For those looking to expand their business online, the most important source of traffic is search engines, as over 90% of traffic internationally comes from search engines. Improving search engine optimization (SEO) is therefore essential to generate more sales of products or services.
If done right, SEO also improves the quality of traffic, driving more people interested in buying something to your site, rather than visitors who are simply curious. For example, if you’re a board game manufacturer, then an article about game design might attract plenty of people who want to learn about game design in general, but it’s unlikely to generate sales. Your SEO should therefore be intricately linked with your conversion rate.
It can take a long time to update an existing website and develop best practice guidelines for future content, whether that be product descriptions, blog posts, or even images and design. Luckily, there are international SEO companies that can help by providing an SEO audit and/or redesign of a site, as well as handling digital marketing campaigns, which can include content creation and social media campaigns.
So, what are the most important factors for SEO?
1. Interesting and informative on-page content
Without good content, your SEO is doomed to fail, so we’re going to spend some time exploring this topic.
In part, this is because Google values in-depth content and ranks in-depth pages higher in the results. It’s also because if visitors spend longer on a page, your site will slowly rise in the results over time. Conversely, if most visitors quickly click ‘Back’, then visit a competing site, in which case your site will start to drop in the rankings.
What makes content good?
First of all, it needs to fill demand – any demand – or solve a problem because that’s why someone would click on it. For instance, gardening websites might reap the rewards with an article about ‘growing herbs on your windowsill’, and a musical instrument store might strike the right note with a piece on ‘advantages of playing an instrument for children’.
It should be interesting to potential customers and written with those same customers in mind, so consumer research is important to determine not only what is created but also the tone and vocabulary used.
Also, Google has confirmed that correct spelling and grammar don’t directly affect ranking, but be aware that it might very well affect conversion. People can pre-judge a website with easily noticeable typos, grammar mistakes, or language that is confounding or simply unpleasant to read. They may click away (increasing your bounce-rate) without buying anything because they consider the poor quality of the site reflects the quality of the products. This, in turn, will lower your ranking.
Spelling and grammar are, therefore, important factors for on-page SEO and even more important for conversion.
How long should content be?
When writing on-page content, keep in mind that Google values user-friendly, in-depth content that gives a broader knowledge of the subject. Rather than just using many words written to cover a series of keywords without worrying about the user of your site, take some time to imagine what your typical client would want to know and read.
On some pages, short and sweet is best (on the contact page, for example, it’s perfectly normal to not have a lot of text), while on others (e.g., blogs), you’ll get better rankings, better conversions, and simply more views when using a 1,500-word minimum.
Is new or old content better?
There’s anecdotal evidence that old content ranks better than new because of a page’s age, but this isn’t actually true. In fact, it’s very important to refresh the content on your site regularly. Even if the older content appeared to be ranking well for reasons like increased links to it over time or relevancy to readers, keep an eye on the number of visits different pages receive and update or re-write content on pages with rankings that go down over time.
Does content get ranked down on one keyword if other keywords appear on the page?
No. The main keyword should be used several times depending on the length of the content (be careful not to do keyword-stuffing!), but other keywords should also be used appropriately. Remember, it’s more important to use them in a grammatically correct way, rather than directly as they appear, and readability is key.
Images are also a crucial part of on-page SEO, and posts with at least one image will rank much better than posts without any images. See this handy guide to SEO for images for more details.
2. Keyword-rich meta title tags
This is the title of a page seen on search engines, which is often a different length and more keyword-rich than the one on the page, providing a concise description of the content. This is also shown in the tabs of web browsers and in social media shares to let people know what they’re clicking on.
- Keep it under 60 characters.
- Put important keywords early in the title if possible
- Write a meaningful title, or 2 subjects with a full stop or dash between then, don’t just write a list of keywords.
- Give every page on your site a unique title. This helps Google show the most relevant page and means your site as whole targets more keywords.
Editing a Meta Title only takes a minute and given it’s so important, it’s worth using a tool like Screaming Frog to analyze different pages on your site and optimize all the Meta Titles.
3. Well-structured, keyword-rich URLs
When uploading a post, sites will create an automatic URL, often, but not always, using the title. So, “How to save money on electronics” can become /how-to-save-money-on-electronics.
This is okay (and much better than /node/312122020), but try to edit it so that it shows the hierarchy of the website and includes keywords.
For example, on a site focused on gadgets rather than finances with a keyword of ‘wearable electronics,’ you might use /gadgets/cheap-wearable-electronics for a product page, but /guide/how-wearable-electronics-work for a blog page. Keep the URLs as short as possible while still communicating sufficient information about what a page contains.
4. Smart on-page SEO structure
When structuring your website, there are two types of links that matter:
- Internal – structure your website so the most important pages have the most internal links going to them, and use short, keyword-rich anchor texts for the links.
- Outbound – link to other sites from blog pages when it will help back up research or show more information, which provides value to the reader. If your own site has a page that provides this information, link to that page instead of a third party site.
It also helps with SEO if you structure your website so that the top part of the page contains important information (e.g., the title and an introductory text) and not just images.
5. Focused image alt text
When uploading an image, there’ll be a little box for image alt text that can be used to increase keyword usage, i.e., ‘handcrafted oak chair’ for a photo of a chair uploaded by a carpenter.
Importantly, don’t keyword stuff and add the words ‘image of’ before your description because this text will be read aloud to visually impaired readers using a website reader. They could be put off if the words ‘cheap chairs, ‘cheap oak chairs,’ ‘handcrafted chairs’ are read to them in the middle of an interesting piece of content.
6. User-friendliness of webpage and website
For people to enjoy content and buy products from a company, the website needs to be easy-to-use. The most important ways to do that are:
- Quick loading pages, so don’t use too many images/gifs/videos, etc. Google will be launching a new algorithm in May 2021 that is expected to make this even more important.
- Mobile-friendly web design because already 50% of users worldwide access the web via a mobile device, which might increase with 5G technology.
- HTTPS URLs because visitors want to know that the site they’re visiting is secure.
As well as on-page SEO having backlinks to your site is essential to your Google ranking. Social media also plays a role, and we recommend checking out this guide on how to become famous on Instagram from 12 experts.
Hopefully, the 6 points have helped to demystify on-page SEO for you somewhat and will aid you in improving your site’s Google rank by adding and updating content to be valuable, informative, and user-friendly.