One of the key areas for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is referred to as “on page” optimisation or “on page SEO”. This term simply encompasses those factors within a website and its web pages that contribute to its organic placement and rankings.
While on page are not the only factors affecting your organic rankings, they are an important contributor so getting them right will help and of course support any other SEO initiatives you’re undertaking.
This post is designed to help you address a number of these areas and while it by no means an exhaustive list applying these learnings will put you firmly on the road to optimisation success.
Content is your ace card and having rich unique content that’s appealing and relevant is key to success. Doing keyword research will help you understand what phrases people are searching on and therefore what you should incorporate within on page copy. This keyword research is important to many aspects of in-page optimisation.
On Page Optimisation Elements
- Title tags –considered to be an important ranking factor, it should be unique for your website and encompass the targeted keyword or phrase. Having your primary keyword at the start is ideal or as close to the start as possible followed by any branding and/or secondary keywords.
- Meta description – This is essentially you marketing pitch about the content of the page that’s displayed within a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Like the page “Title” it should be unique and contain the relevant keyword or phrase. It is not used by search engines as a ranking factor but just as content presented to the user. Recommendation on length are general around 150 to 160 characters.
- Heading tags – “h1” tags – Make sure the title or heading for the page (no not the “Title” tag) is wrapped within the html heading element <h1>. It’s preferable to have only a single h1 tag within a page. In the case when there’s more the one Google with decide which is the most relevant so try avoiding this ambiguity. It goes without saying, but use your keywords here also. Heading tags by their definition are the heading for the page and should be text based. If however you wrap these tags around an image then ensure there is an alt tag as detail below.
- Heading tags – Use of h2 and h3 tags for sub-headings and important sections helps break up the page making it more readable and user friendly.
- Page Url or Permalink – Having a page name that reflects what the page is about not only aids usability but also supports your SERP rankings. Yes those keywords come into play again, and like the “Title” element placing them towards the front will have more impact. Use hyphens (-) between words, keep it as short as practical and avoid special characters and complexity like query-string notation.
- Images – “alt” attribute – There’s a common saying “that a picture tells a thousand words” however for automated search engine bots this isn’t true. They simply can’t interpret what an image is about to the clarity that you or I can. The “alt” attribute within the image element gives you the way of specifying what the image is about.
- Images – File name – The image file name should also be relevant and meaningful to what the image is about.
- Images – Size – There are ranking factors relating to page speed and while many of these elements will be outside your control something you can influence is the total size of the page. Typically most of this is from imagery so optimising these can yield big saving.
- Duplicate content – Duplicate content is something you want to avoid and is typically caused by different Urls navigating to the same content. If the CMS (Content Management System) you’re using can’t change this then adding a canonical reference is recommended. This tells the search engines that no matter what the link used to get to the page or what is displayed in the navigation bar of your browser the only reference the search engine should use is what is defined within the canonical link. <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.strategus.co.nz/who-we-are.html” />
- Domain Redirects – When your domain is setup and points to your website it’s typical to have the base domain and the www sub-domain both point to the same place. i.e. your website has 2 ways (domain names) to get to it. We now know duplicate content is undesirable and with 2 ways to navigate to the site this in effect will generate duplicate content. To avoid this you need to set up a permanent redirect (a 301 redirect) on one of the domain entries to the other. Thus when navigating to the redirected domain you will automatically be sent to the primary destination and duplicate content is avoided.
- Structured Data – This is data that can enhance your SERP display as well as provide a definition to social engine about what the web page is about. For more detail on this refer to an earlier postStructured Data – Why You Need It.
As I kicked off this article, what I’ve covered is not the exhaustive list of elements that are part of the on page optimisation however they provide you with a great place to start and will help you along the optimisation path. Remember, content is the key, making it unique and compelling and getting users to share and talk about it (in the online space) is important. As Google states: “build your pages for the users first”.
Andy Brown – www.strategus.co.nz