I am not here to bore you with a massive technical overview in to your website or how Google works. I am going to deliver a basic guide (thinking of a small business that would like a few tips on SEO) on a few essential yet super simple-to-implement SEO on-page optimisation techniques that will give each and every page the best chance to rank.
I will be making reference to WordPress during my examples, a basic knowledge is assumed.
Keywords, Topics and Semantic Search
Keywords are ideas, topics, phrases, and words that a user will enter into a search engine; also known as search queries. You can have short one word keywords, or 3+ word longer-tail keywords. Shorter keywords will have a much higher search volume but are extremely competitive and often very vague.
Longer-tail keywords will have a much lower search volume but are more targeted. Someone searching for a longer-tail keyword is usually further down the conversion funnel.
Keywords should be mapped to each and every page/post on your website. They should align with your content, company, and goals. Keywords can be placed in title tags, meta description tags, H1 tags, and image alt tags, as well as to the body content. Adding keywords in all these places is considered best practice, and will give each and every page the best chance to rank.
When you think about adding keywords to the body content of pages, instead of just placing keywords here and there, you need to be thinking about topics and how keywords and phrases are linked.
If one of your keywords was Apple, how would search engines know what you are talking about? Are you talking about the company or the fruit? Let’s assume you are talking about the company. It is natural then, in the content, that you would include references to apple iPhone, Steve jobs etc… This is called semantic and topic optimisation.
On a final note, make sure that you never force keywords and that it all makes sense. The last thing you want to see on a page is “the only flower delivery company that delivers the best flowers in your local area with the best flower delivery reputation”.
SEO Friendly URL’s
Now, depending on the CMS or the way your website is built, you may not have the ability to change these, but let us assume you use a widely adopted CMS such as WordPress.
When it comes to SEO friendly URL’s it’s mostly common sense. Make sure that the URL is not ugly in anyway, is easily understood, short and sweet, and ideally contains a keyword; for example:
UGLY URL: www.example.com/2017/12487142654778
GOOD URL: www.example.com/services/flower-delivery
You can clearly read and understand exactly where the page goes to and what service they offer.
It is not recommended to use special characters, symbols or any other unusual lettering.
When using WordPress and you create a new post or page, you will have to add a title. Usually, when you create the title, the URL will automatically pull through and generate the URL with the most important words, all the while leaving out stop words, such as ‘a’, ‘if’, ‘on’.
To edit your URL all you need to do is click the “edit” button. As you can see, the URL did not pull through stop words.
Title + Meta Description
Title tags and meta descriptions are a basic and fundamental part of SEO. They are the first instance to draw in the user and tell search engines what your page is about.
They should be keyword driven yet accurately describe the page in question. Over the years the length of the title tag has come in to play, with Google testing up to 70 characters, and really it is up to their discretion how many characters they are willing to display.
Title tags are ranking factors, so they should contain a keyword. As mentioned, this is the first instance to provide the user and search engine with the page content. So including a keyword is ideal as it provides search engines with clues about what they might find.
Try to keep them under or around 60 characters (my personal opinion), although some people will say keep to around 50 and others will say to use all 70.
Meta descriptions have a character limit of 156 and whilst Google has tested displaying up to 300 characters, don’t bank on this.
Meta descriptions are not ranking factors but, nevertheless, an important and fundamental part. They are designed purely for users, they are designed to provide information about a page, entice and draw in the reader. They do help with click-through-rates so filling them out is ideal.
There are a few ways to update or change title & meta tags, let’s continue using WordPress as an example.Firstly, I would install a fantastic plugin called Yoast. It is essentially a go-to plugin to help SEO optimisation in WordPress sites.
After installing and creating a post, at the bottom of the post creation screen you will notice a “Yoast SEO” box. This is the section that is used to alter these elements. Simply click “edit snippet”.
H1 Heading Tags
H1 tags or heading tags are pieces of Hypertext markup language (HTML) that are used to draw attention to certain words or sentences.
It is usually the title of the article or piece of online content. They have been around and used in SEO for a very long time, yet the importance of them has diminished, from an SEO ranking point of view.
They are considered a best practice and can help you for given keywords, but, instead of thinking of them as ranking potentials, you should be thinking of title’s as beneficial to the end-user.
When creating titles for your pages, they should quickly and easily sum up the page, make sense to the user as most of the time the heading tag is the first thing they will see when landing on a page.
If you created a post about flower delivery and included flower delivery in your title & meta tags, then it is most likely your main H1 heading tag will contain a reference to flower delivery.
Not only will this solidify to the user they are on the right page to see the content that they wanted, but it will also provide unity to search engines and what keywords your page is going for and also where to rank this page.
We live in a very visual world, this is especially true for websites. Adding relevant images to a page can do wonders. Ever heard of the age old quote “an image is worth a thousand words”?
Images help break-up the page content, provide visual clues to your brand or product, and generally inspire trust, especially when providing images of your team and who you are.
That being said, they need to be implemented correctly. When inserting images you should always follow best practices and include an alt tag. An alt tag is a bit of HTML code that you can insert in to images (most CMS’s will do it automatically) that provide a description to screen readers and search engines. WordPress will give you the option to fill out an alt tag when uploading the image.
You have inserted an image which shows a cat. While users are able to understand what the image is, visually impaired users and search engines will have difficulty.
So, the alt tag will enable a screen reader to speak the image alt, and search engines will be able to read this tag and thus get more information about you, your services, products and business.
To sum up, these are the 5 simple on page optimisation techniques that will help you on your way to search engine success. We all have to start somewhere.