10 Advantages of Writing Custom Structured Data

10 Advantages of Writing Custom Structured Data

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10 Advantages of Writing Custom Structured Data

When it comes to bespoke structured data, there’s nothing better than being able to do it yourself!

In this blog, Kelly Sheppard, Senior Technical SEO Lead and resident structured data writer here at Sleeping Giant Media, explores 10 reasons why custom structured data is the best.

As the saying goes, if you want something done properly, you’ve to do it yourself. Relying on plugins such as Yoast to write your structured data means that you are restricting your site to the most basic types – and may not be getting the results you truly deserve. And if you’re going to the effort of thinking about structured data, you want to be seeing results.

Let’s dive into 10 reasons why custom structured data is absolutely worth investing in.

1.Flexibility

When we’re in control, we can tailor the structured data we write to the exact length and specificity we need for a site – which helps us align with a business’s priorities and product features. Plugins, however, can’t do this – as they are often restricted to certain types of content.

Just look at the difference between entities here. The image below shows entities from automatically generated structured data:

A cluster of entities from automatically generated structured data.

Whereas the screenshot below shows the entities from the same page, but where the structured data was written by us:

A large cluster of entities from custom structured data.

2.Schema types

Did you know that there are over 800 different types of schema? By writing custom-based structured data, we can use as many as we want to (within reason – and obviously making sure they don’t conflict). Plugins are normally restricted to one or two types per page, and only around 20 different schema types overall. A significant difference.

3.Accuracy

When creating, we check our schema with 3 different testers to make sure that it conforms to both Google standards and Schema.org standards. We also visualise all of the entity connections, in order to make sure they all line up and are related to each other correctly.

As you can see below, structured data created by plugins often has errors or warnings.

Errors showing for structured data created by plugins.

4. Control

When we’re the writers, we have complete control over how we nest the structured data together with the other types on a site. Creating these connections can often be tricky, but by doing it manually, we can make sure they are the best possible ones to use. This means we also have complete control over how we connect the entities on a site too.

A complex map of entities.

5. Uniqueness

When it comes to Sleeping Giant Media, our structured data offering is unique. In fact, we’d go as far as to say that we don’t know of any other digital marketing agency in the UK that can write structured data like us!

Automatically generated structured data from plugins is all the same – with the same connectors, same schema types and same features. This is why bespoke schema can really help you really stand out from your competitors.

6. The strength of connectors

There are some connectors which are stronger than others. When writing, we can make sure that we use the strongest connectors for the best entities on a page – meaning that search engines will consider these pages stronger for that entity than other less relevant pages. Plugins can’t do this, as they don’t understand the entities and the relationships between them.

7. Unique information

Using structured data in this way means the website will really stand out from the crowd – as well as standing out to search engines. You can provide unique and relevant information that search engine bots otherwise wouldn’t necessarily know about by marking up the pages with special structured data types and fields. All of this can help Google and other search engines understand your content better, and even index your site more quickly!

8. Results!

We know that around 58% of users click on Rich Results1 in SERPs. Structured data can help you show up in the search results for things like product results, review stars, featured snippets, tables, images and much more!

A chart showing results from structured data.

We added structured data to 34/8,200 pages on the website relating to the screenshot above, and in just 2 months they are showing rich results for 14,000 keywords – which bring in 130,000 clicks a month.

9. E-E-A-T

By strengthening your brand identity through entity based SEO, we can help the E-E-A-T (expertise, experience, authority, and trust) on your website, as Google will have more of an idea of what you offer and how those products or services connect with your brand. We can also add reviews, awards and more information about the people who work for you. All of these things help increase your brand visibility and overall E-E-A-T value.

A screenshot from Google Search Console showing an increase in activity from custom structured data.

We added custom structured data to two pages on this customer’s website – the homepage and ‘About’ page. In just 2 weeks, clicks increased by +74% and impressions by +25%, as we increased their EEAT and they started appearing for various rich results regarding the topic of dementia – even outranking the NHS in some circumstances!

10. Entity based structured data

I saved the best reason until last. Plugins can’t yet write entity based structured data – whereas we can!

Using knowledge bases such as Wikipedia and Wikidata, we can let search engines know exactly what your content is about, meaning less ambiguity around those entities and how they relate to each other, your business and your products.

When doing a page by page strategy and entity SEO process, we need the structured data to strengthen and bond all those things together. In our case, our Content Team writes fantastic entity-based content, the technical SEO for the page is sorted, but we need the final piece to pull it all together. This is where the entity-based structured data supports the content on the page and tells Google what it’s all about.

