Search engine optimisation may seem intimidating and complex to some, but there are a number of ways you can improve the visibility of your site in search engines using on-page optimisation.
It's important to know that it's not all about inbound links, anchor text and directories. Some simple changes and additions to the site itself can dramatically improve its performance and exposure. Paying too much attention to off-site optimisation can make little or no difference if your website isn't optimised and offering interesting, original content.
You will need to perform keyword research using tools like the Adwords Keyword tool to find high performance keyword combinations with reasonable competition and use these as the basis of your optimisations.
Here are some effective tips for on-page optimisation.
#1 - Semantic Code
Quite an obvious one, but one which can be easily overshadowed by other issues. Coding your website semantically will make it easier to maintain, write and crucially help search engines index its content. Proper use of HTML elements such as H1, H2, H3, div, ul etc. can have a very positive effect on the optimisation of a site. Always try to make sure your code validates using an online tool such as the W3C markup validator.
#2 - Page Title and Meta Description
The meta title is probably one of the most effective elements in SEO when done correctly. You may think writing a descriptive title to bring in readers is the best way to tackle this, but in fact you should try to optimise the meta title for search engines, because after all, being ranked highly in search engines is more valuable to you as a website owner.
Aim to keep the meta title short, to the point, yet descriptive and containing your desired keyword phrase. It can be a little difficult to optimise the meta title in this way and will require some thinking and rewriting in order to get it right.
The meta description tag is used to help determine the rank of a website. Although it is not as effective as the meta title, you should try to include your targeted keyword(s) at the start of the meta description for best results.
#3 - URL Naming
One thing you should always try to do on all pages of your site is optimise the page's URL so that your targeted keywords are in there. For example, if I wrote an article about 'Manchester online marketing' for a website, the URL should be something like /blog/tips-for-manchester-online-marketing, not /index.php?id=22.
#4 - Keywords in Content
Obviously to achieve a good ranking for particular keywords you need to relate your content and articles to the keyword subject. However, over-use of keywords in text will have a negative effective in both search engine rankings and with user satisfaction due to spammy, hard to read content for humans and search engine crawlers alike. Placing your keywords early in the content (first 50 - 100 words) is most effective in terms of optimisation.
You need to be able to strike a balance where the key phrase is used enough for it to be picked up in search engines, but not so much that it appears spammy or is difficult to read or understand. Readability and interesting content is more important than piling loads of keywords into an article.
#5 - Internal Linking Architecture
Including links in your content to other pages of your site is a great technique for increasing page views and visitors as well as allowing search engines to effectively pick up on other content on your site. Try to use the chosen keywords for the other pages as the anchor text, rather than generic links like 'click here' or 'read more' to help search engine crawlers index your content, while improving your rank for the particular keyword phrase.
#6 - Image Alt Tags
A simple and effective tip for boosting rankings is to include the keyword or phrase in the alt tag for images. Also using the keyword as the filename of the image can increase website traffic.
#7 - Site Structure
It is largely recommended that your website goes no deeper than 3 levels from the home page. Placing content closer to the home page not only makes it easier for users to find what they are looking for, but also search engine robots can index pages easier and quicker.
#8 - Navigational Structure
The navigation of a site not only helps users move around your website, it also is a good way of helping the search engines find your content and index them correctly. A good navigational structure is one that has links to your sites' most important content in the main navigation section, but importantly doesn't overwhelm users with an endless array of pages.
#9 - Sitemap
The sitemap is a crucial element in SEO. It is a visual interpretation of the site's structure and the pages within it. Providing a sitemap allows search engines to find all your sites' content and pages and index them quickly. You should submit an XML sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools as well as have a HTML version of the sitemap on the website.
#10 - Site Speed
In recent revisions of the Google ranking algorithm they have paid more attention to the relevance of site loading speed and used it as a contributing factor when determining Google search rankings. With this in mind, it's recommended to optimise as many elements of the page as you can; keep image file size down, place scripts at the bottom, stylesheets at the top and don't go overboard with plug-ins.
Try implementing some of these tips on your website and see the results.
Author: James Anthony / Posted: 23-08-2011