Thanks for reading Part 1 of How to Optimise Your Site Like a Pro – Part 2 will continue now with a dive into On Page Optimisation based on Google’s Best Practises and Content Strategy to make your site the best answer for converting search phrases.
SEO Activity #1: On Page Optimisation
Once you know what search queries you would like to rank well for, you can start to optimise your web pages for these terms (keywords, search phrases or queries) to help search engines figure out that that’s what your site is about.
It’s important during this phase that you set realistic goals and expectations, and go for search terms that will bring you conversions (i.e. enquiries, sales or signups; whatever action it is that you want people to take) rather than simply bringing you more traffic. You want your site to be bringing you potential customers, right?
What to optimise?
When we talk about optimising “on-page” elements of a website, we are generally referring to things like page titles, meta description, headings, internal links, images and content. While some of these elements have little direct impact on rankings individually, they add SEO value to the website as a collective whole when done correctly.
We can’t stress this enough – always follow Google’s guidelines for best practise. When things are done simply for search engines (like keyword stuffing, mini or doorway sites, auto-generated content), it’s fairly obvious to the person reading it. Not to mention the fact that search engines are smart, and are constantly refining their search algorithm to avoid ranking sites that try to manipulate results.
Page Titles & Meta Description
The page title and meta description appear in search results as snippets about your website. Page titles are fairly important and need to be done correctly and thoughtfully with Search Engine Optimisation in mind. The Meta Description has little (to no) bearing on rankings specifically, however the reason it is significant is that, together with an optimised Page Title, it enhances your listing in search results and can improve your Click Through Rate.
Write these in a manner that will entice the searcher to click on your website, without misleading them on what the page is about – you can still tell search engines what the page is about without being spammy.
- Include the primary keywords, and always have unique meta descriptions and titles across each page of your site.
- There is a character limit (66 characters for title tags, 155 characters for meta descriptions), so only include important information and don’t repeat.
- Seobin.org is an excellent (free) tool that helps you see how your website’s title and description will appear in search engines, and is useful when trying to avoid using the same terms more than once.
The video below by Rand Fishkin perfectly explains the changing landscape of on page optimisation from 2012 onwards -its more for those in the SEO industry but Rand’s explanation of the shift towards creating better websites, providing a quality user experience and incorporating shareable content is something all website owners should be aware of.
To make your site the ‘best answer’ and valuable to searchers and search engines, you actually need to become the ‘best answer’. That is, to have useful and good quality content on your website.
Good content helps make your website a rich and helpful resource for visitors by providing them with the information they were initially searching for. If your site doesn’t have enough information or doesn’t answer their query, then search engines won’t think it valuable enough to rank.
To get your site copy up to scratch, make sure firstly that your current content has depth, is meaningful to somebody (ideally your customers), it has up to date information and is free of spelling and grammatical errors (that’s an obvious one, although not always considered).
Your content should always be written naturally for your customers while optimised for search engines – there is a happy medium without overdoing it with keywords or over-optimisation.
If you have large chunks of text on your site, eyes could start to glaze over in anticipation of a long and boring read. Encourage visitors to read your content by breaking up large paragraphs and using headings, bullet points, separating long pages and incorporating images and other elements on the page.
Extra Reading: 5 Simple Fixes for Common Content Problems
If you feel your content is meeting the above basics and you want to go to the next step, incorporate some interactive and rich content experiences for your visitors and keep them on your site for longer.
This includes things like:
If you’re in a rather competitive industry, then your content strategy is going to need to be slightly more aggressive.
Build your Google+ authorship and regularly add new content to the site. This is becoming increasingly important and getting more prevalent in search results (and is another way to enhance your listing in search results). Listen to Google’s Matt Cutts on why its important to get the rel=”author” tag right from the start.
Blogging is a great way to build authorship and while you might think, “I’ve got nothing to say”, or “My industry is boring”, there are a number of ways you can find topics to write about in your industry and make them interesting.
For example, go to Google News, type in a topic related to your business and hit ‘Enter’. You’ll see the most recent news items associated with that keyword and can base your post on this – is something going on in the world that is/will affect you, your industry or your customers? Let them know! Give them your spin on it and make it interesting. You can also sign up to Google Alerts to be automatically notified.
Other examples of useful and meaningful content include in-depth FAQ pages, self-help tips, D.I.Y advice, or Resources such as articles, guides and manuals.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of Optimise Your Website Like a Pro where I’ll be going into the art of link strategy and the basic tools needed to monitor your site.