Beth – Digital Marketing Executive
Welcome to a new Pace series, where members of the team debunk myths and explain the basics around the technical parts of their job.
First up is Beth, our Digital Marketing Executive, who’s here to talk SEO, particularly the on-page variety. What is on-page SEO? Why is it important? and how do we nail it? Read on to find out.
On-page SEO refers to the actions we take to optimise individual web pages, actions which improve a site’s position in the search engine results page (or SERP) and drive more relevant traffic to the site.
It’s a pretty common misconception that ranking in the search results is all about a few enchanted keywords and, although keywords are important, there is much more to it than that.
The world of on-page SEO is complicated and often hard to navigate. To help clear things up, here are some of my most useful tips and actionable insights that can help any business rank better in those SERPs.
First off, let’s demystify those magical keywords.
Keywords are a vital tool in marketing, but only with evidence to back them up. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming you already know what your user-base is searching for to access your site – without conducting a little research, first.
Keyword research is about identifying the words or phrases people use when seeking out your product or what you do in search engines. It gives you an idea of the language people are using to search for your proposition, how many people are searching, and the level of competition you’re up against.
It’s important to re-do your research now and then. That way, you know which keywords are worth targeting and which ones are no longer worth your precious character limits.
Tool of the Trade
Google Ads Keyword Planner is a free tool that becomes available when you create a Google Ads account and start your first campaign. Keyword Planner allows you to find new keyword ideas and search volume data that would form the basis of your keyword research. Pay-per-click advertising is also a great way to test how well your chosen keywords perform in ~the real world~.
The best way to rank is to have engaging, interesting, and helpful content on your site. The sort of content that users search for, come back to read again and, are dying to share with their pals.
Blogs are a great way to build brand awareness and demonstrate your expertise, yet all too often, add little value to a website. Instead of spending the time and resources writing low-value blogs that are unlikely to rank, focus your energy on writing quality content that answers the questions your target audience is asking.
Take your time writing posts that continue the conversation of your website and are a good representation of your brand and company personality.
Things to think about
Your focus keyword
Make sure each page of your website is targeting one focus keyword or phrase. Any single page should only have one focus keyword. This makes it clear to search engines how the page should be ranked, and clear to the user what the overall message of the content is.
The almighty H1 tag
This is the main header of a webpage. There should only ever one H1 on each page, as it tells search engines what the key focus of the page is. Multiple H1 tags make it harder for search engines to accurately rank pages. For consistency, write an H1 tag that matches your title tag.
Internal links show search engines the structure of your website and establish a hierarchy of pages. Pages with more links, such as your homepage, have a higher link value. Linking from these pages across your site spreads that link value and helps Google find your new pages faster.
Stay clear of
This is the act of stuffing as many keywords as possible into your copy in the hope of ranking for at least one. The algorithms used by search engines are a lot more sophisticated than they were when keyword stuffing was a feasible tactic, and there are now many more factors that go into indexing pages than just keywords present in the copy. As keyword stuffing will only hinder the user experience, search engines regard it as a negative ranking factor.
Avoid duplicate content both on and off your website, as content that appears on the internet in more than one place will compete for rankings and confuse search engines. This can often result in a lower position on the SERP for everyone involved.
Tool of the Trade
Answer the Public is another free tool full of consumer insights. It uses suggested searches from Bing and Google to provide an overview of the questions people are typing into those sites. It’s a good starting point if you’re wanting to find out what is being said online about your product or service, and great for coming up with ideas for blogs.
Metadata, or meta tags, help search engines determine the topic of your content, and improve how your website is presented in the search results. There are lots of different tags that make up metadata, but here we will be looking at the titles and descriptions that can be seen in the SERPs.
As you can see, I clicked on this for ‘research’.
This is the most important meta tag on every page of your site, and often the first thing a user will see before deciding to click.
The title tag is the main title of a page and can be found in the <title> element. These titles need to be short, concise, and relevant to the content of the page.
Top tip: end your title tag with your company name for consistency and branding.
The description that displays below the title in search results.
This is another opportunity to entice the user to click on your site. Similarly to the title tag, this description needs to be short, relevant, and engaging. This is only a suggestion for search engines about what to display in the SERPs, as search engines will ultimately present the information they deem as most likely to generate a click.
Tool of the Trade
Screaming frog SEO Spider lets you crawl a website URL and analyse it for common SEO issues. It’s free, and great for spotting duplicate content, anywhere metadata is missing, and broken links. It’s important to use software like this as regularly as you update your site to ensure it’s in tip-top shape.
Despite all this,
At the end of the day, SEO is about user experience. Don’t write your website as though it’s only going to be read by robots – your customers and users are the most important thing ?
Try not to get too bogged down by the technical features that will help pages rank, but think more about how to make your site an exciting place to be!
Even when you know the facts, it takes time, patience, and hard work to start seeing results from SEO.