Aug 30

8 Ways to Make Your Items SEO-Friendly

Fri, 08/30/2013 - 03:42 — julie

photodune-4042452-seo-s

The last thing you want to pass on to your buyers are glaring SEO issues. Here are eight basic tips that will make your Marketplace items as SEO-friendly as possible for buyers.

Saijo George is a relatively new member in the Envato family. He plays the role of a SEO Marketing Analyst for the Envato Marketplaces. This is his first post on Notes.

In this article, I’ll mainly focus on Templates and Themes, and not so much on other Marketplace items. The cogs are already in motion for another post that will help you get your Marketplace items page SEO-friendly, so you can drive more traffic to your item pages from search engines. As Ned Stark would say, “Brace yourself, the SEO posts are coming!”

SEO Posts are Coming

SEO Posts are Coming

I am certain I don’t have to lecture you lot about SEO. With the kind of traffic that organic search can bring to a site, most buyers would be interested in getting an SEO-friendly item from our Marketplace.

As a buyer, I was looking for a new WordPress theme for a small blog I was running. I came across some really great looking themes, but when looked at the live previews, I saw that some of them had some serious SEO issues that I would need to fix before I put them on to a live site. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only buyer who noticed that.

So without further ado, let’s see how we can improve the SEO-friendliness of our Marketplace items for our buyers.

1. AJAX Content

In the past, Google and other search engines weren’t great when it came to crawling AJAX content on a page. Any content contained within an AJAX control was often not crawled and indexed by search engines, and so could not be found via search. That’s a big problem!

But with the HTML5 History API, specifically the function window.history.pushState(), developers can make sure that AJAX content is SEO friendly. I am happy to see our authors making use of this, and pushing out some awesome SEO-friendly AJAX themes via the Marketplace. One that recently caught my eye was Clique by SwiftIdeas. You can use a tool like browseo to see what kind of content a search engine crawler would see on a page.

If you are an author and want to learn more about the HTML5 History API, check out Tuts+, and for more info on using history pushstates to SEO-ify your AJAX content there are a few good articles around. Here is one from Rob Ousbey on Moz and another one from Bing

2. It’s Responsive Time

Responsive SEO

Responsive SEO

Responsive Design is one of the hottest buzzwords at the moment. Many of our authors are already onboard with this, and you will see some amazing responsive templates in all our major categories like Tumblr and Magento.

There are a few good reasons why responsive design is good for SEO :

  • If you have mobile versions of your websites on a domain like m.site.com, and you replicate the content from the main site on to the mobile version, you might have to answer to Google’s Panda. With a responsive site this is not an issue because the mobile , tablet or desktop user gets the same content via a single URL, site.com.
  • Building quality links to a site is a hard job, and if you have a responsive site you are at a clear advantage. Other sites have to invest in link building for the mobile version as well.
  • If you have a well-designed responsive website, your users will have a wonderful experience regardless of which device they access the site from, which is another win.
  • Our Google overlords seems to like it. ;)

Do check out my new handpicked Responsive WordPress Themes public collection.

3. Schema.org Markup

Rich Snippets

Rich Snippets

Search engines use structured data to identify the content on a webpage, and this helps them present the data on these pages in a better way for search users. Most of the major search engines have recommended schema.org as the standard for structured data.

Tuts+ has a good introduction to structured data lesson, if you want to dive down in to the details. You can see the list of Google supported rich snippets here.

A key point to keep in mind here, is that at times there are prominent plugins that bring these features to a CMS or blogging platform. For example, there is a WordPress plugin called Schema Creator by Raven, which could give this functionality for buyers. You can make sure your theme works well with this plugin and can mention this information to your user.

The type of schema.org markup you need to include depends on which item you are going to release. For example, if it’s an eCommerce template, Product, Offer, and Review would be my first choices. If it’s a template targeted towards music events, then I would be more interested in schema support for Events.

If you are offering schema markup in your theme, you can always test it out on Google using their preview tool.

4. Play Nice With SEO Plugins

More often than not there will be prominent SEO plugins for a platform. If you’re in the business of developing themes for that platform, it’s a good idea to make sure your theme plays nicely with them.

