If you want to rank on Google, or any other major search engine, you need to understand the basics of SEO and what search engine spiders are looking for when analyzing your website.
In this blog post, we are going to look at the basic SEO foundations you need to set when optimizing your website for 1st page rankings on Google and other search engines.
What Is On Page SEO?
On Page SEO is the optimization of individual website pages that tell search engines what each page is about.
There are a number of details search engines look for when determining how well your website pages will rank.
Some of these details include the title tag, description tag, heading tags and the content on the web page.
Why On Page SEO Is Important
On page SEO is important because a well optimized website can drive tons of free traffic to your website 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
Additionally, traffic from search engines is highly targeted and are proven to have the highest conversion rates in the industry.
Just to give you an idea of how important on page SEO is, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine and 75% of people never scroll past the first page! (source: https://junto.digital/)
How To Optimize For On Page SEO
Google AnalyticsKeyword Research
The first step to optimize your website is to research keywords you want to rank for.
When researching keywords, look for keywords that have a high search volume and low competition.
If your website is new and you try to rank for a keyword that has a high search volume and lots of competition like “pizza”, chances are your web page will be buried deep in search engine results pages where nobody will find you.
Instead, you may want to try to rank for “long tail keywords” that have a high volume of search but have less competition.
Using the “pizza” example, a long tail keyword could include something like “pizza delivery in (your town)”.
Google offers a free keyword research tool to anybody with a Google account. You can access Googles free tool, “Keyword Planner” here.
The title tag is the most important factor of on page SEO because it is the first thing search engines recognize.
After you have done your keyword research, you will want to put the keyword you want to rank for at the beginning of the title tag.
Keep your title tag under 60 characters long so it displays properly in search engine results.
The description tag is important because it is what searchers read before determining whether or not to click on your listing.
Consider your description tag more of a sales copy to entice searchers to click.
Keep your description tag under 160 characters long so it displays properly in search engine results.
(Update: As of Dec 2017, Google now displays up to 325 characters)
The keyword tag is no longer relevant to search engines and can do more harm then help to your online rankings.
The reason keywords are no longer relevant is because webmasters abused them by spamming the tag with hundreds of keywords.
Google and other search engines recognized the issue and did away with the keyword tag.
Heading tags, such as H1, H2, and H3, are important because they give structure to your page.
From a search engines perspective, a H1 tag carries more relevance than an H3 tag.
From a consumers standpoint, the use of heading tags helps them navigate the web page to discover they content they came looking for.
Keyword density is important for on page SEO because it reinforces what your web page is about.
The trick to keyword density is to not overuse your keyword and to make it flow with the content on your page.
Advances in Google’s search engine now recognizes keyword variations which allows website owners to create content that is easy for consumers to digest.
What Is Off Page SEO?
Off Page SEO is the practice of marketing techniques that take place outside of a websites immediate domain and have an impact on your websites ranking.
Some off page SEO marketing techniques include link building, social media engagement and the consistency of how your business appears online.
Why Off Page SEO Is Important
Off Page SEO is important because it tells search engines how popular and trustworthy your website is.
A popular website tends to receive more links and more engagement on social media which signals to search engines that your website is trustworthy.
Therefore, a trustworthy website ranks higher in search engines because consumers find the information valuable.
How To Optimize For Off Page SEO
Backlinks are links from third party websites that point to a page on your website.
There are a number of ways to obtain backlinks to your website. You can scour the internet for blog posts to comment on, add a link to your website in directories and even guest blog on other websites.
When creating backlinks to your website, it is important to remember that the quality of the link is more important than the quantity of links.
Generally speaking, backlinks on .gov and .edu websites will help increase website rankings over other types of backlinks.
Social Media Engagement
The growth and popularity of social media has changed the way search engines rank websites. Therefore it is important to link back to your website on all of your social media profiles.
When posting on social media, engagement counts! When posting on social media, make sure to post quality content your users find helpful.
Quality content drives engagement which translates into likes and shares which means more inbound links to your content.
The more inbound links to your content, the more visibility you have, which is what matters most to search engines.
What Is Local SEO?
Local SEO is the optimization of a website and its online assets in an attempt to rank at the top of search engines when a local search is performed.
Some online assets include Google Business Listing, Bing Business Listing, Yelp and even Facebook Business Pages.
Why Local SEO Is Important
With the rise in mobile technology, consumers who are out and about are very likely to search for nearby places of interest to satisfy their needs.
If your business is around the corner but not easily found online, chances are you just lost that customer to your competitor.
Just to give you an idea of how important local SEO is, a recent study showed that 78% of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases.
That same study also shows that nearly 96% of PC users conduct local searches on their desktops. (Source: http://searchengineland.com/)
Another study shows that 68% of local searches use the “get directions” or “click to call” on local searches and 46% of all searches on Google are local! (Source: http://www.business2community.com/)
How To Optimize For Local SEO
The first step when optimizing your business for local search is to make sure the websites meta tags are properly optimized for the community you wish to target.
For service industries who target multiple locations, you may have to get creative and add website pages for additional communities to target.
Next, search places on the internet where your businesses information can be submitted.
The most important aspect of local SEO is making sure all of your citations are exactly the same.
Citations are how your businesses information is displayed on each individual site including your own website.
Citations, or NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number), are very important for higher rankings in local search results.
The number 1 thing search engines look for in citations is consistency.
When creating profiles on social media and in directories, make sure your NAP is identical.
If your NAP is not consistent, search engines can become confused and your website will drop in search engine rankings.
What Is Mobile SEO?
Mobile SEO is the optimization of a website to ensure its capable of functioning properly based on the device the user is accessing the website on.
Mobile SEO includes responsive web design, page speed, user experience and more to ensure a mobile friendly user experience.
Why Mobile SEO Is Important
Mobile Marketing ServicesMobile SEO is important because users on mobile devices tend to have more of an urgency to their searches.
Think about it, how many times have you searched for nearby places while out and about and then went to that nearby place and purchased something?
Chances are very high that mobile search has helped you more than once over the past week.
The most important factor in mobile SEO is page speed because a slow mobile website results in a high abandonment rate.
As a matter of fact, 53% of mobile pages are abandoned if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Furthermore, a 10 second load time has a 123% higher bounce rate than a 1 second load time. (source: https://www.wiredseo.com/)
Ranking high on mobile searches will also yield more visitors to your website.
According to Google, more Google searches are done on mobile devices than on a desktop. Additionally, 51% of smartphone users have discovers a new company when conducting a search on their mobile device. (source: https://www.hubspot.com/)
How To Optimize For Mobile SEO
As mentioned above, there are a number of factors search engines look at when ranking a mobile website.
However, on this page we are just going to cover a couple of the top factors to ranking well on mobile searches.
Responsive Website Design
Responsive website design is the process in which a web designer builds a website that displays properly on different screen sizes.
This can be accomplished in 1 of 2 ways, 1 – the web designer can create a completely different mobile sites – 2 – the web design can incorporate code into the website that tells it how to display content based on the users screen size.
However, other aspects as far as spacing, button sizes, forms and so on still have to display properly so it is easy for a mobile visitor to use and navigate the website.
Page speed is a huge factor when it comes to how well your website ranks on search engines.
Since most search engines want users to have a good experience from their search results, a high bounce rate can drag your mobile rankings down.
As mentioned above, the longer it takes your website to load, the better chance the user will abandon your website before the even see it.
There are a number of great free tools available to see how fast your website loads.
The first tool we suggest is Googles own PageSpeed Insights. We also recommend GTmetrix and Pingdom. Each tool will provide you with feedback about how fast your website loads and suggestions on how to improve your load time.