According to SEOmoz’s ‘Google Algorithm Change History’ so far this year we have seen 34 search-related updates deployed from Google. These have included revisions to Panda (on site page and layouts), the release of Penguin (marking the end of link building), Exact Match Domains (EDM) losing their authority and Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) increasingly displaying 7 results instead of 10.
Keeping up with all these changes can be challenging, so to make life easier for you we have put together 5 steps to getting On-Page SEO right for 2013.
1. Make sure you still cover the basics
Many Search Engine Optimisation tactics now referred to as ‘old school’ are still important and should not be disregarded. So when considering your options when optimising a page for a keyword/key phrase, make sure to include it in your:
- Title Tag and ideally placed at the start of the tag
- Friendly URL
- H1 tag, but make sure your H1 tag differs from your Title Tag
- Page content
- Image alt Tags
- Contextual internal links
2. Write your content with the Searcher in mind not the Search Engine
It’s very easy to fall into the frame of mind, when creating content, of contemplating how a search engine will approach it. Don’t do it! Simply set out to write your content to fulfil what your intended recipient is searching for. There’s nothing wrong with using Google’s Keyword Tool or Google Trends to find out what people are searching for. In fact in doing so you are actively providing more value, by addressing real time issues of your potential audience.
The great thing about using content to connect with people is that they start to build trust in you. By providing a solution to their problem, they will be more inclined to share your content and their experience through their social channels. In turn this will result in increase of traffic and Google taking note of new social links to your site.
3. Get Responsive or get left behind
This point goes a bit beyond simply optimising on-page factors, however having a responsive website design could be your silver bullet in 2013. Mobile and in particular smart phones are now more popular than ever. 4G has just been released and now your iPhone 5 is faster than your home broadband. With that in mind you also have the convenience of taking your phone out your pocket to check something online rather than getting the laptop out and powering it up. Rapidly increasing numbers of users are turning to their smartphone or tablet to search online, so having a website that will display clearly across multiple devices is going to be a must.
4. Value your SERP with your life
If I placed a selection of cakes in front of you, that you knew nothing about and asked you to choose one chances are you would select the one that was most appealing to your eye. Your search engine listings should be no different. With 10 places increasingly becoming 7 you have to make sure your listing is outstanding. This means having an epic Title, a compelling Meta Description and a friendly URL. Most importantly, as the cherry on the top, use the Rel Author tag to put your Google+ profile thumbnail image next to your listing.
Which link above would you click? A simple search for “mashable facebook” displayed both results from mashable.com and despite the top listing being above Pete Cashmore’s guidebook, I would put my money on Pete’s listing getting far more visits and a higher click through rate (CTR) as a result of implementing these tips.
5. Make it easy for Google to help your visitors
By defining only one topic keyword per page, you make not just Google’s life, but any search engine that indexes you content’s life easier. The last thing you need after creating new content is the search engines not understanding what a page is about. Worse yet is having several pages on your site competing for the same key phrase. It is vital that you have a clear search strategy in place; every page should have both a primary topic keyword, yet most importantly deliver relevant value to your audience.
Many top SEO professionals are talking about the importance of content as we close out this year. With many backlinking methods being made obsolete, your search engine rankings are going to depend on how well your write your content, optimise it correctly and deliver real value to your readers. Content must be compelling enough that readers will want to link to it and share it. This will allow you to earn the links you need to achieve strong rankings and is something we will cover in an up coming blog post.