Search engines place a great deal of emphasis on site quality and factor it accordingly into their algorithms to determine rankings. The higher the quality of the content (at least in theory), the more a page will score in those sections of its algorithms according to some dozens of factors.
So your goal is to produce an authoritative site on your subject of knowledge in order to rank well for on-site factors, which should in turn help you rank well for off-site factors as sites will want to link to you (with the right prodding – it’s not a Field of Dreams “if you build it they will come” thing). In creating an authoritative site, there are many factors that need tending to in order to let Google (and bing) see and credit you fully for your content awesomeness.
On-Site SEO Checklist
As a rule, the best advice for on-page SEO is to produce great content that your users will enjoy. However, this doesn’t mean there aren’t some important on-page ranking factors that can help your pages rank even better with the search engines offering you a greater advantage to pages that haven’t been optimized effectively. There are many on-page SEO ranking factors with varying weights of importance. Some of them change regularly, while others may change in importance or not at all. Google has suggested it makes one change per day to its ranking algorithm. Read through some of the more important on-page factors that we’d include in an SEO audit of your site:
Canonicalization, Duplication & 301 Redirects
The home page of your site can be accessed via “yourdomain.com” or “www.yourdomain.com”. This means you’re showing two different URLs to search engines with duplicate identical content. Search engines only want to serve one version of any page, so making sure you tell spiders which ones to index is very important. The same home page can normally be accessed via file names such as /index.html, index.asp, index.php, default.php, etc., which dilutes your page strength further due to more duplication. All duplicate pages should be 301 redirected server side or using the rel=”canonical” tag in your site’s code.
Title META tag
The Meta title tag is what you see at the very top of your browser window and is the same text that displays as the blue clickable text in a search engine listing. Meta titles should contain your most important keyword(s) for any given page and contain 65 characters or so.
In the code these are represented by <h1> through </h5> or even further. Search engines (and users) read header tags the same way you’d read on-page titles and sub-headings in an article or essay. They give the search engine and user some idea as to what the page content and paragraph content contains. Intelligent keyword placement within these tags helps with rankings.
Fresh / Frequent Content
Regularly updated content that your users want to read not only keeps them coming back, but also keeps the search engine spiders interested in returning. This means pages will be indexed quicker and more regularly.
XML Site Map
An XML sitemap can be uploaded to search engines and will be checked periodically by them for any page changes. It is a good way to explain your website’s page structure and content.
Image ALT Tag
Alt tags for your images helps explain to search engine spiders what an image is about. Incorporating these into your pages can help with your keyword density, although it’s wise not to go overboard as search engines may think you’re spamming. It’s probably best advised to used them for your most important on-page images and pictures.
You can allow or prevent search engine spiders or ‘bots’ access to any part of your site by using a robots.txt file. This can prevent content you don’t want to appear in a search engine’s index from appearing as well as making sure which search engine spiders you want to crawl your site.
Too many keywords and you page will look spammy to both search engines and visitors alike, but too few and there’ll be no way for search engines to identify the keyword focus of any given page. Balancing this fine line is very much the work of good SEO copywriting and good search engine optimization in general.
Page Speed, CSS & Design
Site speed (the amount of time it take your server to display a web page on your site) is becoming a more prominent on-page SEO factor. After all, if your page hangs, then a user will quickly click the back button rather than wait for it to load. A search engine spider doesn’t hang around for a page either. You can speed things up by compressing pages and reducing the number of HTTP calls (any content pulled from an external site such as a widget).
Analyze your Site for On-page SEO
There are plenty of free and paid SEO analysis tools for you to perform full or partial audits to help you identify where you site performs well and where it performs badly from an SEO perspective. But, you can contact us for a full SEO audit of your website that will highlight all your problem areas in detail for on-site and off-site factors, including a deep dive into your rankings, Web analytic audit, and competitor review. To learn more or order an SEO site audit today, call 800.979.3177 or click here.