Digital Marketing Crew
This is Part 4 of 7 in our series on Website Design Optimization. Subscribe to receive updates on the latest news from 1&0.
You probably hear people talking about on-page SEO all the time. It’s the first thing that comes to mind after keyword. But what does it really mean, and what does it require?
Unlike a Reese’s peanut butter cup, where there’s no wrong way to eat it, there really is a wrong way to approach on-page Search Engine Optimization. In fact, there are plenty of wrong ways to approach it. But there’s no point in focusing too much on what not to do when we can lay out for you a list of things you need to do.
On-page SEO has to do with the way search engine algorithms see and understand a web page, primarily. Pages with great SEO have the potential to get ranked higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) for the right searches.
Each page on a website can be optimized, so it’s not only about optimizing your site once and then forgetting about it. Every new page or post that is published on your site has the potential to be shown in a list of search results to your target clients or customers.
Since there is actually a right way to go about optimizing web pages, we want to cover it here. This article covers the top 13 factors of on-page SEO and why they’re important.
#1 SEO technical audit
#2 Keywords in the first 100 words
#3 Optimized titles, URLs, and subheaders
#4 Optimized images
#5 Meta tags
#6 High word count
#7 Responsive design
#8 Fast site speed
#9 Outbound and inbound links
#10 XML sitemaps
#11 Search engine friendly content
#12 Crawlable links
#13 Strategic user experience
Good on-page SEO starts with the technical audit. The technical audit looks at the elements of a webpage that influence its ability to be effectively crawled and indexed by search engines.
We will go into greater detail on some of these further in this article.
To complete a technical audit, you will review at least the following: metadata, xml & html sitemaps, robots.txt, the URL structure, protocol, canonical content, and site speed.
Where you put keywords matters when it comes to on-page SEO.
Include the page’s keywords in the first 100 words. The reason this is so specific is that the first 100 words are usually what can be seen before the reader has to start scrolling.
In journalism, this is called “above the fold.” The website design world has adopted the above the fold terminology, but what’s meant by it is within the first 100 words.
This is the part of the page that determines what it is about.
Let’s break this one down into parts.
TITLES – Titles are arguably the most important, visible on-page SEO element. The title tells search engines AND visitors what the page is about. Not only does the title need to include a keyword or phrase, but it also needs to be compelling. Use a modifier, like the word “most” that’s in the title on this page, to enhance the title. The title should also always be wrapped in an <h1> tag.
URLs – Your URL should be memorable and contain the primary keyword for that page. Keep it short and on topic.
SUBHEADERS – Use subheadings on your page, wrapped in the <h2> tag, to reinforce what your page is about and also to make the content easier to scan and read.
Always give images a title and alt-text data. Generally, it’s okay for the image title and alt-text to be the same.
Ideally, the title of the first (or only) image on a page should match the primary keyword or the title of the page itself. It’s also a good on-page SEO practice to include images or other multimedia as often as you can.
Additionally, make sure the image’s file name references the keyword, if possible.
Here is a breakdown of the meta tags that matter:
TITLE TAGS – This is what users see in search engines. Keep it under 60 words and make it compelling and relevant. Include keywords, ideally at the beginning.
META DESCRIPTION – You can get creative here, but the description should still include your keyword(s). This is also shown in search engines and users rely on it to determine if the page is what they are looking for.
The meta description may not impact the ranking of a page, but it does greatly impact whether or not someone clicks on your link.
In general, pages with more words do better than pages that are short in terms of on-page SEO. There is no golden word count, and the content has to be relevant. Shoot for content that is 1,200 words or longer.
Because many people use mobile phones for search, search engines take into consideration whether or not a page is mobile-friendly.
It used to be that skilled website designers would design two sites: a desktop site and a mobile site. Now, it’s a best practice to create a responsive design, which is a design that renders properly on either a desktop or mobile device.
Site speed factors into on-page SEO. A site that has a lot of complex code is going to load really slowly. Sign up for Google Page Speed to optimize your loading time. Keep the load time within just a few seconds.
Don’t be afraid to use outbound links. For optimal on-page SEO, you have to use them. If you’re concerned people will leave your site, have the links open a new tab.
Link to authority content that is relevant, and make sure to ‘follow’ the link. Use ‘nofollow’ for links in blog comments or potentially suspect or spammy links.
Inbound links are useful, too and essential for on-page SEO. The more content you publish on your site, the more opportunities you will have to create internal links.
XML sitemaps tell search engines what they will find on your site. They also lay out a path the crawlers to follow.
First of all, if you don’t have an XML sitemap, you’re setting your site back in a major way. Creating a sitemap is easy.
If your website is built on WordPress, there are plugins for it. If not, Google has posted a list of sitemap generators.
Once you’ve created your sitemap, submit it to the major search engines. Keep the sitemap up-to-date.
Remember when Flash-based websites were so popular? Gone are those days. One of the biggest reasons it’s so rare to come across a Flash website is because it’s not search engine friendly.
Avoid using too much Flash or other elements that search engines can’t read.
The same goes for putting all of your text into a large image and posting that instead of actual text. Search engines can’t read the text on an image.
This is one of those very technical on-page SEO elements that can easily get missed. You can inadvertently tell search engines not to crawl or index certain pages, which is an easy way to NOT show up in SERPs.
One way is forgetting the sitemap, as we talked about earlier. Another way is to tell the search engines not to index your site or pages within it.
That doesn’t mean they won’t get indexed, and sometimes it’s even advisable to not allow certain pages or files to be indexed. Still, you should know what is happening and why.
Want an optimized page? Craft and publish really great content for the people who will visit the page, and lay the page out in a way that helps them engage with it.
Sometimes, this important message gets lost in translation because of all of the other important SEO factors. Never lose sight of the point, which is an awesome user experience.
Images, videos, title tags, subheaders, long content, links, etc. – these are not just boxes you check off when you’re done adding them.
The reason search engines value these things is because when they’re present, people stay longer on the page, link to it, share it, and interact with it on social media.
The worldwide web then becomes richer and more usable, and everyone benefits.
When visitors engage with web pages, search engines see them as valuable. If your only goal is to rank high in search engines, you’ve lost the plot.
A high ranking is only one part of the equation.
What happens after someone gets to your page is the most important thing. Optimize for that, too, so that the rest can fall into place. For a highly detailed report about On-Page Search Engine Optimization from our friends at Ahrefs.
On-page SEO is one of the most important parts of website design optimization. Let us help you get it right. Contact One & Zero today to learn more about what we can do for you.
One & Zero is a Web Design Agency based in New York City. We’d like to invite you to learn more about what we do. For a complimentary consultation on your website’s performance, contact One & Zero today.
Subscribe to our updates
Copyright © One & Zero 2017 All Rights Reserved