An Overview Of Ways to Improve On-Page SEO
By Tom Seest
If you are just now learning how to help your website get ranked in Google and other search engine results pages (SERPs), you might be a little overwhelmed at all of the great advice you see for improving your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.
There are two different areas of SEO that you will want to learn and master over time. One is on-page SEO, which is the factors that are built directly into your site, and the other is off-page SEO, which is the external factors that can help influence whether or not your site ranks well in the SERPs.
Today, we are going to focus on the on-page SEO elements that you can fully control and improve consistently. These twelve issues are easy to understand and implement immediately, and they will set you apart from competitors who have not yet gained an understanding of these issues or taken the time to integrate them into their strategy.
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Table Of Contents
- Should You Use a Fast Loading and Responsive Theme?
- Should You Put Keywords to Use on a Site?
- Should You Have Content That Ranks Better Than Competitor Posts?
- Should You Include a Title Tag That Boosts Traffic
- Should You Have a Site Map for Bots?
- Should You Utilize Meta Descriptions for Your Pages?
- Should You Use Clean HTML Code?
- Should You Interlink the Pages When Appropriate?
- Should You Engage in Strategic External Linking?
- Should You Add Alt Tags for Images?
- Should You Use Tools to Spot and Help Fix SEO Issues?
- Should You Update a Site’s Technical and Content Needs?
One of the factors that Google and other search engines look for when ranking sites for their audience is how fast and responsive a site is for those who land on it. Depending on which theme you are using on your blog, it may be bogged down with elements that cause your site to load slowly.
There are certain themes that are specifically designed to be optimized for better performance in terms of load time. This not only helps search bots identify sites that are better technically capable, but it’s also a better experience for your users.
You can usually find reviews online about certain themes and how they perform, but you’ll also want to take it for a test drive yourself and make sure that it looks good on different types of devices.
Remember that with every new layer of customization that you add, such as plugins, your site may begin to slow down a bit and look skewed on certain devices. So every change that you make requires a new test for performance and responsiveness.
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Keywords can be used in so many different ways on your blog, and it’s important that you maximize their use of them everywhere. Instead of just focusing on a single keyword to rank for, think in terms of semantic or cluster keywords that are closely related to your overall original keyword idea.
Once you have a list of those keywords, not only will you be using them to weave throughout the content on your blog or site, but you can also use them in other strategic places.
For example, making sure that you have a good keyword phrase in your title can help it stand out in these search engine results pages. Depending on your settings, it can also place directly in your URL.
Another place you want to use these various keyword phrases is in the headings and subheadings throughout your content. Keep in mind that many people skim content to get the general gist of your subject matter.
You can also use keywords in the anchor text that you use when you are hyperlinking to another page within your site or externally to another site that is relevant to the overall topic.
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One big factor in ensuring your on-page SEO is working well is whether or not you have the right kind of content that Google and other search engines want to see. They have moved away from the focus on volume and quantity and embraced the importance of quality and thoroughness.
You need to research pillar blog posts to see how you can provide a comprehensive piece of content to your readers that will answer just about any question or concern they had when they arrived on your domain.
These kinds of posts will be longer than you’re used to, but they proved to be more valuable and have an increased chance of going viral than the short, thin content pieces that were prevalent in the past.
Your keyword clusters can help you with some idea of what needs to go in your post, but you can also look on places like forums, keyword tools, social media accounts, and even the content of your competitors to see what types of topics should be included.
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Title tags are written in HTML, and they specifically present a title for a website page. Not only does this tell the search box what your site is about, but this is the content that is going to show up in the search results and tell humans what the page is about.
In order to use title tags strategically, come up with a descriptive title for your page that is relevant and short, around 50 characters long. Google just removed the length limit for a title, but this doesn’t mean that you should have long titles that are meaningless, either. Don’t try to stuff a bunch of keywords in this one title, but do use at least one or two.
Sometimes, using adjectives along with the keyword can help make people want to click your link. For example, instead of just saying SEO tips, you could have a blog post that says quick and easy SEO tips to implement.
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Another way you can improve the search engine results page rankings for your site is to have a simple site map that search boxes can use to navigate your domain and ensure that they have indexed all of your content to present to their users and the correct target audience.
This is a simple file that will list all of the pages on your website that you want to share with them, and it includes any metadata about the pages that you have included. Search bots can even tell how often the content on that page has been updated.
There are different site map generators that you can use to create a site map with a hands-off approach, but you also have the option of creating your own if you have the knowledge of how to do so.
You can create an XML site map and save it to your website’s server so that it’s accessible for search bots to find and crawl every time they revisit your site for an update.
You can either update your site map manually or use a tool that will automatically update it for you whenever you make changes to your domain. These are especially helpful for people who have extremely large websites, and yours will only be growing over time, so it’s good to have this integrated early on.
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Meta descriptions are HTML codes that you use to summarize the content on your domain. You want to make sure these are unique and well-written codes of approximately 160 characters.
This is what is going to display in the search results, so you want to have your main keywords in the description without stuffing too many of them at once. Take time to write a strategic description that encourages people to want to click on your link.
A meta description is similar to how a title tag works, but a description is a little longer and gives a little bit more information about summarizing the content rather than just giving it a title.
This is not an area that is clickable in the search engine results pages. It gets displayed below the title tag as a summary of the text. You want to make sure to use both a title tag and meta description on each page of your website.
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When you are using HTML on your website, you want to make sure that you are always adhering to a clean code mantra. This is code that is easy to read and understand because it has been simplified.
You want to use basic HTML tags and include things like blank lines that will separate larger blocks of code and make it easier to read. Using clean HTML will improve the performance of your site.
There are several tools online that can help improve your code. You can enter the code that you are using, and it will clean up your code and make it more simplified for use on your site.
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While off-page SEO focuses on links that are coming into your site from elsewhere, on-page SEO focus on interlinking pages within your site. This helps search bots grasp the proper structure and navigation of your domain, which ultimately helps users do the same.
For example, if you have a page that covers a broad topic, you may have one or more interlinking pages that go to content that is more narrow on specific information the reader may want to know.
So if you have a page about email marketing, and you know that you have another page on your blog about split testing your emails, you can use that phrase as anchor text to link to that other blog post if they want more information.
This can help give a little bit more authority to certain pages within your website that you want more visitors funneled to. You might want to consider whether to use follow or no follow links, depending on whether you want to pass along some link equity to the other page.
Always make sure that if you edit, alter, or delete a page on your blog, you go to any other page that is linking to it internally and fix or remove that link so that it is not a broken link for your audience or search bots to find.
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Another way you can use strategic linking for on-page SEO is when you are using your pages on your blog to link out to other websites. In previous days, site owners were hesitant to link out elsewhere, but in today’s SEO world, doing this provides usefulness to your readers and ultimately makes your site a valued resource.
For example, you may need to cite a certain resource and give other content creators credit for something that you are discussing. You want to use relevant, keyword-laden anchor text whenever you are linking out so that bots and humans know what the page is about.
This is not something you want to do in every single blog post. You only want to be linking to reputable sites that have their own authority and credibility and only use it whenever necessary and appropriate.
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Alt tags are descriptions that are written in HTML code that you can use for images that you place within your content. This is important to use for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, it allows people who can’t see the images on your site to be able to do understand what it is you are displaying.
But it also helps search bots identify the relevant content in a different media format from the text. You want to use keywords and relevant content descriptions in all the tags that you use. And alt tags should be approximately 125 characters or less.
The HTML code for an alt tag is very simple. It looks like this: <img src=”image.jpg” alt=”The description of the image goes here”>. You can have this handy and replace the specific information whenever you insert an image into your content.