ON-SITE SEO: THE FOUNDATION TO RANKING 

Exactly how to make your website signal to Google even if you don’t have content.

Have you ever asked yourself: 

“WHY ISN’T GOOGLE FINDING MY WEBSITE?”

Your on-site SEO might be the answer.
ON THE GO? LISTEN HERE!

THE 3 MAIN ELEMENTS TO SUCCESSFUL ON-SITE SEO

Web Hosting, Web Development/Design, and Google’s Love Language – Speaking Robot

WEB HOSTING

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WEB DEVELOPMENT AND DESIGN 

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User Experience 
Speed
Optimization

SPEAKING ROBOT

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TL;DR RESOURCE

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On-Site SEO Checklist

DONE FOR YOU

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On-Site SEO Service

WEB HOSTING FOR ON-SITE SEO
WEB HOSTING: SSL  
SSL, or secure sockets layer, helps keep the information sent between your website secure using an encrypted connection between the server and browser.

In other words: 

An SSL is like passing a note in school using a cipher so the teacher can’t read it. 

What is the role of an SSL?  
  • SSL’s tell browsers (and their users) that your site is safe. If you don’t have an SSL, some browsers will warn viewers that their information isn’t safe on your website which means your click through rate will be lower than Eminem’s opinion of Nick Cannon.  
  • Using encryption, SSL’s protect the information your users submit or receive, in fact, SSL’s are required for online payments to meet PCI compliance standards.  
  • SSL’s help maintain data integrity and prevent corruption of files.

Why does Google even care? 

Google favors sites that have SSL’s. Why? Google’s job is to give you the best result for your query. If Google sends you to an unsafe site, that makes Google look bad.  

Buuut, get an SSL and Google will give ya a boost in their search results, like a little digital gold star. 

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    WEB HOSTING: UPTIME  
    Host uptime is how long the server that hosts your site is up and running.

    Why does uptime matter?

    Because if someone goes to your site and your server is down, your website won’t show up on the web and you better believe that your visitor will not be returning.  

    Is uptime really an issue?

    Honestly, most hosts have great uptime metrics, but not all of them. If you want to see where your host stacks up, Hosting Facts created a great article on Web Host Uptime (scroll down halfway to see their review of over 30 shared web hosts.)

     

    Why does Google even care?

    If your server is down and users can’t access your site Google is not happy. 

    Buuut, have great uptime and Google will smile favorably upon your search rankings. 

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      WEB HOSTING: CDN  
      A CDN, or Content Delivery Network, makes your website accessible from servers closer to where your users are which increases your site load time.

      For example: 

      If you don’t use a CDN the farther away a user is from your server, the slower your site will load for them (because the data will have to travel farther).

      I’ve seen sites take well over 30 seconds to load in cases like this, and a slow load time will send your bounce rate through. the. roof. 

      Wait, wut?

      CDN = Faster website load time.

      Does Google care about fast load times?

      You bet your sweet bippy it does! Google doesn’t just want your content to be excellent, they want users to be able to get to the information they’re after fast. If your site loads fast, Google will prioritize your content above slower sites. 

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        BONUS: MY FAVORITE WEB HOSTS  
        If you’re looking for the best place to host your site, I’d start here.

        My favorite host:

        Siteground

        Runner’s up:

        WPEngine
        Bluehost
        HostGator Cloud  

        *DISCLOSURE: Some of the links, like the links above, are affiliate links, through which I might earn a commission at no extra cost to you. [Read more…] 

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          WEB DEVELOPMENT + DESIGN FOR ON-SITE SEO
          WEB DEVELOPMENT + DESIGN: UX  
          UX, or User Experience, are the elements of design that contribute to a positive experience within your site, including usability and design.

          How can Google even measure this?

          Google looks at your site and sees how people engage with your content. If people click on your site and then leave right away, Google will take note and treat your search rankings in kind. 

          When it comes to UX, we can be pretty sure Google cares about:

          • Page Load Time
          • Site Navigation
          • Mobile Responsiveness
          • Valuable Content

          What does that mean for SEO?

          Honestly? That means you gotta care. 

          That means it’s not just about “10 Fast Hacks to Boost SEO” it’s about genuinely creating great content that your audience is looking for in an environment that your audience wants to stay in.  

