What is On-site SEO?
On-Site SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the process of optimising different elements of your site so that it ranks on search engines and drives traffic to your site.
Some of these elements will be on the front end of your site, while others will be on the back end. In this article we will be explaining how to carry out On-site SEO.
It’s important that when addressing your own SEO, you plan a strategy that you can follow and measure. Whichever approach you take, it’s vital that you understand what’s possible with SEO.
What can Effective On-site SEO mean for your Website?
Are you someone who has worked hard to create a stylish and well designed website? Have you dedicated hours to developing content that perfectly explains how amazing you are?
While this may be great reading for someone who knows and cares about your business, it may not be giving consumers what they need or want from your website.
Furthermore, search engines may be overlooking how great you are because they can’t make sense of what you’re offering.
What are the Benefits?
Carrying out effective SEO on your website can ensure that you provide an amazing experience for customers as well as tell Google when to show your content and to who. You can get your site to rank higher in results and gain more valuable conversions.
It’s important to remember why we take our businesses online. We want to increase visibility and sales. So it makes sense that our first step is to make sure people see us.
Millions of businesses are online and there is a world of information in the palm of our hands. Therefore in order for us to be on top, we need to separate ourselves from the competition, and that’s where SEO comes in.
On-site SEO that gets results
I’m sure by now you have a good understanding of what SEO is. However there’s a big difference to understanding on-site SEO and knowing how to achieve it.
Although it’s relatively straightforward and simple, it is easy to make mistakes, and these mistakes can be very damaging to your website. So how do we get it right? Well it all starts with a good plan.
In this article we’ve laid out the most important things to remember when building your SEO strategy.
What part of your site should you work on?
The quick answer is all of them. That may sound like a massive and maybe overwhelming task but really it’s just about tackling one page at a time.
On-site SEO consists of 3 main elements: Content, HTML and Site Architecture. Each element houses the most important parts of your site that you need to optimise in order to rank on search engines such as Google.
Again we know this may seem a little daunting, but we’ve broken it down and provided you with everything you need to know. Let’s take a look at each element in detail.
This refers to your site copy and content. Making sure that you provide high quality content is the first step to good SEO practice. Your content tells users and search engines what your website is all about and what it is you have to offer.
When creating content try to remember to:
- Choose relevant Keywords and topics – It’s important that you do keyword research and find out what people are searching for.
- Consider how your page falls into the user’s journey. You want your page to appeal to the right person at the right time.
When carrying out On-site SEO its helpful to understand what content you should be creating. Below is a table displaying the different stages of the user’s journey and what kinds of pages you should create to match their intent.
Here are the best practices that you should use when creating high quality content for your website:
- Use short and long-tail keywords in a natural way without over stuffing.
- Use quality visuals and images that engage your audience and bring value to your page.
- Write for your specific audience and use vocabulary and language that matches your consumer.
- Solve your audience’s problem – think about your company message and what makes you unique.
- Use CTA buttons to optimise for conversions. Make it easy for users to convert.
- Develop content that users will share and make it easy for people to do so.
- Be concise and informative. Make your message clear and easy to read.
That’s really all you need to do. Remember, the best thing to do is think about your user and what your website means to them. After all, they are the people we want to turn into customers.
These are the elements that are in your source code. You can view the source code for any page in your browser. To do this click View > Developer > View Source in the top menu.
However to save some time what we are referring to are your Page titles, Headers, Meta Description and your image Alt-text.
Here’s an example of a page title in HTML form: <title>Achieving Effective On-site SEO<title>
Your page title is very important. Not only is it the first thing that users see but it tells both them and search engines what it is they can find on the corresponding pages. If the title of this page was ‘Best pubs in Britain’ you’d expect to see a very different article.
When choosing your page title here are the things you want to do:
- Be true to the pages content. The title should reflect what the page is about.
- Include your focus Keyword to ensure your page ranks for the proper intent. Try to do this as naturally as possible.
- Keep your title under 70 characters. You don’t want your title being cut off in the results page.
- Avoid keyword stuffing, you may get penalised by the search engine.
- Stay Relevant!
- Don’t use caps, this will be viewed as spammy content.
- Try to include your brand in the title.
Here’s our header in HTML form: <h2>On-site SEO that gets results<h2>
Headers are also known as body tags and include<h1>,<h2>, <h3> and so on. These organise your content and make it easier for search engines to distinguish between the parts of your content that are most important and relevant, in relation to search intent.
When creating headers you want to include your keywords. Try to avoid using those that feature in your page title too often. The most important keywords should appear in your <h1> and <h2> headers.
Be sure to make your headers relevant to your content and use them to tell the reader what that section is going to be about.
