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February 6, 2015

The Golden Rules of Onsite SEO

Feeling overwhelmed by the wealth of information about onsite SEO? Yes, it’s a wildly dynamic world. Yes, it’s essential that you play by the rules or else be invisible to the all mighty search engines. But take heart; SEO is not rocket science. It’s a bundle of best practices that when followed diligently, and coupled with stellar content and website flow, can equal huge wins for your business.

This article will decipher the current mysteries of effective onsite SEO: What’s working and what’s not. Prepare to be demystified.

Golden Rule #1: Focus on Your Audience, Not Search Bots

Before you implement a single onsite technique, create an ironclad mantra that your website is tailored to your customers’ needs, not the imaginary requirements of a search bot. Search bots are finicky little beasts; their algorithms change frequently based on – you guessed it – what your customers want. So cut to the chase and design for people, not machines.

Golden Rule #2: Metadata Still Matters

All those title tags and description tags may seem like little things, but don’t believe the hype that they no longer make a difference. They most certainly do. Title tags tell web crawlers what your content is about, description tags don’t effect ranking but definitely do dramatically effect usability, canonical tags protect you from significant penalties from duplicate text. Make friends with your meta data!

Golden Rule #3: Social Signals are Near Obsolete

Remember all that hullaballoo about how social signals were the next big thing in SEO? That ship has sailed. Matt Cutts did say in 2010 that social signals had a correlation to high rankings, but this was dramatically rebutted last year when he stated: “… there was an SEO that said, ‘OK, we see a lot of links on Facebook and those are the pages that rank well.’ But that’s correlation; that’s not causation. Instead, it’s probably that there’s something really awesome, and because there’s something awesome, then it gets a lot of likes on Facebook and a lot of people decide to link to it. That’s the sort of thing where the better content you make, the more people are [going] to like it not only in Google, but in Twitter and Facebook as well.”

Heed this call loud and clear; social signals don’t move your rankings, great content does. So just like you vowed to focus on your audience and not Google’s bots, promise you’ll worry about creating amazing content and not fret about likes and tweets.

Golden Rule #4: Get to Know Semantic Search

Semantic search was quite possibly the hottest new trend in SEO last year, and it’s growing in popularity all the more this year. Semantics as a general term references the study of meaning. Semantic search, then, is an in-depth discovery of the true meaning of search terms, in respect to what the searcher is consciously and unconsciously hoping to unearth. This also means the entire search term is dissected and understood, rather than the keywords. Even pronouns are crucial and indicate a deeper meaning. The end goal is simple: Give the search the most precise list of results that directly mirrors their intention. Yes, it’s complicated, but semantic search is here to stay. The moral of this for you is to be very aware of how your customers are finding you – down to the last word.

Golden Rule #5: Earned Links are Powerful

There’s three types of links prevalent in SEO these days:

  1. Owned media and owned links: These consist of anything you yourself (or your company) created and own.
  2. Paid links: Placements you pay for on sites like Google Adwords that advertise your goods and services.
  3. Earned links: These are the golden tickets; links to your content from credible, like-minded sources that only wish to tell the word about your efforts. With earned links, quality is everything. A few links from some low ranking sites won’t do you any favors, and if they’re guilty of spammy behaviors, can even hurt your cause. Links from top tier sites that relate to your industry, however, are immensely powerful.

Golden Rule #6: Go Mobile or Become Obsolete

Mobile optimization is a vastly different game than traditional SEO, but it’s becoming arguably more important. Depending on your audience, you could very well find that mobile is the only space you should focus your optimization efforts.

First of all, bear in mind that about 50% of all searches are for local content. 50% of searches have also purchased goods from their phones, however, so this is hardly just a local’s game. According to the Mobile Marketing Association, 43% of Americans now use their smartphones as their number one search tool. And as you can guess, this number keeps rising year over year. The rule of thumb here is simple: Know your audience. If the majority of your customers are looking for you on their mobile phones, then you need to make sure you’re there for them to find.

So there you have it! The most crucial elements of SEO in the here and now.

What other essential SEO tips are you finding successful these days?


Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.

57 Responses to “The Golden Rules of Onsite SEO

    avatar Ord Allenbea says:

    Good article on SEO! It’s amazing how little SEO has really changed but so many think it has changed drastically. The same SEO tactics I taught 5+ years ago still are the top ranking factors – ALL meta data, quality content, semantically related words and phrases, and etc.

    avatar Aventura12 says:

    Thanks Tina for such a great article. Its really very helpful. I was little bit confuse on meta tag, use or not. But now i am clear its still matters. Your all points are good.

    So content is ‘still’ king and focus on your audiences needs. Ok, I get it Tina. Thanks for sharing.

    avatar rohanawheels says:


    A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing your contemplation on the SEO Process in 2015. This truly helps me and other SEO Specialists.

    avatar Buzzmeter says:

    Hello Tina..

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the SEO Process in 2015.
    This really helps me and other SEO Specialists.

    avatar Sigodang Pos says:

    Thanks, Its really brilliant.

    avatar scotwebtech says:

    thanks for the useful article !

    Very useful information with all the deep information.

    avatar Ian Anthony says:

    Hi Tina, thanks for putting this article together and really nailing down the main components of on-page SEO, it’s really useful to be reminded of the importance of covering each area to ensure success.

    Re your point on ‘Golden Rule #3: Social Signals are Near Obsolete’ I’ve just started to use Facebook as a way of referring people to my website to read articles on my subject ( I’m a pro singer and ‘Tom Jones Tribute Artist’ by the way! ).

