SEO is a complex and constantly changing discipline. One can study the fundamentals and learn the best practices, but it is essential to keep up to date as the landscape constantly changes. Failure to keep up with these changes and adapt accordingly will see results drop over time. This will give competitor websites an advantage and result in lost business opportunities for the website owner.
SEO is split into two main areas, on-page and off-page. The names are pretty self-explanatory. On-page SEO refers to design and optimization practices on the website itself while off-page includes practices, such as link building, social media marketing, reviews, etc.
They are both vitally important. But, for today, we are going to look at on-page SEO best practices.
Competition to get to the top of the search engine results page (SERP) is fierce. Everyone in your industry is using similar keywords and doing his or her utmost to reach his or her target market. Failure to get near to the top of the SERP will result in those who are there getting the bulk of the traffic and, therefore, the business. To get there yourself, you will need outstanding SEO, and it all starts with on-page practices.
The HTML source code and the content are the two main aspects, but here are several important points to look at:
These tell the search engine what your site and pages are all about. It’s important they convey accurate and relevant information for Google to index you correctly.
These also provide information on the site and content, but these are seen by the person browsing. Google does, of course, expect to see that the information in the title tags is relevant to the actual content.
Good meta descriptions help the user understand what the page is about. They will improve traffic and, hopefully, conversions as you will have more relevant traffic to the content. Each page should have one because it is often the first thing people see.
These haven’t been a ranking factor since 2002, and anything viewed as possible misuse can get you penalized. Just leave it blank.
The use of H1, H2, and H3 tags will give the content a logical layout and improve the user experience. It also helps users to skim the content, which is a common practice.
It’s also important to optimize your images for size, and use ALT text that accurately describes the image.
Shorter and relevant URLs often perform better than long or vague ones.
Responsive or mobile–friendly
This is critical, and Google is starting to penalize sites that do not follow this practice. Even without that threat, more than half of all searches are now done from a mobile device. Therefore, it makes sense to have a site that allows a great user experience for mobile users.
Content is King
This longstanding SEO cliché is more relevant now than ever before. Google wants to match the content with user intent and quality. Relevant and original content is critical to successful on-page SEO. While all factors are important, without great content, the site will never rank well.
An important aspect of content is the careful and strategic use of keywords. Take care to understand the best practices. Write naturally, using a variation of keywords and terms. Ignore anyone who tries to give you a magic formula or percentage. Run away from anyone who talks about Keyword Density.
There are two types of links, outbound and internal. Again, these should not be overdone and need to be implemented carefully. Relevance and authority of outbound links help establish credibility. Inbound links are vital – but that’s an off-page SEO discussion for another time.
Do not over-optimize
While all these aspects are important, there is such a thing as over-optimizing. Google will punish sites for this, and the result is poor SEO performance. Everything needs to be balanced and done in the correct measure for ideal optimization.
Keep content original, sincere, honest, and relevant. Avoid the overuse of keywords, link exchanges, and other practices that lower the value and user experience the content offers.
While this list is by no means exhaustive, it covers the main on-page SEO issues. Remember, these change from time to time, so test to make sure they are all correct, but constantly follow new trends and changes and ensure you adapt accordingly.