Search engine optimization (SEO) is a process of optimizing different aspects of the website in order to improve the visibility of the website. Optimization of the internal pages of a website is called on-site optimization, as opposed to off-site optimization, which is done externally.
When it comes to on-site optimization, this process involves optimization of the website structure in order to increase its performance in the search engine result pages (SERP). This process consists of a series of tasks that are focused on different elements of a website, which all together contribute to the overall website performance. Analyzing and improving these elements is the goal of on-site optimization. Those elements include:
Domains and duplicate content
Duplicate content can often be penalized by Google which is why you should fix any duplicate content you might have on your website. This includes:
– Setting preferred domain (with or without www)
– Fixing duplicate content by using redirects (This is especially advisable if you have a lot of pages with similar or almost identical content.)
You can find more information on duplicate content in the following video:
How does Google handle duplicate content?
Read more here: Domains and duplicate content
Having friendly URL structure is important for both search engines and users. Search engines will find it easier to index such URLs, while these URLs are more user-friendly. Friendly URLs follow a coherent structure and thus provide information about the content that is to be found when a users access that URL. In addition, a friendly URL is much easier to share on social networks or in an email.
The friendly URLs are:
– Easy to read
– Use hyphen (-) to separate words
– Do not use capital letters in the URLs
Read more: Friendly URLs
Search engines do not see the websites as users do, so if you want to help search engines understand the content on your website, you should use title and meta tags, which include:
– Title tag
– Meta description
– Keyword tag
Read more about this topic here: Title and meta tags
The headings on the page are used to indicate more important parts of the text. Using tags such as <h1 /> or <strong /> you tell the search engines that some parts of the text are more important, and you want search engines to index that parts of the page as such. The purpose of this is to help search engine learn what your content is about, in order to be able to index it properly.
Read more here: Optimized headings
Search engines cannot read the content that is displayed on the images, so you have to assign alternate text that will help search engines understand what the visual content is about. Since you might use images to represent important aspects of the article or page, you need to optimize those images in order to allow search engines to understand them.
Read more here: Alt codes
Having high-quality content has become the essential element of SEO. Users need to see value and original approach in your content in order for them to find it interesting and to return to your website. This will help you establish a group of loyal readers who are most likely to recommend you, by sharing your website with friends. In addition, content is an important element of link building, one of the parts of off-site optimization, as great content will earn the links on its own.
Besides providing interesting and original content, you should include keywords that are relevant to your website.
Read more here: Content
The following two points of this SEO on-site tutorial are closely related to the previous one.
While using keywords in the content, as well as in the title and meta tags, you have to have in mind the keyword density. You must avoid using excessive amount of keywords and increasing keyword density, as this will provide negative user experience and it might be penalized by the search engines.
Read more here: Keyword density
The video “What is the ideal keyword density of a page?” can help you understand the concept of keyword density.
Create a blog
Creating a blog allows you to implement content on your website and update it on a regular basis. Various studies confirm the importance of having a blog in terms of increasing traffic, acquiring customers and generating leads. This is why you should consider adding a blog to your website, using one of the online blogging platforms.
A blog will be a place where you can provide additional information about your company, about the products or services you offer, a place to interact with your visitors and to offer assistance to the potential customers. Allowing users to subscribe, you will be able to generate a list of emails of the people who are interested in your business, which can be used in email marketing.
Read more about creating a blog: Create a blog
Create 404 error page
Every now and then an error might occur and the page user is trying to access might not exist. In such case, you need to create an error page, i.e. the page that will load if the requested page cannot be accessed. Instead of simply showing an error, you should allow users to easily navigate back to your website, unless you do not want to lose visitors.
Read more here: Create 404 error page
The following presentation shows you how to create a custom 404 error page:
Add XML sitemap
Since search engines see websites differently than we do, they sometimes find it difficult to find all of the pages of the website, unless they are linked together. Sitemap is used to enable search engines to crawl a website easily and detect all of the pages that exist, which is why it is highly recommended to have a sitemap added to your website. Since the goal of optimization is to increase visibility, adding a sitemap will help you get the large number of your web pages indexed and thus those can appear in the search results.
Read more about sitemaps: Add XML sitemap
The presentation below can help you with creating and adding a sitemap:
HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the markup language on the web pages. HTML file consists of HTML elements which are written as tags, in angle brackets: < >. This language is used for the search engines that are able to differentiate between different tags, and thus get the idea about the content on a specific page. HTML code should follow basic guidelines, which are usually provided by the search engines, as this code enables search engines to properly index pages.
Read more: HTML code
Broken links are the links that point to the address that is not available and thus the users, as well as the search engine crawlers, cannot access the page the link leads to. This can have negative influence on the visibility of your website, which is why one of the SEO tasks you should be focusing on finding and fixing the broken links on your website.