    My website was at position three on Google for my main keywords, but jumped to position 1 after I placed three articles on my website for T.J. fans! My customer enquiries have come alive after gaining this top spot and made it well worth the effort to write and publish this new content.

    But my question is…Was this due to adding quality content or was it because Google noticed that my traffic tripled when the content was posted and gave me SEO points for the increased number of visitors???

    I’m not sure which was the main influence, but I’m certainly going to continue putting these articles together each week if it helps me keep the ‘numero uno’ position on Google!

    Thanks again for your great articles ( I always read them and learn something new ) and good luck with everything you do!

    Ian Anthony – U.K. based Tom Jones Tribute artist.

    Hi Ian! This was likely due to the content itself; you’re giving the people what they want and nothing makes Google happier. Congrats on your successes! 🙂

    avatar Fort Ramgarh says:

    Really a Great Article..!!

    avatar myke black says:

    Not sure I would agree completely about the ‘social signals are obselete’ section. The whole point of SEO is to generate good quality traffic for your site. If you are not using social media in parallel to generate traffic then you are missing out. Sure, having likes and retweets probably won’t increase your rankings, but having people look at your content via social media will help your traffic. Generating great unique content and creating share bait is a very powerful tactic.

    That is precisely my point, Myke – social signals as a means to increase rankings won’t actually work. As a means to increase your reach and stay connected with your audience, it’s essential. Just making it clear what the benefits are and aren’t 🙂

    Page load speed, one of the most crucial things regarding onsite SEO.

    Page load speed is totally important.

    Good Information but I don’t recommend buy links rather it prefer just to create natural contextual back links for website.

    avatar Jeanette says:

    So you’re quite sure that social signals are near obsolete, in terms of not contributing to ranking? What are you basing that on? (I see the Matt Cutts quote, but if you know more please share).

    I’m so sure and passionate about it, Jeanette, that a forthcoming article will be published shortly spelling out my findings. Social signals are important for overall reach and brand awareness, but they do not increase your SEO rankings. Keeping expectations in check is key – but we still need social to win the overall game of brand awareness!

    avatar John Cali says:

    Thanks very much, Tina, for your wise advice. I love the way you make technical issues simple for non-techies like me.

    thank you for sharing this experience. all must be done to get the attention of search engines and humans

    You are right, of course good content matters. But how to check a page for good content when you are not a professional texter?

    avatar Greg says:

    Thank you for sharing this is really interesting

    avatar aisha says:

    really thanks for share such a information i love this information

    avatar Saad says:

    Great Rules of Onsite SEO are discussed in the article.

    avatar wings io says:

    Thanks for the information your article brings. I see the novelty of your writing, I will share it for everyone to read together. I look forward to reading many articles from you.

    avatar Varsha Singh says:


    Wow, This is very nice post. I really enjoyed your article and great rule. Thanks for sharing your article on the golden rules of onsite SEO. I will definitely share this article with my friends. Looking forward, for your best article this year.

    avatar Richard says:

    Thanks Tina for enlightening us on the fact that seo doesn’t change much. On the aspect of social shares, Legit social shares will actually give you a boost in rankings as it shows that people are interested in your site.

    avatar usman iqbal says:

    onpage seo and offpage seo has equal importance in terms of growth. Pagesize, load time are also important in seo.

    avatar Bryan Knight says:

    By now we all know mobile is where it’s at. The challenge for non-techies like me is “how do we create good mobile content?”

    Your article is on point, as usual. And Golden Rule #6 regarding mobile may be moving up the ranks. A few days ago, I received a notification from Google that my website ( is not mobile friendly, even though when I designed it on a WYSIWYG, I purposefully kept it at a width of 980.

    avatar John says:


    It’s a shame that you have the time to write an article but don’t have the time to answer the questions that your readers ask. What’s the point of getting people to read it to begin with?

    Almost as sad as the politician who wants to hear from his constituents but only responds favorably to the ones who contribute to his/her campaign. Sad.

    Hi John,

    Sorry I don’t respond as fast as you’d prefer, darling, but I am here, I care deeply about everyone who takes the time to comment, and I do my best to stay on top of it all. Can’t ask much more of myself 🙂 Thank you for calling me out!

    avatar Mitul says:

    Great article, but still I have some doubts regarding Paid or earning links, as I was under impression that Google violate such links building.

    Hey Tina,

    It’s all about the content. You can make it pretty for search engines and your users by using H tags correctly.

    Happy readers will always trump crappy attempts at gaining SEO value the wrong way.


    Christopher Pontine

    avatar jesica may says:

    Thaks for your tips.i wil try on my site

    avatar hendrat says:

    Your article is on point, as usual. And Golden Rule #6 regarding mobile may be moving up the ranks. A few days ago, I received a notification from Google that my website ( is not mobile friendly, even though when I designed it on a WYSIWYG, I purposefully kept it at a width of 980.

    avatar faizan says:

    Your blog comments will be more effective in generating traffic for you when you include a photo of yourself.

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    You have some really great articles and I believe I would be a good asset.
    If you ever want to take some of the load off

    avatar Ugetpc says:

    greate work admin

    These golden rules are very informative and correct in daily life.

    very informative post for on-page SEO.

    Good article on SEO! It’s amazing how little SEO has really changed but so many think it has changed drastically. The same SEO tactics I taught 5+ years ago still are the top ranking factors – ALL meta data, quality content, semantically related words and phrases, and etc.

    great topic about SEO, you really present golden rules that give us really good information. Thanks Team

    Thanks a lot for sharing great rules for onsite page SEO. again thanks

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