When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), many people get so caught up in link building that they overlook the importance of the many onsite factors that can impact their website’s rankings.
There is more to onsite SEO than creating content, using your keyword in the title tag, and hoping for the best.
If you want your website to reach the top of the search engine rankings – this is where you will receive the largest number of organic clicks – it’s important to focus on onsite SEO.
Here is a cheat sheet guide that will put you on the right track (and keep you there):
1. Only Use SEO-Friendly URLs
Google has made it clear that the first few words in a URL are given the most weight.
With this in mind, every URL should be short and descriptive, with your keywords pushed as close to the front as possible.
If you’re using WordPress, you can set the permalink structure from your dashboard. This ensures that every URL is SEO friendly.
2. Use your Keyword in the Title Tag
There are many onsite factors that impact your search engine rankings, with the title tag among the most important.
You should always include your target keyword in the title tag. If possible, your title should start with the keyword.
Here is how you should think about it: The search engines consider the words at the front of the title tag to be the most important, giving them the most weight.
3. Don’t Stuff Your Title With Keywords
This may have worked many years ago, but in today’s day and age, you need to avoid this.
Your title should include your primary keyword, but don’t stuff it full of others – this leads to a spammy appearance.
One of the best things you can do is add a modifying word to your title. An example of this would be “best”, “top”, or the year in which you are writing the post.
Think along the lines of “Your 2017 Guide to Buying Nail Polish Online.”
4. Use One H1 Tag
If a single H1 tag is good, several of these must be better, right? While it’s reasonable to think this, nothing could be further from the truth.
One H1 tag is all a webpage needs to get your point across.
This is typically the title of a blog post or page, so once again focus on including your keywords.
Tip: Depending on your CMS and theme, you may find that your website has more than one H1 tag. You want to do away with this right away. The only H1 tag should be the actual title of the content.
5. Use Images and Videos
There is no denying the importance of creating high quality, long form content.
Just make sure you don’t get so hung up on the words that you overlook the importance of inserting images and videos.
Your goal is to create the best content on your subject matter. This typically means using a variety of images and videos throughout. For example, screenshots and infographics can give your content an added boost.
6. Optimize your Images
It’s important to use images in your content, but you need to go one step further: each one should be properly optimized.
Your image file name should include your primary keyword. The same holds true for your Alt text.
It doesn’t take more than a few seconds to optimize your images, so this isn’t something you want to ignore.
Tip: Image optimization can also help bring your website traffic from Google Images searches.
7. Use H2 Tags
We already discussed the benefits of using one H1 tag on each page, however, you don’t want to stop there.
You should also use H2 tags for each subheading.
This doesn’t mean you should go overboard, but it’s a good idea to use H2 tags to break up your content. To get the most value out of this strategy, use your target keyword or a variation in each heading.
8. Insert Your Primary Keyword Early On
Do you remember the early days of SEO when keyword stuffing was the norm? You were always looking for a way to cram your keyword into the content as often as possible.
This is no longer the right approach. While it’s important to use your primary keyword early on – typically within the first 100 to 200 words – you don’t want to take this too far.
As your content continues, use your keyword(s) naturally. Stuffing keywords into your text will not have a positive impact on your rankings. In fact, it can drag your rankings down, as it can be considered a spam tactic.
9. Spread the Keyword Love
Before creating a new piece of content, it’s natural to settle on a target keyword. But did you know that you should also use secondary keywords throughout your content?
LSI keywords are important, as these help Google figure out what type of content is on your page.
Even better is the fact that using LSI keywords can increase the amount of long tail traffic to your website.
10. Mobile is Important
Go back in time 10 years and you didn’t have to worry about this. Everything changed when Google released its mobile friendly algorithm update.
If you don’t know if your website is mobile friendly, grab your tablet or smartphone to take a closer look.
A responsive design is an absolute must in today’s day and age. Not only does this help with your rankings, but more people than ever are searching via a mobile device. You want to make life easy on them.
11. Insert Outbound Links
Some people are entirely against this. They believe that using outbound links will help others, but drag down their rankings.
This isn’t true now and probably never will be.
The use of outbound links gives Google a better idea of what your web page is about, which only helps from an SEO perspective.
There is no written rule on how many outbound links to include, but do your best to mix these in at a rate of 3 to 5 per every 1,000 words of content.
12. Insert Internal Links
Just the same as outbound links, the use of internal links is extremely important when it comes to onsite SEO.
You don’t want to go crazy with these, but using a handful per 1,000 words should suit you well.
Although you may be tempted to do so, don’t use an exact match anchor every time you link to an internal page.
13. Increase Site Speed
What does this have to do with onsite SEO? Does it really matter if my site is fast or slow?
It may not sound important to you, especially in regards to search engine rankings, but Google doesn’t feel the same way.
Google takes page load speed into consideration when ranking sites, so you want your website to be as fast as possible.
If there is anything slowing your site down, pinpoint the problem and find a solution. This isn’t a surefire way to boost your rankings, but it can definitely help.
14. Encourage Social Sharing
It’s not a necessity, as social sharing may not have a direct impact on your search engine rankings, but it can help over the long run.
The more success you experience on social the better chance you have of generating backlinks. Subsequently, your rankings will benefit in the long run.
15. Update Your Old Content
After you post a piece of content, it’s easy to leave this in the past and hope for the best.
As you turn your attention to the future, don’t forget to keep one eye on the past. This means regularly reviewing old content with an eye towards making it better.
A 2,000-word blog post that has generated average results has the potential to bring even more traffic if you add 1k words of quality content.
Get into the habit of regularly revisiting your old content. You won’t update every piece, but you will find a few opportunities that make sense.
It goes without saying that search engines are always changing. For this reason, what works today may not work tomorrow. And what works tomorrow may not generate results next year.
If you’re struggling with onsite SEO, the 15 points above should help put you on the right track.
Would you add any other tips to this list? Share your personal onsite SEO strategy in the comment section below.