As they say, “Charity begins at home”. So does SEO. In order to optimize your website for search engine results, first you should ensure that you tick all the boxes related to making your website “search friendly”.
In our previous issue (click here to view), we talked about SEO for e-commerce websites. In this article, we present some handy reference points for on-site search engine optimization of your average website page.
Beware! This is not an exhaustive list of markers. It is a threshold, one that you must cross, and not maxima. This doesn’t make you a winner. It makes you a qualifier, depending upon how well you optimize your off-page parameters. Both are equally important. So here we go.
URL plays a very important role in searches. Gone are the days of random combinations of numbers and alphabets in the URLs. Your URL should be short, sweet and simple, and most importantly relevant. Ensure that it is rich in keywords, this helps a lot in SERPs.
The title that appears when your website appears in a SERP (search engine results page), also known as the meta-title should be full of action words like click, buy, choose, download, pay, subscribe, try etc. Words like these, which reinforce the visitor’s desire to engage and purchase have a direct impact on your business returns.
Meta description should perfectly complement your meta title. They should further capture the user’s imagination; convince him to land on your website. These go a long way in improving your CTR – click through rate. Use influential words like instantly, guarantee, new, free shipping or free returns (for e-commerce websites) and let the crowds be swayed.
Long back in 1963, David Ogilvy, the father of advertising, came up with what he felt were the 20 most influential words to woo your customers. These were – suddenly, amazing, announcing, introducing, sensational, remarkable, revolutionary, startling, miracle, magic, offer, quick, easy, wanted, challenge, compare, bargain and hurry. Make use of them in your meta title and descriptions.
Tags are an important tool in the on-site SEO mix. They come in various forms – header tags, title tags, meta tags and alt tags. Tags basically allow spiders and crawler bots to identify and relate your content with search engine queries and accordingly decide where to display (read rank) your website in the SERPs.
Title tags are just like a name for your page. This is read by the spider as it searches for relevant results and is also displayed whenever your page/content is shared, or displayed in any SERP. Hence it should be as relevant as possible. Image alt tags allow the crawlers to identify images, signifying their relevance to a search.
An even better way of using tags is by making use of your keywords in them. If used wisely without abusing, tags have the potential to increase your SERP rankings.
Content is the ultimate adhesive, the final force that will keep a visitor hitched to your website. It should be relevant to the user in terms of the value it adds. For more on the right kind of content you should put up, view this article on content upgrades. Most importantly ensure that your content is unique, relevant and grasping, not lengthy and boring.
Some key pointers related to content:
- Don’t duplicate content within your website. Earlier it just brought bad name, now the new Google Panda algorithm will penalise you for it. E-commerce site eBay lost 33% of their traffic due to this, when Google Search moved to the new Panda search algorithm.
- Create strong, enriching and interesting pillar posts. As the name suggests, pillar posts are long posts that provide support to your engagement designs.
- Add as many keywords as you can in the descriptions and content. Try to use as many relevant variations of the keywords as the users can possibly search for. However, avoid redundant techniques like keyword stuffing. Look for organic measures, and benefits will soon be visible.
- Incorporate images and videos into your website content. For e-commerce websites, these may even be branded, providing more details about the product. This not only increases the duration of user engagement, but also results in higher rankings in SERPs. Importantly, it differentiates you from competition, a much needed advantage in the online space today.
- For e-commerce websites, create credible and long product descriptions, but with a small abstract asking the user to click for more details. Include keywords in the descriptions. Ensure to provide the following information along with it:
- Key features
- Product benefits
- Technical specifications, wherever required
- Customer reviews: they lend credibility to your business and product claims
- A FAQ (frequently asked questions) page to answer any customer queries related to your product or service
Linking your top pages internally allows you to provide the user with a smooth path along which he can flow and extract the best out of your website and vice-versa. It enhances engagement opportunities for your business. It can be achieved by the following means:
- Breadcrumbs: These are essentially small text/words that are internally linked to other pages on your website. Breadcrumbs should be scattered all over your website, making everything easily accessible. Place them according to the relevance and relationship between pages.
- Related Products and Related Categories: E-commerce websites use this form of linking. By showing customers categories and products related to the current product they are viewing, these websites try to augment their GMV (gross merchandise value). Similarly for content based sites, use linking in the form of related content or content related to the same category, as in finance, business, geo-politics, etc.
One thing for you to ensure is that the user should be able to visit any page on the website within 2-3 clicks. The internal linking mechanism should be optimized to provide a smooth and fast navigation experience.
Also ensure that your website and content are linked to all online media platforms you are present on. Sites like social media and sharing sites increase your business visibility and thus bring new visitors. Place like and share buttons for such (social) media on your website at a prominent location, which the visitor can access anytime, by a single click.
Keywords are basically your bridge to reach out to the online audience. Selection of keywords is not as easy as it sounds. It has to be right on the money. Numerous keyword battles are fought daily on the SERP battlefields. And to the victor belong the spoils. To read more on this, view this article on SEO (click to view).
As the figure above shows, most people have a very naive and closed view of on-site SEO. They don’t think beyond keywords and themes. In reality, the originality, depth and value of content, and the user experience including page design, quality and ease of navigation also hold the same importance more or less.
You should always try to keep your SEO techniques as organic as possible. Organic SEO based upon good and well designed content ensures that Google will automatically rank your website in the correct manner and assign it a good rating (read position) in its search engine results pages.
In the end, it is not wrong to say that “good brands fulfil needs but great brands create needs”. Digital marketing allows businesses and brands to do just this. With SEO, you can target apt customers and direct their impulses, effectively creating needs, and thus drive your business growth. Thus, this offers great value to the modern day online business setups, most notably for e-commerce websites.
All Images Courtesy: Google Images