While SEO can be technically demanding, you can simplify the strategy by dividing into two columns: on page and off page. On-page focuses on the ranking factors that can be optimized on your website. Off-page are the ranking factors that are outside of your website. This includes things like backlinks, references, and more.
To understand these two categories in detail, let’s do a basic SEO 101 lesson to explain what each one entails.
On Page SEO Factors
1. Work on Your Tags
The first step of the process is to work on the HTML tags. This includes the title tag, header tags, alt image text, and anchor text. Your title and header tags should include the keywords you are targeting. Alt image text should add descriptive keywords to your images. Anchor text that is linking to and out of your website should be made of relevant keywords.
2. Meta Description
While the meta description doesn’t directly affect your rankings, a well-written meta description tag will increase your clicks. Higher clicks tell the search engines that your page is relevant to the search. This, in turn, will help with the page’s rankings.
3. Site and Page Speed
Google announced that page speed was a ranking factor many years ago. However, many website owners still have issues reducing their loading speed. There are many different ways to improve page speed including compressing images, loading top fold content first, enabling website caching, and more. Improving page speed also has the added benefit of increasing lead/sales conversions and reducing bounce rates.
4. High-Quality Content
Content is one of the most important ranking factors. The reason why content is so important is because users stay on your website if you provide them with relevant and high-quality content. This tells the search engines that your page is valuable to their users, which is ultimately what they want.
Producing content also leads to it being shared on blogs, social media platforms, and authority sites, all of which benefit your off page ranking factors. In addition to creating great content, you want to make sure that you include other keywords that are related to your main keyword. It helps the search engines get a better understanding of what your page is about.
5. Using Schema Markup
Using schema markups can help your search engine listings stand out. It’s a form of microdata that you can use to improve your listing’s description. You can do many different things with schema including listing your business address, site navigation, providing event dates, showing your business ratings, displaying your hours, and more.
The goal is to add value to users, stand out in the listings, and get more clicks as a result. Schema itself isn’t something that will improve your rankings. However, it does tell the search engines that your listing is more relevant to users since you are attracting more clicks.
6. Site Structure and User Experience
The website structure and user experience is something that many people overlook. You want to design and organize your website in a way that makes it easy for users to find what they’re looking for. This means creating an easy-to-use navigation menu, including a search function, using visual cues, offering FAQ pages, and more.
A big part of the user experience is a mobile-friendly design. Over half of all internet traffic now originates from mobile devices. This means that you need to have a responsive design that optimizes your website design and structure to different screen sizes. There are also best practices like using drop-down menus, using click-to-call functions, and using bigger and readable font.
7. Optimizing Your Google My Business (GMB) Profile
Local business will need to optimize their GMB profile to see better results from their local SEO campaign. There are many things that can be done such as adding keywords to your description, choosing the right business category, publishing Google posts, answering customer questions, and more. Look for guides that teach you how to get the most out of your GMB profile.
Off Page SEO Factors
1. Incoming Links
The biggest ranking factor will probably be the links pointing to your pages and website. You can think of links going to your website as a vote that helps you achieve higher rankings. But link building isn’t just about going out there and getting as many links as possible.
Google and the other search engines care about the value of links. Links that come from authoritative websites are seen as more valuable. The search engines also place a higher value on links from websites that are relevant to your topic rather than unrelated.
The anchor text used to link to your website matters. While you want to get specific keyword-rich anchor texts to various pages, it’s also important to have a diverse anchor text profile. You want to build links in a natural manner and avoid trying to game the system.
2. Social Signals
Social signals also contribute to your rankings. You want to build followers, get more likes for your posts, and get more mentions about your website. While social media activity doesn’t directly affect your rankings, the search engines sometimes list social media content in their search results. Building a large social media following and strong audience engagement also a great way to get the word out there and build natural links pointing back to your website.
3. Citations and Reviews for Local Search Rankings
If you own a local business, then it’s also important to build citations and reviews to increase your local search rankings. Citations are basically mentions of your name, address, and phone number (NAP) on local business directories. You can say that it acts as backlinks for local results. But don’t forget that links still are important for local rankings.
In addition to citations, you want to get more customer reviews and high ratings. Customer reviews and ratings are a big ranking factor. One part of it is asking satisfied customers to provide you with feedback. The other part is operating your business in a more customer-centric way so that they want to leave positive reviews and high ratings.
3. Business Mentions for Local Search Rankings
Another ranking factor that isn’t covered as much is business mentions. You want to get your business and NAP information mentioned on relevant websites. This means that you should go beyond business directories and local listings. You should be reaching out to other related websites to mention your local business.
These are the various factors that come into play when building a SEO campaign. Hopefully, you’ve gotten a better understanding of what you need to work on to improve your search engine rankings.