SEO or search engine optimization is an ever changing thing – one can never get enough with all the search engine optimization tips in the world! Once upon a time webmasters could simply do quick keyword and market research, buy a domain name (with keyword included in it), set up a “niche” website with 10–15 pages on it, build some backlinks and BOOM – they were on the first page of Google.
Those days are gone now (for good). A LOT of changes have taken place in the field of search engine optimization over the past years. And those changes are quite BIG – they have turned the tables upside down.
Many business have gone from super high to nothing overnight! That’s overnight failure. A pain. Its like you have built a business that was stable until now, but then it suddenly became unstable. And your business is washed out just like that – you are not on the face of the planet (the internet planet) anymore.
Many webmasters have lost hope in SEO. Many think that search engine optimization is a scary thing – since a lot of “SEO strategies” that used to work in favour of webmasters now work against them. For instance you could just go around and buy a bunch of links pointing to your site and climb to first page in rankings. But that “strategy” not only doesn’t work anymore, but it also could hurt you these days.
So it is quite understandable why most webmasters shy away from learning or doing any SEO on their websites. BUT, here’s the thing – if you don’t care about search engine traffic, you can simply ignore SEO. However, it is not wise to ignore search engine traffic. No matter what other kinds of traffic you generate, search engine traffic should always be part of your traffic strategy – just don’t rely on it too much!
You cannot totally ignore and be totally ignorant about SEO because SEO is part of the game. If you are online, and if you want to be “seen” by the right people when they are looking for relevant information, you gotta embrace SEO – there is no escape to it.
One of the major questions many website owners ask is this:
SEO has changed a lot and I am unable to keep track. So how do I stay tuned and keep up with the changes? All this is too much for me. So how do I do SEO?
Here’s my short answer – Even though there have been so many algorithm changes as far as SEO is concerned, the basics is always the same. If your website is useful and of high quality, and if it can please people and search engines then you are the winner.
However there are certain things called on-page SEO aspects that you need to implement on your site/page/content so you “help” search engines know what your site is about and hence present your site accordingly to searchers who search for relevant information.
In this post I cover such on-page SEO aspects that still matter, even after the various Google updates that have been rolled out. And, before we dive in let me briefly tell you what is on-page (and off-page) SEO.
On page SEO is something you can do on your site. You have total control over these aspects, because you implement them on YOUR site. On the other hand, off page SEO is something you do outside your website. These are aspects like other people linking to you, other people mentioning you and so on. How do get off page SEO to work for you is a separate story! We’ll keep it for another post. Now let’s dive in!
#1 Keywords are important!
No matter whatever you have heard about keywords so far, please do keep in mind that keywords DO matter (yes still in this era). There is nothing shady about being keyword focused unless you stuff your content with keywords and write it for the bots (you may call it keyword vomiting).
Keywords are the words or phrases that people type into search boxes when they are looking for information or help on the internet. When a keyword is typed into the search box, the search engine takes a look at all the indexed pages on its database and presents the user with relevant sites that it thinks are relevant. Let me repeat it again – relevant sites that the search engine thinks are relevant.
So how do search engines “get” that a particular site or web page is relevant to a particular query that was typed in? Keywords!
If you ignore keywords you are missing out. Make sure you do keyword research quite often, before you create a piece of content. Get to know what keywords are most search for. This will give you an idea about what people in your industry are looking for. If you are into monetizing your site with Adsense, then you might also want to focus creating content around keywords that have high CPC.
#2 Focus on long tail keywords
Long tail keywords are longer phrases of keywords that are usually seen as low hanging fruits. But the word “long tail” doesn’t come from the longer nature but because they occupy the long tail in this image below.
As it is evident, long tail keywords are not the “so common” fire keywords, but are certainly low hanging fruits.
#3 Meta title and meta description tags STILL matter
You would have heard a lot of authoritative people saying that meta keywords of a web page doesn’t matter any more as far as search engine optimization is concerned. It is true in a sense. Since webmaster knew they could put keywords in the meta keywords box, and since they knew search engines were taking note of it to rank their pages/website based on the keywords in that box, they started to abuse it. People started inserting lots of keywords hoping that their site would rank in #1 position for all of them, just because they’re in that box.
Due to this, over the time, search engines started to ignore the keywords in the meta keywords box of a website or a page. Even though they are not helpful for ranking, the details you enter in the meta box help search engines to know what that particular page is about. And this not only includes meta keywords but also meta title and meta description tags.
If you are using a premium theme like Genesis, then you would have the option to input Meta details from any post or page (in the edit mode).
If not, you can use a plugin like WordPress SEO to do the job.
Don’t ignore those boxes – they actually help search engines know what your page is about and this in turn helps you to rank higher on relevant search query pages.
#4 You have to interlink your blog posts
Whenever you write a blog post, make sure you link to at least two of your older posts. Interlinking your blog posts is a great SEO strategy which works in the long run.
