To the uninitiated, getting one’s head around SEO can seem like a perilous quagmire of despair; there are numerous onsite optimisation factors at play, and you may never have even heard the term ‘offsite SEO’ in your life. “How can what I do outside of my website possibly affect how my website ranks?”
It’s no wonder most of the marketing managers we meet furrow their brow, shake their head and shrug their shoulders when we start discussing search strategies in depth. In our experience, most people’s take on optimisation is to conduct keyword research and weave their target phrases into blog posts, but while this is a highly important tactic, it’s only one slice of the wider SEO pie.
Clarity starts at home, which means polishing up your little corner of the Internet is priority number one, before kickstarting your SEO efforts by sending the right offsite signals. Read on to discover how to get your web presence working like a well-oiled, finely-tuned, money-making machine.
Onsite optimisation factors
Buckle up, because this is going to be a fast ride through the onsite elements that often go overlooked by web designers and content marketers. Let’s break things down with a good old-fashioned bullet point list. Incidentally, bulleted lists can be a positive SEO factor, as they break up large chunks of text, increasing the likelihood of keeping readers’ attention, meaning people stay on your page longer, reducing your bounce rate and improving the chances of people engaging with your content – a signal that you have high-quality resources that deserve to rank well. Just don’t go overboard with them.
- URLs: One of the first things search engines look at is the URL of each webpage, so it’s crucial to be as descriptive as possible, ideally in line with the primary keyphrase you’re hoping to rank for.
So, instead of www.yourdomain.co.uk/services something like www.yourdomain.co.uk/seo-expert would be much better optimised, as it contains a phrase that heightens your search relevance.It amazes me the number of businesses I come across that still have www.yourdomain.co.uk/page-1 and www.yourdomain.co.uk/page-2 as their URL structure, and have no idea why they don’t rank particularly well. Pay attention to your URLs and you’ll have a much better chance of performing.
- Page Titles, Alt tags and Meta Descriptions: Your page title is the headline displayed in search results, which should be between 55 and 60 characters to ensure it remains visible. Again, you want to make it as descriptive as possible, using a variation of your keywords. As you can see in the image below, our page title contains the phrase “Onsite & Offsite SEO”.Seeing as we’ve inserted an image here, it makes sense to briefly discuss the power of Alt tags; this is the wording you attach to images, and is used by web reading software to describe pictures to visually impaired people, as well as acting as a signal to the search engines, describing the content of the image. Thus, you should make this as descriptive as possible, and look to weave a variation of your keywords in to enhance its performance within the image search rankings.
For example, the Alt tag for this image is “snippet preview for onsite SEO”
Your meta description is the text beneath the page title, and this is your chance to really sell your content, so give searchers a reason to click, but make it no longer than 160 characters to avoid truncation. Summarise what your page has to offer, and try to naturally place a couple of keyphrases, which will highlight in bold if they match search queries.
- Headers: When crawling your site, search engine bots look at your headers as a shortcut for understanding the content. As such, these are key elements you should look to optimise, using variations of your target keywords.If you glance to the top of this page, you’ll see our Header 1 is much larger than the rest of the text, containing the phrase “Onsite & Offsite SEO”. The top of this section is then led with our Header 2, which contains “Onsite optimisation”.Essentially, the bots are looking for the HTML code <H1>EXAMPLE TEXT</H1> and <H2>EXAMPLE TEXT</H2> to quickly learn about the most important aspects of your content, so taking time to optimise these will pay off, giving you a better chance of ranking well, while also helping the reader.
The golden rule is to only use one H1, one H2, and as many H3’s and 4’s as you like, ensuring the bots can easily differentiate between each section. You should be able to easily dictate the size of your headers within your CMS (Content Management System) style sheets, and some webmasters (like me) prefer to make their H2’s and 3’s the same size, ensuring consistency on the page while still sending the right signals to search bots in the background.
- Quality Content: This is undoubtedly the most critical factor in determining whether or not your website performs well. Ultimately, Google only wants to return the most trustworthy, authoritative and well-written content in their search results, guaranteeing the very best user experience.Thus, it makes sense to invest in regular, high-quality, search-optimised content creation if you’re serious about cutting through the noise on the wider web. Placing your primary keyword in your opening paragraph is still key to search visibility, but quality content marketing is about much more than that.What you should focus on is producing informative material that says something meaningful, is in line with searcher intent and adds value to the Internet at large, increasing the likelihood of people referencing and sharing your work and, ultimately, becoming customers.
