There’s no harm in reading many articles on search optimisation; after all, you are gaining knowledge and understanding of the subject. However, it doesn’t matter how many articles you read; nothing is going to change unless you start to make some changes to your website and that’s where on-site SEO comes in.
What is On-Site SEO?
On-site SEO is defined as being how you optimise your website for better search engine optimisation through making adjustments to aspects of your site. On-site SEO differs slightly from On-page SEO which is concerned with the optimisation of a webpage instead of the whole website, but both do contain the same optimisation techniques.
On-site SEO works in conjunction with off-site SEO, and both are fundamentally important for search engine optimisation, however, they are two completely different aspects of SEO and do not involve the same techniques.
What’s the Difference Between On-Site and Off-Site?
The main difference I with on site and off-site SEO is that on-site is concerned with optimising your website by making changes to the content and technical aspects of your website. Whereas off-site is concerned with all the ways in which you can optimise and promote your content on the web which doesn’t concern making any changes to the site at all. Instead, off-site SEO involves actions such as social media marketing and link building/earning.
How to Conquer Your On-Site SEO
If you want to make a start with optimising your website for better results and performance in the SERPs, then on-site SEO techniques are a great place to start. Follow our essential step by step technique for both fixing and finding aspects of your website to improve.
Step 1: Perform a Site Audit
First things first, it should be your first step to identify any existing problems with your onsite SEO before you go ahead. As not only will you get a better understanding of issues could be causing you problems on your website, but you’ll also get a good idea of what aspects of your on-site SEO should be your top priority to optimise.
At Dojono, we offer a free SEO audit which helps you to identify any issues with your website which could be affecting the overall your overall SEO score. If you’d like to find out more about our SEO checker or get your completely free audit today, then visit our SEO Checker to discover more.
Step 2: Check Links
There are a few different types of links on your website, some of which will be on your website and some of which will be linking to your site. Nevertheless, it is essential for you to check these links regularly to ensure that there are no broken or potentially harmful links associated with your website.
Internal links are a fundamental part of not only helping users and search engine crawlers to navigate your website but also help to establish a structure or ‘hierarchy’ of pages on your website.
When checking your internal links, you want to ensure that you have a clearly defined structure, linking related to pages to each other and adding more links to more relevant pages.
As well as this you also want to be sure that all of your URLs that you link to in your content are correct and that there are no links to removed or non-existing pages which could be producing page errors on your site.
External links can help your content to gain more authority, for instance, if you are producing a page about finance, you may want to link out to some reputable sources and websites to help boost the authoritativeness of your content in the eyes of Google.
When checking your external links, you want to be looking for several things. Firstly, just as you want to check with internal links, you want to ensure that all URLs from your website to external sites are correct, and that you have not spelt any URLs wrong, or that the page has been removed or redirected and is causing an error on your site.
Secondly, you want to ensure that the content that you’re linking out to is a reputable source of reliable information with high domain authority. If you link out to resources that have low-authority and low-quality content or information, then you’ll find that these pages won’t be as beneficial to you.
That’s why it’s best practice to ensure that you are linking out to high quality, authoritative pages.
The right backlinks from the right sources are bound to give your website that well-needed boost of authority that they need to perform well in the search engine results pages.
However, what search engines deem to be ‘unnatural’ or ‘toxic’ links, is likely to see you with a penalty, which is why it’s essential to check your backlinks regularly.
How do I spot an ‘Unnatural’ or ‘Toxic’ link?
Unnatural links are links from websites which appear unnatural to search engines such as Google, as they either:
- Hold little relevance to the content or webpage that they link out to
- There have been many links occurring in a short space of time
- They come from a known PBN (Private Blog Network)
Toxic links are links from websites that have malware or unsecured websites which could potentially be harming your site. You can usually spot a toxic link by one or a few of the following methods:
- Your antivirus software or browser has issued you a warning when you try to visit the webpage
- The link appears unnatural even to you
- It’s from a different country or in a different language
Once you’ve identified what backlinks of yours cause be causing you harm or a manual Google penalty, your next step is either sent an email to these websites and ask for them to remove the link to your website or to disavow these links. You can use the Google Disavow tool to disavow any links that you don’t want to be associated with your website.
