Two of the most frequent questions we get asked by potential and existing clients is a variation of “How does my website look from an SEO perspective?” or “How can my website rank higher on Google/Yahoo/Bing/Yandex/SearchEngine?”

In most cases, especially with local or small businesses and charities, the answer is, quite simply, onsite SEO. Not link building, social media, elaborate affiliate campaigns or voodoo rituals, not that those don’t matter, it’s just that it’s the basics that count the most, especially, if you’re just starting online activities.
To put it into perspective- if you’re ranking in top 10 for ‘yellow socks’, you’re already doing stuff right on your site and you need the stuff mentioned above (apart from the voodoo ritual.. probably) to rank higher. There are a number of things that can be done on your site with varying degrees of impact on your ranking or visitor experience or click-through rate, once ranking, so I’ll try separating them into groups:

Useful SEO actions:
Content optimization for keywords
What this means is that each page should be about something and that fact should be represented in the usage of words when creating the page. The best practice is that the relevant keyword appears in the text of the page with the frequency of about 2-8% of the total text.

The golden rule here is not to go over the top so the content is unreadable- it should be readable, but with a frequent mention of your keyword.

Internal Link Anchor text
Internal links are often overlooked as a good source of SEO benefit, especially if your site is rich with content- then you can go for Wikipedia style interlinking. It is essential to make the links with good anchor text though.

What’s anchor text? Anchor text is the text that is used as a link, or in other words, the blue underlined text that you click on. Example: charity marketing.

Page Titles and URLs
Page titles and URLs are essential for all of the previously mentioned purposes- they can help you rank, attract attention when you’ve ranked, and even increase your sales, donations, subscriptions or whatever you’re objective is.

What’s a title or a URL?

Page title and URL optimisation

What they should consist of is mostly keywords. Even if you want your title to be only a brand name, chances are, Google will grab a heading from the text of the page and use that as a title – so what search engines (Google, at least) are saying is that your page titles should consist of keywords and maybe a brand name.

Page title best practices:

Title should be about 65 characters long (including spaces)
Title should contain the keyword as near to the start as possible
Keep it as short as possible
Keep it as relevant as possible

With URLs, it’s fairly simple:

Heading tags
Heading tags are tags in text that identify portions of it as titles of the following paragraphs. These are identified in the code with <h1>, <h2>, <h3> etc., where the number represents the level of the heading, so, for example, text in <h1>text</h1> would classify as the highest tier heading and <h2>something<h2> as something with lower importance.

The obvious use of this as an SEO tool is giving keyword rich lines of text more importance on the page. Moderation in keywords is always a good thing (I know I’m sounding like a broken record by this point, but seriously, I’m not joking).

Other stuff
To those of you thinking ‘A-ha! He didn’t mention meta tags or consistency or loads of other things that should be done on site in order to rank better’, here’s the ‘other stuff’ section.

Meta Tags

Meta tags are, basically, descriptive text inserted into the code of your site. If you open up your browser and press Ctrl+U, it should open up a page full of machine code. In that code near the top you can see some lines that look like this

<meta name=”…” content=”text here”>

Find the ones that are “keywords” and “description”.

The “keywords” tag was a vital part of SEO in the days when video games were for children, not housewives and smartphones were called ‘desktop computers’. It’s gradually lost its value over time and all but ended with Google excluding them from their algorithm and most SEO’s seeing them as a waste of time. I, personally, tend to drop an odd word in there, just in case. Keep it short, separated by comma and don’t.

Spam Spam! Wonderful Spam!

what you shouldn’t do

The “description” part of the meta tag is also of dubious SEO value at the moment, but it still can and is used by search engines as the descriptive text beneath the link to your site. Fill this in and keep it beneath 150 characters or you’ll get “…” at the end of it. So if you’d have the title of the page as “Yellow Socks – a Yellow Socks Extravaganza page” and the description filled in as <meta name=”description” content=”Yellow Sock Extravaganza- your one stop shop for all of your sock needs, as long as they’re yellow.” Your Google result would look something like this:

Consistency

Keep consistency throughout the site.

In links:

Check if the anchor text links use the same kind of anchor text to link to the same page.

In titles:
If you start by doing a ‘brand | page | keyword’ or ‘Keyword | brand > page’ structure, stick with it

Keywords:
If you’re targeting ‘yellow socks’, there’s no use in including pages that target ‘brown socks’ or ‘yellow boots’

Overall rules of onsite SEO

Keep within a set of keywords you’re targeting
Start small and grow up slowly
Do some research on what are the top10 rankers doing and try to do better.
Spam

Don’t. You will never win!
This turned out much longer than expected so I’ll do the second part in one of the next updates… Subscribe so you don’t miss it.