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There are certain things that every website must do to have any chance at coming up highly for any competitive keyword in a Google search. If you don’t do a couple of very simple things, potential clients who are searching Google for your specific services will not be able to find your company when they search for a home renovation contractor, but rather may find your competition. These things that are done on a website are called on-page factors. They are not always something that the end-user might see directly, but they do have a direct effect on your users expectation of what they might find on your site, their experience on your site and their ultimate behavior which tells Google whether your site is relevant to a specific search term.

For purposes of discussing on page factors you can control, I will presume you have already done a few of the basics, such as conduct an SEO audit, put together a keyword list and write basic content for your site. With those preliminaries out the way, we want to think about how you tell Google and someone searching for your site, what you site is all about. This starts at the very top, with your Title Tag. You want to make sure that you add in a title tag to your HTML which is between 50 – 60 characters and describes the purpose of your specific page. You should not waste space with your company name, but rather with your service and geo-modifier (town you are targeting) in this area. This title is what Google and Bing will read and display in their search results as your link name. In the same vein as the title, you want to also make sure you add a description for your page in the meta tags. You should limit your description to 255 characters or less. This tag does not have a direct impact or ranking, but it gives the user an understanding of what your page is going to do or discuss and if the user clicks off your site without going to a second page, Google will think you site may not be as relevant and this bounce rate can hurt you ranking. As such, you want to give a realistic expectation to a searcher so that if they do click on your link, they find what they are looking for and stay on your site longer.

Just like the meta tags can keep a user on your site longer, if your site loads too slow, then many people will just go somewhere else. Because of this, Google will penalize your site if it loads slower then 3 seconds. There are many tools you can use to test you site speed, such as http://gtmetrix.com. There are may things you can do to increase this speed, but the easiest is typically to optimize your images so that they use lazy loading and are smaller file sizes, and to compress your JavaScript and cascading style sheets. You also want to use some type of caching plugin if you are using WordPress. This essentially saves your site the first time someone click on it so that the next time they don’t have to reload everything but rather their browser will remember much of what was there.

It is also very important for all the pages on your site to be found and indexed by Google. The best way to do this is to create an XML site map and then upload it to your server. Once you do that, you can put a link to it in your footer in addition to submitting it to your Google Search Console. This file will tell Google where all your pages are located. If you are using WordPress, you might want to download the Yoast SEO plugin which will create this XML file and upload it for you.

Now that we discussed things a user does not see, but can affect their behavior, let’s talk about your content. You should certainly use your keywords 2 to 3 times through out your page, but also if you have a good amount of content, you want to split it up using headers such as the H1 and H2 HTML tags. Not only will this make your site easier to read, but the words that are found in your headers will be looked as more important than all other content on your site by Google. Try to only use 1 H1 tag on your site for the most important ideas and 1 H2 tag. You can use up to 3 – 5 H3 tags thereafter.

We discussed images already as it relates to their file size, but it is also important to look at the images and make sure that they server a purpose on your site. Presuming they are relevant to your text, make sure that you have added an “alt” tag to them, which tells Google what the image is all about. It is also a good idea if the image is related in any way to your geographic location to add in the town or city name in both the alt tag and also in the file name of the image so that Google attributes your location and service areas to your site. Images give you another opportunity to be geo-centric.

There are many other programmatic, style and layout on-page factors that you can tweak, but these are the basic ones that if not done properly, will hurt your ranking, but if done well can make all the difference in the world with respect to your local SEO.