Step 3: Check URL Structure
URLs give an excellent indication to web users and search engines as to what the content on your website or webpage is going to be about, that’s why it is essential that you make sure these are well structured and easy to read.
If your URLs contain special characters or upper-case letters that are likely to be misspelt or that don’t provide an accurate description of your page, then you may want to consider optimising the structure of the URLs on your site.
You can optimise your URL structure by ensuring that it adheres to the following requirements:
- Your URL contains no special characters except a hyphen between any words
- Your URL contains no uppercase letters, only lower case
- Your URL contains no ‘stop words’, such as ‘for’, ‘and’ or ‘an’ etc.
- Your URL clearly defines the site structure of your website
- Your URL provides a good description of the content that is on the page
Step 4: Optimise meta titles, descriptions, page titles and headings
Titles, headings and descriptions of the pages on your website are important. Not only do they allow for you to provide accurate descriptions and tell users all about the information that they are likely to find on your pages. However, they can also help target your keywords, prove your page’s relevancy to Google and can help entice users to click on your pages over your competitors, that’s why it is essential that you optimise these titles, descriptions and headings.
The meta title is the title that will appear for your page in the search engine result pages or when your content is shared on social media.
If your meta title isn’t compelling enough to get users to click through to your website or is over the word limit, then you’ll find that you’re unlikely to get many visitors click through to your website, which means your unlikely to boost your CTR to your site.
That’s why it’s crucial to ensure the following when your writing meta titles for every one of the pages on your website:
- 50-60 characters in length
- Include your website name or brand if possible
- Create a title which will intrigue users to visit your website and read your content
- Include your target/seed keyword
- Unique to the page and not appearing anywhere else on your site
Meta descriptions are short descriptions of any webpages on your website which will feature with your meta title and URL in the search results pages or when someone on social media shares your page.
Your meta description, alike to your meta title should provide an accurate description of your page, should be compelling and should contain a call to action to get the user to click through to your webpage and boost your CTR.
However, if your meta description isn’t long enough or descriptive enough for your page, search engines can choose an alternative piece of text from your content to be the meta description, although ideally what you want is to provide your own description, which is why it is essential for you to optimise your meta descriptions.
You should ensure that your meta descriptions are the following:
- Between 140-158 characters in length
- Include your target/seed keyword
- Unique to the page and not appearing anywhere else on your site
- Provides an accurate description of the page
- Compelling enough to make users click on your result
- Includes a call to action
Page titles also known as the H1 of your page, is the heading of your page. The title of your page will give users and search engines a clear understanding of what your content is about and the intent of the material that you have produced.
Along with the heading tags of your page, H1 tags can help you to define the structure of the page, and you should ensure that the titles of your pages include the following for good on-site optimisation practices:
- Includes your target keyword
- Concludes the subject/topic of the post
- Captures the interest of the reader
Ultimately the H1 tag is part of the heading which will make up the structure of your page. As well as the one H1 or ‘page title’ that you will have on your page, you will also have H2 to H6 tags, with varying levels of importance in your content, the H1 being the most important of the headings and H6 being of the least importance.
To ensure that your heading tags are entirely optimised and you are using them for best practice, you should ensure that your heading tags are improved with the following advice kept in mind:
- Only include one H1 tag
- Use heading tags to define and structure your content
- Include your keywords but don’t keyword stuff
- Use headings and subheadings accordingly
Step 5: Keywords
Keywords are an essential part of any on-site SEO strategy and content is still very much king; when it comes to SEO. For visitors to find your content, it’s vital to ensure that your copy contains the correct keywords and targets them correctly.
These following sections will tell you what you need to know about the different types of keywords, why they’re important and how you can optimise your content to start ranking for them in search engines.
