Grow your online business with On-Page SEO
by SEO Gold!
On-page SEO (also known as On-Site SEO and On-Page Optimization) is the practice of optimizing individual web pages to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. On-page refers to optimizing content and HTML source code of a web page, as opposed to off-page SEO, which refers to optimizing links and other external signals. On-page SEO takes into account all aspects of the webpage that will improve your rankings in the search results.
Maryland SEO Experts | SEO Gold
With the help of the Maryland SEO experts at SEO Gold, using only organic, innovative On-Page SEO techniques, we will improve your web rankings, maximize results, increase ROI and make lasting improvements to your business for long-term success.
A very important aspect of on-page SEO is the implementation of meta tags in HTML. Meta tags are snippets of text that describe a page’s content to search engines; Meta tags don’t appear on the page itself, but only in the page’s code.
The information provided in a meta tag is used by search engines to index a web page to match the page with a relevant user query.
Meta tags only exist in HTML, usually at the “head” of the page, and only visible to search engines.
In the example below, you can see the meta tags in the head of the document which do not display on the page in the browser.
The meta title is ‘Local SEO Local Search SEO Gld’ . The meta description is ‘In depth description and analysis of the purpose of all the elements comprising Local SEO aka Local Search.’
The search engine takes the info we provide in these head meta tags and displays to the user in the browser in the form of a snippet like this:
This allows us to customize meta tags targeting relevant keywords to help search engines match page content to relevant search queries.
The title is what users see in the search engines for both organic results and paid ads, and the words that appear at the top of each tab in your browser.
The title tag outlines the topic of the page. When ranking web pages for particular queries, Google looks at the title tag and compares it to the rest of the content on the page.
In HTML, the code for the title tag looks like this:
Text is surrounded by title tags. However, the All In One SEO WordPress plugin and the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast allows us to create custom title tags within the platform. Google recently increased the character limit for page titles to 70 characters before showing ellipses.
Stay below 70 characters so titles display properly. The Snippet Optimizer simulates the display of the title and meta description in SERPs, and the WordPress plugins have this feature baked in as well.
Use title tags to stand out from competitors, and make sure all pertinent information is included, including keywords and location for local businesses.
Though it’s still recommended to use the core keyword within the title, Google is shifting toward relevance and semantics in the results, so don’t over-stuff keywords.
Meta descriptions, sometimes referred to as the “snippet”, convey what users will find on the page. While not a direct ranking factor, search engines read the meta descriptions to determine the page’s topic and relevance.
A well-written meta description can generate a competitive advantage in the search results, creating a higher click-through rate with a greater chance of conversions. While there is a possibility that Google will omit the custom description and pull an excerpt of the content on the page, it is recommended that you fill in the meta description for every page of your site using many of the keywords in your content.
Try Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider to find pages missing a meta description. It displays every URL under the domain, with meta description, and length.
Earlier in 2016, Google extended the length of descriptions for both desktop and mobile. For desktop, users will see up to 200 characters, while on mobile they’ll be shown up to 172 characters. To appeal to users on both devices, it is recommended to keep descriptions between 165 and 175 characters.
In the meta description, clearly define the content users will find on the page, add your brand name and a keyword. Meta descriptions may be considered organic “unpaid” ad text.
Offer users a benefit to click through to your site by including including an offer or call to action to entice a click.
Success begins with the title and meta tags. Once you get the clicks, a great user experience and quality content will maintain engagement.
The URL or “slug”
The slug is the part of the URL that identifies your article. So in our example above the slug is “local-seo”. Slugs in WordPress are normally the article title, lowercase, with spaces replaced by hyphens. Yoast SEO has an option to remove stop words (low google ranked words) from your slug. URL slugs are the exact address of a specific website. It is the location where webpages are accessed when typing their URL in the address bar.
URL slugs used in your web page will appear in SERPs. URL Slugs are visible to users searching the web, and important for indexing. Write your URL for people and to rank keywords for search engines.
Your landing page or blog should include multiple heading tags, from the h1 down to a potential h6. The most important is the h1. You should never have more than one h1 tag on any page, but can include multiple h2’s or h3’s, subheadings, as users scroll down the page.
If you use subheadings to represent the different sections of the page, you’ll notice the positive SEO and usability impact.
