Getting a good ranking in a search engine hasn’t always been the easiest thing to achieve for a lot of webmasters. The search engines are getting smarter every day, so it now takes more than just good content to top your competitors.
On page optimization is one of the very first steps in any effective SEO campaign (after solid keyword research of course). While some of the terminology might seem complicated, the good news is that it probably won’t even take you an hour to learn and implement some of the basic on-page optimization techniques. Of course, if it so easy you might be asking yourself ‘why it is so important?’ Well, to be blunt, if you perform proper on-page optimization for your website you can not only rank quickly and (relatively) easily in the search engine listings but you can also increase the overall readability of your website leading to better metrics – which in turn help your rankings, more user engagement and even more sales! Not bad for an hours work.
Ok, so down to the nitty-gritty. Here are some of the most important on-page optimization techniques that are currently working in 2013 (and beyond). You should implement these to give your site more exposure to the search engines as well as to increase your overall CTR (Click-Through-Rate).
1. Title Optimization
A site’s title tag is by far the most important on-page optimization factor. Each page has its own tag, and you should use it to the best effect. Your title tags should be short but descriptive enough for your visitors to identify you and your business. The title tag is used to determine what your page’s content is about and so it should contain the the keyword you are targeting. The major engines ie Google use the title tag to build the clickable link on the listing – so a clear, descriptive title will also encourage people to click through to your site.
Some important things to include in your title:
- Your Name/ Business Name / Site Name: This is very important for branding proposes. Following the recent Penguin updates, branding is now a major ranking factor so your sites title should reflect your company’s brand name.
- Keywords: If you want to rank for a certain keyword you place some of them in your title tag. My golden rule when it comes to on-page SEO is one page – one keyword so if you are selling pizza online you can include keywords like – order pizza, home delivery pizza etc in your title tag. Don’t stuff too many keywords in your title though. Instead, you should aim to build a title which is readable to humans & also good for the search engine. (e.g. Domino’s Pizza, Order Pizza Online for Delivery – Dominos.com)
- Include your phone number if you have space: Some SEO’s may not agree with me on this, but I think that including your phone number in the title tag helps your visitors to take direct action! In other words they wont even click on your site – they’ll just pick up the phone and call. If you have a freephone number it can also make your site look more professional and legit when it’s being displayed in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). Searchers are more likely to ‘click’ on the result that has a phone number attached to it because, in their unconscious mind, they already have a good impression of the authenticity of the business and the level of support. If you prefer not to include the number in the title tag, you can always include it in your Meta Description which will give you almost the same benefits.
2. Meta Tags Optimization
A site’s Meta tags aren’t as important as they used to be , but I feel that the page Meta Description is still something you really shouldn’t ignore. If you don’t have a meta description, the search engines will still crawl your page and pick some suitable text to place there – but it might now always be what you want. Just like title tags, each page has its own unique meta tags which should contain a brief description of you page content focusing on the areas and services that you are trying to promote. This small piece of text can also be considered as a marketing opportunity, if a searcher finds it appealing they are likely to click onto your page to get more information. Similarly, if your Meta Description is too generic and isn’t written well, then there is a good chance that your site will simply be ignored.
Some important things to include in your Meta Description:
- Include your Selling Point– Tell your customers what they want to hear in your page’s Meta Description, and you will definitely get an advantage over others in the SERP. For instance – if you sell ‘cheap web hosting’ then including a phrase like “hosting starting from only £0.99” may result in more clicks and visitors because your description will exactly match the intention of the user.
- Keywords – Including your keywords will give you an added advantage in Google’s relevancy algorithm.
- Phone Number – if you haven’t already included this in your title, you can also include it in your Meta description. If the searcher has Skype installed on their system, your number will become clickable which will result in a direct Skype-out call. So basically, if your number appears in the Meta description some of your customers might just prefer to call you directly instead of going through your site. Either way, you get an added chance of a lead.
3. Important HTML Tags
The use of HTML tags not only makes your site look nicer and helps to break up large blocks of content but it also offers a few search engine benefits. There are several important html tags which you should make use of. For instance – the header tags <h1> <h2> <h3>, Bold <strong>, Italic <em> etc can all offer a small SEO benefit is used correctly. The text inside your header tags (e.g. <h1>) is given additional importance by the search engines so use them to define the page/post titles or the important sections of your website – and use them to highlight your main keywords as well.
- Header 1: H1 tags should be used to define the most important section of your page. Usually, the H1 tag is used for Site’s title or main keyword text.
