I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while and really excited to be finally bringing it to you.
No matter what you already know about on page SEO, I’m pretty sure this guide is going to present some valuable strategies that you currently aren’t implementing.
I’m not going to bore you with a long definition of exactly what on page SEO is, if you are unsure head over to wikipedia, and then come straight back!
We all know that search engines are computer programs that understand and respond to a certain language.
The more signals we give, the higher the rankings we can expect to achieve, simple as that.
Page Titles, Descriptions & Keywords
Many people believe this is all that needs to be done in order to complete their on page SEO checklist. While it would be nice to have a checklist this small, getting your page titles, description and keywords right is only just the start.
This doesn’t mean that this aspect of on page SEO isn’t important however, it means that your checklist is just a bit longer than you may have thought.
In nearly every aspect of this on page SEO guide we will need to be considering both our readers and the search engines, with a well crafted page title being no exception.
Your title needs to be no more than 70 characters, contain 1-3 targeted keywords and be enticing for the user.
The reason it should only be 70 characters is quite simply because that’s all that google will show in their results. Anything longer will look like this:
If we take a look at the page title for Betfair, you will note they have crafted their title within the 70 character limit making it cleaner and far more appealing.
Use Keywords – Don’t Stuff!
Your title needs to contain specific keywords relating to the content of the page or post. Its important to do your research and find the best possible keywords that describe your content accurately and also have significant search volume figures.
Take your time over this, the title needs to look natural, appeal to users but also contain relevant keywords with decent search. Search engines will soon recognise if you have just stuffed a load of keywords together and the result will be you will rank for nothing.
Try and target a maximum of 3 keywords. 1 or 2 is fine if that’s all that fits. If you have a brand name then include that at the end. – Google loves brand names.
Title Tag Checklist:
- A maximum of 70 characters.
- Contains 1 – 3 targeted keywords. (naturally)
- Explains your content accurately.
- Enticing for the user – modifiers work well eg best, 2015, review etc. (they also help to rank for long tail keywords increasing your traffic possibilities)
- Include brand name if you have one. (preferably at the end)
Your description tag should be no longer than 150 characters and should be used for the sole purpose of convincing the user that your information is what they are looking for and to click on your link.
The description is solely for the user and not the ranking.
Your description should contain 2 important elements:
UVP – Unique Value Proposition.
What make your content unique? Why should a user click on your link rather than the others surrounding it?
CTA – Call To Action.
Tell the user to click on the link! I know this sounds very simple, but believe me it works. Sweeten the deal by offering something in return, a discount perhaps.
Don’t be surprised if the search engines use a sentence of your content in favour of your description tag, it happens and there is nothing we can do about it.
Content, Content, Content!
I have mixed feelings about the relationship between content and on page SEO.
Great content should be:
- Published on your site first.
- Be well researched.
Its also important to set a clear post frequency.
Before I explain why I have mixed feeling about this subject, let me explain why posting 1500+ word articles can be beneficial.
LONG TAIL KEYWORDS!
Head over to your site analytics and take a look at the percentage of traffic that is coming from long tail keywords.
Its a lot right?
Sure, you maybe ranking for a short tail that you have been optimizing hard for that’s bringing in a decent amount of visitors, but I’m pretty sure your long tail search will be more?
I can also guarantee that your long tail search will be far more targeted which always means higher conversions.
Adding in long tail and LSI versions of your main keyword will almost always happen naturally when you are writing long articles.
The problem with this is many niche’s will not require 1500+ articles. In fact it would be absolute suicide to do this.
We have completed work for clients that involved publishing 50 word pages, which still provided visitors with the exact information they were looking for, presented in the best possible format.
Less words of course provides less opportunity to include long tail keywords, which may effect the number of terms you rank for in the search engines. However always put the visitor first, if it can be written in 50 words then that’s the way to go.
One of the main questions regarding on page search engine optimization is keyword density.
I’ve seen some crazy and quite ridiculous figures. 3%, 2%, 3.4567%!!! This to me is absolute garbage.
By the time you’ve worked out the exact number of times you need to include your main keyword, played around with your content to try and fit it in as naturally as possible, you could be well on your way to producing another great article for your readers.
Try and get your main keyword into the first 150 words and then after that natural, natural, natural.
Your content should include a main heading (H1 tag) and sub headings (H2 tags) Important parts and words should be highlighted by the underline, bold or italics tabs.
