March 2020 Recap. We’re in this together.
The focus of March is normally about tieing up our financial year, and preparing for the next. This year it was a little different.
When on-site SEO is used properly, you can boost your search engine traffic tremendously. Here are undoubtedly the best ways that you can do this.
But before we get into the on-site SEO strategies, that I’m sure you are dying to read, I am going to cover the basics.
On-site SEO has to do with the elements of your website and how you optimise them in the hope that you can rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs) to gain relevant traffic. This can be done optimising the content, as well as the source code of your web pages.
Search intent has to do with why someone will perform a specific search on the internet. What are they searching for? Do they have a burning question that they want to get off their chest? Or are they looking to buy a product or service?
Google won’t favour web pages that are spammed with thousands of keywords with the intent to please the crawlers. Instead they will reward websites that quickly help the needs of their audience by providing quality, valuable content.
The landing page you are optimising (blog article, product page or general service page) on your website needs to fit the intent of your audience, the people who are searching for ‘it’. You don’t want to throw a product into someone’s face if they are looking for information, at least not straight away. Make sure that you write for your audience, answer their questions, provide them with valuable content and do not just sell.
Before you write your content, you should gather some information on what other questions your audiences may be searching for. An easy way you can do this is to type in the phrase you are optimising for and Google will display ideas on the SERP that are related and frequently being searched for. Here’s an example:
Page speed is the speed at which a specific page on your website loads. This is affected by the elements on the page so you should look at optimising these in order to appear higher up in the rankings of search engines.
Some elements may be outside of your control and you’ll have to call on your web development team, but some you can fix with ease.
Since the middle of 2016, Google has been paying more attention to the speed of your website and is now part of the search ranking algorithm. In short, Google will favour a page that loads in the shortest amount of time, meaning the quicker your page renders, the more likely you are to be towards the top of the results page. When you think about it, it makes sense and Google is rewarding better user experience. Pages with an extended amount of load time tend to have higher bounce rates and thus a lower average time on page, so why would Google recommend them?
How to make page speed faster:
Images are widely used across websites as users are far more likely to react to an engaging picture before they have even read anything on your page. Every image on your page will affect the loading time, from small icons to full screen background images. Sadly, a lot of people are implementing images onto their site pages directly from stock sites or photoshop export, without resizing or compressing them. Here at Bigger Picture we have partnered with IMGIX. Implemented into our CMS (Alfred) IMGIX has been built to deliver the most efficient way to properly use images on your website. With its smart cropping technology and compression, IMGIX is the best way to optimise images and reduce page speed. Giving you the best chance of a conversion. If you need a DIY solution, we recommend TinyPNG to reduce file sizes (after you have manually resized and cropped offline).
Yahoo claim that 80% of a web page’s load time is spent downloading images, stylesheets and scripts. For each one of these elements, a HTTP request is made and it doesn’t take a genius to work out that the more on-page components there are, the longer it takes for the page to load.
First of all, you will need to find out how many requests your site is currently making. Chrome users can take advantage of the browsers developer tools to do this. Right-click on the page that you want to examine and then click on “inspect” followed by the “network” tab. To see your HTTP requests all you have to do now is refresh the page with this panel open and watch it happen.
You’ll see something along the lines of this when you check your HTTP requests.
You want to focus on the number in the bottom left hand corner ’51 requests’. Reduce the number of files your site needs to render, this will speed up your page load time as fewer files means fewer HTTP requests. Although it may be hard for non-developers to do anything about this, as a marketer/site manager you can still do something about this. Look for any third party scripts that are not needed and get them removed. Unless your business really needs it, remove it.
Internal links are hyperlinks that go from one page to another on the same site/domain. I see a lot of websites that have sub domains in use, especially for their blog. Sub domains are NOT the same domain so if you have something like blog.domain.com setup, you may just be making on-site SEO that little bit harder. Google uses these internal links to find out the content relationship (and the value) of your site’s content. The more you link to an internal page, the more prominence you are giving it.
Often overlooked, if you do internal linking right, you’ll see SEO benefits. One of the easiest and quickest strategies is to look at each blog page you have written. When you mention a service or topic covered on another page/blog, make sure you link to it. Not only does it make it easier for Google to crawl and index, but your users will thank you too. You are making it easier for them to find more valuable content and you’ll notice lower bounce rates, more pages viewed per session, and more time on site. The result? More conversions
The meta title is the blue link / headline that appears on the SERPs when you search Google and most other search engines. Google usually displays the first 50-60 characters of a meta title depending on the letters used as some use more pixels than other. Although we talk characters, a width in pixels is more accurate.
The meta description is the paragraph underneath which summarises a page’s content up to 300 characters (limit increased in December 2017).
