Google updates their search parameters frequently so unless you’re aware of all the changes and know what’s currently important, your site can suffer in rankings and visibility. This short post cuts to the chase to simplify what you need to do for on-page SEO.
A quick review of how Google search works:
Search results you see when you enter a query are web pages that Google’s crawlers (software programs) have indexed. Google adds new sites and updates existing ones continually. These robot programs automatically discover and scan websites by following links from one webpage to another.
When you enter a search term, Google’s spiders fetch relevant pages from their index of the web, and follow links on those pages to bring up more results; then follow links on those pages, and so on and on. You get the picture…
12 easy steps to maximize SEO
If the spiders follow links, are more links on your pages important? Yes – links are important but most important is the quality and relevance of those external links. Link your content to other high-quality pages and sites with content germane to yours. And add internal links to your own related posts and pages too.
In August 2014, Google started using HTTPS (encrypted connection security) as an SEO ranking algorithm. If you’re still using a site that’s url begins with http://, it’s time to upgrade your domain. Do it now!
Although meta descriptions ( snippets of text that describe the content and appear in the page’s code) and keywords don’t affect your ranking very much, what they do affect is your clickthrough rates.
A relevant and clear snippet that shows up in search results, and a curiosity-driven title can lead to more clicks and possibly more sales.
Popup forms are a popular and effective way to capture leads – as long as they don’t interrupt your visitor’s experience. If a popup is intrusive to the point where it blocks the main content of the page (especially pertinent for mobile users), neither the reader or Google likes this. Use pop-ups that fit into your content. They can be slide-in, drop down or banners. I prefer the slide-in at the bottom right of the page.
Google updates now rely on queries and phrases and not just keywords. You are likely to type a full question into Google when you want information – or at least a phrase. Yes, keywords are still important in your content – but use long-tail phrases that include the keyword in a sensible way, along with related words and variants.
Always craft a well-written keyword optimized page title, but forget about stuffing keywords in your writing – Google will penalize you.
Pages – Quality vs Quantity:
Bigger is not necessarily better. Publish only content that is relevant to your site’s theme or purpose. Create engaging content focused on educating, sharing or provoking action, always showing your authenticity and values. Google is getting better and better at detecting whether your content helps users. Poor content will bear penalties, and may not be indexed.
Good User Experience:
Focus on things that improve your user experience. Do the pages load quickly? Are your images clear, pertinent and optimally sized for search? Are you using a large enough font, including white space and writing with subheadings and callouts?
All these elements help to make your content easier to read and enjoy, satisfying both your reader and Google.
Disavow Bad Links:
Watch your backlinks – links to junk sites and low-quality links don’t fool Google. Sadly, often if you pay for links, they are spammy or bad links. Many paid links or other link schemes violate Google’s quality guidelines. Remove as many spammy or low-quality links from the web as possible.
Optimize Your Images:
Search engines don’t ‘see’ images so it’s critical to include alt text (use keywords) and give all images a relevant file name.
Adding descriptive titles and captioning all images give Google bots words to work with. Always include images to enhance or explain your text. Google will index.bmp, .gif, .jpeg, .png, WdgP and SVG images, so only use those. Crop and reduce the file size of images so they load faster. My favourite tool for cropping and optimizing the file size is Ribbet.
Have you noticed when you type a “how to” or “what is” query, you’ll often find the answer in a box as the first entry in Google’s results? Grabbing this coveted top spot on Google by using a question-based content structure can up your click-through rate.
According to HubSpot, you should include your chosen keyword search query in a header, and just below it, place the text you want to show as a snippet, enclosed by <p> tags.
Optimize for Mobile:
Your website will be penalized if it’s not optimized for Mobile users.
If you have an aging site, get it modernized so all those mobile users get what they expect to see. You may need to move to a more responsive and modern platform. Responsive site design makes your website adapt to the hardware device of the user.
Google doesn’t care if your domain has been around for a long time. They’re interested in how well your content helps people, and the relevant links. However, if you’re just starting out, you may want to buy and set up your domain and launch a ‘coming soon’ page while you develop it. It will give you a bit of a familiarity with Google’s bots.
The end game? Maximize SEO on your website!
So – what do you need to focus on to maximize SEO, increase the effectiveness of your site, and make it more likely to be found organically? You’ve got this!
Remember, the overall experience of the reader or searcher is of utmost importance. The better the quality and relevance of your content and the ease of moving through your site, the more likely they are to return or recommend.
Return traffic means more engagement. Engagement leads to increased conversions. And that’s what you love to see, right?
Talk to you soon,