10 Proven On-Page SEO Methods for Your Website
There is much speculation as to which methods boost search engine ranking. Those who are new to SEO or even many seasoned SEO pros may find confusion as to what the rules really are. Many top SEO webmasters share what they do to climb up in the search engines, but are their methods actually 100% correct? Luckily, the Google patent of August 10, 2006 has cleared up a lot of questions when it comes to SEO.
On-site SEO is very important when it comes to obtaining those highly coveted top search engine positions. This guide was written to share what Google has confirmed to be correct SEO methods and contains no speculation as to what could be correct. All information here is collected from the Google patent.
#1 The Domain Name
Having a main keyword as a part of the domain name is a huge help to SEO. However, caution should be taken in selecting a domain name with a keyword. You should take your audience into consideration when selecting a domain name.
If the keyword is a long-tail keyword like "money making tips for moms," moneymakingtipsformoms.com wouldn't be a friendly domain name for readers. There are two other options in this case, use a partial keyword like moneymakingtips.com or use a completely new name or even a made up word and brand it.
Doing SEO for a site with a made up word as a domain name can be a difficult task, but sometimes it's better than using a keyword in the domain name, especially if you want to avoid sounding spammy to your audience.
#2 Keywords in the URL
Having keywords as a part of a page's URL is different than using them in the domain name, but is still of major importance. Doing this not only helps sites with keywords in the domain name, but also helps those trying to do SEO for a domain with a made-up, branded name. Imagine there is an article on your doll site about vintage doll dresses. For this article, you're likely targeting "vintage doll dresses" as your keyword. To help this particular page along, you'll want your URL to reflect your keyword. If you own the domain name of dolldresses.com, you'll want the URL of this particular article to be something like dolldresses.com/vintage_doll_dresses.
This is the same if you own a branded domain name. The search engine will see the URL of the article and say to itself, "Oh this page is about vintage doll dresses, I'm going to rank this a bit higher in the search results for that keyword." Different content management systems handle URLs differently, so it's important to look into how URLs are generated. Blogger, for example, uses the title of a post as part of the URL. Drupal, another popular blogging platform uses nodes which are not good for SEO. For example, an article on vintage doll dresses will end up with a URL similar to dolldresses.com/node21. Luckily, there are plug-ins and workarounds for Drupal that will create more search engine friendly URLs!
#3 Keywords in the Title Tag
Having keywords in the title tag is one of the most important factors in search engine ranking when it comes to on-site SEO. When adding a keyword to part of the title tag, it's important to make it look natural.
A site with keywords crammed in the title can quickly look desperate (and Google doesn't like it, either.) It's a good idea to avoid adding too many keywords in the title. Instead of having a title like "Dolls, vintage doll dresses, collectible dolls, antique dolls, and more doll keywords," it's a good idea to choose one important keyword to be a part of the title. In doing this, the site name will flow better and look better to both human audiences and the search engines.
It's also a good idea to include part of the brand in the title to help readers remember the site. If a branded domain like SandeesCollection.com is being used, something like "Sandee's Vintage Doll Dress Collection" would be a great title tag.
#4 Keywords in the Header Tags
The H1, H2, and H3 tags are what make up the headings on a page. Search engines get clues as to the main idea of a particular website from these headings, so it's a good idea to put keywords here. Using keywords in the header tags are perhaps one of the most important aspects of SEO, so it's definitely not something to ignore! However, it is also a bad idea to make headers all about keywords.
Sacrificing reader satisfaction in the name of SEO is never a good idea. One other point about headers that I must mention is that it is a travesty when designers rename the tags when working with CSS. When this happens, search engines are unable to tell whether or not they are headers and thus an important aspect of SEO on a site has been lost (until the designer changes the tags back to their default names.)
#5 Link Churn
There are a variety of topics covered in the Google patent which cover outgoing links on a website, which I will cover in tips 5, 6, and 7. The first of these topics is "link churn." Link churn is the rate in which links on a page change over time, thus is basically a measure of outgoing link stability of a site. When a website frequently changes the sites which it links to, Google starts to penalize the links and the site. This is because when links change frequently on a site, the site is likely a part of some linking scheme (such as paid back links.) Thus, it's important to not frequently change the outgoing links on a particular website.
#6 Don't Link to Spammy Sites
It is also important to link to sites that Google sees as "good." When a website links to a spam site or other type of site that Google looks poorly upon, it makes the website look bad. SEO is basically a popularity contest and if a website hangs out with the bad crowd, Google is going to assume the website is a PART of the bad crowd. This doesn't mean to only link to authority sites, it just means not linking to spammy, blacklisted sites.
#7 Content Freshness
Google loves when a site is constantly adding to its repertoire. Fresh, new content on a site shows Google that the website is important. Nobody wants to read stale, old content from three years ago, so keeping up on the trends and publishing new content on a site is the bee's knees to Google.
While it's important for a website to have fresh content, it's even more important that the content is relevant to the site. Google is all about relevancy (that's the whole point behind SEO, anyway.) Thus, it's a bad idea to publish something new on a site just for the sake of content freshness.
#8 Outgoing Link Anchor Text
The anchor text is also of important when it comes to outgoing links. It's important for links to be somewhat descriptive of the site it's linking to. For example, when linking to a site like eBay, it's a good idea to have either "eBay" or "online auctions" as a part of the link text and not something like, "go here" or "Amazon" as the link text.
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#9 Site Age
Site age isn't just about how old a domain is (although aged domains are pretty awesome to have.) How long a particular site has been up on the domain is what I'm talking about here. The older a site, the better.
Anyone can throw a site on the Internet overnight, but does this necessarily mean that the website is trustworthy? When a website has been up for a long time, it basically shows Google, "Hey, I'm one of the regulars." It's much easier to trust a regular than the new guy in town. One thing that's nice about having an older site is that when fresh content is added to the site, it fares better in the search engines than new content on a new site. This is basically Google's way of saying, "I'm new to this content, but the guy delivering it is cool by me, therefore the content is cool." Like I said, SEO is a huge popularity contest.
#10 Domain Registration Time
I seriously argue this point with a TON of people, but seriously, look in the Google patent: it's there! The length of time remaining on a domain is important. The more time left on a domain, the better. When a domain is registered for 5 or 10 years, it shows Google, "Hey, I'm going to be here a while."
Domains that are only registered for a year make a site look like there's a possibility it may be gone in a year. This doesn't mean those looking to have a successful website need to fork over the money for 5 years on a domain when they register it. The time can be added later and, when it is, Google may give a nice boost in the SERPs. It is seriously really important, though.