I will help you to understand all that you need to know about your on-page SEO. This is kind of like an introduction to on-page SEO at the same time it is pretty comprehensive.
Your site’s SEO can be broken down into these sections:
Research. On-Page SEO. Off-Page-SEO. Social. Misc.
A very large part of your site’s SEO health comes from your On-Page-SEO. Your on-page SEO is all about the fine tuning of your pages and making sure the little things are done to gain site trust and bring in more visitors. It’s all about the core nuts and bolts of your site. For some this is the most interesting part of SEO.
I break down on-page SEO into 6 categories:
- XML Sitemap
There are plugins for creating a sitemap in WordPress. Sitemaps help search engines to categorize your content. Submit these to the search engines as you wish. Eventually the site will be picked up by Google, but submitting a sitemap should speed the process up quite a bit.
Speaking of which, when you change a site or delete a page for some reason, you should redirect non-existent pages to something more relevant. When you redirect use a 301 redirect. 301 is a permanent redirect.
- Menus and Breadcrumbs
Try to keep your site navigation simple and logical. Straight forward navigation that is easy to figure out reduces bounce rate. If people can’t figure out the navigation they will just leave and probably never come back.
- Check for Canonical links and use them when needed
Sometimes you will have two pages that are very similar or for that matter exactly the same when it comes to content. If this happens you want to tell Google or whatever search engine you are going with, which page it should consider the one to index.
- Robots.txt file
- Noindex your thin pages
Using your robots.txt file correctly can help immensely. Besides the security you will gain, it will help the search engines stay focuses on the content it should index rather than get hung up with login pages, and shopping carts. In addition, you may decide that WordPress pages that list your available tags and categories should also be ignored. Thin pages like that should be ignored.
- Pagination should have Rel=”Next” and Rel = “Prev”
- Meta Tags
It used to be the case where people would count keywords and try to rank by having the exact percentage of keywords Google was looking for. Before that they used to cram thousands of keywords into their meta tags regardless if they had anything to do with the page or not. Now we strive to keep the site focused. Meta Tags should reflect the site’s content.
- Have your keyword in the title
Your titles should be attention getting. See my post on titles and how they can drive traffic to your site. They shouldn’t be vague. They should have your keywords in them and the first one on your page should be an h1 title tag.
- Check to see if you have H1 tags
- Keyword in the H1?
- H1 H2 tag orders
Like I just said make sure your keywords are in the titles. Your h1 tags should be followed by an h2 tag.
- Use Long Tail Keywords
Long tail searches should follow your h1 title tags. What is a long tail search? A long tail search or keyword is a 3+ keyword phrase that you are searching for specifically.
- Add Meta Descriptions
Word your descriptions in a way to gather attention. Using keywords and such writing them in a way that makes the reader want to know the answer to a question is really effective.
- Images need ALT tags
Even your featured images need alt tags.
- Check for duplicate content
- Review visual design
Your site design should be quick loading and easy to understand. Modern trends are to keep the style flat and basic. You can get some attention by using font hierarchy over gaudy graphic design.
- Use multimedia
Video. Sound. etc.
- Optimize media
Don’t try to load an image that is 1000 pixels wide into a slot that is only 250 pixels wide.
- Tags to media
Schema can be used to rate products and show whether or not if they are in stock. It’s a great way to get some attention.
- LSI keywords
Latent Symantec Keywords are those that are similar to the keywords you are using. Maybe they mean the exact same thing. Like titles and headings for instance.
- Silo. put content in proper categories
Too many times a website is broken down into some pages at the top level of navigation and then everything else is packed away in a blog. Consider using the SILO structure if you have a ton of content on your site.
- Publish static pages: Privacy/Sitemap/Terms/About/Contact
- Keep indexed pages static.
- Internal linking
Easily over looked. Remember to link to your content. This will help a lot the more content you add.
- High quality outbound links
The quality of the link adds trust to your site. This goes for inbound and outbound links. If you link to junk sites no one will trust your site and actually they will start to avoid it like the plague.
- Update content regularly
- Monitor bounce rate
You can monitor things like this with Google’s Search Console.
- Clean up your code.
Remove inline styles. Only place relevant JS in your headers.
- Responsive Site Design
- Multi browser compatibility
I used to use https://www.browserstack.com/ to test my sites.
- Load Times
Load times can be sped up by reducing image sizes, putting styles in style sheets, and caching elements of your site.
If you have the money, switching from a slow host to a quick host can make a dramatic difference.
Use CDN or content delivery network. A CDN is a globally distributed network of proxy servers deployed in multiple data centers. The goal of a CDN is to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance. This is what Facebook does for example.
- WWW redirects.
Make sure your site redirects to WWW or non WWW depending on your choice of URL.
- Incorporate your keywords.
- Use Mod rewrites to fix your dynamic URLS.
If your URLS look something like ‘index.asp?id=349012’ then use MOD rewrites to change them to ‘learn-SEO’.
- Use 301 redirects for the pages that no longer exist.
- Test your site’s schema
- Refine your schema
Article by Timothy Eberly
Timothy is a web design and graphic artist that has been working in the business for over 20 years and has designed and built thousands of websites including one for a major ad firm in Spokane. In addition to graphic design and web development he also worked as a photographer on several films made in the Spokane area. You can connect with him on facebook and Google+.