As a small business owner trying to understand and harness the power of SEO, you may be wanting to break it down into more manageable chunks. What do you need to do on your website to improve your SEO? What about off your website…are there other activities you can complete to improve your SEO? In short, there are several steps to optimizing your website for organic search results as well as several activities that take place off of your website that also directly impact those organic search rankings. Typically, I recommend focusing on optimizing your small business website first since your website is your online home base and the internet equivalent to a brick and mortar store. So let’s take a look at what on-page SEO is and why it’s needed to rank well organically.
What is On-Page SEO & Why On-Page SEO is Needed
Kelly Butcher of Simplification Services invited me to her blog to discuss on-page SEO tips for small business owners. In her blog interview, she asked me to distinguish between on-page and off-page SEO. That’s a great place to start to lay the foundation of what on-page SEO is and why it’s needed since part of learning how to maximize your on-page SEO is knowing what it does and doesn’t include. In short, your on-page SEO means all the things you can do on your website to help the many pages, blog posts, or product listings organically rank as well as possible. Conversely, off-page SEO means all the things you can and should do off of your website to help you rank well. Examples of off-page SEO would include: directory listings, your Google My Business listing, and your social media profiles.
11 Top Steps to Maximizing your On-Page SEO
- Unique title tag on every page – Title tags max out around 60-65 characters, and need to include your researched long-tailed keyword phrase. Title tags are critical to ranking
- Unique meta description on every page – Meta descriptions should be at least 150 characters long. There is currently no maximum character count. Meta descriptions don’t affect ranking but earn you the click-through from search results.
- Well-written, thorough, original content on every page – Google wants to provide solid, relevant answers to searchers queries, so it will reward good content with better organic rankings. Focus on well-written, original content first, then work to optimize it.
- Relevant keyword use on every page – You don’t want to seem robotic by inserting exact-match keyword phrases over and over on a page, plus Google understands natural conversational variations that describe the same thing. But it’s important that you do edit your content with keyword use in mind.
- Good content organization across your site – Website visitors need to easily find what they are looking for and you need to make sure you aren’t talking about many different things on the same single website page (e.g. You have 8 service offerings and you write about all 8 on 1 page instead of giving each service its own dedicated website page).
- Unique ALT tags on every image – ALT tags (or alternative text) give a value to images that bots understand. ALT tags are also important for accessibility of your website. Use your chosen SEO keyword phrase for the first image on each page.
- Linking (interlinking between pages on your own site and earning backlinks from other sites)
- XML sitemap
- Mobile-optimized website
- Technical aspects like fast page load time and having your SSL certificate
- Social media meta data – This can be set using a plugin and affects how links from your website appear when shared on social media.
Why On-Page SEO is Needed
Google and every other search engine strive to produce the best results to a searcher each time a query is made. Your on-page SEO work is how you make those search engines happy and help search engine bots to crawl, index, and understand your website. From good content and keyword use to the “behind-the-scenes” work you do as an admin of your site with SEO steps like adding title tags, meta descriptions, and ALT tags, having an SSL and sitemap, and other technical steps, you are doing everything you can on your website to give each page on your site its best chance at ranking well organically.
Getting ready to start SEO work on your small business website? Here’s a list of the 6 things you need to prepare before beginning your SEO work.