A screenshot from Google Search Console showing an increase in performance for a website that used custom structured data.

In the image above, we updated this client’s structured data on their homepage to entity based structured data. This is the traffic generated just by adding entities to the page, so Google actually understands more about what the content and website is about. That’s a +30% increase in clicks and -1.6% decrease in impressions (meaning traffic is more relevant). The average CTR and position have also increased. This is the last 28 days compared to the previous 28 days.

So, to recap – writing custom structured data is important. Why?

Custom structured data can help search engines:

  • Understand your content better
  • Index your site more quickly
  • Improve your E-E-A-T
  • Boost click through rate
  • Aid brand visibility
  • Reduce uncertainty around entities
  • Create new connections between brands, products and services
  • Find out new information about entities it otherwise might not know about

Want to know more, or want some help with creating structured data for your site? Reach out to the whizzkids on our dedicated SEO team – they’ve got all of your structured data needs covered. And, to learn more about entities, technical SEO, and structured data, keep up with our blog.

Sources:
1 https://blog.milestoneinternet.com/seo/seo-click-curves-get-58-clicks-per-100/

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How to Optimise for Entities with Entity SEO

How to Optimise for Entities with Entity SEO

Home > SEO

How to Optimise for Entities with Entity SEO

If you’ve read our previous blog on entity SEO, you should know what entities are, how they work, and what Google’s ‘catalogue’ for them looks like. Good job.

Now, it’s time to put it all together – and take a look at how to optimise your site for entities.

We’ll explain how to perform an entity audit, how structured data can support entity SEO and how to optimise and how to optimise your content for entities, so you’re in the best position possible as AI Overviews roll out in the UK.

There’s a lot of information to cover, so let’s get started.

Performing an entity audit

If you want to start optimising a website for entities, you need to start from the beginning – and work out what your entities should actually be. To do this, you can perform an entity audit.

You’ll need to look at all of the entities on the site, and work out how they are connected – and whether they’re the entities you should actually be targeting. To perform an audit:

1. Get the top search queries for your site

2. Extract the entities which occur most frequently – using tools like Google NLP, TextRazor, Inlinks or the SEMRush topics tool

3. Cluster the entities (draw it out) or use a tool to do it (AI tools can help with this)

4. Once grouped, analyse the topics in more detail – using these to make suggestions on other content that could be created to support them, or other entities that should be being targeted.

Lean on structured data

If you’re looking to optimise for entity SEO then structured data is going to be your friend.

We can use structured data to strengthen the entities on webpages, as well as helping to create relationships between them – which Google wouldn’t necessarily recognise on its own.

Structured data is a type of in-page markup code that you can weave into the head section of the page that the information applies to, which essentially clarifies different elements for Google. Think of it like labelling certain aspects of a page — or entities — to provide Google Search with explicit clues about the meaning of the information found within.

The different types of structured data markup we can use to tell Google about the entities on a page include:

  • sameAs, knowsAbout, about, and mentions to reference other places talking about that entity, such as Wikidata, Wikipedia and even Google searches
  • employedBy to show that a person works for a business
  • parentOrganization or subOrganization to tell Google about other businesses related to the main business

Remember, the aim with structured data is to strengthen the connection of a website or brand with certain terms and entities.

Kelly Sheppard, Senior SEO Lead, explains the importance of structured data when it comes to the future of entity SEO:

“Google’s Knowledge Graph uses structured data to understand entities and the relationships between them. By writing bespoke entity-based structured data we can “talk” to the Knowledge Graph, which will play an essential role AI Overviews come into play.

“The AI learns from entities it knows about and connects those entities with content in order to serve answers, so by strengthening those entities on your pages and between your brand and your products, you are helping the AI to understand more about those entities and relationships – which it otherwise might not know about.”

Prepare for the SGE shift

While the main shift to Google’s new Search Generative Experience is expected to happen in 2024, our in-house SEO experts believe that people need to start thinking and planning now if they want to stay ahead of the curve.

And how can you do this? By optimising your content, considering the relative importance of keywords, and understanding the newfound significance of internal links compared to external links.

Optimising your content for entities

Formerly known as Search Generative Experience while in beta, Google launched AI Overviews out of beta at their Google I/O event on the 14th May 2024. It has initially been rolled out in the US, with more countries due to “come soon”.

Whilst a small amount of signed in users are starting to see AI Overviews in the UK, it’s important that we think ahead and start optimising our content, taking into consideration the relative importance of keywords, and understanding the newfound significance of internal links compared to external links.

