On Site SEO: A Ten Step Checklist to Getting it Right

Dodgy or incorrect onsite SEO is a common mistake we see over and over (and over!) again. SMEs are particularly guilty because they can’t afford digital marketing so they read a few bits and make half an attempt to get it right.

Onsite SEO is key to any digital marketing campaign. We’ve even seen digital marketing competitors with dodgy onsite SEO, and that’s never a good sign!

Maybe you want to rush out and start focussing on content or link building straight away, but to use a metaphor, onsite SEO is the foundations of a house. With dodgy foundations, the house is likely to come crashing right down. It’s the same in the digital marketing world.

So what matters to your onsite SEO? There’s a ten step checklist:

  1. Your URL
  2. Page Title
  3. Title Tags
  4. Headings
  5. Meta descriptions
  6. Media descriptions
  7. Social signals
  8. Website speed
  9. Internal and external links
  10. CTR, Impressions, Bounce Rates, and Time Spent Onsite

1. SEO your URL.

So: Search Engine Optimise your Uniform Resource Locator. Jazz up your URL, essentially, for search engines. How? The URL is your first chance to tell search engines what they are scanning. That’s very important to remember: Google (when we say Google, substitute in Bing/Yahoo, etc. too, if you like!) scans your page and plucks out the parts important to your algorithm. Those important things are weighted up and your SEO value designated.

Your URL, then, should be keyword relevant (aim for truth too though or you’ll lose readers!) and should also tell both Google and your reader exactly what they’re going to read about. Our last post was about lead generation so the URL was:

onsite seo url
2. Onsite SEO and Your Page Title

So your page format has a hierarchy:

  1. URL
    Title
    Headings
    Meta descriptions
    Bolded content
    Content
    Media

Keep that hierarchy in mind. You have your URL, right, so the same set-up applies to your title. Keep it keyword relevant. Keyword research, obviously, is hugely important. If you don’t know what you’re doing, hire a digital marketing agency to help you out. It’s worth the cost. We promise.

Don’t stuff your title with keywords. Keep it relevant. Simple. There’s slightly more benefit to putting your title keyword at the start. You have 70 characters to play with. In our recent post title, we got two keywords in there: Lead Generation, Marketing–but it’s still interesting enough to warrant clicks.

3. Title Tags

Every single page on your website should have title tags. Your title tags are relevant to your industry: our tags are SEO, Digital Marketing Agency  and stuff like that. Again: keyword research! Once you’ve got your title tags, it’s a simple matter of pasting them into the relevant places on your site. WordPress is particularly handy for this, as they tell you exactly where to put your title tags! The words in the box below shows some of our title tags:

Googling your brand name is the quickest way to gauge if you have title tags.
4. Headings

Headings are formatting tags and are really handy for laying out a post so it’s easy to read. On WordPress, Headings are part of the kitchen sink and range from H1 to H5: usually, H1s are pre-formatted in the CSS of the site to be larger and in bold, whereas H5 are usually the same font as the body of the post itself.

Be sure to include a keyword at least once in your headings, but again: don’t go crazy and stuff your tags.
5. Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions once had real SEO value, but not so much anymore. They’re still important though—for your reader more so than Google. The meta description is the block of text displayed in search engines that tells your reader what they’re going to read. Snappy meta descriptions will improve your click-through-rates and potentially lead to leads!

6. Media

Video, imagery, etc., are great to keep your visitor interested. Engagement is far higher on visual resources. Even if you write well and interestingly, people get distracted. Multimedia exists to keep attention, but it’s also important to your onsite SEO/digital marketing.

Even though it can be tedious, be sure to fill in the Image ALT Attributes and the image descriptions. Search engines can’t read images. If you’ve chosen your images well, they’ll be relevant to your keywords. The ALT attribute actually exists to describe an image should it fail to load for whatever reason so it’s good practice to actually describe the image. A keyword, as always, is good so drop one in if it’s relevant. Same applies to all multimedia.

7. Social Signals

Social media is important to your onsite SEO. Why? Well, good content will be shared, AND it boosts keyword density across your site. The more content is shared, the more natural links you’ll get. For us, Twitter is our greatest referrer, though it varies, business to business. A modelling agency, for example, will have great success on Instagram and Facebook.

Be realistic about your social signals. You won’t be shared as much as Buzzfeed, for example. Social signals are a gauge but they’re not an end-point. Conversion is your end-point.

8. Website Speed

The effect of website speed on your rankings is quite small, but it’s still something to keep an eye on. There are a multitude of speed test tools available to use. Largely, a slow website is considered a negative if it’s slow enough to deter return visitors.

Upgrading your hosting, compressing multimedia, and clearing your cache will all help though sometimes a slow theme is just a slow theme, regardless of what you do.

9. External and Internal Links

A simple one: quality external links and internal links are the basis of link-building.

So that’s the basic stuff. We’re about to take a detour into speculation. Google et al are secretive about their algorithms, right, so there’s a certain amount of speculation involved in what matters. Which leads to:

10. CTR, Impressions, Bounce Rates, and Time Spent Onsite

I have a theory that everything Google provides information on in Webmaster and Analytics matters to your onsite SEO and your ranking. There’s no metrics available yet as to quite how much it matters, but Moz are forever testing and experimenting to try and gauge it. Bounce rate and time spent on your site tie in with quality content, while CTR is down to all your onsite factors.
horrible website

The way I see it: Google want its search engines to provide the most relevant and accurate search returns to any given keywords. It’s why its penalties are so harsh: if Google’s results aren’t bulletproof, its users might switch to Bing or Yahoo or whoever. Create the best website possible, stick to the search engine’s rules, and optimise everything and you will rank. It’s time-consuming and it involves real knowledge of your industry, but it’s important and worth it.

A half-arsed SEO campaign or using grey-hat or even black-hat tactics will only get you in trouble. Do it right or hire a digital marketing agency to do it for you, because you can’t afford to mess your onsite SEO up.

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