For most small and mid-sized businesses, website-optimization services can deliver an excellent return on investment. If you haven’t optimized your site to rank well on search engines, which is called “on-site optimization,” it is time to do so. But acquiring organic (unpaid) rankings isn’t easy. After all, every business wants its website to be number one.
Google doesn’t publish its search algorithm, the mix of 200-plus factors it weighs to determine where your site will appear for relevant search queries. And to make matters even more challenging, Google changes its algorithm often. Staying abreast of the ever-evolving secret sauce requires research and diligent monitoring.
At Charlottesville SEO Web Development, we adapt our tactics and search optimization tools to obtain high placement for our clients’ websites. We are committed to using best practices, steering clear of any black-hat techniques that could be perceived by the search engines as trying to game the system.
Among the many variables we evaluate when handling SEO for our clients are the following on-site optimization factors.
The Importance of Keywords
The search engine optimization process begins with keyword selection. What words are your prospective customers using when they search for a business that sells your products or services?
Keyword research identifies popular search words as well as the relative competitiveness of those terms.
After identifying and prioritizing targets, we can optimize each page for just one or two main keyword phrases. Tailoring content with a narrow focus, or long-tail keyword, usually yields better rankings than a creating content that targets a broader subject.
Effective Title Tags
Once we’ve selected your keywords, we’ll weave them into the copy. But that’s not the only place they’ll go. We’ll also use them to craft your title tag, which is part of the metadata that tells Google about your page’s subject matter and appears in search results.
Brand recognition is one of several factors we consider when crafting your title tags.
Keyword Prominence Trumps Keyword Density
For several years keyword density — a ratio determined by the number of times your keyword appeared on a page divided by the total word count — was priority one. That practice often resulted in many pages containing keywords repeated over and over.
Currently, keyword density is less important than keyword prominence, the position keywords appear within the copy. That’s why we include your keyword in the first 100 words of your page. Additionally, we use your keyword in your headline and at least one subhead. That tells Google, as well as your visitor, what your page has to offer.
Of course, we’re continually tracking results so that if Google reduces the value of keyword prominence and instead gives more weight to some other variable, we can make adjustments. Monitoring and agility are critical to SEO success.
Using Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords in your copy gives Google further clues and confirmation about the subject matter of your page. LSI keywords are synonyms or terms related to your primary keywords. In fact, often they’re paired.
If your page is about baseball, for example, some LSI words might be baseball games, baseball scores, and baseball rules. At Charlottesville SEO Web Development we conduct research to identify the best LSI keywords to use and then creatively weave them into your copy.
Making the Most of Alt Tags and Captions
Google sees words, not pictures. But you can use alt tags to help Google identify the content of images. A few words will usually do the trick. When possible, we include your keywords in those alt tags.
Depending on your page layout, we may be able to add captions to your pictures. These brief descriptions offer yet another opportunity to incorporate your keywords.
Pages Must Load Quickly
Pages must load quickly to avoid losing visitors. Page-load speed also affects your search rankings.
We evaluate and improve the loading speed of your pages. We can address any technical issues that hinder performance and could have an adverse effect on your Google ranking.
Social Sharing Helps Promote Your Content
Social sharing buttons, such as those for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn make it easy for visitors to share your page to their network of friends and associates. We place buttons in a prominent place on your website.
Long Copy vs. Short Copy
The debate continues over whether lengthy copy is more effective in communicating its message than short copy. However, Google leaves no doubt about its preference. For competitive keywords, long text ranks higher than short text.
We won’t add unnecessary words or irrelevant details to your copy. Instead, we’ll research the subject matter and fill your page with well-organized, useful information.
Monitor Visitor Engagement
Bounce rate is an effective way to measure visitor engagement. It is the ratio of visitors who “bounce” away from your site without visiting another page, divided by total visitors.
If people click on the link to your site and then quickly leave, Google notices. A high bounce rate tells the search engines that your site is not delivering on the goods. Visitors arrive there and don’t find what they want, so they leave.
At Charlottesville SEO, we strive to increase the dwell time visitors spend on a site by creating high-quality, focused content. We make sure the headline and first paragraph are engaging. Finally, we include internal links close to the top of a page so visitors can immediately see what else is available and will choose to explore the site further rather than hitting their back button.
Increase Your CTR
If searchers rarely click on your site in search results, Google will think you’re not a good match for the keyword searched, and your ranking will go down. The opposite will happen if your site appears to be a click magnet.
One of the best ways to increase your click-through rate (CTR) is with a compelling meta description, which is the brief text snippet Google will display in its results. Our professional copywriters write quality meta descriptions that score high CTRs.
On-site Optimization to Improve Your Ranking
The above tactics are just a few of the many on-site optimization strategies that can enhance your website’s search engine ranking. However, SEO is a complex and ever-evolving field. Keeping abreast of best practices can be challenging when Google keeps changing the rules.
Unfortunately, mistakes can have severe consequences. Do something that Google has suddenly decided is verboten, and you could find your website exiled to Internet Siberia, never to be seen again in search engine results.
It pays to play it safe. We can help. Our SEO professionals are up to date on the latest optimization best practices. They’re skilled at crafting quality pages that rank well and maximize conversion rates.
Want to know more? We’d be glad to chat with you about SEO. Call Charlottesville SEO Web Development today at 434-284-2840! After hours (Virginia time), please use our brief contact form.