As a marketer, you need to know how to optimize your website legally, without using any black-hat SEO tactics which can potentially get you penalized. Marketing your brand online is extremely important for attracting new leads, but on-site optimization is paramount, especially if you want to get an edge over your competition and even break new ground in your niche.
According to Google, over 60% of ranking factors are based on page SEO (Search Engine Optimization), while the rest of 40% comes from link building, SMO (Social Media Optimization), directory listings, blog comments and other off-page SEO tactics. In order to become successful online without breaking Google’s ground rules, you need to keep in mind and respect the top 10 on-page SEO factors.
1. The Right Domain Name
First and foremost, you need to have a domain name similar to your business activity. For example, if you own a travel agency in California, you should use “travel agency”, “tourism”, “California” or “California travel agency” within your domain name. A good example is toptravelagency.org or californiatravel.com.
Keywords are considered the lifeblood of the SEO industry. Even if their importance has been minimized after the Hummingbird update, which is the latest update from Google, they are still extremely important for on-site optimization. Use Google’s Keyword tool to find the right keywords for you and double check their importance using Google Trends.
3. Title Tags
Another important on-page SEO factor is the title tag. The title defines the topic on your website for your visitors and for the search engines, this is one of the most important on page factors. However, remember to limit your title tag to 70 characters. Also, do not stuff it with too many keywords, this would be called ‘keyword stuffing’ which is a black-hat tactic.
This is by far the most important on-page factor for SEO. Search engines are specially designed to focus on the final customer and visitor, so in order for Google to index your page, your content needs to focus on the user. Always write interesting and unique content that caters to your user’s needs and Google will reward you for that.
5. Meta Description
Another important factor, meta descriptions will not increase your rankings, but they will increase your click through rate (CTR) from the search engine results pages (SERPS). Always use compelling copy in the meta description to entice users to click through.
6. Heading Tags
Heading tags (<h1>, <h2> and <h3> tags) should be used correctly on pages. Every page should begin with a <h1> tag, this will be your main title. The content that follows should be split with ‘sub headings’ which are <h2> tags through to <h6> tags.
7. Alt Tags
If you want to make the most out of your SEO efforts online, always use images within your articles and optimize them using alt tags. Since search engines cannot recognize images, they will read only alt tags, so ensure that you use keywords within them.
8. Loading Speed
Make sure your website loads in less than 4 seconds, because very few users will wait more than that to enter your website. In addition, Google will penalize you for high loading time. You can easily boost your site speed by compressing images, using a CDN or simply switching to a better, faster and more reliable hosting provider. Check out my article on website loading speed and SEO for more information.
9. Keyword Density
A keyword density of about 2% is more than enough for Google. Try to use as many LSI terms in order to diversity your content and make it more appealing for both users and search engines.
10. XML Sitemaps
This is probably the best method to index your website faster in search engines. You can create an XML sitemap using an online tool, or if you are using a CMS like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal you can get plugins that will automatically update the sitemap when new pages are created.
Once you have an XML sitemap you can submit it to Google via ‘Webmaster Tools’ and Bing via their ‘Webmasters Toolbox’. You should also include a link to the sitemap in your robots.txt file for other smaller search engines to find.
If you follow the above tips your on-page SEO will be well optimised, you then just need to concentrate on building links and gaining social mentions. To further increase your on-page SEO check out the ultimate on-page SEO guide.