We hope that part 1 of the blog series shed some light on the world of digital marketing. This week we take a closer look at On-Page SEO, Keywords, Off-Page SEO, Backlinks and Domain Authority. A proper search engine optimisation strategy employs different methods that can occur both on- and off the website. What is the difference between on-page SEO and off-page SEO? Let’s take a look.
On-page SEO refers to the changes you make directly to your web page to encourage higher rankings. It involves optimising the HTML code, content quality, and content structure. The following ranking factors affect the search engine’s experience of crawling your page as well as the visitor’s experience.
Search results are dependent on anything SEO-related that the search engine found relevant to a search using popular queries for that term. And now that ranking accounts for visitor behaviour associated with a page, the quality of your content is essential. Here are a few key points to consider when creating online content.
This involves search terms that visitors to your website is likely to enter into search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing) when looking for information and websites like yours. The primary goal is to target keywords that could generate the most hits.
‘Keyword stuffing’ is a thing of the past and search engines actually penalise this. The right way is to add the keywords you want to rank for into relevant and interesting content. This will likely lead to more people clicking and staying on your page. The longer people stay on your page, the better your site will rank.
Finding the right keywords for your business can be challenging with all the competition out there. Be creative and think more along the lines of search intent rather than actual search terms. If someone searches for ‘top digital marketing agencies’, imagine the sheer numbers of results. In fact, this is what happens in SERPs:
This particular search term indicates that the visitor is looking for a digital marketing agency. The companies listed here focus solely on the keyword and many of these are paid search results.
Here is where you need to evaluate alternatives such as ‘compare marketing agencies’. Always consult Google’s suggestions for common searches and also at the bottom of the SERP for even more suggestions.
Instead of going through a list of keywords ranked by search volume, use Google wisely and pay attention to the autocomplete functionality. It shows which searches are most popular for any term and also who the main competitors are. This gives you the ideal opportunity to research other keywords that they rank for.
A very useful tool that uses actual search queries to build a list is AnswerThePublic. Visit their website and play around with some keywords and see some of the awesome results.
Creating high-quality, engaging and relevant content will help encourage people to link to you and share your content across social media. Just remember to keep your content fresh and relevant in terms of targeted keywords and also the current time of month or year. This includes all the pictures, images, and videos on your website. Featuring Christmas articles and information in April negatively impact your search rankings. You should ideally update you pages once a month but at the very least, do so every quarterly.
HTML tags are often skipped as part of on-page search engine optimisation practices since they aren’t directly visible to human web users. On the other hand, search engines do detect HTML and the easier it is for them to crawl your website, the better you will rank.
Page Title and ALT Image Attribute
As far as possible, include your primary keyword in the page title and ideally as close to the beginning as you can. Search engines can’t read images which means you need to optimise all your images using a descriptive ALT attribute. The ALT text should also include one or more keywords.
Always put your target keyword in H1 and H2 tags to fully benefit from organic SEO. It also helps break up your content into smaller, more organised sections making it easier to read and understand.
Meta descriptions appear below the URL on a search engine results page. Although Meta descriptions don’t directly affect rankings, they do increase the likelihood that visitors will click on your listing over a competitor’s. As a result, better click-through rates and an increased amount of traffic from search engines.
An organised URL structure makes it easy for search engines to crawl your website without any obstacles. Not only that, it also provides much better navigation options for the user. Make sure that all your URL’s contain keywords and clearly reflect the web pages they point to. The most effective URL structure is using only 2-4 words. This way, URL’s are easy to remember, simple to enter into the browser and optimised for search engines.
Internally linking pages on your website is another important factor for on-page SEO. These are links between different pages on the same domain such as navigation links. They are important as users can easily navigate the site, they help create an information hierarchy of your website and impacts ranking power.
While quality content is a vital component, the performance of your web page is also a ranking factor. It goes without saying that page load speed is a deciding factor for many visitors and search engines. A slow website is unacceptable our modern day world especially with advanced technology, design platforms and processing speed.
Potential customers often see a slow website as untrustworthy and 40% will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. The same applies if it doesn’t render properly on mobile devices. Remove anything that’s slowing down your page, i.e. music players, flash graphics, large images and pointless plugins. Search engines can easily detect this type of behaviour and subsequently use it as a page ranking factor. To maximise your page load speed, always optimise your images (for appropriate file size) and have a have a responsive website.
Off-page SEO refers to all of the SEO practices taking place outside of your website. These are factors you don’t really have control over and include backlinks, link relevancy, and social signals among others.
It’s important to note that search engines don’t rank websites solely based on their on-page optimisation. There are actually several off-page factors that affect how search engines rank you when users do an online search.
Using backlinks is more important in search engine optimisation than most people probably realise. It is regarded as the most important off-page ranking factor with the biggest impact. This reputation is well-deserved as getting backlinks pointing to your website is crucial. In fact, search engines see backlinks from trusted sites almost like an endorsement for your content.
While other websites might add backlinks to your site, it mostly is out of your hands. Writing good content is always a great start but there are a few other things you could do to obtain backlinks.
- Ask people or companies to include backlinks to your site
- Connect your Facebook page to your website
- Spend time guest blogging to specific industry-related websites
- Reach out to influencers and other bloggers
- Join review and directory sites
Whichever way we look at it, inbound links are the lifeblood of a successful search engine optimisation strategy. Combining ‘dofollow’ and ‘nofollow’ links will give you a natural link profile that search engines generally reward.
Your domain authority is another off-page SEO factor that is less in your control. Domain authority helps search engines determine how much they can trust you. It is affected by:
- How long you’ve had your domain name (the longer the better)
- The history of the domain name (if it had a previous owner who did not comply with best practices, search engines will see that history and take that into account).
- The number of referring domains
Search engines and organic traffic play a major role in your business growth. It is because the majority of your target audience uses a search engine to find you that implementing both on-page and off-page SEO will help more potential customers find you.
Part 3 of the blog series will focus on Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Content Marketing. In the meantime, if you need expert digital advice, please get in touch with WSI eMarketing. We specialise in Search Engine Optimisation, PPC, Responsive Web development, Marketing Automation, Online Reputation Management and Social Media. Until next week, keep reading, sharing and continue learning.