Search Engine Optimization
On-Page vs. Link-Building
On-the-Page Search Engine Optimization
When thinking about on the page, we must think of all the factors that are directly tied to the website and that can be influenced by the design and development of the website. For example, content, URL structure, speed of the website, meta title and description, alt and h1 tags, mobile ready, and so on. All of these are examples of on-the-page factors because they can be influenced directly from building a website.
Off-the-Page Search Engine Optimization
On the flip side, off the page consists of factors that are independent from the creation of a website but still impact the overall SEO of a website. These include relevant links to your website, the impact of social media on your site, and the overall domain authority, among others.
What is a primary keyword?
We take the stance that every page should have a pool of a few keywords that you want to use in your content. However, there needs to be one keyword phrase that is used strategically in a few areas such as the URL of the website, meta titles, meta descriptions, page headers, page sub-headers, and the content. If you use that primary keyword consistently in those areas, you will rank higher for that specific keyword
Content, which needs to deliver value to the users, will deliver value if it is unique, relevant, and useful. With the changes in Google’s local search algorithm, Google Pigeon, quality is weighted much more highly than before and can be presented in a variety of forms, including blog posts, images, press releases, videos, and the like.
Research lays a foundation for any platform. A website requires not only traffic research but also specific keyword research. The ultimate question is, “What keywords would be used in a search engine to find your content?” Research uncovers words that a website should use to target its audience. This can be done by user queries, query volumes, and a query match of keywords.
The content in the site should list relevant keywords that will attract potential visitors and also be incorporated into the content. Keywords should come across as natural language, versus appearing as if they were forced into the content.
Indicators of engagement are the amount of traffic, the length of time a user spends on a page, and the number of new visitors. Social gestures such as comments, shares, and likes represent another way that engagement might be measured.
The content on a website should stay up-to-date with trends and relevant topics of interest. Sometimes pages with the right content at the right time may observe a surge in ranking.
HTML is the underlying code used to create web pages. Search engines can pick up ranking signals from specific HTML elements. Here are some of the most important HTML elements needed to achieve SEO success.
HTML Title Tag
The title of a page is one of the most important and most heavily weighted elements in an SEO rank. Title tags paint a small picture for the content provided on the page. Search engine bots look for a relevant and short title using keywords.
Meta Description Tag
The meta description tag is the summary that potential visitors read in the search engine. The specific keywords a user types into the search field will be bold in order to the catch the reader’s eye. Google has the authority to change a description and will do so if it doesn’t like the written description or if the description doesn’t relate to the content on the page.
Search engines also pick up the headers and subheads of a web page to rank a site in the search engine. These tags identify pieces of content within a page by recognizing the key points at the top. Although this element does not weigh as heavily as other HTML factors, headers show the structure as clean and credible.
Included in the Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors is a function to help search engines comprehend specific details of a web page. These extra details are called rich snippets, and they give the website oomph within a search engine. This element is expected to have more weight over time.
You want only one version of a page to be available to search engines. Google does not take kindly to multiple versions of the same pages. An example of duplication is when a site has www and non-www versions of the site instead of redirecting one to the other. Using 301 redirects and rel=canonical tags can help in redirecting users to one version and/or can provide a preference for the search engine of which is the correct version to use.
No one wants to wait for a page to load, and neither does a search engine. Pages that load quickly will gain a small increased ranking than slower pages.
Are your URLs descriptive? Pages with short, descriptive URLs have a small weight on page rank, but they serve as breadcrumbs to navigate your site. URLs are another place to add keywords for increased findability.
Search Engine Optimization Rules
The relevancy of a link is the most important external signal for search engine ranking. Links serve as a reference point to your page and connect visitors to pages internally and externally. These are the three elements to benchmark.
Link quality is how topically relevant the link is. A link weights higher when generated by a reputable, authoritative site.
The words within a link – the link text or “anchor text” – are seen by search engines as the way one website is describing another. It’s as if someone’s pointing at you in real life and declaring you to be an expert on that topic. Due to the changes via the Penguin updates, link text has downgraded in weight to identify over- optimized link/anchor text.