In order to optimise your content for entities, you’ll need to focus less on keyword-optimised landing pages and more on semantics in search. This changes how we think about site architecture, NLP & structured data too!

When writing or reading content, look at the concepts, brands, products, and things they are talking about. These will be your entities. Creating high-quality and relevant content around these entities will be the key to success in the future.

Keywords vs entities

Keywords are specific queries that users type into search engines. In contrast, entities are distinguishable objects or concepts that keywords often refer to.

  • Keywords may be a phrase, a statement, or a question. Keywords act as the bridge between user queries and web content.
  • Entities are a “thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable”. These entities should be distinct from other entities or keywords on each page.
  • Use more keywords when there’s an entity that is not very well known, e.g. one that doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry. Keywords with poor to no entity coverage will not rank well for your topic

Here is an example of the difference between keywords and entities, using Sleeping Giant Media as an example.

Keywords

  • Digital marketing agency
  • Digital marketing services
  • Digital marketing kent
  • Local seo services
  • Paid search agency
  • SEO agency

Entities

  • Digital marketing
  • Agency
  • Paid search
  • SEO
  • Kent
  • Marketing services

Kiss AMSV goodbye!

Previously, content would be dependent on keywords and topics with high AMSVs (or Average Monthly Search Volumes). However, writing content which doesn’t exist — or about things with 0 search volume — is actually a great way of creating extra depth around entities.

When considering that 15% of daily searches are brand new, it makes sense to target a wider range of topics anyway, regardless of popularity. If you create content about things people want to read — AMSV aside — you will likely still start to get volume, as Google will show your content as relevant information.

Look on the Wikipedia page for that entity and expand on that! Add value, facts and unique insight. Remember – there can’t be a search volume if there’s no content in the first place to show them!

Arthur Filipavicius, our SEO Lead, said that there are currently a lot of question marks around how SGE and entities will affect the way we use keywords, with uncertainty around how we’ll acquire volumes, and how they’ll be categorised once SGE is launched.

“One thing that we do know is that content is going to become more relevant and important than ever. Users will be asking a wide variety of questions and ideally the site will have to have the answers somewhere to get quoted by search engines,” he explains. “For now, it’s about testing entity SEO to see if it works the way we understand it will – and remaining agile to how future strategies around things like keyword research will be affected.”

Looking to the future of SEO …

Optimisation included, it’s safe to say that lots of SEO best practices for content and keywords alike may change dramatically with the introduction of AI Overviews into the search experience, and as a result of the increased importance of entities. Let’s take a look at what some of these changes might look like.

Later, link building 👋

Link building may no longer be necessary thanks to the rise of entities. This is because Google understands “brands” are entities, so any mentions of your brand, whether linked or not, all adds to its Knowledge Graph about that brand! (We’re shocked, too, trust us).

That’s why brand reputation is so important now. Google can understand the sentiment about a brand (positive or negative) and that affects your rankings; remember, Google wants to give customers the best experience.

Mentions on pages with a strong relationship with your entities are more important than a high Domain Authority, and the relevance of that mention is now more important than the authority of the source of the backlink.

Internal linking

However, internal linking is likely to become more important than ever with Entity SEO. If you don’t link your entities together with internal links as well as structured data, the relationship won’t be as strong as it should be.

This is where something known as ‘pillar-based marketing’ will come into play. This is a form of marketing that uses a strategy that revolves around entities and connections. Here’s an example:

  • Create a main entity page
  • Create secondary entity pages linked to the main entity page and point them to the main page
  • Create blog posts or content around those entities and point them to the most relevant secondary or main entity pages

You can use tools like InLinks to do internal linking automatically. Pro tip: If you add some Javascript to the page, you have control over all the internal links on the site.

Entities explained

So, there you have it. From what they are to how to optimise for them, you should now feel pretty confident with entities.

Don’t forget that you can find further information about SEO, entities, and digital marketing on our blog

Still got questions? Get in touch with our team of technical SEO experts today.

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A Deep Dive Into Entity-based SEO

A Deep Dive Into Entity-based SEO

Home > SEO

A Deep Dive Into Entity-based SEO

Welcome to part two of our series covering the world of entities. If you haven’t yet read part one, well, honestly, that kind of chaos is something that we kind of respect. But seriously, you should read it.

Don’t forget that you can download our full guide to all things entity SEO at the end of this blog. And, keep an eye out for the next in our series of blogs where you can find out all about practical tips for optimising for entity SEO – and what the future looks like.

