On-Page Optimization (SEO)
Once you have chosen the keywords that you wish to optimize your webpages for, it’s time to optimize your pages. This requires some initial knowledge, but is actually very easy to do. A note of caution: it’s important not to “over optimize.” Google, Yahoo!, and Bing all want you to write your content for readers (not search engines), so don’t go overboard with onpage optimization.
Optimizing Your Meta-Tags
- There are 3 common meta-tags: meta-title, meta-description, and meta-keywords. While meta-tags will help you describe the content of each page to search engines, all but the meta-title have very little effect on how you rank in search engines. Consider these tips when constructing your meta-tags:
- Meta-title: Keep under 70 characters (7-10 words) and place your most important keywords first. This will be your headline for your SERP (search engine ranking position), and listing your primary keywords here will help influence your SERP. Avoid the use of prepositions and other unnecessary words that will eat up space in your 70 character limit.
- Meta-description: Keep under 150 characters and use this as your sales pitch to web surfers. While implementing keywords won’t necessarily affect your SERP, they will help web surfers “connect” with your content and influence to click through to your page.
- Meta-keywords: Keep under 250 characters and list all of your keywords here. While this really has little to no affect on your SERP, they could become a more important part of search engine ranking algorithms at any point. Consider this a repository for your keywords, for the publishing process and referencing later. Only use relevant keywords, but feel free to include misspellings, and be sure to avoid repeating keywords as much as possible. Usually you should just list 10-15 keywords and then move on to more important aspects of your page.
- Rich Snippet Listings are great for directory-focused websites. These will help maximize your click through rate in SERPs.
Use Header Tags for SEO (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc.)
Many online editors mistakingly ignore the use of header tags which can have a positive effect in your search engine optimization efforts. While they don’t have quite the effect on SERPs that they once did, search engines still give some extra weight to header tags (and large/bold text towards the top of the page with your keywords, for that matter), as they are a sure sign of what the page content is really about. So, be sure to break up your page content with the use of header tags and implement your most important keywords here.
Optimize Body Content with Keywords
Ever since the Google Panda Updates started rolling out, Google has put more and more importance on authoritative content. So, you should ensure that your webpages contain at least several hundred words of content, preferably 500-800 words. Here’s some helpful tips to remember when writing your online content:
- Minimum of several hundred words per page
- Focus on your 2-3 primary keywords within the body content, and use as many variations (i.e. – plural/singular, synonyms, etc.) as possible in order to keep it reading naturally and expand the possibilities of your target customer finding you in search.
- Link to other pages on your website from the body content, using keyword-rich links, and focus on keyword proximity when doing so (using related keywords around the links that you embed).
- Use boldfaced and italicized formatting on your most important keywords in order to draw attention to them in the eyes of search engines. Google, Yahoo!, and Bing do give extra weight to words in bold and italic formatting styles.
- Focus on your most important keywords within the first few paragraphs of your webpage content. Search engines give extra weight to the content at the top of the page, as it’s most likely to tell the reader (and them) what the page is about.
- Consider using bullets at the top of the page as a summary of what readers will learn in the page, and place keywords within them. Format the keywords with bold and italicized formatting for extra impact (both in the eyes of search engines and readers)
- Position your keyword-rich content at the beginning of the HTML source code, independent of how it appears on the visible page. This is called “absolute positioning,” using CSS, and you can find more informationhere.
- Keyword density was a common SEO practice used to ensure that your most repeated 1-word, 2-word, 3-word, and longer phrases were the actual keywords that you are focusing on. This was abused by spammers, and is not given as much weight by search engines any longer. It’s advised to simply write extensive, authoritative content for the reader, and this will most likely happen naturally. Just ensure that you don’t stray from your core topic within the page content.
Optimizing Images with Alt Tags for SEO
Search engines can’t read images. However, search engines can read “alt tags” which are part of image code. This is a great place to accurately describe the image plus plugging your primary keywords. While this is not a major ranking factor, every little bit helps and this could change at any time in the future. This is very easy to do, so don’t overlook this basic SEO practice.
Interlinking Content for SEO
As mentioned above under the body content optimization section, it’s important to interlink your content with keyword-rich anchor text. Think about it. You have someone your site, and you’d like to keep them there. The best way to do this is to keep them interested, and you keep them interested by suggesting other pages to them while they are reading.
This is an example of writing for your readers, and this is exactly what search engines want. So, when you interlink your content, the search bots will also follow those links every time they index your site. By linking to your other pages with their own primary keywords, you’re also telling search engines (and readers) what the page is about, further improving the ability of those pages to rank for their primary keywords.
For more information on building one way links for SEO, we recommend you read the article we just linked to right there. See how that works?