Short tail keywords
A short tail keyword is defined as being words and phrases which are 1 to 3 words long. These generally make up the majority of the keywords that you’ll want to target; however, they can tend to be slightly on the more competitive side, although they do have high search volume.
When choosing short tail keywords for your website, you should ensure that you choose keywords which adhere to the following set of rules for the best on-site SEO practices:
- Aim for a short tail keyword with higher search volume but lower difficulty (competitiveness)
- Choose keywords which are related to your business, products or services, don’t just go after something because you think it would be an excellent opportunity for you to rank for
- Look at what short tail keywords your competitors are targeting
Long tail keywords
Long tail keywords are defined as being phrases which are 3 to 4 words; however, in some cases they can tend to be slightly longer.
Long tail keywords provide websites which are new to SEO with excellent opportunities for chances to rank high for keywords, as long tail keywords tend to be moderate search volume and lower difficulty as long tail searches make up around 70% of all searches made on search engines.
When choosing long tail keywords for your website through keyword research, you’ll want to target keywords which are:
- High to moderate volume but with low difficulty
- Related to the theme or intention of your website, business or products
- That you would be able to write content about
- Look at the long tail keywords your competitors are targeting
- A niche of a broader subject
Evergreen keywords are precisely what you might think that they are, they’re keywords which are popular all year round and will be accessible in years to come. Evergreen keywords are more likely to gain authority and acquire more backlinks naturally than trending keywords as they will still be relevant.
When choosing your keywords, ideally you want to ensure that you are targeting for optimal success, are keywords that are always going to be relevant, unlike keywords that include the date or a trending topic.
However, targeting trending keywords does have its benefits, but you’ll usually have to act fast to be one of the first people who produce content on that keyword. If you spend too much time just creating your content, then you’ll find that the trend may have passed or may be declining by the time you publish your content.
If you want to jump on the bandwagon and target keywords that are trending, you’ll have to do the following:
- Keep an eye on the trends and be good at predicting what topics are about to blow up
- Be able to create your content fast, you won’t have much time to spare, and this keyword will be extremely competitive
Ever wondered how you can prove to search engines that your content is the most relevant to the primary or ‘seed’ keyword that you’re trying to rank for? Well, LSI keywords (which stands for Latent Semantic Indexing) can help you to do exactly that.
For instance, if you’re creating content about baking a cake, then you might think about what some of the other related searches are to do with baking a cake which users might want to know, such as: baking a Victoria sponge cake or how to ice a cake. If you include LSI keywords such as these in your content, you’ll be sure to boost the relevancy of your page in the eyes of search engines.
You can find your LSI keywords in many different ways:
- Look at your related searches on Google
- Use a tool such as LSI Graph
- Take a look at your competitors to see what type of words and phrases they are using in their content
Step 6: Content
Once you’ve established what your target keywords are going to be, your next step is to start creating content to rank for them.
As you may already know, content is significant for SEO in general, not just on-site SEO. That’s why it’s essential to keep the following in mind when it comes to creating and optimising your content.
In some cases, thin content can’t be helped; however, for the most part, you should ensure that the majority of the pages on your website have a substantial amount of content. Search engines want to see that you have been able to provide enough content to match the user intent and what information the user wants to find when they search your targeted keyword or phrase.
Unfortunately, if your content can’t ‘come up with the goods’ so to speak, then you’re unlikely to rank for that keyword at all and any users who do manage to visit your webpage may bounce straight back the SERPs if they cannot find what they are looking for, which will harm your click-through rate.
Instead, you want to ensure that your content is around 800 – 1,200 words minimum depending on what type of content you wish to create. Generally, as a rule, you will find that articles have a longer word count than blog posts, and blog posts will have considerably more content than product pages for instance.
Creating evergreen content can be highly beneficial to you if you don’t wish to keep returning to the same pages that you have created and changing the content every time that something to do with the subject changes. Regardless, sometimes even evergreen content may need some fine tweaking every now and again, but for the most part your likely to find that you’ll be able to upload evergreen content and leave it there.
