(NOTE: This post may be similar to our recent 10 post-panda onpage tips. But the difference is this post focuses on the 10 basics ALL SEOs should be doing, while that past article focuses on which strategies directly address the panda algorithm in case your site was penalized. Of course, there will be some overlap.)
Due to the complex nature of (SEO), practically every SEO company provides different services. It would be extremely rare to find two SEO companies providing the same exact services for the same exact price. Even companies that put forth the same amount of time and effort will find themselves offering completely different services. The SEO industry is simply not standard there is no ‘Stanadrd Operating Procedure’ to an SEO campaign, priorities and experiences are completely different across the board.
A perfect example of this is Moz’s routine search engine factors documents. There is never a time when 2 search experts agree 100% on everything. Some may agree on the top 10 factors, but the orders of effectiveness almost never matches, and the weight of each factor furthers their differences even more. As a result, each SEO company has their own unique strategies. As long as Google’s algorithm remains a trillion dollar proprietary secret, no one will ever know the standard most effective way to perform SEO.
I do believe however, that 90% of all SEO specialists can agree on certain optimization implementations that must be made to a site regardless of campaign priorities.
Below are 10 onpage SEO implementations that I believe every SEO company must address:
1. Title Tags for Keywords – Of course this made the list. Besides being a top 10 ranking factor for years (you can still check the SERPS on this), title tags also serve as an ad title to lure people to click on your listing. Take seriously.
2. Meta Description – As many of you already know; meta descriptions aren’t direct ranking factors. But what your meta description says can determine if the person visits your website or not. Also, if you don’t accurately describe your website, Google will find a snippet within your content to display, which in most cases may not be the best sentence(s) to represent your brand/company/products.
3. XML Sitemap (Redirects and Errors) – Having a clean XML sitemap that doesn’t conflict with your robots.txt file and lists all of the pages you want indexed is pretty important. To top it off, most webmaster tools (Bing, GWT) provide a section for you to submit your XML sitemap for speedier indexing. There may be trust factors involve in this step as well. Also, make sure you’re not listing any broken URLs or URLs that redirect within your XML sitemap.
4. Duplicate Content (On & Off Page) Check – Duplicate content has been a culprit for many years. Google is not a big fan of indexing multiple pages with the same content, or wasting storage space on something they already have indexed. So if you have multiple pages within your site containing the same content, or if other pages on the net have the same content as you, count on Google to pick its favorite ONE.
5. Canonicalization – Just do it. It’s easy. Make sure Google knows (even if they most likely already do) that your www/non-www and .com/index.html/.com/ versions of your site are all the same page. Google Engineer Matt Cutts explained this years ago.
6. Make the Best Content in Your Niche – This should be #1. You must have the best site and the best content for Google to deem you as the #1 site for your target keywords. Check out your competitors’ sites and see how you compare. User performance is gaining more ground in today’s search algorithms, so take how your potential customers feel about your website seriously. It could literally make or break your site.
7. Conversion Rate Optimization – This should be #2 on the list. This is the whole purpose of your campaign; to get sales. It doesn’t matter how relevant you are, how much content you’ve written, how many pages your site contains, or how much of an SEO expert you are. If you can’t turn your visitors into money, you are wasting your time and money.
8. PageSpeed – How fast your website loads only made the list because Google said so and because it makes sense. Also there are a plethora of tools helping you see how a website could perform better if sped up. You can still Google any term and chances are 5 out of 10 of the sites are still slow and there’s also a good chance slow loading sites are outranking sites with A+ load speeds. But that could be because it would be unfair to make that such an influential factor while the whole web is still adapting. Expect this factor to gain more ground in the near future.
9. User Performance Optimization – This kind of goes with #6. Your goal should be to create a site catered to your customers’ needs, desires, interested etc. It also shouldn’t frustrate them. Make sure you’ve done all you can to avoid bounces, <5 second visits, and 1 page surfing. How many pages (within your site) a user visits, how long they stay on your site and how many other websites they visit before returning back to yours (if they return) plays a major role in search rankings, conversions and branding.
Robots.txt file – Is important, but not a top 10
10. Structured Data – You see the signs of this coming in full force. Making sure your website is marked up with the latest web standards and semantically stable is probably going to be THE #1 FACTOR 5 years from now. For now, at least do the bare minimum and make sure your website has Google Authorship tied to it. There are so many other ways to implement structured data/micro formatting and you can test most of them here and here. Start moving this up unto your onpage priorities. The semantic revolution is pretty much already here.
Going in line with what I mentioned at the start of this email, whose top 10 list is completely different or which changes would you remove or add?