There are various benefits to this:
- When you include links to your older blog posts, you encourage your readers to read more from your blog. This means they stay on your site for a longer time (compared to reading just one isolated blog post) and you get to decrease your bounce rate – which is a good thing from the SEO perspective.
- When you reference other posts from your blog, you naturally build links to those blog posts.
- When you provide additional, relevant links to other posts within your blog posts, you provide supplementary material to your users and this is great for user experience.
- Normally, with a blog, only the latest posts get the attention and your old blog posts go unnoticed after a while. But when you practice linking your old posts in all of your blog posts, you give those old blog posts the chance to get read, even after they have become old.
#5 Link out generously
Linking out to other blogs is a great SEO strategy. Earlier, webmaster used to shy away from linking to other blogs thinking that they will pass link juice (SEO value) to those blogs. It is true; by linking out to other websites, you will pass SEO value if you use dofollow (which I pretty much recommend – you should be using nofollow tags for advertisement or sponsored links). But linking out generously is a nice gesture which can bring you a lot of SEO benefits.
- By linking out to the others and appropriately mentioning them when you share your content they will notice that you have linked to their content. They will come by to share your post, leave a comment or something similar. You will also make genuine connections over the time.
- Links are part of the search game. And by linking out to other references you keep the machine well oiled and you encourage flow of links around the web (if you understand what I mean).
- When you include links to other blog posts outside of your site, you demonstrate that your content is not a standalone content and that it is relevant and related in context to other stuff in your industry.
- You also provide your users with relevant information, thus improving user experience.
#6 Set up your permalinks right!
Permalinks are the URL structures you set for your website’s pages. If you are using WordPress, you will find Permalinks under “Settings” when you are in your WordPress dashboard. You will find a set of options.
You have to set the right permalink structure for your website, since permalinks can also help boost your SEO benefits. I will not go into the details of setting up the right permalink here at this post.
#7 Write useful content
I am sure you have heard this already a million times. But have you already implemented it? Are you putting your maximum effort to create content? Do you do your research? Do you make your content highly useful to your readers?
Useful, actionable content is the key. The length of the content is not usually related to usefulness, but in general we find that longer content tends to be more in-depth and provide useful information.
Search engines love long form content. Also people do love such content and share them a lot 🙂 Research proves it!
#8 SEO is STILL a long term traffic strategy
No, nothing has changed on that department! SEO is still a long term traffic strategy where you do stuff now so you can reap the benefits later – but be sure to do it consistently now so you can scale up your benefits over the time!
Never publish one blog post, do one guest post, implement one SEO strategy and expect to get a consistent stream of benefits for the rest of your life. That ain’t going to happen.
You have to spend a consistent amount of time every day, every week or with every piece of content you publish to get consistent results in the SEO perspective. In short, implementing search engine optimization tips should be part of your day-to-day blogging activities.
#9 Build a well-structured website
The structure of your website matters a lot when it comes to SEO. When I say structure, I mean categorizing your content into categories, using menus, breadcrumbs and stuff like that. Think about people trying to find useful information on your site.
Is there a clear navigation menu? Can people reach your most important pages in a maximum of 2 clicks? – Your About page, landing pages? Are they easily accessible? Can people get back to your homepage from any of your pages? For instance, if your visitors are reading one of your blog posts and want to access your home page, can they do so easily?
Building a well structured website not only helps your visitors but also the search engine bots – if a website’s pages are well structured and hierarchically distributed, it is easy for the bots to spider the pages.
For more information, refer to this slide:
#10 Don’t forget the image alt tags
Yup! Images are easily ignored by webmasters but they can contribute a lot to on-page SEO. Images make your content easy to read and easy to understand. In particular, whenever you load a webpage that has a long, in-depth piece of content, it would be nice and easy to the eyes if there are either relevant or funny images in between the content.
Whenever you upload an image to your WordPress website, make sure you enter the relevant alt and title tags for the image. For the title tag you could insert a slightly varied form of the post title or the sub-heading into which you are going to insert the image. For the alt (short form of alternate) tag you could insert a short description of the image itself in context with the content.
There are mainly three advantages to adding alt and title tags to images:
- Assuming you add relevant title and alt tags, the images would show up in image search for relevant searches.
- For readers with slow internet connection, if the images don’t load on the web page, the alt tags show up in place of the images thus giving your readers an idea of what they missed.
- Since you add relevant text as title and alt tags, that further boosts the SEO of that page in relation to the keywords you include in those tags.
On-page search engine optimization tips: Wrapping up
So those are my 10 on-page SEO tips. I have not talked about off page SEO here. And these on page SEO tips are still valid even after the search engine algorithm updates.
These are not any shady techniques that will run you into trouble. Following these search engine optimization tips will help you provide a nice experience for your users, as well as improve your site’s SEO value. This way your site will be visible to users when they search for stuff related to your website.