Search engine optimization is both an art and science. If you are an SEO enthusiast you should have already conceived a simple fact that SEO is broadly classified in to on-page and off-page. You need to make use of both on-page as well as off-page SEO techniques to rank well in SERPs. In simple terms, optimizing your website for search engines and better usability is called on-page SEO and off-page is, as the name insists comprises of all that you do to build relations with other reputed sites on the internet to build you credibility among search engines for better exposure and ranking. Although on-page SEO is closely associated with the content of the web page, you should consider it when you start the website. There is no point in doing off-page SEO without optimizing the pages on the website.
SEO has come a long way and is certainly more challenging than it used to be a few years ago. Before we start with the guide, you need to understand that it is not 2005 anymore. Whether you are an analyst who work on your clients websites, or a web-master, you should never indulge in shady black-hat techniques. You will soon be mauled by Pandas and attacked by vengeful penguins and hummingbirds so take heed. The warning has been given!
We have compiled the following on-page SEO guide to help you optimize websites better and to ensure that you don’t miss anything.
1. Keyword research
Building content or doing on-page SEO for a website without a comprehensive keyword research is like walking in to the woods to hunt badgers and shooting randomly at the sky in the hopes of killing your preferred game. This step is not actually about doing anything on your website, but we added it to our guide, because you should do it actually do it when you are buying your domain and web hosting. We are actually surprised to see that it was not mentioned in many other on-page SEO guides out there published in other top websites.
We are sure you will use a competent keyword suggestion tool to help you figure out all the top keyword you need to target. However, do put yourself in your potential customers/visitors shoes and think what you would search in Google if you were looking for service or product or information that is offered on the website you are trying to optimize. Also, ask the people around you what they would search in Google. This way you will be able to find some interesting keywords phrases that no keyword suggestion tool can provide. Categorize the keywords found in to primary, secondary and tertiary. Many say that keyword research is a one time task, but there is no harm in including new keywords to your list as you come across some interesting ones in the future.
If you had been read about SEO for a while, you should have come across this phrase a gazillion times – “content is king.” Yes! Content is really the center of on-page SEO. Content should be able to provide information that is useful to the reader. Your content shouldn’t be like a re-ashed junk that anyone can produce in no time. You content should be unique (when we say unique, we really mean it), engaging, researched and brings something new to the table. Keep in mind that Google will soon push your website in to quick sand, if you had been just copying content from other websites.
A well-written page will not only have unique content, it will also be share worthy. When was the last time something you posted on your website or blog made it to the home page of Digg or at least was shared by 10+ people in social networking or micro-blogging websites. By consistently producing great content, you are not only optimizing your pages, you are also laying the foundation for off-page SEO and link building. So where is the optimizing part? Use the keywords that you discovered during keyword research. Depending on the importance of the page, use the keywords based on the category they belong to. Make sure you don’t over use the keywords – they should make sense and occur naturally in sentences. Also, content doesn’t only mean text. Although text is of almost importance, do insert images, and videos to enrich the pages.
3. Optimizing URLs
Bear in mind not to use a lot of strange characters in your URL and also don’t over load the URL with a lot of keywords and make it look spammy. URLs should follow a directory hierarchy, should be clean and have keywords.
For instance, the following URL is more optimized than, the YouTube URL below.
Oh yeah! We just criticized the most popular video sharing website on the face of this planet, which is
owned and operated by Google Inc., which owns the most popular search engine in which we all are striving to rank. By the way don’t bother opening that YouTube link.
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The MetaCafe link has the information about what the video is about and the YouTube link is quite obscure for humans and search engines alike. YouTube is definitely racking in more traffic when compared to other video sharing websites, but their URLs are not optimized – they are still the best and ranking well for other obvious reasons.
4. Optimize images
Use image ALT tags (the text that appears when you mouse hover over an image.) It is also good to add titles or description to optimize the images better. One more proven way to optimize the images is to rename the file name of the image.
If you are inserting the image of a Batman Dark Knight action figure, the file name should better be something like, Batman-Dark-Knight-Action-Figure.jpg, rather than DCIM00574.jpg.
It is just common sense.
5. Title and Meta tags
Evey page on your website has a title. The title is given to the page using the title tag. Do not make the title tag longer than 70 or 75 characters. Use the most important keyword that is targeted in the title tag. It is also wise to have an interesting title to improve the chance of your link being clicked in the SERP.
Write a readable Meta description for every single page on your website with all the important keywords. The title and description are 2 of the most important things when it comes to optimizing a website.
Not to be confused with title tags. We don’t see a lot of people using this, but they could still be very useful in optimizing the pages in your website and make it look more organized for the search engine crawler. Have at most one H1 tag with the primary keyword and several H2 and H3 tags depending on how you would like to organize and format your content.
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7. Internal linking
Link all the related pages in your website. Take a look at any Wikipedia page and you will see a lot word/phrases being hyper-linked to other pages. This is a good way to lower the bounce rate, help the crawler find new pages, help users navigate easier and increase the amount of time visitors are going to stay on your page.
This is very important, because the amount of time an average visitor spends in your website is also an important metric in ranking.
8. Authorship Markup
Do you know why some folk’s faces are shown next to links in search page? If you have a website that functions more like a blog or news website, you should definitely make use of Google Author Markup. It is more likely for people to click on links which show the picture of the author right next to it.
9. Social media sharing
Social media presence plays a vital role in ranking. Although social media marketing comes under off-page SEO, you need to plant the seed when you are building the website. When you have links and buttons right on the page, it will be urge people to share any page on your website easily if they found it interesting.
10. A reliable web hosting
You also don’t want to have your website backed by a web hosting service which goes down 5 times a day. Your up time, and response time can have a great impact on your ranking, therefore hosting your website on a reliable web hosting can be an important ranking factor. Don’t go for dirt cheap or free hosting providers that are used by scammers and hackers, because the IP addresses might already have a bad rap among search engines.