There’s a lot of stuff out there to help businesses optimize their website’s performance, rank higher on Google, and net more sales. But it can be hard as hell to do all that when you don’t understand the terms being thrown at you! It’s a lot of jargon, we know, so let’s go, it’s time for SEO School! Today’s topic: onsite SEO.
SEO, search engine optimization, falls into two categories: onsite SEO and offsite SEO. When it’s laid down like that, I bet you can figure out what the difference is huh? The key goal of onsite optimization is to help search engines understand what the content on your site is about, that way it can match you to relevant search terms. The reason it is important to apply onsite to every page on your site and not just your home page is so that the search engines understand what each individual page is about as well and what type of page it is (product pages, informational pages, sales page, etc). This keeps your pages from fighting with each other.
Onsite SEO: Done on your website (onsite), it’s any effort you make to improve your website’s performance in search engines. Examples include optimizing tags, blogging, and URL structure.
Offsite SEO: Any efforts to improve your website’s performance in search engines done on other websites. Examples include link building, social media marketing, and guest blogging.
So, how do you do onsite SEO?
Once upon a time, everything SEO related was focused on keywords. It led to some truly dark, ugly times of keyword stuffing, strange phrasing, and even ‘black hat’ tactics of hiding text in white font or unreadable locations to trick the search engines into thinking a site was about A, while really selling B. Nowadays though, search engines are advancing faster than ever, and SEO is right there with them!
While keywords aren’t the be-all, end-all any longer, their legacy does live on. After all, keywords are just a hyper-specific way of measuring content ideas. A page with the keyword “skateboard” all over it is probably about skateboarding. Now Google and other search engines know that ollie, nollie, kickflip, grinds, and Rodney Mullen are all related to skateboarding and can confidently send searches to that page, even if it never says “skateboard.” For folks looking to optimize their site for search engines, that means the content needs to be on point and meeting a demand.
Good content needs to be:
Something else to consider when writing content is the search query you are writing for. Does your content match search intent? Does it directly provide the information a searcher typing in that term would be looking for?
The second most important piece in on-site SEO is using correct, accurate title tags. Title tags tell search engines quickly what the main idea of the piece of content is. If the content is an incredible piece on skateboarding, but the title tags only specify skiing it can look iffy to search engines, or worse, confuse them. They’ll hesitate to serve your page as number one result for skateboarding tricks because maybe it really is about skiing slopes?
How do you set the right title tags? The easiest way is to use a plugin like Yoast SEO. Install the plugin in your WordPress backend (you are using WordPress aren’t you?) and then at the bottom of your posts and pages you’ll find an easy-to-use tool to plug in your desired title tags.
And voila! You want to make things as easy as possible on the search engines. Don’t leave them guessing!
The URL structure of your site is crucial. It helps search engines crawl and index all of the content to categorize it correctly. When the site is categorized correctly, it makes it much easier for Google or Bing to find and recommend it in their database of trillions. What does that look like? Sticking with our skateboarding analogy, a piece on the future of skateboarding might have a URL that looks like this:
This URL clearly specifies the larger category and the specific topic.
An example of a bad URL structure would be something like this:
That URL tells search engines absolutely nothing about the content therein. If the page did show up on a SERP, it also doesn’t tell the searcher anything about the page and so they might miss exactly what they are looking for because the URL doesn’t represent the content well.
It’s not all content related either! There are plenty of other metrics that Google and other search engines evaluate when deciding whether or not to serve your site for a search. Those include things like link use on the page, page load speed and mobile-friendliness, metadata among others.
All of these enhance the user experience, making their time on your website more fulfilling and most importantly easier. This is good. The better these things perform, the better the search engines will rank you. And when the search engines rank you higher, you’ll get more traffic. High-quality content will engage readers and keep them on your website. This sends the search engines and additional sign that you have a quality website with informative content. High time on site also tells the search engines that they probably did a good job matching your website to the user’s search query. This means that they will be more inclined to serve your site as a top result in the future!
It’s a beautiful cycle.
Each page should…
While beautiful, it can be a lot of work. It isn’t a one and done thing either. It’s constant – adding new pieces, landing pages, and optimizing every page of your site. Need help optimizing your 500-page website? No sweat, we’ve done it before. Helix House is here to get you the rankings you need for the business you want!