SEO On-Page Optimization for Better Rankings

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Factors and tips for Building the best Optimized Page

In search engine optimization, on-page optimization refers to factors that have an effect on your Website or Web page listing in organic search results.  On-page optimization and keyword targeting are crucial factors to think about in search engine optimization and achieving success with search rankings. There are so many aspects to think about when building a properly optimized web page.  This is a list of some of the best practices & techniques we use in optimizing your website’s pages.

HTML Head Tags

  • Title - the most important of on-page keyword elements, the page title should preferably use the keyword term/phrase as the first word(s). This graph shows the importance of using keywords at the beginning of a title.

    graph-shows-Importance-of-keywords-in-the-beginning-of-a-title
    Clearly, using the keyword term/phrase as the very first words in the page title has the highest correlation with high rankings, and subsequent positions correlate nearly flawlessly to lower rankings.

  • Meta Description – The meta description is an important place to use the target term/keyword phrase due to the “bolding” that occurs in the visual snippet of the search results. Usage has also been shown to help boost click-through rate, thus increasing the traffic derived from any ranking position. Google says this tag provides a short description of the page. In some situations this description is used as a part of the snippet shown in the search results.
  • Meta Keywords - Yahoo! is unique among the search engines in recording and utilizing the meta keyword tag for discovery, though not technically for rankings. Due to fact that spammers have abused them over the years, Google has made them a lot less important in search ranking calculations. Google might not always use the title and description you give a page but at least you’ve told the search engines what the page is about and if Google does decide to use your title and description, you then have some influence over encouraging a user to come to your website over your competitors.
  • Robots.txt.file -Your Web site should have a proper robots.txt file if you want to have good rankings on search engines. Only if search engines know what to do with your pages, they can give you a good ranking.
  • SitemapPretty common practice, but we see a lot of websites that forget to set it up. A sitemap should always be available. It helps make the search engines aware of all the pages on your website and increases the likelihood of faster inclusion in the index for newer pages.
  • Rel=”Canonical” – the larger and more complex a site (and the larger/more complex the organization working on it), the more we suggest using the  rel=canonical tag to prevent any potential duplicates or unintentional, appended URL strings from creating a problem for the engines and splitting up potential link juice. This is useful in situations where almost identical pages appear at different URLs because of something like a category choice or session ID being added. It is important to tell Google and Bing which page is the one they should index and pass all relevant link juice and authority to.
  • Other Meta Tags - Google does support several other meta tags. Here is a link to the Google web master blog meta tags page with more info on several meta tags that they do use.
  • Your Website Speed-Google has recently enabled all webmasters to monitor page loading speed directly from their Google Analytics dashboard; if they’ve made it that easy for you, In this post panda world, this data is one of many things used as part of their calculation as to where to rank your website. Google loves to improve user experience and since a fast loading page is definitely a better web visitor experience, I can see this playing an increasing role in SEO of the future, particularly in competitive markets. Also, Amazon.com conducted a study and found that for every 100 millisecond increase in page load time, their sales decreased by 1%.  Improving page speed in a post panda world is very important.

URL

  • Length – Shorter URLs appear to perform better in the search results and are more likely to be copied/pasted by other sites, shared and linked-to.
  • Keyword Location – The closer the targeted keyword(s) are to the domain name, the better. Thus, construction.com/keyword outperforms construction.com/folder/subfolder/keyword and is the most recommended method of optimization, but selecting a popular keyword domain is not going to guarantee high rankings without perfecting the rest of many SEO factors.
  • Word Separators – Hyphens are better than underscores as keyword separators in page URLs. NOTE: This should not apply domain names, where separating words with hyphens is almost never recommended (e.g. mensrunningshoes.com is a far better choice than mens-runningshoes.com).

