On-Page Optimization for SEO
On-page optimization is important for SEO and is the process of making sure that all your web pages (and other content) are very search engine friendly.
Google is becoming more sophisticated all of the time, but it still needs your help.
Fortunately, it is very easy to help them.
I have twelve rules for on-page optimization that will help you. And then I will summarize them at the end.
Names are Important
Before we get into the details of “on page” optimization, let’s discuss the subject of domain names and page names.
Your domain name will conform to Internet standards and will look something like this:
Your domain may have a different extension.
The extension is the .com piece so you could have a .net, .org, .info, .co.uk, .com.au…. it doesn’t matter.
The important thing is what’s actually in the name.
If you were setting up a new website, I recommend that you buy a domain name with your main keyword in it.
So, for example, if your new website is going to be about dog training then you should go for a domain name that has this keyword in it.
You are not going to be able to get dogtraining.com as that went years ago, so play around with some ideas to find a good name.
Why is this important?
Well, this will help Google identify the purpose of your site.
This is only one factor, but it is an important one.
Google reads your domain name and looks to see if there are any words in it that will provide a clue as to what your site is about.
However, if you already have a domain name and it doesn’t have your keyword in it, don’t worry. It’s not as important to Google as it used to be.
Using the right titles for your web pages is important, so let’s get on to that.
This is a lot easier as you can and must name these directly after your keywords
Carrying on with our dog-training theme, let’s assume that we have decided to create a new page using the keyword “dog training for beginners.”
It is very important that you save the page with the keyword in it so it would look like this:
https://www.yoursite.com/dog-training-for-beginners.html for an HTML site
https://www.yoursite.com/dog-training-for-beginners for a WordPress site
This is very powerful as the keyword you are trying to rank for is in your page address or URL (Uniform Resource Locator).
Put your keyword in the page URL (preferably at the beginning)
OK let’s focus now on the actual page itself.
In order for you to grasp this on-page stuff fully. you need to understand some HTML (HyperText Markup Language) basics.
Don’t panic. I’ll try to make it easy to understand and remember.
HTML is the code used for all web pages. Each web page will be divided into two parts and these are:
- The Header (the head of the page)
- The Body (the main body of the page)
As far as the header part of the page is concerned, we are interested in two things:
HTML isn’t a complicated computer language like Java or C++. It is just a simple formatting language.
It uses tags to tell your browser what to do with the information on the page.
An HTML document will start with the following tag <html> and finish with the closing tag at the end of the document which is </html>.
Then there will be the header open and close tags which are <head> and </head> and in between these are the title tags <title> and </title>.
“So what?” I hear you say.
Well, your page title is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.
Where does the title appear on your page?
It appears at the very top of your page, but even more important than this is that it is the first thing that Google users see when they are searching.
Google searchers are scanners, and they will skim a page of search results and click on what catches their eye.
Therefore, the fact that what they just searched for is in the page title makes it more attractive.
It is no secret that most of the pages that rank highly for a specific keyword will have that keyword in their page title. YOU MUST DO THIS TOO!
So, the second of our nine rules of on-page optimization is…
Put Your Keyword In Your Page Title At The Beginning
The next important aspect is the page description. This is often referred to as the meta description.
The HTML tags are <meta type “description” …..>
Your page description is only important for the search engines.
It appears under the page title in the search engine results and is absolutely VITAL.
Your page description is your chance to get the click no matter where you appear on the search page.
Most descriptions that we see are boring as can be.
It can be a challenge to make your description enticing as you only have 160 characters.
Even so, you must do your best because it will often mean the difference between you getting the click or not.
The other thing that you must do with your description is to include your main keyword as near to the beginning as you can.
This is very important as Google will highlight your keyword in bold so that it stands out to the user.
So, rule number three is…
Put Your Keyword In The Description At The Beginning
Do not go crazy with this and have a description that only contains your keyword repeatedly.
This is known as “keyword stuffing” and Google is likely to penalize you for this.
With a little effort and brainpower, you can write a compelling description that attracts visitors and still get your keyword in there.
Now let’s look at the body <body></body> section where your content (text, images, and videos) is displayed.
Although the body of your page is not displayed in the search engine results, it is no less important.
The Googlebot doesn’t just read your title and description. It will read everything that is on your page as well.
A good rule of copywriting is to break up sections of your text with subheadings.
In HTML speak these are called Header Tags and come in various sizes – <h1></h1>, <h2></h2>, <h3></h3> and so on.
We are only concerned with H1 – H3.
Any piece of content on a web page should have a title. Now please don’t confuse this with the page title which is completely different. Look at the example below:
Dog Training – What To Look For?
Blah blah blah
Characteristics Of Good Dog Training
More blah blah blah
The Best Dog Training
Final blah blah blah.
In this example, the red sentence is the title of the content or the main heading so this should be where we put our H1 tags.
This happens automatically with a WordPress website.
The green sentences are secondary headings so you could put the second one in an H2 tag and the last one in an H3 tag.
Why is this important?
Well, it provides emphasis.
The other thing that you probably noticed is that we used the keyword in all three headings.
This helps Google understand that the page is optimized for this keyword which will help it rank.
Using header tags is easy if you have a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) HTML editor and very easy in WordPress.
