Before you start to dive into the little bits of page optimization or On-Page SEO Guide, it’s important not to skip an important step:
Customer and keyword research
Here’s where you find out what your customers search for… and the exact words and phrases they use to type in. That way, you can rank your site for things that your customers search for.
Sound good? Here’s exactly how to do it.
If you already run an online business you probably have a good idea of who is your target audience and what they do online.
(Also known as a “Customer Persona”).
This type of customer research isn’t just to help you create contents that people want. It’s also a super important part of SEO and content marketing.
To succeed with SEO, you need to create content around your customer’s need.
And unless you know who your customer is, it’s next to impossible to understand the types of things that they search for (more on that later).
This free on-page SEO guide will help you create a customer persona, step-by-step.
Choosing keywords is the foundation of successful search engine optimization. You need to know the words people use most often when searching. Ideally, you’ll match your website content to what people are actually searching for. There are three things you should keep in mind when choosing the keywords for your SEO plan.
First, frequency, or the number of times a word is searched for. Obviously, you want to include these words that people search for most often in relation to your products. Just remember that it may be difficult to differentiate your business on highly searched-for terms. That brings us to our second consideration: Competition. If you have a large, established website, you may be able to appear on the search engine for high-volume, highly competitive keywords, like “Digital Marketing”.
But new sites have big opportunities too: if you’re just getting started, look for keywords that have a bit less competition-long tail keywords
While the keyword “Digital Marketing” might have a lot of competition, a term like “Best Digital Marketing Company in Delhi” would be an example of a long tail keyword that might give you more immediate SEO results.
Finally, and most important, the third consideration is relevance. The keywords you choose should closely match what you actually offer.
Next, use a keyword research tool.
Keyword tools can help you find out how many people search for each keyword and how difficult it will be to rank on the first page of Google for that term.
In other words, they can help you choose the best keywords from your selected list.
But the best all-around free keyword tool is Google’s Keyword Planner.
Even though Keyword Planner was designed to help people with Google Ads campaigns, it can still help you find best keywords for your SEO plan.
All you need to do is enter a keyword or informational keyword into it. You’ll then get data on that exact word (like a search volume range)… and a list of related keywords.
NOTE: Don’t add extra keywords or variations of keywords to your pages. Repeating them unnecessarily is called “keyword stuffing” and is against to search engines’ guidelines.
So that’s what you need to remember when selecting keywords: frequency, competition and relevance. Keeping these things in mind will take you on the right track for successful SEO.
Creating content – Applying your keyword research
Now that you know how your targeted audience is searching, it’s time to create your content!
It’s no secret that SEO and content are closely linked.
Ideally, the better content you put out there, the higher you’ll rank. It’s (obviously) not that simple. But it’s a good rule to follow as you write content for SEO.
Here are a few best practices for successful content writing, keeping this in mind.
- As you research, keep a list of potential topics and refer back to it when you write a new content. In addition, tools like Search Console help you see the terms people use to find your website, and Keyword Planner, which shows you how many people search for a specific term.
- Start with a clear intent that exactly explains to the reader what they can expect. A great headline or opening sentence is important to draw people in.
- Make sure when you’re writing, you always keep your target audience in mind, and focus on what you can offer them. Try to read your content through their eyes, and try to engage your audience, not bombard them with too many sales messages.
- Another valuable trick is to add a “call to action”, or CTA. CTAs are short statements designed to entice a website visitor to take a specific action, so you should make them as creative as possible.
- Finally, make sure your selected keywords match the intent of the people who are searching. So that when people read your content, they immediately associate your brand or business.
Through all your SEO efforts, remember this one golden rule: Your site’s content should be made for your human visitors, not for search engines only.
Important On-Page SEO Elements: You Should Optimize
After reading this section, you’ll understand other important on-page elements that help search engines understand the page content you just created, so let’s dive in!
A page’s title tag is a descriptive, HTML element that specifies the title of each page on your website. They are located within the head tag of each page and look like this:
<head> <title>Page Title</title></head>
Each web page of your website should have a unique, descriptive title tag. What you paste into your title tag field will show up here in search results, but in some cases Google may adjust your title tag appears in search results.
It can also show up in web browser like this…
Or when you share the link to your page on other’s websites…
Your title tag plays a big role in people’s first impression of your website, and it’s an incredibly effective for drawing searcher’s attention to your page over any other result on the SERP. The more compelling your title tag is, the higher your page ranks in search results, the more visitors you’ll have to your website. Keeping this in mind that SEO is not only about search engines, but rather the entire user experience.
What makes an effective title tag?
- Keywords in the Title: Putting your target keyword in the title can help both users and search engines understand your page and more helpful in ranking.
- Length of Title: On average, search engines display the first 50–60 characters of a title tag in search results. So make sure your title tag is short and relevant.
- Branding with Company Name: Try to end your title tag with a brand name because it promotes brand awareness and creates a higher click-through rate among people who are familiar with your brand and company name.
Just as title tag, meta description is a short description that describe the contents of the page. They are also located in the head tag, and look like this:
<head> <meta name=”description” content=”Short Description of your page.”/></head>
What you input into the description field will show up here in search results:
For example, if you search “Digital Marketing Company in Delhi,” Google will provide this meta description as it deems it more relevant to the specific search:
While the actual meta description is:
In most of cases this helps to improve your meta descriptions for unique searches. However, don’t let this compare you from writing a default page meta description — they’re still extremely valuable.
What makes an effective meta description?
The qualities that make an effective title tag still apply to effective meta description. So keep your eyes on, while write a Meta description.
- Relevance: Meta descriptions should be highly relevant to the content of your page. It’s like an summary of your web page, which describes your key concept in short.
