In the SEO world, there is often talk of “On Page SEO” and “Off Page SEO”. This refers to your actual content and targeting keywords on your page with “On Page” while the “Off Page” work is about building up your relationships and links and citations for your site. In recent months what I like to call “In Page SEO” is becoming more and more important and a lot of small businesses aren’t even aware of what is going on.
When I refer to in page I am talking about the structure and speed of your site. I recently had a post on the importance of site speed but wanted to underline again for small business owners that the structure and speed of your site are very important. Make sure you set up Google webmaster tools on your site because they are getting better and better at telling you if you have issues. Some common issues I’ve seen in recent months that, when corrected, can often see a pretty quick and substantial boost to your search placement:
Links to Nowhere
Sometimes when you have had a site for a long time you lose track of some old links to pages you have just plain forgotten about. When search engines index your site and find links that go to pages that don’t actually exist because you have forgotten you have removed that page or downloadable PDF, etc. they downgrade your strength. Sometimes these links to nowhere are just typos that you didn’t notice when you set up your site. Be sure all of your links go to legitimate and real pages.
When you start a new domain or even redesign your site and change some of your url’s, it is important to redirect your old pages or site to your new one. The best way to do this is via 301 permanent redirects. Matt Cutts of Google talks about this here. Often when I work with a client we go in and find that they have a number of temporary redirects that they never changed and forgot about. Just make sure all of this is working properly. Another time this can cause an issue is when you choose between the www version and the non-www version and you don’t redirect one to the other, or even with the increased importance of https sites, redirecting when you switch your domain to the secure version.
As I mentioned, I talked about this in a recent post. Follow the directions there and use your analytics to make sure you don’t have an issue with site speed. Google actually even tells you ways to resolve the issue if you have one.
In general, your “In Site” mechanics such as speed and clean crawlability are becoming increasingly important and it is good to keep an eye on this stuff. If you see a quick drop in rankings, this is one of the things on your checklist to take a look at. Sometimes it is just a simple fix that is causing your headaches.