Combining the title of the page with words used in your heading tags should provide users with a clear understanding of the page. The search engine algorithm compares the section of content underneath each heading tag to establish relevancy.
Your headings should provide structure to the page.
The primary keyword of the page should be included in your h1 tag. Avoid skipping the h1 on a page, as it lets both your visitors and Google understand its subject. Many blogs, especially those in WordPress, automatically include the title of the blog post as an h1. Make sure to look at the HTML version of the page to ensure the h1 tag is present.
Don’t stuff keywords in the heading tags, and don’t use the same h1 tag on multiple pages of your site. This can have harmful effects on your SEO as Google won’t know which page to rank for a query containing that heading. Keep the titles on each page unique.
The Yoast SEO plugin on WordPress helps you understand the SEO strength of a page. It analyzes on-page factors to help ensure your page is optimized, and alerts you if any SEO issues are present.
Keep in mind that users are not reading the entire page, but rather scanning looking for a section that answers their questions or provides value.
Headings and subheadings split up the page, making it easier for a user to scan the page for relevant info quickly.
Consider architecture. If you’re changing the subject or discussing a different aspect of the service, use h2s. If you break it down further and need a sub-sub-heading under an h2, use an h3 tag.
Headings hold more weight on the page than a standard paragraph
tag or a bolded word. Always keep headings user friendly. Don’t force a keyword only to optimize the page.
When it comes to writing URLs, they should be short, concise, and readable. How can we create the perfect URL?
When analyzing the length of URLs, Ahrefs found that shorter URLs tend to rank better.
The way we write URLs is an SEO practice that should be considered. Each word in a URL should be separated by a hyphen (-) , not an underscore (_).
When you have two pages displaying similar content, set up a 301 redirect or canonicalization tag (rel=canonical) to the stronger page. This avoids duplicate content and shows Google which page to rank.
Although Yoast writes many long urls, the shorter the URL, the easier it is to share or embed while creating a better user experience.
Utilize your primary keyword in the URL. Like other factors of on-page SEO, don’t let your URL appear forced with keywords. A five word URL length is ideal, clearly outlining the information your users will find.
Don’t leave your visitors left wondering what’s on the page before they click. The title, meta description, and URL should make it obvious.
Interesting, Authoritative Content
As Google crawls your indexed page, the search engine is looking to match your page with user intent. Your content should clearly explain your product, service, or topic of your article.
The internet is so cluttered with content, it’s important you create unique, high quality content to stand out. “Content is king.”
Quality content works well for humans and search engines.
Content is a conversation with your readers. Are they going to be interested or bored and leave your site?
Good content conveys authority, provides value, perhaps solves a problem, and entices users to read further and contact your company.
Google unleashed the Panda algorithm in 2011 to help weed out websites that achieved high rankings with spammy, keyword stuffed thin content. Today if your site has poor quality content, it won’t be found online.
At the end of the day, it’s not how many visitors you had on a specific day, but rather how many visitors you connected with in a meaningful way.
Make sure you focus on creating quality content optimized for high-volume keywords and written to please readers.
SEOs and marketers have been trying to figure out the effects of Google RankBrain since 2015. The machine learning system has become the third highest ranking factor.
To rank well with RankBrain, consider long-tail queries and use a conversational approach to content. While keywords still play a significant role with your on-page SEO, Google is using semantics more to deliver the best user experience.
When creating content, we need to maintain a user-friendly, authoritative tone, but the focus keyword is still important. We’ll use meta keywords for a product or service, in our meta-tags, targeting multiple queries, or perhaps a single focus keyword for a blog.
In either case, make sure you’re targeting keywords that have search volume. There’s nothing worse than appearing first in the results for a query that leads to zero conversions!
To get the most of your on-page, perform keyword research and be confident your company is capable of converting for the targeted terms. If the ranking competition websites are considerably stronger than yours, perhaps it makes better sense to target less competitive long tail keywords.
You can use Google AdWords Keyword Planner to view search volume, or analyze your competitors with SEMRush or AHREFS. Keyword Planner offers variations of keywords you can include on the page for additional optimization.
Think about the types of keywords available and what will work best for your business.
