When it comes to optimizing your website for search engines, there are a lot of factors to consider. In this post, I will go over the on-page SEO factors your website should complete to rank well in search engines.
When doing on-page SEO you want to keep usability and performance in mind. In other words, your site should be easy to navigate and as fast as possible. To do this, make sure you are doing the following:
- add an XML sitemap (if you are using WordPress, I recommend Google XML Sitemaps)
- have an easy navigation structure, breadcrumbs are a plus
- add a robots.txt file
- noindex pages that have thin content such as category or tag pages
- create unique meta tags for each page (around 60 characters for the title tag and 150 for the description)
- use the page keyword in your title tag
- use alt tags on all images
- check the tag order (h1 tags should be before h2 tags, etc.)
Mentioned above are just some general on-page SEO best practices. Other factors that will help your website ranking is performance. Use the following as a guide:
- your site should be mobile-friendly
- your site should work in different browsers
- use a CDN if the site is content/media heavy
- use a good hosting provider
- compress any images on your site
- use the different caching techniques
- minify JS and CSS files
Making sure your website covers the general and performance guidelines will get you in a pretty good position to start ranking well. When doing your competitive research, you might have noticed a few flaws in your competitors sites based on these guidelines. This is good news for you! Correctly optimizing your website will give you the upper hand when Google and other search engines determine who should rank higher.
One of the last and one of the most important on-page SEO factors is the URL structure. Here are some best practices to follow:
- incorporate the page keyword
- use 301 redirects for rewritten URLs
- redirect the www version to the non-www version and vice versa
- make URLs readable to humans
If you are using WordPress, I normally set the permalinks to use the post name. This helps create a nice URL for your pages and posts. Remember, if you have a weird post/page title you might want to change the URL that WordPress automatically creates for you.
Some other third-party tools that you should include in your site are Google Analytics and Google Webmasters. Both of these tools will give you a tremendous amount of insight in how your website is performing online.
Google Analytics will give you traffic stats for your website. This will help you determine how your SEO and general marketing campaigns are paying off online. Google Analytics is a very powerful tool. I recommend setting up different goals for your website so you can determine how each traffic source is performing.
An example of this might be to setup a goal for contact form submissions on your website. With this goal in place, you can get insights on which traffic source has the highest conversion rate. Hopefully that organic traffic is bringing in those new customers!
Google Webmasters is also an important tool to understand and use on your website. Be sure to submit your XML sitemap within the Webmasters dashboard. This will let Google know when you edit and add new content on your website. This is important for Google to know, because you want that new content indexed and ranked in the search engines.
The Webmaster dashboard will also give you insights on what keywords your website is indexed for. This data will show how many impressions that keyword has had, the number of clicks to your website from that keyword, and your average position for the keyword. This is nice data to have and can even uncover some new opportunities!
This post should give you a good start to optimizing your website for search engines. Just little tweaks to your website can make huge differences when it comes to organic traffic. Also, if you haven’t already read my post about the importance of content do it now. That post goes hand and hand with everything you just read and learned.