What is On-Page SEO and Why is it So Important?
On-page SEO consists of ensuring the details search engines (such as Google, Bing or Yahoo) look for in your webpage’s content are set up ideally. It encompasses everything from the URL to the titles of the images you are using: basically any detail that will be registered by search engines when they index your site and try to determine both what your page is about, and how valuable your page is to searchers of that topic. If you want your page, blog, article, or website to be ranked #1 on Google, this is something you must consider.
12 Things to Check for On-Page Optimization
Research and Define Your Targeted Keyword
The first step in the process is finding the keywords you want to be ranked for. You will put all your efforts onto those precise keywords, so choose wisely! You will increase your chances of ranking highly if your keywords are not used a lot by other websites. Also, if there is high demand for your precise keywords, you’ll receive more traffic when you succeed in ranking.
How is this possible? Fortunately, you can check the competitiveness of keywords with various online tools, such as Google Adwords, Semrush or Word Tracker. Developing a keyword strategy is a topic worthy of a blog post of its own (or several), but as long as you seek to find the highest volume search terms with the lowest competition, you will be on the right track.
Use Your Keyword in Your URL
The first thing the engines are going to see is your URL and domain name, so put make sure your keywords are prominently featured in them! It works in order: the first word of your URL is the best spot, the second right after, and It goes on. If you have a long URL, use hyphens ( – ) between each important term, and get rid of useless words that will dilute your important ones (like “and” “the” “to” “for”, etc.). If you are using WordPress, the Smart Slug plugin automatically removes the connections words such as “the” or “a” in your URL.
Optimize Your Page Titles
When thinking of an attractive, traffic-driving, sexy title, you must also consider Search Engine Optimization. You should use your keyword in it, the closer to the beginning the better. Also, note that your title must be fewer than 70 characters if you want it to be displayed completely by Google in the search results. Seventy is the maximum limit, but you should stay under 65, as the place occupied by characters depend on the characters you use.
Create a Quality Meta Description
The meta description is a different sort of SEO tool. Google does not consider this content in search engine page ranking, but you must add it if you do not want Google to use an automatic clip of your content as the summary of your page. Make sure the description is clear and engaging, as this is what sells search users on your page over other search results.
Try to keep it fewer than 155 so the Search Engines will display it properly.
Use Your Keyword and Vary it
It is kind of obvious but needs to be said: you have to use your keyword in your content. Four times at least to make it clear for the engines that this is the keyword they want to rank you for. Vary it! Use abbreviations, plural, singular… You may want to use several synonyms also, to target related keywords for improving your ranking in the general topic you are talking about.
Start Your Main Text With Your Keyword
As we said for the tittle, search engine spiders will crawl your content from the start to the end. The closer to the beginning of your first paragraph your keyword is, the better!
Optimize Your Sub-titles
To organize a page, there are titles called Headers. Header 1 (H1) is the first title, Header 2 (H2) is the subtitle of Header 1, and it goes on…
Google only considers H1, H2 and H3 for ranking. You should use and optimize these sub-titles and make sure your keywords are in H1, H2 and H3.
Use Your Images
Images are very important: for each image you can configure a Title and an “Alt tag”. “Alt Tag” corresponds to the text displayed when the image cannot appear. When you pass your mouse over an image, the Title appears in a small box. You want both the Title and the Alt tag to contain your keyword. It is better if the two are different, as search engines recognize new and re-used content.
Make the Most of Your Internal Links
Internal links are great. They are used in a variety of ways, such as linking to other, similar articles you wrote to invite your audience to go further in the research. It is great for your traffic, but also essential for your SEO. When using them, make sure your anchor text is wisely chosen. The anchor text is the text displayed as the “link”, the “click HERE” instead of “click on http://www.youshouldclickhere.ltl “. You can use your keyword in the anchor text, and that will help your SEO. For example: you can find more information about webmarketing for local business here.
Add Some Pertinent Outbound Links
By adding pertinent links to other websites, you can manage two things. First, you give the opportunity to your readers to go further. It is a sign of reliability. Secondly, search engines take the presence of external links into account when they rank your page. Having external links consistently correlates to higher search result ranking. For a more detailed explanation of this, check out this article on the SEO value of outbound links.
