The Best On-Page and Off- Page SEO Ranking Factors
On-page SEO means optimizing certain elements of a website page for search. On-page elements account for about 30% of a total search engine ranking. There are several areas where you should focus your on-page SEO efforts to see good results in 2019:
- Page content – Each individual page of your website should be hyper-relevant to a specific topic (usually a product, service, or single subject). Don’t try to cover the ocean when developing your website pages. Include content that is unique, authentic, and relevant to the subject you are writing about.
- Header tags – Using “header tags” in HTML markup gives search engines signals as to what is most important and how content is structured. Search engines give greater weight to text that is included within header tags, specifically <H1> and <H2> tags. Use keywords related to the subject of your page in the headers of your content.
- Page title – Another easy and rather obvious place to optimize your website page is its title, or what is within the <Title> tags of your site. Include a strategic keyword related to your subject matter, and make the title of the page clear so that users know what they can expect on the page. Remember, the SERPs will return results showing only page titles and meta descriptions, so your title is a crucial factor when it comes to generating organic traffic for your site. Title your page in a way that is relevant and attractive to your target audience.
- Meta description – Your meta description is the second piece of information users will see when your website page is returned in the SERPs. Make your meta description descriptive! This is the copy that will compel users to click or move on.
- Internal links – Internal linking gives search engines and human visitors an idea of how your site is structured and how important you think certain content is as it relates to a certain topic. Don’t overuse internal links.
- URL – Your page URL is an important on-page SEO element. Include a target keyword here related to your subject matter. Also, keep in mind that the more subdirectories you include in your URL (the “/” marks), the less likely it is to be crawled. Organize your website in a strategic way.
- Image alt text – The images that you use on your website pages are great opportunities to improve on-page SEO. Name your image files in a way that is descriptive. Since search engines can’t “see” images (yet!), the robot will “read” the image alt text that you include. For years, marketers took advantage of this and keyword-stuffed the crap out of image alt tags. Recently, Google has begun penalizing websites for adhering to this attempted manipulation of rankings. Use image alt text to provide search engines and visitors with an accurate description of the image that you show. Include keywords only when they are relevant.
- Technical SEO – Search engines are putting increasing weight on technical SEO elements. Include schema markup, or code that you put on your website to help search engines return more informative results for users. Also focus on your page load speed and making sure your website is fully responsive. Site security falls under the “technical SEO” category as well, although it could probably stand alone as an important best practice for SEO in 2019. HTTPs has been a confirmed Google ranking factor since 2014, and an HTTPS site is far more likely to rank well in voice search results. Recently, HSTS has been introduced as an even more secure alternative to its HTTPS predecessor. Make sure your company is properly emphasizing the importance of a secure site in order to rank well in 2019.
Off-Page SEO Factors
Many companies are shocked to learn that everything you can do to optimize a website on the actual page only accounts for about a third of a page’s ranking. The other 70% of the algorithm’s weight goes to “off-site” or “off-page” SEO. Off-site SEO means actions taken outside of your website that impact search engine rankings.
Optimizing your website for off-site SEO factors includes focusing on the perception and experience of users. Search engine algorithms focus on off-site factors like:
So, how do you optimize for these things?
Good off-site SEO is accomplished by other reputable websites, social networks, and other digital environments linking to or promoting your website’s content. Search engines consider signals like social sharing and good reviews as votes on the quality of your content.
Strategies like social media marketing, customer advocacy, guest blogging, and content syndication are great ways to improve the caliber of your off-site SEO initiatives.
The best practices above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to optimizing your website content for search. Be sure to partner with a knowledgeable and trusted digital partner when developing your SEO strategy for 2019.