There’s a number of ways to categorize your SEO efforts (on-site and off-site, for instance). In this article I want to discuss on-site SEO elements as opposed to off-site strategy. In other words, I’ll provide you with tips and tools to keep your site clean and have a great relationship with search engines. This article will be useful for both professional SEO (as a refresher) and novice SEOs (to get a perspective of on-site SEO strategy).
First of all, let me define the on-site SEO strategy. For further discussion, on-site SEO strategy is a collection of tactics to ensure that
- Search engines know about your site;
- Search bots can properly index your site;
- Your pages are well-formatted for SERPs.
Second of all, it’s important to note that on-site SEO is not a one-time activity that you do at the beginning and forget about it. So, the following on-site strategy elements need to be monitored over time (weekly, monthly) depending on type and size of your site. Larger news sites need to be audited more often.
It is useful to get a hold of a good crawler tool such as SEOmoz where you can track changes in site errors and warnings on weekly basis. Or you can use desktop SEO tools such as Screaming Frog and Xenu.
Do search engines know about my site?
The way Google-bot works (discovers new pages through links) Google will eventually find your site even if you do nothing (a link or two from external resources are still needed). However, there’s a way to 1) speed up the indexing process, and 2) ensure that all new updates (new pages / categories, etc.) get indexed in timely manner. Here’s a couple of things to keep in mind
Sitemap.xml files are sitemaps in a format that is easy to understand for search engine bots. Such file is not created to humans (/sitemap.html/ or /sitemap/). It’s located in the root directory of your site for search engines to pick it up. Learn more about XML sitemaps. There’s a number of ways to generate such file once the site structure is finalized.