On-page optimization is the process of letting Google and the other search engines know exactly what your website is about so you can be shown to potential customers when they are looking for the services you provide.
You would think so, but there are many things to consider for your website to show up in the organic search results. A while back we published an article on our website talking about becoming a freelance link builder and for those of you who don’t know what a link builder is, they’re a person who gets other websites to link to yours.
The more links you get from trustworthy websites the higher the chance Google is going to show you to your potential customers when they search for your product or services.
If you haven’t optimized your website for this search query all the links in the world won’t matter as Google has no idea what your website is about.
Today we will cover optimizing your website so you can get more out of your marketing efforts and grow your business through organic search.
1. Check If Your Website is Indexed by Search Engines
The first step of optimizing your website is to make sure your website is indexed (can be found) on the search engines. The quickest and simplest way of doing this is by going to your search engine of choice and typing the following in the search bar:
Replacing “YourWebsite.com” with your actual website and hitting enter will show you if your website has been indexed by the search engine. If there are no results it will tell you what to do to get your website indexed.
If your website can’t be found, sign up with a free Google Webmaster account and you can request indexing of your website and it’s individual pages for free. A Google webmaster account can also give you information about the pages found and if there are any errors on them.
2. Create a Sitemap
A sitemap is a list of pages that you want the search engines to know about and show to potential customers.
Having a sitemap on your website isn’t a direct ranking factor, meaning if you don’t have one Google won’t punish your website by not ranking it, but a sitemap does help especially when your website has thousands of pages.
Having a sitemap on your website will make it easier for Google bot to come to your website to see which pages you have and then index the pages in their database.
You can manually create a sitemap online or use a tool such as Yoast to generate one for you if your website runs on WordPress.
Yoast is a great tool for creating a sitemap and many other on-page optimization techniques that we will discuss later on in this article. Yoast has a free and a paid version of their tool but the free version is more than enough for your needs.
3. Internal Linking and Anchor Text
When links are mentioned with SEO we often think of external links built through link building techniques, but internal linking through pages on your website can have a huge difference when it comes to increasing your website’s traffic.
When you acquire links from other websites you have to be careful of the anchor text of the link that points at your website. If you over-optimize this anchor text Google could punish your website.
For those of you who don’t know what anchor text is, think of a clickable link that sends you to another page on the internet. The text that you click on in this example is the anchor text.
If in this example you had a store that sold baby clothing it would be natural for other websites to link to your website with anchor text such as:
- Your Brand Name
- Random text such as “6 months old baby romper”
Google and the other search engines expect anchor text to look like the above, however, marketers try to game the system and use anchor text with the keywords that you want to rank for such as the following:
- Baby Clothing.
- Cheap Baby Clothing.
Old tactics like this used to work on the search engines results page but now they can cause your website to be penalized.
With internal linking, you can be more aggressive and you can link to your web pages with keyword anchors, but it’s important not to be the spammy and only link to your pages where it makes sense for the user.
Using the clothing example above you may have a section on your website that sells a certain outfit and you could then link to that section from a blog post discussing the benefits of using that type of clothing.
By internally linking your pages, the search engine spiders can crawl your website better and also see which pages on your website are the most important based on the number of internal links pointing at them.
4. Page Speed is Important
Cutting costs when starting a small business sometimes needs to happen, but one area I would advise against cutting costs is your website hosting.
You can set up a website on a free server but any serious business is going to want to have their own hosting space, purchasing hosting for your website from a reliable supplier is going to save you headaches down the line.
The speed in which your website loads can be influenced by many factors including the quality of code written on your website, media size, and your hosting.
Companies such as Kinsta, Siteground, and WP Engine all have reliable hosting services for growing businesses. I would start here if you feel your website is slow and then fix other areas of your website as you go along.
The reason why website speed is important is that the longer it takes for a page to load the higher chance the visitor clicks the back button and leaves your website to go back to the Google search. Google can measure this and uses this as a signal and assumes your website wasn’t a good match for that query. If this continues to happen your website rankings will drop.
You can test your website speed out on the official Google PageSpeed insights tool or another tool I really like is the one from GTMetrix which offers actionable tips to improve your page speed.
