SEO Part 3: On-Page Optimization

So far we have given an overview of on-page SEO and link building, and looked at how to approach keyword research. Now let’s look in greater detail at several components of on-page optimization. Again, this means making your website’s visible content and background code as helpful as possible to visitors and to search engines. You want to rank as high as possible in Google and Yahoo! search results.

Keyword Use

The rule of thumb for proper keyword use is to use them in a natural and descriptive way. You should aim for your target keywords to be relevant to, and highly descriptive of, the information or products on a given page. You do not want to try to use a really hot keyword phrase you found in your research if it has nothing to do with the rest of the content on your page.

The context for good keyword use on a web page is…lots of text. Of course, keywords are themselves text, so you need to have a decent amount of written content on the pages you are trying to rank higher. Aim for no less than 500-1000 words per page.

Keyword density, or how often you repeat your keyword in your paragraphs, is less important than it used to be. Just avoid being excessive or spammy with the number of times you use the keyword. Cramming in as many keywords as possible will hurt you, not help you. It may still be helpful, though, to include your keyword once or twice near the beginning of your page’s content.

Behind the Scenes

Beyond the visible content on your actual page, (primarily text), you should include your keyword in several other places. You should include it in the URL of your web page. Use the format “…/this-is-my-keyword-and-some-extra-words-maybe”. Dashes are always better than underscores for separating words.

The meta data in the HTML code of your page is another place for keywords. If you work on this yourself, do not use the keyword meta tag, as it is no longer important to the search engines. Rather, include your keyword once in a compelling, branded call-to-action for a meta description. This is the text that appears under the clickable link to your page in search engine results. Aim for 130-150 characters. W5 Web Designs can help you with all the HTML aspects of on-page SEO work.

How do you make multimedia like pictures work with your keywords? Google cannot (yet) automatically recognize that your pictures, audio files, or videos relate to your keywords. So you need to place your keyword in HTML alt tags for your pictures (just ask W5 how or let the team take care of it for you)! And consider writing out a transcript of the speech or lyrics for any videos or audio files.

Functionality

There are several more things to consider when working on on-page optimization. They relate to usability. It is important that users have a good overall experience when they visit your web pages. Of course this directly impacts your website’s image and approval among its visitors. But it also affects your SEO because search engines take into account how long users stay on a page once they navigate to it. The average length of time indicates how useful and relevant users found it to be to their original search.

It can help to go online and test your page’s loading speed for free at Google PageSpeed Insight and consider the recommendations it gives for improvement. This tool will tell you how fast your page loads on desktop computers as well as on mobile devices. This is vital because mobile technology is becoming more and more central to people’s everyday internet use.

Something else to consider is the formatting of special content and rich snippets. These are special elements that show up in search engine results at Google, like reviews, photos, author information, etc. Schema.org is a useful tool for making sure your code follows standard guidelines and helps you rank well. Again, W5 can help you with all this HTML stuff.

Finally, at a basic level, make sure the total flow of your website is consistent, clear, and intuitive to users. Do the structures and relationships of the site’s pages to each other make sense? A user should be able to get to exactly the page he or she wants in no more than a minute or two. Consider including a search bar and a user site map. A site map is a page that acts as a kind of overview map of your entire website for users to see, with links to every other page on the site.

In summary, it is important to provide a wonderful experience for all visitors to your website. Use common sense, be descriptive, and make sure keywords and design principles work together.

In our final post, we will explore a few link building strategies. We want lots of other websites to link back to your site to boost your web cred, which in turn, boosts your search rankings.

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