On Site SEO Tips

On Site SEO9 Important On site SEO tips

Are you in the process of building a new website? Have you already got a website but are wondering why it isn’t ranking for even low competition keyword phrases? Here are nine very important on site SEO factors that every website owner should be aware of.

1. Canonicalisation / Well-structured Urls / .htaccess 

Try to structure your site in a way that is easy to follow and create subfolders for large category items. Also make sure your urls are easily read and have a set structure, preferably one without ampersands and using full hyphenated words as the url e.g http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/seo-advice-url-canonicalization/ , (Good post by the way!). This not only helps the spiders to know what the page is about but it also helps the user and is a lot easier to remember.

It’s  very important that your site redirects from it’s domain with or without “www”. People can access your site using either the http://yoursite.com or http://www.yoursite.com however it is important that you choose which one of these versions you want to use as your main domain, otherwise Google sees this as two separate sites and hence, duplicate content. If you haven’t set this already, search Google for “site:yoursite.com” and note which version of your domain appears most.

You then need to create a 301 redirect to whichever domain is indexed most in the search result. You should also set your preferred domain in Google’s Webmaster Tools to let Google know which one you prefer.

2. Sitemap & Robots.txt 

A sitemap is needed in conjunction with your robots.txt file to initially submit your site to Google’s Webmaster Tools. The robots.txt file basically tells the search bot which area of your site you regard most important and how often you would like to have it crawled. 

3. Page Titles 

This is possibly the most important aspect of on site SEO. It’s imperative that you have unique and informative page titles for each of your site’s pages. The title of the page should include the main keyword that page is targeting plus a very brief description of what the page is about. Remember this is the title that will be visible above your listing in the search engines so don’t just list a dozen keywords, it also has to entice the user to click on your link. 

4. Meta Descriptions 

The meta description is the excerpt that will appear under your listing in the search result and a similar rule applies here to the page titles. The search engines will display up to 160 characters so make sure that it grabs the attention of the user whilst also incorporating a couple of your main keywords / phrases for that page. If at all possible make sure that each page has a unique meta description.

5. Proper use of H1 & Alt Tags 

Where appropriate, use H1, H2 & H3 tags to further ensure that the search bots understand what your page/post is all about. The same applies here, these should be informative, used only when appropriate and always with the user in mind. Likewise, ensure all your images have completed Alt tags, it doesn’t take long to do but if they are missing, the search bot can’t view the image to determine what the image is about. 

6. Internal Links 

Maintain a good internal link structure and include some contextual internal linking with appropriate anchor text to further help the search engines understand what each page is about. 

7. Location Clearly Visible / Geomarkup 

If your business is targeting local customers you need to make sure Google knows your physical location. There are a number of ways to do this:

  1. Have your full business address in html on the footer of every page.
  2. Upload a geositemap to Google’s Webmaster Tools. Here’s a handy walk through if you don’t know how.
  3. Mark up your site using microdata. Here’s a handy tool to help you create your geo markup.
  4. Include your city name/location in your page titles. This is a proven factor in Google Places ranking.

8. Use Rich Snippets / Microdata 

Although this will have no direct influence on your rankings, any microdata that appears beside your listing helps it to stand out from the rest, and this can only be a good thing, possibly more important than top ranking in fact. If you haven’t already, use microdata to markup any testimonials or reviews that you have. If you are an e-commerce site mark up all your products and descriptions. Add authorship to your blog posts, etc. etc. Check out Schema.org for a more detailed explanation and here is a handy testing tool to check how it would appear as a search result. Google is actively encouraging webmasters to incorporate microdata so if you haven’t already, it’s about time you did.

9. Don’t Overdo It!!! 

Basically take everything I’ve just said and only use whichever you think will be of genuine benefit to the user. There is a lot of talk about Google’s pending “over-optimisation” algorithm so don’t do anything that you think looks spammy. Basically an easy way to decide is “If it brings value or interest to the user, keep it in”.

If you have any other factors that you think should be included feel free to comment and if you found this helpful, please share.

Thanks for reading.

SEO & Local Online Marketing Consultant 

SEO, local search marketing consultant & search geek from Donegal, Ireland. Love gadgets, keeping up to date with Google's algorithm changes & all things internet.

Sean P. Fullerton

SEO, local search marketing consultant & search geek from Donegal, Ireland. Love gadgets, keeping up to date with Google's algorithm changes & all things internet.

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