          If Google sends traffic to you, they want to see that traffic hang around for a bit.

          User signals validate that you have the best answer for the question asked and great UX will keep people engaged with your site.

          What to avoid when it comes to UX:
          • Intrusive popups and ads
          • Broken links
          • Blog posts on landing pages

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            WEB DEVELOPMENT + DESIGN: SITE ENGAGEMENT 
            Site engagement are metrics that measure user actions taken on your site.

            Does site engagement even matter?

            Well, young Padawan, there is a strong correlation between user engagement and profit. So, yeah, it does.

            How is engagement measured?

            There are tons of ways to measure engagement, the main ones are: 

            • Bounce Rate – percentage of visitors who only visit one page and take no action on that page. 
            • Organic Click Through Rate – the percentage of visitors who clicked on a search engine result. 
            • Pages Per Session – the average number of pages viewed per session, or visit. 
            • Dwell Time – how long a viewer spends on a particular web page before returning to the search page.

            What can I do to improve my site engagement?

            Of course this will vary from business to business, but in general the fastest way to boost engagement is to really get close with your customers and do a deep dive on their needs. 

            What are they struggling with and how can you create content and/or products/services to help?  

            Honestly, great SEO is fueled by a sincere investment in the advancement of your clients, and your site engagement will tell you whether or not you’re hitting the mark.

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              WEB DEVELOPMENT + DESIGN: LOAD TIME
              Good web design isn’t just about aesthetics, it’s also about optimized code.

              The 2-Second Rule:

              If your site doesn’t load in 2 seconds, you’re going to lose viewers.

              Listen, web users are more discriminating than ever before. They’re looking for an answer and they want to get to it as quickly and painlessly as possible. 

              If your site isn’t loading, they’re simply not going to stick around and wait.

              Does Google care about fast load times?

              Of course Google cares about fast load times! When they recommend you to their users for an answer, they want their users to get to that information quickly. It doesn’t matter how great your content is if users have to wait for the content to load. And you better believe Google pays attention to this and it has a significant impact on your on-site SEO. 

              How do I check my load time?

              Pingdom’s Speed Test and Page Speed by GTMetrix are great resources to not only test load time, but also get details on what’s bogging down the system. 

              Now, take these tests with a grain of salt – a perfect score is highly unlikely. You’re shooting for a 3.5 GPA here, A’s and B’s on GTMetrix and right around a 2 second load time on Pingdom.

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                WEB DEVELOPMENT + DESIGN: LAZY LOADING
                Good web design isn’t just about aesthetics, it’s also about optimized code.

                Lazy Loading Pros & Cons:

                Lazy loading is a bit of a toss-up in terms of value because while it does speed up loading it can make your page difficult to index if it doesn’t load fully for ze Google bots.

                Translation: Lazy Loading helps speed, but Google might not be able to see all your content. 

                So first off, if you’re struggling with speed, start with the basics

                • Defer Javascript
                • Load CSS Asynchronously
                • GZip Compression 
                • Et. al. 

                After that, if you’re still struggling with load times just lazy load images and videos. 

                The benefit here is videos and images provide the least amount of data for Google to crawl anyway – 

                1. Google relies far more on the text of your content to determine your rank. 
                2. Images and videos are often the biggest contributors to slow loads. 

                That right there is a win/win.

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                  WEB DEVELOPMENT + DESIGN: IMAGES
                  Images are a huge element of design for your viewers, but Google has robot eyes and needs you to say what the images are and why they’re important.

                  There are three elements to fully optimizing images for Google and SEO: metadata, UX,  and file size.

                  Metadata

                  Metadata, the text that helps describe the image, offers opportunities to give Google a better idea of your content. You see, Google robots are getting better at discerning images, but Google still leans on metadata to fill in the gaps. 

                  Creating clear file descriptions and alt tags is an easy way to boost your SEO

                  Here’s how that looks:

                  • File Name 
                    • GOOD: L.K.Valentine Design Logo.svg 
                    • GOOD: Black Lab Puppy Kissing Toddler.WebP
                    • BAD: 207_1794.jpg
                  • Alt Tags
                    • DO use your SEO keyphrase (if relevant to your image).
                    • DO describe what’s in the image for Search Engines and people with visual impairments. 
                    • DO NOT keyword stuff by just listing your keyword and all of its synonyms. Srsly.
                  UX

                  UX, or user experience, are the guidelines that create a positive web experience for your viewers. 

