When asked what SEO is, some people tend to define it, as the ability to write creatively, in order for a website to rank high in search. While this may be true, it is not all it is, to SEO.
As an SEO strategist, one has to optimize his website in the following ways; on-page, off-page, and technical optimization. However, today, we would look solely at on-page SEO, and it’s optimization. It’ll be a lovely discussion, so let us dive right in!
What Is On Page SEO?
On-page optimization, is the practice of optimizing a page or group of pages on a website, to improve the site’s SEO.
Before we continue, for the sake of newbies; what is the meaning of the term, “on-page”? On-page, otherwise called on-site in SEO, has to do with everything you see on the pages of a site, ranging from title tags to meta descriptions, down to the content on the site. We will discuss these, as we go further.
Now that that’s known, let’s get into some important factors one needs to optimized on his site.
Factors to be Optimized On Site:
- Title tags
- Description tags
- Heading tags
You may be asking, what is the content on my site, or any site? Content, is the information you dish out to your audience; be it written, visual or audio.
So, now that you know what content is, how can you optimize your content, for your site to rank high in search?
- Do a research on the topic you want to write on (for written content, of course.)
- Perform a Keyword Research for that content.
- Use target keyword in the first 100-150 words of your article.
- Wrap blog post’s title in H1 tag. It helps Google understand the structure of a page.
- Wrap subheadings in H2 tags, as it helps to structure the article.
- Be frequent with your keywords. However, avoid keyword stuffing.
- Make content relevant to the theme of the site.
- Make sure content is well organized, and easy to understand.
- Create unique and original content. Don’t go copying anyone, avoid duplicate content at all costs.
- Add value to your content. You could do so, by adding a relevant personal perspective.
- Add resources like images, videos, screenshots, to make content more helpful.
- At all times, edit and proof read you article, before publishing.
- Make sure you understand your audience, because a great content is that which is written for the audience.
- Make sure to pay attention to the reading level of your audience, and match it with your content, for easy comprehension.
- Ensure to link out to other relevant pages on site, and other relevant pages of different sites, if they can be more helpful to users.
PS: Make sure to create content, where your audience is. Why is this so? I’ll answer that, with an example. Imagine you were a priest of some sort. You go to a different religious gathering, and begin teaching. I’m very sure that everyone in that gathering will wonder why a priest from a different religion would come to teach them something different, and may not even give attention to you. Now, that’s how it is, when you create content for the wrong audience. Content, no matter how valuable, will never be helpful to the wrong person. In essence, go where your audience is, build them, and give them what they need.
To optimize content effectively, make sure to put in mind;
- User experience: Be sure you do not create content, for search engines alone, as that might affect your users’ experience negatively. Negative user experience will mean low quality content, and you do not want that.
- Bounce rate: Imagine a scenario where you are searching for the best hotels in town on Google, and you come to this site that comes up on search, and you don’t find what you need on that site, and you quickly exit the site, to look for what you need, somewhere else. Now, what you just did, is what many users will do to your site, if your content does not answer their needs. Nobody would want to waste time on futility. And the more people leave your site as quickly as they came, because your content does not answer their questions, the lower quality your content has. So, be sure to create useful and helpful content.
- Search intent. For users to stay on your site for a long time, and even bookmark your site, you must know exactly what your users are searching for. To do this, ask yourself these questions;
- What do my users want to hear, read, or see?
- Is this article, or content helpful to them?
- Will they like to come back here to re-digest what they have seen?
- Will they like to share this content?
- Is the content easy to understand?
- Are there errors in my article?
If you have positive answers to the questions, beautiful. But if not, then you have work to do.
Some advantages of quality content:
Quality content has the quality of increasing the click through rate of your site. Great content can lead to linking from other sites, to your site, and this is very helpful in Content marketing, and the entire authority of a site.
When you have adequate knowledge of the information you give out to users, it brings for trust, from those users. To gain trust, you must be good at what you give (write, in this case.)
Great content can also open doors for off-site publishing opportunities! When you interact with your audience, and give them value in your content, people who are not even in your audience may also be impacted, and by that, more opportunities are open for you.
