Let’s talk business and find out why on-page SEO is important to your website. We’ve also prepared a handy on-page SEO checklist that you can always come back to!
Our previous blog was all about performing keyword research for your website, which is only a tiny fragment of an effective SEO strategy. Nowadays, search engine optimization is the kind of thing that no online business (at least one serious about its eCommerce sales) can afford to ignore.
A vital digital marketing tool, SEO has become some kind of a buzzword in our new internet economy. In a sense, everyone talks about it. Yet, despite the countless blogs you may browse on the topic – with numbers somewhere in the thousands – there’s little concise information you can work with when you’re just getting started with optimizing your website. So let’s roll back a bit and understand the basics.
Let’s Talk About What SEO Means in 2021
Search engine optimization for websites boils down to the following:
- First, you’re making various adjustments to render your site discoverable by search engines.
- Secondly, you’re ensuring it’s fully functional and tailored to its “ideal” users. Ideal users, or target audience, are terms that refer to the public that your website is intended for.
In short, with SEO, the main aim is to optimize your website to rank up higher for a particular search query. Putting in this extra effort makes a lot of sense, particularly when you’re just starting out. Why? Once your website is up and running, you’ll want to draw in organic (non-payed) inbound traffic immediately. Essentially, this means your target audience reaches your platform, discovers your brand, and, best-case scenario, buys the products you’re selling online.
However, keep in mind one thing that isn’t mentioned nearly enough. SEO simply can’t guarantee that your website comes up among these first over-competitive spots on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). But don’t take our word for it. Instead, look at what Google’s Starter Guide on SEO tells us right away:
“This guide won’t provide any secrets that’ll automatically rank your site first in Google (sorry!), but following the best practices will hopefully make it easier for search engines to crawl, index, and understand your content.”
What Can SEO Actually Achieve?
At its core, Search Engine Optimisation – as the very name implies – is a collection of techniques, skills, best practices that render your website easier to discover and index by search engines like Google (whose unshakeable monopoly is hardly news). Google’s search engine is our reference point in this blog. However, the more challenging part of SEO is not having the Googlebot crawl and index your web webpages. The real challenge is helping Google understand and adequately evaluate the quality and value of your website.
And, of course, the content evaluated by search engines extends way beyond website copy. Many other elements (design components, credibility, page loading speeds, etc.) shape a user’s experience with a particular web platform. Ultimately, they all reflect on how well that platform ranks on the SERPs.
The takeaway? If you convince search engines like Google that your website delivers what users are looking for when they type in a particular search query, you’ll have a higher chance of ranking well on the SERPs for that query. In short, if your website delivers excellent quality and answers the user’s needs, search engines are likely to detect that. With a bit of help, that is.
On-page vs. Off-page SEO
People commonly distinguish between two types of SEO practices: on-page and off-page. For now, let’s talk about them in broad terms:
- On-page SEO focuses on your internal website structure, its functionality, and its overall content
- Off-page SEO looks at how authoritative and popular the website is compared to other web platforms.
So off-page SEO is about increasing your website’s domain authority. This authority refers to its trustworthiness, credibility, and popularity, according to assessments performed by search engines. Usually, your platform’s domain authority increases when other authoritative websites link back to you. For this reason, off-page SEO is largely outside our direct control (there are some things we can do in terms of off-page, but that will be the talk of another blog). For now, let’s stop at on-page SEO.
Why On-page SEO is Important to Your Website
When hearing “on-page SEO,” people generally think about setting up a keyword strategy. But that’s just half the story. On-page optimization encapsulates all measures we can take directly within our website, from altering technical elements (code, architecture, indexing, rendering elements, etc.) to website copy and all of its design elements.
With so much to do and pay attention to, you’re most likely wondering if SEO is ultimately worth the effort and the resources. We’ll, here’s what SEO can achieve for your online business:
- Drive relevant customers and leads to your website (organic traffic);
- Improve customer experience and increase website conversions;
- Grow your domain authority;
- Produce a trackable increase in sales and business growth.
Now, let’s move on to the on-page SEO checklist we’ve promised!
On-page SEO Checklist
1. WEBSITE ARCHITECTURE
First, you need to start with a solid website structure. This involves proper content categorization, URLs, sitemaps, and the robots.txt file (which we use to block search engines from crawling certain pages that could deter your ranking).
The Googlebot can easily crawl and index a website if it features a good architecture (or hierarchy) on a few levels. For a smaller website, we recommend you go for a clear, flat architecture. Keep in mind that a well-structured, simple website layout helps and encourages users to navigate it. Other advantages follow: clients are discouraged from quickly leaving your website (which, by the way, sends off “bad signals” to Google).
Other website architecture elements include:
- Internal Links, which take users or search engines from one website page to another;
- Call to Actions (CTAs), which encourage your website audience to take action;
- URL Structure: when adequately crafted, URLs provide both humans and search engines with a clear indication of what the destination webpage is about.
2. TECHNICAL IMPROVEMENTS
- Build efficient, clear code (make sure to remove superfluous functions and idle code sections);
- Improve website loading speeds (server response times);
- Ensure your platform is fully optimized for mobile devices;
- Consistently perform website security checks;
- Run technical performance checks regularly
- Use analytics to make structured, regular improvements to any of the elements above.
3. CONTENT & DESIGN IMPROVEMENTS
- Performing text optimization based on a website keyword strategy is no longer limited to keyword density (how often you use a particular phrase on a page). In fact, overusing key phrases can lead to overoptimization, which may appear “spammy” and lead to the opposite outcome. This is because the quality of your content heavily outweighs how many times you throw in a particular word. To understand how to perform your keyword research properly, make sure to check out our previous blog.
- Fill in all meta-information for all of your pages accordingly (this includes meta titles and meta descriptions).
- But there is also image optimization, which you’ll have to perform for on-page graphic elements, some of which can rank in Google’s image search. We suggest you keep image sizes as small as possible without sacrificing quality to ensure your web pages load quickly.
- You must also correctly fill in the alt tags for all the images on your website. They may be “invisible” to users, but search engines use these descriptions to understand the content of your images.
We hope our on-page SEO checklist will be of use to those just starting out with performing website optimization.
SEO may initially seem like a friendly practice, but in fact, encompasses elements that take a long time to master. We’ll provide more in-depth coverage of particular SEO topics in our future blogs, so check back for some SEO news & tips every once in a while!
And if you need help with performing SEO for your website, you can always reach out to our experts here at Mejix.