Basics of on-site SEO
We list 5 factors which matter most to make your on-site SEO work for you:
Use the infographics below to bring these 5 factors up to a legit level and your website will quickly see a measurable, positive change in its presence in Google.
No matter how sophisticated your search engine optimization efforts are, you will gain time and money squaring up your on-site SEO (optimization of important on-site factors) in the manner described in this post.
We designed this infographics over 5 years ago, updated it about 3 years go, and it has remained valid to this day. We only had to make a few cosmetic changes (we updated some statistics and emphasized Google My Business) to re-publish it in 2020.
Let’s cover some of the details of the 5 factors highlighted here, so that you have enough knowledge to evaluate your own site in respect to its internal optimization.
It has been a rule since 2006 that a legitimate local business ought to have a Google Knowledge Card: the Knowledge Card is the summary profile that is displayed by Google when you search for a specific local business. It shows a number of basic details on the business, including its street address, its position on the Google Maps, its primary line of business, opening hours, website, phone number, and what people say about it (questions and reviews).
The Google Knowledge Card: a summarized profile of a local business
Your website and the Knowledge Card of your business have to show the same Name, Address and Phone data. Any discrepancy is penalized by Google as an anomaly. Concordance and mismatches are verified algoritmically.
Legitimacy is further established by the web presence of your business. How does Google confirms that your business actually exists at the location you say it occupies? Google refers to various sources of data: local directories featuring local businesses. When your business has a presence in these local directories, the legitimacy of your business is better established in Google’s eyes. These points of presence are called “citations“. You need a number of them to show Google that you are legit.
Since 2018, Google has prioritized your mobile site over its desktop version. This new situation follows Google’s vision for the web: totally mobile accessible, fast and – insofar as business is concerned – hyperlocal.
This change in Google’s preferences has many consequences for business websites: they must be mobile-friendly, offer an excellent experience for mobile users, and download very quickly on a mobile device. Google measures all these points algoritmically, and expects your site to comply with its standards. Google even has invented a new language, AMP, to build mobile sites and make them faster.
Example of mobile site developed by Vanguard Web Designers
On-site SEO can’t be planned and implemented without thinking first about your mobile site.
There was much speculation back in 2012-2015 about the way Google was taking into account the presence of a website on the main social networks. The term “social signals” was coined to designate the interactions that Google could measure between social network users and businesses.
From what we know today, Google only takes into account a limited number of data coming from social networks. If your business has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, Google knows it and the social networks share a very limited amount of data with the search engines. “Social signals” have a very limited impact on your rankings in Google.
But sociability can’t just be defined in terms of social signals. There is a very strong case for connecting your website to your social media presence: both will benefit from each other in terms of driving people to your social media and from your social media to your website. Unfortunately, this connection is often not strong enough, and the benefits it could avail to a business don’t come to fruition.
If Google Analytics is installed on your site, Google keeps track of the visitor traffic you receive, and can account for the visitors coming from social media. This data gives Google an insight on how authoritative your website is, as an authoritative website will unavoidably receive a volume of traffic from social networks. Google loves authority, so the more traffic your website receives, the better it ranks in the search results.
Years ago, back in 2003-04, search engine optimization started to take a radically different turn, with website content assuming first role in the ranking factors in Google. The phrase was coined: “Content is king“. To this day, this phrase has remained true to a large degree.
Just as “location, location, location” describes the importance of the situation of a home or a retail space in real-estate valuation, the phrase “content is king” describes how much Google loves unique, fresh, and expert content. By “content” is meant text, video, images, even sound recordings.
There are multiples reasons why Google loves unique, fresh and relevant content, the most important of which are:
- Expert content ensures a great search experience for Google users
- Fresh content ensures that Google users come back on Google to find and consume more content
- Unique content ensures that Google remains the primary source of information of the world.
In the end, Google is not a philanthropic idea. They need the eyeballs to consume advertising. Google Ads program generates a lot of money. According to Statista, Google’s ad revenue amounted to almost $134.81 billion in 2019. Advertising revenue through Google sites made up 70.9% of Google’s revenues.
Google Ads revenues 2001 – 2019
When authors publish expert, unique, interesting and fresh content on Google, the search engine can remain the primary source of relevant information in the world, attract oodles of visitor traffic, sell more ad space to advertisers, and make more money. Pretty simple equation.
A virtuous circle takes place:
- As you publish new, unique, expert content, Google favors your site: you show higher in the search results
- As you show higher in the search results, you receive more visitor traffic (people looking for the information you offer)
- As visitor traffic increases on your site, Google measures the increase and improves your positions in the search results.
“Content is king” because content is useful to both Google users, and to Google to make money. Which is exactly why when evaluating your on-site SEO, you have to take a hard look at how much content you have published and are publishing on a regular basis. What makes sense financially for Google will make sense financially for you, as Google will favor your content over that of less productive competitors.
We first have to define the word “accessibility” to understand the importance of this work in on-site SEO.
Accessibility covers a number of aspects of your site:
- Adequacy of Robots.txt file
- Organization of your content on your site
- Presence of an XML sitemap
- Submission to Google of this XML sitemap
- Presence and hierarchy of meta-tags
- Presence and organization of Schema tags
- Proper documentation of photos
- Key relationships between zones of content
Matt Cutts, who used to be the main technical spokesperson of Google until end 2016, used to say that the first cause of bad rankings in Google was the lack of accessibility of the website. Unbeknownst to business owners, their website was not allowing Google to visit (“crawl”) it: in turn, Google could not index the content, and the site could not rank anywhere in the search results.
Beyond this fundamental issue, all the points of the list above are ways to help Google understand your site, your business, your services and products, in ways that are meaningful to a search engine. Accessibility is the art of bringing your entire content to Google’s attention in such a way that Google can make use of it.
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS
Google My Business is the tool offered by Google to show local businesses to Google users in their vicinity. Google My Business (GMB) is the most convenient platform for local businesses to gain local business. It associates a profile of the business with its location in its area, and therefore its presence on Google Maps.
Google My Business – Local Search results
Although Google My Business is not part of the website itself, it is such a dramatically important tool for a business’ visibility in Google that no on-site SEO worth its salt would overlook the use of Google My Business to gain visitor traffic.
These are some of the steps that any business must untertake to bring their Google My Business profile to a level where it helps their SEO:
- Bring the data inside Google My Business to a 100% completion status
- Link your Google reviews (displayed in GMB) to your own website
- Make sure you display your location on a Google Map on your own site
- Post regular updates to your Google My Business profile
- Turn on the Messenger feature in GMB and answer any message within minutes
- Answer all your reviews, good or bad
- Answer any question left by visitors on your GMB profile
There are other actions to be done, but this goes into a whole lot more details, which is typically what we start discussing in the framework of a strategic brainstorming session. If your company needs to be helped producing more leads or leads better qualified, schedule a strategy session with us. Click to go back to our home page and click on the Schedule a Call button: you will be asked to answer a short questionnaire to help determine if we are a good fit for you.
INFOGRAPHICS: BASICS OF LEGIT ON-SIDE SEO
For your reference: Hats off to PikToChart for their awesome library of beautiful infographics. This one is made using one of their templates.