After pressing the enter button in a search bar, the first thing people scan through on the page are the meta titles and descriptions, so you need to make sure that your title not only stands out to the eye of someone searching the internet, but to Google as well. Meta titles give search engines the majority of the information needed to understand what your page is about. Making a good first impression is key; a good title can be the difference in whether or not someone clicks on your site.
Brand Name / Major Product Category – Minor Product Category – Name of Product
This is not good practice for two reasons, firstly the most unique part of the title is at the end, meaning the user will get very little information at their first glance. Secondly, if a search engine cuts off the end of the title, the most unique part has been lost. Instead it should look similar to this:
Name of Product / Minor product Category – Major Product Category – Brand Name
Having said this, putting your brand name towards the front could be useful if your brand was really well known. Using the name of your brand could drive a click-through rate to gain those conversions.
Just like the meta title, the main reason for having a meta description is to get someone searching on Google to click your link. Meta descriptions are there to generate click-throughs from search engines.
According to search engines, meta descriptions don’t play a part in direct ranking on search engine result pages – they don’t use it in their algorithm. We can’t be sure that this is entirely true. However, even if this is, meta descriptions still help to generate a click-through rate (CTR). Google use this to work out whether your site is a good result for the person browsing. The more people that decide to click on your result, the higher up in the search engine results pages (SERPs) you will find your site. And this is why writing out a thoughtful meta description is important, as is optimising your titles.
Header tags are part of the HTML code of a website. The header tags indicate headings and sub-headings on a webpage, article or blog post.
Simply optimising your h1 and h2 header tags will increase your sites ranking on SERPs.
From an on-site SEO point of view, header tags are a really important factor because they’re used to communicate with search engines about what your main on-page topics are. The system works in a hierarchy - so h1 has more of an impact on SEO than h2.
Your h1 tag should contain a targeted keyword, one that is very closely related to your page title as well as the page content. This should happen naturally. Following on, h2, being a subheading, followed by h3, h4 etc. should be used. It is important that you only use one h1 on your page (some HTML5 and new-schoolers may disagree here but I see no benefit adding multiple h1 on a page). You are free to use other title tags multiple times.
Do NOT try and stuff a bunch of keywords into your header tags as this will only be penalised by Google and your site will end up further down on the SERPs.
<h1>On-Site SEO: How to perfectly optimize your web pages for 2019</h1> <h2>Use Keywords in HTML header tags (h1, h2)</h2>
Mobile optimisation is making sure users of your website have an experience that is optimised for the mobile device that they are using.
It is very well known that more and more people are spending extended amounts of time using their mobile devices as the years go on. However, many websites still don’t have the ability to adapt to different screen sizes and load times (mobile could be on a slow 3G connection) are awful. Mobile optimisation looks deep into this problem and there are several factors to consider, including: site structure, site design, page speed, interactivity, video and image availability, user intuition and compatibilities.
If you want your website appearing as close to the top of the SERPs as possible then you NEED to make your site optimised for mobile use. Being responsive is not a tick exercise and shouldn’t be treated like one. Check out https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly to see if your site is mobile friendly or not.
This form of on-site SEO is one of the least used but yet powerful in boosting your website in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It can also do wonders for your CTRs (click through rates) as your results get given more prominence in SERPs.
Schema markup is code that you implement into your website to help search engines give users more informative results. This is an example of a business that uses schema markup on their event page:
The schema markup, displayed by the SERP displays the upcoming running events. This is exceptionally helpful for the user and will most probably give you the edge over other results that aren’t using schema.
There are different types of Schema but we’re fans of JSON-LD due to its easy implementation style. Added to a page like meta data it’s simple to manage vs in-line schema wrapped around actual content. Google explains more at https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/intro-structured-data
Content types are the various elements you add onto your webpage in order to engage the user, as well as providing information.
Pursuing just one form of content limits your brand exposure. Using a variety of content types to attract different kinds of traffic could help with conversion rates. You can always experiment with different content types and see how they impact your results.
Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second of the day, which translates to over 3.5 billion per day. Keeping this in mind, you want to make sure that when you are writing for your website, you are answering these potential questions in detail, being very topic specific. You must answer these queries in your content and Google will favour your website in the SERPs if your content is consistently doing this. This is because search engines have gotten so much better, Google in particular, at helping a searcher find what they are looking for.
As well as the above, quality written content serves other purposes such as:
The URL is an address of a world wide web page. Every single website has a unique URL.
Trying to perfect your sites SEO is a long process. I can assure you that by following these points, it will be worth the time and effort.
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The focus of March is normally about tieing up our financial year, and preparing for the next. This year it was a little different.
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