On-Page SEO refers to the process of increasing the visibility of the page by making it more friendly for both search engines and users. Although on-page SEO approaches vary, there are several key features that act as the foundations of any successful strategy.
Title tags are the words that will appear in the search engine when your page appears. It’s crucial to optimise them, as they’re the first thing that both search engines and human readers will see. When writing your title tag, bear both these audiences in mind. Prominently include your keywords for maximum effect on search engine rankings - but remember that a human will make the ultimate decision on whether to click on the link. Work keywords in naturally for maximum impact with both human and search engine audiences. 55-60 characters is the ideal length.
The meta description is a brief summary of the page and is often displayed underneath the title tags in search engine results.
The same rules apply here as to the title tag – put in your keywords for the search engine but make it readable for a human. Aim for under 160 characters to give the description the best chance of being shown by the search engine.
Images on your site are another way to generate traffic, through the way you label them. Alt attributes are HTML elements that provide a description of an image if a user cannot view it. Aside from improving overall usability, alt attributes also strengthen the message of your site for search engines. Google places a relatively high value on alt attributes to check the image and how it relates to the surrounding text. Like with title tags and meta descriptions, focus on writing information dense, high-quality tags rather than simply cramming in key words.
SEO isn’t just about optimising your tags and descriptions – it’s also about giving users a reason to come to your site. Search engines are increasingly favouring longer, unique content. This means focus on having fewer information rich pages. Having too many pages with a low word count or repeated content will push your site down in the rankings. In addition, search engines now take user engagement into account. Having content that attracts the interest of users and keeps them on the site is vital, as is making sure the page is quick to load and easy to navigate. For more information on the importance of fresh, high quality content, see 'How do you write SEO friendly web copy' and 'How to create a content strategy - and why you should!'
Although not as important as tags and content, URL structure is worth getting right for your page to have maximum visibility. There are a few golden rules: keep the URL short, avoid extraneous characters, and keep it readable. Keeping the URL short allows the page to be shared more easily, while avoiding extraneous characters like @, %, or & makes the URL more readable to search engines.
Finally, keeping the URL readable and organised for human readers makes users more likely to click the link by making it clear where it leads. However, don’t change the URL if it isn’t necessary – if you do, make sure to redirect traffic from the old link.
Structured data like schema and markup are useful tools to add after you’ve optimised everything else. They provide extra data to search engines to help them better understand your page. It also means your listing will have more information displayed in the search engine, which may increase click through rate.
Getting these basics right is one of the easiest ways to improve your search engine ranking. By investing some time in making sure your page is optimised for search engines, you give your page the best chance to be seen. Once you’ve done this, you can turn your attention to off-page optimisation to complete your SEO strategy.
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