How to do On-Page Optimization for New Zealand Business and eCommerce Websites (2019)
Search Engine Optimization means making adjustments to your website for the sake of Web Crawlers– program Search Engines use to index the internet– in order to get traffic from these Search Engines.
In SEO, there are two disciplines: Off-Page Optimization (building links with other websites) and On-Page Optimization (changing your website for Google’s benefit.)
This guide will take you through every step of conducting On-Page Optimization, to get the most traffic possible from Google.
Make your Life Easier
If you’re pressed for time, we have a quick cheat-sheet you can download and use to conduct On-Page Optimization for any page on your website.
Make sure your website is indexed by Google.
1. Make your website indexable
You can do all the On-Page Optimization in the world, but one particular line of code in your website can make all of your efforts for naught:
<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex” />
This tells any search engine that you do not want your website to be indexed in their directory. A web crawler skips any page that has this in its <head> tag.
How do you find out if there is a “noindex” tag on your page?
Visit your browser’s Developer Tools. This shows you, among other things, the code of the webpage you are visiting.
To access Developer Tools, or DevTools, on your browser, press “Ctrl + Shift + I” or the F12 key.
Developer Tools looks like this:
Looks intimidating, but all we need to do is bring up the search by pressing Ctrl +F:
And then type “noindex” to see if that nets any results. If it finds “noindex” somewhere on this page, then you need to go into your source code and delete it before continuing.
Is this a common occurence? Only if your website is brand new and you know that you have no organic (Search-Engine-Generated) traffic coming to your website currently.
2. Get Google to Index your Website
Even if there is nothing preventing Web Crawlers from indexing your website, it might take months before they can get around to indexing your page. After all, Google can’t just Google websites to find what should be on Google.
The good news is that you can tell Google that you’ve added a new page to your website, and get it crawled and indexed right away. You can do this using a tool called Google Search Console, which you can access by clicking here.
If you’ve never used this tool before, you will need to add your website as a “property”, which you do by clicking the drop-down menu in the upper-left-hand corner, and pressing “Add Property.”
This pop-up will appear:
These are two different ways to prove to Google that you are the owner of the website you want to index- you can either append a TXT record to your domain host, or paste some code in your website’s header.
For option one, type in your domain, with no protocol (i.e. don’t type “http://” etc.)
Then press continue.
Google Search Console will provide you with a TXT record, which will need to copy, and then paste in your DNS configuration (e.g. GoDaddy.)
Once you’ve done that, click “Verify” at the bottom of the pop-up.
This will create a new Google Search Console property.
If you’re having trouble with this, use option two, the URL prefix option.
You will have to do this four times, to cover all possible URL prefixes:
So for our website, we’d put in:
No matter what you put in, Google Search Console will ask you to verify your ownership of the site. There are five ways to do this, and Google Search Console gives you instructions on how to do each of them.
If you have Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager installed, and the Google Account you’re signed in with has Edit Permissions on either of those, verification should happen automatically.
The next easiest way to prove ownership is to paste an HTML tag in your website’s homepage header.
You can also download an HTML file and upload it to the root directory of your website:
Or create a TXT record in your Domain Name provider:
Once done, you will get access to your Google Search Console. This is what the Overview page looks like:
Now, in the side toolbar, click “sitemaps.”
Here you can add the sitemap of your website (usually it’s located at www.yourdomainhere/sitemap.xml) – this is what Google uses to crawl your website. Depending on your CMS, your site might also use “/sitemap_index.xml” – enter both just to be sure. If Google Search Console can’t crawl it, it will tell you.
Be sure to come back here and resubmit your sitemap every time you make changes to your website.
Now Google should have indexed your webpage!
Know What Keyword You Want to Rank For
While there are an endless amount of queries that searchers will use to end up on your website, there are a couple that are used over and over again in order to make it to your website.
You can easily find out what these are using Google Search Console.
Then click “Impressions” to sort the query with the most impressions to the top of the page.
Here are the most common queries for one of our scaffolding clients:
As you can see, these get a lot of impressions (how many times the search result is presented to a searcher), but their positions can all be improved, and for a lot of these, even though there are a lot of impressions, there are few clicks.
These are the keywords you want to make content for. Enter these into the world’s most annoying website, https://answerthepublic.com/ – this will give you a mind map of common questions users ask of Google, using this keyword:
All of these constitute great ideas for content creation.
Create Content that Answers Search Queries
Google’s purpose is to answer user queries. It categorizes queries into three categories:
- Informational (How to communicate with Dolphins)
- Navigational (Dolphin Communication Research Centres Near Me)
- Transactional (Buy Dolphin Translation Device NZ)
Consider what query category the searches of your page’s ideal user of this page would fall under. Then search that query.
