Many websites are held back in Google because the behind the scenes structure is not set up correctly for Google.
In fact, it’s the most common problem I see when assessing a site with poor search rankings.
The process of having a website properly structured for Google success is known as ‘On Page SEO’.
If not done properly, your site won’t move in the rankings, no matter how much other SEO work you do.
Here are the 10 most important on page SEO elements.
1. Title tags
The title tag is one of the most important on page SEO factors.
It’s what gets seen in the Google search results and it’s the first thing that Google sees on the page.
The title should be very relevant to the content of the page which is important for both Google and humans. Get this wrong, and you won’t rank at all.
The title should contain 1 or 2 keywords and your brand name and it should be less than 55 characters.
Sometimes, search engines will display a different title depending on the search query or other data Google is using about the searcher.
Your title will also show up when you share your page on social websites (e.g. Facebook). It will display in the tab of a browser and it will also determine how many people click through to your content.
One of the most obvious yet most overlooked parts of SEO is the content Always ask yourself:
“What is actually on the page that is going to be of value to a reader?”
If you don’t produce great content, no one is going to read it.
It must address a need or a problem for a very tightly defined audience.
It should be unique, stand out and if possible, have an opinion or a point of differentiation in your industry.
If you get this right, your post will be shared, ‘liked’ and linked to.
It will be read completely and this ‘stickiness’ will ensure Google ranks it better.
Over time, this will gain momentum and traffic to your website will follow.
Do this for every blog post consistently and the snow ball effect will be significant. Many large organisations rely solely on content marketing.
The best content is written by those who intimately know who they are writing to. They know the problems, concerns and needs of their customer and they can address these appropriately.
3. URL Structure
The URL not only shows the user where they are on your site, it also tells Google about the structure of your site and the ‘compartments’ everything is in the category hierarchy of your site. Never have your URL look like this:
It should look like:
The URL above clearly shows that the ‘plumbing’ page pertains to ‘houses’.
There may be another category on the website about apartments and plumbing.
This URL structure helps users and Google know what the page is about.
4. Meta description
Whilst not a direct ranking factor, a good meta description will help the click though rate to your site. The better the click through, the better you’ll rank.
The meta description is what shows under the title of a webpage in search results (see below image).
Write naturally but also do some in depth keyword research.
There’s not much point writing an article about a topic if no one is interested in. However, if you know your market well, chances are you’ll be writing about something that they will want to know.
However, keyword research can also uncover interesting terms that people search for that you may have not considered.
With this knowledge you can tailor your content to these terms or even decide to go for some ‘longtail’ keywords terms that are searched infrequently but are easy to rank for and there’s usually tons of them.
6. Fast Load Time
If your website takes to long to load, people won’t wait for it and they click away – Google sees this and doesn’t like it – it’s a poor user experience.
Get on a fast server and make your site nice and light.
7. Mobile Device Compatible
Can your website be viewed easily on multiple platforms?
Test it out with Google’s mobile testing tool here. There’s nothing worse than not being able to read a website on a small screen especially when you’re out and about.
Thankfully, Google are de-ranking sites that are not mobile friendly. See my blog post about this here.
8. Optimise your images
Smush them, make them small and describe them well with titles and alt text to let Google know what they’re seeing.
9. Make your content accessible and shareable
Another obvious yet overlooked element is how your customers consume their content?
Do they like reading it? Listening to it? Watching it? Downloading it and printing it out?
Everyone is different and you’ll be surprised how many people consume content differently.
To get as many of your target market as possible actually ‘consuming’ your content, turn it into audio for an iTunes podcast, make a YouTube video and put it in your blog post, transcribe it and make that your blog content, make a pdf and have that downloadable from the blog post page as well.
Not only will these extra elements improve consumption, the SEO benefits from iTunes, YouTube etc will flow on.
(i) Make Social Sharing Easy
An important part of your content for SEO purposes is to have it shared on social media sites.
Have some strategically placed sharing buttons in your post that make this easy for the reader. If you’re a WordPress user, we recommend the Digg Digg floating Share Bar.
10. Make Your Website Easy to Use
The quickest way to lose a website visitor is with a poor user experience. There are many ways to improve UX but the most important ones:
- Easy Navigation
- Large menu Buttons
- Fast website
- Anticipate user behaviour flow
- Provide contact information
So there you have it. The most important on page ranking factors. Get these right and you’re well on your way to ranking success.
As part of my SEO services, I fix all our clients on page SEO elements. To learn more contact me here.