Understanding how to get the best results for your search engine marketing efforts can be challenging. Some companies focus specifically on making tweaks to a client’s website, called on-page optimization. Other companies all but ignore the on-page items and focus on signals pointing back to your website, which is known as off-page optimization.
According to the latest survey results from MOZ, SEO is not an either or endeavor. Rather, if you want to succeed in search engine rankings, you need to focus on both areas appropriately and ensure you are optimizing across the board. With that in mind, here are some tips for succeeding with both on-page and off-page optimization.
Get Started with On-Page Optimization First
The website is the foundation of your business online. This is what clients are going to see and interact with, so it makes sense to get started with on-page optimization first. On-page refers to the factors search engines algorithms examine that have to do with the website itself.
The most important first step in developing your on-page strategy is doing keyword research. What are potential customers searching when looking for your product or service?
An important first step with an on-page strategy is taking time to conduct quality keyword research and find the keyword themes you are aiming to rank for. While you might have a general idea of what phrases your desired audience is searching for, it’s critical to be certain of this data so you can tailor your on-page strategy appropriately. Some of the top keyword research tools used by SEOs include Google Adwords Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, and HitTail.
Spruce Up Your Content
Once the keyword research is completed, it’s time to start revamping the website itself. Site content is the most important area to review, and is actually the simplest area to make changes. When reviewing your content, you want to make sure:
You have enough content on each page, and that the content flows naturally: Different SEO professionals recommend different lengths of content. The minimum you should aim for is roughly 300-500 words for standard pages. If your pages are highly technical, you may need more words. However, keep in mind that most readers won’t read an article or page that drags on forever so try to cap your content at 700-800 words.
You are using header tags: These are the tags H1, H2, H3 and so forth that emphasize titles and subtitles on your page. Pages should only have one H1 tag, while smaller header tags can be used throughout the page for subtitles.
To check your keyword usage across the pages: You want to ensure you have not stuffed more keywords into the page than flows naturally. Additionally, ensure you have used your keywords in your header tags, as appropriate, with the most important keyword in the H1 tag. Take a step back and look at the keywords you’re tackling on each page. No page should target more than 2-3 keywords.
To check your title and alt tags: While these may not be directly visible when someone visits your site, they are extremely important to the search algorithm, and show to searchers in the search engine results. A title tag is the 55-60-character page title that shows in search results, which is followed by a ~160-character meta description. When writing your title tags, make sure to put important keywords close to the front of the title. Also, be sure that the title accurately describes the page’s content. Meta descriptions should read like great sales copy – a super enticing 1-2 sentences that convinces the reader to click on the page.
Building Authority with Off-Page Optimization
The on-page optimization develops relevance for your keywords with the search engines. The off-page elements are what gives your site authority in the search engines, and what will help move your site up in the search results placement.
Social media and citation links are a great, organic way to build your backlink profile.
There are many differing opinions on how to tackle off-page optimization effectively, and your strategy should actually be dependent on your industry and the competitive landscape. Here are some of the general things you will want to look at as part of your off-page optimization strategy.
Developing a quality inbound link profile: This is still very important to the search engines. Do not pay for fast links or join private link networks. Rather, look for quality sites that are relevant to your visitors to seek links. Whenever possible, seek links from .gov and .edu domains, as these are the most powerful links you can get.
Get involved with social media: It no longer matters what type of business you own; social media is a must. Aside from the direct marketing and brand development opportunities, social signals coming back to your site are also increasingly important to the search engines. Of primary focus is the volume of shares your site receives from social sites. Make it easy for your users to share your content with social sharing buttons and consider using a service to syndicate new content across all of your social properties.
Claim and verify your local business listings: This includes citations from sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, Foursquare, Yellow Pages, and Citysearch that serve as directories for the local businesses. Claiming your business listing across the large number of online directories that exist can take lots of time, but there are some services you can utilize to help streamline this process, such as Dex, Yext, and UBL.
Fortunately, SEO is not rocket science. Rather, it is an art of persistence and planning. Knowing what to tackle, and in what order, is very important. These tips will get you started on the right foot with building your search engine presence.
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