So, the fourth rule of on-page optimization is…
Put Your Keyword In The Three Title Tags H1, H2 And H3
It is always a good idea to add a relevant image or two with your text so that it breaks it up nicely and keeps your reader from falling asleep.
Images have SEO value too, and the vast majority of websites out there do not take advantage of this.
In the good old days when everyone was using dial-up services to connect to the Internet, loading images on a page used to take a long time because the connection speeds were so slow.
It is even possible now to turn off images in your web browser, but most people don’t do this anymore as their connection speeds are pretty fast.
You can provide an explanation of what the image is about, and this is known as “Alt Text” (Alternative Text) or sometimes it is called associated text.
For all of your images, you should use your alternative text feature and insert your keyword.
Also, you should use file names for your images that are keyword optimized too.
An example of this for a dog-training website would be to use a file name for your image like dogtraining.jpg or dog-training.jpg.
You can use your browser to see if an image has alternative text or not by placing your mouse pointer over the image, right-clicking, and selecting view image info.
So, the fifth rule of on-page optimization is…
Put Your Keyword In The Alt Tag For Your Images
The next rule of on-page optimization is concerned with the number of times that your keyword appears in your content.
If you have a 500-word article that you are going to add to a page, then your keyword should occur 2 or 3 times on this page (this is an approximation).
This is referred to as “Keyword Density.”
Keyword density used to be very important for rankings, but this has changed now.
Even so, it is still worth paying attention to. But it won’t get you to the top of Google on its own.
There are plenty of free keyword density checkers online so you can see what your keyword density is.
As a rule of thumb, we always aim for around 2-3% keyword density.
You must not overdo this. Don’t keyword stuff and add too many instances of your keyword in your text or Google will penalize you.
So, the sixth rule of on-page optimization is…
Aim For A Keyword Density Of Around 2-3%
Staying with the theme of your content, the next important area of on-page optimization is “Keyword Placement.”
You need to strategically place your keyword in the first paragraph of your text (as close to the beginning as you can), in the middle paragraph of your text and in the final paragraph (as close to the end as possible).
So, the seventh rule of on-page optimization is…
Use Keyword Placement At The Beginning, In The Middle And At The End Of Your Page
The next on-page optimization rule also relates to your text and it is known as “Keyword Enhancement” which is the process of using the bold, italic, or underline functions on at least two of your keywords and a maximum of four of them.
So, the eighth rule of on-page optimization is…
Use Bold, Italic, Or Underline To Enhance A Few Of Your Keyword Instances (Don’t Overdo It)
Related Outbound Links
This is not going to get you ranking on the first page of Google on its own, but it is certainly worth doing.
You can link to a high authority site (e.g., wikipedia.org) using some appropriate anchor text such as “dog training”.
By doing this, it shows Google that you are serious about your subject matter and are providing choices for people to further research the subject.
You only need one link on each page.
So, the ninth on-page optimization rule is…
Create An Outbound Link To An Authority Site Using Your Keyword Or Associate Keyword
Page Loading Speed
Google users do not want to wait around for your webpage to load.
If you have a slow website, then many Google users will go elsewhere.
This is something that Google takes very seriously, and you need all of your pages to load quickly.
You can check the speed of your website or pages using Google’s own page speed tester.
If your page receives a low score, then Google will provide you with hints on what you can do to speed it up.
These days, many web hosts offer fast SSD servers that will improve the page speed.
Do whatever you need to do to make your pages load faster as this is a CRITICAL ranking factor.
So, the tenth on-page optimization rule is…
Make Sure Your Webpages Load Fast
Security is another big concern for Google.
It wants its users to only visit websites that it considers safe.
So, you need to use SSL certificates with all of your websites.
SSL stands for Secure Socket Layer and we are not going to spend time explaining this to you. You can find plenty of information about this online.
So, the eleventh on-page optimization rule is…
Use SSL Certificates HTTPS
The final on-page optimization rule is ensuring that your website is mobile-friendly.
Google expects all websites to be mobile-friendly, and any that are not will have little chance of achieving high rankings.
These days many Google users have smartphones and tablet devices.
If your website is not optimized for these devices then they will have a poor experience, which reflects badly on Google.
Most modern WordPress themes are fully responsive which means they look good on a computer, smartphone, or tablet.
So, the twelfth on-page optimization rule is…
Make Sure Your Webpages Are Mobile Friendly
Twelve Rules Of On-Page Optimization
- Put your Keyword in the page URL (preferably at the beginning)
- Put your Keyword in your Page Title at the beginning – critical
- Put your Keyword in the description at the beginning – critical
- Put your Keyword in the title tags H1, H2 and H3
- Put your Keyword in the Alt Tag for your Images
- Aim for a Keyword Density of around 2-3%
- Use Keyword Placement at the beginning, middle, and at the end of your page
- Use bold, italic, or underline to enhance a few of your keyword instances – don’t overdo it
- Create an outbound link to an authority site using your Keyword or related Keyword
- Make sure that your web pages load fast – critical
- Use SSL certificates HTTPS – critical
- Make sure your website is mobile-friendly – critical
In the next post, we will discuss off-page optimization…
Look for More SEO training in upcoming posts.
Or, you can find the ones that have been published here.
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By Lynn Huber
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