Search engine optimization is really all about making a bunch of small, seemingly minor changes to your website, that when added together can have a big impact on your site’s ranking. Here are some of basic on-page SEO best practices that you can use to help improve your website’s search engine rankings.
Title Tag Best Practices
The title tag is part of the meta data that not only tells the search engine what the page is about, but also shows up as the large clickable text in the search results. The search engine will often highlight the keyword phrase a user has search for in the results, increasing visibility and click-through rates. So using the right keywords are key.
- Your title tag should begin with your primary keyword. More weight is given to the words at the beginning of your title tag, so try to use your keywords as soon as possible.
- Use a dash or pipe to separate your keyword phrases.
- Each title tag should be unique. Google advises you to avoid duplicate or even near-duplicate content throughout every section of your site, and this includes title tags.
- Avoid keyword stuffing. Try to focus each page around just one or two keywords.
- Keep title tags under 70 characters, including spaces. Some recommend as few as 55, to make sure none of the content gets cut off, but as long as you use your keywords early on, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Meta Description Best Practices
Meta descriptions are the bit of copy that accompanies your title tag in the search results and while they don’t hold quite as much weight with the search engines, they are extremely important when it comes to users. Once again you want to make sure you include your keywords, but you also need to use this copy to give the user a reason to click.
- Write compelling, informative meta descriptions to get users to click.
- Front load your keywords, using your primary keyword as soon as possible.
- Keep the length under 200 characters, including spaces.
- Avoid duplicate or near duplicate meta descriptions.
- Avoid non-alpha characters like quotes as Google has a tendency to remove them from the description.
Web Page Content Best Practices
This is the copy that makes up your site. It needs to be unique and relevant. More important than ever, you want to avoid duplicate content or run the risk of getting penalized by Google.
- Write content that is relevant for the keyword phrase you used in the title tag and meta description.
- Include your keyword as early on in the copy as you can and about four times total throughout the page. You want to avoid keyword stuffing, so make sure it reads naturally.
- Write a minimum of 300 words per page. But use short paragraphs and sentences, along with bullet points and headers, to breakup the content so it’s easier to read or skim.
- Make sure the content is unique and not duplicated anywhere else on your site.
Header Tag Best Practices
A header tag, or H1 tag, is basically the subject line of your web page. Each page should have only one H1 tag. If your page has multiple sections, use an H2 tag for the secondary headers.
- Each page should have one H1 tag.
- Include your keyword phrase in your H1 tag one time.
- If your page has additional sections, use the H2 tag, and again include your keyword or keyword phrase only once to avoid keyword stuffing.
Internal Linking Best Practices
An internal link is a link on a web page that points to another page on the same website. Internal linking allows users and search engines to more easily navigate a website. It also gives us one more way to tell the search engine that a page is relevant for a certain keyword phrase.
- Create internal links by linking relevant words or phrases in the copy to other pages of your website.
- Use the keyword phrase as the anchor text (the clickable words) for the link instead of “Click here.”
- Make sure the links are natural and do not interfere with the flow or readability of the copy.
Image Best Practices
Google can’t see the images on a website (at least not yet) but there are two ways search engines try to determine what a picture is. That’s the file name and alt tag. Image SEO isn’t just for ranking in Google Images. Although image search is more widely used than believed, so traffic from there is also valuable. But properly optimized images can help your pages rank higher in regular search results as well.
- Use descriptive file names and alt tags for all your images and include keywords if it makes sense with the image.
- Use dashes between the words, rather than underscores for file names.
- Do not use non-alpha characters like %, & or $ in your image or file names.
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