SEO series, part 3: How to optimise on-page SEO

Search engine optimisation is a complex area, and how well your website performs in search rankings depends on many factors. Here are six simple steps you can take today to help your site climb up Google’s search rankings.

Our search engine optimisation (SEO) series has covered SEO terminology and how Google’s algorithms work. Now it is time to look at how you can optimise your website’s on-page SEO.

On-page SEO refers to elements of a website that can influence its search engine ranking. You can adopt a number of strategies with your own site to ensure it is optimised for Google.

Brent Yorzinski, former SEO Product Manager at The Web Showroom, tells you how to go about it.

1. Create relevant, unique website content

“If you are trying to optimise your website and build a revenue model where SEO is part of the web traffic, you need to provide content that Google likes,” says Yorzinski.

“Your content should be appropriate and your pages should have useful information that is relevant to your business. Don’t use generic content – it should add substance and value for internet users.”

For example, if you have an online shop, don’t use generic product descriptions provided by the product manufacturers – write your own useful and relevant descriptions. “Don’t use information that is just duplicated content available on thousands of other sites,” says Yorzinski. “That won’t work well for you – you want unique, relevant content.”

He adds that people sometimes say they want their website to look like Apple’s , which is mostly images with minimal wording. Yorzinski says Apple’s approach is not, however, one that businesses that are trying to build an SEO strategy should try to replicate.

“Apple is worth half a trillion dollars and its search rankings take a back seat to other aspects,” he explains. “It doesn’t matter tremendously if their site is SEO friendly, because search is not a major component of their digital marketing strategy.”

Businesses should instead try to develop a balanced site that includes a mix of imagery and words, with pages that have useful and relevant information.

2. Include a blog on your website

Google likes fresh, updated content, so integrating a blog into your website can be a good strategy for some businesses. Don’t, however, rush into a blogging strategy without working out how much time and resources you can realistically dedicate to it.

“Develop a content calendar – perhaps aim to do a post every two weeks,” advises Yorzinski.

He adds that blogs don’t necessarily suit all types of businesses or organisations. “Blogs are good for businesses that have news and timely information,” he says, “but they are not necessarily the best place to add evergreen content.”

3. Optimise your website keywords

Google uses keywords to understand more about your website and to deliver search results to its users. Thoroughly researching keywords is important to ensure you get the right types of visitors to your site.

Beware of just inserting as many keywords as you can, as this can actually damage your SEO ranking.

“Don’t focus on keyword density too much – that is a common misconception,” says Yorzinski. “Rather, do proper research and work with your copyrighter to develop a more suitable strategy.”

4. Consider meta data and description tags

Meta descriptions are HTML elements that explain the contents of a web page to Google and other search engines. Meta descriptions should use keywords and be written in a way that encourages users to click on them.

Meta data used to be really important for on-page SEO, but Yorzinski believes it is not as vital these days. “There is a misconception that it is more important than it really is,” he says. “Description tags are, from an SEO perspective, completely meaningless.”

Yorzinski warns that there are a lot of companies who are keen to sell small business owners tools that measure meta tags. “People buy those because they don’t know better, but they aren’t really relevant any more,” he says.

Yorzinski says the title tag is valuable and should be written in a descriptive way, but it should not be “stuffed” with keywords.

Your title is important for on-page SEO, as are your Hx tags – tags used to create headings that outline your pages. Again, these should use your keywords in a natural way.

5. Optimise website page speeds

While your page speed does not necessarily impact your on-page SEO, it is an important element of your overall website experience, and some small changes can make a big difference.

“There are some things that are outside your control, as they might be dictated by your hosting company. You can make improvements in some areas though,” says Yorzinski. “Compressing your images correctly is a basic thing you can do. You can also leverage the browser cache to improve the speed in which your pages are loaded.”

6. Use Google’s rich snippets and structured data tool

Search results showing a person’s photo, star ratings, a map or other information get clicked on more than websites that do not have this type of content appearing in Google’s results.

You can see if the information is properly structured to appear in searches by using Google’s rich snippets and structured data . “This is particularly useful for e-commerce sites or individual sites,” says Yorzinski.

“A photo of yourself or a star rating is not in itself going to help your SEO, but they do help once people find your site through a Google search. It makes you more likely to get clicked on, as it is more personal and stands out.”

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