The key to SEO is understanding what Google wants. And the key to understanding what Google wants is knowing the search intention of users. As with all aspects of your website, when it comes to your content, you should review it regularly as part of your SEO audit – at least once a quarter is recommended. In this article, you’ll learn about on-site SEO. This is a crucial aspect of your SEO strategy as it is the part over which you have full control. And one of the first things to check is your existing content.
So, let’s start unpacking how to make the most of your on-site SEO.
Understand what Google wants
Google is powered by sophisticated algorithms designed to deliver the most relevant and valuable pages in response to search terms. One of the challenges of optimising your web pages is that Google doesn’t provide much information about how it determines rankings. And as those algorithms are updated or amended thousands of times a year, any such information would be pretty useless anyway.
Fortunately, SEO specialists have been able to identify some of the major factors that influence how your pages rank.
As Google algorithms become ever more complex, they try to replicate users when crawling with a focus on what is known as EAT (Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness).
Let’s take a look at each of these in order as they should form the fundamental basis for your on-site SEO.
Experts know what they’re talking about. So, one of the ways in which Google tries to identify how much of an expert you are is by determining who wrote your article and what they know on the subject.
Author profiles are becoming increasingly valuable as they allow web crawlers to identify who wrote an article and then take a look at their entire online presence to assess their level of expertise.
Adding an author profile to your existing content can give it authority and make it rank higher. And remember, you don’t have to attribute it to the actual author. Sure, if you have an expert blogger writing for you who specialises in your niche, it makes sense to include their profile.
But it may be that your CEO has a large following on LinkedIn and posts industry-specific content regularly. This will position them as an expert in the eyes of Google and help your blog page rank higher.
You will also get the benefit that when people share the post or repost other LinkedIn content written by your CEO, this feeds into building and enhancing their status and further improving your SEO.
When other experts are citing your content, you move from mere expert into the realms of authority. The same goes for non-experts sharing your work. Each time somebody quotes your content or adds a link to it from their own site, your authority is recognised.
So, authority comes, not just from being an expert in your subject matter, but from being able to convey it to your audience.
There are very few quick wins when building authority – particularly when talking about old content. But one thing you can do is check it for accuracy. Are the stats you used still relevant? Have any experts that you cited lost credibility or fallen foul of cancel culture? Is the content still relevant or have things moved on?
If it is no longer useful content, delete it. If it needs a few tweaks to make it relevant, edit it. If it requires an additional paragraph or two to reflect changes, prioritise writing and adding them.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and think about what you look for when determining trustworthiness.
Things to look out for include:
- A physical address linked to your website
- A clear way of contacting your business
- Ensuring your domain is secure (security is very important to Google)
- A clear refunds and returns policy if applicable
- Evidence of adherence to any regulatory schemes
- Awards or recognitions from recognised independent verification schemes
By amending your existing content to fit these suggestions you can start to build a reputation for expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
One thing to keep in mind is that the days of adapting or adding content to your site and hitting page one of Google overnight are long behind us. Google values quality as it has its own reputation as the number one search engine to uphold and these days consistency and patience are key.
A strong title and meta description are key
A page title is the line of text (usually in blue) that you see when search engine results are returned. The meta description is what comes below the page title and gives a little more information on what the page is all about.
Google doesn’t index websites, it indexes web pages. Each page needs a unique title and description – and both need to be relevant to the content. This is something Google will search fort when crawling your site, but it is also part of providing value to users.
When a user clicks on pages that are not relevant to their search term, they go back to their results and try a different site. The obvious assumption for the algorithms to make is that your page was of no value and this will harm your SEO. It will also be detrimental in your quest to build a reputation for expertise, authority and trustworthiness.
Make them engaging
Page titles and meta descriptions must be engaging. This is what will show up in search results and will often be the first impression of your site and your business for potential new clients.
Both are key to your click through rate (CTR). Think of them as a headline and tagline. Whether you compare them with traditional newspaper adverts or modern click bait, the principle is the same. The headline must grab your readers’ attention and the meta description must tell them that your page is the solution they are searching for.
If you haven’t written your own page title and description, Google will write one for you based on its reading of the page content. This might sound like a great idea but, in truth, it will almost certainly be uninspiring. And it may not even be relevant to what you think your page is all about.