Entity SEO

Now that we touched previously on what entities are, you might well be wondering how this entities business affects the practice of search engine optimisation and the future roll out of Google’s AI Overviews.

You may have even heard people discussing ‘Entity SEO’ as if it’s its own discipline. While we’ll soon come to how you can optimise your site for entities, the actual connection between entities and SEO is simple.

Entity-based SEO essentially describes the practice of using context — not just keywords — to help users reach the information they are looking for. While keywords are a crucial part of SEO strategy, they are quite static and don’t fully reflect the way in which users are searching nowadays.

As an example, the keyword “IT Support London” is not fully reflective of the nuanced search language that a user seeking managed IT services in London might use. Instead, they might Google “cheapest cybersecurity support services in London near Clapham”, as an example.

 Google & entities

As we use entities, Google is able to determine the topic of a webpage and whether it’s relevant to the user, without the need to explicitly contain the exact keyword.

Google understands this because it can look for other terms related to the same entity, and understand the relationship between them. As an example, we can show Google that we are talking about ‘IT support’ without ever mentioning that phrase by creating the correct context, and using other words related to it, such as: managed service provider, cyber security assistance, IT consultant, and so on.

Now for the more technical bit.

Google’s Knowledge Graph

So, we know what entities are and how they’ve changed the game for SEO, but what about the back-office, Google-y bits we don’t see behind the scenes? We’re feeling a ‘How It Works’ section coming on…

Things online are only considered official ‘entities’ if included on Google’s Knowledge Graph. This is a huge map of interrelated topics built out from data sets including Wikipedia, Bloomberg, LinkedIn, and the CIA Factbook.

Identifying entities

Not sure what entities your site is currently targeting? Fortunately, there’s more to it than simply plucking a guess from thin air – but it doesn’t have to be too complicated.

As a first step, you can absolutely identify entities with your own eyes – simply by reading the content of a page on your website, and thinking about what it should be focused on. If you want to expand on that, or take a more techy approach, you can also use a number of free tools, such as:

Some AI tools, such as ChatSonic, are also able to identify the entities on a webpage; however, bear in mind that in order to do this you’ll need an AI which is capable of looking at real time data – which most AIs can’t do at the moment. As internet-connected AI tools start to develop further, we may see this become a viable way of assessing a website’s entities in a fast and efficient way.

Do your entities ‘exist’?

When ‘doing’ entity SEO, it is important that you check whether the entities on your page exist formally in Google’s Knowledge Graph. You can do this by using the Method entities.search tool on the Knowledge Graph API page.

  • If the entity exists, the tool will respond using structured data, giving a “200” status code to show the entity has been found.
  • At this point, it is wise to check the entity name in particular, and also the @type of organisation it thinks it is. Take a note of the @id as you’ll need it later.
  • Just a note here – it’s not a good idea to reference your Knowledge Graph @id in your sameAs structured data, as it might change.

What if my entity doesn’t exist?

If there is not already a Knowledge Graph for your entity, you can create one! It’s quite tricky to get a page on Wikipedia, but you can create your own entity on Wikidata for a brand, company or product! You’ll need to link this to the Wikidata page in your structured data in order for it to work.

1. Firstly, make sure a Google Business Profile is set up for the business.

2. Go to https://www.wikidata.org/ and search several times for the entity. If it does not exist, you can create an account.

3. Create a new item – BUT you need a logo which will be released via CC or a WikiPedia, WikiCommons page to verify it, so it’s not always possible to create one.

A screenshot from Wikidata showing the process of creating a new Item for Sleeping Giant Media.

Google Knowledge Graph ID

You’ll have likely seen something called a Google Knowledge Panel on the search engine results page. This is a search results feature that offers users a helpful condensed breakdown about a certain entity (company, brand, person, etc). This is collected by Google from a variety of sources.

Every Knowledge Panel has something called a kgmid (sometimes just called a kgid) — a sort of identification code. Aside from looking up the entity on the Knowledge Graph API page, you can also use the kgid to see what Google understands about your entity.

Finding the kgid for an entity

So, how can we find the kgmid for an entity? One of the easiest ways to do this is by using a tool like Kalicube’s Graph Explorer.

Alternatively, you can use the Page Source on Google when a Knowledge Panel shows up. All you need to do is view Page Source and search for either /g/ or /m/ which starts with ‘[null,’. The sequence after the /g/ or /m/ s the kgmid:

google view page source

Using the kgid to get information about your entity

Once you know the kgid, you can actually use it in a Google search, EG: https://www.google.com/search?kgmid=/g/12hrpjyrx.