                  Google prefers mobile responsive images the most, that is, images that scale automatically to the screen size.

                  File Size 

                  The file size of your images has an enormous impact on your load speed. 

                  More than that, Google has reported that properly sized and optimized images will help your site rank high in search results. 

                  Here’s how to really optimize the size of your images for SEO: 

                  • Removing EXIF data.
                  • Image Compression – 72dpi is the web standard. 
                  • File Format – WebP is the most optimized file format for JPEG and PNG files.
                  A word of caution.

                  Some file formats can expose your site to malware. 

                  SVG files can have CSS and JavaScript embedded into the file and expose your site to malicious code.

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                    WEB DEVELOPMENT + DESIGN: MOBILE OPTIMIZATION
                    Mobile Optimization is when your website is easily viewable on mobile devices.

                    Why is mobile optimization important?

                    Here’s the deal, mobile traffic was up to 52.2 percent in 2018. That means, in general, more than half of web traffic comes from a mobile device. 

                    So, if your site isn’t mobile optimized, more than half of your traffic will have a poor user experience and leave your site. 

                    And according to one Google study, “61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site that they had trouble accessing from their phone. That includes sites that use fonts which are illegible on mobile, or sites where users have to zoom in or pan around excessively.”

                    Does Google care about mobile optimization?

                    Mobile Optimization is an enormous part of a positive user experience and you better believe Google takes optimization into account when determining which content to serve in search results. 

                    In fact, Google takes mobile optimization so seriously that they provide data points in Google Search Console that help you identify mobile UX optimization opportunities. Google wants to make creating a mobile optimized site easy. Pretty telling.

                    Is my site mobile optimized?

                    Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test will let you know!

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                      WEB DEVELOPMENT + DESIGN: NAVIGATION
                      Navigation describes how people access the content on your website.

                      What are the main elements of site navigation?

                      Menus

                      Menu’s are the main component of site navigation. 

                        • Keep it shallow. The goal is to have any page three clicks away or less. 
                        • Make sure your navigation is clear; don’t sacrifice clarity to be clever not just for SEO, but for UX as well. You want to convey the purpose of the page as clearly as possible in as few words/characters as possible.  
                        • Avoid drop down menus; crawlers may have trouble with dropdowns if they’re coded in JavaScript. 
                        • Google devalues footer links, so use this space for less important pages like your privacy policy.
                      Categories

                      Categories classify the main topics of your content. 

                        • Leverage category hierarchies creating categories and subcategories to improve user experience and SEO. 
                        • As a general rule, aim for no more than 10 categories sitewide. 
                        • Limit post classifications to one category to avoid duplicate content penalties. 
                        • Keep category names short and descriptive
                        • Keep content spread evenly between categories – if the content in one category grows significantly larger than other categories, split it into multiple categories. 
                        • Categories are required, if you don’t assign a category wordpress will assign one for you…to uncategorized. Don’t miss out on this easy SEO boost.
                      Tags

                      Tags classify specific details of your posts. If categories are the table of contents, tabs are the index. 

                        • Unlike categories, tags are not hierarchical. 
                        • Tags are not a place to keyword stuff, you’ll want them to be highly relevant to your content. (Don’t think you can beat this system, Google is wicked smaht.)
                        • Tags aren’t required, they’re optional. 
                        • Did I mention use tags accurately?
                      Final Note

                      Search engines loooooove structure, so be thoughtful about the way you organize your content if you care about your on-site SEO. 

                      What are the main elements of site navigation?

                      I wouldn’t say it’s critical, but it’s another easy way to put your content ahead of the rest. 

                      Besides, even if you have great SEO rankings, if your site is hard to navigate it will be hard to convert the leads Google sends you. 

                      It’s worth your effort to put a deliberate effort into how you organize the content on your site.

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                        WEB DEVELOPMENT + DESIGN: HEADER TAGS
                        Header Tags are text formatting that differentiates your titles and subtitles on your web page and in your posts. They are also referred to as H1, H2, H3 and so on.

