If you own a website, especially if it is one that represents your business, you will no doubt have heard a lot about the importance of SEO. SEO stands for search engine optimization, the practice of making a website ‘more attractive’ to the search engines in order for them to place the site more favorably within their results.
The problem is that SEO best practices are always changing. Offsite techniques that were perfectly effective and acceptable just a short time ago are now considered to be bad practice and can harm a website more than help it. It’s a frustrating situation, but one that is something webmasters have to live with.
Onsite SEO is a little different though, as the ‘rules’ there have rarely changed over the years, and yet oddly enough onsite SEO is something that is often overlooked by webmasters. Spending some time implementing some of the following suggestions though will make a positive difference that lasts, no matter what the latest search engine algorithms change impacts elsewhere.
Begin with a Professional Quality Website
There are several factors involved in having a professional-looking website. It means having a distinct look and layout that reflects your brand well and shows that you’re reliable. It means offering content that is well-written, informative and error-free. And it means having a speed, design, and site architecture that demonstrates the site was not thrown together by amateurs. Make sure your website is something that people can trust when they see it and that it enhances your reputation rather than detracts from it.
Use Keywords with Care
A great deal is made of the fact that the content you add to a website should always be optimized for the keywords and keyphrases you want both humans and search bots to associate with it in order to make it easier for anyone to find. This advice is absolutely correct and always probably will be, but keywords have to be used with extreme caution and care.
‘Keyword stuffing’, using a keyword too often, or adding it just for the sake of it, is a trap that far too many website owners have fallen into and in recent years and months have seen their websites heavily penalized by the major search engines for doing so.
There really is no such thing as a rigid guideline for just how many keywords can be ‘safely’ used in a piece of content. The simplest, and most effective, way to strike the best possible balance though is to remember that you are writing for humans and not for robots. If you can read through a piece of content and the keywords flow naturally and make sense in the context you have used them then you should be fine.
Include Viral Elements
Viral elements help spread your content to a lot of people and pique people’s interest. Examples of viral elements are comments, ratings, and sharing options (like the Facebook “Like” button or Google “+1”). People can be attracted to a website simply because a lot of people contribute to a comment thread, or because they saw a link shared on social media networking sites.
Assign a Unique Descriptive URL to each page
Giving each page a unique and descriptive URL helps search engine spiders recognize each page as separate and unique from all others. It also helps users later on when they want to return to a specific piece of information.
Avoid using dynamic URL’s, the kind that are made up of random letters and numbers. Instead, change them to shorter versions that accurately describe the page it links to. Make sure that words are separated by dashes instead of underscores though because search engines don’t recognize underscores as dividers of words.
Making these changes in WordPress is simply a matter of implementing a small tweak in ‘Settings’ once and taking a few minutes to do so will actually give your website an ongoing SEO boost without you ever having to think too much about it again.
Other than adding captions to all your photos, which many people do as a matter of course, make sure you assign a good ALT description with keywords for each of the photos. Include the words “image”, “picture”, or “photo” in these ALT descriptions so that search engines can properly read what they are. This way, when people search for images, they could be led to your website through your optimized photo.
An example of an HTML ALT description looks like this:, and in WordPress there is an easy to complete ALT description box displayed each and every time you upload an image to your site, making it easy to remember to take advantage of this SEO tactic.
Track your progress
Use tools like Google Analytics to track your progress and see whether all the hard work you’re putting in terms of onsite SEO is working. Google Analytics can help you analyze the traffic that flows into your site and show you what links people used to find your website (so you know which ones work and which ones you should scrap). The best part is that Google Analytics, along with several other great tools, are free and adding the function to a WordPress based website is simply a matter of installing a simple plugin populated with your unique tracking code.