Is On Page SEO Important?
Recently there has been a trend by many in the SEO/SEM business to downplay the importance of on-page technical SEO in favor of content, social media and inbound marketing. Granted, from a search engine algorithm perspective, technical on-page SEO factors play a much smaller role than do some of these others factors however, this should not be construed to indicate that on-page SEO is not important. As SEOs we sometimes tend to indicate that factors such as keyword placement, titles, meta tags, etc are the keys to on-page SEO but I would disagree. This view comes from placing more importance on how search engines view your website than do users and this is a big mistake. On-page SEO also includes the overall usability of your site, or how visitors and search engines are able to navigate and find the information needed. Users that cannot find what they are looking for will bounce off and go elsewhere. Short duration visits, fewer return visits and high bounce rates will do more to damage your SERP than having poor titles and meta tags. Great content that users cannot find will do nothing to improve your sites visibility in search engines.
Problems with Some On Page SEO
As an example, I recently was on a website shopping for something. The site was well organized, product listing were detailed with great images and the pricing was reasonable. I had selected my items and was now ready to complete my purchase but ran into their checkout. Their checkout was so complex and required so much information (some of which I did not want to provide) that ultimately I left the site and went to another. Usability on their checkout process cost them a customer and how many others experienced the same frustration at the end of the sales funnel? Another case involved a site that provided a service. They offered a free information packet to be mailed out and a form to fill out to have them send one. The problem was that they asked for over 20 items; name, address, home phone, work phone, cell phone, email address, and the list went on and on. At this point I was not sure I was even going to purchase their service so I was not ready to give them my life story for their information packet and left the site. Simply asking for name, email address or mailing address was all they needed. Their process resulted in an unfavorable user experience and probably lost them potential customers. Both of these sites had great looking, easy to navigate sites with outstanding content but drove away a customer at the very end of the sales funnel.
With literally millions of websites to choose from and only a mouse click to move to another site, businesses cannot afford to give their visitors a bad user experience. Clear and intuitive navigation, search bar, sitemaps all can help the user experience. Understanding what your visitors are looking for and providing them the smoothest path to that product, service or information is the key. Read Shari Thuorw’s article “SEO Smackdown: Information Architecture vs. Technical Architecture” to gain a better understanding on how the user experience is so important. Give the reader quality content and a pleasant user experience on your website and you will have a return visitor.
All of this is not to diminish the importance of on-page technical SEO. A site that has numerous omissions in coding, bad coding, missing tags, titles, uses coding that is difficult or impossible for search engines to crawl is only hurting themselves. Although the weight of these items is far less in the eyes of search engines than in past days, they still hold some value and there is no excuse for a website designer to simply overlook them in the drive to create something dazzling. Remember that internet users that do not know you exist must first find your terrific website. The majority of those users are doing that through search engines. Look at the analytics for almost any website and you will find that the majority of traffic is organic. Do not hamstring your site, even a small bit. Your competition is surely going to be doing everything possible to improve every aspect of their site, including on-page SEO.
Need Help with On Page Technical SEO?
If you are in doubt as to whether your website is driving away traffic contact Advance Web Promotions for an SEO Audit.