Many new webmasters or business owners feel their blood pressure start to rise when the topic of SEO comes up but it really doesn’t have to be that difficult. Why hire someone to control your SEO when this is something you can easily do yourself with a little guidance?
Understanding On-site Optimization
On-site optimization is not this tragically confusing topic that you think it is. It simply refers to making necessary changes that need to be made to your site to target specific visitors and to get picked up by search engines.
Keywords play the biggest role in on-site optimization. You can’t fix what you don’t know is wrong. You must do keyword research so you know which words to add but you also don’t want to remove any words unless you know for a fact that they are not doing you any favors.
It is important to understand that you can’t simply research keywords and then toss them in anywhere either. There are elements on your site that need to be optimized other than the content including URL structure, H1 tags, meta tags, image tags, descriptions, XML sitemap, page load time and internal linking structure. The idea is to insert the keywords thoughtfully where search engines will find them, not drive your readers crazy with them.
Simple and Effective SEO Tips
- Keep your Meta descriptions under 150 characters and make sure that they define the page. This is ultimately going to be what attracts visitors to your site so when possible, make sure that there’s a call to action present.
- The Meta title tag must remain under 70 characters and again, it needs to define its page. This is where you want to use the most important keywords.
- When you use your Meta keywords, use the most important one first and the others in order of importance because this is how you want search engines to read them.
- Don’t pass up the opportunity to add an image to pictures on your site. Understand that search engines can’t actually see the images you have so you have to tell them what they are. You can draw a lot of traffic off image searches. Not every single one has to have a tag but the majority should. This is a great place to add keywords as long as they are relevant to the image and the topic.
- Invest a little time in your URL structure. It can be tempting to simply allow them to be a jumble of numbers, especially if you have endless pages of products but if you give them a unique descriptive URL, you’ll be glad you did. Always make sure you do a 301 redirect so you don’t lose any link juice, especially with an established site.
- Your top keyword should appear in your H1 tag. After all, it is the headline! H2 and H3 tags, etc., should contain keywords as well. These subheadings not only help with search engine optimization, they make the page more reader-friendly.
- Evaluate your load time! If your site doesn’t load in five seconds or less, not only does it annoy the reader, it appears heavy to search engines and will rank lower.
- Don’t forget footer! Many people assume they don’t need to do much with their footer but it gives you a golden opportunity to create internal links and increase optimization. This horizontal linking structure allows your readers to navigate around your site easier because the structure is flatter. This results in longer visits to your site and the increased chance of sales if you have products to sell.
- Once you have completed all the above steps, create an XML sitemap. When you submit this to search engines, you make it easier for them to crawl your site and index you.
- Consider using Google Webmaster Tools. It’s easy to sign up and it will help you keep track of your visitors and site activity. By evaluating these reports, you’ll be able to determine where your site needs attention in the future.