Now that we’ve already covered how search engines work and keyword research in previous chapters, it’s finally time that we tackle On-Page SEO and learn how to craft web pages that answer searchers’ queries efficiently.
On-Page SEO first and foremost deals with content creation. Our main focus is to create the kind of content that not only answers users’ queries in the best possible manner but also helps your site page rank higher on SERPs. However, on-page SEO is much more than just content alone. It also includes other things such as Meta tags and Schema, which we’ll discuss in depth in the next chapter. For now, let’s cover how you can create content that matters!
Apply Your Keyword Research
In the previous chapter, we already discussed techniques for figuring out how your target audience searches for your content. It’s time to put that research to use right now. You can follow this pretty straightforward plan to use your keyword research efficiently:
You can easily transform your research into engaging content for your readers by using on-page SEO. Just be careful not to fall victim to low-quality strategies that could cause more harm than good!
Your website's content should benefit searchers by providing information, directing them through your website, and explaining the meaning behind it. The sole goal of content creation should not be to rank highly in SERP. The ranking is a means to help the audience find what they’re looking for. Thus, keeping your own (company's) interest before the customer runs the risk of you using low-value content techniques.
Let’s go over some of the low-value strategies you should stay away from when creating content that is search engine optimized.
Even though it's typical for websites to have distinct pages on various subjects, an earlier content approach called for making a page specifically for each variation of your keywords to get on page 1 for those extremely specialized searches.
For instance, even if each page was essentially stating the same thing, if you were selling wedding dresses, you might have made separate pages for wedding dresses, wedding gowns, and bridal gowns. For local firms, creating multiple pages of material for each city or region they hoped to attract customers from was a similar strategy. These "geo pages" frequently had identical or extremely similar material, with the place name serving as the only distinctive element.
Why did publishers utilize these strategies when it was obvious that readers would not benefit from them? When it comes to comprehending the relationships between words and phrases, Google wasn't always as adept as it is now. So, if you only had a page on "wedding dresses" but wanted to rank on page 1 for "bridal gowns," that might not have worked.
This method produced a ton of thin, low-quality information that was spread around the internet, which Google explicitly targeted with its Panda update in 2011. As a result of the algorithm update, which penalized low-quality pages, more high-quality pages now dominate the SERPs. Today, Google is still improving the process of boosting high-quality material and demoting low-quality information.
Google is very explicit that you should have a single, strong page for a topic rather than several, weaker sites for every possible keyword variation.
Duplicate content, as the term suggests, is information that is shared across numerous domains or pages inside a single domain. The term "scraped" content refers to content that has been openly and without authorization used from other websites. This can involve taking existing content and republishing it unchanged or slightly modified without adding any new information or value.
Google advises the usage of a rel=canonical tag to direct users to the original version of the website's content because there are many valid reasons for internal or cross-domain duplicate material. The most important thing to keep in mind, for now, is that your material should be unique in both words and value.
The fundamental premise of search engine best practices is to present the same content to crawlers as you would to a human visitor. This means that you should never conceal text in your website's HTML code that a regular user can't view.
Search engines use the term "cloaking" to describe when this rule is broken and take steps to stop the pages from ranking in search results. Cloaking can be done in a variety of methods and for a variety of motives, both good and bad.
You have probably experienced the complication of keyword utilization if you have ever been instructed, "You need to add an essential keyword on this page X times." Many individuals believe falsely that you can rank for a keyword by just using it X times in the content of your page.
While it's true that Google scans your site's pages for mentions of keywords and related terms, the page must nonetheless offer something beyond simple keyword usage. It won't sound like a robot wrote a page if it's going to be useful to people, so employ your keywords and phrases naturally in a way that makes sense to your visitors.
One of the most offensive low-value tactics one can employ is using low-quality information that is auto-generated or made programmatically intending to manipulate search ranking rather than assist users. When reading some auto-generated content, you could notice how little it makes sense despite the fact that is made up of words and non-human-written sentences.
It is important to note that improvements in machine learning have led to increasingly complex automatically generated material, which will continue to improve. This is perhaps the reason why, rather than calling out all auto-generated content, Google specifically mentions the type of auto-produced content that seeks to manipulate search rankings in its quality standards for automatically created content.
There is no secret method or tactic that you can apply to rank your content in search results. The primary reason why Google deems a page worthy of being ranked higher on SERP is that it believes they provide the best responses to queries entered by users. Something as basic as the absence of duplicate content, spam, or broken links on your page isn’t going to cut for you and is insufficient for today’s search engines. You have to ensure your page must be useful to users and superior to any other website Google is currently presenting in response to any certain query.
Here is a straightforward formula for producing good content:
This is what we refer to as 10x content or producing content that’s 10 times better than the competition. Google will reward you for creating a page on a keyword that is 10 times better than the pages that are now appearing in search results (for that keyword), and better yet, you'll organically attract links to it. Although producing 10x content is labor-intensive, it will increase organic traffic.
