is content management systems (CMS).
CMS platforms are incredibly useful for large websites with ever changing content and for blogs as well. So I'd never suggest that you ditch your CMS in favor of a faster site speed. However, there are some simple ways to improve your site's load time by tweaking your templates.
Possibly the most popular CMS is WordPress. Like many other blog owners, I use (and recommend) WordPress for blogs. However, WordPress can be dreadfully slow in load time. I recently ran across this problem for my own blog and have a few recommendations to improve WordPress load time:
1. Incorporate key plugins.
Some I use and like are: PHP Speedy WP, WP CSS, CSS Compress, Fix Database, Optimize DB and IFrameWidgets. You don't necessarily need all of these, but review them and see which ones fit your need best.
2. Remove all instances of unnecessary database calls on your WordPress templates.
If you take a close look at your standard WordPress page template, you'll find all sorts of database calls that could be replaced by static text. For example, each WordPress post page will call the database each time it loads to determine the name of the blog. Since the name of your blog doesn't change typically, just change that call out in the template with the static name typed out instead.
To find the blog title information, go to the header.php file (located in your theme's folder). There are quite a few lines you can change there from database pulls to be static content instead. The code: can be replaced with the name of your blog written statically instead. Same with the blog description, which is in the code: in the header.php file.
Michael Gray also provides some great WordPress optimization tips in a blog post, and Joost de Valk at Yoast has some really great information on WordPress SEO in general as well as improving WordPress load speed.
To find out how your site speed measures up, register the site with Google Webmaster Tools, which has helpful historical data on how fast your site loads compared to most other sites.