This will show you the search engine results page associated with that kgmid https://www.google.com/search?q=Sleeping+Giant+Media.

As a best practice, it is a good idea to then perform a normal Google search for that entity. If the two search results pages look the same, you can feel confident that Google’s understanding of that entity is pretty solid.

Want to learn more about entities, and the impact they’re going to have on the future of SEO? Download our full guide here – where we talk about everything from how to identify your entities, to the practical optimisation steps you can take right now to make sure you’re ready for Search Generative Experience. It’s got everything you need to stay ahead of the curve.

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Entities & Search Generative Experience: Are You Up to Speed?

Entities & Search Generative Experience: Are You Up to Speed?

Home > SEO

Entities & Search Generative Experience – Are you up to speed?

Heard your colleagues talking about ‘entities’ lately? Want to get clued up on generative search? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ve put together a guide to all things entity SEO – including the lowdown on the changes you can expect with the shift towards entities and the launch of Google’s AI Overviews.

As well as being able to download our full guide at the end of this blog, we’ll also be releasing a series of blogs detailing everything from when entities first came about, to how to identify and optimise for entities on your own website.

So, let’s not waste time, huh?

Mythbusting: Are SEO entities new?

First things first, let’s get one thing straight: entities are not new. While they might be all the rage at the moment, taking online forums by storm in the same way that ChatGPT has done, entities have actually been around for about 10 years.

In May 2012, what is now known as entity SEO was ‘born’ with the creation of Google’s Knowledge Graph (more on this later). The introduction of the Knowledge Graph saw Google be able to understand the meaning and connections behind a keyword, leading to the coining of the phrase that all SEOs love: “Things not strings”.

So, why is everyone suddenly talking about entities now? If entities have been important to SEOs for over a decade, what’s bringing them to the surface now? We have our suspicion: the launch of Google’s AI Overviews (formerly known as Search Generative Experience when it was in beta).
.

 What’s Google generative search?

SGE — or the Search Generative Experience — is an experimental version of Google’s search engine that uses artificial intelligence to generate contextual answers to complex questions. While all of these features are meant to help people find better answers faster, they are also designed to encourage the exploration of online content.

SGE is currently still only available in Search Labs as a beta test — and we are unsure as to whether it will ever launch fully. What we do expect to see, however, is the integration of some of the AI features that are currently being tested with SGE into Google’s search landscape.

The AI features involved in SGE aim to take the work out of searching, making the connections between things quicker, and showing users more of what they are looking for without them having to re-search or click around so much.

Similarly, AI features may slightly change the face of SERPs as we know them. Instead of the traditional blue links we are used to seeing on the SERP, we may see sources or entity snippets instead— and where Google gets this information from may change too.

It may well not be the biggest names or the highest-performing articles getting shown at the top of SERPs, but the most expert and experienced. Blogs and sites with smaller followings but expert content that shows first-hand experience may be brought into general search results a lot more, seeing the extra ‘E’ (experience) in Google’s E-E-A-T acronym skyrocket in importance.

A sample Search Engine Results page from Google's new Search Generative Experience.

The pros & cons of generative search

With AI Overviews due to roll out in the UK sometime soon, let’s take a look at some of the advantages and downfalls of this method of search and its accompanying features.

Cons

Google normal search is a manual process. Users search with a question or keyword, and Google uses its algorithm to determine the intent / entities you are asking about. It then returns a list of websites containing the content it thinks you want, which is syndicated from other websites.

AI searches may be more limited, as the AI will analyse all the search results and then collate that information to generate custom content based on what it’s learnt. So, an answer could be pulled from several sources (which we hope will be linked in the sources section). The problem with this approach is that it could be “learning” from misinformation or incorrect facts.

Since the rollout of AI Overviews in the US, social media users have been reporting some odd and unhelpful overviews. Some were faked screenshots or nonsensical searches aimed at generating erroneous results, however, some were real too. Google has given some feedback and updates on the changes they have made to improve the quality of results going forward. The number of queries where AI Overviews show has dropped significantly, likely in response to this.

Pros

On the other hand, with AI search features, users will spend less time visiting websites and more time asking questions to the AI. It will be distraction-free browsing, as users won’t be faced with as many ads as now. While this sounds great for the user, as marketers we’ll have to wait and see how this impacts our strategies going forwards – as time on site and reliance on paid advertising are obviously major players when it comes to digital marketing in today’s world.

