Canonical Tags Explained Including Why They Are Essential For SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an aspect of digital marketing that has numerous terms and expressions specific to it. Some of these are self-explanatory, and others are not. One such term, which may not immediately make clear what it is, is ‘canonical tags’; however,  it is an SEO term that every website owner should not only be aware of but also know is essential to their SEO and quest to achieve higher search engine rankings. In this article, we are going to explain what canonical tags are, how they work, their importance within SEO, and, crucially, how you create them within your website for optimal results, including a step-by-step process you can easily follow. What Are Canonical Tags? A canonical tag is a small piece of code that can be added to the ‘Head’ section of a website’s HTML code. Its primary function is to inform search engines that crawl the website which version of a page is the preferred or ‘canonical’ version. The reason for having it is that when a search engine indexes a website, it can find more than one version of the same page, with each one having a unique URL. This can lead to duplicate content issues and confusion for search engines. For example, if you have two pages on your website with the same content, but different URLs, search engines may not know which one to index. This can lead to your website being flagged as having duplicate content and a subsequent lowering of your search engine rankings.

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The Business Owner’s Simple Guide To Technical SEO

For business owners who wish to generate traffic to their websites, the prime method of doing so is search engine optimisation or SEO to give it its more commonly used name. SEO is an aspect of digital marketing about which many words have been written and spoken, and it is often the subject of much debate and occasional disagreement about what ranking factors should be prioritised, for example. Two elements of SEO that are usually agreed upon are that it can seem complex and that it covers a broad spectrum of specifics. Those specifics can be grouped under several categories, such as on-page SEO, off-page SEO, user experience (UX) and the category of SEO, which we are going to focus on technical SEO. Technical SEO refers to the optimisation of your website’s technical elements to improve its visibility in search engine rankings, especially Google. It includes a variety of factors, such as website load speed, website security, mobile optimisation, indexing and crawling, URL structure, canonicalisation, and structured data. Let us look at each of these in some more detail. Website Load Speed Website load speed is one of the most critical factors in technical SEO. If your website loads slowly, it can negatively impact its search engine rankings, not least because Google has several ways in which it identifies whether website pages are loading quickly or slowly. To maximise your website’s speed, you can take several steps, which include choosing a reliable web hosting service with high-spec servers, compressing the images on your website pages, minimising your website’s HTML, JavaScript, and CSS files, and ensuring your website’s cache is optimised. Tools exist which can both test your website’s speed and highlight where you can improve it. Two of the most popular are Google PageSpeed Insights and GTmetrix. Website Security Website security is crucial, not just for SEO purposes but for the protection of your website visitors and customers in areas such as data privacy. Unsecure websites are penalised by search engines, which can only result in one outcome, and that is poorer rankings. Technical SEO, which enhances website security, includes the use of HTTPS encryption, strong passwords, and two-factor authentication. Tools that can assess your website for security issues include Intruder, Detectify, and Beagle. Alternatively, your local SEO agency can carry out a website security audit and make the necessary security optimisations for you.

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Competitor Analysis: Why you should analyse your competitors for SEO

Regardless of whether we are talking about a sporting competition, a military engagement, or trying to outrank a rival local business on Google, the more you know about the competition, the better a chance you have of succeeding. This reminds us of a great phrase that goes, ‘Knowledge Is Power’, and when it comes to SEO, there can be no truer saying. Many people when thinking about SEO, see it as a battle against Google, and an exercise looking for ways to ‘trick’ Google into ranking their website higher than maybe it deserves to. But nothing could be further from the truth. Google is not your opponent when you are trying to rank a website, in fact, given that they are constantly telling us what they look for with regards to SEO, they should be regarded as an ally. Competitor Analysis: Your Real SEO Competition The real competition, when it comes to ranking, are those other local businesses, who are competing for the same customers you are, especially online. In another article, we referred to SEO as a series of games, with each individual keyword is a separate game of who gets to rank highest for it. Well, within in each niche or business sector, the keywords are more or less the same, and whoever wins the ranking game for more of those keywords than their competition gets more visitors to their website, thus more customers, and ultimately greater profits. You might be thinking that if one or more of your competitors are already riding high on the first page of Google for a whole series of keywords, that trying to outrank them will be a fruitless task. That assumes that they have everything with regards to their SEO, set up perfectly, but that is highly unlikely to be the case. Even if they are well optimised, that does not mean that you cannot at least match what they have done, and in most cases, you should be able to create an SEO campaign that will allow you to outrank them. Given the title of this article, you might be thinking that the first step in getting to that highly desirable situation is to do some competitor analysis, but while it happens early, you must first create your overall SEO strategy. This allows you to plan each element of your SEO to ensure it is the most effective it can be. If you need help with planning your SEO or want a professional SEO company to create and fulfill it for you, please get in touch.

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7 Reasons Why Your Website Might Be Loading Slowly

One of the most common problems that web design teams are asked about by prospective clients is slow loading websites. In this age where everything has to happen five seconds ago, and with super-fast broadband, it is an issue that does not normally have one generic answer. The reason for this is there are numerous reasons why a website might be loading slowly, and often more than one of them is occurring at the same time. Apart from the fact that it is an inconvenience to all, a slow website has more far-reaching consequences. An immediate consequence is that having worked hard via SEO, or paid advertising such as Google Ads to drive traffic to your website, it is all to no avail as visitors simply click away when the website does not load within the first few seconds. This not only is a huge lost opportunity in terms of generating leads and making sales, but it can also negatively impact your search engine rankings too. When Google sees that visitors are clicking away almost immediately or that they are spending very little time on your website, they see that as a red flag and a consequence of that is that they will be less keen to rank your website high on their search rankings. So, there are plenty of reasons for wishing to increase the load speed of your website, and to do that you need to understand some of the main causes of it loading slowly. Here are 7 of the most common reasons which can all be rectified relatively easily, but please get in touch with Slinky Web Design if you need help. Poor Hosting Provider If you were to do any amount of research into hosting companies you would soon find that there are lots of them, and each of them will claim to offer almost 100% uptime and guaranteed fast load speeds. Unfortunately, that is not the reality, and many of them fail to deliver on what they promise. If your website is hosted on one of the sub-standard hosting services, and it is loading slowly then it is highly likely that using such a host that is one of the root causes of the problem. Lower quality servers that cannot cope with any reasonable amount of traffic and which host many websites are not going to be able to cope, and thus the loading speeds of the websites hosted there are going to suffer. Conversely, there are many excellent hosting companies available, and whilst some of them might cost a little bit more, that investment is more than repaid when their top specification servers allow your website to load almost instantaneously and close to 100% of the time, meaning the traffic, aka visitors, landing on your website remain there and for longer, giving you more opportunity to turn them into leads and customers.

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Which Is Better For SEO HTML Or WordPress?

There are certain comparisons that are made where the evidence provided by data, does not match what the majority of those with an opinion will tell you. A classic example is when people ask whether HTML or WordPress is better for SEO. Let us say from the outset that most of the empirical data and statistics indicate that neither HTML nor WordPress has an advantage over the other when it comes to SEO. Now we must clarify what we mean by an advantage. What we are talking about here is whether sites built using WordPress, for example, will rank higher than a site built with HTML, when all other factors are equal. The fact of the matter is that Google doesn’t place any great emphasis on what a website is built from when it comes to ranking them. To confirm this, do a random search on Google and click through to each of the top ten websites. For each one, if you then press CTRL+U on your keyboard the source code will appear. Using the find function in your browser type in ‘inc’. If the search finds that in the code it is a WordPress site, and if not then it could be either a HTML site or one built using another less popular Content Management System (CMS).

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