How do your web pages rank when someone searches for a product or service provided? Do they click on one of your web pages or one of your competitors? Better yet, do you even show up? Search Engine Optimization is the continual process of making sure your website and pages rank favorably in a SERP.

It’s estimated that 2.3 million searches are performed on Google every second. That’s 138 million searches per minute, or 2 trillion searches every year. 

11 Search Engine Optimizations Tips That Can Help Your Site Rank Favorably in Google

On-Page Optimization

Page Title & Meta Description - Inboundninja.net

Tip 1 – Keyword Optimized Page Titles 

Keyword optimized page title are the most important factor regarding on-page SEO.

  • Your page title should accurately describe the page content
  • Place the keyword you are trying to optimize for at the beginning of the page title
  • Keep your page titles to 55 characters or less, including spaces to avoid being truncated. (See Image Above)
  • Each page title should be unique to the page
  • If you use WordPress, your page or post title will be your page title
  • If you want to see a preview of how your page title will look in Google check out MOZ’s New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool
  • If you use Excel or Google Sheets, the LEN function can be a lifesaver. The Len Function counts the character length of a text string including spaces. Learn more about using the Len function. 

Tip 2 – Optimize Your Meta Description!

This is the content that you see under the page title in a Google SERP. I like to think of this as my 155 character sales pitch. The meta description is your chance to entice someone to click-through to your page, so it makes sense to write compelling copy. If you don’t Google may choose a meta description for you.

  • Try to keep your meta descriptions between 150 and 160 characters. I shoot for 155 to avoid truncation. (See Image Above)
  • Your meta description should include problem, solution, call to action and if you are a local business include your phone number.
  • If you use Excel or Google Sheets, the LEN function can be a lifesaver when writing meta descriptions. Learn more about using the Len function. 
  • Each page and post should have a unique description

Tip 3 – Page Structure 

Page structure is important and needs to formatted correctly with the proper use of HTML heading TAGS. HTML heading tags range from <h1> – <h6>. I like to refer to these as section headings because that’s what they are for. If you use WordPress these tags that are located in the WYSIWYG editor (What You See Is What You Get Editor), The six different HTML tags are related to their importance <h1>is used for the most important heading followed by <h2> and so on. (Below is an image of the WYSIWYG in WordPress.)

Wordpress Heading Tags

Heading Tags and Search Engine Optimization

  • Your title tag should use the <h1> tag and make sure your keyword is placed inside of it. If you use WordPress, this will be done automatically for you. Only use 1 <h1> tag per post! The <h1> tag
  • Use the <h2> tag for section headings on your post or page. You can use more than one <h2> tag.
  • Use the <h3> tag for section sub headings.
  • Use header tags sparingly, excessive use of header tags can hurt your SEO efforts.
  • Use bold, italics and underline to format text that is not in a heading.
  • Write short paragraphs, use bullet points, and link to relevant content onsite and offsite

 Tip 4 – Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

You are probably familiar with the importance of keywords, but you might not be familiar with Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). Your content needs to flow naturally and needs to be written for human beings, not search engines; this is where Latent Semantic Indexing Comes in. For SEO purposes search engines give more weight to the overall theme of your content and not the number of times a particular keyword appears within your text. LSI identifies patterns in your writing and makes a correlation to your keywords and their context.

  • LSI is a ranking factor that Google uses
  • Semantic keywords are keywords related to your main keyword and should be used throughout your content
  • Use this LSI keyword generator to help you create keyword variations that describe your idea
  • If you remove the main keywords from your content would a reader be able to understand what your content is about
  • For example, If I am trying to optimize for the keyword SEO I might choose the following keywords
    • website optimization techniques
    • learn SEO
    • how to optimize your website
    • effective website optimization
  • Remember context is everything

Tip 5 – Use Hyperlinks

There are two types of hyperlinks internal and external links. Internal hyperlinks point to other pages and content on your website. External links point to other websites on the web from your site.