Just keep in mind that there is no magic number of words on a page. Whatever fully fulfills user intent is what we should be aiming towards. Some questions can be fully and accurately addressed in 300 words, whilst others can need 1,000 words.
Let's get started with this portion so you can discover other crucial On-Page components that aid search engines in comprehending the content you just created.
A Header tag is an HTML element that is used to identify headings on your website. The title of the page is normally placed in the primary header tag or H1. It appears as follows:
<h1> Page Title </h1>
The H2 to H6 tags also have sub-headings, albeit not every one of them needs to be used on a page. H1 to H6 are the header tags in the hierarchy, with H1 being the most important.
Each page should contain a distinct H1 that summarizes the primary subject of the page; this is frequently generated automatically from the page title. The principal keyword or phrase for that page should be in the H1, which serves as the main descriptive title of the page. Header tags shouldn't be used to markup non-heading components like navigation buttons and phone numbers. Introduce the topic of the next section of text using header tags.
It's crucial to avoid exaggerating the significance of your header tags, even though search engines may utilize them to assess and rank your page. Focus on your site visitors when creating your headings because header tags are one of several on-page SEO variables and often won't move the needle as much as great backlinks and content would.
Having a website that can be crawled is crucial. The internal organization of a website influences some of its crawlability. By linking to other pages on your website, you make sure that search engine crawlers can access every page on your website, pass link equity to other sites on your website, and make your website easier to use for visitors.
Although the value of internal linking is well known, there is sometimes misunderstanding over how it actually appears.
If all of the internal connections on your website are clickable links (such as navigation drop-downs), search engine crawlers may not be able to access those pages. If this is the case, indexing those pages may be difficult. Instead, choose links that may be reached straight from the page.
The text you use to link to other pages is known as an anchor. Search engines receive information from the anchor text about the content of the destination page. A strong indicator to search engines that the targeted page is one at which visitors may learn about SEO is, for instance, if I link to a page on my site using the anchor phrase "learn SEO." But be careful not to go overboard. When you use the same anchor text for a lot of your internal links, search engines may think you're trying to manipulate a page's ranking. Instead of being formulaic, anchor text should be natural.
Limit the number of links on a page to a reasonable number (a few thousand at most), per Google's General Webmaster Guidelines. Having too many internal links doesn't by itself result in a penalty because this is part of Google's technical standards, not the quality guidelines section, but it does affect how Google detects and assesses your sites. Each link's ability to convey equity to its destination page decreases as there are more links on a page. There is only so much equity available for a page.
You should only link when you mean it. A link not only transfers authority across pages but also aids readers in navigating to different pages on your website. In this situation, doing what's best for search engines also benefits searchers. Too many links can be both confusing and overpowering in addition to diluting the authority of each link.
It's typical to delete and rename pages, however, if you do relocate a page, be sure to update the links to the previous URL. If feasible, update all internal links to that URL at the source to avoid forcing users and crawlers to go through redirects in order to reach the destination page. At the very least, you should be sure to redirect the URL to its new position. Avoid creating lengthy redirect chains if you decide to redirect only.
The main cause of sluggish websites is images. Compressing your photos is the best solution for this. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for image compression, so the best course of action is to experiment with different options like "save for web," picture scaling, and compression applications like Optimizilla or ImageOptim for Mac (or Windows counterparts), as well as determine what works best.
Making the appropriate image format selection is another approach to aid in picture optimization (and speed up your website load time).
How to choose an image format:
A key component of web accessibility is the alt text, which is used to describe images to those who are blind or visually challenged using screen readers. It's crucial to include alt text descriptions so that anyone who is blind or visually impaired may comprehend what the images on your website show.
Additionally, search engine bots read your alt text to comprehend your images, which has the added benefit of giving search engines better image context. Just make sure that your alt descriptions flow organically for readers and refrain from filling search engines with keywords.
Submit an Image Sitemap
Create an image sitemap in your Google Search Console account so that Google can find and index your images. Google is able to find photographs that they might have otherwise overlooked.
Formatting to Enhance Readability and Featured Snippets
Even if your page has the best content on the subject ever put on it, but is designed poorly, then nobody will ever read it. Although we can never be certain that readers will read our content, there are several guidelines that can help make it more readable, such as:
The way your page is formatted may also have an impact on its ability to appear in featured snippets, those "position 0" results that are displayed above all other organic results.
You cannot purchase this placement nor can you add any special code to your page to appear here, but by paying attention to the query intent, you may better structure your content for featured snippets. For instance, it might make sense to include a table in your content with the advantages of cake in one column and the advantages of pie in the other if you're aiming to rank for "cake vs. pie." Additionally, if you're attempting to rank for the phrase "top restaurants to try in Portland," Google may be expecting a list, so organizing your material with bullet points may be beneficial.
The title tag of a page is a descriptive HTML element that provides information about the title of a specific web page.
