Onsite SEO is very important. Google’s recent algorithm updates, like Penguin, have transformed the SEO industry. For many years, there was a tremendous shift from onsite SEO (page content, onsite blogs, page markup, etc) to offsite SEO tactics (aka: link building). However, onsite SEO (site structure, content quality, and usability) has come back into the spotlight and has once again become significant.
With the Penguin releases over the last few years there were some abuses and manipulation in link building, in particular over anchoring and anchor text (this is where you earn a link in another location back to your site and the “wording” of this link is a keyword that you are trying to rank on). This practice has been discouraged and even penalized by Google (even our company is not immune…we have 1000’s of anchor text links on the web related to “website designers” that were built in good faith because that’s what the new school of thought was at the time). Don’t get us wrong, anchor text links are important, but QUALITY overcomes QUANTITY in this regard.
Onsite SEO Tips & Tricks
- Understand Keywords. For most people, it’s still important to understand what people are looking for, and what you want your content to be about. So, for the purposes of your basic onsite review, you need to start with, “What is our website trying to talk about? What keywords are important for the people who would be using the website?” Start there.
- Evaluate the Content. Does the current website have the content that it needs in order to answer the questions of the keyword searches people are going to be using?
- Content Gaps. The next thing you want to do is figure out what content is missing. What is the gap between the keywords you’re looking for and the keywords that exist or the content that exists on the website? And fill that gap. Again, this could be taking current content and looking at it and finding places where it’s not as descriptive as it could be and making it more descriptive by adding in those keywords that describe it better. In some cases, it may be completely rewriting content. A lot of times what we’ll see a site that has a “Services” page with a bolded list of services and the reality is that that’s usually not enough. Describe the services in-depth and give the visitor what they desire.
- What is the Page Title? We like to see the keyword in the title. Page titles are found on the tab part of the web browser at the top.
- Look at the Meta Description. Again, ideally, you get the keyword in there, but also use the meta description as a way to maybe invite someone in to read more. You want to make it interesting and compelling, almost like writing ad copy because when they do a search, many times they will read this first before clicking the link in the search engine results. A Meta Description is found in the code structure of the site, usually under the page title tag markup. In most browsers, you can find this by selecting “view source” from the tools menu.
- Page Structure. What is the h1 tag of the site? Are there nice section headers? Are there images on that page, and are the images relevant and, in some cases, are there ALT tags in those images that support the primary keywords? Again, a lot of this is very much common sense. There’s not a whole lot of science, but, again, if you follows these pretty simple recipes we’ve described, I think you’re going to move your onsite SEO a lot.
- Performance – How long does it take your site to load? This has become increasingly important as a factor for two reasons:
- Google knows that the slower a site is to load, the less fulfilling it is for the audience. Therefore, not only because your audience wants to have a site load fast, the search engines also want to promote websites that are fast.
- Make sure your site speed is satisfactory. We always use a site called webpagetest.org to test load speed.
- Finally, use a service such as Open Site Explorer (that’s a product of Moz) and look for 404 errors. 404 errors occur when the web page you’re trying to load cannot be found. This happens a lot when new web sites are built or moved to new hosting platforms.
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– The AutoWeb Technologies Team