Definition of SEO
SEO refers to ‘Search Engine Optimisation’, essentially an umbrella term to ensure the visibility of your website and it’s content on the search engine results page. Ensuring your website is SEO compliant will position your website to be found properly when users are searching the web.
Onsite SEO involves technical practices behind the scenes of your website, onsite SEO refers to content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimised for search engines. We will focus on onsite SEO in this article.
Whilst, off-site SEO is concerned with more promotional activities that should be continuously implemented, such as link building strategies, content distribution and social media. These are promotional activities you can perform outside the boundaries of your website.
Why Your Website should be SEO compliant
Optimising your website to make sure it is search engine friendly is crucial for your website’s visibility, put simply making your website ‘visible’ ensures your website ranks high in the (SERPs) search engine results page, this can be done with a combination of onsite and offsite SEO. What search engines are looking to do is refer users to sites and content that are relevant to their search query.
Relevancy of your site is determined by, the content on your site, namely the theme of the content, the text on the page, the titles and the descriptions that are given. Search engines also take into account the speed of your website and how long it takes for the site to load, the authority of your site if your site is relevant enough to link to other authoritative sites and be used as a source for information. Search engines have increasingly taken into account the user experience of your website and the ease of navigation on your website.
Bad SEO tactics
While SEO is about optimising your website to be SEO compliant, bad SEO practices can have the opposite effect and negatively affect your websites ability to be found by search engines. Your site will be penalized when search engines discover you have used spammy tactics to achieve ‘visibility’ for your website. Bad SEO tactics include, keyword stuffing, duplicating content, cloaking and buying links, there are many other black hat SEO techniques, but that can be saved for another time. The key is to use proper tactics to optimise your website.
A meta description won’t necessarily improve your ranking on the SERPS, however, it is important to use before publishing an article as it encourages users to click on your result. The meta description is a short paragraph of text that appears below the website’s URL in the search results and it is also something you should have complete control of in your content management system. (CMS)
You should add the meta description in the <head> section of your sites HTML, similar to something as below.
<meta name=”description” content=”Here is a precise description of my awesome webpage.”>
Title tags are used to tell search engines and visitors what any given page on your site is about in the most concise and accurate way possible. The title will then appear in various places around the web.
You can add a title tag in the <head> section in your site’s HTML. It should look something like this:
However in most content management systems you can add the title tag in general settings or if you use an SEO plugin such as Yeost, you can add the title tag to the ‘SEO title section’ which also provides a preview of what it will look like in the SERP’s.
One of the latest evolutions in SEO is Schema Markup, this is one of the most powerful ways to optimize your website but is the least utilized. Once you grasp the concept and method of schema markup you can boost your website in the search engine results page (SERPs) Schema is code that is put on your website to help search engines return more informative results. Schema tells search engines what your data means, not just what it says.(see below image) With Schema your content gets indexed and returned in a different way. When a website possesses schema markup, users can see in the SERPs what a website is all about, where they are, what they do and how much stuff costs. Websites that contain schema markup will rank better in the SERPs than those that don’t.
Heading tags are in a hierarchical structure from H1 to H6. Headings are certain pieces of HTML code that make certain text stand out. The H1 tag is the most important as it usually reveals to search engines what your particular page is about. Search engines usually give this tag more weight over the other tags, H2, H3, H4, H5 and H6. Think of these tags as ‘sub-headings’ These tags are used to organise the content on your page for the reader as opposed to organising it for search engines.
User-friendly authoritative content
Your website should contain user friendly content, by this we mean content that is relevant, insightful and engaging for users to read. While keyword research beforehand is vital and incorporating your keywords into your copy should be done, you should avoid ‘keyword stuffing’ as it creates a bad user experience as most search engines, in particular Google have become strict about overloading your website with keywords resulting in your content not making sense.
Keyword Targeted Content
Decide on specific keywords that you want to rank for and then include them in the title of your page, in your URL, in the meta description, in the alt text of images and anchor text in links back to your site. When optimizing your web pages, keep in mind that keyword relevance is more important than keyword density.
You include images in your content to encourage users to read your text, however, images should also be used in your content as a means of attracting search engines. Many people forget to include the alt attribute when they upload images into their content. Since search engines can’t read your images, they can read alt text. By describing your image in the alt text, it will increase your chance of your images being found by search engines.
Use Proper URL Structures
A proper url structure means that the link is as readable as possible, the user knows exactly what page they are going to and what the page will be about by the structure of the link.Put simply, don’t use ugly URL’s. See below example of a properly structured link as opposed to a badly structured one.
UX is crucial for SEO, so one should invest time in the quality of your website, the navigation experience, the position of your specials and promotions. Do everything to you can to create a friendly user experience and the search engines will thank you later.
A mandatory part of optimizing your site for SEO is to make it is mobile responsive. Search engines are actually ranking websites that are mobile responsive, higher than those that aren’t. In 2015,Google revealed the mobile algorithm update that stated that websites that were mobile friendly would be rewarded as they would give preferential treatment to websites that were mobile friendly.The mobile algorithm update applies to individual pages within websites and not the entire website itself. If one page on your website is not optimized then that will be the one that is affected, while all the others will be fine.
2016 was the year where Google stated that they would use pagespeed as a ranking signal. For a few years now, Google has been focusing on delivering the best onsite user experience and page speed or site loading time is a crucial factor in creating a great user experience. Having a site that takes ages to load or pages in the site that load slowly, are not considered a good user experience and Google will penalize you for this. Your rankings won’t be affected too drastically, but it will
Use Outbound Links
Outbound links to related pages helps search engines determine your page’s topic. A recent study showed that pages with outbound links outrank pages that don’t have any outbound links. An outbound link refers to a link pointing to any other domain that a link exists on.
Add Internal Links
When posting content add 2-3 internal links to your posts. Internal links are hyperlinks that point at the same domain that the link exists on. Put simply, it is a link that points to another page on the same websit