5. Image Optimization
Images can be optimized in a few different ways when it comes to on-page optimization.
Firstly images can be shrunk in size which helps with decreasing the page load speed. You can either manually do this through an image editing tool such as Photoshop or you can use an image compression plugin that works with your website. A Google search will bring up the best solution for your current needs.
Secondly, images can be optimized to be found on the search engine results page and this is a technique that can bring in thousands of extra visitors a month without much effort.
If you have a page on your website that discusses your content writing services you can optimize your image as follows:
- Rename your image from defaultname.jpg to contentwritingservices.jpg
- Add the Alt text to include your keyword, in this example “Our content writing services” would do the trick.
6. Simple URLs
A URL is the location of a page on the internet. A URL on your website could look like the following:
When it comes to naming conventions for your URLs it’s better to keep them short and include your keywords where possible.
Keeping your website URL structure short and keyword optimized will help your website visitors find you.
There are many ways in which URLs are structured, some bad examples look like the following:
A good example if we use the content writing service from above would be:
As you can see this URL is short, includes your service keyword, and tells the user and the search engines exactly what that page is about.
7. Title and Meta Tags
When you search on Google you are shown a list of websites and a little bit of information about them.
This information includes the URL, the title tag, and finally the meta description.
These tags are vital for telling Google and the user what that page is about and they play a role in getting the user to click on to your website.
Above we covered optimizing your website URL, so we can now move on to the title tag.
The title tag is a known ranking factor for Google so you will need to include your keywords in this title tag and preferably at the beginning of the tag.
Typically Google will only show the first 50-60 characters of a title tag so make sure you use the most of the space allowed.
Using our content writing services example again, a bad example of a title tag could be anything that doesn’t explain the service provided such as:
Your business.com has been around for 15 years and we can be trusted.
A good example, on the other hand, could be:
Content Writing Services You Can Trust – (15 Years of Experience)
Can you see the difference?
Firstly, we have included the keyword we want to show up on the search engines for. Then we have created this heading capitalizing the first letter of each word which can help improve the rate in which our website is clicked on. Lastly, we have included data in brackets, this once again is to make our listing stand out on the search page.
The meta description is the description of the page under the title.
Google usually shows up to 160 characters and once again you should reinforce what your page is about and include your keywords here.
The best way to think of a meta description for your page is to think of it as a short advert to get your potential customers to click on your website.
An example of a good meta description could be:
Content writing services for small business owners. 3 day turn around with unlimited revisions. Get a free quote today by clicking here.
As you can see from above, our keywords are included, we tell the user what the page is about, we include our offer and finally, ask them to click on the listing.
It’s important to have individual titles and meta descriptions for all pages on your website, otherwise, your website could be penalized for duplicate content or simply put Google won’t know which result to show for the search being carried out.
8. Content Optimization
When writing your content for your website you will need to consider both the user and the search engines.
When I say write for the search engines I don’t mean include your keyword on your website a thousand times as this will get your website penalized. What you should do is take a look at other pages ranking for that term and see what type of content they have made for that search.
By doing this you can see what Google likes and try to mimic their page with fresh new content.
If all the websites listed in the top 3 searches have over 1000 words, use images and video then you should try to include a similar level of content.
Writing for SEO purposes is difficult and you can learn more about it here.
9. Content-Type is Important
If you perform a search in Google you will see a list of 10 pages on the 1st page, take a look at each of these 10 results and see which content type shows up more often.
The content-type could be a blog post, an ultimate guide type post, a product page, or a home page. You should try to recreate the same type of content to rank for that keyword.
The reason why you would want to create a similar type of page is that Google is telling you what they expect to show for that search query.
If Google expects a product page and you have created a blog page it’s not going to be impossible to rank for but it will be harder than if you also created a product page.
On-Page Optimization Conclusion
Getting clients as a new business or a freelancer can be difficult and using multiple streams to generate leads can help grow your business. If you are using other methods of acquiring clients such as social media, cold email, or online ads I would highly recommend optimizing your website too.
Using social media and cold email is an excellent way of generating leads for your business but they stop working when you do. Organic SEO can generate leads for your business even while you sleep.