Google Optimization & Search Engine Optimization

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Technical Search Engine Optimization

Google Lighthouse Audits [GLA], among other processes, are essential to identifying areas to fix for technical SEO. GLA gives you insight into issues your website has, but you still need expertise to fix those issues.

If you have the knowledge or can learn, that’s great! But if you need an expert, that’s where Cohlab comes in.

Performance

In a Google Lighthouse Audit, performance generally shows how your website performs in regards to loading speed, displaying meaningful content to the user, etc. A score of 100 means your page ranks in the 98th percentile, while a score of 50 means you rank in the 75th percentile, etc.

  • Speed

    Easily the most important piece of technical SEO you can attack is the speed of your website. This may be through optimizing images, reducing the number of scripts running on your page, making updates to your theme, plugins, or PHP, and other factors. Making your website run faster is going to keep more possible customers on your website, and help them stay longer due to a nicer experience.

  • Layout Shift

    Layout shift is when your website is partially loaded, and all of a sudden a new image gets loaded and shifts over some text or another image, jarring the user who is watching your page load over the past 1-5 seconds. Your website should load in a specific order so that a user can begin experiencing it from the top while it’s loading, and not get interrupted by unexpected shifts in content.

  • Scripts

    Javascript, CSS, HTML, or even just a script to run Google Analytics or the Facebook Pixel can all factor into your website’s performance. Running these scripts in the wrong order can make the experience worse for the user. But you also have to weigh your own experience, because if Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel load last, the user may leave before you even register that they arrived. This can be a very tricky piece of technical SEO to get right.

Accessibility

In a Google Lighthouse Audit, accessibility is a way to measure if everyone will be able to access all content on your website, such as those with a sight impairment, hearing impairment, or difficulty using a mouse. These scores are pass/fail, like if captions exist on a video or not.

  • Accessibility

    Accessibility is all about making sure everyone can use your website

    • Can someone - using only a keyboard - successfully navigate your entire website? Can they tab through every link and menu item?
    • Can someone with a sight impairment have their screen reader read every paragraph, every button, every link and understand where it’s going without having to see them?
    • Can someone with a hearing impairment read your video with captions?

  • Color Contrast

    Color contrast is a test which ensures your text is readable for every sight level against the background of your website. You may just need to make colors more bold, or change the color completely if it is difficult to read due to color blindness.

  • Clear Labels

    Your buttons and link should clearly label what action will be taken once they are activated. “Click Here” or “Learn More” are not clear labels. “Visit Our Services Page” or “Contact Us Today” are more clear and more likely to be useful to everyone.

  • Headings & Titles

    Be sure your website is properly using Header tags, such as H1, H2, H3, and more in HTML to show the flow of information on the page. The title of pages, sections, and images should be descriptive and at the very least exist.

  • Image Alt Text

    For someone with a sight impairment, images may either be hard to discern or completely unusable. Alt text is an accurate description of the image which a screen reader can read to the user, allowing them to get as close to a full experience of your website as possible.

Best Practices

In a GLA, best practices are those which have been shown to provide the best experience for users and web crawlers over time, as well as the best security.

  • HTTPS

    Ensure you purchase a reliable SSL certificate for your website, proving the information entered into your website is encrypted on the way to the server. Without an SSL, the information is unencrypted and easier for criminals to access. An SSL will show up in the address bar as a lock, along with your website URL changing from http:// to https://.

  • Safe Links

    Are your links going to secure websites, such as those using HTTPS, those not using pop-up advertising, and those secure from malware? Make sure the websites you link to are trustworthy, otherwise you can be noted as untrustworthy as well, to both search engines and your potential customers.

  • High-Quality Images

    Make sure your images are crisp in their appearance, fast-loading, and whenever possible owned by you. Using stock imagery has its place, but unique photos and graphics that belong to your company are always best.

  • Updated Script Libraries & APIs

    PHP, Javascript, HTML, CSS, XML, and other scripts and APIs need to be kept updated, as out-of-date script libraries can be exploited by criminals to attack your website or compromise your potential customers' information.

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On-Page SEO

This section isn’t part of a Google Lighthouse Audit by itself, but on-page SEO can be measured by a GLA by looking at various parts of the audit above.

Website Text

On-page SEO can include a number of different types of text, such as your links, button labels, alt text on your images, headings, and more.

  • Clear Labels

    Your buttons and link should clearly label what action will be taken once they are activated. "Click Here" or "Learn More" are not clear labels. "Visit Our Services Page" or "Contact Us Today" are more clear and more likely to be useful to everyone.

  • Image Alt Text

    For someone with a sight impairment, images may either be hard to discern or completely unusable. Alt text is an accurate description of the image which a screen reader can read to the user, allowing them to get as close to a full experience of your website as possible.