- Informational Keywords: like “on-page SEO”
- Transactional Keywords: using adjectives like “best” or “top”
- Location-Based Keywords: like ‘Bethesda, MD’
To determine the relevance for a particular query, Google looks at LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords, or synonyms for the searched keyword, which means that Google sorts sites on the frequency of a variety of terms and key phrases linked together instead of on the frequency of a single term.
Therefore content should not have just one focus keyword. The goal with on-page SEO is to rank for all synonyms and related queries as well as the focus keyword. All this overly-complex mumbo jumbo just means, dont force keywords, write for humans!
As an example, a focus keyword like ‘on-page SEO’, may have 50,000 monthly searches, but your page can rank higher for a similar query, like ‘on-page SEO Maryland’, that has only 1,000 monthly searches.
So write content that will drive traffic from many related longer tail queries.
Today, inbound and outbound links carry the most weight in organic SEO. Earning links from quality sources and authority sites considerably strengthens the domain, and linking internally throughout the site benefits the user experience and enhance your SEO.
Although earning backlinks is part of ‘off-page’ SEO strategy, and beyond the scope of this article, use email, and other creative ways to build links back to your site.
Internal linking from one page to other pages of your site strengthens keywords and enables Google to determine where to rank a keyword. Linking internally, between service pages and blogs, helps improve the crawlability of your site.
Of course we cant load the homepage with links to all our new content, however, a new link on the homepage is easier for Google to find than crawling the entire site for new material.
The benefit of internal site linking is also giving your audience more reasons to stay on your site. More user engagement to relevant pages, gets Google’s attention. Don’t put an internal link in every sentence, but include multiple links per page to boost SEO.
Boost SEO by optimizing the images. Use your top targeted keyword for the alt text and create a unique title that relates to the image. The alt tag should be written is a way to describe the image to someone who can’t see it while using relevant keywords.
Don’t stuff your keywords into alt tags. Make sure they fit with the image and make the picture relevant.
Images are important for conversions. Make sure they’re scaled appropriately, and displays in the smallest possible size, so the page will load quickly.
Mobile | Responsive
For your page to be found relevant and your on-page SEO to improve, websites must be mobile-friendly and responsive. Responsive websites provide a user friendly similar experience regardless of the screen size or device used.
Among the benefits of making your website responsive, it will generate a positive ranking signal due to the 2015 Mobile Algorithm Update .
Over 50% of users are spending their time browsing and searching on mobile devices now. Make sure your site is among them! Use the Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to understand how a Googlebot is viewing your page.
To continue to provide users with the fastest and best experience, Google started showing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in the search results. Mainly beneficial for news outlets and articles, these pages load instantly and are easily identified with a lightning bolt symbol. The faster the load time, the more appealing it is for mobile users.
Google has a test tool to check if your website is mobile friendly as well. If not, Google outlines suggestions to improve it.
Page Load Speed
It is thought that half of all mobile users will leave a site if it doesn’t load within 3 seconds, and that fast-loading websites are significantly more likely to rank in Google.
Optimize the site to decrease page load time. Consider the following to improve site speed:
- Leverage Browser Caching
- Leverage Server Caching
- Optimize Plugins & Images
- GZIP Compression
- Faster Hosting
- Clean Up HTML & CSS, and JS Coding
- Eliminate Ads
- Minimize Redirects
Often bloated images are the culprit. Images hold, on average, a whopping 50 to 60% of the total page weight. If your image files are too large, they are slowing page load times.
Tools to check site performance:
The On Page SEO Ideal
Digital marketing is about communicating with the audience as well as search engines effectively. The successfully optimized web page will be:
- Relevant to targeted queries
- Contain quality content
- Properly Written Meta Tags
- Inbound and Outbound Links
- Marked Up Structured Data
It’s very important to provide the right signals to Google implementing custom meta tags, title tags, headings, and quality content. Provide visitors with useful information, and watch how they interact with your site through analytical tracking.
This includes checking for crawl errors … broken links, dynamic pages, 404s, errors in the robots.txt files, and sitemap errors.
SEO Gold Maryland implements all these described On Page SEO techniques to set a strong foundation that both informs Google, and engages users.
SEO Gold Maryland optimized pages will create a memorable user experience, strengthen your brand, increase rankings for relevant keywords, drive traffic, and convert leads to sales.
Does your website need On-Page SEO? What does your analytic data and bottom line tell you?