This is one very common question we’re asked here at Domainmonster.com:
“What can I do to improve my On-Site SEO?”
What is On-Site SEO?
On Site SEO is the process of optimising whatever you can control about your site. This might be what kind of content you’re writing on the website, the keywords you choose to use and even the code used behind the scenes on your site.
We’ve decided to run through the basic information that you need to know in order to help your On-Page SEO efforts be more effective. There are hundreds of factors involved in ranking Web Pages. A number of the most important aspects of the SEO process revolve around the content of your page and the code used to build it. This is called On-Page SEO.
That’s why we’ve chosen to write our first definitive guide on that exact topic.
1. Page Title.
Let’s start with the most important thing on each page of your website, the Page Title.
The title of your page appears not just in the search results as the blue clickable link, but also in the top of the browser window.
The title you use for your page is also the first indicator to search engines as to what your page is about. If your title says “Guide to On-Page SEO” then search engines instantly know the kind of information that the page should contain.
There are a number of best practices to follow when creating your titles:
- Create a unique title page for each page on your site (You can include your brand name in every title).
- Include the most relevant key words or phrases for that particular page in the title. Ensuring that the title is relevant to the page it’s being applied to.
- Ensure that your title is humanly interpretable. Remember, the bottom line for all your SEO work is how many users find and click your link in search engine results pages (SERPS).
- As a rough guide, aim for a 65 character long page title.
As always with SEO, these are only best practices, you might find that something that goes against these best practices work for you. Test and measure to see what benefit you’re getting from changing anything on your site and react to the results.
SEJ – How to Write Sassy SEO Titles that Go Viral – http://www.searchenginejournal.com/viral-seo-titles/
Rethinking the Title Tag for 2012 (and beyond) – http://www.smallbusinesssem.com/rethinking-title-tag/5726/
2. Description Meta Tag.
The Meta description is the grey area of text you’ll see below the blue link in the SERPS:
The Meta Description provides search engines and searchers with a summary of a page’s content. In combination with the page title, it gives search engines a targeted description of what the page is about, and therefore, what type of queries should make this result appear in the SERPS. Although it’s not used directly by Google as a ranking factor, their SEO Starter Guide suggests you should still include descriptions.
The main difference between the title tag and the description tag is the length. The title tag needs to be short, snappy and to the point. With the description tag, you have a few more characters to play with and can provide more information.
You need a short paragraph which explains what the page is for and why the user should click this result.
Search engines may or may not choose to display the description you’ve provided. Sometimes there will be a more relevant description from other content on the page. Search Engines have become very good at providing the right description, to the right searcher, at the right time, so don’t get offended if your description doesn’t always appear.
Here are some best practices when writing your Meta descriptions:
- Ensure that the description is relevant to the pages and accurately describes the content that the user is likely to find on this page.
- Make sure that the description is humanly readable, not just stuffed full of keywords.
- Ensure that each Meta description is unique and targeted to each page.
- Consider using some form of call to action, like “In this article, you can learn how to improve your On-Page SEO”. It should improve the click through ratio of this page.
For further reading:
Econsultancy – 33 examples or great meta descriptions for search – http://econsultancy.com/uk/blog/62553-33-examples-of-great-meta-descriptions-for-search
3. Page Speed
In recent times, search engines have begun to use page load times as a measurement of the quality of a site.
The faster your site loads, the better experience a user will have. Therefore, the more likely a search engine is to show this page to a user.
This also helps decrease the bounce rate of these pages. The lower the bounce rate, the more effective the page is for the given search. This all adds up to giving your page more ranking power.
There are a number of things you can do to help speed up your pages:
- Use Google PageSpeed to help provide a speed boost to your entire site. This functionality allows the server to do the compression so you don’t have to!
- Act on the recommendations given by the GTmetrix website performance analysis tool. This will give you a long list of things you can improve.
- If you’re using a content management system, consider removing any excess plugins, themes and widgets that could be slowing your site down. Everything you add will increase page load times. Sometimes … less is more!
How to Improve Conversions by Increasing Page Speed [Tips & Tools] – http://unbounce.com/conversion-rate-optimization/how-to-improve-conversions-by-increasing-page-speed-tips-tools/
4. Content Quality
This is something that you cannot overlook if you want your site to perform well in the SERPS. In recent times, the quality of the content on your site has become the most important factor of all.
I’m sure you’ve all heard the new online marketing mantra:
“Content is King”
This really is important. If your content is lacking in depth, length or quality, you’re going to struggle to achieve any respectable positions in the SERPS. As there were some websites previously gaming the search engine systems to gain very high rankings with very poor sites, the search engines have since been dedicated to ensuring that only sites with quality content appear at the top of their results.
There are a number of best practices that you should follow when posting content on your site:
- Ensure your content is substantial. As a general rule anything below 300 words should be of incredibly high quality.
- Your content should contain your main keywords and a number of related keywords. However, don’t keyword stuff your content with your main keyword at every opportunity. Think about what related terms or queries people may be searching for. Try to include these in your content too! (Read our article on Free Keyword Tools if you need some inspiration.)
- Provide content that is relevant and useful for your users. You need to think about bounce rate, conversions and engagement. The more well matched your content is to your user base, the better it will perform and the more beneficial the content will be to your site.
- Never, under any circumstances, use duplicate content, copy content from other sites, or ‘spin’ your content using automatic programs.
This subject could easily be an entire post by itself! Producing great content is not easy. However, if you take the time to produce really great content, you’ll see much better results than quickly firing off a large volume of poor content.
Remember that this doesn’t just affect your on page strategy either. The better your content is, the more likely people are to talk about it, share it and link to it! All of these off-page factors will give your website a further SEO boost!
5. Other Factors to Consider
I would say if you get the first 4 parts of this blog post right, you’ll see a big improvement in the performance of your site in search engines. They really are the basis of an incredible on-site strategy.
However, you can also make even more small improvements with a huge range of extras. They’re not all necessarily going to work for everyone, but they’re certainly worth considering if you’re sure (after numerous tests and measurements) that you’re getting the basics of On-Page SEO right!
- Authorship – Link your site with your Google+ Profile or Google+ Page using rel=”author” or rel=”publisher” respectively. Using these tags somewhere in your content will attribute you to your work. This can help really improve the click through ratio your content gets in the search engines and no doubt will eventually become a ranking factor in its own right! It may have already. Look at the image below and you’ll be able to see what affect this can have.
- Fresh Content – Search engines love to see you adding content to your site regularly. If your site is providing up to date information, not only will search engines see that you’re a pro-active site owner, but your users are likely to start appreciating your knowledge and sharing your content even more. This further improves your off-site SEO. Keeping your site fresh really is a double edged sword.
- Use Different Media – Producing different kinds of content is a great way to improve your on-site SEO. Not only can your images and videos rank by themselves, but adding them to your pages can give users more reason to stay on the page. All of these factors add up to a lower bounce rate, more time on page and more sharing. All good stuff!
There are a lot of on-site aspects that people overlook. There are also thousands of other things you can tweak if you need to. However, getting the basics right is the first thing you should consider when building a website. Without these, you’ve got a bad foundation … and we all know what that leads to.