In our recent post about SEO, or search engine optimization, we explained a little bit about what search engines do and why SEO matters when it comes to your website. In today’s post, we’ll talk more about what “makes up” SEO and share some tips and best practices to keep in mind when you’re working on your site.
On-page and off-page SEO
As we discussed in our last post, SEO is all about designing your website in such a way that search engines like Google – and therefore your potential visitors – will be able to find it in online searches.
There are many different things that are included under the “umbrella” of SEO, but just about everything can be included into one of these two groups:
- On-page (on-site) SEO, which focuses on content within a site, and
- Off-page (off-site) SEO which focuses on content outside – or linking back to – a site.
As the name implies, on-page SEO has to do with what’s on your website pages – primarily, the written content that visitors see. Google rewards websites that have good, informational content for viewers, which is one of the main reasons for the recent growth in content marketing.
Therefore, for the benefit of Google (and certainly for your visitors), it’s a good idea to make sure you have lots of educational content on your website that will provide answers for your visitors and, whenever possible, anticipate their needs.
Most importantly, in your content, make sure you write for real people. Don’t just create a bunch of sentences that include keywords! People who visit your site will be much more likely to read your content (and actually spend some time learning about what you offer) if it’s clear and makes sense.
And in addition, Google and other search engines are getting much better at knowing – and penalizing – sites designed just to rank for keywords.
On-page SEO also includes some information that visitors can’t see, such as metadata, or meta tags. When they’re crawling for information, most search engines’ spiders take a look at the meta tags – special HTML coding – within the source code of your site to see how it matches up with the content on the pages themselves.
TIP: If your metadata doesn’t match up well with what your page content is about – for instance, if you’ve put a lot of keywords into your metadata but the text on your page doesn’t match those keywords – you’ll want to fix this.
Off-page optimization is composed of many things that help build your rank with search engines, but a major element is links to and from other websites. Google and other search engines take a look at how many links you have, but they also review the quality of those links.
Another off-page factor that Google looks at are connections to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Whether or not you like these platforms, incorporating social media into your site is becoming increasingly important for SEO. These links allow people to share your site easily with others and help connect your site to the greater online world.
TIP: Don’t just link to other sites because you can. Make sure the links going to and from your site are relevant to what you do. Linking to irrelevant sites is a bad “black-hat” practice known as link spam. Some companies were penalized – i.e., their Google ranking dropped in searches – when Google released their 2012 & 2013 Penguin algorithm updates.
Have more questions about SEO or need some help optimizing your site? Contact us – and stay tuned for more on this topic!