How are users and search engines going to start seeing your unique content? In today’s post, we’ll discuss how on-page SEO elements help provide users and search engines an understanding of your content’s focus and its relevancy.
By now, you should understand the basics of SEO. If you’ve been following along with our series, you should know how to avoid the pitfalls of content and how unique content is the best practice for all areas of the site, allowing users to have their questions answered and search engines to reflect that traffic with trust for your site. So how are search engines going to know what we want to rank for? Here are some areas to focus on…
What is On-Page SEO?
Overall, on-page SEO provides users and search engines an explanation as to why your content is valuable and should be considered valuable. In fact, what we talked about in Part 3—unique content—is considered a part of on-page SEO, as content is “on-page” as opposed to “off-page”(we’ll get to that later). The other half of what makes on-page SEO is the HTML source code of a page, which can be optimized.
Optimizing HTML source code can include highly technical SEO best practices such as pagespeed and SCHEMA markup, but it can also include optimizing keyword elements such as title tags, header tags, meta descriptions, canonicalization and page URLs. These on-page SEO elements will be the focus of today’s post.
How Are Title Tags Helpful?
Title Tags are considered the most important on-page SEO element on your page as this tag is the first element users see in search results. The title tag also provides search engines with a summary of what your page is about and is used to rank your page based on how relevant your page is to a user search query.
A title tag can be identified as the hyperlinked text in search results. In order to fully maximize the use of a page’s title tag, please take the following into consideration when crafting your title tags:
- Place targeted keywords (relevant to the page) at the beginning of the title tag.
- Each title tag must be unique. Avoid having the same or very similar title tags appear on multiple pages.
- Limit title tag length to 65-70 characters or 600 pixels-wide (including spaces).
- Avoid non-alphanumeric characters such as commas, quotes, ampersands, or exclamation points.
- Add your site name or brand at the end of the title tag.
- Use the pipe character | or dashes – to indicate phrase or content breaks.
Should Header Tags Be Used?
Header tags are used to help organize your content on a web page. From an SEO perspective, the most important of these tags is the H1 header.
H1 headers should support the main summary or idea of a page, and subsequent header tags should serve to reinforce that content. H1 tags should precede H2 or H3 tags, and only one <h1> tag should be used on each page.
Insert targeted keywords into page headers organically, and ensure that the keywords used accurately describe the content beneath them. Here’s a list of uses that should be avoided when creating header tags. Avoid using:
- Header tags throughout the page
- Multiple <h1> tags on a given page
- Header tags that don’t accurately describe the nature of the page content
- Header tags for style purposes only
Are Meta Descriptions A Ranking Factor?
Not exactly. Although meta descriptions provide search engines a summary of a given page’s content and are sometimes used as snippets in search results, the main purpose of meta descriptions is to help users better understand what your page is about in search results. A quality meta description can help get more visitors to the site, which is considered a ranking factor. Here are some tips for creating optimized meta descriptions:
- Write descriptions to generate clicks and a call-to-action (should they be included in SERP snippets).
- Place targeted keywords near the beginning of the text.
- Keep the description limited to 156 characters (including spaces).
- Every page on a website should have a unique meta description.
- Avoid non-alphanumeric characters such as quotes or exclamation points.
Does Canonicalization Help Prevent Duplicate Content?
Yes! If you have pages that can be access from several different URLs (such as querystrings for marketing campaigns), it’s important to make sure that a canonical is used to tell search engines which pages are the main page to prevent any duplicate content and indexing issues. Clarifying a canonical link (main page) for several URLs with the same content helps to prevent link authority being split or divided as well as search engine confusion. For example:
Do Page URLs Affect SEO?
Yes! There are multiple facets to a URL structure. Ultimately, site URLs should be as simple and as informative as possible and should accurately describe the purpose of a given page. Although search engines are capable of reading complex URL structures, users might shy away from linking to your content if the URL is too complex. Creating clear, concise directory folders also helps to organize your website. Here are some tips to consider when optimizing URL structures:
- URLs should contain targeted keywords for the page if possible.
- Avoid numeric or non-descriptive URLs.
- Use hyphens for spaces and avoid underscores.
- Lowercase letters are preferred to uppercase or mixed case.
- Avoid or minimize the presence of query strings in URLs.
On-Page SEO Improves Rankings
When optimizing keyword elements such as these, it is important to always optimize towards the user and not search engines. Any optimization should be organic and not forced. If you want to rank for a keyword, make sure that your on-page content is relevant to the keyword and makes sense to the user. At ClickGiant, we can help optimize these elements of your site providing a great balance between optimal user experience and varied keyword targeting so search engines understand where to rank pages to make sure sites are reaching their entire audience.
Recap: In Part 1 of our “The SEO Ocean” series, we talked about search engine basics and the value of your site being visible; in Part 2 we covered the importance of quality signals and common mistakes leading webmasters to create negative quality signals; and in Part 3 we discussed how valuable unique content is for your website.