Let’s say you’ve made a site, it’s all online and you’ve been pushing it for a couple of months now. You’ve let your friends know through Twitter and Facebook, even Google+ at a push, you’ve thought about drumming up some PPC, you’ve even thought about putting offers on some of your products just to get the visits up. In short; you’re stumped as to why you’re not somewhere on the first page in Google’s SERPs.
How about going back to basics? Sure you’ve got your site, but are all of your H1 tags optimised? Are your title tags shorter than 64 characters and not full of garbage? Do your URLs contain more than one number? This is on site or on page SEO, and before promoting your site and looking at Google Analytics for an improvement in traffic, you need to get this right first.
3 is a Magic Number
Trust me, it really is. 3 of the on page elements that should be optimised sooner rather than later are the Title Tags, H1 Tags and URLs. The key thing to remember here is, they should mirror each other. With this in mind just jump on board and begin with the URLs, make sure they’re all as clean and flat as they possible can be, ideally we want something that looks like this for a product page: http://www.mydomain.co.uk/product-name, not /category-name/location/1234r5678/product-name, the cleaner the URL the better. Once you have this, can you guess what the H1 tag is? Product Name, ta-da! Finally, what’s the Title tag of the page? Yep! Product Name | YourCompanyName.
Firstly, get rid of any meta keywords on any of your sites pages, Google dropped these as a ranking factor a long while ago. What is still important in this department is meta descriptions, these should be included on every page and be no longer than approximately 150 characters. You should ensure they read well and are not just stuffed full of keywords, that’s spam. They should be unique to each and every page, just like anything you do from title tags and H1 tags to content and images.
You may have heard of the term duplicate content? If not, it’s pretty self explanatory, some of you may have even believed it to not be a problem, Google will devalue your pages if they are found to be duplicated. Unfortunately sometimes things happen that you didn’t even know about, for example pagination may be handled incorrectly by the software you use to manage your content with.
There are several methods to fix that pesky pagination slip up (you find this most commonly on Blogs). This issue can be fixed by implementing rel=”canonical” tags within the code of the pages in the category or archive, or by using rel=”next” and rel=”previous” on links. Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Canonical tags tell Google “Hey, page A is exactly the same as page B, give credit to page A but crawl the links on page B”.
- Rel=”next” and rel=”previous” says “Hey Google, here’s the sequence of my pages”.
Difference here? Some people think canonical isn’t too great for pagination and that Google will crawl any pages using it incorrectly. Whereas with rel=”next” and rel=”previous” Google is specifically informed that the issue here is pagination, therefore Google knows what the deal is and can react accordingly.
Special thanks to Alexandre Dulaunoy for the image.