Your content should be user friendly and pleasing to the eye. If a word post split the paragraphs up (never have huge chunks of text) and use a word font no smaller than 12px.
Always try and use original or royalty free images. If you can’t do that it’s important to at least credit the source you got it from, or risk a law suit!
There are tons of places you can get both free and paid images these will get you started.
- Flickr – creative commons licence.
- Google Images – Use the advanced search feature and check the usage rights to “free to use or share”.
- i stock photo
- Open clip art library
Use descriptive file names, using your keywords where applicable. Never name your image files image1.jpg for example.
Content Delivery Network:
A content delivery network hosts your images on a number of different servers. The benefit of doing this is to speed up your sites load time, a factor googles algorithm takes into consideration when ranking web pages and something I will discuss later in this article.
Prices for this kind of service are relatively cheap, approx £15 per month for a single site. CloudFlare is well worth a look, especially if your blog or site contains a lot of images.
Using the ALT tags to describe your image:
ALT tags are a brilliant way to provide the search engines with additional information about your site.
Also used for describing both internal and external links, this is an on page SEO technique that should never be overlooked. Similar to your title tags, try and use keywords but never stuff and describe accurately.
On one of our sister sites we use the following permalink structure:
Which produces a URL like this:
You will see that the URL is short and sweet and contains relevant keywords, while describing this post accurately.
I know of a lot of bloggers that include the date in their URL, and also miss out the category opting for:
To be honest it makes little difference.
Try and include your most important keywords in the first 3-5 words as these are said to be given more weight, and always try and stick to the 250 character mark.
Always avoid using ugly URLs like the following:
Categorising your content is a great way for users and search engines to navigate their way around your site quicker and find exactly what they are looking for easier.
Think of a large supermarket distribution depot that wasn’t strategically categorised, it would be impossible to find things right? Well the same goes for your site.
Siloing is an SEO technique that optimises a sites structure and organises content based on keywords.
Siloing isn’t a simple thing to do and takes some planning. When implemented it can be a very powerful on page technique that can save you lots of off page SEO work.
Check out these 2 great articles which explain siloing in great depth:
Its a great idea to have an internal link in the first paragraph of your content. The reason for this is a click happy user that visits your site for the first time, may need that extra link to stay on your site and take note of your excellent content.
Internal links are also a great way to let the search engines know about other pages and take them into account. Search engines that read pages with links on will always follow them.
I’ve read several articles that give guidelines on the amount of internal links you should include in each page of content and to be honest I don’t believe this to be good advice. If we take a look at Wikipedia as an example and the first paragraph for the search engine optimization page, you will see a total of 15 internal relevant links, which is way more than many guides suggest for a whole page.
The truth is there is no right or wrong answer to this debate. As your site grows the number of internal links will. I also find that thinking where a useful internal link could be added to the content I am producing provides me with great ideas for future posts.
Internal Linking Guidelines:
- Highlight your important pages – the more important a page, the more internal links you should point at it.
- Only use internal links when they are relevant and helpful to the user.
- Don’t link back to your homepage using your main keyword on every post.
- Vary your anchor text. For example if you have an important page about “How to set up a blog” don’t link back to that page using the exact anchor text every time.
I think a lot of internet marketers worry about linking out to other sites because they are afraid of loosing their visitors.
If you provide helpful and useful content then a high percentage of your visitors will always return. A great way to provide helpful and useful content is to link out to other resources that compliment the point or message you are trying to get across.
Not only does this enhance the experience for your visitor but also gives the search engines another hint regarding the details of your content.
Google wants a faster internet and is therefore using site speed as a determining factor in their algorithm. The faster your site loads the higher it will be positioned.
Page Speed Insights by google, allows you to analyse pages from your site and provides recommendations to increase speed.
As with most on page SEO tactics user experience will also play a factor and site speed is no different. A huge percentage of visitors will leave straight away if you have a slow site, increasing your bounce rate and ruining your chances of increasing your readership.
Take a look at this article which provides 15 Great Tips To Speed Up Your Website.
Google is placing a lot of emphasis on people who have authority on a particular subject and ranking their content highly accordingly.
Your search engine listing is also far more attractive with a picture next to it, which means a higher CTR. Take a look at the following screenshot, which listing would you click on?
**Update – Google no longer uses authorship snippets in search results**