On page (or on site) SEO refers to anything that you do to your own website in order to improve it’s position in the search engine rankings.
There are many, many on page SEO factors and all of them are constantly changing, as search engines modify their algorithms to ensure they’re providing users with the most relevant and up-to-date information.
However, all on page SEO falls into two categories – site structure and content. Here’s some information on both of those categories and how Big Bang can help you improve your on page SEO.
Having a sound SEO site structure in place refers to a long, long list of factors, including:
URLs – Search engines will look at the URLs of the pages within your website for clues about what the content is about. So if you have a page that’s all about dog sunglasses for example, you’d want a URL something like:
The reason being that search engines can take a quick look at this address and immediately recognise that this particular page is about dog sunglasses, and include that page in their rankings when people search for information about dog sunglasses.
However, this basic rule of having simple, SEO friendly URLs is often overlooked, most of the time with disastrous results. Some websites for example have gobbledygook URLs like:
…And obviously, search engines can’t possibly gain any insight into what a web page is about by looking at this.
Not quite as bad but still far from perfect are URLs that are just too long. For example:
Search engines don’t want to have to look for the important parts of a URL and having unnecessary long ones dilutes their effectiveness.
So always try and keep your URLs as concise and relevant as possible to achieve maximum SEO return.
Navigation – The navigation and menus you have on your website hold great importance when it comes to SEO.
Search engines know that people use their navigation to direct people to the most important pages on their website, so they’re more likely to rank the pages highly that appear somewhere within the navigation.
There are lots of complex and detailed ways you can get the most out of your navigation when it comes to SEO, but the bottom line is, make sure you link to your most important content wherever possible, whether that be in your menus or from other pages on your website.
Titles – In the same way that URLs need to be relevant and to the point, titles need to be given just as much attention.
Whatever your content is about, make sure you think long and hard about the most relevant, concise and targeted title you can give it. You’ll be rewarded with higher rankings in the search engines for a wide variety of keywords.
Meta Tags – Meta tags are little snippets of code you can add to every page of your website to give the search engines clues about what your site is about. Although it’s widely speculated that search engines place very little value on these tags, they’re still worth taking the time to add.
In an ideal world, people would always structure their websites with SEO in mind, right from the start. Unfortunately though, this is far from what actually happens and all too often people get the fundamentals completely wrong.
So when starting a new SEO campaign, the first thing many websites have to do is fix all of these issues before they can start coming up with new ideas.
Content really is king when it comes to the search engines. It’s imperative if you want to do well in the rankings, that you provide high quality, relevant content to users.
So when you’re adding new content or editing existing content to ensure its SEO friendly, what things should you be looking at?
Keywords – If you want a particular page to appear in the search engine rankings when people search for ‘dog sunglasses’ then you need to make sure you include that phrase in the content, preferably a few times. This lets the search engines know what that page is about and ensures that they include it in their listings for relevant searches.
However, make sure you don’t over do things and repeat the phrase over and over again unnecessarily. Search engines are smart enough to spot this and will likely penalise you for trying to pull the wool over their eyes, or even ban you because they think you’re spamming.
The key is to write as naturally as you would if you weren’t writing with SEO in mind. Try and come up with clever ways to include your target keywords in the text without seeming like you’re doing it deliberately.
Another tip is to make sure you target a range of related phrases and not just one. For example if you’re targeting ‘dog sunglasses’ you might also include phrases like:
- sunglasses for dogs
- blue dog sunglasses
- sunglasses for big dogs
- small dog sunglasses
Good keyword research beforehand will give you ideas about different phrases you can use for a particular piece of content. And by targeting a range of keywords, you’ll appear for a wider variety of searches and therefore get more traffic from the search engines overall.
Internal Linking – You don’t just have to use menus on your website to point search engines and visitors towards your other pages.
You should include links within the content from one page to other places on your site.
For example, on your page about dog sunglasses you might also mention that you sell cat sunglasses and link to that page.
By knitting your website together in this way and linking to related content, search engines will appreciate what you’re trying to do and rank your pages higher in their listings.
You can also include links to other websites within your content. Although this isn’t always a great idea as it sends people away from your own website, search engines appreciate the fact that you’re doing it to help users find information and will therefore look at your pages more favourably.
Alt (Image) Tag – You should ensure that for each image on your webpage you have a keyword in the alt tag. The majority of people will never see the alt image text. This is because it was designed for your site visitors to see what your image is in case it did not load or they had images turned off. When crawling you website the search engines will pick up on the Alt tags and use them to help your site rank for your targeted keywords.
H1 Headline Tag – Where studies have shown the H1 tag isn’t of huge importance in terms of rankings. We would still advise you to incorporate this into you on page strategy for semantic and SEO reasons with the most important keyword included at least once.
Bolding / Strong – Although know to only carry a small amount of weight in SEO, it is still best practice to use the keyword / key phrase at least once in bold or strong font within the content of the page. This emphasises to the search engines what the page is about and helps you rank for said keyword.
Keyword Density – When writing content for your website you should take into consideration the keyword densities as a possible ranking factor. While there is no set formula to keyword density it is best to keep each keyword to around 1-3% percent. This ensures that the keywords get picked up by the search engine and also provides the user with quality, useful content.
Keyword Placement – Both search engines and readers will look for clues about the page in specific places. It is crucial to put your most important keywords in these places;
• First Paragraph
The most important keywords should, preferably appear in the first few words of a webpage’s content. Search engines as standard read a web pages from top left to bottom right and it does appear that more preference is placed on keywords that are appear earlier, rather than later on a page.