By Amber Kemmis
Search engine optimization has significantly changed in recent years much to the amiss of Google’s guidelines. As you move into 2015 and look to grow your website’s organic traffic, what will be most important for you to use for on-page SEO? Here’s a list of on-page SEO techniques that you are probably already using but are still important in 2015 and also some newer developments in SEO that you should consider in your strategy.
Include these On-Page SEO Tips in Your 2015 Strategy:
1. Optimize Your Site Page Around One Keyword or Topic
The days of keyword “stuffing” are over, but you still need to keep your site pages optimized around one central idea and keyword. Keywords should appear in important on-page elements like the page title, heading, image alt text, and naturally throughout the page copy, but you should still be sure to craft each of these items for humans, not search engines
2. Remember that Keywords Are Important But Not Verbatim
Considering Google announced in 2014 that their paid search services, AdWords, would no longer rely on exact match keywords but also co-varieties of a keyword, it is likely that the same holds true for organic search, although it has not been explicitly announced. Keywords no longer need to be the exact same variation as displayed in your keyword tool. For example, the plural keyword, “inbound marketing tactics”, is equivalent to “inbound marketing tactic” in singular form with AdWord’s new targeting strategy. In addition, even if a searcher misspells, Google will still help them find your website despite the variation of the keyword optimized on your site.
3. URL Structure Should Be Short, Descriptive and Help to Categorize Your Website
A URL is one of the first things a search engine uses to determine page rank, which is why it is really important to make your URLs easy to crawl. You can do this by keeping URLs short (this is also beneficial for UX), aligning to the page’s topic and keyword, and ensuring that URLs help you to categorize your site pages.
4. Optimize Page Titles
A title tag is used by search engines to display a page in search results and can also be found at the top of your browser. Title tags tell search engines and searchers what the page is about. Since Google will only display between 50-60 characters in the title tag, you should keep title tags under 55 characters and try to drive people to click with compelling copy. You should also put keywords or topics towards the front of the title.
5. Utilize Proper Heading Tags
Heading tags should clearly tell the reader and search engines about the page’s topic. A search engine is able to identify the heading when it is tagged by bracketing text in <H1> within the page’s HTML (Note: If you have a CMS or COS like HubSpot or WordPress, this is usually coded in the background). Heading tags help tell a search engine the level of importance of the content by also using <H2> and <H3> tags. You can check your site’s current heading tags by viewing in HTML view.
In addition to what you should do with heading tags , you should also avoid a few things including:
Avoid using generic terms like “Home” or “Products”
Don’t put important information that would likely be your <H1> as an image.
6. Optimize Image Alt Text
While you should not hide your heading tag in an image, you should still give search engines more opportunities to link to your website by adding keywords in the image alt text and file name.
7. Grow Natural Links
Google continues to use natural, quality inbound links as a main ranking factor. In 2015, you should closely monitor inbound links to ensure that they are constantly growing and that the inbound links come from quality websites.
8. Increase Site Speed
Since 2011, Google has made it apparent that site speed matter in search rankings, and today, with a bigger emphasis on the user experience than ever before, site speed will continue to be a critical ranking factor. Users don’t like to wait, and we are becoming more and more accustomed to the fast load times, which means your site will be left in the dust when a user must wait. There are a few important things you can do to speed up site speed:
Ensure your web server can handle you size of your company and website needs. Overloaded web servers can slow down load times.
You may also find that one of the following culprits is slowing down times:
Embedded videos or media
Using a lot of images
Images that are not compressed to minimize pixels before uploading
Using a lot of plugins
If you suspect any of the above are causing slow load times, you can find experts to help clean up your site or minimize the use of each.
9. HTTP vs. HTTPS: Why They Matter
With a big push to make the web world more secure, Google has began emphasizing the importance of utilizing HTTPS. While many websites have traditionally ran on a Hyper Text Transfer Protocal (HTTP), a Hyper Transfor Protocal Secure (HTTPS) ensures that a website is encrypted and cannot be hacked. With Google beginning to test the waters in using HTTPS as a ranking factor, it will be important to secure your website with HTTPS in 2015.
10. Mobile Search Implications
With nearly 40% of organic traffic coming from mobile devices in 2014, it should come as no surprise that mobile-friendly websites will rank better with Google. To ensure you are mobile optimized, you should be avoiding common mistakes described by Google including faulty redirects, mobile-only 404s, blocked media, and slow mobile load times.
Although it may feel like Google is trying to make our jobs as inbound marketers more difficult, they ultimately want to provide the best user experience, which should be the goal of your website as well. If you’d like to discover how you could better optimize your website in 2015, request a marketing assessment from SmartBug Media today.