The basics of on-page SEO
SEO (or search engine optimisation, for those of you just joining us) and content marketing can be a scary can of worms to open.
Today, we’ll be talking about the basics of DIY on-page SEO. To put it in context, the basic elements of SEO include:
- On-page optimisations: Everything that can be done to a website “on-page” or on the site itself. By this we usually mean optimising content, metadata (which is the blue underlined title and blurb that appear in Google results pages), images, and so on.
- Off-page optimisations: Everything that isn’t physically changing how it looks to a user. This mainly involves link building.
- Technical SEO: technical SEO involves optimising the backend development of the site to make sure Google’s crawlers are able to read and interpret the site advantageously.
But when we talk about “on-page SEO” we’re essentially referring to anything that is in live text on your site. That is any writing that Google’s spider can read and understand. Google uses elements of your website like URLs, page titles, and heading tags to better understand what a particular page on your site is about.
Luckily, the on-page element of SEO is something that we can easily optimise and control. If you want to jump start your own SEO optimisation, simply pick an SEO phrase to target, check people are actually searching for that phrase on Google Keyword Planner, and take the following steps to optimise each page on your website.
H1 header tag:
The h1 header tag should be seen as the main headline of each page. It should include the page’s core keyword target. Best practice dictates that there be a single h1 tag on any one page. This is because if a pages utilises multiple h1 tags with differing target keywords, Google has difficulty contextualising the page, which may have a negative impact on keyword rankings.
H2 header tag:
The h2 header tags support the h1 tag and should be seen as the pages sub-heading. It is best practice to create a headline hierarchy with the main target keyword supported by h2 tags. Unlike h1 titles, there can be as many h2 headings on a page as you like.
Copy is an extremely important aspect of on-page SEO as it can be used to drive further signals to search engines on the page subject. This can help your site gain authority for particular target keywords. Your on-page copy should align with the URL, header tags, page title and meta description already on a page. Your copy should be user-centric, unique and use relevant anchor text links to other pages on your site where applicable.
Your keyword-rich copy should be designed so that can be readable by search engines (not locked into images or videos).
Latent Semantic Indexing keywords:
Otherwise known as LSI for those of us who don’t have all day. LSI keywords are semantically-related keywords that support and contextualise the main keyword you’re targeting. There’s no hard and fast rule to getting LSI keywords in. Theoretically, if you write good content for your page, the LSI will organically be present to support the main keyword. But to double check, make a list of related phrases (maybe Google you SEO phrase and see what Google suggests or what other keywords appear) and make sure you hit them.
The navigation should be clear and keyword rich for both users and search engines. The sub-navigation is also extremely important and should be properly optimised based on keyword research.
Page titles is just that - the title of your page. It’s what comes up in the search engine results page.
Optimised title tags have a higher click-through rate. Page titles should have the target keywords placed as close to the start of the <title> as possible. They should also be well-structured and kept to no more than 55 characters to avoid being cut off in the search results.
Image alt tags:
If it doesn’t already, your site should feature lots of engaging images and those images should be properly titled.
An image alt tag is the name given to an image within the code of a page. Every image should be optimised with alt attributes. Alt tags aid accessibility, search engine understanding of images, as well as the ability to show up within image search of search engines.
- The alt attribute needs to accurately reflect the image;
- Do not spam the alt attribute with additional keywords;
- Aim to include the main keyword target within the main image alt attribute where possible;
- The image filename should also be optimised to include target keywords and/or be descriptive of the image content.
So, you can see that your copy has a big impact on the ranking success of a webpage. Google weights on-page copy as an important ranking factor within its algorithm so keep yours fresh and optimised and enjoy the benefits of organic traffic.
Thank you to Francesca Granville for her invaluable input on this article.