arnold on Feb 05, 2019
On Page SEO (or On-Site SEO)
So far this week you have read a how-to guide by Google about how to do on-site optimization and a couple other articles that broke it down a little more simply. With this guide I am going to try to break SEO down as simply as possible so that anyone can understand the basics of what is considered a difficult topic.
SEO has two primary components which are On-page (On-Site) optimization and Off-page (Off-site) optimization. On-Site SEO focuses on what you can do on your website to rank higher in the search engines. Off-Site (which we will touch on next week) is what you do away from your website to rank higher in the search engines (link building).
The next thing to mention about On-Site SEO it that there is a lot of things that go into it. For every client that I have, I could easily spend 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year doing nonstop SEO work on each website.
For this class, I am only going to be able to cover about 5% of what I could if this course was only about On-Site SEO. The good news is that I am going to focus on the most important On-Site techniques and if you do everything I teach you for your website then you will be better than 90% of the website that are out there. You can get really good results in the search engines by sticking to the basics and learning some good SEO habits.
Good On-Site SEO in 100 words or less:
Good SEO starts with amazing content. If you have content that people love then you will have an invisible army of people sending triggers to Google about what a great page you have. Besides content, you need a responsive website that loads fast and this starts with good hosting and optimized images. You need very descriptive meta tags and an XML sitemap so that Google knows what your content is and where your content is. You also need an effective keyword strategy that naturally incorporates your keywords into the correct areas of your website. Your site should be monitored and pages improved with SEO tools.
If can do only those things, you will be putting yourself in a position to rank on your preferred keywords.
Getting Started With Some Digital Marketing Tools
The First thing we are going to do is install some important SEO tools. We will use these tools to help make changes to our website and to help us monitor our website.
Go ahead and load your lawn care website and get logged in to continue on.
The first thing we are going to install is Google Analytics. With Analytics we are able to learn enormous amounts of information about our websites. On a basic level, analytics will tell you how many people are visiting your site, how they found your website, how long they stayed, which content they viewed, where they are from, what devices that are using, etc.
If you want to play around with some real live analytics you can access the Google Store account (but you need to sign up for an analytics account first):
1. To Install Analytics please visit the following page and complete the instructions.
2. Once you have analytics installed please configure Google Search Console with the following instructions.
Once you have Analytic and Google Search Console Installed please continue on with the rest of the instructions below.
To recap, you just installed Google Analytics with help from the Monster Insights plugin and then you set up a Google Search Console account to track how well your website is doing in the search engines. You verified to Google that you own your website by installing a meta tag on your website. You also installed Yoast which is a wordpress plugin that is used to optimize WordPress website.
The next thing we are going to do is make some change to our WordPress website in accordance with the suggestions by Google for an optimized website.
In the Google SEO guide you read it is recommended that you:
We are going to do this. But first we will start with the Site Title of the website. This is a good place to work in your site-wide primary keyword. What you enter for the site title is what will show up in the tab at the top of the website page. To change the site title go to your dashboard in WordPress.
As shown below, click setting and then general and you will see a few website settings. The first thing we want to do is edit our website title. The Site Title is displayed in the title bar of a web browser and is usually displayed in the header. The tagline is a short description or catchy phrase that describes what your blog is about. We already changed this in the customize option but I wanted to show you another place where you could change it.
The next thing we are going to do is edit our page titles as suggested by Google. To do this we are going to use our Yoast plugin we installed. When we installed it, it embedded itself in the backend of every page.
Go to the homepage of your website. Then click EDIT PAGE as shown below:
Scroll down until you see the YOAST settings and enter the focus keyphrase (or keyword) for your homepage as shown below:
The focus keyword is not looked at by Google. It just helps Yoast know what keyword you want to rank for on that page. Since it is my homepage I want to rank on my company name. Once I put the focus keyword in, Yoast will take a look at the page and let me know how well I am doing. As of right now I am not doing so great. Yoast is giving me an orange button as you can see at the top of the picture above. Let’s make a couple more improvements.
Click on EDIT SNIPPET.
Then edit the SEO TITLE. This is the Page Title Tag that Google was talking about. Put a SEO Friendly title there and try to use your keyword early on. Then do the same thing for the meta description which is what Google will show people in the SERP when your result comes up.
The last thing I did was add Arnie’s Lawn Care a few more times on the website. Yoast reminded me that I did not have the keyword in my homepage text. Once I did this I got the Green Circle seal of approval from YOAST.
**Take a screenshot that looks like this ^^^ to turn in. (Do not worry too much about green and orange. If it is red there is a problem but green or orange is good for Yoast).
The Google guide gives all the best practices for the meta tags so please be sure to review those.
Help Google Find Your Content:
The following is from the top of the google SEO guide:
In order to help Google find our content we always need to create a sitemap of all our content. The best sitemap is an XML sitemap because it has multiple sitemap “directories.” For example it can tell Google all the pages on your site in one file, and all the images on your site in another file.
