It may be hard to believe, but in a survey conducted by 1 to 1 Internet, up to 40% of small-to-medium sized businesses still don’t have a website. Even if you’re on social media, operating without a website simply will not round out your digital strategy. In this blog, our intention is to give you some clear direction of the website must-haves and how a properly structured website can win the day.
So let’s jump right in and talk about the current structure of your website and the keys to ensuring that your on-page SEO is in proper order. While on-page SEO is not as important as it used to be, it is still an important component in the game of rank. So let’s get going with our discussion on “website must-haves”.
Title Tags and On-Page Key Word Density
Title tags are the most precious piece of real estate on your website. You can find the title tag area in the band at the very top of your web page. Additionally, this is the very first area the algorithms index so they can begin to understand what your pages are all about. Following your keyword research, pick those key phrases/words with the highest monthly search and the lowest competition regarding rank. You can find a great research tool at SEMRush.com. Title tags should be no longer than 77 characters and be separated by pipes (a thin line that runs vertical to your keywords). A common mistake we see in many title tag areas is putting the company name in the first position. Including your company name is fine, however placing it in the last position will help your cause. You will want to include those key phrases/words in the body copy of the page, but limiting their usage to a ratio of 5% to the total word count. So for example, if the text is 100 words, limit the use of the phrases to 5 times.
To provide an example, let’s say your company manufactures and markets concrete additives and your name is Best Admixtures, Inc. Following your research, you discover that the term “concrete admixtures” has a high search volume and a low competitive score. With this, your title tag should look like this:
Concrete Admixtures | Best Admixtures
Be careful to put the appropriate keywords on the appropriate pages (i.e. Don’t place the above keyword on a page talking about concrete forms)
URL Extensions and H Headers
URL extensions are words and key phrases that appear after your pages’ URL (web address), separated by a forward slash. You will want to use the exact key phrases that were placed in the title tag of the page separated by hyphens. H Headers or sometimes referred to as H1, H2, etc, are the main headlines of each page and they too need to match the title tag and URL extension. URL extensions and Page Headlines are the second and third indexing paths the engines take. Pay close attention that all three of these areas are exactly the same relative to key phases.
An example of a URL extension for our concrete company would be:
A Meta Tag is a line of code that is contained in the background of a web page. Search engines look at Meta tags to learn more about what the page is about. Meta tags don’t quite have the level of SEO importance as they once had been but are still very important. In days of old, websites abused Meta tags to increase their rankings by including far too many keywords. Now search engines are smarter and give more weight to inbound links and page content for ranking instead. However, they still play an important role to an SEO strategy. Make sure to apply these to all of your pages. Try to limit your Meta tags to 160 characters and pay close attention to your keyword density. The number one rule is to not “keyword stuff”.
To provide an example of a Meta tag for our concrete company, a good Meta tag might look like this:
Best Admixtures is a leading manufacturer of concrete admixtures serving the building materials industry.
Notice that the key phrase “concrete admixtures” is strategically placed in the tag for optimization and authority building.
An XML sitemap is like a subway map. It shows the structure of your website and where your pages reside. The general incentive behind an XML sitemap is to help search engine crawlers (or “spiders”) sift through your pages more efficiently. An XML sitemap is simply an .xml file containing a listing of all your pages and when they were updated. Creating a sitemap is easy. You can find sitemap generators online that will create the .xml file for you. Once you get the .xml file, simply upload it to the root directory of your website (e.g. website.com/sitemap.xml).
If your website is updated regularly, make it a good practice to update your xml file at least once a month so search engines have the freshest data.
Adding an XML sitemap is a component that is commonly overlooked, while it may not be the deciding factor in improving your Search Engine Optimization, it will certainly help.
I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’ve all experienced a time when we clicked on a website link that ended up being broken. When this happens you will typically see a “404 message” or “Page Not Found.” A lot of times this is caused when a page is moved to a new URL and the old link hasn’t been directed to the new page. Think about the lost opportunity when your customers or potential buyers want information that they can’t locate. If you choose to move a page on your website, make certain that you use a permanent 301 Redirect, a method used to change an old URL to a new one.
In addition to keeping visitors happy when navigating your website, permanent 301 redirects are also important for SEO. When a user can’t find a new page, nor can a search engine, and you’ll lose any SEO status the old page once had. To keep the SEO juice following to new pages, set up a 301 redirect for pages that have been moved so search engines know where to find it.
On-page SEO is not the sexiest of activities and it surely does not carry the SEO weight from days gone by, but it is important. So be relentless with your focus in monthly adjustments to your sitemap and any on-page SEO that may be required because of any rank status changes in your key phrases. Stay tuned for our next blog, “Getting your off-page SEO right”.
So happy SEOing! We wish you the best of luck.
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