You’ve done as much research as you possibly can and now it’s time to do something with all the data you’ve collected. If you haven’t done the research, check out the first blog in this series: The First Step for SEO: Research. Let’s dig into the on-page factors we’ll work with based off your research, and other key components of your website that will needs adjusting and fixing up to get your on-page optimization helping your search engine ranking:
- Meta Titles & Descriptions
- Header Tags H1-H3
- Images, and how to use Alt Tags in the code
- Content on each page and it’s length, aka text to HTML Ratio
- Keyword Consistency
- Linking internally
- Mobile Friendliness
- Page Speed
Whew, that list was exhausting! Wait until you read how to handle it all now! In this part one of a 3 part series, I’ll cover Meta Titles, Meta Descriptions, Header Tags, Images and Content. Let’s get started:
Meta Titles & Descriptions
Alright, we’ve been hearing about these guys since the dawn of search engine optimization, and everyone has had their opinion on them. So it’s my turn now! Titles and Descriptions are very important. Without the Title Tag you’ll have a hard time explaining to the viewer or search engine what your page is about, and without the description, you won’t be able to give them a reason to visit you over one of the hundred thousand other sites offering your service online. Titles are a vital portion of the ranking algorithm, lets dig into them first.
Meta Titles – Your First Impression
There are a few rules you should adhere to when it comes to writing your meta titles:
- Titles should be roughly 50-60 characters in length. Anything above this range will get truncated in the results.
- Titles should not only have keywords in them, they should grab attention.
- Everyone has varying opinion on this one. I believe short and concise titles garner the best result between attention grabbing & keyword value.
- Every title in your site should be unique and have a targeted keyword in mind.
- Branding, if your company is about branding, then tag your brand name to the end of the result. My preferred method is as so: “SEO & Web Design | W3 Affinity” the “|” pipe character is just above the enter key on your keyboard and stands out well in results pages.
The key to titles tags in my opinion is that you experiment a little. Making sure to reindex your site within Webmaster Tools each time you make a change and see if your click through rates from the search engine increase on that pages as a result.
Meta Descriptions – Reel Them In
Descriptions are where it gets interesting. Here are the basic guidelines when it come to meta descriptions:
- Currently labeled as “Not a ranking factor for Search Engine Results”.
- Like meta titles, they’ll get truncated if over a certain character count. Stick to around 145-155 to be safe!
- They show up under your title in the search engine result page, and are used to determine the value of a page from the customer point of view. Make it compelling!
- Don’t use quotes, it’s been proven that a quote in the meta tag will cut off the rest of your text.
- Make sure that each meta description is unique to your site and within your site, do not duplicate.
Meta descriptions should be compelling copy on how or why to visit your site, even consider using call to actions like: “Visit us to learn more about ____ and we’ll offer a free consultation on your ____” Using an opportunity to pop a few keywords in there for a little extra bold text in the search engine result page.
Heading Tags – Add Hierarchy
Heading tags, also known as <h1>, <h2>, <h3> and so on, are a way to apply priority, status, visual change and most importantly hierarchy to your website content. Just in viewing this blog, you’ll see I’m using various forms of the heading tags to note my sections and subsections. It helps the viewer understand what is going on throughout the content of a webpage. Here are a few ways that heading tags are used:
- H1 Tags are used to resonate with the Meta Title. They are highly recommended for every page, to be unique and to continue the message of the title’s topic & keyword you’re targeting for that page. Oh, and you should stick to having only 1 of these per page.
- H2 Tags are generally used to visually divide a section, they can be supportive to the keyword you’re trying to rank for and break up content in a way that makes sense. They are generally smaller than the H1 tag visually, but larger than our next fellow.
- H3 Tags are great for sub sectioning content, I’ve done that in this blog to show Meta Titles & Meta Descriptions content without it all blending together. They are smaller than the previous two tags, but larger visually than the H4-H6 tags which are generally used for headings to footer section or sidebar sections.
Keyword consistency through the H1-H3 are great for building a topic out properly and creating Hierarchy within a page. Utilizing them in a way to pull your visitor through the content is an art form, so experiment, there is no RIGHT way to do it!
Images – More Than Just A Pretty Picture
Images are one of the most improperly used parts of a website. There is much more to an image than just putting it in the site. Images have their own code and ways to help your SEO too! Here are a few tips for images, and how they can benefit you:
- Code your images in properly, here is an example: “<img src=”/img/on-page-seo.jpg” title=”on page seo” alt=”on page seo”>” You’ll see it is more than just popping an image into your website from the computer and moving it around to where you like it. I’ve shown you a few tricks here they are:
- name the image for the page you’re working on
- title tag it within the image source code
- alt tag’s are used for browsers that don’t display images, leaving the alt tag contents on the page, they’re known to help in SEO as well
- Compress your images before uploading, you should have the most optimized file size prior to using it on the website.
- If it isn’t going into a gallery meant to zoom, or if you can make it link to a larger file elsewhere for your light box, then size your image for your content.
Images can sometimes be the part of a website that makes or breaks it’s quality. It is also one of the most neglected parts of SEO. Optimizing your images can have a huge impact on page load speed, content quality and more. So make sure everything is up to snuff with your images on your pages.
Content – Keep It Real
Content is the most crucial part of any SEO project. You can view a blog post I’ve done on designing your content for the user: Design For The User to learn more about this topic, for now I’ll hit the SEO points for you below:
- Text to HTML Ratio: how much text you’ve placed on your site in comparison to the amount of code it took to get there is a factor in the quality of your page. Making sure to get above the 15% mark, but preferably above the 25% mark is crucial to making a difference. With so many pages out there today on the same topics, to stand out, you have to make sure your page beats their quality scores.
- Making sure your content is UNIQUE is one of the best ways to get noticed. You can cover the same information that is out there, but keeping it from a unique point of view or any other way of making it unique can help it stand out. Also, making sure you are not copy and pasting is essential for your quality score.
- All of the tips above (meta titles/descriptions, image coding, heading tags) are crucial to making your content stand out and be valuable.
- Write for the user, not the search engine. They’re smart enough to know if you’re stuffing the same keywords into a paragraph to rank for something.
Writing compelling copy is another art in this world. Getting someone to take the time to read all of your content, or just enough to buy, is a very difficult task these days. If it’s too much for you to even begin thinking about, consider hiring professional content writers and having a professional SEO come behind to make the magic happen.
Come Join Us for Part 2
In part 2 we’ll be covering Keyword Consitency, Linking internally, Sitemap.xml, Robots.txt. Be sure to come back to the blog and check out Part 2 coming soon!