Getting on site SEO right is essential with any digital marketing campaign. This is the bread and butter for SEOs and crucial to the overall SEO strategy.
In today’s growing digital economy, on and off site specialists work together to ensure that the strategy for a client’s campaign are aligned. Whilst the future of SEO has effectively become online PR (and will grow even further in this direction), the on site SEO fundamentals are the nuts and bolts of getting search engine optimisation right.
On site SEO allows you to manipulate and curate the signals that your own website gives out to Google and other search engines. Done correctly, this will lay a solid foundation for an SEO campaign before completing any activity away from your website to aid the campaign (off site SEO).
Dedicating time to ensuring that all of these key SEO signals are correctly implemented before beginning any off site work and content marketing for outreach purposes should never be underestimated.
Here at our digital agency Parallax, we’ve created a checklist for making sure that you don’t miss these core SEO elements to give your website the best possible foundation.
On site SEO Checklist
Keyword research is the starting point of your foundations. Using Google’s keyword planner tool, ensure that you are targeting the right search queries. Ranking well for highly regular search queries can be incredibly lucrative.
Make sure you have a solid grasp of what keywords you are setting out to reach. Set goals and identify which keywords are most appropriate to your business, but remember the level of competition for your desired keywords should be reflective of your budget.
When competing with industry giants, whatever the sector, it takes serious time, effort and therefore substantial marketing spend to compete.
On Site Content
On site content is absolutely paramount to a successful search marketing strategy. Using your effective keyword research to will allow you to tailor the copy on your website to help it rank.
Ensuring that these keywords are included but not ‘keyword stuffed’ is incredibly important as Google severely punishes websites who stuff keywords in articles and meta data in an attempt to manipulate the ranking as a result.
Content should be thoughtfully created and written with the user in mind. Write your content for humans not search engine crawling bots, it should of course be unique content.
Your blog offers you the perfect space to enhance your search marketing efforts and share your voice. This is not only great for SEO as Google loves fresh on site content, but blogs too can allow your staff to provide knowledge and perhaps very niche insights about your business and the sector.
Your blog can be a huge ranking factor in allowing you to promote keyword related content but also to help you become a leading voice in your industry.
Your internal linking structure should be utilised effectively with keywords in mind, but also user journeys. UX and traffic flows are more on the radar of SEO experts than ever as factors including time on site and bounce rate continue to have an influence on search results.
Internal links using keywords are part of the smaller details of on site optimisation that when accumulated have serious ranking influence.
Page Load Speed
Did you know that 40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than three seconds to load? This is more of a development concern, but getting those pages loading quickly is fundamental.
If Google sees people leaving your website quickly or of your pages have a high bounce rate (with the user returning to the Search Engine Results Pages) it will note that your website is not a good result for the search made by the user.
Possibly the holy grail of on site SEO. The page title is perhaps the most influential piece of meta data reads when crawling a page. Writing page titles for humans instead of search engines is key (see a bit of a human theme emerging here?)
Most SEOs suggest to not have more than 70 characters in a page title. This should include information on what the page is about with keyword(s) – but not written for a robot. Page titles should be unique and never duplicated.
A top tip is to start optimising from the bottom up. This ensures the pages that have specific content on them such as product pages are well optimised. This way you’re optimising for very specific keyword phrases with a high conversion rate.
Meta descriptions are not influential in terms of SEO. However, they are pivotal in engaging users once Google reveals results to their search query.
Searching for ‘flats in Leeds’ you can see how the meta description (highlighted in red) has been written to encourage the user to click through. Ensuring the content here is written to confirm in the users mind that this result is the correct link to click should not be underestimated.
Too many websites do not maximise using this description opportunity to encourage click through rates.
Another simple but effective element that many businesses fail to do correctly. This is useful for helping Google see what content your website is about. Whether it is optimising a page that is a blog article that you want web users to find or specific for a key conversion point on your website, getting these right adds to the wider picture that Google pieces together.
Moz, the SEO and digital marketing gurus, recently wrote a blog article on building Twitter followers.
Note how simple the url structure is, but that the page title is slightly longer than usual and has been written for humans – not Google robots.
The guys at Moz have also written a bespoke meta description for this web page rather than using something generic that may have been used multiple times.
Using your heading tags across your website from the home page to the blog articles that your MD, Marketing Manager or Intern might write for you are useful for distincting keyword hierarchy.
These small differences across your entire website helps Google to understand what your website content is and will influence rank.
Help users navigate through your website and make the experience hassle free. When a user doesn’t have to consciously look around your pages and spends a long time on a website, you’ve nailed it.
This of course incorporates design and functionality, but this is why social media giants such as Facebook have such a loyal user base – it is so simple, with almost no thought to use.
Social signals are beginning to influence rank. In the SEO world there has been big debate recently challenging Google plus ones in determining rank.
Setting up social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter Google+ etc) will have a small effect on rank but helps to reach wider audiences. If you are a B2C corporation, your customers will expect you be to be social, and to be available. Get those links pointing from your website to your various profiles including a company page on Google+.
Search results with a face to an article are seeing higher click through rates than those without – after all we are human and want to engage with other humans.
Interestingly having a Google+ profile can see #1 ranking positions.
Social media should be part of your wider content marketing strategy and be part of you route to becoming omnipresent online.
Image ALT Tags
This can be a painful, time consuming part of fully optimising your website. All images can be optimised with an ALT tag. Again, this is one of the smaller differences, which when added up alongside the other smaller elements can have a weighty impact in your overall on site optimisation and therefore search ranking results.
On site optimisation is a time consuming yet effective necessity when looking to rank well.
Consider the various different elements discussed here as pieces of a puzzle which Google is putting together. Making all of these small and what might seem irrelevant pieces in the right shape and at the correct angles really helps Google put together the bigger piece and see the whole picture.
Setting this platform by managing these on site basics before launching the creative and PR orientated element of your SEO campaign is the key to success.