So you’ve got a website and you want to start ranking for the main terms that are relevant to your product or service. You’ve read my Technical SEO post and want to get to grips with ensuring your sites On-Page SEO is also up to scratch. You’re in the right place! In this post Im going to cover some of the top elements to have in place appropriately on your site in order to stand a better chance of ranking well in search engines. Some are more obvious than others and some are more important than others but they will all work towards better visibility when they are in place.

The List

Title Tag
Each sites page needs to have a relevant title tag and this should meet best practice for length and layout. It used to be that you were pretty safe with a title tag around the 70 character mark but recently thats changed and the character pixel width has come into play more. Its fairly safe to say that a normal title of 55 characters won’t get cut but this also depends on whether the characters are capitalised or not. You can try your current title tag in the MOZ Tool designed to show your sites title will look if it is too long. Its always best practice to make your title tag as relevant to the page itself and where possible include your brand name. Excessive capitalisation isn’t ideal.

Description Tag
The Meta description on a site is (after the title) the last opportunity within the search results to sell your site over another. It’s kind of like an advert that says ‘this page is about this and you should click it instead of the competitors link’. It is best practice to keep the length of the Meta Description to no more than 155 characters to be sure it won’t get cut off in the search results page and look less appealing. The description tag should act as a concise yet appealing summary of the page in order to sell the click to the user. The Click Through Rate of a search result can have an effect on your search engine rankings and although it’s a small factor it is still very worth while.

Heading Tags
The heading tags on your pages help to structure the pages content in a way that search engines can better understand the important elements of your content. The structure follows the format H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6. These can be used to wrap around a section title in your content and it is best practice to make it as relevant to the section as possible. There are a lot of schools of thought out there by personally I don’t use the same keyword as my page title as my H1, I tend to go for a synonym or other relevant similar word to look less spammy.

Images:
– Alt Tags
Each image on your site needs to be understood by a robot and to make it as easy for the robots to understand the images relevance to your page it is important to ensure that each images file title is representative of the image itself and you use the image ‘alt’ attribute tag to briefly describe what the image is about. Originally these would have been used to show on the page in the event of the image not being able to load or for accessibility easy for those with poor sight but they are also now used to better understand a pages context and relevancy.

– Compression
If your site uses lots of images or at least high resolution ones it is important that they are compressed as much as possible without losing any of the image quality. This will allow the page to load much faster and page speed is a factor that is considered when ranking your site.

Search Engine Friendly URLs
This is a pretty basic one and one that can often go amiss when a sites CMS is at play. Basically what I am saying here is to ensure that your site s URL is easy to read and not in a strange code-looking way. For example having a URL like this isn’t ideal for a search engine to read and index – http://www.mysite.com/page/35472%_tag%372?id=45 the page URL should where possible reflect the pages content itself. These days in the world of the Semantic Search (post Hummingbird update) it is also really important that your URLs are semantically relevant to the page and follow an easy to read structure. For example – http://www.mysite.com/folder-about-hats/white-hats/medium-white-hats.html

Quality Content
This one also seems pretty obvious, you wouldn’t buy something from a shop where all the products had no labels or descriptions and you certainly wouldn’t think the shop was credible. The same goes online and this is a bid credibility factor for your site in the eyes of the user because it shows you are leaders in whatever field you are in. In the eyes of search engines good quality content on every page tells them what the page is about and they will rank you accordingly. No content or poor content = Low or no rankings, its as simple as that but you would be surprised at how many sites have very little or very poor quality content on their sites.

Navigation:
– Internal Links
It is important to ensure that your internal linking is done well on your sites pages. Ensure that the links are using relevant text to tell the user where they go or use images that have also been optimised well. Definitely avoid using links which redirect through a 301 or 302 redirect as this can loose some link equity between the pages that you didn’t intend to loose. If you link internally in as relevant a way as possible your users will find navigation pretty easy and search engines will have a better contextual understanding of the site.

– HTML Sitemap
Fairly simple one this is, Having an HTML sitemap in the footer of your site will help with internal linking, make it easier for a search engine to understand the structure of the site and easier for the user to navigate too… A win all round.

– Relevant External Links
Ok so users have got to your site, why would you want to link out to another and send them away? Well, two reasons really; one is that by linking out to another relevant site may in fact help your user to understand something you are trying to convey or may be a governing body in your industry. The second is that if you link out in a responsible way (not a million sitewide links) using relevant anchor text or within the body of relevant content this will help a search engine to better understand the context of your page and that it is also relevant to the page you are linking to.

Markup
Ensuring all your relevant data is marked up effectively on your site has become more and more important recently with changes to the way search engines read pages and display search results. You can mark up many aspects of a sites information and depending on the sites architecture there may be a plugin or add-on for you. If not you can always hard code the changes into the pages yourself using Schema.org or for an easier option you can get some help with the Structured data markup helper. The main types of structured data markup available are;

  • Location Markup
  • Authorship
  • Publisher Markup
  • Article Markup
  • Product Markup
  • Review Markup
  • Recipe Markup
  • Events Markup

Linking Social Properties

Linking your social properties to your site and visa versa helps search engines to understand that your site is associated with those profiles and can make use of whatever social signals they have access to in order to better assess your sites authority within a niche. Google+ is a great one to get in on as where Google has full access to this all engagement with your profile will work towards improving your authority in the search engines.

UX
It goes without saying I guess that a great looking easy to use site is something that the user likes over a poorly designed site and a user is more likely to engage longer and return if the pages are well built with the users experience in mind. Google rewards well built sites that offer a good user experience with improved rankings too so although its not a direct on-page ranking factor it can have an indirect improvement in your sites visibility. Its a year old but this video from MOZ has some great points on improving the UX of a site and the UX Myths that hurt SEO.

 

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