Your website's pages should each have a distinct, informative title tag. The information you enter in this area for your title tag will appear in search results, though occasionally Google may change how your title tag appears.
First impressions of your website are very important, and your title tag is a powerful tool for luring searchers to your page over any other result on the SERP. More people will visit your website if your title tag is intriguing and you score well in search results. This demonstrates that SEO is about the overall user experience rather than just search engines.
What makes a title tag effective?
Meta descriptions are HTML components that describe the contents of the page they are on, much like title tags do. They appear like this and are also nested in the head tag:
<meta name="description" content="description of the page here"/>
What qualities distinguish a good meta description?
Effective meta-descriptions share the same characteristics as effective title tags. Although Google claims that meta descriptions, unlike title tags, do not affect rankings, they are crucial for click-through rates.
URL or Uniform Resource Locator serves as the addresses or locations of specific web content items. Search engines display URLs on the SERPs, just like title tags and meta descriptions, so URL naming and structure might affect click-through rates. Not only do searchers utilize URLs to decide which online pages to click, but search engines also use them to assess and rank web pages.
To display your pages in search results, search engines need distinct URLs for each page on your website. However, users who are attempting to comprehend the purpose of a certain URL can also benefit from clear URL structure and naming. For instance, which one of these URLs is clearer?
Searchers are less likely to click on URLs that confuse them and more likely to click on URLs that support and clarify the information on that page. You cannot expect to rank on the basis of the terms in your domain/page names alone, even though the URL is a modest ranking indication. Consider your audience before giving your pages names or choosing a domain name.
You should also be careful to avoid layering pages beneath pointless sections if your website covers a variety of topics. Along with the topic of your content, the folders in which you store it might convey information about its type. Time-sensitive content may be indicated, for instance, via dated URLs. Dated URLs for evergreen material can actually deter searches since the information seems out of date, even though they are ideal for news-based websites.
For instance, in the above example, it makes sense to house ‘eCommerce Seo’ under ‘SEO’ as it is a subsection of the main topic.
It's advisable to host on a non-dated URL structure because the topic "What is SEO?" isn't limited to a certain date and doing otherwise runs the danger of making your information seem outdated. As you can see, how you name your pages and where you place them in folders matters a lot when it comes to making it clear to users and search engines what the focus of your page is.
While a flat URL structure is not required, numerous click-through rate studies show that, given the option between a URL and a shorter URL, searchers frequently favor shorter URLs. Long URLs will also be abbreviated with an ellipsis, just as excessively long title tags and meta descriptions. Just keep in mind that having a descriptive URL is just as crucial, so avoid reducing URL length at the expense of the URL's descriptiveness.
Your URLs will be shorter and easier to copy and paste as well as more clickable if you use shorter page names and eliminate extra subfolders.
Make sure to include that term or phrase in the URL if your page is targeting it. But be careful not to overdo it by trying to jam in too many keywords just for SEO. Additionally, it's crucial to keep an eye out for repeated terms in several subfolders. For instance, even if you organically included a keyword in the page name, the URL could start to look keyword-stuffed if it is included within other folders that are similarly optimized with that term.
Overusing keywords in URLs may come off as spammy and manipulative. Ask yourself, "Does this look natural?” When reading your URL through the eyes of a searcher if you aren't sure if your keyword usage is too strong. Do I want to click on this?
The greatest URLs are those that are simple for humans to read, therefore refrain from using too many parameters, numbers, and symbols.
Keep in mind that not all online programs can correctly interpret separators such as-
Additionally, when terms in URLs run concurrently without a separator, search engines are unable to distinguish between them. Thus, it is advisable to divide words in a URL with the hyphen (-) character.
Case-sensitive URLs should be avoided on websites. It would be preferable to use.
Don't worry if the website you're working on has numerous mixed-case URLs crawled; your developers can assist. Ask them if you can apply a rewriting formula to the .htaccess file to convert all uppercase URLs to lowercase automatically.
As they think search engines can determine their physical location or service area on their own, some local business owners remove geographic terms that define them. Contrarily, it is crucial that the content, URLs, and other on-site assets of local company websites specifically reference city names, neighborhood names, and other regional characteristics. Instead of just depending on your physical location, let customers and search engines know exactly where you are and what areas you serve.
The "http" or "https" that comes before your domain name is a protocol. The "s" in "https" stands for "secure," and Google advises all websites to use it.
You need to get an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate to make sure that your URLs are using the https:// protocol rather than http://. Data is encrypted with the aid of SSL certificates. They make sure that any information transmitted between the searcher's browser and the web server is kept private. Google Chrome shows "not secure" for all HTTP sites as of July 2018, which can make these sites seem unreliable to visitors and lead to them leaving the site.
Congratulations on making it this far in your SEO guide journey. So far, we’ve covered the basics of SEO, understanding how search engines work, and keyword research, and now with this chapter, we’re done with On-Page SEO.
We have very exciting things lined up for you in our next chapter. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride!
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