For some of you this will be a nice reminder, and for others this quick guide will let you know the most common best practices that are still effective for on page optimization in 2015.
Search engine optimization is a form of business that constantly evolves. New technologies, tweaks to how search engines interpret data and the modification of how certain established factors are weighted make it so.
To start 2015 correctly with your own website, it’s imperative that your on-page SEO marketing optimization is both complete and up-to-date with regards to the factors the search engines consider essential.
This guide aims to look at the essential on-page factors that website owners tend to miss in a way that even beginners can understand and employ.
1. Your Website URLs
The URLs of your website’s pages reflect how easily people and computers can interpret what your pages are about.
If you’re going to purchase a new domain or create a subdomain of your website, then consider making it as keyword-centric as possible. This can including your brand or a main keyword for your subdomain (such as “guides.yourwebsite.com”).
As far as your individual pages’ URLs go, it’s important to ensure that they describe the content contained on your page. This means you want a descriptive URL such as “http://www.yourwebsite.com/category/keyword.html”.
It’s also important to remove extraneous data that may not be helpful to your visitors. Consider removing the date of posts, for example, if you use something like WordPress to manage your website. Dates are primarily helpful for blog content, but not static web material.
If you have a string of dynamic code for a ecommerce site, make static landing pages optimized for your KW’s and let the dynamic URL’s work for user generated search queries.
2. Your Title Tags
Title tags are relatively simple. They should include your page’s main keyword first with your website’s main keyword, such as your brand or an encompassing keyword like ‘plumbing’, second.
It’s important to remember to keep your page titles to 69 characters or less. This is a situation where search engines truncate longer titles or simply replace them with more “appropriate” titles in search results, which may negatively impact your website’s presence in search engine results.
A bad example is this cool infographic about Ray-Bans (which is a great example of content marketing) but you will notice if you use a tool like Moz’s chrome add-on that the title tag, along with all other posts on the blog are simply the blog’s title.
No custom title tags for any posts?
This is such an easy fix, and I am always surprised to see even big companies neglect optimizing their title tags. This has been “best practice” for years.
3. Your Meta Description and Meta Tags
the meta content of your pages is also important. Ensuring that each field is complete will help your website perform better.
Of all the meta content on any given page, the meta description falls just after your page title in importance to your SEO. Ensure that your meta description is 156 characters or less and that it relates highly to the rest of your content on your page, as this will allow it to perform better in search engines like Google.
As far as other meta content goes, you should add things like keywords and content type to your pages. You just need to be aware that very few search engines heavily weigh these things, and some search engines, which includes Google, tend to ignore them outright.
Now some of you may be saying “Didn’t Google announce forever ago that Meta tags don’t factor into SEO rankings?” Yes they did. It is true that Google doesn’t factor in meta tags directly, however, when you are listed in a google search the meta tag is what people read before they decide which search result to click. If your meta tag is bad, and people don’t click through to your site when your listed, Google will take that as a sign that your page is not relevant to the specific query that triggered your listing in the first place.
In other words, the meta tag gets people to click your site, if nobody clicks your site, you lose rankings. So meta descriptions are still very important to SEO.
4. Keyword Density
Keyword density is a tricky subject, as there is no set limit for how many times a keyword should appear within your text to be considered relevant. The only thing that is for certain is that mentioning a keyword too many times may make your page perform poorly in search engines.
To both guard against this and improve your keyword-related performance, instead opt to use synonyms and other closely related keywords when possible. This will make your pages’ contents perform better both in the eyes of search engines and your visitors.
It’s also not a bad idea to see what the density for your top 5 competitors ranking is and try to use that as a standard. It’s pretty easy, just pop in the top 5 search results for your keyword into a tool like text analyser and if you find the top 5 results are all around 40%, it’s safe to say you can optimize to 40% and not worry about being penalized.
5. Content Length
Just like with keyword density, there is no set content length that will perform better in the eyes of search engines. The only thing that is for certain is that longer content that has a clear purpose behind it tends to perform far better than short-winded content.
As a general rule of thumb, aim for your pages to have a minimum of 300 to 350 words. You should include other pieces of media and interactive content to keep your visitors on your pages for as long as possible.
It’s worth noting that longer content can be interwoven with shorter pieces. This supports a healthy interlinked URL scheme, which appeals both search engines and your most curious of visitors.
6. Image Alt Tags
Although image recognition is improving, there’s only so much that search engines like Google can accurately interpret. Alt tags allow search engines to quickly understand what your images on your pages are about, which is why it’s important to use them whenever possible.
When doing so, be sure to add in the keywords that describe your content. This will help both your page in SERPs and your images in image search engines.
7. Ad-Less Content
While ad revenue is always nice, it can significantly detract from your most valuable pages. Try to keep above-the-fold content that you want your visitors to read clear of ads and other potentially annoying or distracting content.
If you must put ads on your place, the best place to do so is either through contextual links or near the end of your content. This will reduce negative SEO factors like bounce rate while keeping your pages lovable in the eyes of your visitors.
Other Factors to Consider
What has been covered so far is just a start. There’s still countless other tweaks to your SEO that you can perform, but following the above steps will ensure that your website has a strong start in 2015 with search engines.
If you are wondering where “on page” optimization sits into whats known as ‘SEO Priorities” It sits as the #2 priority according to this article. Either way, on-page is relatively simple, and has been around for a long time yet many webmasters still neglect to optimize and miss out on easy wins that do add up over time. Stop worrying about links, and get your site in order first.