Over optimised content
Over optimised content can be just as detrimental for your website as under optimised content can be, and in some circumstances can even leave you with a manual Google Penalty if you aren’t optimising your website in accordance with white hat SEO techniques.
If you’re worried about your content being over optimised for a keyword, then check the following:
- Check the keyword density of your content
- Check how many times your competitors have used that keyword and compare
Under optimised content
Unfortunately, under optimised content or content you haven't optimised at all is never going to get you to the top position in the SERPs. That’s why it’s essential for you to consider search engine optimisation to change that.
If you want to optimise your content, you should ensure that you:
- Do your keyword research and come up with keywords
- Create high-quality and informative content for your keywords
- Promote your content efficiently
All of the material that you will create will not only have to be of high quality but should also be able to demonstrate your authoritativeness and knowledge of the subject that you’re writing about.
You can prove your Google your content’s authoritativeness you can do the following:
- You include links to helpful and reputable sources
- Ensure that the content is fact checked and accurate
- Get writers who know the subject matter well
- Make sure that there are no grammatical
Readability is paramount in a number of respects; it is essential that your users can understand and easily read the content that is produced for the best user experience. That’s why it’s necessary to ensure that the format of the text and the text itself can be easily read.
To optimise your readability, you should ensure that:
- The font is easy to read
- The size of the text is big enough
- The content flows and has an acceptable readability score which reflects the subject matter
Step 7: Images and alt text
Images are essential, who wants to look at a website that has no images or infographics to peak their interest and helps to break up large pieces of text, it all comes together to make a better experience of your website for the user. If you want to make sure that your images and alt text are optimised for the user, then it’s crucial for you to read the following two sections.
Images are great to break up text and add character to your website, however, if they aren’t optimised correctly or in the correct format then they do have the potential affect your on-page SEO.
For your images to be correctly optimised you should ensure that your pictures are the following:
- In the correct format for their use, e.g. logo, blog image, header, etc.
- Not affecting the speed of the site by being too high quality
- High enough quality to look good
- Readily displayed on mobile and tablet devices
- Accurate to the content that is on your website
Search engine crawlers can crawl all of the information that is on your website; however, they don’t have the ability to be able to look at images and interpret what they contain as humans can do. That’s why it’s best practice for you include an alt text for you to optimise your images on your website. As no only will they tell search engine crawlers what your images contain, but they can provide descriptions of the image for partially sighted users who may be using a web page ‘reader’ to visit your website.
For the best alt text practice, you should ensure the following:
- That all of the images on your website include alt text
- Alt text is no longer than 125 characters
- Contains your keywords or variations of your keywords
- Don’t overuse or keyword stuff your alt text in the hopes of optimisation
Step 8: Site speed
In a day and age where we want and need so many things quickly and on demand, websites and search results are no different and if your website can’t compete then don’t ever expect to reach the top of the results pages. Instead, if your pages are not loading quick enough for users or search engines, then it’s going to affect your bounce rate and the crawlability of your site.
Bounce rates are significant as they can indicate to Google that users haven’t found the information on the page that they were looking for, therefore, as Google wants to provide users with exactly what they’re looking for, they can move your position lower in the SERPs.
In order for you to improve your site speed, you must ensure that:
- You aren’t using too many plugins
- You don’t have too many high-quality images or resources
- You’re using a good host for your website
Step 9: Mobile optimisation
Nowadays, most web searches are made using mobile and tablet devices; long gone are the days where the majority of web searches came from a desktop computer. To accommodate for mobile and tablet users, it is essential to ensure that your website is optimised and ‘mobile friendly’.
You can make sure your website is mobile optimised by ensuring the following:
- Mobile users can access your images, videos and online resources
- Your layout is formatted correctly for mobile users
- Your links and buttons are accessible to click on mobile
Once you’ve been through our step by step guide to conquering your on-site SEO, you should begin to see some significant improvements to your website’s SEO score, which can positively impact your website’s online visibility!