Search engine optimization (SEO) plays an important role in digital marketing. Why? Because when done properly, SEO can improve your site’s rankings in the search results, driving more visitors to your website.
SEO is complex and consists of many moving parts, but two main components get all of the gears moving: on-page and off-page SEO. Today, we’re going to focus on the importance of on-page optimization.
If you’re new to the world of digital marketing and SEO, you may be asking “what is on-page SEO?” In this guide, we’ll give you a primer on this important topic so that you feel confident moving forward with your digital marketing plan.
What is SEO? A Brief Guide to Search Engine Optimization
SEO is the process of optimizing your website to achieve two main goals:
- Let search engines like Google know what your site is about
- Improve your site’s visibility in the search results
The higher your site ranks in the search results, the more visitors your website will receive. In fact, the first result on Google’s organic search results gets about 27.6% of all clicks.
Simply put, the goal of SEO is for your website to be the first thing people see when searching for the services you offer or accounting firms in your area.
To achieve that goal, you need to focus on building your website’s credibility (also known as off-page SEO) and optimizing your website’s content to include the right words and phrases (on-page SEO).
On-page optimization is a great place to start when focusing on SEO because it’s something that you have complete control over.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing all of your website’s pages to send the right signals to search engines like Google and improve your rankings in the search results.
The process starts with keyword research to determine which words or phrases your clients use to find accounting firms like yours. These are the terms that you will use in your website’s content and metadata to let search engines know what your website is about.
Metadata and content can include your website’s:
- Meta descriptions (snippets of text that provide summaries of your web pages)
- Page titles
- Page headers
- Blog and service page copy
Even Google says that including the right keywords in your content, meta description, title tags, headings, URLs and anchor texts can improve your visibility in Google search results.
Placing the right keyword in the right places on your web pages will help search engines understand that your website should be listed as a result when searching for that word or phrase.
Let’s say that your accounting firm is located in Cleveland, Ohio and you would like to improve your ranking for the search term “accounting firm in Cleveland.” In order to compete and outrank the top result (your competitor), you’ll need to update and optimize your pages to include this keyword phrase in key areas of your content, like your page title, the copy on the page, your URL and meta description.
To help you better understand how on-page SEO works, let’s go through all of the most important elements you need to optimize on your web pages.
Title Tags (H1 Tags)
One of the most important elements of on-page SEO is title tags, or H1 tags. As you may have guessed, your H1 tag is the title that’s displayed on the visitor’s screen and in the link to your website in the search results.
It’s important to ensure your primary keyword is at the start of your H1 tag. Why? Because putting it at the beginning of the title lets search engines know the main topic of your page as soon as they start crawling your page.
Your page’s URL can also inform search engines of your page’s topic. Ideally, you want to include your primary keyword in your URL.
A short and simple URL structure is ideal because it clarifies the topic of your page and makes it easier for search engines to crawl your website.
Here’s a great example of a simple URL structure:
Just glancing at the URL above, you already know what the page is about. Search engines will also have an easier time determining the topic of the page just by looking at the URL.
Meta descriptions are the snippets displayed in the search results and summarize the page’s content.
It’s essential to include your primary keyword in your meta description.
Your website’s content is another crucial factor in on-page SEO. It’s important to include your targeted keywords in your content, but it’s even more important to provide unique content that informs and improves the user experience.
Your content should be easy to navigate and include:
- Headers and subheaders to break up the text and improve readability
- Videos and/or images to enrich the content
- Bullet points and text boxes
Properly formatted content will be easy on the eye and also easy for readers to read through.
Presentation is important, but it’s equally important to ensure you’re providing unique content. Plagiarizing content or having duplicate content is a quick way to penalize your website and reduce your rankings.
Of course, your content should also include your primary keyword in a natural way. Ideally, you want your keyword to appear in the first 50-100 words of the content.
Along with your primary keyword, you also want to ensure that your page content includes LSI keywords (other relevant keywords) to further clarify what your page is about.
Great content, which plays an important role in on-page SEO, includes links to other pages on your website (internal links) and links to other websites (external links).
- External links should point to high-authority websites, such as research articles, case studies or government agencies (like the IRS).
- Internal links should point to other relevant pages or content on your website. Use keyword-rich anchor texts when linking.
Ensure all links are working properly and do not take visitors to a 404 page.
Site Speed and Mobile Friendliness
Two other important aspects of on-page SEO are site speed and mobile friendliness. Search engines prefer websites that are speedy and easy to navigate on mobile devices.
More people are using their smartphones to search for things online, and your website should have a responsive design to cater to these users.
These are some of the most important factors of on-page SEO, but there are many others that can further help improve your rankings. On-page SEO can quickly get complicated, especially for firm owners who have little experience with web development and online marketing. It’s often best to leave this important part of the optimization process to professionals who stay up to speed on the most impactful on-page SEO factors.
Don’t leave your on-page SEO to chance. Book a consultation with us today to get started with optimizing your website.