Website search engine optimization addresses one of the two components of SEO – that being on-page SEO. The other component of search engine optimization is off-page SEO. On-page SEO pertains to your website. It consists of those things you have 100% control over. Off-page SEO pertains to those things you do outside of your website. These are things you don’t always have control over. Getting other websites to link to your website (backlinks) is an example of off-page SEO. This post focuses on on-page SEO and we’ll cover off-page SEO in a future post.
Optimizing Your Meta Data
One of the first things you should address when doing your website search engine optimization is your meta data – specifically your meta title, meta descriptions, and for some of the smaller search engines, the meta keywords (Google ignores the meta keywords).
The meta title, or commonly called the title tag, is the most important of all the meta data. It is what shows up in the search results. This is not the same as the title you may have on your home page! In fact, your meta title won’t show up anywhere on your site. The only other place a visitor will see your meta title outside of the search results is at the top of your browser.
Here is a screenshot of some search results with the title tags highlighted:
The meta description is the information you see directly below the title tags in the search results (highlighted again for your convenience):
As you can probably deduce, the meta title and the meta description are very important to optimize for. It is essential you include one or two of your primary keywords in the meta title as well as your meta description.
You also want the title and the description to be compelling so the person conducting the search notices your listing among all the others. After all, you don’t want to give your competition the click! If you saw these two titles in the search results, which one would you likely click on first?
Voted #1 Chiropractors in Minneapolis | Minneapolis Chiropractors
As chiropractors in Minneapolis, we were voted #1 by the Minneapolis Chiropractors Association. We put our patient’s care first!
Minneapolis Chiropractors | Chiropractors in Minneapolis
We are chiropractors located just a few minutes from downtown Minneapolis. Our hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Optimizing Your Content
The next step of website search engine optimization is to optimize the content on your web pages. One thing that should be consistent across all the pages on your website is your business location and telephone number. Every page on your website should have your full address and phone numbers. You can do this easily by putting it in the footer or sidebar of your website.
Wherever you put it, you’ll want to display it using the “hcard microformat.” While Google is super smart and in most cases will rarely screw up your business location, using this format is a way to ensure your location is unmistakable. Without getting overly technical, this format is a standard method of semantically marking up your HTML to inform the search engines very precisely about which part of your web page contains addresses, phone numbers, and other typical directory listing information.
O.K., so you have the address and phone numbers on all pages. Now you want to make sure you use the primary keywords you are optimizing each page for throughout the page. If you are optimizing your home page for the keyword, “Minneapolis Chiropractors,” then you’ll use that in the title, or headline, of the home page and then a few times throughout the copy on your home page.
You may have heard of keyword density. It’s a common term thrown around by SEO professionals. Keyword density simply refers to the number of times the keyword you are optimizing for appears on the page. You’ll hear things like, “strive for a 1-3% keyword density.” Back when search engines weren’t so smart, keyword density was really important but the search engines are so advanced now that it’s not as important anymore to strive for a certain percentage.
Instead, the best rule is to write your content naturally and use your primary keyword “periodically” throughout your copy. Here are the basic guidelines we follow:
Use the primary keyword in the title, or headline.
Use the primary keyword in the first paragraph.
Use the primary keyword somewhere in the body.
Use the primary keyword the last paragraph.
You’ll also want to use variations of your primary keyword. For example, on our home page we are targeting, “Minneapolis SEO,” so we use that keyword. We also use variations of it on the page such as, “SEO Minneaplis.” This strategy is effective because you can target other keywords while still keeping the page focused on the primary keywords.
You also want to use images on all of your pages and name them with your primary keyword (i.e. Minneapolis-chiropractors.jpg). You’ll want to take advantage of the title and alt tags for those images as well by using your primary keywords for them.
Targeting Multiple Locations
If you are planning on targeting nearby cities and areas when you do your website search engine optimization, you’ll want to create a separate page for each city. For example, if you want to target, “St. Paul Chiropractors” and “Twin Cities Chiropractors,” you’d set up a separate page for each and optimize them following the guidelines already discussed here.
Optimizing Your Internal Linking
It’s important that you make it easy for both humans and search engines to find ALL of your content. To that end, you’ll want to make sure your site is well organized and that there are links from your home page to your internal pages and vice versa. You don’t want any abandoned pages – pages that don’t have any links to them.
Use anchor text when linking from one page to another. Anchor text is the keyword or keyword phrase that is being optimized on the page you are linking to.
A common mistake many small business owners make with their websites is they’ll use “click here” as the anchor text. You want to avoid using “click here” whenever you can and instead always use the keyword you are optimizing the page for.
Sitemaps and KML Files for Optimizing Your Website
HTML & XML Sitemaps
As the name implies, sitemaps are a “map” of your entire website. There are two different types of sitemaps. There is the HTML sitemap that is for humans and the XML sitemap that is for the search engines. HTML sitemaps aren’t used that much anymore but it’s still a good idea to use them as they can only help.
XML sitemaps, on the other hand, are an absolute must. Unlike the traditional HTML sitemaps, these are more technical in nature and are strictly for the search engines’ “eyes.” You can link to your XML sitemap in your footer but it’s also a good idea to submit them to the major search engines. That way whenever you add new content to your site, the XML sitemap is a quick and easy way for the search engines to “notice’ your new content and index it.
KML stands for Key Hole Markup Language and is a file format used to display geographic data on places like Google Maps and Bing Maps. You can create these files to pinpoint your business location on these maps.