SEO Basics - On-Page Optimization And Checklist
On-page optimization is one of, if not, the most important aspects of SEO. We’re talking about the basic stuff here, and I don’t know about you, but even after 10 years of working with SEO, I still need to look and study the basics from time to time. We all get in ruts or our zones, or get a little cocky and think we’ve mastered our trade. We need to make sure our SEO efforts aren’t going unseen by search engines like Google. If you’ve landed here looking for information and the above doesn’t apply to you, don’t worry; you’ve come to the right place.
On page (fancy SEO term meaning, literally, on your website, or page) optimization is used to tell search engines what your page is all about. In a previous blog in my SEO Basics series, I covered One Keyword Per Service or you could say one keyword per subject. What this means is that you choose one keyword based on a topic and you use it throughout your page, blog, etc.
On-Page Optimization - It’s All About The Content
There is a ton of content on the internet that you plan on writing about. How do I know? Just google your keyword or topic and have a peek for yourself. Google is smart and knows how to weed out the wannabe’s from the real players. Search engines are looking for content that is super relevant to a topic and offers genuine information that helps the reader, not frustrate them.
Follow along with this experiment; google the topic that relates to your field of expertise, go to the first link that doesn’t have “ad” written to the left of the post (This just means someone paid to be in that spot) and click the link. After you’ve read through the page, you need to be honest with yourself and decide if you’ve got the chops to add more insight into the subject that would help the reader beyond what the number 1 spot did. If not, go back and do more research. Become more familiar with what you’re writing about.
Why Is Your Page’s Content Important?
You walk into your kitchen at 5 am. The floor is flooded and after investigating, you find a big hole in a pipe under your sink. You try to put tape on it and it’s still gushing. Since it’s 5 am and you know there’s probably no plumber available, your first reaction is to google DIY leaky pipe fix in a hurry. In this situation, you know you’d need something fast, so you tap the first link on Google, and it brings you to a page that is wrongly labeled or speaks mostly about the plumbers’ dad who was an amazing man. I don’t know about you, but, this sort of situation has happened to me and has left me beyond frustrated.
Search engines are in the business to make situations that may seem impossible to the average person, possible, by providing lightning speed accurate results, at just a click of a button. In this situation, you don’t have the time to push the back button and hope to God the next link offers the correct advice. Google is a service provider. Google knows that if this happens more times than not, it’s reputation will begin to dwindle and as for me, I’m very appreciative of that!
When I first began in SEO back in 2011, search engines weren’t as smart as they are now. Back then, you could follow a step-by-step process and, if you did all the right steps, search engines would rank you. It was a terrible time for an SEO Specialist who was doing everything right, by today’s standards, yet still got outranked by new websites who followed basic principals like underline and bold your keyword, use the keyword 5 times in the article, use your keyword with a link attached to it. People dubbing themselves as search engine optimizers figured out the system and would buy a huge number of backlinks and most searches would render spammy links at the top of the searches. It was a crazy time for SEO and search engines.
You may look at the list above and argue the same rules apply and I wouldn’t necessarily disagree. But, the caveat revolves around the process. For example, Google has become more aware of false backlinks, using your keywords 5 times might be appropriate if it is natural to the article, and so on. The short of it is that search engines have become more intelligent and are getting better at detecting keyword stuffing and making sure an article of writing makes sense.
The point of all of this is to say that if you naturally write your article, keeping your keyword in focus, search engines will reward you for your efforts. You will still need to make use of your keyword and, after your article is written, go back and make sure it’s present and makes sense where you were able to sprinkle it in. The rule of thumb is if a human can make sense of it and understand it, so will search engines.
Is Word Count Important When It Comes To Writing Blogs or Webpages?
A question that is asked a lot is how many words should a blog contain? It used to be that 500 - 700 words were the standard. I believe in some cases you could get by today writing a minimum of 500 words. But, if you want to be an expert in your field, why would you settle for the minimum? It may seem like a daunting task to write 1,000 or more words but, if you are indeed an expert in the subject matter, 500 words should feel like the tip of the iceberg when you begin to write and 1,000 words will feel like your just getting started.
Now, if it’s hard to get started or don’t know where or how to begin, you aren’t alone. Most people hate the thought of writing but once started, you may come to enjoy it. If you know you need to write and feel overwhelmed by the thought of writing, I encourage you to read How To Blog When You Hate To Write written by Lauren Hooker who is a blogger for businesses. There’s a lot of nuggets in this article that may help you approach writing differently.
Where To Place Keywords For Search Engine Ranking
Your keyword should be present in a few areas of your blog besides the article itself. A little planning and practice will make this process easier as you begin to write more blogs. Good planning on your part and proper keyword placement will solidify to search engines what your writing is about.
On-Page Optimization Checklist
Blogs or website pages will have a better chance of ranking if the keywords are included in the following list:
Good URL structure is still being overlooked by bloggers and developers. A good example of URL structure is:
A bad example of URL structure looks something like this:
If you’re using WordPress for your website and don’t know how to change this, don’t worry, it’s easy. You’ll need to login to your dashboard. On the left-hand side, hover over Settings. A sub-menu will pop out with another list of options. Click the Permalinks link. Choose the radio button labeled ‘Post Name’ and you’re all done! From now on, your page URL will end in what you name your article.
If you aren’t using WordPress or you have a developer who is in charge of your blog and your URL structure doesn’t look right, ask them to change the URL structure to always mirror your page title
This is an extremely important part of your blog or page and you want to make sure to be descriptive and use your keyword once here, in a natural way, of course!
When writing your title, you need to be mindful of Google’s 600px width rule. Again, if you’re using WordPress, I highly recommend the Yoast plugin. This tool acts as a guide for keeping your on-page SEO in check. If you own this tool or have recently downloaded it, simply go to edit page, and scroll down to the bottom until you reach the section titled Yoast SEO. Below that, you’ll see where your page title is or should be. Click that area and it will expand beneath and display a section to enter your page title and description.
Notice in the example above, my page title for One Keyword Per Service is within the boundaries of the 600px width. Yoast indicates this by the green bar underneath the title.
Use the keyword as close to the beginning of the first sentence of your page description and make sure to be as descriptive as possible. The optimal length according to Google is no more than 160 characters. A good description will not only get Google’s attention it will also be a driving force for clicks into your site.
Image Alt Text
Don't forget to give your images alt text. Everyone who searches on Google has clicked the image tag for results. The only way your image will appear for the keyword search results is if your alt text was added with the appropriate text.
Will Google Rank My Page After A Blog Has Been Published?
Search engines have become more intelligent and we should all be thankful for that. Google is always searching for great content on any topic and will reward those who provide great content with positive ranking. The rules listed here and the things discussed are meant as a compass and only serve the role of helping search engines understand what your page is about. From the point where Google sends its spiders to investigate new pages on your website, it is then up to Google to assign ranking.
The Author, Nick Puffer, is the owner of Puffer Web Studios which is located in Gulfport, MS. Nick has developed websites for over 20 years and has worked in SEO for the last 10 years.