There are many important calculations that Google’s algorithm needs to work out in a fraction of a second when assigning it’s search page positions – including page content, keywords and internal/external linking. By making your site as easy and accessible as possible for the Google crawlers to extract information, it has a much higher chance of featuring towards the top of search engine results pages.
To help you make your site as accessible as possible the Atomic team has put together an on-page SEO checklist that you can implement to boost the search performance of your website.
Use your heading tags correctly
Heading tags are an important ranking factor because they quite literally provide summaries of the page content to Google’s page crawlers, this information is then stored in Google’s database. Misuse of heading tags is one of the most common on-page SEO errors that we come across.
When you have too many of a certain tag or too little, it can confuse Google’s crawlers and prevent them from properly determining your page content. This leads to the page being unclassified and prevented from appearing in search results. To avoid this stick to these simple rules:
- Each page must contain one single <H1> tag. Excluding the <H1> or having duplicates will harm your page’s SEO.
- Use heading tags to define a page structure based on their numerical value. <H2> tags have more authority than <h3> tags, therefore if you want to define a new content section on the page you should use a <H2> tag.
- Keep your heading tags consistent, they are not interchangeable.
Here is an example structure of how your page should look:
<H1>Main page title</H1>
Try to keep your heading depth to around <H3>, if you need to use a further sub-subsection then stick to the structure laid out above. One final tip to give your page a ranking boost is to include your focal keyword into your heading tags, it will help Google to further establish your page content in relation to your chosen keyword.
Internally Link to pages you’d like to power up
Getting your internal linking right is a key component of on-site SEO. The more links you have internally to specific pages on your site signifies to Google that those pages are important to the site, which leads to Google returning that page in more searches. It’s also the reason that your orphan pages (ones with no incoming internal links) don’t drive much organic traffic.
You can use this to your advantage. When creating new pages or blog posts, think about which pages you’d like to see improve their search performance, and then link to them in the new page. If you’d really like to boost a page fast, also consider changing the links in existing pages to point at your target page.
Since Google’s Panda update in 2011, providing an excellent user experience has directly correlated to high positions in search engines. And what is the number #1 cause of poor browsing experiences? Long page loading times.
One major cause of poor loading times is embedding large image files onto your page. Compressing images before uploading them to your site will eliminate this problem. You can do this by running your files through a tool such as TinyJPG, or manually if you use software such as Photoshop. Alternatively, if you run a wordpress site, installing an automatic image compression such as Smush will do the hard work for you.
Examine the external pages that you’re linking to in your content
As we touched upon in our last blog post, linking to pages with a low domain authority can harm your own search position. To protect your website, you can find the domain rating of any site by using Ah refs free website checker tool. If the site has a domain rating of over 40 then it’s safe to provide a dofollow link, any lower than 40 and we’d advise using the nofollow attribute unless the external site operates in a similar sector to your own site.
Bonus tip: update your content regularly
To maintain the search position of your top performing content you need to regularly update that page with up-to-date information. Google gives priority to pages with the latest news and information. For example, if you have a webpage dedicated to Academy Award winning movies, make sure that page is updated annually with the latest winners. Otherwise it could be overtaken by competitors that were quick to update their site.
Our tips to freshen your content are:
- If you quote statistics in your content, make sure they’re up-to-date and backed by the latest studies.
- Replace the external links in your content from pages published at the time of writing to recently published URLs. Google’s crawlers will notice this and boost your website.
- Write update sections and add to your written content by explaining how the topic has changed since you wrote the original piece.
- Update your meta title with the words ‘updated for 2020’ or similar to let searchers know that your content has been edited since posting.
Do you need help optimising your site to enable your content to shine and rise through Google’s search pages? Then check out our page on the technical SEO services we provide.