Pro tip: create a backlog of ideas for the kind of content you want to produce. Check out BuzzSumo for content ideas.
It cannot be overemphasized; content is king. But great content, valuable content, helpful and resourceful content, is more than gold.
Now, let us look at title tags. Title, as you should know, is the title, or for the sake of a different word, the main topic of a piece of content. Title tags are the html tags (<title>, <title/>) that wrap the title of your post, or blog. The title tag describes the title, or name, that you give to a page on your site.
You can find the title of page’s post, at the top of the browser. Title tags are an important on-site SEO factor, and as such must be properly optimized.
Some ways to optimize title tags;
- Make sure your title tag accurately describes it’s page.
- Include keywords that users are likely to search for, in title tags.
- It’ll be wise to place keyword, or descriptive information at the front of the title tag (descriptive information here, is information that describes the page.) However, you can use individual keywords, rather than descriptive phrases.
- Make sure your title tag is not more than 60 characters long. This is why you must use at least two important keywords in the title tag.
- Separate multiple keywords, with hyphens.
- It is advised to use alphanumeric characters, rather than special characters.
Do not forget, the title tag should also be pleasing, and able to draw users to your site.
We will mostly be looking at meta descriptions, here. The meta description of a page solely describes the page. When you perform a search, some sites come up, and you notice that on some sites there are descriptions you see on the search results, that you do not see, after you must have been on the page. In essence, meta descriptions only show up in search results.
You can find the meta description of a page, under the URL of the page (and that of course, is before you click on the page.)
It is very important, however, not compulsory, to optimize the meta description of a page. Google may choose meta descriptions, over a webmaster’s meta descriptions, if they think that it is not well optimized. I’m not sure you want that.
Some ways to optimize the meta description of a page are these;
- Your meta description should contain information about your site, that entices users.
- Even if keywords on meta descriptions are not a guarantee of ranking high, a well crafted meta description, may increase the click through rate of the page. So in essence, include keywords in the meta descriptions, but not too much.
- Include calls to action in meta descriptions. These people love to be told to do something! Take advantage of that.
- Note that a good meta description can serve as a copy on a site.
- Make sure that like the title tags and content, your meta descriptions are catchy.
What is a URL? Uniform Resource Locator. Isn’t that a lot, now 😄. It is the address of a webpage. It describes a page to both users, and search engines. Where can one find the URL of a page? You can find the URL of a page, under the title tag of that page. You want to make sure your URL is well optimized for your site’s SEO. And for that, here are some ways;
- URLs should contain contain keywords, be relevant, and brief.
- Place important keywords close to the beginning of every URL.
- Leave out parameters (the long letters and numbers at the end of a URL), as they make it excessively long.
- Make URLs easy to remember.
- Make sure they are related to the brand, or total theme of a site.
- URLs should follow the website’s structure.
Note: When looking at a URL, you can see some forward slashes containing some information. Those slashes are subfolders, which you can also call subdirectories, that help categorize documents on a site. Now, when search engines display search results, the middle subfolders are cut out, to make the URLs shorter, and easier for users to read. And this is why you should make URLs brief, and try to incorporate keywords in them.
That will be all, for URLs.
Finally, we are here.
Basic html starts with understanding heading tags. H1, H2, and down to H6. H1 is used for titles of posts, and H2, for subheadings. H3, though not so much in use, are also for subheadings. It is good to note, that H1 is the “primary heading”, and the most important when it comes to SEO.
The importance of heading tags, is that they help to stylistically break up the content on a page, and if you ask me, are really important for SEO, because of how they segment information, for easy understanding.
Some ways to optimize the heading tags on your page are;
- To incorporate keywords in heading tags. However, if not possible, it’s better to leave it out.
- Stick to one H1 per page, and use H2 as subsequent headings tags when needed.
- Do not make unnecessary heading tags in one page.
- Add H3 tags to subheadings near the bottom of the page.
With that, I’ll end the heading tags section, friends.
This is not an exhaustive list, but I hope that it will in one way or another, help your SEO carrier. Are there any questions you’d like to ask? Or contributions you’d like to make? Feel free, I will be here to indulge you!