Writing by Nick Stamoulis in SEO
In their rush to move on to the latest and greatest in SEO, link building and content marketing tactics, many site owners fail to get the onsite SEO basics squared away 100%. I tell my clients that an SEO campaign is much like building a house—without a strong foundation the rest of your work isn’t going to be as beneficial as it could/should be. In my opinion, a great SEO campaign has to start with optimizing your website. Although other professionals might disagree and say link building should be started right away, my thought is why would you want to build links to a site that isn’t ready for the visitors?
Here are 3 onsite SEO basics you can’t afford to miss:
Keyword research is like the foundation to your foundation! The keywords you choose to incorporate into your website (and eventually your content marketing) will ultimately impact the kind of searches your website will rank for and who actually finds your site in the long run. Keyword research needs to be done on a page-by-page basis, choosing 2-5 keywords based on the content of that page. Why 2-5? If you can actually target more than 5 different keywords on a single page, chances are that content needs to be broken up into separate pages. And while you might be able to squeeze 7 related keywords onto one page, unless your page scrolls on forever it’s going to be tight to give each of these keywords equal representation and weight on your site.
Remember, the search engines are getting smarter at recognizing synonyms; you might target a keyword like “SEO firm,” but your site can still rank for “SEO company.” This means your site can still rank in the search results for related keywords you couldn’t actively target on your site.
You want your website to be as flat as possible for a few reasons. First off, the easier it is for a visitor to move from your homepage (or whatever page they landed on) to any internal page of your site. This makes the path of conversion much easier because visitors can find exactly what they are looking for in a few clicks as possible. You want to link vertically (from the high level navigation down) as well as horizontally so visitors can easily move through your site and don’t have to start from the homepage and retrace their steps.
Secondly, a flatter search engine structure helps ensure that the search engine bots can crawl and index all the pages on your site. If a page is just floating around on its own and isn’t really connected to the rest of the site by internal linking, there is the possibility that the search engines will overlook it.
This onsite SEO basic is one that many website owners don’t think about simply because they are so comfortable and familiar with their own sites. But try to put yourself in the shoes of a completely new visitor; they don’t know what you do.
Even though Meta descriptions aren’t an important ranking factor, they are still an important part of onsite SEO. The Meta description you input is the snippet that the search engines will pull when your website is listed in the search results, so it’s important to think of it like a mini-ad. Those 150 characters have to convince a searcher that your website is the best option of all the results Google has pulled. If you don’t specify a Meta description, the search engines will usually just pull a line or two from the webpage itself. There is so much about SEO that we just can’t control, so take control over what you can!