Onsite optimisation is the very foundation on which the tower of strong rankings is built. At Sprout Online, we are big time advocates of great onsite optimisation, believing that it accounts for about 25% of a SEO campaign and without it, success online is futile. So what exactly is onsite optimisation?
Onsite optimisation are changes that are made to a website to get it in the right shape to get rankings. It’s what I refer to as “getting your own house in order before going out to change the world”.
Onsite optimisation is contrasted with off-site optimisation, which involves all the elements performed away from one’s website, all over the rest of the web, to improve rankings.
This article will discuss the key factors for onsite optimisation. These are the basic changes that must be made to a website to get it in good shape to achieve great rankings.
The title tag has been around as long as websites. It is the title that usually appears at the top of a browser when someone is on a webpage. Each website has multiple webpages, and each webpage will have a title tag.
Search engines like Google look at the title tag and from the words in your title tag then determine what you’re webpage is about. The title tag then is a good way to signal to Google and other search engines the keywords that you are targeting.
Changing the title tag of a webpage on your site will differ depending on how your website has been created. For most, your website will have been created with a Content Management System (CMS) that should have the functionality to change the title tags when you log into your CMS. To understand how to change the title tag of your website, its best to speak to your developer if unsure and have them instruct you on exactly how to make changes.
When you enter in your title tag for your webpage, there are a few things to know and abide by:
Only 70 characters
What you put in your title tag can go on for a while, however Google will only read the first 70 characters. The keywords you are targeting on a certain page must therefore be found in these first 70 characters.
Put important words first
In your 70 character title tag, its best practice to put the important words first. Search engines have been known to prioritise words in a title tag based on the order in which they come.
Make it natural and compelling
Remember that a title tag is supposed to be a title. Though it is a great way to signal to search engines what you’re webpage is about, its easy to fall into the trap of stuffing keywords into a title tag in a way that the title no longer makes sense. While its important to tweak a title so its best for SEO, always do your best to make the title tag nonetheless as natural as possible and ideally as compelling as you can.
The description tag contains a description which one will see just below your website title in the search engine results.
The description tag has no value in getting you better rankings, but it does compel people to click on your site when you’re listed in search engine results, and therefore should not be overlooked.
Like title tags, if you have a content management system that allows you to make changes to your website, changing your description tag through your CMS should be relatively easy upon asking your web developer for instructions.
A few things to know when entering your description tag
No more than 160 characters
Keep your description tag to 160 characters. Search engines like Google will cut of any characters that exceed this amount.
Should I include my keywords in this description?
Including keywords in your description tag will not help your rankings. What it does do though is compel users to click on your site when they see keywords in your description that they have entered into their search, which Google will make bold. I always recommend that you write your description tag naturally but include keywords where suitable to do so.
Content is king. It’s a common phrase that you would have likely heard if you’ve been exposed to SEO. Despite it being excessively bandied around in SEO circles, it’s a phrase from the very lips of Google that remains a truism for good rankings.
At Sprout Online, we are believers that great content is in most cases, the most important onsite optimisation factor. Great content should be either useful for the user or very compelling in getting a user to engage with your business.
The important things to recognise when writing content to get better rankings are:
Ensure content is unique
Search engines like Google have a fierce detestation for copied content, even if it is content that has been duplicated across multiple pages of your own site! Stick to the healthy practice of creating content that is unique and your own for every one of your webpages.
Content volume does matter
Content quantity is not as important as content quality but it does matter. Just like when you were writing an essay in school, a long essay does not guarantee a good grade but it’s difficult to get a good grade for an essay with just one paragraph. Good, valuable content tends to have some mass. If you are targeting a particular webpage, I always advise that you put effort to write content that is fore-mostly valuable and secondly weighty. At Sprout, we are inclined to recommend content that has 250 words or more for a business’s targeted pages.
Keywords to be included in content?
I’m always a big fan of writing content naturally and to make it useful and compelling. However, I also think it’s a good idea to take a second look and edit before you publish any content on your site. As part of this edit, you should look to include the keywords you are targeting in your content, making modifications where necessary and suitable to do so.
Search engines have been known to recognise keywords in the content of web pages in order to determine what the page is about, and are becoming much smarter at doing this. Upon this determination, they then rank the page accordingly for suitable keywords.
Links are the way in which search engines determine what is important. It is always a good idea to put some consideration into how to internally link your pages. When more internal links are going to a webpage, it signals to search engines that that is an important page on your website. For all pages that you’re targeting, it is good practice to link to them from other pages on your website.
The more links to the pages you are targeting, the more you indicate to Google that these pages are important and are the pages to rank.
These elements listed above are some of the most fundamental factors that you want to get right on your website so its in the right shape to rank well. These factors are not comprehensive. Be on the lookout for a post we’ll put up in a few months covering the comprehensive list of onsite factors to get right. The factors mentioned in this post though are arguably the foundational and most important elements on your site to initially get right.
Upon completing them, its time then to look away from your site (at least for a while) and get started on the process that is offsite optimisation. To do this effectively, one must first identify their strategy.
To view this series on How Search Engine Optimise your website from the very start, click here to go to the start of the series – How Search Engine Optimise your website: Part 1 – An Introduction to SEO.
To check out the previous post in this series check out – How Search Engine Optimise your website: Part 4 – Organising your website to target keywords for success.
To check out the next post in this series check out – How Search Engine Optimise your website: Part 6 – Identifying your offsite strategy.
Our to use Sprout Online to SEO your website and get effective web rankings that provide a return on investment, just check out our SEO page.