  • Headings & Titles

    Be sure your website is properly using Header tags, such as H1, H2, H3, and more in HTML to show the flow of information on the page. The title of pages, sections, and images should be descriptive and at the very least exist.

Website Protocols

On-page SEO can include a number of different protocols that need to be addressed directly on the page or site, including making sure your links and pages are crawlable, having a valid robots.txt file, and having a valid SSL certificate.

  • HTTPS

    Ensure you purchase a reliable SSL certificate for your website, proving the information entered into your website is encrypted on the way to the server. Without an SSL, the information is unencrypted and easier for criminals to access. An SSL will show up in the address bar as a lock, along with your website URL changing from http:// to https://.

  • Pages & Links Crawlable

    If you've designated your pages or links as 'nofollow', search engines ignore the link or page. This means the information will not be crawled, and won't be served in search results. Be sure that all of the pages you want on the internet are crawlable.

  • Robots.txt Valid

    Having a robots.txt file on your website also helps to tell search engines which pages to crawl and which pages not to crawl. Ensure your robots.txt file is up-to-date and working properly so you aren't missing out on ranking opportunities.

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Mobile-Friendly Website

This section isn’t part of a Google Lighthouse Audit by itself, but having a mobile-friendly website can be measured in part by looking at the GLA above, and by checking the website yourself using various devices.

Website Size & Features Adjust Based On Screen Size

Before a website is designed, it needs to be built on a platform which responds immediately to different screen sizes. Images and text need to automatically shift, menus need to change shape or format completely, buttons need to change size, phone numbers can become clickable to automatically open calling apps, and more.

Tap Targets Appropriately-Sized

When you have buttons or links on your page, they need to be spaced apart. Having a link here and here, separated by just a small amount of space, means the tap targets overlap and can lead to a wrong click. Make sure to leave space between links for finger slips, and make your buttons large enough on mobile devices so they’re easy to hit.

Speed

Easily the most important piece of technical SEO you can attack is the speed of your website. This may be through optimizing images, reducing the number of scripts running on your page, making updates to your theme, plugins, or PHP, and other factors. Mobile loading speed is even more important than on a desktop - people are usually more patient while on a desktop, but the nature of being on a mobile device is to look at something quickly.

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On-Site SEO Content

A huge part of search engine optimization is your content. Is it relevant to the search you want to rank for? Are the keywords you’re using drawing enough searches every month, or being searched by your target audience? Are you answering their questions, and in a way that a human wants to read?

Keyword Research

Using tools like Google Ads' Keyword Planner or the newer and non-Google affiliated Answer The Public, you can research what keywords people are using to search for your product/service, how many people are searching in your particular geographic area, and then continue to dig further until you get exactly the keywords you need to be targeting.

Relevancy

Make sure you stay on target, and provide relevant information based on the keywords you're using. When you Google your targeted keywords, what kind of pages are being served first by Google? How can you be even more relevant than they are?

Human Language

Do not stuff your pages with keywords. Use them naturally. The most important thing is to write your website's content in the voice you want your brand to speak with. If you're a sole proprietor or small business, your website should sound like you.

Answering Questions

Answer The Public provides you with numerous questions you could answer based on the keyword you're targeting. You can also run a Google search, and see the section called "People Also Ask" to find out what questions you could answer about your product/service.

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SEO Strategies

Besides the technical side of SEO, exactly what kind of content do you want to focus on? Well, you can really focus on a number of topics to gain rankings in search results.

Geography-Focused

Whether you’re selling or working in a specific city, county, state, or region, focusing on geographic-specific content, keywords, and searches can be a windfall. Tracking where you stand in local search results either by hand or with a tool can help you determine how well your strategy is working, or you can survey your clients too.

Service/Product-Focused

Building pages for each product or service, and organizing them correctly, can be great not just for user experience on your website but also for search results. Each page can support the others through proper linking, and can focus on service-specific keywords.

Competitor-Focused

If your industry relies on brand recognition, it can be a huge win to rank for a competitor’s name. You have to work carefully not to infringe on their rights, but ranking for a competitor's name can put your brand in front of a consumer who is likely primed to purchase, and make them reconsider.

Question-Focused

Remember Answer The Public and the "People Also Ask" section of Google search? These can be great ways to earn very specific visitors who are looking for great advice or answers. If a question is rare enough, you may even be the only one answering it and earn a high percentage of clicks.

Earned Media- or Social Media-Focused

Writing content that is shocking, educational, entertaining, etc. can help make it easier to share on social media. And if it has real value, it may earn you media in your local market or through an online publication. This may not be what you traditionally think of as SEO, but gaining links from social media or other sites helps boost your website’s ranking in search engines.

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