Link-building, or off-page SEO, is the only way a site can rank at the top of Google. Without it, the site will just sit somewhere lost in the Internet amongst millions of other web pages. However, link-building on a site that doesn’t have great on-page SEO (on-page is literally the optimization of your website’s pages) is never going to achieve the site’s fullest potential. We rank webpages not websites, so each page within a website needs to be optimized using our on-page SEO template.
There are room for variations and it is important to not be too strict with it, but if the main premise of each point can be adhered to the more relevant the page will be to the Google/search engine spiders and therefore will be more likely to climb up the rankings quickly. Without any link-building we can usually rank a site on page 3-10 of Google with good on-page SEO. Sites with poor on-page and no link-building will not be within the top 1,000 search positions. Once we are in the top 50 positions, it’s a good indicator that the site is starting to be noticed and trusted by the search engine spiders.
Link-building is the main part of SEO and online marketing. It feeds power, trust and authority through the website in question and Google notices that, reads the code to look for relevancy within the page and re-evaluates the positioning for online searchers. The more relevant and pertinent the webpage, the more likely it will show at the top of the search positions. Higher rankings equals more web traffic, more web traffic equals more paying customers (if the keyword research is done correctly and the site has good web design for conversions).
I’ve used our company’s current homepage as the example and what I describe as a solution to the site’s on-page SEO.
Use a variety of site speed checkers. If you’re targeting the USA, then use a server that is closest as ping speed/distance is a factor. Getting the site’s speed down below 1.5 seconds is best. I’ve had sites that are 662m/s and they rank easily for low-medium keywords purely off speed and on-page SEO alone.
We use Pingdom but there are many others to use.
The canonical URL is one that is the main one you want indexed or Google to see, if there are duplicated pages ie an e-commerce site that has been filtered by price, size etc and shows a different URL to the one that is normally set. Having a site with potentially 5+ pages that are the same but with different URLs is very bad. Canonicalization lets Google know you prefer a particular page and the others should be discounted in the index.
Rarely read by a website visitor, so it’s purely for the search engines. A maximum of 70 characters can be used here. It should describe to the SE spiders exactly what the page is about with the main keywords for that page and with the most important keyword at the beginning. Pipelines make it easy to split words up and looks neater and easier to read.
Current – Home | Track-R
Perfect – Google Rank Tracker | Website Positions | Track-R
As with the meta description, this is where you can claim more visitors with a good meta title. There is 70 characters which can be utilized here.
Current – Track-R: Home
Perfect – Award Winning Global Ranking Website and Keyword Checker
One of the most important parts of on-page SEO. You have 160 characters to impress an online searcher that has searched for something in Google. The main keyword should be included, if possible twice or a variation of it, and a secondary keyword if possible. It should have a strong call to action. In many cases, we have found we get more clicks from the first page even if it’s not at the top position yet which is all down to the meta title and description.
Current – Award-winning Google checker
Perfect – Best Google Rank Tracker | Global Reach | Track-R
Many people don’t use them any more as it’s believed that Google doesn’t read them, but they do. I have ranked pages for keywords using only meta keywords and have them nowhere else on the page disproving that meta keywords aren’t used any more. It’s best to have around 8 keywords which could be variations on the relevant keywords for the page and as should include the city it wants to rank in.
Current – check google keyword rankings
Perfect – keyword positions, website positions, where does my website rank in Google, how to increase rankings, get to page 1 of Google, increase google ranking positions
It’s best to only have one H1 tag, this should contain your most relevant keyword for the page. An H2 could expand on that H1, ie. a longer tail keyword or a variation on the main keyword. You could use a few H2s and H3s to split the page into sub sections, again using relevant keywords for the page.
Perfect – H1 Track Rankings with Track-R | Most Accurate Google Rank Position Data
H2 We do On-Page Help and Consultancy, Too!
H3 How Our Rank Tracker Gives You the Data to Succeed
Here’s a quick check list:
|Title||Up to 60 characters only, use Main Keyword | Secondary Kw or Call to Action | Brand|
|Meta Title||Up to 60 characters only, use Main Keyword | Secondary Kw or Call to Action | Brand|
|Meta Description||Up to 160 characters, main keyword, variation, call to action, price if possible|
|Meta Keywords||Add 5-7 main 1-3 word keywords separated by a comma, that are relevant to that page’s focus keyword/content|
|Headings||Only have 1 x H1, the main focus keyword, the rest can be H2s and H3s with secondary keywords where possible|
|Images||Add alt tags, one per image, 1-3 word keywords relevant for the content on that page|
All images on the page should have a relevant alt-text tag for the main keywords the page is aiming at. Even if you have 100 images on there, each alt can be utilized. As search engine spiders cannot read images, they need to be explained in the alt tag. One keyword per alt tag.
This should be lower than 15% with more text than HTML code. The current homepage is 19.78% HTML code which basically means your homepage should have more content written on it.
Validated Microformats help Google see the page better. Make sure to use the Google Structured Data Testing Tool to validate the site.
Using schema markup helps Google organize and place the site better as they give the visitor a richer, more in-depth experience. Make sure to use the Google Structured Data Testing Tool to validate the site.
The Open Graph
Utilizing Open Graph objects that are validated with the Facebook Object Debugger Tool is great.
Using social media, particularly Twitter and validating it with the Twitter Card Validator Tool helps with indexing and rapid returning search engine spiders.
Accelerated mobile pages are the next big thing Google wants. They’re optimized mobile pages that show content quickly and don’t have any bloat. This loads faster and is easier to see on mobile devices.
A simple piece of code that realigns and adjusts the site to ‘fit’ on tablets, mobile devices or differing sized screens.
Add this code to the head section of your site:
<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, height=device-height, initial-scale=1.0″>
Never use frames.
Never use flash.
Always have a robots.txt file to allow or disallow spiders from going to various pages ie. password protected areas.
An XML sitemap is the best way for Google to read every page and understand the layout and structure of the site. For larger sites, such as e-commerce sites, it may be best to use an HTML sitemap and categorize all departments of the site and segment them into smaller sitemaps so it’s quicker and easier to read (for the search engine spiders).
Currently it’s showing as ‘en’ but as the site is in the UK, having en-GB makes it even more UK targeted. Or, for USA you would have en-US.
Always declare the Doctype.
Always declare the encoding ie. UTF-8
In order to see how much traffic and every aspect of that traffic that comes to the site, Google Analytics is the best tool. Using any of Google’s free tools is always a help to let it understand and figure out where the site should be in the SERPs.
Geo Meta Tags
Meta tags are good for sites that require geo-location. I always find that our local city Newcastle has local based sites should be geo’d to the UK as many sites from Australia’s Newcastle or Newcastle Under Lyme do crop up in the search results for searches from the North East of England.
An RSS feed is ideal for getting fresh, daily content indexed ie. blog content etc.
Always have a favicon. It’s part of the brand and has an alt tag you can put your most relevant keyword for the whole site in or label the file name with a long-tail keyword.
If your web designer says any of these points above are incorrect, cannot be done, or they miss them out. It’s time to change your web designer. Since 2010, we have argued with 100s of web designers over these points; no point in having a website that cannot be seen by your customers, is it? Web designers do the design, online marketers doing the marketing/get customers.