Google receives over 57,000 searches per second on any given day, so it’s fair to say that making sure your business stands out from the crowd is crucial to success.
On-site search-engine optimisation (SEO) is the science of ensuring your online content makes it to the first page of search engines like Google. By tailoring your content towards relevant keywords, your website can appear on the first page of Google for terms your target customers use when considering their next purchase.
Sound confusing? SEO can be, but our experts are here to cut through the jargon with these four easy on-site SEO wins that will help improve traffic to your website and increase lead generation.
1. Conduct Keyword Research
If you see a popular piece of content online, you can be sure that someone has taken the time to identify a specific keyword around which to base their writing.
Keywords are, simply put, the terms people use on search engines. In order to determine what comes up first when a search is made, Google ‘crawls’ web pages to determine which are the most relevant to the searched phrase.
By knowing what terms your customer base are most likely to use when searching for a product or service you offer, you can optimise your on-site content. This optimisation process will help your website move up the rankings and improve your chances of ranking on the first page of Google. This is important, since less than 10% of people make it to page two.
Keywords are split into two types: short-tail and long-tail terms. Short-tail keywords such as ‘coffee’ have a much higher search volume, but are dominated by well-established, household names like Starbucks. This makes them very hard to rank for.
Conversely, long-tail terms like ‘ethically sourced ground coffee’ have fewer searches, but lower competition. By having multiple pieces of content ranking for different long-tail keywords, you can build your online traffic and increase your business’s website visibility.
Including a location tag is a great way to narrow a search term while increasing the relevance to your business. This can have a great impact on sales; recent statistics cite that 72% of customers who did a local search visited a store within five miles.
2. Enhance Page Content With Keywords
After conducting keyword research, it’s time to optimise your on-site SEO by using these terms in key areas. When creating a web page, only tailor it to one or two keywords at a time.
Remember, Google uses keywords to decide what a page is about, so if you try to optimise for too many, your writing will likely appear confusing and not rank for anything at all.
Once you have chosen your keyword, use it in the following areas to enhance your SEO.
As you can probably guess, you’ll want to include your keyword in the body of a page’s written content, alongside the main page header and subheaders. From an SEO point-of-view, this helps Google understand your website, and from a writing point of view, it ensures your content always ties back to the key topic of the page.
The meta title refers to the text that appears on a Google search snippet above your website’s URL; and it is also displayed as the text on a tab once the page is opened. Often this will be the same as the main header (H1) you use at the top of your content, but it does not have to be identical.
The meta title is one of the first elements Google will crawl, so including your keyword here is crucial to SEO excellence. Of course, you should also include your keyword in the main header (H1) on every page, as this also ensures continuity between the title people select on Google and the one that appears on the page.
The style of your meta titles will vary depending on the web page it describes. A blog post needs an attention-grabbing meta title to attract new leads, while an About Us page does not. Whatever the style of you meta title, it is always best practice to include your company name.
Web Page URL
Like the HTML title, Google will look at the URLs of your web pages to determine the nature of the content first. So, once again, you’ll want to include your keyword here.
When creating a custom URL, the general rule of thumb is to make it easily understandable to your audience. If a person can understand your URL, then chances are, Google can too. Including your keyword in the first five words is also recommended as, according to Matt Cutts of Google, after this point words provide less SEO benefit.
You’ll likely want to include an image on your web pages, whether in the form of a picture or video, to increase user engagement. Since Google cannot interpret this media, it analyses the image’s alt-text to decide what it is. Typically, the default alt-text of media files are not SEO optimised and may be little more than ‘PIC_1’ or left blank entirely. Setting a custom alt-text allows you to:
- Better describe the photo, should it not load on a user’s device
- Include your keyword to improve on-site SEO
Alongside these benefits, alt-text allows your pictures to be pulled through to Google Images, providing yet another pathway for people to find your site.
Struggling to Include Your Keyword Naturally?
When using long-tail keywords, you may find that it is unrealistic to use the term’s exact wording, whether because of its length or because repetition of it damages the quality of your writing and seems unnatural.
