While backlinks are super important for overall SEO, nothing helps or hurts your rankings more than on-site SEO factors. They are also some the fastest and simplest changes that can be made. Depending on the size of your website, none of these should take all that long.
To preface, there is no such thing as easy SEO fixes. There aren’t magic switches to flip or secret buttons to press that will quickly catapult you website to where you want it to be in Google. Also, this is certainly not a list of all on-site SEO ranking factors – just a few important ones that can be easily controlled and influenced by an average website owner.
Meta descriptions are meant to be a short summary of the content on your page, and they are a strong indicator to Google and other search engines of the overall content on a page. They are probably the most overlooked on-site SEO factor, as website owners often do not add them, and don’t understand the huge impact they can have on search engine rankings. If pages on your website are missing meta descriptions, or use the same meta description across pages, adding or improving them can be a simple and significant improvement.
Writing meta descriptions is a balancing act as it involves paying close attention to numerous factors. Some of which include character length, keyword variations, keyword search volumes, keyword stuffing, relevancy to the content on the page, and user experience. Simply having unique meta descriptions on your pages is a good first step in the right direction.
Much like meta descriptions, Title Tags aka Page Titles are indicators of the overall content on a webpage, and are meant to be the title you would assign to the content of a page. Unfortunately, most title tags are either neglected or abused. Either the title tags are identical throughout the entire website, or the website owner is trying to get the page ranked for 10+ keywords and includes all of them in the title tag.
Like meta descriptions, it is important to write unique and concise page titles for every page on your website. Of course, there are numerous rules and limitations that are constantly changing, like the 70 character page title rule. Or wait… is it now 55 or does it have to do with pixels instead of characters? (Get my point?) Also, there is no one size fits all playbook to follow when writing page titles, and you’ll often be able to create multiple variations for a page title that all seem to make sense. For that reason, writing page titles should be written after doing detailed keyword research.
Internal & External Broken Links
Google tells us Webmasters to not worry all that much about 404 or not found pages. They are a natural occurrence on the Internet, and website owners shouldn’t fret about 404 pages – to an extent.
It’s a different story if the original content of a page was never removed from the website and still exists. URL addresses of pages are often changed without creating redirects from the old URL to the new one, and if your website is full of broken links for that reason then it is likely hurting your SEO efforts. The issue people run into is effectively determining what pages on their website have 404 errors, and what pages are linking to those 404 pages?
Screaming Frog SEO Spider is a free software program that allows you to crawl through a website and gather useful page by page information like page titles, meta descriptions, character lengths, and more. It can also provide you with status errors on a variety of subjects, including missing meta data, duplicate meta data, aaaannndddd… 404 pages! You can then navigate to determine culprit pages where a link to a 404 page is located.
In addition to finding internal broken links, Screaming Frog also finds external broken links that you can fix. It doesn’t have as great of an impact on your own SEO, but it makes your website more user friendly.
While fixing broken links throughout your website, it’s a good idea to keep a sharp eye on the lookout for the type of text used to link from one internal page to another. For most cases, users are able to navigate through a website quite well through the website design structure, and internal links are unnecessarily created in the body copy. It’s normally fine to have them, but they can be damaging when the links are over optimized, and are created and designed for manipulating search engines instead of providing your website visitors a better user experience.
If your website is bigger than 500 pages, or your need extra capabilities that Screaming Frog doesn’t seem to offer, they have a paid version available. I’ve also heard that Deep Crawl is another great premium option.
Okay, this one might be not be in the category of “extremely easy”, but if your business is local and caters to a specific geography, then you should set up schema. Structured data like Schema can accurately inform search engines about product and service reviews, an author of an article, and for local businesses, business location and contact information.
Manually setting up Schema isn’t easy, which is why there are several Schema generators out there that can help, like schema-creator.org. Simply fill in as much information as you can, and the generators will spit out a HTML code that you can add to wherever you display your contact details on your website.Once you’ve added the Schema markup, you can test to make sure that it is working properly with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool:
Once you’ve added the Schema markup, you can test to make sure that it is working properly with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/
Improve Body Copy
This one should be easy because you know the details of your products and/or services so well. The text on your products and services pages should be as detailed and informative as possible – for both users and search engines.
Of course, it is important to understand if you are optimizing your pages for the right keywords or the right keyword variations. We often see a disconnect between the keywords used by businesses and their customers, especially in industries that use jargon, code numbers, and acronyms that the majority of their target audience would be unfamiliar with. This is why it is extremely important to conduct deep and detailed keyword research to understand what your potential customers search for and to incorporate that information in your body copy.
Unfortunately, as you may have already learned, there is no such thing as easy SEO. It is important to do detailed research and frequent testing and tweaking to make the proper “easy” fixes. Sometimes it’s necessary to have additional guidance when making SEO focused changes to your website, but it is good to understand some of the powerful on-site and easy to influence factors that have a strong impact on search engine rankings.