Technical SEO Cheat Sheet #1: "Which are the best SEO strategies?"

The post on Quora entitled “Which are the best SEO strategies?” is a good example of some of the search engine optimization strategies one can execute in order to help drive traffic to a website. In this article, we’ll take a look at document structure, long-tail keywords, and page load time, which are all mentioned as important in the Quora post.

We do not cover site structure in this article, which encompasses the entire website and should be handled by the content management system (CMS). It’s still possible, if not easy, to rely on a CMS and still end up with a broken site structure. We’ll cover this subject in another post.

Document Structure is Very Important for SEO

Of the 16 bullet points listed in the Quora post eight focus on document structure and document structure is very important — develop a web page with a funky or broken structure and no matter how good it might look, it likely won’t rank well and that means very few visitors for you 🙁

What may come as a surprise to the reader is that this page originally contained a few structural issues which were overlooked. The issues were uncovered thanks to the All in One SEO Pack for WordPress (AIOSEO) plugin, which is used on this site. AIOSEO helped to first identify where improvements could be made and then when the post was updated we can immediately see that the change applied caused a net positive impact.

All In One SEO Pack (AIOSEO) Page Analysis score at 91/100.
All In One SEO Pack AIOSEO Page Analysis at 91/100.

Note also that in addition to well-written content, target keyword(s) specific to the page or post need to be present in certain places — for example in the title, in the description, and in the first paragraph.

See also: Google Explains How to Use Headings for SEO

Utilizing Long-Tail Keywords is also important for SEO

Long-tail keywords are search terms that entail three or more keywords and which are particularly important as they’re both specific and highly relevant. A simple strategy for finding these is to just use Google, as demonstrated below — anything with three or more keywords is considered to be a long-tail keyword; other ideas for long-tail keywords can be found by applying the same strategy to Bing and YouTube. Ahrefs and the Moz Keyword Explorer are two other options worth looking into.

See also the article entitled “ Long‐Tail Keywords: The ‘Secret’ to Getting TONS of Search Traffic”.

A long-tail keyword example using "long-tail keyword optimization" including a list of results found using the Google Search Engine.
A long-tail keyword example via the Google Search Engine.

 

A long-tail keyword example using "long-tail seo" including a list of results found using the Bing Search Engine.
A long-tail keyword example via the Bing Search Engine.

 

A long-tail keyword example using "long-tail key" including a list of results found using the YouTube Search Engine.
A long-tail keyword example via the YouTube Search Engine.

The trouble with SEO is that improvements never seem to come fast enough so for people who are new to this it’s difficult to know if changes are working. One hint that you’re on the right track is that you should see an upward trend in the number of impressions for the website changes being applied to in the Google Search Console.

Page Load Time is important for SEO

Website page load time is important for SEO and I wrote about assessing this in under ten minutes in this article. A faster page load time is always better so if you’re dumping money into a website to make it look beautiful but the content is poorly developed and pages load slowly, the results will be predictable and, in this case, quite disappointing.

There are many articles written about page load time [see 3, 4, 5, and 6] and a number of good tools that can be used to examine page load time. Page load times can impact an entire site and it’s likely that if one page is loading slowly, unless there’s something special about that particular page, other pages are likely loading slowly as well.

Visitors will not wait for your page to load

According to the article “How Page Load Time Affects Bounce Rate and Page Views” after seven seconds, ~32.3% of visitors will have bounced. According to [8], which suggests an even worse result, the findings indicate that “40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load”. So while there may be some difference between the metrics in these two citations the point is well made: eventually visitors will be driven away by a slow loading page — we’ll come back to this in a moment.

Search engine crawlers will not wait for your page to load

It’s also important not to keep search engine crawlers waiting around either because, similar to people, crawlers have better things to do than wait for your site to load. Both the Bing and Google search engines consider page load time to be a ranking factor [5, 7].

Out of curiosity, I decided to profile this page using WebPagetest.org testing platform and we can see the result below and the pointer to a speed index, or “the average time when pixels on the screen have been painted” [2], of 3.24 seconds, which is decent enough.

The test results from WebPagetest.org for a page on this website that includes a pointer to the speed index, which is clocked at 3.240s, along with an "E" grade for security score and "A" grades for first byte time, keep-alive enabled, compress transfer, compress images, cache static content, and CDN not currently in use.
WebPagetest.org results with a speed index of 3.24 seconds.

This site does not attract serious traffic and we’re not selling products online so there’s no risk of lost revenue and we need not worry that between 13% and 17.1% of visitors may bounce…or do we? If up to 40% of visitors were to bounce due to a page load time of 3.24 seconds we might have a problem, so we need to confirm our assumptions with evidence.

Review your site bounce rate using Google Analytics

For websites that use Google Analytics, such as thospfuller.com, we can check the bounce rate by navigating to the Audience Overview, which is exhibited in the following image.

Google Analytics Audience Overview Bounce Rate For ThosPFuller.com at 6.40% in this example.
Review the bounce rate for this site for one month via the Google Analytics Audience Overview.

Here we can see that the site bounce rate is 6.40% from November 20th to December 20th, 2020. This is certainly within a tolerable level and I can choose to not concern myself with the performance as any improvement is going to result in only a marginal decrease in visitors who bounce.

As a next step, we could check several pages to see if the page load time is consistent, as well as review the performance using different devices with varying speeds.

Slow page load time translates to lost revenue

For e-commerce sites with many visitors, however, a 6.40% bounce rate could translate to a significant monetary loss when the traffic is substantial and would likely be unacceptable.

The article entitled “How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line“, by SEO expert Neil Patel (NP), drives this point home with the following finding: “[i]f an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a 1 second page delay could potentially cost you $2.5 million in lost sales every year”. Attaching a value of $2.5mm to each second of page load time would quickly change our opinion that 3.24 seconds page load time is acceptable to a high priority issue that requires immediate attention.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, SEO is a complex subject matter and one which many people incorrectly assume is limited to adding keywords to a web page.

Generally speaking, SEO has can be divided into two categories: technical SEO and marketing SEO. The two need to come together correctly such that search engines can find the properly structured content and the content needs to be of high quality such that people actually want to read it and possibly act as a result of what’s on that page.

Below we include several related articles that cover other aspects of SEO that may be of interest to the reader.

Related Articles

thospfuller

I am a Technical SEO Consultant and WordPress Specialist based in Northern Virginia. I am interested in software development, content engineering, and business. I'm originally from Chicago, IL, and currently reside in Reston, VA.