Whether you are starting from scratch with a brand new website or working with an existing website, a basic understanding of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is critical to ensuring that your message reaches your target audience. The following are some of the basic, but essential, elements of on-page SEO.
1. Start with the page copy.
The first step in creating a website is developing the content that you want to share. Each page should be centered on one topic; if you have a page that is very text heavy and covers many subjects, or a page that is too broad, it may not connect with users or search engines. The text on the page should be clear, well-written, and free from spelling and grammatical errors.
When developing the page content, keyword research can be invaluable. Keywords are the words or phrases that people type into search engines to find what they are looking for on the Internet. Knowing the words people use when searching for your topic is the key to developing search friendly content. There are many keyword research tools available online including the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and the Bing Keyword Research tool available in Bing Webmaster Tools.
Another important component of crafting your text on page is writing good headings. Both search engines and website visitors use page headings as clues to summarize what the page is about. The most important heading on a page is the <h1>. The <h1> should be keyword focused and relevant to the rest of the text on the page.
2. Don’t underestimate the importance of page titles.
The title appears between the <title></title> in the HTML of the page. Although titles do not appear in the on-page copy, titles can be seen in browser tabs and in the search result listings. All pages should have unique, relevant, well-written title attributes that are 70 characters and spaces or less.
3. Use the Meta description to describe what the page is about.
Much like page titles, all pages should have unique, relevant and inviting descriptions. The page description appears between the quotes in the tag <meta name=”description” content=”” /> in the HTML of the page. The Meta description, while not visible in the on-page text, is often what is used in search engine result listings for the page. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the description accurately reflects what the page is about and encourages the searcher to click on the result to view the page. Descriptions should be 160 characters and spaces or less.
4. Don’t forget about the images.
Most webpages include images; whether it is a logo, a relevant photo, or a supporting graphic, these images help convey the message of the page to both search engines and website visitors. In order to make sure images are properly indexed, name the image a relevant, keyword friendly name. In addition, to ensure that images are communicated to all website visitors and search engines, give the image an alt tag that accurately describes the image (alt tags appear between the quotes after alt=”” in the HTML). Alt tags are also important in terms of website ADA compliance.
5. Study your website analytics.
SEO novices and experts alike can find valuable information about website visitors and trends through a continual study of website analytics. Analytics can give insight into the most visited pages, keywords driving traffic, exit pages, traffic sources, conversion activities and more. Some important metrics to measure are unique visitors, time on site, average page views, and bounce rate. Pay attention to your analytics and look for changing patterns especially as you make updates to your site.
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