                        Header tags signal to Google what your content is about:
                        • The text using the H1 tag should summarize your main point, so be sure to get your keyword up front here. 
                        • Only use one H1 tag on your page
                        • H1 is the highest value tag and H6 is the lowest value tag when it comes to SEO.

                        What’s so great about header tags anyway?

                        Header tags do double duty. 

                        Visually, they format your text to make your content easier for your viewers to digest visually. 

                        Behind the scenes, header tags help reveal to Google what phrases of your content take priority. They tell Google what you think is important about your content.

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                          SPEAKING ROBOT FOR ON-SITE SEO
                          SPEAKING ROBOT: TITLE TAG
                          Title Tags describe the title of the web page using HTML. These are the most important metadata on your page.

                          What exactly are title tags?

                          Title tags are the clickable text that show up in search engine results, web browsers, and social networks. In terms of SEO, title tags are a significant factor in where you rank with Google. 

                          What are the best practices for title tags?
                          • Do not use the same title tag for every page – duplicate text is a huuuge no-no. 
                          • Use your keyword as close to the front as you can
                          • Do not keyword stuff – do not load the title tag up with synonyms and keyword phrases. It WILL backfire on you. 
                          • Aim for 60 characters – there aren’t any penalties for length, but you are limited to a 600 pixel container. 
                          • Avoid all caps, capital letters take up a lot of room. 
                          How important are title tags?

                          Content is king, nothing beats a well-crafted article. That being said, metadata is a close second. If you aren’t putting a conscious effort into your title tags then you are missing out on some easy rank juice. 

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                            SPEAKING ROBOT: META DESCRIPTION
                            Meta Descriptions are HTML snippets that summarize a page’s content, these are seen right below your title tag in search results.

                            What exactly is a meta description?

                            Meta descriptions are the text right below your title tag in a search engine result. While not as big a boost to SEO as title tags, these offer a great opportunity to create compelling copy and a call to action.

                            What are the best practices for meta descriptions?
                            • Give an accurate description of the page content. 
                            • Stand apart from the competition – create intrigue, use humor, appeal to the interests of your target audience. 
                            • This is also a great place for a call to action. Can you give the viewer essential information in this blurb? 
                            • Avoid duplicate content. Keep all meta descriptions unique. Google will penalize duplicate content

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                              SPEAKING ROBOT: SCHEMA MARKUP
                              Schema markup is code that helps search engines get more information out of specific content like articles, events, local businesses, products, etc.

                              What’s so great about schema?

                              Schema is a way to enhance your content in the eyes of search engines. It is extra classification that helps search engines format your content for a better user experience. 

                              Another advantage here is that schema markup is quite underused. This is a great area to gain some leverage over competitors.

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                                SPEAKING ROBOT: SITEMAP
                                Your sitemap is a file that reveals the structure of your site to search engines.

                                What does a sitemap do?

                                Not only do they reveal the structure of your site, but publishing a sitemap gives a nod to Google to index your site. 

                                Best practices for sitemaps? 

                                Sitemaps are really useful for content marketing, much less so for utility pages like contact or about me pages. A good practice is to omit utility pages from your Sitemap so Google only sees the best of the best of your content and are more likely to refer you in the search results.

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                                  SPEAKING ROBOT: ROBOTS.TXT
                                  Your Robots.txt file gives instructions to web robots how to crawl your website.

                                  What’s the purpose of the robots.txt file?

                                  The main goal of the robots.txt file is to tell robots what to crawl and what to ignore. This can specify to Google what pages of your site your prioritize, this can also prevent (some) bad bots from crawling your site. Only some, because there are plenty of bots that will completely ignore your robots.txt file.

                                  How to use robots.txt:  

                                  The robots.txt file pairs up with your sitemap. If you want search engines to avoid crawling certain pages (like your utility pages) you’ll specify that in your robots.txt file.

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                                    TL;DR ON-SITE SEO RESOURCE

                                    On-Site SEO Service 

                                    If you know your on-site SEO needs some help, but the mechanics are a bit overwhelming, I’d love to help!

                                     

                                    Here’s what I can do for you: 

                                    Navigation Analysis
                                    Category/Tag Analysis
                                    Content Analysis
                                    Add Title Tags
                                    Add Meta Descriptions
                                    Optimize Images for SEO
                                    Schema Markup
                                    Content Development Strategy

                                     

                                    Starting at $249

                                     

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