The importance of on-site SEO
SEO helps search engines (like Google) decide which websites to show people when they perform an online search.
If those people are potential customers and they’re looking for your product or service, you want your website to pop up in their search results – the higher, the better. Marketers often joke that the best place to hide a dead body is on page two of a Google search. There’s an element of truth in this. A HubSpot survey found that 75% of people only check the first page of results, and many of them only click the first link.
Google endlessly crawls the internet, scanning sites for information that will help it return the most accurate search results. It doesn’t evaluate products or services to see which ones are best; it simply wants to find the closest match to the words and phrases people use in their searches. And that’s where on-site SEO comes in.
What is On-site SEO
On-site SEO is a blanket term for everything on your website that Google analyses, such as headings, subheadings, body text, image alt text, meta descriptions, and title tags. It also includes things like your website page structure, internal links, page loading speed, security, mobile responsiveness, and overall user experience.
Without good on-site SEO, your customers are likely to find your competitors’ websites first. You might have a much better product or service than them, but if customers can’t find you to evaluate your offering for themselves, you’re going to lose their business.
If you want to optimise your website’s on-site SEO to improve your Google ranking, we can help with that. Check out our SEO services.
On-site ranking factors
Here are some on-site ranking factors:
- Content Quality: This is a crucial factor. The content should be well-written, relevant to the search query, and provide value to the user.
- Keywords: Keywords are essential, but they must be used correctly. Google's algorithms are sophisticated enough to understand synonyms, so the content doesn't need to be stuffed with the exact keyword.
- Meta tags: The title and meta descriptions help Google understand the content. They should be unique and include the main keyword.
- URL Structure: URLs should be clean and include the main keyword. Google prefers URLs that reflect the content's structure on the site.
- Site Speed: How quickly your website loads is an important ranking factor. Google prefers sites that provide a better user experience, and load speed is a significant part of this.
- Mobile-Friendliness: Google uses a mobile-first index, which means it looks at the mobile version of your website first when determining rankings.
- Internal Linking: Internal linking helps Google understand the structure of your website and the importance of each page.
- Use of HTTPS: Sites using HTTPS are given preference over those that do not because they offer a secure connection.
- User Experience (UX): UX elements like site navigation, readability, and usability play a crucial role in ranking. Metrics like bounce rate and time spent on the site can also impact ranking.
- Schema Markup: This helps Google understand the content on your site, improving your visibility in search results.
- Image Optimisation: Images should be relevant, high-quality, and have descriptive file names and alt text.
Places to start to Improve your On-site SEO
- Basic On-page optimisation: On-site SEO techniques, such as optimising meta tags, titles, and keywords, enable search engines to understand the content and purpose of your web pages better. When your website is properly optimised, it stands a higher chance of ranking well in search engine results pages (SERPs), making it more visible to potential visitors. Increased visibility means more opportunities for organic traffic and potential customers to find your website. You can use a plugin like Yoast SEO to help with these tasks.
- User Experience Enhancement: A well-executed on-site SEO strategy goes hand in hand with providing an excellent user experience. When you optimize your site's structure, navigation, and content, visitors can easily find what they're looking for. This leads to reduced bounce rates, increased session durations, and improved overall engagement metrics. As search engines increasingly emphasize user experience in their algorithms, prioritizing on-site SEO will naturally result in higher rankings and improved user satisfaction.
- Keyword Research and Targeting: Keyword research is a fundamental aspect of on-site SEO. Understanding the phrases and terms users use to search for products or services related to your website allows you to align your content with their intent. By incorporating relevant keywords strategically throughout your website, you signal to search engines that your site is relevant to specific queries, thus improving your chances of ranking higher for those searches.
- Content Improvement: High-quality, relevant, and valuable content is vital for your visitors and search engines. Engaging content encourages visitors to stay on your site longer and can lead to increased shares and backlinks, further boosting your SEO efforts. Google is now using a helpful content measure in its rankings.
- Mobile-Friendly Design: With mobile devices accounting for a significant portion of internet traffic, having a mobile-friendly website is no longer optional—it's a necessity. On-site SEO involves designing responsive websites that adapt seamlessly to various screen sizes. Search engines favour mobile-friendly sites in their rankings, so ensuring your web design is mobile-responsive is crucial for both SEO and user experience.
More on "Helpful Content"
Google's "Helpful Content Update" is designed to reward content that is tailored for human readers. According to Google, such "helpful content" is characterised by the following:
- Audience-specific: The content should be created for a specific audience, focusing on their interests and needs. It should not be overly automated or intended solely to attract search traffic. For example, for this website, information for small business owners or small charities about how to better manage, improve and maintain their website is helpful to my target audience.
- Demonstrates Expertise: Content should be written by experts or enthusiasts, providing insightful analysis or original research. It should not merely summarise other sources but provide substantial additional value. For many business owners with expert knowledge who don't like writing, you must work with a copywriter to produce content that communicates your expertise.
- Trustworthy and Credible: Content should be credible and reliable, with clear sourcing and evidence of expertise. It should avoid factual errors and should be presented professionally, without excessive advertisements.
- Meets the Needs of the Searcher: The content should satisfy the searcher's query, provide useful information, and be mobile-friendly. It fails this criterion if it leaves the reader feeling like they need to search again for better information. Google may track this by noting if someone lands on your webpage and then quickly returns to the search listings.
Moreover, Google emphasizes understanding the intent of the searcher, including various micro-intents, such as "I want to know," "I want to go," "I want to do," and "I want to buy." Understanding these intents can help create content that matches what users seek.
Google also prioritizes "helpful content" in its Featured Snippets, which can help users find what they're looking for quickly and efficiently. In essence, helpful content should provide the best, quickest answer to a searcher's query.
Google prioritises "helpful content" in its Featured Snippets, which can help users find what they're looking for quickly and efficiently. In essence, helpful content should provide the best, quickest answer to a searcher's query.
On-site SEO is a powerful tool that web designers must embrace to achieve success. You can significantly enhance your website's visibility, user experience, and search engine rankings by prioritising elements like keyword research, content optimisation, and mobile responsiveness. Integrating on-site SEO techniques into your web design process benefits your clients by driving more organic traffic and establishes your expertise as a web designer who understands the critical role of SEO in creating a truly impactful online presence. So, the next time you embark on a web design project, remember that on-site SEO is the key to unlocking the full potential of your beautifully crafted websites.
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