SEO has been an ever-evolving rollercoaster of emotions for marketing professionals over the years. One of the most basic and unchanging tenants, however, has been the concept of on-page SEO. While keyword stuffing every line is certainly a thing of the past, the underlying ideas of optimizing your on-page elements for search engines remains the same.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO refers to optimizing the front-end of your website to rank better for target keywords. More specifically, optimizing your content, architecture, and particular HTML elements within your website.
Why Does On-Page SEO Matter?
On-page SEO is arguably the most important element of your website because it’s the biggest and best signal to search engines as to what your website and individual pages are all about. It’s not just for search engines though. A well-structured and defined web page is also incredibly important for the user experience. It doesn’t matter if your website pops up first in every targeted search term if users can’t find the information they need or have a bad experience and bounce off the page within 30 seconds.
There are three main categories of your on-page SEO:
• Site Architecture
Optimizing Content for On-Page SEO
Content is king. Crafting high-quality content that organically serves a purpose for your user is the backbone of a good content and SEO strategy.
Choosing the Right Keywords and Topics
High-quality content means choosing a relevant subject matter that your audience will find valuable. Some of these topics will come naturally within a brainstorming session, but keyword research is always important to have an idea of the potential demand and existing competitive landscape. Tools like AnswerthePublic and UberSuggest are also great for inspiration during the ideation process.
Optimizing your Content
With a solid topic and defined keyword targets, you’re ready to create. It’s important to remember that real human people are reading your content. Write naturally for humans and avoid repetitively using the same keywords for robots. Search engines have evolved past the point of tricking them with keyword stuffed sentence after keyword stuffed sentence. Incorporating variations of your target keywords as well as long and short-tail keywords will help you cover a spectrum of keywords while avoiding repetition.
Make sure to incorporate a call to action in your content. Even if the goal isn’t driving a user to a lead form, it’s important to anticipate what the next step should be for a user. Keeping a user engaged with your website sends positive signals to search engines while driving home that brand awareness.
There are specific HTML items in your code that can be optimized to define your content for search engines.
Page titles are one of the most important items for your SEO. Titles tell both search engines and human users what the subject matter of each page is. It’s incredibly important to utilize the main target keyword early in the page title, while still keeping it natural. Best practices for page titles include keeping it under 70 characters, avoiding keyword stuffing, and making it relevant to the page. Inauthentic page titles won’t get you anywhere, search engines know when your title doesn’t match your content.
Meta descriptions are short descriptions that accompany your page titles in search results. While Google has stated that meta descriptions aren’t an official ranking factor, creating a meta description that entices users to click into your page will improve your click-through rates and the associated ranking boost that follows. Keep your meta descriptions under 160 characters and use complete sentences with a focus on your target keywords.
Headlines, in HTML, are tagged as H1, H2, H3, and so on and so forth. Traditionally the H1 and H2 headers are the most important headlines. It’s important to view headlines like chapters in a book or items in an outline. While you’re grouping your content, make sure to do so in a logical structure and define that structure with your header tags.
Structured data is a markup that gives context to your content for search engines. Rich snippets, knowledge panels, and other enhanced search results are often drawn from this semantic markup. Schema.org is a great source for the possibly structured data available for your website. Use structured data markup to define brand names, local business addresses, prices, and many other valuable pieces of information on your website.
Your website’s architecture affects how easily search engines like Google can crawl it. The easier it is for search engines to crawl your site, the better chance you have of being properly crawled, indexed and ranked.
Your URLs should be easy to understand for search engines and for humans. Think about your organizational hierarchy as the contents of a textbook. Grouping essential categories of your content into meaningful URL structures will not only delight your users but will also be rewarded by search engines. Avoid unnecessary words and keep it to one or two keywords and you’ll be in good shape.
Utilizing hyperlinks throughout your website not only demonstrates relationships from page to page, but also passes along value throughout your site. In addition to the SEO benefits, helping users find their next destination keeps them engaged with your website longer and improves that brand awareness sticky factor.
In the end, a well-structured website with thoughtful and valuable content is key to successful organic search rankings. Creating that content with search engine optimization best practices in mind will give you the biggest advantage over the competition. Our strategists utilize a deep understanding of user experience and search engine optimization to develop website strategies that drive performance. If you’re interested in improving your website’s performance, including organic search, get in touch.