Website and webpage optimization is what helps your business rank in local search results. Every aspect of your websites can be optimized to give your business the best possible SEO. Here are 11 quick wins to optimize your website both on-site and on-page to boost your SEO and get your business found online.
1. Title Tags
Title tags tell search engines the title of each page. Title tags are where you should put the keywords for your website pages and blog posts. The keywords that get used not only affect how well each page will rank in Google, but they also affect how frequently people click through to a given page.
The optimal length of a title tag is 55 characters—long enough to display a good title without getting cut off. Use keywords that you want to rank for such as keywords for local SEO. Minimize the use of stop words like “the” and “is” in the title tags. Preferred format is to put keywords first followed by a pipe and the company name such as “Small Business Marketing Blog | ThriveHive.”
2. Meta Description
Meta descriptions are the text that shows up in search engine results below the title tag and below the link to the site. The description is not critical for how well a page ranks in search engines, but it does play an important role in determining whether or not someone who sees you in the search results will actually click through to the page. This is your opportunity to create a great marketing message that will entice someone to click.
Length should be a maximum of 155 characters to avoid being cutoff. This should be a marketing message that varies by page.
3. Header Tags
Header tags are the code on a web page that you can use to help give a hierarchical structure to your webpages. If you have something that is effectively the “headline” of a webpage, like your About Us page, it should be labeled with an “h1” tag in the code on your page. Other titles or phrases that deserve special emphasis, like headings in a blog post, should get the “h2” tag.
Header tags are html tags that help a search engine understand how your text is structured and they are an opportunity to emphasize keywords. Use h1 and h2 tags with appropriate keywords that vary by page (h3, h4, and h5 tags are less important but can also be used).
4. Alt Tags
Alt tags are html tags that allow you to specify text to describe website images. Without an alt tag, search engines don’t have any idea what an image or photo on a webpage is about. Get credit for relevant content by using alt tags and get your pictures found in Google image search.
All images that are used in a blog post or webpage should have alt tags. Good alt tags to use include local keywords or the title of the page with the keywords you’re trying to rank for.
5. Internal Links
Have you taken the opportunity to do an appropriate amount of linking within your own website? In addition to getting high quality backlinks to your website, you should also be linking internally between pages or blog posts when appropriate.
6. Minimize Flash
Flash is a technology that can be used add various types of animation to websites. It is known for producing visually appealing websites, but unfortunately the technology blocks search engines from reading most of the content of a website. Flash is a technology that is now considered outdated and should be avoided. Optimize your website by removing Flash or rebuilding without it.
Improve your local SEO by minimizing or eliminated Flash so that search engines can understand and read your site content.
7. Robots.txt and Sitemap Files
Robots.txt and sitemap files are two files that tell a search engines which pages to include in the search results, and which pages to exclude. It is important to tell Google where to find all of your website. If these files aren’t up to date, search engines will not pick up on the content of your website or pages. You can use Google’s Webmaster Tools to setup and manage both of these files.
8. Main Site Navigation
The main navigation of your website is an important area that search engines use to determine what your website is all about. It is important to use some specific and non-generic terms to accurately describe what your business is all about. For good site navigation, use descriptive titles that include keywords and use text instead of images.
For more best practices, check out our blog post on usability for SEO and navigation of your website.
9. 301 Redirects
As far as search engines are concerned, if you enter “www” at the beginning of a website address or not, you are requesting to go to two different websites. Even though they’re the same, the presence or absence of the “www” makes a big difference to search engines! This can have significant negative consequences on your search engine optimization.
A quick fix is setting up a 301 redirect with your website hosting company in order to fix this problem. 301 Redirects tell search engines to direct all traffic to either http://www.yoursite.com or http://yoursite.com. You can direct traffic either location, but it should only be one location so that you can reap the best SEO benefits.
10. Images and Video
Everyone has heard the phrase that “a picture is worth a thousand words” before. The same is true on the web. While the words on your website have traditionally been the primary thing that search engines read, increasingly pictures and video are playing important direct and indirect roles in getting people to find your website. They also help to convert website traffic into leads or customers.
Utilize images and video to help convey your message and use engaging multimedia content to maximize visitor engagement.
11. Readable URLs
Both people and search engines like it when you use URL’s that can actually be read by a human. It helps people to understand and trust the content of the page they are about to visit. Some website content management systems like WordPress do this automatically.
Using human readable URL’s such as “mysite.com/buy-my-product” improves search engine click through rates as well as search engine rankings. This applies to vanity URLs on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter as well.
If you have mastered the 11 areas of on-site and on-page optimization that we just went through, you’ll be off to a great start. If you aren’t sure how to implement some of the fixes that were discussed above, either get in touch with your web designer or do a little research online if you are more of the DIY type. Most of the fixes don’t take that long once you know how to apply the fixes.