How to write an effective page title and meta description
When it comes to writing your title and meta description there are a few SEO techniques to consider. But before we come on to those, it’s important that you spend time thinking about who this particular page of your website is targeted at and what problem it solves.
Firstly, as we’re dealing here with existing pages on your site, check out the current page title and description.
- Is it clear what the page is all about?
- Is it inspiring?
- Does it tap into an emotion?
- Does it include keywords?
- Is there a clear call to action (CTA)?
- Is the text truncated or cut off?
- Would you click this link?
When you come to updating your meta descriptions, think about your USP. What makes your page better than those of your competitors? What are the pain points for people using search terms that will land them on your page?
Meaningful descriptions that target an emotional response make strong titles and meta descriptions.
How long should a page title and meta description be?
But writing your title and description are just the start. The next thing is to make them the right length. As a rule, your title should be a maximum of 70 characters for a desktop device and 60 characters for a mobile device. This is just a guide as the size is based on pixels rather than number of characters. The easiest way to find out if your title fits the limit is to carry out your own search on both types of device.
Your meta description should be a minimum of 70 characters regardless of device. The maximum for a PC or laptop is 155 characters and for a mobile device it is 130. If it is too long, you must shorten it. Neither Google nor users are fans of incomplete descriptions so it will adversely affect your click through rate if you don’t.
SEO for page titles and meta descriptions
The trick is to edit your page title and meta description and condense them to fit the character limit. Every character must earn its place. Be sure to apply the other SEO principles too:
- Go for a maximum of two sentences in your description
- Target a pain point
- Try to stir an emotion in the reader
- Use the keyword towards the beginning of the description
- Make the title and description relevant to the content
Examples of words to use that will grab the eye are:
Keyword research begins with your own knowledge of your target market. In its most basic form it is writing down the types of words and phrases your users might enter into a search engine.
Now, enter those keywords into a keyword search tool like Google Keyword Planner. The planner will tell you how many searches are made per month for those search terms. It will also suggest similar search terms and show you how often they are searched for.
Sometimes, ranking higher in search engine results is as simple as tweaking your keywords.
One of the problems this research might throw up is that you are using popular keywords but not gaining any traction. Often that is simply down to the fact that the biggest names have cornered the market for the most popular search terms.
Search for pretty much any item and it’s available on Amazon. And surprise, surprise, you’re going to struggle to compete with them.
Use long tail keywords
Long tail keywords are phrases rather than just words. They are more specific and have a much lower search rate – but that can be to your advantage.
For example, as a local plumber, you’re unlikely to rank very highly for search terms such as ‘plumber’ or ‘plumbing services’. But do you want to? These are broad search terms that could be anything from vague interest to someone doing a school project.
A long tail keyword like ‘24/7 plumber in London’ will have far fewer searches but anyone entering that search term into Google is more likely to be a prospective client. And this is a search term you would have a much better chance of ranking highly for.
Keyword research takes time
This is the crux of the matter. Time is the one thing many business leaders don’t have but it is integral to getting your keyword strategy spot on.
The problem is that what you think you should be ranking highly for and what your target users are actually searching for are not always the same thing. To refer back to what we said at the beginning of the article, is understanding the search intentions of your users. You can only find out the best search terms by regularly reviewing your own stats and the websites of your top performing competitors.
The key is to identify the search terms that are most relevant to your product or service and then organically spread them throughout your content in the most strategic places:
- Meta description
- H1 heading
- Some H2 and H3 headings
- The top of the page
- The bottom of the page
It’s what is known as ‘inbound marketing’ – that is identifying the queries that are coming in and responding to them rather than putting out content that appeals to you and hoping your target audience finds it.
On-site SEO is something you are in control of and strangely, this can lead to it being viewed as the simpler side of SEO. Business leaders who invest in off-site SEO have been known to try cutting costs by investing neither time nor money in on-site SEO. But the two are not mutually exclusive. Off-site SEO will fail if it is not complemented by those aspects which are in your control.
And both are an ongoing concern. Google is constantly looking to enhance its service and your SEO strategy must keep up with it.
About the company
Lucdigi offers complete digital marketing and SEO services to companies all around the world. We take time to understand your goals and research your market before getting to work on an SEO strategy bespoke crafted to your needs.
We combine off-site and on-site SEO that work in synergy. And we provide the consistency of content and social media presence that helps you achieve what Google is looking for on every page of your site – expertise, authority and trustworthiness.