One of the first things you need to take care of while creating your website is how your audience is going to find your content. We all know that the first and most important source of users is Google search, and also all the other search engines. Now, the question is: How can I improve my website to impress Google? The solution is called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). In order to have a better rating on search engines, you need to optimize your website SEO. In this tutorial, you are going to learn some ready-to-use tips that will improve your SEO rating immediately. We optimized our website SEO in such way and our average rating is grown from 50/100 to nearly 90/100. (Source: https://seositecheckup.com/).


WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT SEO RATING?

You first need to know your current SEO rating to improve it, sounds logical? You can use all the services that you can find to do that. Every single one of them is probably going to give you some good advice or indications. You simply need to search “SEO rating” or “SEO rating for website”. Some websites that may help you are:

These services will analyze your SEO and they will give an idea of what’s good and what’s not. Based on their advice you can start to make things better for your SEO.

PAY ATTENTION TO KEYWORDS AND TITLES

Advice number one, plan your keywords. It is really important to plan all the words that are going to identify you and your brand/blog/website. The best keywords that you can choose are keywords that are searched by people the most. You must adjust your content based on what your audience desires. To find the most searched topics you can use services like Google Keywords Planner or Google Trends. Then you have to place these keywords on your meta titles and your meta descriptions as well as your page headings. Pay attention to always place your most searched keywords on your article titles.


UPLOAD A SITEMAP AND A ROBOTS.TXT FILE

It’s really simple to create this two files but at the same time is also really important. To create a sitemap, you can take advantage of some services that will generate your website sitemap for you. For example, you can use XML Sitemap Generator (https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/). Then you must upload your sitemap.xml file on the main directory on your website (http://www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml). For the robots.txt file, you simply need to upload a .txt file in which you write a list of some of the pages that you want to hide. Google will not analyze these pages while checking your site. An example of a robots.txt file could be:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /page1.html
Disallow: /page2.html
Disallow: /page3.html

CREATE A .HTACCESS FILE

A .htaccess in your main folder could be crucial to add some functions to improve your SEO and your user's experience. You just need to create a file and call it ‘.htaccess’. Then you can update it to add some useful functions.

  • Expires Headers
    The expires headers tell the browser to store website’s components (images, scripts, flash, etc.) in browser’s cache until they expire. You can choose how frequent the browser have to store them.
    
    <IfModule mod_expires.c># Enable expirations
    ExpiresActive On 
    # Default directive
    ExpiresDefault "access plus 1 week"
    # My favicon
    ExpiresByType image/x-icon "access plus 1 year"
    # Images
    ExpiresByType image/gif "access plus 1 month"
    ExpiresByType image/png "access plus 1 month"
    ExpiresByType image/jpg "access plus 1 month"
    ExpiresByType image/jpeg "access plus 1 month"
    # CSS
    ExpiresByType text/css "access plus 1 week"
    # Javascript
    ExpiresByType application/javascript "access plus 1 month"
    </IfModule>
  • Error 404 page (You can also add other error pages)
    It’s important to have this page to tell your users that a particular page doesn’t exist or can’t be found.
    ErrorDocument 404 /errorpage.html
    
  • Redirect 301
    If you change the location of a particular folder but you already shared another URL you can simply add the old URL to be redirected to the new one with the 301 redirect.
    redirect 301 /oldUrl /newUrl
    

SPEED UP YOUR PAGE LOADING TIME

Search engines algorithms will also value your website speed. If your website is heavy and it takes ages to load your users will not wait and your SEO rating will drop down. We are going to give you some advice on how to improve your loading time:

  1. Minify your scripts
    You can minify your .css and .js files by removing unnecessary characters and reduce the size of the file. There are a lot of websites that will automatically minify your scripts (https://cssminifier.com/ or https://jscompress.com/).
  2. Reduce HTTP requests
    More HTTP request means that your page needs to download external scripts, and that means that it will take more time to load. You should try to reduce your HTTP request (external CSS or js file, images, videos...) in order speed up your loading times.
  3. Compress your file through gzip
    You should use gzip to compress your files. Fewer file sizes mean less loading time. For example, on our website, we use gzip to compress out HTML from 41.24 Kb to 6.92 Kb (83% size savings!). To enable the gzip compression you need to update your .htaccess file with these new instuctions.
    <ifmodule mod_deflate.c>
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript
    AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/text
    </ifmodule>
    
  4. Reduce your image sizes
    The images on your website could slow down the loading time because of their sizes. You must take care of how heavy every single image of your page is. So, make sure to reduce your image sizes by decreasing their dimension and their resolution, exporting them for the web and then compressing them through some web service (http://compressjpeg.com/).
  5. CONNECT WITH SOCIALS

    It’s also important for your SEO rating that your website is connected with socials. You simply need to provide some links to your social accounts (at least Facebook, Twitter, Google+, but also Instagram, YouTube, Linkedin, Pinterest etc.). In this way, you have also the opportunity to spread out your influence through all the web and gain some backlinks that are also a really good metric about the popularity of your content.


    SECURE YOUR CONTENT

    Another really good metric to value your SEO and your whole website is security. People are more likely to visit a reliable site and that will also change search engine rating and your SEO as well. So, you should use https if you can to improve your security. Then you need to take care of a lot of different aspects like turn off your server signature, disability directory browsing does not allow access from libwww-perl User-Agent etc. For example, If you need to deny access from libwww-perl User-Agent you have to add this content to your .htaccess file:

    RewriteEngine On 
    RewriteBase / 
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} libwww-perl.* 
    RewriteRule .* – [F,L]
    

    MOBILE FRIENDLY

    The last advice is to make your website mobile friendly. That is a really important topic if your website is not optimized for mobile your SEO rating is going to be really low, no matter what. So, try to make your website look good also on smaller devices using media queries on your CSS or through a library like bootstrap. Pay attention that a half of your audience will probably navigate and visit your website on mobile. If your website is not looking good, they will leave immediately.

    HTML MICRODATA

    You should also add some HTML Microdata on your web page to help search engine's bots to better recognize your page. Take a look at our How To Use Html Microdata In Your Web Page Tutorial.



    When you will finish updating your site and your SEO try to recheck your SEO rating. You will be proud of yourself to see that your rating is now a lot better than before. Let us know how much our tutorial has improved your SEO rating and share this article with other people on social networks to also help them grow like you did.


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    Sandro Maglione
    Designer / Developer

    I really love to share all the secrets and the tricks, which I learned surfing on the web or studing on my own, with some articles or tutorial online. I believe that through coding you can create a real piece of art by using only your imagination and your skills.