Meta Descriptions are short page descriptions that appear directly underneath the title in the search results. As shown in the image above.
These descriptions can be shared over to social media; it’s not only going to drive traffic from the search results but has the potential to do so from places such as facebook.
Best practices for making a good meta description include:
- Keeping it under 160 characters. Please keep in mind on mobile the cut off is 120, so aim to keep it below that if you can.
- Include your entire keyword or phrase. Use complete sentences that are clear and easy to read. Aim for 1-2 sentences.
- Avoid using characters and aim for using proper words. E.g &, +, -.
Image Alt texts tell search engines what your images are about and gives Search engines more information to rank you on. They are also what’s shown to those who screen read or when errors occur and the image can not be displayed.
By having well written Alt text your content is made more accessible to those who can not view your images, so it’s pretty important. You want everyone to be able to enjoy your content and you want search engines like Google to rank it.
Here’s what you need to do:
- Make Alt-text descriptive and specific. It should state exactly what’s in your image.
- Make sure your alt text is relative and in context with the rest of your copy. If you can’t do this, you may be using the wrong image.
- Sometimes your images may be decorative only, and this is absolutely fine. No Alt-text is required.
- Use keywords sparingly, you don’t want to stuff them in. It’s more important to use the words that best describe the image.
Structured markup is what enables you to deliver rich snippets on search engines. Rich snippets are snippets that offer additional information to the standard search result. They may include review information, opening times, FAQ’s, recipes, Images and more.
We won’t go into much detail here, as rich snippets deserve a blog post of their own. However it’s definitely something you should include in your on-site SEO strategy.
You can decide what information is included and what kind of rich snippet best fits each individual page on your site.
Site architecture refers to the components that make up your site. Good site structure enables Google and other search engines to crawl your site more easily. The easier it is for them to crawl, the more information they can index, and deliver.
The key components of site architecture include; page URLs, internal links, mobile responsiveness and site speed.
It’s important that your page URLs are simple, concise and easy for the reader and search engine to digest. They also enable you to keep your site hierarchy consistent when creating internal pages such as blog posts and subpages.
Here’s an example of an effective Page URL:
Page URLs should display the path to that specific page. As you can see above, the journey from the creative monarchy homepage to our development page is in the URL.
Here’s a few best practices to remember when writing URLs with on-site SEO in mind:
- URLs should be to the point, remove any unnecessary words.
- Only use 1-2 keywords. It’s more important to be relevant and specific.
- Use HTTPS, Google will consider this a ranking factor.
Internal linking sends users to other useful pages on your site and keeps them on your website for longer. This tells search engines that your site is valuable and helpful and gives them more time to crawl your site and index your pages.
Remember, If search engines can gather more information they will potentially rank you higher for it.
Whilst you should always include internal links, there is no ideal amount of links that you should aim to have on one page. It’s all about how useful they are. It is best to have fewer useful links than lots of unhelpful ones.
As you can see, on our About Us page we have internal links to ourWeb Design Portfolio as well as other useful pages.
In 2020 more and more people are using mobile devices to search the web. In fact, many people do not use a desktop at all. Therefore it is essential that your site is mobile responsive so that people can enjoy your site from any device.
While many websites can be viewed on mobile as well as desktop, it’s important that you make it responsive. There’s nothing worse than trying to view a site that doesn’t load properly. If your website is not mobile responsive, you could lose a lot of potential customers.
In order to make your site mobile responsive you need to consider; site design, content layout, readability, and navigation.
Site speed is an important part of on-site SEO. There is nothing less fun than trying to scroll through a website that loads slowly. People will often give up and not stick around. This can affect your conversion rate and your ROI.
Search engines also take user experience in account when ranking your site.Google’s PageSpeed insights toolis great for checking your website speed. You should monitor site speed on a regular basis and always aim to have it as fast as possible.
And that’s it folks
So there you have it, your ultimate guide on how to achieve effective on-site SEO. We know that it’s a lot of work but it really does turn a good site into a great one. You’ve spent so much time and money on your website, now it’s time to make sure people see it.
So many businesses overlook SEO or are not sure how or where to start. But if you want to run a successful business online, optimising your website is essential.
What else can help my business online?
Other things that you can do to improve your website traffic include:
SEM – This refers to your Search Engine Marketing such as Google Ads.
Email Marketing is also a fantastic way to keep your loyal customers and gain new traffic.
We also have Off-site SEO. This covers your efforts made off-site. That may include backlinks and social media.
We will definitely touch on these strategies in the future posts, so stay tuned.
We know that time is precious and sometimes you just don’t have enough hands; but don’t forget if you would rather focus on running your business, you can always hire a professional to take care of your on-site SEO.