  • The text within a hyperlink is called anchor text
  • Make sure the anchor text you choose to use is relevant to the content you are linking to
  • Link to relevant content on your site
  • Link to relevant content on other websites
  • Link to external pages that can add value or support your content
  • The number of quality inbound links that point to your site matter, so create content that people want to link to. Google looks at inbound links (backlinks) as votes of confidence and authority

Tip 6 – Optimize Images For Search Engine Optimization

Images can make your post more interesting and bring some much-needed SEO value if used correctly. If a user can not view an image on a web page, the alt tag will give alternative information about the image Search engines will index the content associated with your photos not just your content. Images are often a missed opportunity to rank within a SERP.

  • Make sure you that you use descriptive words to rename the actual image file that you use within your content
  • Use keywords and be descriptive
  • If you are selling a product include the part, product or serial number
  • Don’t go crazy with the use of keywords

Beyond On-Page Optimization – Technical SEO

Tip 7 – What Is URL Canonicalization

Sometimes a piece of content can be accessed by multiple URLs on your website, and this presents a problem regarding on page SEO and what is being indexed in Google. If a piece of content on a web page can be accessed from different URL’s on your site, you have a URL canonicalization problem. In short search engines don’t know which URL to include in the SERP or which link to pass on the trust, authority and other metrics associated with a link.

Technically speaking the links below are all different URL’s but can point to the same location. As you can imagine this can present a problem for search engines because they need to determine which version of this content should they show to a searcher.

  • www.example.com
  • example.com/
  • www.example.com/index.html

Tip 8- You may have a URL canonicalization problem if any of the following apply:

  • You use UTM tracking URL’s
  • Your site uses dynamic URL’s
  • You have an online store with product pages
  • You have internal search pages on your site.
  • You can correct canonicalization problems by either doing a 301 redirect or use the HTML link tag with attribute rel=canonical

Tip 9 – If you want to learn more about URL canonicalization check out the following blog posts.

Tip 10 – What Does Noindex, Nofollow, And Robots.txt Mean? 

Sometimes you want to have your pages indexed in Google, and sometimes you don’t. I know it sounds counter-intuitive to search engine optimization, but it’s not. Believe it or not, you can control what Google should and should not index. Robots.txt, is a standard used by websites to communicate with search engines.

  • Robots.txt – is a txt file located in the root directory of your website that has the pages that search engines should not access, index or follow. Just an FYI according to Google
    • ” The instructions in robots.txt files cannot enforce crawler behavior to your site; instead, these instructions act as directives to the crawlers accessing your site. While Googlebot and other respectable web crawlers obey the instructions in a robots.txt file, other crawlers might not. “
  • Noindex – Tells Google that you do not want them to index a particular page.
  • Nofollow – Tells Google not to follow the links on that particular page.
    • A good rule of thumb is to use the noindex and nofollow tags on any page that you do not want to be indexed by Google including:
      • Landing pages connected to PPC campaigns
      • Thank you pages
      • When you have more than one version of a page already indexed such as a printer friendly version of a blog post.
      • Content people have to pay for to see.
      • You can learn more about the robots.txt exclusion protocol here

Tip 11 – Understanding Server Response Codes?

Server response codes are three digit codes a server generates every time a web browser (client) makes a request for information on another server connected to the Internet and lets the requesting client know how to handle the request. Here are the following server response codes that anybody involved with SEO should understand.

  • 200 – All is good, life is wonderful!
  • 301 – The content you are requesting has been moved permanently. (More on this in a later post)
    • A 301 redirect is like going to the post office to change your address when you are moving. If you don’t tell the post office where to send your mail chances are you are not going to receive it.
  • 302 – The content you are requesting has been moved temporarily. (More on this in a later post)
  • 403 – You are not authorized to view the content.
  • 404 – The page you are searching for no longer exists on the server. If your website does not have a 404 error page, it should.
  • 500 – Oops Something somewhere along the line went wrong.

I have just begun to scratch the surface regarding SEO and on-page optimization. As I said optimizing your website and web pages is the continual process. I will be writing more about SEO in future posts.  Remember knowing where to start is half the battle.

Let me know your thoughts below!