Number of Links
The total number of your links arranged on external sites weighs in SEO success. Search engines measure how many, how diverse, and how relevant these links are. When a site receives a lot of links from different sites, page rank will increase.
If links were a way for people to “vote” in favor of sites, social media sharing represents a way for that voting behavior to continue. Social signals are emerging as ranking factors as search engines determine how to leverage our social interaction and behavior.
A website’s social media reputation is split into two parts. The first is producing authentic accounts. Creating a page is easy, and therefore anyone can do it. Search engines can generally catch when unrepeatable pages generate fake “buzz.”
The second is simply having your own positive social presence. In any social platform, engaging with users and costumers is important for not only the company’s general reputation but also SEO.
Building a social media page is crucial for sharing content and your brand. By sharing your content, more people will be able to see and engage in the happenings of the company and, in turn, share the content as well.
A website’s trust is measured using a combination of factors of both on- and off-page factors; however, the big game changers in a search engine are the off-page factors. In the table, there are three elements to consider regarding trust.
How recognized a site is in its field, geographic area, or business is known as the website authority. Measuring authority in a search engine is an ambiguous metric due to the variety of factors included. Some areas measured for authority are the type of links received, social references, reviews, and engagement metrics.
An older, established site may find it can keep cruising along with search success, while a new site may have to “pay its dues,” so to speak, for weeks, months, or even longer to gain respect. An older site has historical data that search engines can tap into, with regard to the site history of following good SEO practices and providing on an ongoing basis relevant content and links. Although website content and structure may change, search engines take into account what is considered normal for the website.
Search engines are taking more strides to ensure that the site is truly the “official” website of the company or person that the website is about. Identity takes many forms, from Google’s Authorship program to social profile verification on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
Due to the Google Pigeon algorithm, no one sees exactly the same search results. Everyone gets a personalized experience.
Of course, there’s still a lot of commonality; everyone sees many of the same “generic” listings, but there will also be some listings appearing because of where someone is, whom they know, or how they surf the web.
A website relevant in America is probably not relevant in China, and words that mean one thing in America don’t necessarily mean the same thing in Great Britain. Therefore, search engines have search results tailored to designated countries.
Like country, a search engine continues to personalize results based on the user’s location. This has become increasingly important for mobile devices to deliver more relevant results. Searches vary depending on whether the user is on a mobile or desktop device.
Personal history takes into account what users have previously searched for and what they’re loyal to. It places more importance on first impressions and brand loyalty. When a user clicks on a “regular” search result, you want to ensure you’re presenting a great experience so they’ll come again. Over time, they may seek out your brand in search results, clicking on it despite it being below other listings.
This behavior reinforces your site as one that they should be shown more frequently. It’s even better if they initiate a social gesture, such as a like (Facebook), a +1 (Google+), or a tweet (Twitter) that indicates a greater affinity for your site or brand.
A social connection can influence what the user sees on a search engine. As one example, when a user’s friend views or reviews a store, this connection may cause that website to rank higher in the user’s search.
Search Engine Optimization Rules
Websites can attempt to spam a search engine. These “spammy” tactics are known as violations and, once caught, can result in a penalty from the given search engine. Here are a few factors to steer clear of:
“Thin” or “Shallow” Content
Search engines penalize websites that create generous amounts of content without substance. Content must be relevant and valuable to the user in order to rank well in a search result.
When a visitor has a difficult time finding the actual content due to an overabundance of ads, search engines will penalize the page. The penalty is reserved for sites that frustrate the user experience; however, ads are allowed on a page.
Keyword stuffing is a spam trick that penalizes a website. There’s no given number that is too many, but putting multiple keywords or phrases in the content is considered “over-optimizing.”
Hidden text is a way to cover up keyword stuffing. Someone may try to hide repetitive keywords using CSS or “display: none,” making the keywords the same color as the background, and many other ways. Search engines don’t like anything hidden. They want to see everything that a user sees.
Cloaking rigs the site to show search engines different content than what users actually see. The penalty for cloaking can result in a complete shutdown of any search result.
Paid links are an extremely gray area and currently banned only by Google. This means a website pays another to write about the site or add links to the site with compensation.
Dropping links to your site on forums and blogs is seen as link spam, which will only hurt your SEO chances.
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