It is common knowledge among Webmasters and Marketers that search engine optimization (SEO) is the backbone of a website or blog and has a lot to do with its success or failure online. Unless your online marketing campaign includes leveraging pay per click advertising or traditional marketing (TV, radio or print), more than likely no one will know you’ve created a new website—this is particularly true when you consider how many billions of pages search engine spiders have to crawl and index!
To guarantee quality traffic it is important to optimize your entire website so it can be found on the first or at least the second page of search results in Google, Bing and Yahoo!. “Content may be King”, but without SEO, this King’s power is severely reduced. Therefore, making sure your website is correctly optimized is the first step to boosting website traffic and your search engine rankings. Below are the top ten tips to keep in mind when executing on-page SEO for your website:
- Make sure your website loads quickly
Regardless of whether it’s a search engine spider-bot or a human visiting your page, it must load fast; otherwise users will leave (resulting in high “bounce rates”). To increase the speed at which your site loads try the following:
- Read this article: How to Ensure Your Website is Optimized for Top Speed
- Make sure every image loaded onto your site is less than 30KB.
- Only use CSS stylesheets that are less than 10KB and without Flash Content.
- When it comes to plugins for your blog, remember that less is really more.
- Choose a fast and reliable web hosting provider to host your website.
- Eliminate all duplicate content
Search engines automatically assume that copy-and-pasted content is a Webmaster’s way of taking the easy way out or creating and pushing spam. Therefore, having duplicate content on your website or blog can have a negative impact on the way that search engine rank your page. For those with websites and blogs usingWordPress, uploading the ‘All in One SEO Plugin’ is a good way to solve this problem. This tool makes pages with duplicate content non-accessible to search engines by adding a NoFollow tag to them preventing these pages from being indexed.
- Give every page a title, keyword set and description
Regardless of which method is used to create a webpage, one of the most important steps towards effective on-page SEO is to ensure that every page or post has a unique title, description and keyword set associated with it. (This is also commonly referred to as “Meta Data.”) As this gives search engines a basic “summary” of what the page or post is about and can index it easier; which will increase its visibility in search engine results.
- Optimize all images loaded on your site
Search engines and human visitors don’t always find your website or blog through text optimization only, but through searching ‘alt tags” in images as well. Originally intended as "screen reader" software so people listening to the content of a webpage (for instance, a person who is blind) can interact with this element, is now used by search engines too. By using alt tags in every image the information and keywords pertaining to the picture are used to tell the search engines about it. The search engines use this information in their algorithms and when serving image based search queries.
- Use internal links
Google and the other major search engines put a large emphasis on creating a user-friendly experience for web surfers. Therefore, it is essential that your website or blog is both clear and easy to navigate so users can quickly find what they are looking for while on your page. Internal linking is also beneficial to improving on-page SEO as it tells search engines about the type of information found on your site’s pages, ultimately boosting the ranking of subpages in addition to the homepage.
- Improve the user experience
Don’t make it a challenge for visitors browsing your site. The design of your site should be simple, containing gentle colors and an easy-to-read layout with clear navigational paths. Use imagery that is descriptive of the page and would appeal to your target audience. Finally, ensure your blog posts and web pages are accessible through at least one text link, this makes the navigation process much easier for humans and search crawlers!
- Optimize your robots.txt file
For those who are confused, a Robots.txt is a simple text file that is uploaded to the root directory of a website or blog. Their function is to simply tell a search engine which files or directories they should index and which they should ignore. Just like you don’t want everyone knowing your personal secrets, you don’t want every little thing on your site to be visible online. The Robots.txt file eliminates this problem (as well as the duplicate content issue) by showing the search engines what to pay attention to when.
- Place keywords in your URLs
In terms of on-page search engine optimization, it’s best to have a keyword-rich URL structure for your pages and posts, rather than one only containing numbers and characters. Not only will this help search engines readily identify what that page or post is about, but this makes it easier for people to remember the page URL and revisit it at a later time.
- Remember that content is King
Frequently uploading fresh, unique content on your website or blog is essential in keeping both search engines and people visiting your site. However, it is important to know ‘the rules’ when uploading content, especially as search engines are taking active measures (i.e. the Google Panda Updates) against websites that have duplicate or content considered spam. Your articles should be original (not copied from other websites), no less than 300 words in length and contain only 3% to 5% keyword density. Creating informative and interesting articles that people will enjoy reading (and share with others) on a regular basis is vital to establishing a loyal visitor base for your page. It also proves to search engines that you are serious about your website or blog.
- Correctly place DoFollow and NoFollow attributes
NoFollow is an HTML attribute that is assigned to a hyperlink instructing search engines the targeted page should not be indexed. (If a link doesn’t contain the ‘Nofollow’ attribute then it is automatically deemed to be a ‘Dofollow’ link. So there is no need to add ‘Dofollow’)Most Webmaster and blog moderators will place NoFollow attributes on blog comments and other links visitors place on their website as these links are un-trusted. The un-trusted link could be spam or contain questionable content and negatively impact your search engine rankings. However, having an entire site of NoFollow attributes does not encourage commenting and participation and may hurt the growth of your site. Try leaving your site as DoFollow and watch it closely. If you are constantly fighting spam and removing questionable links you might want to make those sections NoFollow. A balance of DoFollow and NoFollow links usually works the best, but it takes a lot more management.