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On-Site Seo 101: 10-Point Checklist

12 min read

What your website is missing in terms of on-site search engine optimization could be hurting your search results. Make sure your regular SEO audits focus on these on-site features so you maximize the results you’re getting.

1. Title Tags

What they are:

Title tags are one of the most important signals to search engines, according to internet marketing agency AlphaMind Studios. The title tag describes the page to search engines and appears at the top of a result.

How to optimize them:

Keep title tags to 60 characters or less. Use primary keywords you want the page to rank for in the title tag but avoid keyword stuffing. Make the title tag content natural and relevant.

2. Page Descriptions

What they are:

Page descriptions appear below title tags in search results and describe the page in more detail. These often include a call to action for the user to interact with the page or brand.

How to optimize them:

Limit page descriptions to no more than 150 characters. Use keywords in the description, but again, avoid keyword stuffing. Provide straightforward clarity into the page paired with a compelling call to action.

3. Header Tags

What they are:

Header tags break up the copy on a web page through various ways, including larger font size or bold or italicized copy. They serve as signals to search engines about what your page is about.

How to optimize them:

Use H1, H2 and H3 tags throughout your page, but only one H1 tag and multiple H2 and H3 tags. Make sure your H1 tag is consistent with your title tag but varies slightly. Use keywords naturally throughout the header tags.

4. Body Content

What it is:

The main portion of your web page copy, other than the header tags, forms the body content. This can be longform, up to thousands of words, depending on the subject.

How to optimize it:

Conduct keyword research that shows you terms you want to rank for. Create a content calendar that is inspired by ideas that naturally complement those keywords. Only insert keywords when they are natural and relevant to the content. Aim to create content that is unique and valuable.

5. Internal Links

What they are:

Internal links are links back to your website throughout a web page. These allow content consumers to check out other relevant pages throughout your website.

How to optimize them:

Make sure internal links are noticeable by differentiating them in copy, by bolding them or making them another color, for example. Only use internal links where relevant, and make sure the copy the link is connected to makes sense. Make sure internal links open up to new tabs, so users stay on both pages of your site, which decreases bounce rate, increases time spent on site and keeps visitors engaged. Regularly audit internal links to remove any broken links that go to unresponsive pages, since this can hurt your SEO.

6. External Links

What they are:

External links are hyperlinks that direct content consumers to websites other than your site. These may be links that are considered sources within the copy, or that point to brands that are directly mentioned by the content, which makes linking to the website natural. Search Engine Journal reports there is a positive correlation between search engine rankings and a page’s outgoing links,positive correlation between search engine rankings and a page’s outgoing links depending on the quality of the external links.

How to optimize them:

Make sure the website you’re linking to is of high quality, meaning the articles are well written, the site is hosted on a secure server, the content the site features is credible, etc. Again, pair the external link with copy that is relevant and natural. Only use external links that benefit your content consumers.

7. Image Alt Text

What it is:

Image alt text defines what an image on your website is. Because pictures can’t be crawled by search engines (yet), the image alt text tells search engines what is in the image. An image search result links back to the website it’s on. Why is this important? According to 2017 data gathered by SEO software Moz, Google Images account for nearly 27 percent of all search traffic, second only behind searches on Google.com.

How to optimize it:

Include keywords in the title and description/caption of the image. Add keywords to image tags, as well. Make sure how you describe the image is relevant, since the alt text is what will show up if there is an issue with the image displaying on your website.

8. Mobile Functionality

What it is:

In 2016, Google announced mobile-first indexing, giving priority to websites that function well on mobile devices. Since about 60 percent of searches occur on mobile devices, designing with a mobile-first outlook is essential.

How to optimize it:

Make sure your site loads immediately on mobile and is easy to read. Use the mobile-friendly test by Google to identify weaknesses. Use Google’s robots.txt test to make sure that your mobile site is accessible to Google.

 

9. Load Speed

What it is:

Load speed is a measurement of how fast your page and all its content completely loads. Faster pages rank better, since Google uses load speed as a page ranking signal.

How to optimize it:

Use the Google site speed test to gauge how your website is performing. Reduce redirects, which increase waiting time. Use an optimized server and web page host. Compress high-resolution images.

10. Structured Site Maps

What they are:

Structured sitemaps are XML files that display all your website’s individual URLs and the possible journeys users can take throughout a website. A sitemap also includes “hidden” URLs that may not be easily accessible to users, but that are live and that you still might want to have ranked on search engines. Identifying these for Google is beneficial because more high-quality pages throughout your website is better for your SEO rankings.

How to optimize them:

Implement a sitemap by using a plug-in from your content manager. Make sure to feature all high-quality pages in your sitemap. All URLs you create throughout your website should feature relevant keywords in the address and be listed on a secure server.

Make Simple Fixes for Better Rankings:

These on-site SEO components are easy to identify and tweak. Keep these in mind as you create content, so that SEO-driven principles guide you through the entire on-site creation process and you save time from having to fix future problems.

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