On-page SEO

On-page SEO is about structuring your page content in such a way as to make it easy to read and understand for a visitor and to send all the right signals to search engines about the content of your web page.

To really nail this you need to understand how people read content on your website. Visitors don’t read website pages like they would read a newspaper, they will skim read your page, picking up on heading, subheadings and lists as these are easy ‘consumable’. But that doesn’t mean they won’t read detailed and complex content at length. If structured well, a visitor will pick up on the content that interests them and is most relevant to their search. That’s why it’s important to use descriptive headings and important items in lists.

Let’s take a look at some of the main page items at your disposal.

Page title

The page title is denoted using the HTML <title> tags. Sometimes referred to as the SEO Title, this is shown in the title bar of the browser and is the most important on-page element.

Page Title
Page Title

Rule of thumb here is to include your main keywords, but try to keep it ‘human readable’. Don’t stuff it with all the different variations. That is no longer required and could potentially cause harm.

For local SEO, where you’re targeting specific locations, ensure you include the location in the page title. TIP: You want to use your page title to entice users to click your result snippet, so try not to be too dull and boring here. SEO in Bristol is more than about using your target keywords. Use words or information that describes your ethos or brand along with the actual words you are targeting.

Search Snippet
Search Snippet

The page title and meta description (covered next) are generally what is used in your ‘search snippet’ on the results page.

This is where you want to stand out from the crowd and encourage searchers to click on your result as opposed to the others.

Try to keep your page title no longer than approximately 60 characters. The actual limit is based on pixel size and not character limit so you may get away with more or possibly less.

Try using http://www.seomofo.com/snippet-optimizer.html to test out different options and see how they’ll look in the results.

 

Meta description

The meta description is generally used as the test below the green web address in your results. You’ve got more characters to play with here, approx 156, but again keep this concise, to the point and try to get across the main selling points of your business.

Using keywords in your meta description is not essential as it’s not a ranking signal. However if words contained match the searcher’s query words then they are shown in bold, this can help them standout more and could lead to more clicks. Click through rate is a ranking signal, more on that later.

Use the tool link to above to craft your description and see what it will look like in the results.

Meta keywords

The meta keywords tag is no longer used by Google as a ranking signal and so there is no reason to include it unless of course, you want to broadcast to your competitors what keywords you’re targeting.

Heading tags

There are six heading tags that you can use in HTML, they start with <h1> and go down to <h6>.

A rule of thumb here is to use one <h1> tag per page and include your primary keywords or variation of your primary keywords. Make sure you keep everything human readable.

The other heading tags are used to introduce topics on your page. Don’t over stuff them with the same keyword, mix things up and where possible use variations of your keywords or synonyms.

Remember these headings are going to be used by visitors to skim read your page and decide whether they want to spend the time to read it further. By using descriptive subheadings you’ll make that process a lot easier which will result in visitors sticking around longer.

Advice often dictates that you should include your primary keywords in your H1 tag, Google has stated many times that it’s not essential.

Lists

By list items we’re referring to bulleted or numbered lists. By including important points of your content in lists you make them easier for the reader to pick up on. Again, this is going to help more visitors stick around for longer to read more of your content.

Internal links

Links on your website from one page to another help you to link relevant content together and also help visitors navigate around your website. By including links to further relevant content you’re going to help visitors stick around on your website for longer. This means they’re more likely to choose your products and services over a competitor’s.

Search engines pick up on these internal links and it helps them to crawl your website and find all of its content. This results in more of your web pages being included in Google’s index. In turn, this helps your website to rank for more search queries and generate more traffic.

When you link from one page to another, make use you use descriptive anchor text. These are the words that actually make up the link and are what would be clicked by the website visitor. By making these descriptive and including the keywords relevant to the linked page you will help to further increase its relevance to search engines.

Images

Images can help your optimisation in several ways. They can help illustrate the points in your content and provide interesting visual elements to break up text heavy content. This helps readability and keep visitors on your page for longer.

From a search engine perspective, they also give you further opportunities to increase the relevance of your web page for a specific topic.

The <image> tag in HTML includes an attribute called the ALT tag. This stands for text alternative. Its purpose is web browsers and “screen readers” used by visually impaired Internet users. Rather than showing their users an image, it will speak the ALT tag. It’s important to use descriptive text about your image, this can include keywords or variations of your keywords. Again, keep things human readable and don’t “over stuff” it with your keywords.

You can also use your keywords in the actual filename of your image, but I wouldn’t over stress this. Sure it can help but it’s not essential.

Videos

A lot is touted about the importance of video for SEO. Most of it false or at least inaccurate. In itself, the use of video is NOT a ranking signal. You will not get an SEO boost for merely including video on your web page.

It can, however, improve engagement by keeping visitors on your web page for longer, and this is a signal Google is looking for. It indicates how relevant and useful your web page is to the visitor.

So, by all means, include videos on your website. But make sure they have a purpose, that they add something positive to the overall user experience.

A question we get asked a lot is whether to host the video on your website or upload to Youtube or Vimeo. Personally, I would recommend creating your own Youtube channel and embedding it onto your webpage.

Youtube is owned by Google and by search volume it is the second largest search engine after Google itself. Your Youtube videos can also be included in the main search results on the Google search engine so it’s a win win.