Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of facilitating a high ranking in search results when your target market is looking for what your business offers. Search engines like Google assess hundreds of factors and use conditional mathematical equations and artificial intelligence to provide searchers with the most helpful results.
There are two parts to the optimization process, often referred to as on-page and off-page. On-page SEO optimizes the structure and content of each page of your website, as well as all of them combined. Below, we look at eight of the key aspects of on-page SEO.
Your website address or “universal resource locator,” known as a URL, is based on your domain name. Ours is iias.ca. It’s also called a permalink because it stays the same and is part of all pages on our site. For example, the address of our SEO services page is iias.ca/search-engine-optimization/.
The URL is the first thing that Google assesses. Since the domain itself is often not helpful, the URLs of the individual pages is the focus of this part of on-page SEO.
For example, John Smith is a plumber in Langley. His domain is smithandsons.com, which he’s been using for more than decade, but it doesn’t tell Google anything about the business. So, rather than having the “Services” page at the URL smithandsons.com/services, we make it smithandsons.com/langley-plumber.
This is the first step in helping Google understand what your website is about. Put the keywords right after the end of the domain. Using smithandsons.com/langley-plumber is better than smithandsons.com/locations/serving/Langley-plumbing.
Meta Title and Description
For each page of your website, you have the opportunity to add a “meta title” and a description. This is the information that Google shows on their Search Engine Results Page (SERPs). The easiest way to put this on your website is to use a plugin like Yoast SEO or All in One SEO.
A few tips:
- Have the main keyword near the beginning of the title and description tags.
- Keep the meta title less than 60 characters.
- Keep the description less than 160 characters.
- Give each page a unique title and description.
- Remember that you’re writing for Google AND for your target market, so you’re basically writing an ad to get your potential clients’ attention.
It is important to make sure that you have quality content on your website. Keyword density was once very important to Google, but it has long since shifted to a more holistic approach. In fact, if you use a keyword repeatedly, your ranking will drop. (Learn more about the Panda Algorithm
Google’s goal is to provide the most useful web pages to a searcher. Useful means helpful, comprehensive, plain language, informative, and meaningful. (Learn more about the Hummingbird Algorithm.)
Within the content there are places that are more important than others. For example, the headings you use (H1 and H2 tags) tell Google that the content below is more detailed information on that topic.
As part of Google’s analysis of your site, it is pulling out topics and concepts, relating these to other parts of your website, to other websites, and to what it knows about the searcher (like their location). It’s also tracking how long people stay on your site, how many pages they look at, and other measures of engagement.
The more useful your site is to viewers, the higher its value will be in Google’s eyes. Some tips:
- Use caution hiring someone to write for your website. If it’s not unique and written specifically for you, Google will know and downgrade your site.
- Use natural language that doesn’t repeat your keyword too frequently.
- Keep your content relevant to your target market and what you offer.
- Put your main keyword in a main heading (H1 tag).
- Describe all images with alternative text.
Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is the analysis of words that are related. Google uses LSI to better understand website content, so it can match a searcher’s intent to relevant pages.
Optimizing to make use of LSI is the process of using a variety of different terms that mean basically the same thing, and ensuring that all of the keywords relate to the main topic.
For example, on Smith and Sons’ website, they might want to use the terms: plumber, plumbing contractor, and plumbing services. These are all related words, and any of these terms might be used by the searcher.
In addition, if Smith and Sons’ website just says, “We provide all types of plumbing services,” Google doesn’t know if it should match your site to someone who is searching for a new hot water tank. On their services page, they need to list at least the most common services customer’s need; e.g., hot water tank, fixing water leaks, installing a new toilet, etc.
These are all things that a plumber does, but stating these specifically allows Google to confirm that your site contains relevant content, and will meet the needs of a searcher looking for a particular item or service.
Semantic SEO also adds more depth to your content, and helps you rank for a variety of different keywords. The best way to find related terms that searchers use is through keyword research.
Schema (structured data)
This is a measurement of how long it takes for your website to load. This is so important that Google spent their own time, money and energy building this speed insight tool so that people like you and me can see exactly what needs to be done to improve your website’s speed.
Writing for a website is a complex task that requires knowledge about how search engines work, as well as excellence in the craft. Make sure you work with a great SEO company so that you can get al the benefits of SEO.