In truth, there are dozens of onsite SEO elements that search engines look out for, and one blog post simply isn’t enough to list them all. For further onsite insights, please read our related guides:
- How to form a content marketing strategy
- How to research a blog post
- How to use Answer The Public to create better content
- How to create a content hierarchy
- How to avoid duplicate content
If you have any burning questions, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll happily answer your queries and help you resolve any issues. For now, though, let’s move on to part two of this SEO overview.
Offsite optimisation strategy
Once your website is up to scratch, you can then start promoting your content and encouraging traffic your way. The most obvious (and usually the only) way people approach this is by engaging in a healthy spot of social media marketing, which often amounts to tweeting a few links to your recent blog posts.
This isn’t to be dismissed, as regularly updating your social profiles is key to catching the eye, winning new audiences and opening up conversations. To be brutally honest, we’d woefully neglected our social presence for a number of years – victims of our own success as increased workloads saw it relegated down the list of priorities – but within a few months of re-energising our Twitter, our followers have almost doubled, the referral traffic has been noticeable, and we’ve opened up new conversations with local businesses who like our content.
— ADLIB (@AdLibRecruit) May 23, 2017
Be sure to follow us at @Bespoke_Digital!
We’ve also had great success repurposing our blog content for LinkedIn, rewriting insightful posts (being sure to avoid duplicate content) to open them up to an engaged audience of those who already follow us.
For example, our brief guide to digital copywriting has gone down particularly well, earning the attention of employees of well-known brands.
The more frequently people are presented with your content, across multiple platforms, the better chance you have of them reading, sharing and (hopefully) linking to it.
Backlinks, reference links, citation links – whatever you want to call them – whenever someone links to your website they’re effectively casting a vote for the quality of your content. The more links pointing your way, the more ‘votes’ you amass in the eyes of the search bots, and this is the major ranking factor that can propel your SEO into the stratosphere.
As previously mentioned, search engines are on a mission to display the very best content at the top of the SERPs, and the number of inbound links you generate is a clear indicator as to how useful your content is. Thus, sites with a high number of links are likely to outrank competitors, provided, of course, their onsite optimisation is also in tune.
Again, the number one way of earning this attention is to invest in targeted content marketing that elevates your authority, answering the very questions your customers are asking, highlighting your expertise and qualifying you as a trusted provider.
Once you have quality onsite content, you can then look to conduct an outreach campaign, submitting thought leadership articles to high-authority websites relevant to your business niche and target audience, earning citation links from publishers with real clout.
Not only will you be rewarded with valuable backlinks from trusted industry heavyweights, you’ll also be giving yourself an opportunity to tap into their established readerships, potentially opening the doors to future custom. A win-win, if ever there was one.
For further insight on outreach, please read our posts on:
- How to research publishing sites for outreach marketing
- How to construct the perfect outreach email
- How to use Majestic SEO’s toolbar
- Content Marketing Vs Native Advertising
- Google’s reminder on large-scale article marketing
If you want your website to perform well in organic search, it’s imperative to take both onsite and offsite SEO seriously. Focusing on one without the other will get you nowhere fast, as you’ll only be doing half the job of your more diligent rivals.
Regularly producing insightful content is fantastic, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot by neglecting onsite SEO elements that the search bots scan to translate your words of wisdom into their language of code. Likewise, you can promote your optimised content all you like, but if it’s all SEO style with no substance, you’ll never earn backlinks from people willing to reference your work.
Optimisation is and always will be an ongoing process of refinement, but hopefully you’ve now learnt enough to put your website on the road to search success. If, indeed, you‘ve found this guide useful and you think your readers would also benefit, we’d be ever so appreciative if you could share the love by way of a reference in an article you write, or a share on one of your social channels! *Cheeky wink*
If you’d like further advice and to discuss your integrated SEO and content marketing strategy, give us a call on 0117 230 6010 or fill out our contact form to arrange a FREE Digital Health Check.
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