SEO or Search Engine Optimisation. To some, it’s a marketing must. A guaranteed traffic generator for your website and a steady source of engagement with potential customers. For others it can be a total mystery, a black box on the scale of an Agatha Christie novel.
The good news is that there are very few things in life that are a total mystery and SEO most definitely doesn’t fall into that category. If there is one question we get consistently asked by clients it’s this: “How do you know you can improve my search rankings?” And the answer is simple. Because it’s based on an algorithm and if you broadly know the set of rules that go into said formula, well you’re well on the way to taming the Google beast. So, in this blog, we’re going to let you in on a few of its secrets, focusing in on a small sub section of SEO, on-page factors.
Think of on-page factors as the most visible aspects of SEO. To use a well-worn analogy if SEO was an iceberg, on-page factors would be the part above the sea. So, without further ado let’s run through a few key aspects of on-page SEO and how you can alter them to your benefit.
#1 – The Title Tag –
As with any marketing what people see or hear about your business is kind of the whole point of doing it in the first place and SEO is no different. Which is why title tags are so important. Essentially an HTML element located in the header section of any web page, title tags are typically what search engines display as the clickable headline in their results. The best way to think about title tags are like the spine of a book. Picture yourself in a library. What part of the book do you read before taking it off the shelf? That’s right the spine! So, if you run a website, make sure that spine (title tag) is accurate, compelling and representative of the on-page content. Do this and you’ve just earned a big tick in the eyes of search engines.
#2 – URL Structure –
URL’s are an oft over looked tool in the SEO arsenal because they are, in fairness one of its more boring aspects. Why spend time fretting over URL structure when you can be creating a mind-blowing infographic or blog post, right? But the truth is that you should give thought to it, not only because it provides helpful navigation to users but because the information contained is used to evaluate the relevance of web pages by search engines. Remember all the search engine wants to do is be confident that when it sends people through to a web page the searcher will find what they searched for. Nothing more, nothing less.
And so, when you have a URL structured like this: www.examplewebpage.com/64638q3746464 your sending a message – intended or otherwise – to search engines that you’re not willing to help users understand what they might be clicking through to or where they might end up on your website.
Sure, it can be a pain (goodness knows we know!) but spending the few minutes to construct helpful URL’s can make a lot of difference in the long run. As the saying goes; the devil is in the detail.
#3 – On-page content –
Arguably the most important aspect of SEO and the part of your website that will play the biggest role in its success – the words. So important is this now deemed in the eyes of search engines it has sprung an entire sub-category of marketing, content and inbound.
The good news is this is probably the least technical of all SEO and by extension the most accessible to non-developers and the one that if executed well can generate the greatest search engine gains. The bad news? It’s probably the most difficult and competitive way to do so.
Difficult but by no means impossible and like any other aspect of SEO if you follow some crucial rules you can give your content a fighting chance. And the good news is you already know them! Think about any website or page which really engaged you? Our guess is that it was relevant to what you were searching for, provided unique and compelling information, had ample links back to other parts of the website and reinforced the topic throughout the page. Right? Well that is essentially the key points to on-page content. No secrets, no gimmicks. Just good, solid, useful information for users.
#4 – Image alt-tags –
Despite recent product launches from Google and Apple, computers are still some way off universal image recognition and, for the foreseeable future at least, search engines will likely remain a text-only piece of software. What do we mean by that? Well just that, it has the capacity to read text-only and as pretty as the pictures on a website may be, they have no way to differentiate between an apple and an orange. That is of course, unless we tell them. And that is where the image alt-text comes in.
Ask yourself this, how many times have you hovered over a photo online and a long list of numbers and letters appear? A lot presumably. Well that is an example of poor image alt-text. Again, it might not be the most glamourous aspect to SEO but it is vitally important to an effective SEO strategy. Remember, search engines are just software like any other and they rely on our inputs to tell them what to think and how to respond. So, if you’ve got an image of a banana on your site, label it as a banana. You’ll keep the folks at Google happy and make your site vastly more searchable for potential users.
As outlined above SEO is a large area of marketing and with updates being made to search engine algorithms all the time. That said there are some key principles that are unlikely to ever change. If in doubt put yourself in the user’s shoes and ask yourself the question: if I was on my website would it make me more or less informed about a given topic. If that answer is no – then you’ve probably got work to do. But if you’re willing then the prize is there with better visibility online, more website users and more informed customers.
If you’d like more information about SEO or inbound marketing then please get in touch with us today.