SEO – Search Engine Optimisation – is the practice of taking steps to get your website to rank higher in Google or whatever search engine people are using. This post is all about On-Page SEO – this is actual things you can edit directly on your website to maximise your pages chances of a good ranking.
I include some things in here that are quite technical. I call it on-page because it all comes out in the code. But I keep those things further down the list. If you have a well-built site, write great content, keyword-tune it, follow as many steps here as you can, market it well, then analyse how people respond to your content and use this to improve then you are doing more than 95% of people out there.
This post is kind of long, so at any time you can come back to the top and jump to the section you need from here:
- On-Page SEO Tip #1: Do Your (Keyword) Research
- On-Page SEO Tip #2: Custom Design Your Site
- On-Page SEO Tip #3: Use the Yoast SEO Plugin
The most important thing to realise it that SEO is not a science – its not a matter of following a bunch of rules and your site will be #1, as you no doubt understand. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take any action at all. There are a number of things you should definitely do on your website’s pages to help improve long-term ranking.
The second most important thing to realise is that SEO is not the be-all and end-all of Digital Marketing. In the early days of a business it doesn’t help you get clients at all. However, get to the first page of Google for whatever business you are in, get in the top 5, and your whole business will change incredibly. And to do that you need a great site, great content, great management, and decent SEO.
Note: this is written for people using WordPress. Though some things are specific to WordPress, you’ll get value out of this post regardless of what you use.
There are 2 huge rules I want to highlight before getting into the tips & tricks.
SEO Rule #1: Create awesome stuff
And by stuff I mean content. If your page isn’t the best and most useful, the most valuable page out there on whatever topic, does it deserve to rank #1?
SEO Rule #2: Make it relevant.
Relevancy is huge. If you are one hostel in New York, no matter how much you work, or spend, or whatever, it’s going to be hard to rank for “Hotels in New York”. I’m sorry, it just is. People are searching for hotels. Not just yours.
Now that we have made sure we are on the same page, let’s get into the tips to help you improve your rankings, increase traffic, and maybe even make some money.
SEO Tip #1: Do your (keyword) research
I am assuming you have taken onboard the 2 rules and that the content you have written is incredible. Now that you know pretty much what you’re writing about, it’s time to take it to Google and align your content with what people are searching for.
Most people in the industry know about the Google Keyword Planner. If you first signed up to Adwords with a Google account and logged in here before there was a pay-gate you should still have access. If you didn’t, it’s quite possible the first screen you’ll see is a payment info section.
While I am more into privacy than most people, I recommend handing over the digits and getting access. They can’t take any money from your account while not running ads, so there isn’t much to worry about.
Regardless, to carry on with this we need access, so let’s assume you take that step.
Once you’re in the tool, it’s fairly user-friendly and straight-forward, but I will point out some basic tips to get you knocking out keyword researched blog posts in no time.
On-Page SEO Tip #2: Custom Design Your Site
What this means is – don’t get an off-the-shelf SEO friendly web template. A lot of these aren’t SEO friendly at all, they just look good and have been sold well. Most web designers aren’t SEOs and vice versa. I have spent years getting good enough at both disciplines to be able to honestly create good search-engine friendly sites. And I have seen the back-end of a lot of websites in my time in SEO, and I can assure you, they are not all created equally.
You can’t go wrong with a custom built WordPress site, keyword focused pages, Yoast SEO plugin, great content, and good marketing and follow-up.
On-Page SEO Tip #3: Use the Yoast SEO Plugin
Yoast is an incredibly easy to use plugin. You’ll be able to use it to edit and optimise content within the blog, as well as your meta-titles and description. The titles are what people first see when your site comes up in search, and it’s pretty much agreed that they have some weight. The description doesn’t weigh in on ranking according to Google, but it is what people read, and that affects click-through, and click-through affects ranking, so go figure.
There is a lot more advanced functionality with this – including robots, canonical tags, specific descriptions for social media sites etc. that deserves to be covered in a separate post dedicated to advanced Yoast setup.
On-Page SEO Tip #4: Use Semantic HTML
Use semantic HTML. This communicates to search engines what your content means. Basically you wrap code in content which puts it in context. It means that search engines are told, in a very explicit way, what pages are about.
On-Page SEO Tip #5: Put CSS in the head area
CSS files hold all the design elements of your site. Instead of putting css in a stylesheet we put in directly into the head of the page. This takes away another call, and helps speed up page rendering.
On-Page SEO Tip #7: Use AMP
AMP strips out unnecessary code and delivers sites super-fast to mobile. Searchers can see the AMP icon and load the AMP page, which happens to be hosted by Google. The WordPress plugin by Automattic turns all content into AMP.
On-Page SEO Tip #8: Optimize Your Images
Compression: With so many people on mobile, you don’t want to be delivering large images to mobile devices. Compress images before uploading. You can use ImageOptim (Mac) or any Windows alternative. You can always use a plugin in WordPress which will optimize images on upload.
SCRSET: A new standard attribute for image tags to control what size images are displayed on different devices (resolutions). Compressing it is a start, but SRCSET allows you to deliver the perfect image – a smaller image for mobile, or a completely different image for a different screen size – real user customisation. There is also a WordPress plugin that will prepare these images for you.
NOTE: Tips 5 – 8 are mostly there to help improve Page Loading Speed.
On-Page SEO Tip #9: Use Structured markup – schema.org
This basically lets you tell a search engine what things are – this is breadcrumbs, this is a title, this is an address etc – it makes it explicit what things on your page are. It can also enhance search look – something called “rich snippets”. Structured data these days is quite simple – see JSON-LD. You can designate things like “Article” or “Blog Post” as well as “Breadcrumbs”. You can find a couple of great tools here: https://raventools.com/site-auditor/seo-guide/schema-structured-data/
On-Page SEO Tip #10: Use Google Search Console & Fix Any Errors
Google have worked hard on this – make the most of it.
On-Page SEO Tip #11: Use a Site Auditing Tool
Things break all the time, and the internet is always changing. Broken links, missing images, duplicate titles etc. Fixing these keeps things clean and fresh.
The above tips are all designed to help give you an edge over other people in your field. It is up to you to create awesome content, share it wide, get great engagement, and build backlinks.
Is there anything I missed or that needs improving? Any specific tutorials you’d benefit from? Let me know in the comments!