What’s more, search results will become more visual, with more videos, images, audio, and rich results. Google is already experimenting with “intent bubbles” to act as filters to see what else people want to know about a topic when searching.

But what has this got to do with entities?

Our Head of SEO, Kathryn Bevan, explains: “While entities have been a concept in SEO for a number of years, we are anticipating that this is going to become even more important. As Google’s AI search features continue to develop, the core way we expect to be able to influence the information it will surface about different topics is by clearly defining and marking up entities on websites, so that Google builds a good understanding of the topics that you are relevant for.”

 What are entities in SEO?

So, now let’s meet the main event: entities. Before things went digital, an entity was simply defined as an existing real thing or object — perhaps even a concept. Now, however, thanks to SEO, we have a different definition that focuses more on the relationships between things in our increasingly interconnected society:

An entity is a uniquely identifiable object or thing characterised by its name(s), type(s), attributes, and relationships to other entities.

In SEO, an entity is only considered to exist when it exists in an entity catalogue like Wikipedia, Wikidata, dbpedia.com, or Google’s Knowledge Graph. In terms of how search engines perceive entities, they are broken down into the following 5 categories:

1. Person
2. Place
3. Thing
4. Idea
5. Concept

So, what do entities in SEO actually look like and how do you find them?

Examples of entities in SEO

On every web page with content, there will be a discernible amount of entities — and it’s up to us to identify them, so that we can optimise them and build an entity framework displaying:

  • What entities are on the site
  • How the entities relate to each other
  • Any gaps where things should be entities but aren’t

Taking our own PPC Services Page as an example, we would expect the entities to be things like ‘PPC’, ‘PPC services’, ‘pay per click’, ‘Sleeping Giant Media’, and so on. Using a tool like Text Razor allows us to identify the following entities in the content.

Here are three examples:

1. PPC Marketing Company

2. As a Google Partner, we offer expert PPC campaign management and advertising services from a team of certified, experienced Giants.

3. Pay Per Click Company

The PPC Services page from Sleeping Giant Media's website.

Want to learn more about entities, and the impact they’re going to have on the future of SEO? Download our full guide here – where we talk about everything from how to identify your entities, to the steps you need to take to be ready for future changes in Google’s search.

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Copyright © 2022 Sleeping Giant Media. All Rights Reserved.

How To Optimise Images For Websites

How To Optimise Images For Websites

How To Optimise Images For Your Website

Home > SEO

Digital Marketing, technology & business insights, how-to’s and explainer videos, released on a Wednesday. Make sure to subscribe to be notified and sign up for our mailing list! 🎥

See below, the transcript from this episode of Giant Wednesday if videos aren’t your preferred method to consume digital skills.

If you want to know more, get in touch today 😎

Having trouble with your site speed? You know a pretty common cause for this is having images that are waaay too big on your site.

Yes, it’s amazing that you have a 6K photograph slider of your product on your homepage, but if it takes 20 minutes to load, no one will be around to see it.

So what can be done? Well, I’m Alex, and today we’re going to be talking about optimising images for your website in this episode of Giant Wednesday.

So let’s start before you’ve even picked up the camera.

Use the Right Image

Before we even mention file size, format, or anything like that – it’s important for your SEO that your images themselves are the best they can be.

It can have more of an effect on your SEO than you might think!

A good image for your site will be relevant to your page, emphasising your key point and enhancing your user experience.

If you can, try to use your own photos, because I promise you – people can spot Stock Images from a mile away, and they don’t like it!

And that’s not just me saying that in fact, a debt company saw a 35% increase in sign-ups when they replaced a stock image on their homepage with a photo of their founder.

So, if there’s that too good to be a true photo of a team of young beautiful looking people laughing over a spreadsheet on your page, take this as a message to change it to something a bit more authentic.

Okay so now you have the right picture, let’s talk about…

Use the right File Dimensions

Now that you have your photograph, image or even graphic, don’t just go uploading that straight into your site, you’ll need the image to be the right dimensions.

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach (get it) to image dimensions for your site, as it depends on your page design and layout. 

Here are a few tips on the right things to do:

  • Make sure your website design is responsive

If it’s not already – you’ll really want to take care of this quick. This just means that the design of your website changes automatically to fit the user’s screen, be it a mobile phone or tablet, including your images.

If you’re using WordPress, all images that you upload are responsive by default!

  • Don’t Exceed 2560 pixels wide

2560 pixels is the standard resolution width for 27″ and 30″ monitors, so there will never be any real reason to exceed this dimension. 

You can make the image size whatever height works for your site design, but remember that bigger dimensions normally mean they’ll take up more space.

But how do get small file-size images on your site without sacrificing quality and having a pixelated mess? Let’s talk about the next part:

Reduce your File Size

File compression is key to having high-quality images on your site that don’t take up Gigabytes of space.

You can use tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check out the files and images on your webpage that are the heaviest and then look at reducing these file sizes to improve page speed. 

If you’re using WordPress for your site, there are some awesome plugins such as Resize Image after Upload and Imsanity which automatically resize your large image uploads. Pretty handy right?

But sometimes the prevention is better than the cure, so let’s walk through the steps for compressing your images for the best quality,

There are loads of free tools you can use to resize your images before you upload.

These include TinyPNG, Optimizilla, or the free version of Kraken.

These sites reduce your image’s file size with only a negligible effect on the quality of your images. 

You’ll want to aim to compress your images to around 100 KB, or under 200 KB for full-width images, so have a play around with those tools and find the right balance between quality and size.

Of course, you’ll be able to get away with a few medium-sized images if that is absolutely necessary, but there’s no reason to have a large file sitting on your site and clog up your load time if you can do something about it.

If you’re using Photoshop, you can do this yourself. You can resize your image with Image > Resize, or alternatively, you can create a new document with your required dimensions and drop your image into that.

You’ll then want to click File > Save for Web [Legacy] where you can play around with the compression options, whilst seeing a preview of what the image looks like, and the file size in the bottom left corner.

We’re racing through these so let’s check out our penultimate point

Name your Images

So you’ve found the right file dimensions and size that work for you – now don’t get ahead of yourself and save an image like this as:

employeephoto1.jpg

Instead, use descriptive keywords separated by hyphens, such as man-smiling-with-computer-and-plants.jpg

Another good tip is to optimise your Image Alt Tags.

These help web crawlers figure out what your images are about, and they’re also used by screen readers to describe the image to visually impaired users. 

Describe your images well without overstuffing keywords. A good best practice is to think of how you would describe the image to someone who can’t see it.

Using Correct Image Extensions

If you don’t know your PNGs from your JPEGs, this step could leave you stumped.

When in doubt, you should always choose the JPEG file format for your images. These are light in file size and easy to compress.

If you’re after images with transparent backgrounds, you should use the PNG format.

For logos and icons, use the SVG format. These take up minimal space and can be resized as needed on your site.

You will need Adobe Illustrator to create and save logos into an SVG file format or use an online SVG converter, but be wary that results will vary drastically!

If you want more information on how to make logos, let us know in the comments section, and we’ll see what we can do!

With all of these, just make sure you’re watching the file size, making sure not to exceed the size we outlined in our previous step.

So there you have it – that should be everything you need to give your website a long-overdue diet. So the next time your site steps on the scales, it’ll be the biggest loser (in a good way).

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What Is Technical SEO?

What Is Technical SEO?

What is Technical SEO?

Home > SEO

Digital Marketing, technology & business insights, how to’s and explainer videos, released on a Wednesday. Make sure to subscribe to be notified and sign up to our mailing list! 🎥

See below, the transcript from this episode of Giant Wednesday if videos aren’t your preferred method to consume digital skills. See also the Giant Cheat Sheet from this episode.

If you want to know more, get in touch today 😎

When it comes to making the crawling spiders of Google happy, you’ve got to feed them the good stuff – the on-page, off-page and technical SEO.

But does the word ‘technical’ put you off? Does it sound, quite simply… ‘too technical’?

Don’t you worry, because I’m Holly and today we’re going to share the low down on technical SEO for another episode of Giant Wednesday.

Let’s kick it off with an explanation…

What is technical SEO?

So, technical SEO is pretty much what it says on the tin… it’s the technical side of optimising your website for search engines.

Like other parts of SEO, such as on-page SEO & off-page SEO, it’s all about making your website do what it needs to do for the likes of Google so it shows up to customers when they come a’lookin.

The main pillars of technical SEO are making your website faster, easier to crawl and understandable for search engines. And those are also, obviously, the benefits.

And all of that’s achieved by concentrating on the… yep, you guessed it… technical bits!

This, together with a focus on on-page and off-page SEO, will see your website flourish online.

So, what are the technical bits that make up technical SEO I hear you ask?

Well, let’s delve deeper.

What’s involved in technical SEO?

There are a LOT of elements involved with technical SEO, so today I’m going to focus on

  1. Loading Speed
  2. Functionality & Usability
  3. User-friendly-ness

Starting with number one,

Loading Speed

The loading speed refers to the time it takes for a website to download and display on a user’s browser. 