Nowadays there are plenty of plugins that will create XML sitemaps for us. One of those plugins is YOAST which we already installed. I will first show you where to find your sitemap URL and then show you how you can share it with Google, which is through your Google Search Console.
To Find you XML Site Map with YOAST, log into the back of your WordPress Dashboard.
Hover over SEO and then click GENERAL. Next Click on Features and then click the question mark ( ? )next to the XML SITEMAPS. All this is shown in the image below.
Your Sitemap will look something like this:
This Sitemap was automatically created by YOAST. You can play around in the Sitemap to see your content. You can’t break anything here.
Also, write down the URL of your sitemap because you will need it shortly. Your sitemap is going to be: www.YourURL.com/sitemap_index.xml
If you get a 404 error: Sometimes resetting the permalink structure will quickly solve a 404 error from a recent change to your installation. Go to Admin > Settings > Permalinks and click save without altering anything.
Now that we have a sitemap created by YOAST we need to tell Google where they can find our sitemap so they will always know when we create new content.
Log into your Google Webmaster tools.
Then click on your website title in the top left. Most of you will just have the one website already selected.
Next Click on SITEMAPS Then enter your XML sitemap url. You will only be entering sitemap_index.xml Once you enter that click submit as shown in the image below.
You should get a message that look like this:
You have now officially given Google the Sitemap to your website.
**Take a screenshot that looks like the one below to turn in.
We always want to do everything we can to make our websites run as fast as possible. The reason for this is because Google will not show websites in the search results that load slowly. Google wants the experience of users to be as flawless as possible and people are generally unwilling to wait for slow sites to load.
Making a website load fast starts with good hosting. If you buy $7 a month hosting you are probably on shared hosting where your website is being hosted along with hundreds of other websites. The performance can be impacted by how busy the other websites are. The managerial implication of this is to not go cheap on hosting. Once you have good hosting I always use a CDN service as well to ensure my websites load quickly no matter where people are accessing it from. To read more about CDN’s you can click here.
There are several tools we can use to help us speed up our website. I personally use:
Doing a scan with these tools will show us how fast our websites are loading and what we can do to improve our websites to make them faster.
Images & Alt tag:
One of the main ways a website gets slowed down is with oversized images. There are two ways to reduce an image. The first is to reduce the size of it. If you are serving a 600 x 400 image in a blog post then don’t upload an 1800 x 1000 image and make your website reduce the image. When someone comes to your website they will still need to download the full image before it gets reduced which slows down load time. So always reduce images to the size you know will be served.
The second step is to reduce the image size using a file reducer. I already showed this class TINYPNG.com which is used to reduce the file size of images without change the actual size of the image or the quality.
Alt tags are what Google reads to know what an image is. Also, the (ADA) Americans With Disabilities Act is being expanded online and it is going to become mandatory for most websites to have their alt tags edited as website reader programs read the alt tags out loud to persons with eyesight disabilities.
Alt tags should be accurate and descriptive and you should always try to work in a keyword if it is natural. Don’t stuff keywords as Google knows when they are out of place. Lastly, give your image file a good name before you upload the image to your website.
The following process is what you should do every time you upload an image to your website. You need to get in the habit of always reducing images and labeling them when creating content for websites. It is tedious but really helps with site speed.
1) Find out how big the image needs to be and reduce it down to that size.
2) Run it through https://tinypng.com/
3) Give it a descriptive name
4) Upload to your website.
5) Edit the Alt tag to something that describes what the picture is.
Mobile Friendly and Responsive Design:
The last thing that is important for managers to know about On-Site SEO is that Google is switching to mobile first indexing now that more than 50% of website traffic is through cell phones. Additionally, 80% of global traffic is predicted to be mobile by the end of 2018. What this means is that Google is ranking your website in the SERP’s by looking at the mobile version of your website. If your website is not mobile friendly then you will not rank as high as competitor’s websites that are mobile friendly.
Responsive design is when your website automatically adjusts to the size of the screen it is showing on. Five years ago only a portion of websites were responsive but now the majority of websites are. If your website is not responsive then you need to get a new website that is responsive if you want to rank in the SERP as Google typically won’t show sites that are not responsive.
To test the mobile friendliness of your website, Google has a scanning tool that will tell you how Google ranks it and what you can do to improve. I will demo this scan in the video as well.
Here is the link for the scan: https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/
Once you have completed this guide please complete the assignment which is going to be submitting some screenshots of the work you did today.
Make sure that you:
1) Changed the title tag on your lawncare website to something descriptive with the yoast plugin.
2) Change the Description tag on your lawncare website to something descriptive with the yoast plugin.
3) Found Your XML Sitemap with YOAST and upload it to your Google Webmaster tools.