If you’re a business owner or marketing professional looking to enter the world of SEO, one of the most important things you can learn about in on-site optimization. On-site optimization, in a nutshell, is the practice of making changes in different areas of your website in order for the search engines to find and deliver targeted visitors to your website. Basically, you have to tweak various components of your website to include newly selected keywords. It has to be said that you can’t do proper on-site optimization without conducting thorough keywords research first! Never add or drop keywords without a real reason that is reflected in your site analytics, as you could be removing useful keywords and replacing them with duds.
But on-site search engine optimization involves a lot more than just throwing a handful of keywords into your page content and calling it a day. If you’ve never done any on-site optimization before, you have a lot of work cut out for you, especially for sites with a lot of pages.
After conducting your keyword research (on a page-by-page basis) and selecting the 2-5 most appropriate keywords (again on a page-by-page basis), these are the areas of your website that need to be optimized: content, Meta tags, descriptions and keywords, H1 tags, URL structure, image tags, internal linking structure, page load time and the XML sitemap.
Undoubtedly most of your time is spent optimizing the content, as this is the most important aspect of your website. You want to insert your chosen keywords into the content into places where it makes sense and doesn’t disrupt the flow of the page. But optimizing your content is only the first step.
Here are a 10 best practice tips for on-site optimization after you take care of the content:
1. The Meta title tag should be no more than 70 characters and describes the content of the page. Try to incorporate your most important keywords for that page.
2. The Meta description should be no more than 150 characters and is a unique description of that page. The Meta description is what is going to convince visitors to click through to your site, so include a call to action when possible. For example, “Visit our website,” “call today,” “click here for…” and so forth.
3. Your Meta keywords should be listed in order of importance, as that is how the search engines will look at them.
4. The H1 tag is your headline for the page, so it makes a great place to go after your top keyword. H2 tags, H3 tags and so forth are sub-headings and help break up the content for your reader.
5. Give each page a unique URL structure if possible. Don’t just let it be a random assortment of numbers and letter. For instance, if your site sells pet food, let the dog food page be named http://www.wesellonlinepetfood.com/dog-food-brands. This may not be possible for older sites, has old URLS may have acquired a lot of links and search engine trust. Be sure to do a 301 redirect to make sure the page doesn’t lose any link credit!
6. If you have images on your site, consider giving some of them an image tag. The image tag is what pops up when your cursor comes to rest on an image. Since search engine spiders can’t see an image when they crawl you site, image tags help the spiders “read” your image. They are a great place to go after relevant keywords. Don’t overdo it by giving every image a tag, as this can be distracting for a visitor scrolling through your site.
7. Consider adding a footer to you site as well to provide visitors with direct links through your site. Make it easy for someone to navigate your site and include relevant links in the page content. This kind of horizontal linking structure makes for a better user-experience and keeps your site structure flat. A good rule of thumb is it shouldn’t more than three clicks to get from your homepage to any internal page on you site.
8. A site that loads fast looks good in the eyes of the Google algorithm. Unless your site is image heavy, aim for keeping your page load time under 5 seconds.
9. The last thing you want to do, when all is said and done, is create an XML Sitemap and submit it to the search engines. This makes it easier for the search engines to crawl and index you site.10. Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools! If you haven’t already, this free tool will help you get track of your traffic and visitors’ actions on your site. This data will help you determine what components of your on-site optimization are working and which ones need to be tweaked.