For example, there are Magento extensions for SEO, like MageWorx’s SEO Suite Ultimate. When it comes to WordPress SEO plugins, there are a few like Yoast and AIO SEO.

If your theme is compatible with a plugin, mention this on your item page. I would assume most buyers are happy to use a theme and plugin if it helps them get better SEO results.

5. Image SEO In Your Themes

SEO for images

SEO for images

Does your theme use good SEO practices while displaying images on a page? Some top tips here include using proper image alt tags. Search engine crawlers makes use of this to understand what the image is about, along with other factors like the text surrounding the image and links pointing to the image.

Another important factor is not to use full-size image on your webpage and shrink them using the height and width attributes. This can have a negative impact on page speed, which is an important SEO-ranking factor.

Some of you might be wondering, “What if my responsive design uses full size images and fluid images. Is that a bad thing to do?” Well, it kind of is. But there is a more elegant solution. If you were to use adaptive images, you could automatically create and deliver device-appropriate scaled versions of your images, thus speeding up the page load on mobile and tablet devices.

Your theme might be using a set of images on various pages, things like the social icons and other graphics used in the theme. It’s a good idea to use CSS sprites to make all these images load as one file.

What if you have a photography style theme, and your client is going to use a gazillion images on a page? Wouldn’t that take ages to load and negatively impact page speed? Yes it most likely will, but there are ways around this with techniques like lazy load, which can be implemented in SEO friendly ways.

6. Time To Get Your Social On

Twitter Card

Twitter Card

Social signals are important for SEO. When I go theme hunting, I always give special consideration to themes that use social sharing buttons in a creative way, or give me the option to use popular social sharing buttons that align with the rest of the website design. This way, I don’t have to use a run-of-the-mill social sharing bar that is seen on many other websites.

Some of the other important social issues include making use of Facebook’s Open Graph and Twitter Cards. There are some nice things you can do with Twitter Product Card on an E-Commerce Template.

This is another area where you have to use your judgement call. If you are offering a magazine or blog theme, it would be best to include support for Twitter Summary Card (with Large Image). If it’s an eCommerce template, Twitter Product Card might be the best way to go.

Another possible scenario is to give the user the choice of picking any one that they want to use. (Personally that would be a strong deciding factor if I were shopping around for an item).

7. Multiple H1s

While Google is not against this, in my experience the H1 tag plays an important part in telling the search engines what the page is about. (A lot of other signals go into this as well.)

Ideally, you would not want the H1 tag around the logo on each page. I can see how it can help on the home page, but for the other pages there would be individual topics that the page would try to rank for, and so have that topic (usually the tile of that page) in an H1 tag.

If you have a strict HTML5 coding practice, multiple H1s on a page won’t pose much of an SEO problem, but my personal recommendation is try and avoid it if you can.

8. Consolidate CSS & Other Scripts

You can reduce the number of HTTP request to the server by combining JavaScript and CSS files, which in turn can help speed up page loads. There are various solutions on offer like Minify and YUI Compressor. See if it can help improve the page speed on your projects.

Another pro tip for you guys is to use Google Hosted Libraries for common open-source JavaScript libraries you might have in your themes. So when you include things like jQuery or MooTools, you can make use of Google’s CDN to do the heavy lifting, and this would put less load on the server that your users might end up using.

Conclusion

There you have it, some of my pro tips on how to make your next project attractive to buyers from an SEO point of view. Of course, not all of this will apply to everyone, so use your judgement.

If you found my article to be helpful, please share it via any (or all) of these social channels. ;)

facebook  twitter  google  email

I often lurk around on the ThemeForest forums, and you can get in touch with me via Google+, Marketplace and Twitter. Feel free to ask me any SEO-related questions, and I’ll try and answer them for you. If I don’t have an answer I will ask my buddy, who seems to have an answer for everything.

Me & My Buddy

Me & My Buddy

Image Credits: images on blackboard with chalk , multiple meme, Social Media Ribbon Icons

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