SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
To put it in plain and simple words, it is any activity which improves or attempts to improve the rankings in a search engine. For a clear understanding of SEO, know that it is a process that gets your website the required traffic from the free and organic search results from the search engines. In technical terms, we call it a marketing discipline that solely focuses on growing visibility in non-paid search or we also call it organic search. SEO has so many aspects related to it. Some of them are, how other websites link to your site, how well the keywords are placed on your page and whether your site is structured in a way that is good enough for a search engine to understand. SEO isn’t just about making your site align with the search engine algorithm, it is about making it good for the people too because these two things go parallel when you talk about search engine optimization, but today we will discuss about On Page SEO.
So let’s check out the types of SEO before heading into the details of the topic.
Types of SEO
On Page SEO – Those factors that contribute to your SEO rankings that are a direct result of your code from which the page or website has been made of. It is the front end coding practices that are responsible for search engine rankings. There are many factors responsible for the success of on page SEO, some of them which include are
Off Page SEO – Anything that is not the part of the on page coding or website design and contributes to SEO, is called off page SEO. A high quality and useful website has higher chances of mention from other websites or social media and more likely to be bookmarked and shared by like-minded readers. These factors contribute to the off page SEO rankings. Off page SEO is a good measure of how the world perceives that particular website.
Local SEO – people nowadays use mobile devices for searching local businesses. This concept helps your business stand out in SERPs. Factors that contribute into the local SEO are name, address, contact number and reviews posted by others. Once these conditions are met, your website can even rise above the organic search results and might even get listed in the carousel. That’s local SEO for you.
On Page SEO – What is it?
If you intend secure the top spot in search engines, you cannot afford to neglect the on page SEO basics. Apart from getting the competitive key phrases done right, making a fantastic outreach, PR campaign and a fantastic link profile, you need to focus on optimization of your own site. This is primarily because this is in your own control. On page SEO can prove to be the foundation of success of your website or your page.
On page SEO refers to optimization of two things:
- Content of the page
- HTML source code
It is a combination of all the technical and content factors that makes your page the most relevant to the query made on search bar of the search engines. You can look forward to improving the following on your page’s source code:
- Meta Tags
- Title Tags
- Meta Descriptions
- Heading Tags
- URL Strings
- Authoritative Content
- Keyword Targeted content
- Internal and Outbound Links
- Image Optimization
- Mobile responsiveness index
Since there are two types of websites that make it to the web, namely HTML coded and those that made using WordPress or any other CMS, the ‘On Page SEO Optimization’ is different for both. So let us first see how we can use the On Page SEO on WordPress based websites.
How to Do On Page SEO for WordPress Websites?
This question is on the minds of all those who have their website made on WordPress. To achieve this task, you would need to install a Plugin named SEO by Yoast. So let us discuss the things in order in which it needs to get done.
Begin with URL optimization or permalink structure.
The very first factor that is taken into consideration is the URL of the page, also known as permalink. To optimize the URL, make sure that you mention your keyword in the permalink that you are targeting. You might have noticed this while firing a query on Google search. When the result shows up, the links contain certain words that are in bold. And on careful observation, you will notice that those are the exact words that you have used in your search query that you typed.
Navigate to Settings → Permalinks
Permalink Structure Using Yoast
You can select ‘Custom Structure’ option and then add your ‘post name’ as shown in the image. Make sure that the keyword you are targeting appears in the first 3-5 words of the entire link. This is considered to be a best practice with respect to permalinks. You should also specify how your URL should show up. Navigate to Settings → Preferred domain
Choose what suits you best according to the image below.
Removing the ‘Stop Words’ also gives you an advantage in terms of SEO. The Yoast plugin automatically does it for you when you post link in a sentence style format. Make sure you avoid editing this once your link has gone live. Moving to HTTPS also gives you a ranking benefit according to Google. If you wish to do it, read the full guide on how to achieve it here.
Optimization of the Title
Title of the page should be such that it entices the readers into clicking it. It should contain the target keyword as the title carries weight. Placing it in the beginning is considered a good practice. According to an analysis, the keywords that are placed at the beginning perform better than those where keywords are placed towards the end.
There are two parts of the plugin that you can use to control the title. You need to navigate to SEO → Titles & Metas
Appropriate Titles and Metas
It has been found that the keywords should be present in the title for a better ranking. According to a study, it was noticed that titles containing keywords towards the beginning performed better than those where keywords were towards the end. The brand name can be towards the end as it helps people to recognize you in consecutive searches.
XML acts as a roadmap that search engines use to crawl to your website. This feature is used to let search engines know that your site has been updated. The XML sitemaps includes the visual media in your posts along with the text.
XML Sitemaps to notify search engines
Navigate to XML Sitemaps and exclude any type of content that you are noindexing from the ‘XML Sitemap’ option. This is used to tell the search engine not to index the page in search. Next, you can take your XML Sitemap URL and submit it to webmaster tools. Having done this, head straight to Google Search Console and do the following.
Keywords and their usage in the article.
Keywords and SEO go hand in hand. In fact, most people associate SEO to keyword as soon as they hear it. The most important thing to note is that you should place the keywords strategically throughout your content and this is indeed paramount to your efforts in SEO. Keep your focus such that the keyword appears in the first 100 words.
Also, note that Yoast lets you first select a focus keyword and then makes sure you use it appropriately throughout the content. Using the autocomplete and keyword explorer, learn what people are searching. A smart way to deal with it is to use long tail keywords. This is particularly relevant, as people tend to write the entire phrase while searching for something. You can use this definitive guide to learn more about long tail keywords here.