In the end, Google’s main priority is rewarding high-quality content. As such, on-site SEO no longer demands you use the exact wording of your keyword, so feel free to use variants.
3. Increase On-Page Time
It stands to reason that websites with high-quality content keep visitors on the pages longer. Google certainly uses this concept to determine its rankings by using bounce rates and dwell time as a metric for judging website quality.
Your website’s bounce rate is calculated by looking at the number of people who land on your site and then leave without interacting with it; this means that they don’t click on anything or explore your website further. Dwell time simply refers to the amount of time a user stays on a page.
Improving these elements is achievable by improving the user experience and content provided on your website. Below are some of the most common reasons for a high bounce rate, and how you can fix them:
Lack of Content Variety and Length
Even if you have high-quality, SEO-optimised writing on your website, you may still find that your bounce rate is higher than you’d like. One common reason for this is because the content is too limited.
If your web pages are only made up of short amounts of text, users may be not be engaged enough to interact with your page and instead click off. Increasing the length and quality of your content encourages people to take more interest in your website content, while breaking up your writing with subheadings makes your content easier to process and more appealing.
Adding images and videos also increases engagement and provides another way for users to interpret your content. In fact, four times as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than read about it.
Page Load Speed
In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, website users have become accustomed to web pages loading quickly. Without quick load speeds, we are more likely to click off the page and look for an alternative (this increases bounce rate).
A page load time of seven seconds has been shown to result in a bounce rate of 32.3%, while a load time of two seconds reduces this to just 9.6%. Having certain plugins installed on your page and large image files can have a big impact on page load speed.
There are lots more factors involved though, so we won’t get into the nitty-gritty specifics of how to reduce load times; however, if you’re noticing the slowness of your website, it may be time to explore a growth-driven design solution to improve performance.
In 2016, mobile web usage overtook desktop use for the first time. If you have an online presence, you need to account for mobile users by having a responsive website design. Without a website that looks great on the small screen, your bounce rate will likely increase.
Furthermore, Google has begun to prioritise mobile-friendly websites higher in its rankings, so you could damage your website’s visibility by not optimising your website for mobile.
When using a responsive design, some of your content may need to be hidden, thus reducing the opportunity for keyword ranking. With all these considerations, mobile and tablet responsiveness should form a major part of your on-site SEO plan.
4. Use Internal, External and Inbound Links
When Google crawls a website, it not only looks at the content on the page, but also the content of the pages you link to. These links each play a different role in improving on-site SEO, as you can see below...
These links provide SEO value through establishing site architecture. By linking to other internal content, you map out paths through your website that both users and Google can follow to find the information they need.
Without using internal links, you run the risk of hosting pages that are not accessible by Google, and thus these orphaned pages can lose all of their SEO credit.
Including external links to other websites enhances your SEO strategy by helping Google identify the purpose of your content in relation to what you are linking to. Including external links to popular, authoritative, relevant pages helps improve credibility.
Be careful though – linking to low quality sites can damage your rankings, so choose carefully. Beyond the SEO benefit, linking to other websites helps you build relationships with those sites, increasing the chance that they link to you in return. These are vital, as you can see below.
When a website includes a link to yours in its content, this is called an inbound link or backlink. The more of these links that you have, the more of an authority you become on your chosen subject in the eyes of the website crawlers. If you are linked to by a more authoritative website this is hugely positive for SEO.
Furthermore, inbound links provide another pathway for strangers to come across your website, so the more links you have, the more you benefit from this referral traffic.
Building a network of inbound links is perhaps one of the trickiest aspects of on-site SEO. One good way is to write guest blogs for other sites and receive an inbound link in the post.
With these 4 easy wins, you can develop an on-site SEO strategy that will have your website quickly climbing the Google rankings.
However SEO is just one aspect of a fantastic inbound marketing strategy. To find out how your business could benefit from a tailored marketing solution, book a free Marketing Assessment with one of our team.
We’ll take a look at your business and show you where you could be improving online and how this Manchester SEO Agency can help with that.