Read more: Broken links
The final point of this SEO on-site tutorial refers to the other aspects of search engine optimization that have not been included in the previous sections. These include:
– 301 redirect
– Working with Flash and iFrames
Read more about other SEO tasks: Other aspects
Search engine optimization is a complex work that requires employing different tools and techniques in order to perform different SEO tasks, which are all part of the optimization process of a website. The goal of this list of tasks is to guide you through the optimization by focusing on aspects that are of importance for search engines when indexing content and determining ranking.
Since the purpose of this guide is to provide you with enough information for you to understand the concept of SEO and how your website can benefit from it, we also have to focus on these topics related to SEO:
Keyword research is starting point of SEO, as you need to conduct a research in order to determine which words or phrases you should use in the process of website optimization. Since keywords are inseparable part of search engine optimization, compiling a list of keywords and keyword phrases is going to help you with optimizing the website. Furthermore, this list should be adjusted regularly, which is why keyword research is a process you should repeat occasionally in order to make sure that your website is well optimized.
The following video features a webinar titled Competitor Keyword Research for SEO, which deals with the following topics:
– New SEO key phrase research
– Dealing and taking advantage of Hummingbird update
– Semantic searches
The goal of this webinar is to explain how keyword research evolved and how to understand and take advantage of semantic searches. You will also learn how to explore competitors to get new keywords ideas and how to maximize the effect of the keywords through website elements, such as content, metadata, etc.
Optimize to convert
The main purpose of optimization is to help you increase the performance of your website, either by increasing traffic or increasing conversions, so you need to understand SEO as a set of tasks conducted with this goal in mind.
However, internet changes and evolves constantly and you need to keep up with the changes. Social engagement and higher expectation are some of the new goals set up in SEO, which is why you need to figure out how to improve your website in such a way that it matches the new, higher standards, how to earn trust and authority among the online users. These are some concepts that have to be part of new on-site SEO, which is also the topic of the following video.
The New On-Page Optimization – Whiteboard Friday
The focus of the video is the best practices used in on-site SEO:
– Basics (It includes clean and concise design, clearly visible call to action, and branded approach to help you build authority)
– Rethinking conversions – You have to monitor and track conversion originating from different sources, such as social media, downloads, etc.
– Brand strengthening – Providing information about your company, demos, testimonials, awards, etc. are some of the ways to increase the authority of your brand, as the online consumers are more likely to explore the company prior to making any decision. All of this helps you strengthen your brand and thus persuade the online visitors to become your customers.
– Test all the truths – You should constantly be testing all of the features of your website so that you can find new ways to improve on-page optimization.
Google’s search engine algorithm update introduced a new way to remove spam from the search results. This is done by detecting over-optimized websites, i.e. websites that are using too many SEO improvements. In case that a website is too optimized, beyond the limits acceptable by Google’s algorithm, it is believed that Google is going to penalize such websites, which results in lower ranking for that website, leading too poor performance and losing authority.
Since Google’s algorithm uses thousands of signals and factors to determine ranking, it is impossible to pin point the exact issues that might be considered over-optimization. However, some issues are thought to be most likely to lead to penalty caused by over-optimization. This is why we recommend the following video:
6 Changes Every SEO Should Make BEFORE the Over-Optimization Penalty Hits – Whiteboard Friday
Here is the list of the issues that are more likely to be regarded as over-optimization, which is the reasons why you need to fix them in order to prevent any penalties that might be introduced by Google:
- Spammy titles with too many keywords (or repeated keyword)
- Manipulative internal links (Linking repeatedly and using the same anchor text)
- Adding to many links in the footer
- Text content blocks built for search engines
- Backlinks from penalty-likely sources
- Large amount of pages that target similar keywords with slight variations
Make sure you go through each of these issues on your website in order to detect any problems and prevent any penalty that is caused by over-optimization of the website.
The final resource we want to add to this SEO on-site tutorial is the presentation that sums up all of the SEO elements inside a checklist. This checklist is great for you to go through the elements, examine each of them and see how they can improve your website.
Each element on this on-site SEO checklist is then analyzed inside this presentation with best recommendation on how to improve and optimize each of those elements. On-site SEO checklist is comprised of different tasks, that can be grouped in two major groups. Quality content is the first group, which includes optimization of content through user-friendly content and URL structure, having original content, having a sitemap and optimizing page speed. The second group includes the tasks related to keyword research, such as optimizing meta data, tittles, URLs and header tag.
Apart from this tutorial, we would like to recommend two more SEO tutorials that can assist you in performing different SEO tasks.
The Beginners Guide to SEO by Moz: http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo
Featuring the most important SEO tasks, such as learning about search engines and how they work, search engine friendly design, keyword research, etc. this guide offers lots of examples and recommendations, which makes it a very useful SEO resource, especially for beginners.
Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide: http://static.googleusercontent.com/media/www.google.com/en//webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf