Search engines use a variety of factors in categorizing and ranking websites. No one knows exactly how each search engine determines a website’s rank (but Google ranking factors do provide some clue); however, there are many ways you can optimize your website, making it easier for search engines to gather data, categorize your content and rank your website effectively. The following onsite tweaks, when used effectively, can increase the friendliness and usability of your website for both visitors and search engines, increasing your website’s ranking and boosting traffic to your website.
One of the most important things you can do to improve the ranking of your website is to create unique, fresh content and update it regularly. You want to provide accurate up-to-date information to visitors that distinguishes your website from other websites targeting the same market. Content should always be relevant to your business, provide value to your visitor, and be distinct from content found on other pages, both on your website and on other websites targeting the same market and keywords you are.
Even on pages containing product descriptions, you can customize your descriptions to make the description unique to your website. You never want your descriptions to look the same as a product description found on another website, even if you are describing the same product. The same goes for writing descriptions of your services. Always try to be as unique as possible while providing valuable, accurate content to your visitors.
Each page on your website should have its own meta description that accurately describes the content provided on that particular page. Because meta descriptions show up under the title in search results, the descriptions should be as compelling as possible to encourage visitors to click your link. Think of it as writing ad copy for the page. Give an accurate description that will encourage visitors to click your link.
In addition to having unique meta descriptions, each page should also have a unique page title that distinguishes it from the other pages on your website. Each page title should be less than 60 characters long, be as descriptive as possible and contain the targeted keywords for that page. Just keep in mind that page titles are what show up first in search results, so they should make sense to visitors and provide accurate information about your page. Don’t just list keywords associated with the page. Create a title that accurately describes the page and entices the viewer to click on your link.
Whenever possible, use keywords in your website URLs. Internal URLs should always be short, descriptive, and keyword rich, making them friendly for both visitors and search engines. For example, if you run a web design business and have a portfolio page, linking with the words “web design portfolio” would be more effective and descriptive than using “portfolio” alone. Using the title attribution within navigational links also provides additional options to place descriptions and keywords in your URLs.
Using heading tags correctly organizes the information on your website, much like creating an outline of your content. You should use h1 tags for the main title on the page, use h2 tags for major subsections, and use h3 to h6 tags for further dividing content as necessary. Proper use of headings not only makes content easier to scan and read for visitors, but they also let search engines know when they have entered a new section or subsection on the page, making it easier to categorize your content and determine your website’s relevance to the keywords being targeted.
ALT tags provide additional information to website users as well as to search engines. The description in the ALT tag appears on the page when an image doesn’t load, providing visitors with an accurate explanation of what should have appeared there. ALT tags also provide a convenient way of describing your content to search engines, and when appropriate, you can include keywords in the ALT tag. Just be sure that descriptions are accurate and that keywords are only inserted if they are appropriate to the image. Never stuff keywords into an ALT tag if they don’t accurately describe the image.
Using internal links effectively is an excellent way to keep your visitors engaged with your website while also improving your ranking in the search engines. Internal links should provide an accurate description of the page you are linking to while also using keywords associated with that page. This provides accurate information to your visitors as well as to search engines. Keep in mind that your site’s navigational links appear on every page, so whenever possible, you should include targeted keywords in those navigational links while still keeping them logical and user friendly.
The easiest and most effective way to ensure that search engines find every page of your website is to create an XML sitemap listing every page and submit it to all the major search engines. A comprehensive sitemap provides quick, easy navigation through your website, which will increase your crawl rate and improve your website’s rankings. Many of today’s content management systems, including WordPress, have built in functionality to create an XML sitemap for you. If your current system does not include this capability, it would be worth it to take the time and effort to add that functionality or to find an alternative means of creating the XML sitemap.
The targeted keywords for your page should always appear at least once on the page and should be included naturally in the text. The more content there is, the more times you can include your keywords, but be careful not to use your keywords too many times or in ways that appear awkward or unnatural. If you do so, your page and possibly your entire website could end up classified as keyword spam. For best results, keywords should range between two and five percent of the content on the page.
Creating pages that load quickly and efficiently will improve functionality for visitors while also making it easy for search engines to crawl through your website, increasing crawler activity and improving your website’s ranking. If pages take too long to load, visitors and search engines will move on and spend less time on your site.
Be taking advantage of these simple and effective onsite SEO tweaks, you can provide a quality, user-friendly website for visitors that is also easy to navigate and rank by search engines. These tweaks are quick and easy to implement, and you’ll reap the benefits by improving your website’s ranking in the search engines as well as increasing the number of visitors to your website. Just be sure your website is ready to handle the increased traffic.