What Are the Most Important On-Site Factors for SEO?


Your small business website needs to be optimized for search engines like Google and Bing. Each search engine utilizes many algorithms to determine which web page is most deserving of top visibility for a given keyword phrase.

Maybe you’re ahead of the game. Maybe you paid someone with SEO experience to consult on the layout, design, and content of your website. I hope that your website is a shining example of best optimization practices. But if it’s not, or you’re not sure, let’s talk about what matters most.

Here are the most crucial on-site factors for SEO in order of importance to Google’s organic search ranking algorithms:

Content quality

Google’s algorithm is constantly evolving, but one thing that has remained consistent is its focus on content quality. High-quality content is relevant, informative, and well-written. It is also original and not plagiarized.

But what should you write about? What angles should you cover? Well that’s where keyword research comes in!

Keyword research

When you are creating content, it is important to do keyword research to find the right keywords to target. Keywords are the words and phrases that people use to search for information online. By targeting the right keywords, you can increase your chances of being found by potential customers.

WIth the right keyword research tools (Ahrefs, SEMRush, AnswerThePublic, or KWFinder), you type in the main topic(s) of your industry and the tool will generate a list of phrases people search related to that topic. You’ll also get a sense of how popular each phrase is by the number of searches per month listed in the results. Now you know what YOUR people want to know, and you can write articles based on these precise phrases.

On-page SEO

On-page SEO refers to the optimization of your website pages for search engines. This includes things like using the right keywords, creating informative titles and meta descriptions, and having a well-structured (easy to use) website.

How you structure a site and make it easy to navigate is huge for SEO. We’ll talk more about that in an upcoming article.

Internal linking

Internal linking is the process of linking from one page on your website to another. This helps Google to understand the structure of your website and the relationships between different pages.

If you use WordPress as your content management system, I highly recommend adding a plugin called LinkWhisper. When you run a report, it analyzes all the pages of your site and tells you which pages and posts have no internal links to or from them. It will suggest phrases in your articles to turn into links and will suggest which pages of your site those phrases should link to. If you agree, you check the boxes and click a button and the links are added! It’s a great way to add internal linking to your website after the fact.

Off-page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to activities that you do outside of your website to improve your search engine ranking. This includes things like building backlinks, social media engagement, and participating in online forums.

Each SEO expert you speak to will have a slightly (or wildly) different take on link building. For some, it’s the life blood of their business. They will email hundreds and thousands of website owners seeking link inclusion in some random article or in a guest post. That method CAN work, to a degree, but most small businesses don’t have the time or manpower to put into link building.

I would say that in 90% of small business situations, the best link building practice is to write in-depth, quality articles about questions and issues your customers face. Demonstrate your insight and expertise. Then post snippets of your articles w/link to the original full articles on social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, NextDoor, or whichever social medial platform your customers tend to use most.

These are just some of the most important on-site factors for SEO. There are many other factors that can affect your ranking, such as the quality of your backlinks, the popularity of your website, and the amount of time people spend on your pages.

If you want to improve your website’s ranking in search engines, it is important to focus on all of the factors that can affect your ranking. This includes both on-site and off-site factors.

I’m building a list of tools that I recommend. You’ll find the list here. It’s still in process.

About the author

Daniel Dessinger is the founder and chief strategist at Search Matters. He served dozens of local and Fortune 500 clients in SEO and user experience from 2006 to 2012. He has been the tech and SEO behind the popular health and wellness website Mommypotamus.com. He's built 40+ websites on the WordPress platform and currently enjoys tinkering with GeneratePress and a host of online tools.

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