Body Tags

  • Number of Keyword Repetitions – It’s hard to pinpoint the exact, optimal number of times to employ a keyword term/phrase on the page, but this simple rule has served us well for a long time – 2-3X on short pages, 4-6X on longer ones and never more than makes sense in the context of the copy. My suggestion is always (provided it looks natural) to load the heading of the page with the keyword being targeted, and then to mention the keyword within the first paragraph. Depending on the length of the page, add keywords at selected intervals throughout the text. The key is to make it seem natural to the page.  It is said that Google places more emphasis on links that appear higher up on a page. Based on the logic, if it comes in the beginning, it must be more important.
  • Keyword Density - A complete myth as an algorithmic component, Keyword density nonetheless pervades even very sharp SEO minds. While it’s true that more usage of a keyword term/phrase can potentially improve targeting/ranking, there’s no exact data that says that keyword density is the biggest calculation factor in the search ranking formula.
  • Keyword  Variations –  It has influence in search engine rankings, and avoid to keyword stuffing,  varying keyword terms throughout a page can help with content optimization. We suggest using at least one or two variations of a term and potentially splitting up keyword phrases and using them in body copy as well or instead.
  • H1 Headline - The H1 tag has long been thought to have great importance in on-page optimization.  For semantic and SEO reasons, and that it stands out to the visitor, we suggest proper use of the H1 tag as the headline of the page and the usage of your targeted keyword term/phrase.
  • H2/H3/H4/H5 – not as in important as the H1, but may still be used to bring attention to other keyword phrases.
  • Alt Attribute – With photos and graphics being used on a page to catch a readers attention,  the alt attribute, has strong correlation with high rankings in our studies. Thus, we strongly recommend the use of a graphic image/photo/illustration on important keyword-targeted pages with the term/phrase being used in the alt attribute of the img tag.
  • Bold/Strong – Using a keyword in bold/strong appears to carry a very small amount of SEO importance, and thus it’s suggested as a best practice to use the targeted term/phrase at least once in bold.
  • Italtic/Emphasized – Surprisingly, italic/emphasized text appears to have a similar to slightly higher correlation with high rankings than bold/strong and thus, we suggest its use on the targeted keyword term/phrase in the text.
  • Click-Depth – Our general recommendation is that the more competitive and challenging a keyword term/phrase is to rank for, the higher it should be in a site’s internal architecture (and thus, the fewer clicks from the home page it should take to reach that URL).

Internal Links & Location in Site Architecture

  • Number/Percentage of Internal Links – More linked-to pages tend to produce higher rankings and thus, for competitive terms, it may help to link to these pages from a greater number/percentage of pages on a site. One of the factors that makes the website Wikipedia rank so high is its internal linking structure. Of course each of the pages wouldn’t hold so much weight if it weren’t for the overall authority and trust of the domain site, but the online encyclopedia has still mastered internal linking best practices. It adds a link to another page on the site wherever it feels natural and will be useful to the user allowing them to flow through the website. You can take this concept and apply it to your website helping to increase pages per visit, improve user experience and ultimately improve page rankings through increased link volume. They may be only internal links but it can provide value to the reader by linking out to another page on your site,  that has more info on particular keyword phrase or subject.
  • Anchor Text of Internal Links- Anchor text is still an important factor in link value.  Just like you want to avoiding keyword stuffing, vary the use of keyword phrases being used in the anchor text.
  • Links in Content vs. Permanent Navigation – It appears that Google and the other engines are doing more to recognize location on the page as an element of link consideration. Thus, using links to pages in the Wikipedia-style (in the body content of a piece) rather than in permanent navigation may potentially provide some seo benefit.
  • Link Location in Sidebars & Footers – Google may put more weight on a link in the body of the content(editorial link) than the ones in the sidebars or in the footer.

Website Factors & Page Architecture

  • Website Structure and Accessibility- If you had website that was built using flash, because you liked the cool effects, what you may not have realized is that some pages deep within your site aren’t being crawled because the only links to them are from a menu wrapped in code that the bots couldn’t read.
  • Keyword Location – We suggest that important keywords should, preferably, be featured in the first few words (50-100, but hopefully even sooner) of a page’s text content. The search engines do appear to have some preference for pages that use keywords sooner, rather than later, in the text.
  • Content Structure – Some professionals swear by the use of particular content formats (introduction, body, examples, conclusion OR the journalistic style of narrative, data, conclusion, parable) for SEO, but we haven’t seen any conclusive data suggesting one is more valuable for higher rankings and thus feel that whatever works best for the content and the visitors is likely ideal.
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These are just few of the many aspects that are taken into account when optimizing your website’s pages for high search engine page rankings. Building websites is fun and complex, we just wanted to share some insights on the importance of on-page optimization. For more information please visit our blog, or contact us for a consultation.

 

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