- Header 2 & 3: H2 and H3 can be used for Page/Post titles or important sections of your pages. Separating your content with headers is good practice since it makes your site more readable and easier to navigate.
- Bold: You can bold (e.g. <strong>) certain words which are of high importance. Sometimes it’s good to bold your keywords where appropriate. However overdoing this may get you penalized.
- Italic: You can use the <em> tag to emphasize certain words which will then appear in italic.
- Quote: This is very useful when you are quoting from someone.
4. Keyword Optimization & Synonyms
These days content is everything! Your site’s content needs to be optimized in such a way that appeals both to the search engines & your human readers. Getting the balance right is not always a s easy as you might think though. For example, stuffing your site with too many keywords not only makes it unreadable to your visitors but it will also get your site slapped by the search engine bots. So, you need to achieve some sort of balance between your keywords & your content.
The most important elements of Keyword Optimization are:
- Keyword Research: Make sure you carry out proper research before writing content or even building your website. There are plenty of free tools out there that can help you to do keyword research. Some of my personal favorites are: SEObook Keyword Suggestion tool, Google Adwords Keyword Tool & Overture Keyword Tool.
- Keyword Density: The days of 2%-3% keyword density are gone. Make sure that you write engaging content and try to work a few instances of your keyword in but make it look natural. Instead of sticking to hard and fast formulas, try to have a moderate keyword density so that it can help the search engines to determine that your page is related & relevant to the keyword that you are targeting.
- Synonyms & Related Keywords: Personally, I like to use synonyms instead of having a high keyword density. This helps to make my content sound natural but still helps in SEO. If you need some ideas , just type your main keyword into Google and look at the bottom of the page. There you will see a list of LSI keyword phrases – ie keywords that Google thinks are related to your main term. Try and work these into your article for maximum effect.
- Long Tail Keywords: It’s often good to target some long tail keywords as they are comparatively easy to rank for. During your keyword research you should be able to gather some good long tail keywords that you can optimize your site for, but you can also come up with your own long tail keywords; for example try adding some common words like – ‘best’, ‘free’, ‘cheap’, ‘top’ etc. along with your actual keyword. There are also load of tools available to help you generate long tails.
5. Link Optimization
It is important to optimize your internal & external links for the search engines as well as using them to make your site easier to navigate.
Important elements of Link Optimization:
- Try using appropriate anchor text when you are linking to other people – and when linking internal pages together. Include the appropriate keyword in the anchor text giving the outbound link a ‘proper meaning’ and value.
- A good, clean Internal Link Structure with proper use of anchor text will definitely help. E.g. “Credit Card Application” is a better anchor text compared to “click here”. Look at Wikipedia.org for the best example of this in action
- Make sure you link out to other, authority sites as well. Most of us don’t like doing this but it can have a really beneficial effect – your website will be seen as associating with quality content and will gain a benefit from this.
- If you are using a CMS, then make sure you use permalinks. This way your keywords/post title will be on the link itself and thus it will valued more by the search engines.
6. Image Optimization
If your site uses a lot of images, then you need to optimize them as their content can’t be read by the search engine bots. It’s very easy for a human reader to interpret the meaning of an image, but for a Web crawler the whole process of interpreting content is completely different. Search Engine spiders can only read text but not images, so you need to use some special tags for your images in order to give them some meaning.
Some Important Image Optimization Elements:
- Alt text : ALT text or Alternate Text is the text used to describe your image when your mouse moves over it. The text should be meaningful and short and should contain your relevant keywords. If your browser doesn’t display the image for some reason, the alt text is used in place of that particular image.
- File name : always use meaningful file name for your images, use names like “apple-iphone-cover.jpg” instead of meaningless names like “DSC24045.jpg”. Keep the image file name the same or similar to the ALT text.
- Image Title : always use the title tag in images as this will show the title as a tool tip when the user moves his mouse over the image. Heres a quick example: <img src=”http://imagelocation.jpg” alt=”Image description” title=”Title of the Image”>. Simple but effective.
- Image Linking : Whenever you want to link to your image, use the image keywords in your link text. For example: use “view an Apple iPhone”, instead of “Click here to view” as the anchor text.
The best thing about on-page optimization is that you only need to do it once, then it can be forgotten about. Make sure that you spend a few extra minutes when adding content to your website or blog to get the maximum benefit from your link building and promotional efforts down the line.
Categories: On-Page SEO
Tags: image optimisation, link optimisation, on page seo, seo