These are the webpages that Google thinks have the best answers to this query. If you click on the first result, you can see that it’s a tour company.
The article is written in a question-and-answer format.
If you read the article, you see that the questions are repeated, just reworded. The reason why it’s this way is because they are attempting to get a “Rich Card”: the square at the top of Google Search that contains the answer to your question right there on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).
This requires some special code to be put into your website, more on this later.
How do you find out what questions to put on your own page? One way is to use the “People Also Ask” section.
Every time you open one of these tabs, three more appear.
You could easily fill your page with twice as many questions versus the top-ranking result. But how should Google know that your content is better than what’s already ranking?
Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness
It comes down to E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
LiveScience.com has been around since 2004, and has thousands of articles, all of which are written by journalists who cite their backgrounds and make themselves contactable. The articles on LiveScience.com meet a certain standard of quality, and they make it easy to contact them.
So if you want to outrank this article, you should consider positioning yourself as someone with more expertise. Add an author byline to your article. If you have written articles on different websites with your name on them, Google will use this as a metric to measure your expertise. List publications you’re featured in on your “About Us” page.
Make sure you are easily contactable, and also maintain a social media presence. All of these factors help Google determine how much you know about your topic.
Don’t be afraid to link to your sources. Experts are people who know a lot of information, and they weren’t born with it. It’s okay to research your topic, provide a more succinct answer than the source material, and then cite your sources. Remember, Google grants the top spot to the answer most likely to satisfy the searcher’s query.
Dolphins.org has more in-depth content, but it’s harder to read and not organized according to queries, which is why it doesn’t rank highly:
Additionally, Google takes brand power into consideration when determining what pages to rank first. If your website is competing with some well-established brands, you’ll have trouble beating them, even if you have more in-depth information.
Organizing great content into a query-friendly structure is the name of the game.
Let’s look at the competition for video:
Google gives preferential treatment to pages that have video content, plus it includes video Rich Cards on the SERP. Creating a video summary of your page’s content can give you a chance at appearing in this section of the SERP.
This is great if you are competing with the giants. For example, earlier this year there was a schism between Shopify and Mailchimp, resulting in the Mailchimp app being removed from the Shopify store.
A company, which may or may not be a puppet organization for Mailchimp, created an app called Shopsync.
We know a lot of Shopify users would be searching with queries such as “Shopsync Shopify Mailchimp.” We also knew that we could not outrank Shopify, Mailchimp, or Shopsync on the SERP, since these are the primary sources.
So we made a video showing people how to use Shopify. Although our article ended up ranking highly, the video outranked the article, and brought twice the amount of traffic.
And it was the first search result other than mailchimp.com, Shopify.com, or shopsync.io
The video is both hosted on YouTube and embedded on the page itself. Looking at the next-highest-ranked page, we can see that they have about the same amount of content, but do not have an embedded video, proving that Google gives preference to pages with embedded videos.
You need to also be sure that users are able to share your content. While Google does not give preferential treatment to websites that have more followers on social media sites, pages that get more social shares tend to also rank higher on the SERP.
So make sure you have share buttons, such as ShareThis, embedded on your site, so users can easily share your content if they like it.
Metadata, where SEO is concerned, is this:
The title, URL slug, and description that appears in a Google Search. Here is what you should do for each of these:
This needs to be 70 characters or less, otherwise Google will truncate it. Be sure to use the title to describe with precision the content you should expect to find on the page, and if you have space, also include your website’s brand name.
Google completely ignores whatever is written in the meta description, so the best use of this is to try to entice visitors to click on your link.
You want to make sure that the URL slug is readable by humans. If it’s gibberish, Google will not rank it as highly versus if it’s legible.
Rich Snippets and Schema Markup
Rich Snippets and Schema Markup are additional bits of code you can add to your page in order to tell Google what kind of information is on your website. Done correctly, a rich snippet looks like this:
And Schema Markup looks like this:
Rich Snippets and Schema Markup are extra bits of data Google appends to a search result, to inform users about what they might find on the page. Star ratings and prices are the most relevant Rich Snippets you’ll see, but Google has a lot of Rich Snippets applications: recipe cook times, contributing artists on an album, breaking news stories, even videos.
Google implements this using JSON-LD Structured Data. To implement Rich Snippets on your website, all you need to do is use an app, if you’re on Shopify, or a plugin if you use wordpress. Once you do, Rich Snippets will automatically appear when you come up in Google Search.
Now you know how to do On-Page Optimization effectively. This should get you ranking higher on Google Search, and get you more Google traffic! Note that you will see results slowly. This isn’t a one-and-done endeavour- you will have to constantly create content in order to get your website to rank with Google.
Be sure to download our On-Page Optimization Cheat Sheet eBook to get a no-frills guide to this topic.
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