OnSite SEO – The Do’s and Don’ts of Onsite Optimization
SEO is actually a combination of OnSite and OffSite optimization. Onsite optimization is the SEO done on the website itself (like the META Tags, keywords, content, etc), while the OffSite optimization involves promoting your site in the World Wide Web (like getting relevant back-links, etc). In this article we will consider the Do’s and Don’ts of Onsite Optimization.
It is important when using any SEO techniques that you avoid Black-Hat SEO or any other underhanded tactics that can result in being banned by the search engines, which can leave a permanent scar on your websites reputation and it often takes a long time to get re-listed.
It is always best to take the straight path using white hat SEO strategies, rather than taking the shortcut to temporary success but eventual failure or even ruin.
The Do’s of Onsite Optimization
- Do have unique, quality content, and insert (read: “sprinkle”) your keywords throughout it carefully – you should aim to have an average keyword density of 3-5% of content.
- Do have good navigation – an easy to navigate & well-planned site is good for human visitors and search engines.
- Do use a good quality template or theme – a poor quality or old theme will probably not be as optimized as a modern theme (……such as using the old font sizes of 12px, 20 px etc instead of the newer H1, H2, H3 attributes and other advances). A poorly coded theme will also be slower to load and have more errors – all are bad for your SEO.
- Do make your site attractive!– often overlooked with SEO, however SEO is really all about doing things which will eventually attract or entice the human visitor to visit and then hopefully return – if a site looks unattractive it will always perform worse than if it looked stunning. Make yours look great.
- Use unique Meta tags (Title, Description and Keywords meta tags). If your site is built using a Dynamic type website platform or CMS such as WordPress or Joomla, then you can use plugins / extensions to help with this task – some are automated, however manually editing the meta tags is always far more precise and therefore more effective. If you are using WordPress CMS then I can recommend using the (free) plugin “SEO Ultimate” plugin – as well as many other things it also provides an easy way to edit all your meta tags in one place, quickly.
- Use long tailed keywords (multiple words or phrases which incorporate your keyword or keywords)
- Include your keywords in your article titles, plus also headers, and sub-headers.
- Include your keywords in your page titles
- Name your categories with your best chosen keywords, and also include your keywords in other things such as tags etc.
- Include your keywords in your images – within the titles, Alt Tags and descriptions.
- Have a sitemap. Ideally you should use an XML type sitemap that also “packages up” your sitemap into a zipped folder ready for retrieval by the search engines whenever they visit, and that also automatically “pings” the various major search engines whenever there is fresh or updated content posted to your site. One such sitemap plugin for WordPress websites is the “Google XML Sitemaps” plugin by Arne Brachhold, and it is also 100% free.
- Optimize all your photos and images for the web – DON’T just upload images without first optimizing them – not only will they take up more room on your server, but each time they are loaded they will use up more bandwidth, and they will be slower to load. You should optimize them for the web before uploading them to your site, and if they are larger than you need you should also crop them before uploading them.
- Get “Sticky” with it! – I personally like to use things which cause my sites to be “sticky” – that is to say that a visitor will usually end up spending far more time on my site than they planned to simply because some other thing caught their eye and made them stay… Maybe you too are only reading this article because you saw it mentioned on another article……
One tool I use for this purpose is the plugin which creates the great-looking thumbnails found at the bottom of this article and which suggests other random content for you to read, plus underneath them is yet another list of suggested related articles. These 2 plugins are great for increasing the “stickiness” of this site, and are both free and can be installed within minutes (…..they are made for WordPress – if you are using something other than WordPress then you will need to look for something similar ….).
The first one is the “Related Posts Thumbnails” plugin- By Maria Shaldybina and the second one is “Yet Another Related Posts Plugin” – By mitcho (Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine). I highly recommend using both plugins combined, one for random & the other for related.
- Avoid things which slow down your website – lots of widgets can be really cool, but they often come at a high price too – speed. As of this year (2011) Google is now penalizing slow-loading websites, so your page speed is now more important than ever – so try to ensure your pages load fast; under 2 seconds is currently considered good-average speed.
- Avoid using very large or too many images or photos unless absolutely necessary – they slow down your site, and may deter visitors using slow internet connections.
- Avoid using Frames– these are old-fashoined and generally no longer used (and they are bad for SEO)
- Avoid flash whenever possible – search engine bots have trouble reading it, and it can also cause problems for visitors using older web browsers or with slow internet connections. It’s no use having a flash-looking website if they leave your site because it’s too slow…
- Do NOT use hidden keywords in your content or webpages. You will be detected, and banned / penalized.
- Do NOT use excessive amounts of keywords (known as “Keyword Stuffing”) not only does it annoy the actual human readers, but search engines can detect it and you will be penalized.
- Do NOT have duplicate content or pages on your site. This includes duplicate content posted on your other sites if you have more than one website (in other words you shouldn’t post the same article to ten websites – it’s much better to slightly alter each article for each website…).
- Do NOT use the same meta tags throughout your site – you should vary them slightly, and some areas on a large website might need different keywords altogether from the other areas…)
- Do NOT use the same alt descriptions for all your images.
- Do NOT use doorway pages. These are considered Black-Hat SEO & will result in your site being banned…
These are just some of the things to consider when “SEO-ing” your website, but I hope they’ve given you some initial guidance and that you found it useful.