13 Easy Steps to On-Site SEO and How to Implement Them

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Developing a strong website that’s easy for the search engines to catalog and index is all about following a few simple steps.

Site structure can be your best friend when it comes to getting high search engine rankings and once you have established that perfect site structure your website can continue to grow and adapt with the search engines.

There are many sites out there that list which on-site SEO elements are most important and what aspects you need to pay more attention to but this list will explain what each element is and how to use and implement them to your advantage. This list also offers ways to keep the on-site SEO user-friendly to maximize your results.

It doesn’t matter if you’re developing websites for a mom and pop local plumber or a multi-million dollar agency that will have thousands of dynamic pages, the same 13 steps to on-site SEO will need to be applied to each.

1. File Naming Conventions

Most developers don't give a lot of thought to page names, but it can be an extremely beneficial way to get more keywords into your site without having to force them.

File naming conventions

As you can see from the image above, Google picks up on naming conventions and using “website- promotion” as the name of my page re-iterates the importance of website promotion in my website.

Start off by making a list of all of your pages before you begin to build out the site and try to add in your keywords any chance you get.

File Naming Guidelines:

Use this method for every page and work your keywords into your site architecture where applicable.

2. Title Attributes for Navigation

Developed more for screen readers and usability purposes, title attributes for your navigation can offer a significant amount of extra value to users and search engines.

Title tag attribute for navigation

The image above shows the title attribute when you hover your mouse over the services navigation tab.

Add a title attribute to all of your navigation tabs to give users a better indication of what the pages are about:

<a href="http://www.alibiproductions.com/html/services.html" title="Search Engine Optimization Consulting and Promotion Services">

You want to abide by a few rules before you go stuffing your title attributes with information that could be considered spam.

Title Tag Attribute Guidelines:

3. Title Tags (not to be confused with the above title tag attributes)

Just like every other list on the web will tell you, the title tag is one of the most important areas to focus on for your on-site SEO.

The title tag is what the search engines use to populate their rankings. You need to be specific with your titles in order to achieve high rankings.

Title tag attribute

Title Tag Guidelines:

4. Meta Descriptions:

The meta description is almost as important as the title tag when it comes to converting clicks because this small snippet of content will tell the user whether or not your link is worth clicking on.

Meta description

Ideally, once a user reads your title tag they will then read your meta description and it will entice them enough to click to your page.

Meta Description Guidelines:

5. Image Alt Attributes:

Images don’t have descriptions and search engines have no idea what images are unless you tell them. You can take advantage of a lot of extra traffic from Google Images by optimizing your graphics.Anytime you add images to your website you want to make sure that you add some descriptive text that gives the search engines an idea about what that image is.

<img src="/i/posts/biglist.gif" alt="Best Blogs on the Net" />

Image Alt Attributes Guidelines:

6. Heading Tags

Heading tags were originally developed for better site hierarchy, but they can also be used for on-site optimization. Heading tags go from <h1> to <h6> and when keywords are applied to these tags they can increase your website rankings for those particular keywords.

Heading Tag Guidelines:

The most competitive keywords should be represented in the <h1>

Site architecture should represent a rational outline:

7. Crosslinks

Search engines find websites by traveling from link to link. Adding keywords in your links gives the search engines a strong value to base where the link is going and what that link is about. When crosslinking throughout your own website you want to link from page to page with the keywords that are on the page you are linking to.

Ex: Page B is targeting the keyword “viral-marketing.” You want to add a link from Page A to Page B. Instead of using “click here,” try “…learn more about our viral marketing services.”

You want to use this formula for both on-site crosslinking as well as when you are trying to acquire links from other sites. If you can get a similar topic website like joe-schmo-advertising.com to link to your website with “website promotion” as the anchor text, you are giving Google more context to evaluate the relevancy of the link and also the site that it’s going to.

Crosslinking Guidelines:

8. Keyword Density

Keyword density refers to how well you are able to plug in your keyword phrases into the content. Even though this aspect of on-site SEO has been getting a lot of attention lately for both sides of the argument, I still believe it’s best to have your keywords placed within the content and mentioned a certain number of times. Now what that magic number is, I can’t tell you. You have to make your own decision about that, but obviously if your whole page deals with cats you are naturally going to mention cat-related keywords all throughout your content.

When I’m considering keyword density I look more towards good writing with a natural tone versus trying to please the search engines.

Keyword Density Guidelines:

9. Keyword Proximity

Very similar to keyword density, keyword proximity refers to how closely you get the individual words in your targeted keyword phrase together. In the example below there are four words in between widgets and online. This example is a strong reference to the keyword phrase but it isn’t as strong if I could have worked blue widgets online into my content without any words in between them.

Example of Keyword Proximity:
Keyword phrase: blue widgets online
If you looking for blue widgets, you can find them online.

Although the words in the keyword phrase aren’t immediately adjacent to one another, they are close enough to be meaningful to the search engines. This example would also seem natural to a user.

Keyword Proximity Guidelines:

10. Keyword Order

If you are trying to target “blue widgets online,” you have to mention blue > widgets > online in that order throughout your content. If you scramble them up or mention online before widgets then you are not targeting the same phrase that you researched and selected based on traffic and competition.

Keyword Order Guidelines:

11. Content Organization

Content on websites needs to be organized in a logical fashion based on both the user’s needs and the targeted keywords. Every time I speak with a new client I always ask them for a rough outline of everything that they want to include in their website. I take all that information and organize it the best way I see fit. A whole page doesn’t need to be devoted to testimonials if you can pepper them throughout the site in smaller areas that need some filler content.The organization of your site can easily distract users and cause them to leave abruptly. Have the content of your website organized in a sitemap before any development begins.

Content Organization Guidelines:

12. Content Consistency

Not every page on your website is going to be able to target keywords and have SEO content, but it’s important that these non SEO pages have the same flow and standards that the SEO pages have.

Content Consistency Guidelines:

13. Know Your Audience

Anytime content is written for anything, whether it’s a print ad or a website, the audience needs to be thoroughly researched and the copy needs to speak directly to them. Many people in the industry will bloat their content with these on-site SEO tactics and it can read very odd and chuncky. Good SEO content will read very naturally and speak personally to your audience without the interruption of keyword, keyword, keyword.

Audience Guidelines:

On-Site SEO doesn’t have to make you pull your hair out. Just like any process, once you know what steps need to be taken, even the largest projects seem possible. These 13 steps to on-site SEO can be applied to each and every page you develop and once you master these steps, you can expand on what factors will work the best for your projects.

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