Alright, you’re likely reading this because you’ve read part 1 of On-site SEO and are ready to keep getting deeper into the on-page SEO. We’ll cover Keyword Consistency, Linking internally, Sitemap.xml, and Robots.txt.
These items are necessary to both help the user and the search engine understand your website and how to crawl it. Let’s dig in.
This is one that has vexed me for many years. I read experts saying you have to have the keyword you’re trying to rank for X%, not more, not less, on the page you’re trying to rank for to make that happen. Others are stuffing the keywords everywhere it doesn’t belong and some are arguing that as long as it’s in the URL/Title, you’re fine.
Ok, to clear the air on this one and put my foot into this battle for who is right, I recommend that you naturally insert your keyword where it makes sense (Read: Design for the User for why). Using the keywords naturally in your website copy will make users not abandon the page, which signals to Google that they’re getting what they need and that they should show this page to more people like them.
Always ensure your keyword is in these key areas:
- URL (www.domain.com/category/my-service-name <- Keyword)
- Page Title
- H1 Tag
- Image Alt Tag & Title Tag (and preferably Image Name)
When we start competing with other websites in SEO, whether it’s local or national competition, we often run into the competitor that uses keywords stuffing or the golden keyword ratio to hold on to a top position for a keyword we want. Where we end up beating them in the rankings isn’t because we out stuff them, or simply write more content so we’ll have more instances of the keyword due to the ratio, but by taking care of the user by clearly getting our message across. One primary item to remember here, SEO isn’t solely defined by one tactic that is well done, but by the sum of tactics used with quality.
SEO isn’t solely defined by one tactic that is well done, but by the sum of tactics used with quality.
Using common sense, along with writing out everything that the user truly needs to make an informed decision, and making sure to hit the key areas listed above will help you start showing up for a keyword in no time. The rankings increasing for that keyword will be a mixture of this work plus many on-site and off-site factors.
Internal linking has a lot of value for the user and search engine. Good internal linking structures can help a user find a deep page that makes sense to their need, or show authority of one page over another for a search engine.
How it helps the User
Since I’m a user first SEO kinda guy, I’ll talk about how internal linking impacts the user. Let’s say a prospective lead is looking for haircare tips and through a search on Google, finds a blog you wrote. This is great, they found content that can help them and are reading all about the care tip they needed, however, you also wrote a killer blog on a tip that is an advanced technique related to this blog post. Now would be a good time to link over to the advanced technique so the user can get deeper into your website while furthering their knowledge on the subject. Alternatively, in the blog you could be talking about how they can come in for a consultation for haircare services and link to the haircare services page where you have a way to book an appointment. This also provides the user value in a sense that they read your blog, become overwhelmed and want the expert.
How it helps the Search Engine
Internal linking helps establish content and priority of the content on your website. For instance, if you have a blog category about a specific service, and each of those pages links back to the service page related to it, it creates a point of authority. This method will explain to the search engine that we know/do this service + this page is our primary page for said service. This helps that specific page rank when a user searches on Google to find someone who does the service they need, getting them to the right place faster.
Why you need a Sitemap file on your site
Sitemaps are important. This is one of those items that every website should have as recommended by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. You’ll find their strong recommendation to use a sitemap just after the “getting started” section, as it’s a very high priority. There is even a spot in Google Search Console that allows you to submit and manage your sitemaps, so familiarize yourself with how to develop a sitemap.
Sitemaps simply put, are an index of your website. They list out every page, how often/last time they were updated, and the priority of each of these pages on your website. This is one step we don’t recommend skipping over as this is one of the primary ways that the Search Engine is able to crawl through your website and index all of your pages.
Why you need a Robots.txt file on your site
This file, which lives on the server in the root directory, is essential to SEO in a way that it tells the search engine what NOT to crawl, vs what to crawl like a Sitemap. Proper use of a robots.txt file can be found in Google’s Guide alongside of the sitemap content as it is important in helping Google understand your site.
This file is used to prevent the search engine from indexing pages that you don’t want indexed, such as:
- Pages that wouldn’t be helpful if a user landed on them from a search result
- Search results on your page (Imaging going from Search Engine to Search Result… Confusing right?)
- Login Pages and Administrative Pages
- Pages used for internal information only
Having this properly configured helps ensure that the pages you want indexed get their time in the lime light over pages that you don’t.
Make way for Part 3 of On-Site SEO
Next up we’ll cover 3 of the biggest strategies used by us to increase rankings:
- Mobile Friendliness
- Page Speed
- Site Security
We look forward to diving in with you!