Naturally, you want this to be fast! 

Google knows we’ve got a limited attention span, so considers it a bad user experience if it’s slow.

As you can see below, a page speed of 1-3 seconds increases the bounce rate probability of 32%, whereas a 1-10 second speed has a bounce rate probability of 123%.

1-3 seconds load time increase the bounce rate probability by 32%

1-5 seconds load time increase the bounce rate probability by 90%

1-6 seconds load time increase the bounce rate probability by 106%

1-10 seconds load time increase the bounce rate probability by 123%

This falls under the technical SEO category because the elements that impact site speed are… technical! 

If you use tools like Google’s Page Speed Insights or Lighthouse, you can monitor a web pages site speed and see the areas for improvement. You’ll see why it’s called ‘technical SEO’ when you get into that…

Things that might impact site speed are the likes of:

  • Server Response Time
  • Web hosting
  • Caching
  • Javascript and CSS
  • Optimising image sizes
  • & File compression

 

Moving onto the second part,

Functionality & usability

MOBILE-FRIENDLINESS

First and foremost, you want to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.

Google will prioritise mobile-friendly sites when it comes to indexing your website – meaning the order they display it in search engine results pages.

If your website doesn’t work well on smaller screen devices, then that’s one of your first actions. 

Ideally, you’d have a responsive design rather than making a fully separate mobile version, and most website builders nowadays come with this as a feature in their builders.

A responsive design essentially means your website will resize itself based on screen size.

You can also look to edit individual elements based on screen sizes, for example shortening titles, changing font sizes, removing imagery etc. when you move from desktop to mobile.

You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to see if your website is… friendly. Which will offer some great advice to improve it!

 

URL STRUCTURE

Other areas to improve functionality & usability for both the user and the robots… are things like URL structure.

You want to make sure your URL structure is optimised to avoid this:

This helps users and robots understand the context which, ultimately, is king!

To build friendly URLs:

  • Use dashes (-) instead of underscores
  • Make it short & concise 
  • Use your focus keywords

 

SECURE WEBSITE

Flying through these, our next focus is making sure your website is secure – I’m talking HTTPS – hypertext transfer protocol secure.

This is essentially a data layer to protect yourselves and website users, and is a ranking factor under technical SEO to help prove to Google you protect your users. 

This is a nice easy one to implement – you’ll need to buy an SSL certificate and implement it! Boom – easy. 

But if you were a HTTP site before, moving over to HTTPS, then make sure you set up 301 redirects so users aren’t presented by 404 pages when trying to find your site.

 

ROBOTS.TXT

An important part of technical SEO is having a robots.txt file – a file that contains information about how a SEARCH ENGINE should crawl the information around your site.

That’s right, this ones for the robots! It’s mainly used to avoid overloading your site with requests, but also just helps that all-important search engine crawl.

Whilst not necessary for search engines to crawl your site, what it does so is prevent duplicate content from appearing in search engine results pages, keep sections of your site private (like staging pages) and prevent the indexation of things like PDFs or images which you might not want out there.

All of this, benefiting your SEO.

 

Moving on to the third and final section,

User-friendliness

This is all about looking at how you can make the users experience on your website smoooooooooth and… friendly – there seems to be a theme today?

User-friendly websites are a crucial part of SEO now, and looking into the future of SEO with the evolution of machine learning technology, we expect it to continue, if not grow, to be more important. 

You’ve got to please the robots, but to do that… you’ve got to please the user first.

Elements of technical SEO you can do to make your site more user-friendly include the likes of adding breadcrumbs for better navigation – something we’ve covered in an episode before actually. 

But this is all about setting out clear paths and navigation for the user to find where they came from on your website, as well as painting the picture to the robots about your site structure.

On a similar subject, you just want to make sure the navigation of your site is permanently available or easy to access for users.

This could be the menu or the footer, but consider what you users want to see. Make sure it’s there.

For example, there’s nothing more annoying than not being able to find the menu on a restaurant site, the services on a B2B site or the delivery charges on a retail site… right?

Hopefully, all the elements I’ve mentioned today have removed the fear factor associated with the term ‘technical SEO’. 

It’s not scary, but it is important… 

As I said, these aren’t ALL the elements of technical SEO. There are so many, but these should give you enough to think about for now.

Put together with on-page & off-page SEO, you’ll have a search engine-friendly supersite and will dominate the likes of Google. 

You’ve just got to start!

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Copyright © 2022 Sleeping Giant Media. All Rights Reserved.