Note that if you make the link open a new tab by using the [target="_blank"] html tag, you are likely to keep your visitor on your site, whereas if by clicking on your link they leave, you could lose them forever. No joke.
Use Formatting Styles for Your Keyword
Formatting your text with bold, italic or underline not only affects your readers, but spiders notice it as well — they give the words you format more weight. Do not bold everything; just make clear what you want to be seen as important by both your readers and the search engines.
If you only publish 150 word articles or pages, don’t even bother trying to improve your ranking on search engines. You need content to be ranked. The more the better. Four hundred words is the minimum you should consider having on a single page.
7 Things to AVOID for On-Page Optimization
Why are there some things to avoid for SEO? One could think that the more we do the better. That is not always the case, however. Over the years, search engines have constantly been updated to combat “black hat,” or dishonest SEO tricks. When an engine’s spider notices a website that is using black hat techniques such as those listed further in this article, the engine will seriously downgrade the ranking of this website. If you do not want to be penalized by Google, you should avoid these 7 tricks, as well as any other methods that revolve around gaming the system instead of providing actual value.
Create Content for Readers, Not Search Engines
This can not be said enough. The main purpose of a website or a blog is to communicate something. You are talking to visitors or customers, not a machine. You pay attention to your design (or you should), so apply the same care to your content! All these SEO efforts would be useless if your content is not interesting enough to achieve your goals regarding your visitors.
Do Not Put Your Keyword Every 2 Words
In the same spirit of the previous point, you must avoid “keyword stuffing”. You can add tags to your article if you are writing in a blog, but you sould not repeat your keyword or synonyms every line. Use it on a regular basis in your content, the more the better as long as it is not disturbing for the reader. Reading the same word 23 times in a 25 lines article is disturbing for the reader, and search engines will take note as well.
Do Not Use Invisible Links or Keywords (really)
Invisible content is not another Marvel hero. It refers to writing words in the same color as the background, so the reader would not see it but the engines would recognize it as part of the content. Like this for example. Clever trick, but don’t you think that the $50 billion per year search provider figured that out? You take the risk of huge penalty for marginal gain. Is it worth it? Absolutely not.
Do Not Create a Doorway Page
A “doorway page” is a website page consisting of content crafted entirely to rank for a very specific keyword. It is not meant to offer any value to visitors, and often it is automatically generated. The resulting content is often completely useless to visitors. The hope is that the traffic it generates from its high search result rank will pass through the page to your home page. While creating content related to your keyword is one of the best ways to improve your search ranking, there is a big distinction between pages created only for search engines and those created with the user in mind as well.
Do Not Use Cloaking
Cloaking is one of the more popular “black hat” SEO tricks. It is based on a very simple system: creating a fake page (the “cloak”) that will be searched by the spiders but not seen by visitors as it automatically redirects to another page. The “real” page does not have to be optimized for search engines, as the cloak will rank in the first results because of its amazing optimization. While some claim they still have working methods of doing this, one can rest assured that these methods will not remain effective.
Do Not Duplicate Content (the Devil is in Plagiarism)
Google and other search engines do not appreciate plagiarism. If your content is the same as another webpage on the internet, you should link to this page to make perfectly clear for everyone that you do not claim authorship for this content. If no link is found, search spiders will understand that you copied-pasted someone else content and it will be unlikely to show up in search result pages.
Do Not Spam
There are many different ways of spamming. Spam is automatically generated and consists of repetitive, unsolicited messages sent to someone or something. These messages can be comments (spam software will crawl on blogs or websites where comments are enabled and put a comment everywhere it can. For example, linking to a website claiming that it is relevant to the topic currently discussed). Another popular spamming method is the “ping spam”: when a new content is created and published on the Internet, it sends a small “hello” to the Engines so that they can start indexing it. This is called a Ping. In the case of ping spamming, the website would send many Pings to create the illusion of new content and huge activity on the site. Once again: do you really think the Engines are so naïve they would not prepare themselves for something like that?
You are now prepared for the optimization of your page! But we wanted to make it extra clear, so we prepared an infographic to illustrate how a correctly optimized page would appear! Consider it a Christmas Gift in advance from Long Tail Logic. Merry Christmas!