See the other posts in our series:
Want to improve your site’s ranking in search results? On-page SEO factors are an absolute must. Why? Because they’re the aspects of a given web page that influence its search engine rankings. (Bet we’ve got your attention now.) This post continues our Search Engine Optimisation series, “SEO Audit – Is Your Website SEO Friendly?”
We’ve got eight on-page SEO hot tips for you and the first three are bound to be familiar, so let’s get started.
When you do a search online each result always shows the page title, its URL and the page meta description. The information in each is a variation on the same theme and you can think of them this way:
Page title: describes the content of the page in one short line
Page URL: as above plus the website address, or may be a short URL to make it easy to remember
Meta description: a short summary paragraph which tells users and search engines what to expect on the destination page.
Let’s go into a bit more detail.
Page title (AKA title tag)
If you do just one thing to pimp your on-page SEO, give your page a good title. It’s the first place both search engines and users look to see what’s on the page.
A search engine will typically show around 50-60 characters in the search result so keep your page titles as short as you can, while still making them meaningful. Ideally your page title will be:
- Brief so it doesn’t get cut short
- Accurate and informative so the user immediately knows what to expect from the page
- Unique on your site, so search engines differentiate this page from all the others.
The meta description is a short paragraph which helps search engines and users know what’s on a page. It’s especially useful when several of your site’s pages come up in search results.
You need a unique meta description for each page on your site. If you can keep it under 160 characters long most search engines will display the whole thing.
Search engines display a snippet of text from your content that they think best matches a search query. This snippet helps users decide if they want to visit your page or not, and the primary candidate for the snippet is – you guessed it – the meta description.
This means your meta description may actually be the first piece of sales copy your users see, before they even get to your site. Make it good!
Hint: your meta description has the most chance of being used as the snippet if it accurately summarises the page’s content.
A URL is the address of a web page which you see in or type into a browser’s address bar. Ideally your URLs should:
- Be short
- Contain one or more of your keywords
- Be made up of words rather than numbers or symbols
- Have a simple directory structure – this shows users where they are on your site and what content they are accessing at that URL.
Using words in your URL is important for two reasons. First, words are easier to remember.
Second, they make URLs easy to understand so users know what content they will see at that URL. This is really helpful if your content is shared on social media, as people are more likely to click a link which tells them what to expect.
image credit OrangeTwig
By the way there’s nothing wrong with using the page title as the page URL. If the page title is a bit long for a URL you can shorten it by removing “stop words” (a, the, at, of etc).
Write content for your users! You provide information that real people want to read, so the better quality it is, the more likely visitors will get the most out of it. Plus they’ll want to hang around your site longer, and share what they’ve found. Outstanding content is what will build your website’s reputation.
Easy to read text that is nicely organised helps users find what they are looking for. Break your text down into chunks to show where one topic ends and the next begins. Do your best to avoid grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, as these can be quite a distraction from your content. Consider what information you’re offering; can you keep it simple so a range of users will understand it?
Creating fresh new content for your site brings more visitors as well as keeping your existing ones coming back. Just be sure you actually have something new to say.
Longer body content tends to garner better search results, so aim for around 900-1500 words per page/post. This has the added benefit that your keyword (and related words) will naturally be found more frequently in the text.
Another way to make your text easy to read is to use header tags. These are headings ranging from H1 (largest/most important)* to H6 (smallest/least important). Say you write a blog post; you’re going to use H1 for your title. As you work your way down, you can use H2 as subheadings to break up the body of text and shift from topic to topic. Now your page is nicely structured. Generally, headings help people scan for the information they want. Search engines also scan these headings to understand the subject of a page, which is why heading tags are relevant to your SEO strategy.
*Note that H1 should only be used once per page, and your H1 is generally the same as your page title
Also known as alternative text, alt tags contain text that is shown when an image is not displayed. It’s about accessibility; alt text is used by screen readers or appears in the place of an image that fails to load. The primary role of alternative text is an accurate description of the image to let you know what you should be seeing. Search engines use this description, which means it may help determine the content of a webpage.
Alt tags should be:
- Accurate- be brief and stick to what is actually represented in the image
- If appropriate, your keyword can be used in an alt tag
Best practice SEO is becoming less about “keywords” and more about topics. There used to be a time where entering keywords into a little ‘keywords’ field in your website was an important part of ranking for those search terms. Now, it’s all about “focus keywords” – which isn’t about ensuring you physically have your keywords in the code of your webpage – rather it’s a way to keep your content on-topic.
To ensure you rank well for your key search terms, start by ensuring the topic of each web page or blog post on your site is singular and focused. For example, if you’re a Jewellery store and you want to rank for “gold rings, diamond rings and engagement rings” – create a single page for each of those categories, i.e. “Gold rings” should be on its own page, and “Diamond rings” on another. A page containing all three topics would be confusing to search engine bots – they can’t decide which topic is the priority, so wouldn’t rank you for any of those categories individually.
Once your page is focused on a single topic, it’s easier to ensure that the page content is keyword-focused.
Your keyword/s should logically be in your page title and URL, e.g. “www.jewelleryshop.co.nz/gold-rings” goes to a page titled “Gold Rings”.
Ensuring your web page contains in depth content (not less than 300 words, and covers as much information as possible for your user to understand your product/service/article etc.) and that it stays on topic, will mean your keywords are naturally found throughout your content.
Aims for keywords:
- Used within the first paragraph/ 100-150 words
- Found throughout content
- Contained in the title tag, heading tag, URL and image alt text (if appropriate)
- Synonyms (known also at LSI keywords) found throughout content
Links that connect your webpages to one another are internal links.
When adding internal links, keep these tips in mind:
- Link content that is relevant to the subject matter
- Add 2-5 links in each page/post
- Use words within your text as the link; it’s nicer for the user and you’ll be linking to relevant pages
- Use descriptive keywords as your anchor text (the text which displays when you insert a hyperlink). For example:
“Webstruxure provides services like web design and content strategy“
- Make sure the pages you link to are relevant to the anchor text
When it comes to the amount of traffic you get, you want your website to work for itself. Some on page factors aren’t directly relevant to search engines, but they’re important indirectly. If your pages show up in answer to search queries for peculiar and specific keywords, perfect. If people share links to your website because you produce incredible articles, you will see better search result rankings. Your SEO strategy isn’t about ticking every box. It’s not about the perfect meta description or URL. If you consider these factors as you create new content, you are well on your way to a highly visible site.
There’s no reason you can’t go back and apply these tricks to your existing material, however it can be tougher to work in reverse. If you want some fresh eyes to give your site a look-over, we’re certainly up to the task.
Webstruxure is here to make the web work smarter. Let us know how we can help you for user friendly, mobile friendly and search engine friendly websites. Our services include:
Briaane currently works for Webstruxure as a website coordinator in Wellington. Between plugging away at Search Engine Optimisation and content creation, Briaane can be found curled up with a coffee and a Sci Fi book, or broadening her skills and talents. You can connect with her and see samples of her writing on LinkedIn.