In the world of online marketing, it is hard to keep SEO out of the conversation. After all, driving traffic to your website requires visibility, and what better way to get noticed than to ensure that your content ranks well on major search engines.
Of course, there is far more to SEO than keywords and SERPS, yet all too many businesses base their entire SEO strategy on creating widespread content, with strategically placed backlinks. Yet, while this offsite SEO can certainly benefit your business, it is vital to ensure that your website is up to scratch before you worry about the state of your external SEO.
After all, there is no benefit to an increase in traffic if that traffic is immediately deterred by an under-optimized website. Furthermore, your on-page SEO has long-term benefits for your business that exceed any you are likely to receive from other sources.
Here are a few of the reasons prioritizing your on-page SEO is so important, and what you can do to ensure that your SEO strategy is up to date.
Save Time and Money
The most obvious upside to putting on-page SEO first is that it significantly reduces the amount of time, energy, and resources required to get results. While offsite SEO can often have some great returns, you may have to pay for the right to post on other blogs, and it is possible that you will have to compromise on the style and tone of your content in order for it to be accepted.
Meanwhile, your onsite content can be structured in line with your brand’s identity, and your preferred tone. Furthermore, you will be able to choose when to schedule it, how to display it, and even whether you wish to rehash or repurpose any of your content in the future.
Not only does this save a lot of potential confusion, as you will be working to your own specifications, but it also gives you far greater control over your use of individual SEO techniques. This means a more effective and cohesive strategy overall, as each element will have been planned alongside your other marketing endeavors.
Improve Your SEO Knowledge
The more you work on your on-page SEO, the better you will become at recognizing how and when to optimize individual elements. There are several areas that you will need to cover, and mastering each of them can often take a significant amount of time, research, and commitment.
- Keyword research and assignation. This is often the first thing that springs to mind when someone mentions SEO, but it is just one part of a much bigger picture.
- Image SEO. Everything from the filename and format to the alt text and originality of the image can play a part in your ranking success.
- Title tags and meta descriptions. Not only are these more places to include carefully selected keywords, but they also impact how results for your site appear in search engines.
- Content scheduling. Having quality, original content is only half the battle; you also need to release that content regularly, and at times best suited to the habits of your intended audience. Online store creators like Shopify include user-friendly applications to facilitate this, and of course if you’re using WordPress, you can choose this option when you go to publish your post
Of course, there are far more facets to master, but these are a few that you should focus on to ensure that you are getting the most out of your on-page SEO.
Reap Enduring Benefits
The control you have over your onsite SEO lends a level of stability and consistency to your website, and by extension its search engine rankings. The traffic from offsite SEO efforts can dwindle or fluctuate, which can not only be discouraging, but may also decrease your site’s visibility.
Establishing strong SEO on your own site, however, will help to build authority, ultimately having a more permanent impact on the overall success of your business. As the reputation and age of your business increases, a powerful on-page strategy will make it far easier to expand your enterprise, and maintain a cohesive SEO profile as you do so.
Think of it like filing paperwork; it is far easier to come up with a structured system, and refine it over time, if you get things in order on day one. If you wait until you are inundated with documents, it suddenly becomes a far more cumbersome task.
As such, your on-page SEO is a form of future proofing; it forms the basis for your business’ growth, whilst simultaneously driving the traffic that will fuel that growth.
Create More Organic Traffic
Focusing your attention on optimizing your website does not mean that you will have no traffic being driven by external sources. In fact, with a polished and authoritative website, there is a high chance that you will eventually receive organic links from unaffiliated individuals.
If you are curious about your traffic sources, you can view Search Console data via a Google Analytics account. Not only will this enable you to understand the performance of your existing SEO efforts, but it can also help you to identify audiences that you could be targeting, but as yet are not.
Polish Your Website
Just as great SEO will help your website become more visible, and receive more traffic, the steps you must take to improve your SEO will simultaneously optimize and streamline your website as a whole. As a large part of SEO stems from the accessibility and cohesion of your website, you will need to create a well-organized, intuitive site in order to achieve the rankings your business deserves.
- Create structured, intuitive URLs. This is particularly important if your website has a large number of pages. For example, an ecommerce site can benefit significantly from using URLs that categorize product pages by the item’s type, brand, and department
- Build a site map. This aids crawler navigation, and also makes it easier for you to plan associations between pages, or add new sections and subsections
- Improve loading times. Website that are slow to load are not only frustrating for users, but also give web crawlers a harder time. As such, optimizing loading times for the sake of your SEO will have the all-round benefit of making your site more pleasant to use
- Plan concise, informative alt text, meta text, and intuitively-worded title tags. This information will show up in searches, so should be kept brief and relevant. These rich snippets as they are often known need to stand out enough to encourage users to follow the link to your website over any other. Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool is a good place to start if you want to preview and optimize rich snippets for your website
Credit: Screencap from Structured Data Testing Tool
Search engine crawlers need to index your website in order to properly evaluate it and assign a rank. As such, the more organized and simple to navigate your site is, the easier it will be for the crawlers to interpret and index everything, which will help you achieve a better ranking overall.
In order to ensure that you are making their job as straightforward as possible, Schema provides a comprehensive library of microdata tags and general vocabulary, understood by major search engines, such as Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo!
Have the Freedom To Experiment
One more benefit of focusing on your website is that it gives you far more license to split-test and optimize your content. As you have full control over your content, and how and where it is displayed, you can make changes as required, repurpose content, and gain valuable insights from your onsite analytics.
Offsite SEO is not always as straightforward to manage, as you may not be able to change or control certain items that could be connected with your business. For example, you may create a series of guest posts, only to discover that your links have been removed, or that your copy has been edited beyond recognition.
In contrast, your on-page SEO is completely within your control. You choose what to keep, and what to change, and you will be able to analyze the consequences of those decisions. Continuous testing will then enable you to keep improving your SEO, along with your website’s UX and UI, so you can maintain your brand’s success as time goes on.
Offsite SEO Can Always Come Later
Remember, focusing on your on-page SEO by no means suggests that you should forget about offsite SEO for good. It is absolutely worth exploring these options once you are happy with the state of SEO on your website.
As with all marketing, however, the bulk of your returns will come from a small proportion of your work, and it makes sense to ensure that you have nailed SEO closer to home, before starting over with the complexities of external SEO.
Once you have a strong foundation to work from, building linkbacks and developing offpage SEO will also become far simpler, as you will have a quality, authoritative site to which you can link.
Your site is the face of your business, and may be the first interaction a potential customer has with your brand. As such, it is important to make it shine. By optimizing your on-page SEO you will create a positive impression in search engine results, backed up by an intuitive, informative, and easy to use website.
Ultimately, the goal of your marketing efforts, and all the energy you put into enhancing your SEO is to increase the popularity of your website, and in the case of ecommerce stores, to drive sales. Paid ads and backlinks may bring people to your site, but it is the content and quality of the site itself that will determine the success of your business.
Finally, remember that every search that succeeds as a result of your on-page SEO is driven directly to your website, not via an external source which could cause traffic to go astray. So take the time to ensure your website is achieving its full potential, and from there you will be able to refocus your efforts according to the needs of your business, and your aspirations for its future.
Victoria Greene is a branding and growth expert who runs a blog called Victoria Ecommerce.
Here she shares tips with growth hackers and business owners looking to boost engagement and sales.