Do you want a page one slot on Google?
If so, you’ve got to ensure your fundamentals are covered – and given the shift in focus since the recent Penguin and Panda updates, there’s a high chance you may be losing out on ranking, because you’ve overlooked the SEO factors you DO control.
You see, the various algorithm changes of late have caused many business owners to shift their attention to concentrate on outreach and quality link building to enhance their foothold. And whilst these are essential elements of a high-quality SEO strategy, you’ll not get the results you desire if you neglect the on-page basics.
In this SEO Guide, you’ll discover TEN on-page SEO fundamentals you need to cover if you want your website to score with Google.
How many of these basics have you neglected to date?
Always start with the creation of quality content
Your website will ALWAYS rank higher if it’s full of useful, relevant, UNIQUE content that’s been written to create a great user experience first, and satisfies Google second. Here are some quick tips to help achieve that:
- Write in a natural way – keywords are still important, but there’s been a shift with the arrival of semantic search that was introduced with Hummingbird. In the past, Google second-guessed what the end user was looking for based on keywords. But with semantic search, Google is able to better understand the intended meaning of the user and the content of the SERPS will reflect this
- Blog on a regular basis. Google will reward you for keeping your site updated with fresh, relevant content. In addition, you get more and more chances to rank for specific search phrases
Use a focused and descriptive Title Tag
The Title tag is there to give web visitors and search engines an insight into what a page is about. Your title tag appears in the SERPS, so as well as influencing how your page is ranked, it will also affect click through. Here are some pointers:
- Include the main keyword for which you want your page to rank
- Target just one keyword per page
- Write your title in a natural way – cut the spam and the keyword stuffing
Write Meta Descriptions that stand out in the SERPS
The meta description is a short piece of text that describes the content of a page. Whilst search engines no longer use Meta Descriptions as a ranking indicator, the words you write remain crucial because they influence your CTR from the SERPS. Follow these tips:
- Describe what the page is about and give readers a reason to WANT to click through to keep reading
- Weave in keywords, but write in a natural way
- There’s no definitive maximum length for meta descriptions. But as a rule of thumb, aim for around 156 characters as anything longer is often truncated with ellipses (like this…)
Break up your content with headline tags
Headline tags help to create a dual readership path and make your content quick and easy to scan. You can weave your keywords in – but again, do it naturally
- Stick to just ONE H1 tag per page
- H2, H3, H4 tags (etc.) can be used more frequently. But use them in a hierarchy so for example, use H2 tags to head up new sections, and H3 tags to indicate sub heads in each sections etc.
Ensure your URLs are descriptive
URLs should be meaningful and reflect the hierarchy of your website.
- This is a meaningful URL – www.domain.co.uk/page-name
- URLs that look like this – www.domain.co.uk/index.php?id=2 are to be avoided – they don’t give search engines (or users) any useful information about what the page contains
- Hyphens (-) in URLs are ALWAYS preferable to underscores (_)
- Use your URLs to reveal your website’s hierarchy. For example:
In the above examples, search engines (and users) can instantly conclude the SEO page relates to a service offering, and the SEO Tips is a blog post
Avoid duplicate content
Google rewards unique content. That said, there may be occasions where you need to have duplicate content on your website. But if that is the case, make sure you don’t get penalised and label your pages appropriately.
- Use a canonical tag to canonicalise duplicate content – this ensures Google knows which page you want to earn page rank
Check your website is mobile friendly
With the explosion of smartphones and tablets, along with the increased number of searches that are carried out on mobile devises, it’s essential your website is multi-device friendly.
- Responsive website design automatically resize the content to fit the device being used
- Mobile URLs allow your content to be tailored specifically for viewing on a tablet or smartphone
- You can read more about this topic HERE
Check your page load speed
Users get a better experience when a website loads quickly. As a result, one of the ranking factors Google uses is your page load speed.
- Use Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool to access your website’s performance. This tool looks at the content of individual web pages and suggests fixes to make the page load faster
Resolve any crawl errors
A “crawl error” relates to individual URLs that search engines can’t crawl (and therefore can’t index), or that return an HTTP error code.
- Use Webmaster Tools to identify any crawl errors so you can fix them
- Many errors can be fixed with 301 redirects (this is a permanent redirection from one URL to another. Use it if you’ve removed a URL to avoid a user landing on a 404 error)
Check the Robots.txt file
The Robots.txt file is a nifty tool that enables you to see which pages are blocked from being viewed by search engines. Remember, any pages that are blocked CANNOT be indexed (and so are unlikely to appear in the SERPS). There is a good reason for blocking certain pages, for example admin pages or poor quality content. But core pages should NEVER be blocked and will harm your ranking if they are.
- View your robots.txt file by typing the following into your web browser (swap www.domain.co.uk for your website address) – www.domain.co.uk/robotstxt
- “Disallowed” pages are blocked – so ask yourself, “should they be?”
- If any core pages are disallowed, remove them
SEO practices keep changing as Google gets smarter at eliminating loopholes and ensuring quality websites rise to the top. Success all starts with your content. Writing for users first and then Google will ensure your website is filled with the relevant information that will appeal to your target customer.
And whilst outreach and link building remains important, if these external SEO strategies aren’t supported on-page, you won’t achieve the ranking you deserve.
What do you think?
Which of these fundamentals have you neglected? Have you seen a boost in your ranking after checking off an on-page basic that you’ve overlooked? Do you have any questions?
I’d love to know what you think so please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
We’ve put together a handy checklist of SEO basics to help you increase your visibility in Google.
These SEO basics will help the search engines to index your website and users to find what they’re looking for.
Simply click the link for your checklist >> Send me my free SEO basics checklist now!
If you’d like help with optimising your site we provide UK SEO services for all types of businesses. Our ethical SEO services are known for gaining high ranking results for all types of businesses and generating huge volumes of leads that convert for the long term. If you’d like to explore your options, get in touch – we’d love to hear from you. Tel: 01626 270085
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