I'm going to say it.
I reckon SEO just isn't that complicated.
It's a bit hypocritical of me to say as I'm a regular attendee at SMX (including the advanced track day).
However, I came away from the last conference in May realising that while good SEO is a lot of work, it's actually a pretty simple process for the most part.
Link prospecting is probably the only relatively complicated bit (I'll cover that in my next post), but with the way that search engines are going it's getting more and more clear cut what your strategy should be.
It's really made up of two parts.
1) Get your fundamental site content and content structure right (on-page).
2) Add a lot of value and get the word out about the value you've created (off-page).
In a nutshell, it's really that simple and you shouldn't need to be concerned that you haven't tweaked your site enough to get the rankings you want.
Let's take a look at the on-page essentials so you can make sure that you're doing this stuff on your site. Once you're up to speed on this (if you're not already) then you're done. Forget about tweaking anymore. Just focus on adding more value.
By the way, this stuff works. Have a read about the recent article where I doubled my search traffic with just on-page changes.
Go through the list and see what you might need to improve on. Let's go.
Picking the right keyword focus
Before you create any content, it's important that you figure out what people want to know and what keywords they are using to find out that information.
If you are just at the beginning of the journey of building your online business, I suggest that you start here.
This is a no brainer, however, you've got to make sure that you've got a great title tag with just 1 or 2 main focus keyword phrases in the title.
When we talk about the title tag, this is the bit that you see at the top of the browser tab and it's what the search engines use in their search results normally. It's the part in the HTML code that uses the <title>Title Here</title> tags.
This is the pattern I recommend.
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
It should be no longer than 50-60 characters long.
Forget about the meta description as a place where you load your keywords. Think of it as a PPC ad that is written to make people click.
Compare these two approaches for a bicycle store trying to rank for “merida road bikes” and think about which one you'd be more likely to click on.
Meta Description 1: Merida road bike, merida road bikes, road bicycles, merida, road cycling, merida road bicycles.
Meta Description 2: Looking for Merida road bikes? We stock the largest range at the lowest prices. Free shipping.
One is written for a person (with a hat tip to search engines) and the other is just written for search engines.
Write for people.
Usually the heading tags are used for the headlines and sub-headlines within a page. They should be written for users, however, should include your primary target keyword phrase. It should be of the <h1> variety.
It is beneficial if you also include a <h2> or <h3> as well with your secondary target keyword phrase.
Have Enough Content on the page
Make sure you have enough content on the page and ensure that the content is thematically clear. So you should have at least 300 words ideally, and those words should be about the topic that you're trying to rank for.
So have a think about your primary focus keyword phrase and then use words that are thematically related to that. For example, using synonyms within the copy to leave clues about the subject of your entire page.
Bold your keyword phrase a few times
It doesn't hurt to bold your main keyword phrase one or two times.
Get the Internal linking right
You can improve internal links in two pretty simple ways.
Using the Yoast plug-in you can add breadcrumbs to your site so that Google can better understand your site structure.
You can also use PrettyLinkPro to look for certain keywords which then automatically link to different parts of your site.
This would send keyword rich signals to help those individual pages rank.
So… yeah… I don’t know exactly how much impact they have.
To be on the safe side, you should ideally try to get people to post about your content on the social networks. You can do this by adding share icons to your site. For example the colored ones you can see on the left hand side of this page.
The other thing you should try to ensure is an obvious connection between your Facebook page and your Google+ page. You can do this by using the Yoast plug-in very easily which adds the right Open Graph data.
What is really cool is if you can set up the proper Twitter cards which means that when people share any of your content on Twitter, it shows not just the text based tweet, but also includes a rich version of it including a photo.
REMOVE DUPLICATE CONTENT, Broken links AND USE CANONICALS
Ensure that your site software (most already do) use the rel=canonical functionality to tell Google that there is only one version of the page, even if there are other variables appended to the end of the URL.
I use SEO Spider from Screaming Frog to look for duplicate content, broken links and missing title tags and meta descriptions.
You can see how that software works below.
Have you done those things?
So have you applied those things to your site?
You have? Great!
Now you can stop tweaking the on-page stuff and just focus on building value for your readers.
Oh… if you disagree with me or have questions, hit me below.