On-page Optimization Guide

Last Edited October 13, 2016 by Garenne Bigby in Search Engine Optimization

seo on page optimization guide

On-page optimization takes up one quarter (25%) of all SEO elements. This guide will help you to understand the importance of all areas regarding on-page optimization and how they work together to make your website the best that it can be.

Your Title Tag

Titles tags have been used for as long as websites have been around. They are one of the oldest and most important factors that is used in website optimization. Users see title tags in the left side of the uppermost portion of the internet browser, but it is also seen in search results as a clickable text. Creating a title tag is not difficult at all, and you can see how one it created in the source code for the internet browser. Titles tags are quite valuable and hold importance when being looked at as an on-page SEO factor. It sets the tone for your keyword and will let visitors know what the purpose of your website is within the search engine as well as the website itself. Never overlook the title tag, but don't try to put too much information into it.

The title tag should have no more than 70 characters. If it has any more than that, search engines will cut it off and show the ellipsis as an indication that the extra characters are not included. Experts will also say that it is important for the keywords in the title to also be included in the body of the content to rank higher among search results. Also, it would be ideal if the title tag was also included on the main heading for the web page. When putting together your title tag, aim to make the first word your target keyword—this makes it more helpful to the search engine when ranking and the title will have a more positive impact as a relevant result.

A great title will be effective, it will make people click on it when it is seen in the search engine results pages. It will make people want to read the content because they have been lured in by the title. A bad title doesn't lead people into reading content. It takes just a few moments for someone to decide whether or not they want to read what you have to offer based on your title. You have to pull each reader in with an enticing title that will strike up emotions. It is the first thing that is seen in SERPs that display your webpage. You need to make it great enough that it will leave a lasting first impression.

Keywords

When you are not working with the right keywords, your SEO plan will not get you anywhere. Keyword density is just a single aspect of the entire plan, but it is an important step in leveraging the optimization. The keyword density is the ratio of your chosen keywords in relation to the total number of indexable words that are placed on the web page. As an example, if there are 100 words in an article, then implementing a 1% keyword ratio means that the keyword should occur one time within the entire 100 word context.

How does this impact SEO? When you are aware of your own keyword density, it gives a signal to search engines that your content is strictly about a topic—suggested by the keyword in which you are targeting. Do not ever mistake this with keyword stuffing, a practice that is highly frowned upon. This is when keywords are packed into content with very little regard as to how it will appear to the reader. Not all search engines hold keyword density to the same importance, but Google suggests a density range of 1 to 2%. Yahoo suggests density at 3%, so staying at 2% is a safe bet. In general you shouldn't be too concerned with your keyword density as long as you are not stuffing them in, and are being mindful of the reader, because those are the people that will determine your success.

You will also need to understand keyword prominence, frequency, and proximity and how they work to help with your optimization. Keywords are essential to making a website successful. It is what brings the readers in and guides them to the information that they are looking for.

Keyword prominence refers to the keywords and how they stand out in a web page. The most prominent keywords on a page should be the most important keywords. The great thing about this is that you have it covered already if you have put your keywords in your page heading.

Keyword frequency refers to how often the keyword appears within the web page. This relates back to the idea of keyword stuffing. Yes your keywords should be prominent within the content, but the text should be easily read and understood by the audience. Keyword stuffing is nothing but trouble.

Another aspect, keyword proximity, deals with how physically close multiple keywords are to each other. It has been said that the closer the keywords are to each other, the better optimized the content is.

Taking all of these tips into consideration regarding keywords, remember that the content that you publish should be compelling, first and foremost. Always stay aware of your keywords and their prominence, frequency, and proximity while creating quality content for your readers.

Image SEO

You will need to optimize for the images contained on your website. You will need to know how to use image alt text, how to use image titles, and how to change an image file name. Alt text is short for alternative text—it is called this because it is what is displayed if the website does not load properly or if the image display is turned off. This alt text may also be considered the keywords of the image. This does not mean that it is an appropriate place to stuff in keywords to try to improve search ranking. Once again, stuffing will do no good. The alt text needs to describe what the image is so that when you do an image search via any of the search engines, your picture will rank well for the applicable keywords. Alt text should be used with all images within a website. It will help so much within the image SERP but not so well in the regular web SERP. Take advantage of the image title and image file name as more places to strategically use the target keywords.

