Sites typically spend most of their time developing off-site SEO strategies such as building backlinks through exchanges and social media. While this is one of the most important aspects of SEO, it’s crucial not to overlook optimising through on-site practices.

As we’ve seen with numerous clients, a site can still suffer in the search engines if it’s not well optimised; despite having a large number of backlinks. Typically, they’ve spent all their time building links and forgotten the basics!

Below is a quick check list of how you can optimise your site for search engines. This is just a starting point – there are far more things to consider. Once your site is optimised as below, start link building!

1. Keywords

This is the most obvious element of on-site optimisation, but often overlooked. The keyword you are targeting should account for about 5-7% of the total copy. While many webmasters include keywords in the copy, they often forget to include them in the URL, in the page title and in the alt and title tags of images.

Remember: it isn’t 1995 – don’t hide keywords behind images, in the same colour as your background, or by using display: none in your CSS!

2. Markup

Use header tags in a clear tree format – beginning with h3 at the top of your page, then following with h2 tags for subheaders, then h3 and so on. Search engines place more emphasis on header tags, as well as bold, italic and underlined text. It is also gives your pages a high level of readability.

3. Avoid duplicate content

While it’s obvious that you can’t use the same content on more than one page (or at least it should be!), duplicate content issues don’t end there. You may be displaying duplicate content if you can access your website, without the URL redirecting, at any of the following:


The same applies for sites in html. Basically, the search engine bots access your site at the above locations and deem them all to be unique sites. To work around this you need to install some rewrite rules using .htaccess. This can be tricky, and you can potentially pull down your whole site if you make a mistake.

Don’t know what a .htaccess file is or how to make one? The below probably isn’t for you! Check back for a dedicated .htaccess tutorial shortly!

Here are the two common .htaccess rewrites you require:

Redirect http:// to http://www.

 RewriteEngine On RewriteBase / RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^$ [NC] RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301] 

Redirect /index.html or /index.php to

Don’t use both, only that which applies to your site (html or php!).

 Options +FollowSymLinks RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^.*/index.html RewriteRule ^(.*)index.html$$1 [R=301,L] Options +FollowSymLinks RewriteCond %{THE_REQUEST} ^.*/index.php RewriteRule ^(.*)index.php$$1 [R=301,L] 

4. Interlink your content

Interlinking your site makes it easily accessible; meaning the search engines find and index more of your content and they do so more often. Link relevant articles or pages to others using the anchor text that you want to rank for. You can also make links bold to give them more relevance!

5. Funnel Page Rank

If you imagine page rank as water in the bucket that is your site, each link is a hole in that bucket! That means, you’re losing (or sharing) water – page rank! If you are linking to a site or resource that you do not want to share your page rank with, simply make the link NoFollow. Just as it sounds, it means that the search engine bots will not follow your link, and so will not pass on any page rank.

You can apply the same to your internal links also; a practice known as funneling page rank. Select the least important pages on your menu and make the links NoFollow by adding rel=”nofollow” in the link code. See below for an example –

a rel="nofollow" href=""> Unimportant Page

You should still have some links to these pages without a NoFollow attribute, but employing this on your main navigation can greatly improve the page rank on pages that you do deem important. Basically, if the unimportant holes in your bucket are plugged, more page rank flows to your other pages. Great!

Go forth, optimise!

Remember, this is just the beginning – the absolute basics of your site’s on-site optimisation, though still crucial to your campaign.

If you’ve noticed your rankings improving but you require more, call the pros! The Morning Copy team has years of experience working with sites in some of the most difficult niches online and consistently gain top results.

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