- Length: Search engines display meta descriptions to around 155 characters. It’s best to put your meta descriptions between 150–300 characters in length
URL Structure: Optimize your Page URLs
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator. URLs are the locations or addresses for individual pages on the web. Like title tags and meta descriptions, search engines also display URLs on the SERPs, so URL naming and format can impact click-through rates. Not only do searchers use them to make decisions about which web pages to go on, but search engines are also used URLs in evaluating and ranking pages.
Include page name
Like title tag search engines require unique URLs for each page on your website so they can display your pages in search results, but clear URL structure and naming is also helpful for people or as well as search engines to understand what a specific URL is about. For example, which URL is clearer?
Searchers are more likely to click on URLs that describe what information is contained on that page, and less likely to click on URLs that confuse them. Before naming your pages or selecting a domain name, keep your audience in mind.
If you discuss multiple topics on a single website, you should also make sure to put your pages under relevant folders. For example:
The folders in which you locate your content can also send signals about the type, or the topic, of your content.
As you can see, what you name your pages, and in what folders you should organize your pages, is an important way to clarify the topic of your page to users and search engines.
While it is not necessary to have a completely descriptive URL, many click-through rate studies indicate that, searchers often prefer shorter URLs as compare to descriptive lengthy URL. Like title tags and meta descriptions too-long URLs will also be cut off with an ellipsis.
Minimizing length, both by removing unnecessary subfolders and including fewer words in your page names, makes your URLs easier to copy and paste, as well as more clickable.
Keywords in URL
If your page is targeting a specific word or phrase, make sure to include it in the URL. However, don’t go overboard by adding multiple keywords for purely SEO purposes. It’s also important to watch out for repeat keywords in different sub-folders. For example:
Keyword repeating in URLs can appear as spamming and manipulative. Just read your URL through the eyes of a searcher and ask, “Does this look natural? Would I click on this?”
Use Hyphens for Word Separation
Not all web software understand separators like underscores (_), plus signs (+), or spaces (%20). Search engines also do not understand URLs when they run together without a separator (example.com/searchengineoptimization/). Instead, use the hyphen character (-) to separate words in a URL. For example:
You should avoid case sensitive URLs. Instead of “example.com/courses/Digital-Marketing” it would be better to use “example.com/courses/digital-marketing”.
Protocols: HTTP or HTTPS
A protocol is that “http” or “https” preceding your domain name. Google recommends that all websites have a secure protocol (the “s” in “https” stands for “secure”). To ensure that your URLs are using the secure (https) protocol, you must obtain an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. SSL certificates are used to save your data from hackers. They ensure that the data passed between the web server and browser of the searcher remains private. As of July 2018, Google Chrome displays “not secure” for all HTTP sites, which could cause these sites to appear untrustworthy to visitors and result in lower ranking.
Header tags are an HTML element used to indicate headings on your page. The main header tag, called H1, is typically reserved for the title of the page. It looks like this:
There are also sub-headings that go from H2 to H6 tags, although using all of these on a page is not compulsory. These headings of header tags go from H1 to H6 in descending order of importance.
Each page should have a unique H1 that describes the main topic or the title of a page. That’s why it’s often automatically created from the title of a page. As the main descriptive title of the page, the H1 should contain that page’s primary keyword or phrase-you want to rank on.
The main topic of the page is introduced in <h1> heading, and each additional heading is used to introduce as the sub-topic of each heading. In this example, the <h2> is used as the sub-topic of <h1>, and the <h3> tags are used as the sub-topic of <h2>, and so on. This is just an example of a structure you could use.
Although what you choose to put in your header tags can be used by search engines to determine and rank your page. So it’s important to keep your header tags well structured.
The importance of internal linking is well established. When you link to other pages on your website, you ensure that search engine crawlers can discover all your web pages, you pass link equity to other pages on your website, and you help visitors navigate your site.
The thing to keep in mind is that all your internal links have keyword-rich anchor text.
So if you’re linking to a page on your site about on page SEO, don’t use anchor text like “click here”. Instead, make sure that your anchor text contains a keyword, like “on page SEO guide”.
Below, you can see:
v An internal link without anchor text would look like in the HTML.
v An internal link without anchor text would look like in the HTML.
<a href=”http://www.example.com/” title=”Keyword Text”>Keyword Text</a>
On live view, that would look like this:
The anchor text sends signals to search engines regarding the content of the destination page. So it’s best to make anchor text natural rather than formulaic.
According Google’s guidelines, too many links not only affect the authority of each link, but they can also be unhelpful and overwhelming. So it’s safe to say that you should only link when you mean it!
Removing and updating pages is a common practice, but in the event that you do move a page, make sure to update the links to that old URL! At the very least, you should make sure to redirect the URL to its new location, but if possible, update all internal links to that URL at the source so that users and crawlers don’t have to pass through redirects to reach at the destination page.
Images are the biggest offender of slow web pages! The best way to solve this is to compress your images. With image compression tools like Optimizilla or ImageOptim for Mac, you can short your images size without losing their quality.
Another way to help optimize your images is by choosing the right image format.
Unlikely, search engines have a hard time understanding what’s on your image. So they rely on your image’s filename, alt text and title text to find out what an image actually is.
With that, here’s how to optimize your images:
First, give your image a descriptive alt text that describes your image. Next, give your image a title.
It’s look like in HTML
<img src=”image title here” alt=”alt text here”>
Submit an image sitemap
To ensure that Google can crawl and index your pages, submit a page sitemap in your Google Search Console account. This helps Google discover pages they may have otherwise missed.
You’ve researched, you’ve written, and you’ve optimized your web pages for search engines and users. The next part of the SEO guide is a big one: establishing authority so that your pages will rank higher in search results. Onward, to our next chapter (Off-Page SEO & Link Building).