As technology advances every day, new devices become mainstream, popular internet social media channels become hot marketing channels and Google continues to change its algorithms to heighten the quality of sites in the search results, there is a real need for the professional SEO or website owner to update their marketing toolbox on a regular basis. On-page SEO refers to the techniques used on the website itself to both encourage your target market to come to the site, explore the site once there, buy into your products services and, perhaps most importantly, come back.
Over the past decade what were deemed effective SEO activities have changed enormously. What used to get you to page 1 in 2005 will possibly get you penalised in today’s environment. The overarching advice is to keep an eye on current trends. Here are some essential beginner’s fundamentals to keep your business website on course:
Quality web content for effective SEO
The days of thin filler text, duplicate text, and text drowned in keywords are well and truly over. Now Google singles out and penalises pages where text is likely to have been written for SEO reasons (i.e. the old idea of just throwing in lots and lots of keywords).
Your website should provide quality content that meets the needs of your target market – and this makes absolute sense. If you want to nurture trust, create an environment where a visitor feels safe enough to buy, and is so impressed they return, then varied, relevant, current and high quality web content is the key.
Great content also attracts natural inbound links (still a key part of the ranking algorithms), so avoid out-dated and spammy link generation techniques, generate great content and spread the word through effective marketing techniques – the links will come.
Keywords are still an essential part of your web content used in strategic places (page titles, meta tags, headings, sub headings, first and last para etc.) but used in moderation rather than excess. Now the Google Keyword search tool is defunct, Keyword planner (although meant for the AdWords market) can still be very useful.
Title tags, Image alt and meta description tags
Meta tags are inputted through the coding of the website. If you are using WordPress you will find lots of plugins such as Yoast which makes adding meta tags very easy. There are three areas to remember here:
- Title tag: This is seen in the tab of the web page. It should contain text appropriate to the page and the primary keywords and can also include the brand name if required.
- Meta description tag: This appears on the search pages beneath the blue link heading. The more relevant you make this to the key-phrase; the more likely it will be clicked on.
- Image alt: This is part of the image coding. Again using primary keywords for the page is advised. Also consider changing the name of the image file to include the keyword.
Downsize web graphics
Everybody loves graphics and videos, and the more you have on your site the friendlier and interesting it is likely to be. However graphics can be large files which mean it may slow down the page downloading. Subsequently you may lose some frustrated customers. Google also takes certain elements of site speed into consideration within its algorithms, so it is an important thing to get right.
Ensure you reduce the size of your graphics as much as possible for fast download (Check out Google page speed insights ) and make sure that both the front and back-ends of your website are performing properly.
Effective calls to action and smooth textual navigation
Consider how your visitors will navigate your site. Make directions and links simple and easy to follow. Ensure the primary route to buy or make contact is clear on every page (even informational pages) and visitors are clearly informed when a task has been completed.
It is also helpful to use relevant keywords or phrases found in the on-page copy as textual links to other relevant or related internal pages.
Responsive web design
There are now a plethora of devices in which surfers can access your website. Accessing the internet through a mobile is fast overtaking PC’s, laptops and tablets. So your website needs to be able to be seen clearly wherever it may be downloaded. Mobiles especially need adapted pages to deal with small sized screens. Designers can now create responsive websites which recognise the device and morph into an acceptable template.
Again, this area is taken into account within the Google algorithms, so it is important to make sure your site is mobile friendly if you want to avoid any potential penalties.
Links to social media accounts
There used to be a time (long before my grandfather was born) when all you needed was a website to market your products and services. Now your website is simply the hub where all your other channels, accounts and adverts feedback to. So, if you are investing time and money in social media accounts, do not forget to make links to them prominently and frequently on the website.
Rather than this being a location finder for visitors, an xml sitemap is especially to help Google’s overworked spiders and bots navigate your pages. It is essential for with ecommerce sites where there are thousands of product pages. Remember to keep it updated as your website changes.
On-going SEO page analysis
And finally don’t forget to keep analysing how effective your site is using Google Analytics to streamline and optimise your pages, track the performance of your organic traffic and help you to refine your overall marketing campaign!