Category: Technical 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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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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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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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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Regardless of what technologies, apps, or software there exist on the internet, there are always going to be competitors. Often this leads fans of each to sing their praises, and then those who wish to know more, asking which they should use. This leads invariably to articles such as this where we try to determine which is best. The difference here is that we are comparing Wix and WordPress within a very specific criterion, and that is SEO.

It may help many of you if we briefly explain what Wix and WordPress are and what they are primarily designed to do. If we start with Wix, it is an all-in-one website builder, and it is especially popular with newbies and those for whom website code brings them out in a cold sweat. With Wix you can have your website built very quickly using its pre-designed website temples, it has built-in security, and important for many, it has its own in-house support staff.

WordPress is an open-source content management system which can be used to create hosted websites. It has a bigger learning curve than Wix, but this also means it has much greater scope for flexibility. This means websites can be built with a raft of customisations and thousands of plugins to add greater functionality in both the front end and back end of sites built using WordPress.

When it comes to SEO there is one thing which Wix and WordPress both have in common, and that is their great reliance on third-party software. This will be apps in the case of Wix, and plugins for WordPress. There are several apps which Wix uses for SEO, with one of the most popular called ‘Site Booster’. Site Booster has both a free and premium version and as with most SEO apps it is only the paid one which gives you all the functions that you need to boost your website’s SEO

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