Sitemaps

Simply put, a sitemap is a file that is filled with the individual web page URLs. It can be thought of as an archive of each webpage that is contained in your website. It is a single file (if it has less than 50,000 links) and should be easily discovered on your website so that search engines will be able to stumble upon it and crawl it. A sitemap is used for allowing search engines to follow the links to the sites so that it can discover all of the content. When URLs are hidden from users, they become inaccessible to search engine crawlers. To fix this but still keep the URLs hidden, they will need to be included in the XML sitemap.

Making a sitemap is very simple. There are so many sitemap generators available and plugins that can be used that there's no real reason not to utilize a sitemap. Google has a plugin, and DYNO Mapper offers so many great resources for sitemap making.

There is no reason for a search engine to overlook a page that it should be seeing from your website. When you have created a thorough sitemap, the more pages that have been indexed, the more trusts that the website gains. The search engines can see that your website has a plethora of content to offer regarding your topic. A sitemap is never used for navigation, it is simply used to make sure that search engine bots can crawl all of the pages and content that you intend them to.

Outbound Links

These particular links are meant to take the visitor elsewhere—they can lead to another web page on the site, or to another site altogether. Almost all websites have outbound links. There are two separate types of outbound links, nofollow and dofollow links. The dofollow is a normal link. It is what is known as the default link. It does not have to be added to the code and does not require much effort on your part. When you make a link, it is just automatically a dofollow. It is what every link should be. The nofollow link is the link that is not normal. It hinders the page ranking through search engines, and it has a specific tag attached to it in the code that tells Google's spider not to follow or crawl the link. This is sometimes done on purpose to stop Google from crawling a specific page—like having an outbound link to a social media site that already has many incoming links and will make very little difference. The general consensus is that dofollow links should be given in a normal occurrence.

The anchor text is what is used to describe a link, and is what users see that indicates that they should follow the link. Within content, they are underlined or highlighted in blue and are clickable. Because this text is used to describe the link, it also means that it consists of the keywords of the page that it is linking to. Good anchor text is vital for supporting your own keywords. This is especially true if you are linking from another blogger, as they will use anchor text that will help your website rank higher when the keywords are used as the anchor text.

Internal Linking

This is used to share relevant web pages contained on your own site as well as others that are related to the current web page's content. When you link the web pages within your website, you are helping search engines to crawl your website as well as helping website visitors to find additional content that is relevant to what they are currently looking at. A website that has thoroughly arranged their internal links will have a website that is very easy to navigate to find out all of the relevant information all within the site. It also aids search engines to crawl it and get a better idea of the larger picture of what the website is about and its structure.

Internal/inbound links are perfect for ranking better. The more links that go to and from your website, the more power you have for page ranking on your website. The best thing about linking like this is that you will have total control over the anchor text upon the links. This aids search engines in knowing what the web page is about. It is most valuable when good anchor text is paired with a great page title, even when the links are coming from a different webpage within the same website.

Subdomains and Subfolders

To get started, understand the hierarchy of a website. The top level domain (TLD) is a main domain and is the .com, .org, or .net portion of a website. The second level domain is the actual name that is purchased; the Google portion of www.google.com is the SLD. Search engines will treat a subfolder as part of the SLD, when subdomains are treated as a totally different website. The use of a subdomain will come in handy if there are different versions of a website that cater to different parts of the world. It is also great when there are franchises involved or if there are conflicting URLs all together. The main way to tell the difference between a subdomain and a subfolder is that a subdomain will show up right before the SLD, and the name of the subfolder will be right after the TLD.

Garenne Bigby
Author: Garenne BigbyWebsite: http://garennebigby.com
Founder @dynomapper
Garenne Bigby is freelance Chicago developer and founder of DYNO Mapper with over 10 years experience in both agency and freelance roles in design, development, user experience, SEO, and information architecture.

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