However, be informed that if you forget to put a Meta description of your page, Google might just pull the initial content and display it in the description. Therefore, this is yet another reason why you should use keywords in the first 100 words itself. Google uses LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). This tool helps search engines with treasures, so it makes perfect sense to use synonyms of the targeted keywords.
Create longer content.
According to a study, it was found that the internet loves longer content. Additionally, pages in the top search results tend to have a higher word count than those with a lower word count. The ideal length should be of 2500 words. See the below image for proof.
If you optimize your images in a way that it becomes easier for search engines to find, you can get an extra edge over others.
To do this, you need to write proper alt tags for images and naming the file also has an impact. Once you find the right image, you need to decide the pixel dimension of the image in order to let your page load faster. This is called ‘Scaling for image SEO’. For a full description on SEO for an image, read this post by Yoast.
Enable social sharing
When you enable the sharing options that allow your page to be shared on social media platforms, it is highly likely that they will link it to you. One of Google’s parameters for ranking websites is also that it takes into consideration the social presence of the website. So it is wise to enable social sharing and promote the site massively. So here’s how you do it.
For your site to be optimized from the social media point of view, it is necessary that there are links pointing to your website and to make it possible, people should be talking about your website. Moreover, the Yoast plugin enables you to do just that.
Navigate to SEO → Social and enable the open graph option. Use this as a person or as an admin and you will be allowed to use the Facebook Insights. The valued are mostly filled out by the plugin by default as per your posts data that you have provided so far. The required open graph tags are filled out using the locale of your website, SEO title, the website name and Meta description. Similarly, it happens the same for other social media platforms like Twitter and Pinterest as well.
How To Do On-Page SEO for HTML Based Websites
The first thin to be noted here is the version of HTML that you or your developer is using. The latest one is HTML5 and this supports most of the features that will help you in search engine rankings. This part is mainly focused on enhancing the code to align it with the rules of SEO.
The DOCTYPE declaration
It is the first line of the HTML page. This defines the standard that is kept in mind while coding the web page. Ignore the notion that this does not have any effect on SEO, but you should keep in mind that:
• Code validation enables one to troubleshoot the errors arising out of cross browser compatibility. Not necessary that all the errors get resolved, but it definitely does eliminate the coding as a cause.
• If your visitors are not able to see the content, then this is entirely the fault of doctype declaration as this makes the visibility to browser-specific coding.
Let’s see what are the main tags that need to be focused upon to make the site SEO friendly.
HEADER TAG – <head> . . . </head>
This tag contains the title tags, meta descriptions and the search engine analytics code. Most importantly, the header tag is also home to one the most important rel = canonical tag.
A page containing the canonical tag is known to be a preferred version of a set of pages that contains highly similar content. This tag passes the exact amount of link juice, better known as ranking power as a 301 redirect and its implementation consumes less time as well. This is by far the most important advancement in SEO. This tag is not of much importance as far as the look and feel of the website is concerned, but surely the content of this tag is reflected in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). Therefore, you should try to make it as neat as possible.
2. TITLE tag – <title> . . . </title>
Ensure that there is only one title tag per page. The content that you put in between the title tags is displayed as title in the search results by the search engine. Make the keyword appearance natural in the title. Obsessing with the keyword in the title tag is not encouraged.
Write it as if it were to be the title of an advertisement brochure. An apt title tag briefly describes the contents of the page.
3. META DESCRIPTION – <meta name=”. . . ” content = “ . . . ” />
The meta description looks like the image shown below.
It is recommended that you should not exceed 160 characters, as this should fit in the 512 pixels that is used by the search engines to display the search results, similar to the way it displays the title in the search results.
The content in the tag is used to describe what the information on the page is all about. This is equivalent to free advertising your web page. This description appears beneath the title and the link when the search result shows up. A lot depends on this description as people often read this and if it seems compelling, they go ahead to click on the link.
4. HEADING TAG – <h1> . . . </h1>
Only one heading tag per topic is considered most appropriate. This tag should contain that is warm and inviting. Also, if this is done right, the users are set in a good mood to go ahead and read the contents of the page. A specific and an engaging heading for the page makes sense. Let see how this is beneficial from the SEO point of view.
This is the heading tag that carries the topic name of your content.
The words in the header tag is compared to the rest of the content, so put in the most relevant keyword here. Search engine spiders look for keyword’s consistency between the content of the page and the page title. Since the search engine gives high priority to user experience so the presence of <h1> . . . </h1> makes this relatively important from a SEO point of view. This is how the search engine determines the relevance, keyword consistency, importance of the tag and user experience index while going through the heading tag
5. The HREF TAG – <a href = “ . . . ” /a>
It goes without saying that links form an important part of SEO. The inbound and outbound links are a proof that you value high-quality content from others and that the links that direct back to you shows your content’s importance in other pages.
With XML Sitemaps, link tags are the only way that search engine crawlers can locate and index web pages. For an actionable link tag, they need to be descriptive and must contain the target keyword. If we look at it from a usability point of view, an effective link reference can improve the user experience of why they have come to your site. And when their goal is met, it leaves a positive impact on them making their revisit a probable happening event in the near future.
Users typically spend around 10-15 seconds on your page and if the content doesn’t catch their attention, there is nothing that stops them from moving on to search a better page. So make sure you carry out these tweaks in your coding of the website and master that which is directly under your control. The list above list can be discussed beyond conclusion. But since these are the topmost points that need to be addressed, one should carefully execute it for a better performance and deliver a rich user experience.