Easy SEO Wins For Big Sites

If you’re optimizing a site of 10,000+ pages, one-by-one title tag edits isn’t really your best bet. Enterprise SEO is all about scale. So, when I’m working on a behemoth of a site, I look for lazy site-wide wins first. I define a lazy site-wide win as one that:

  • Won’t require intra-office diplomacy worth of Kissinger.
  • Requires only a single configuration or code change.
  • Will result in big gains for almost every page of my website.

Here are my favorites:

Server Compression

Before you do anything else, make sure your server is using HTTP compression. With this type of compression, your server compacts files using the lossless GZIP algorithm. That can reduce transfer sizes by 50% or more. Then, your Web browser decompresses the files upon arrival.

That speeds page load times and, since GoogleBot supports GZIP, speeds crawl times, too. That’s all good for crawl efficiency. Plus, a faster-loading site means fewer bounces, another SEO win.

Note: You should always test HTTP compression, thoroughly, before you deploy it. I’ve used it on 200 or so sites now, and have had it cause weird bugs twice. A error rate of 1% isn’t terrible, but it’s definitely something you want to check.

There are lots of ways to check your server’s compression settings. I like to use Google PageSpeed. It’ll give you a warning if you’re not using HTTP compression.

You can also just use a CURL command, like this:

curl –header ‘accept-encoding: gzip’ -I www.mysite.com

Replace mysite with yours, and then check the result for ‘Content-encoding: gzip’:

GZIP

GZIP's on: Woo hoo!

If you aren’t running server-side compression, get it set up. It’s a great, site-wide performance booster.

Response Codes

I won’t belabor this one—I wrote about server response codes and SEO a few months ago. Just make sure your server is delivering the right response when things go right or wrong. If it isn’t, fixing response codes is another great site-wide win.

Put The Brand Last

Title tag 101 here, folks: If you’ve got a strong brand for which you know you’ll rank #1, change your title tag template to put that brand name last.

They may deny it, but search engines definitely give more weight to phrases that come first in the title tag. Every time Google insists that’s not the case, I go back and test it, and every time the results are the same. Put your key phrase first and you rank better.

Most enterprise sites use a content management system. Edit the default title tag in one place, and you re-order the title tags throughout the site. Another easy win.

Remove Fat Javascripts

If you’ve got a 60+ line embedded javascript on every page of your site, put it in a .js file instead. Then include it using a script statement:

A good javascript include. Not surprising: It's SearchEngineLand's page source.

A good javascript include. Not surprising: It's SearchEngineLand's page source.

That may not seem like much. If you clean up 2-3 instances of embedded javascript, site-wide, you’re only removing 180 lines of code, right?

Well, yeah. But 50-60 lines of code means about 4kb. Remove three of those and you’ve reduced page transfer size by 12kb. That’s a solid performance upgrade.

By the way, you can do the same thing with embedded CSS.

Set Up Site Verification

OK, this isn’t a quick SEO win, exactly, but it’ll set you up for the next round. Get verification set up for Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. You’ll get great, direct feedback from each search engine about stuff to fix.

Take off the tin foil hat, first: There’s nothing the search engines learn from site verification that they don’t already know. Verification is there to make sure other people can’t get at that data. By verifying, you get access to crawl results for your own site. Do it.

Lazy Wins, FTW!!

I’m a lazy guy. I like making one change and watching the traffic roll in. If you’ve got other lazy wins, leave ‘em below!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Enterprise SEO

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About The Author: is Chief Marketing Curmudgeon and President at Portent, Inc, a firm he started in 1995. Portent is a full-service internet marketing company whose services include SEO, SEM and strategic consulting.

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  • netmeg

    Implementing rich snippets was a lazy win for my ecommerce clients. Once we figured out what we wanted to do, took us about fifteen minutes to put it on the category and page templates, and *boom* we were off and running.

  • http://twitter.com/nick_eubanks Nick Eubanks

    Thanks Ian. Server compression is by far one of the most overlooked opportunities I come across on many large publisher sites. Another little ‘lazy’ trick is use a mash-up boilerplate template for meta-descriptions. Going through tens of thousands of pages and writing unique, juicy descriptions is not always feasible, and even with a full-time copy team can take weeks, instead use a database call and leverage the page’s unique content (page title/H1/h2′s) to focus the first 1-2 sentences on the unique content from the page. Then fill from your boilerplate using 156 characters minus unique page content FTW.

  • KGov

    Site wide canonical implementation is another lazy win. URLs with tracking code or session id and print pages are major sources of duplicate issues for enterprise sites.

  • http://twitter.com/portentint Ian Lurie

    Ooh, I like it. Yep definitely a winner there.

  • http://twitter.com/portentint Ian Lurie

    Yup. We’ll often have teach page pull the first 2 sentences, or some such, too.

  • http://profiles.google.com/taylortoussaint Taylor Toussaint

    Another quick site-wide fix is www to non www redirect setup or vice versa.

  • http://www.endlessrangemarketing.com/ Hilary St Jonn

    Great big wins! I’ll definitely keep these in mind :)

  • Pat Grady

    great points, i’d add browser caching, and a custom 404 page.

  • http://www.jonnyross.com/ Jonny Ross

    Ian,

    Add a google +1 button and implement authorship!

    Jonny

  • http://twitter.com/rodmazzo Rodrigo Mazzo I.

    Hello, thanks a lot for the info. A question from Chile: the use of gzip compression, could give a problem for mobile browsers? (medium smartphones, not the top ones).

    Thanks

  • http://www.netmagellan.com/ Ash Nallawalla

    If you ran the Yslow and Page Speed tests, you would get a few areas to look at. Off-page is a lot easier for big sites, particularly if they belong to well-known companies.

  • markatredgiant

    Would you mind elaborating on how you did this? I’ve just set up a big e-commerce site using Joomla and Virtuemart 2 – I’ve looked at the rich snippets thing and thought I might find an extension which might aid the process.  It definitely doesn’t look like a 15 minute thing, though.

  • http://twitter.com/cryptblade cryptblade

    Depends on the brand. If you are a large retailer with shoppers who are brand-sensitive, or you are a content provider, like a premium cable TV provider, the BRAND name is very important because your audience that will convert ISN’T going to search “leather handbags” vs. “COACH leather handbags” nor search “NFL TV show” vs “Inside the NFL”.

  • http://twitter.com/portentint Ian Lurie

    I haven’t heard of it causing problems, but you’d have to test to be sure.

  • http://twitter.com/portentint Ian Lurie

    Yes, but off-site alone won’t get you the best organic traffic lift. Especially now. Onsite and offsite have to work together.

  • http://twitter.com/adrianoarwin Arwin Adriano

    Awesome share, will take note about this one.

  • http://twitter.com/cormacmoylan cormac

    The only thing I don’t agree with is the brand title tag point. If you’re a big brand you should do everything in your power to protect your brand search. Putting your brand at the end of your homepage title tag runs the risk of your customers skipping over your #1 link and clicking a competitor site that is brand bidding via PPC. 

  • http://twitter.com/localseoguide Andrew Shotland

    Remove “User Agent: * Disallow: /” from robots.txt #UberLazyWin

  • http://oscience.info/ Subash Poudel

    I am also a lazy guy! But i never see traffic rolling in with just one change. :D

  • http://www.netmagellan.com/ Ash Nallawalla

     Not sure where you can see “off-site alone” in my comment. To make it clearer, I meant that large companies (and small ones) can certainly do on-page, but large companies don’t need to worry about off-page as much as small ones.

 

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