Here at Page One Power we are a link building firm, and On-Page SEO is taken for granted. Yet we understand that SEO is a many-pieced puzzle, and that all parts need to be handled appropriately for true optimization. And because SEO is such an in depth process, it’s easy to forget a few basic steps, which can at times be crucial. So to that end, we thought we’d provide a little back to basics reminder for those who might be overlooking the basics of SEO.
On-Page SEO is centered on garnering better recognition for your keywords by increasing search engines’ ability to recognize them. Essentially, you’re making your site easier to read and be recognized by search engines, as well as optimizing your keyword usage. To do this, in simplified language, there are 4 important elements to target for strong and efficient On-Page SEO. These are HTML Head Tags, Body Tags, URL Optimization, and Internal Links.
Keep in mind that before even considering On-Page optimization, you need to have clear and well defined keywords for every page of your website.
HTML Head Tags:
These consist of title, meta description, meta keywords, and rel=canonical.
Title is the most important component of On-Page SEO. Your keyword(s) should absolutely be the first (or as close as you can get it) word or words in the title. This gives your keywords greater weight in search engines and lets them know what your site is about.
Also be wary of length. Many menus and browsers only show around 70 characters when displaying a title so it’s smart practice to keep your title shorter than this.
This is an important element not for SEO purposes but for actual live humans. Remember, no matter how well optimized your site is, if it doesn’t engage a human’s interest, it’s all a waste of time.
The meta description is displayed right after the title by search engines. A better written meta description tag has been shown to increase web traffic and click through rates.
Once upon a time meta keywords played a big role in On-Page optimization. Unfortunately they were spammed to the point where search engines began de-emphasizing them. Still, they should be used for your website’s SEO.
Make sure you have a list of you keywords, keyword phrases, and misspelled keywords. Keep it to about 15 words, with the most important at the front. Also, do not repeat any of the words of phrases, keeping each separated by a comma.
This tag has become more important recently, especially for large websites or businesses. This tag helps eliminate search engine confusion concerning duplicate or similar webpages within the same root domain. Basically, this makes sure that your keyword strength isn’t split by search engines confusing different pages of the same website as separate websites.
Rel=canonical also gives proper credit for original content. So, if someone scrapes your website (steals content with copy and paste, then changes a few words) your rel=canonical tag will let the search engines know that you’re the original creator.
It’s important to keep in mind a few keyword facts for optimizing body tags.
1) You should only use two to three in-content keywords in a short page, and four to six in longer content.
2) Never use a keyword more than makes sense (or seems organic) in the content.
3) Make sure to use keyword variation (custom T-shirts, customized T-shirts, customize a T-shirt, etc.). This helps your keyword get more recognition while keeping it more natural.
4) Keyword density does not help your SEO. Keyword spamming throughout your page doesn’t help garner better search results, so it should be avoided. It’s not helpful and you can lose credibility with your viewers.
This is essentially your in-content title (rather than the title of your webpage). So, use it appropriately as a title, but make sure to include your keyword. This is important for both SEO purposes and for content clarity.
H2 H3 and H4 Tags
These are of little importance, and should be used accordingly. Use them as they were originally intended; as in-content tags for separating pieces of your content. There’s no need to shoehorn a keyword in, but placing a keyword in one can help (a little). Essentially only do it if it can happen organically.
Alt Attribute Tag
This is essentially any description you assign an image on your page. Recently these have been assigned higher value by search engines so you should definitely include a keyword-appropriate photo and your keyword in the alt attribute on your page. Also, have the file name of the picture be your keyword.
For example, someone trying to rank for the keyword ‘knife manufacturer’ would include a picture of a knife, and in the description (Alt Attribute Tag) put “We’re proud to manufacture this highly-rated knife”. The file name would then be manufacturedknife.jpg.
URL optimization plays a small but noticeable part in On-Page SEO. There are a few things to keep in mind when customizing URLs to stay as optimized as possible.
- It is better to have pages rather than subdomains.
- Shorter URLs typically do better than longer URLs.
- Hyphens ( – ) are better than underscores ( _ ) for word separation in URLs.
- Do not, however, use hyphens in your domain name. Keep it all one word.
- Keywords should be as close as possible to your domain name. Example: http://www.pageonepower/keyword.com
More can be read about URL optimization at Search Engine Journal, a great online SEO resource.
Search engines judge each page based on its own merits. True, domain authority will filter down through your site, but each page is viewed separately by Google. So, accordingly, it is important to link to other pages within your own website. This helps establish site architecture and allows search engines to better understand your website. Here are some things to keep in mind to boost your SEO while creating internal links.
Links in the actual content of your page (as opposed to the navigation bar, header, footer or side) are the strongest.
Links in the header are the next strongest after this.
Use your keyword as your anchor text to link between pages (anchor text is the word or phrase that links to another page).
The more competition there is for a keyword, the more often you should consider using it as the anchor text between web pages. However, don’t be overly aggressive.
For a more in depth look at internal links, head over to SEOmoz, a great SEO information database and news source.
On-Page optimization is an important part of SEO. It has been theorized that On-Page optimization accounts for up to 15% or Google’s algorithm. That is a lot of opportunity for higher rankings. These SEO practices are easy to implement and maintain, and should be the first basic step to a solid SEO foundation.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://pageonepower.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/zach-for-bio-and-authoring-purposes.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Zach Ball, in addition to being company co-founder, an expert in search engine optimization or SEO, white-hat link building and online marketing, launched the Link Building Times in 2011. Since then, he has written, edited and overseen the overall editorial direction of the publication, leading it to increasing success.
Ball is considered a go-to expert in the field of link building, and is sought after for speaking engagements, industry events and other places where he can share his advanced skillset.