Brain surgery, rocket science, chemical engineering… search engine optimization? You know, just a list of the most complicated concepts known to man!
Okay, that’s maybe a tad extreme, but Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) can still be a bit of a mystery. In this article, we lay out the most essential on-page SEO tips that should always be implemented when creating a new web page or post on WordPress, Shopify, plain old HTML, or otherwise!
On-page SEO Basics
First, what is SEO? And are we SURE it’s not rocket science?
Assuming you’re not publishing web pages, blog posts, and eCommerce products because you’re still quarantined at home looking for things to do, traffic to your website is probably important. Organic traffic from a Search Engine Results Page (or SERP) means free visitors to your website after clicking on your domain’s search result from whatever they searched for. The higher your domain on the SERP, the more likely you capture that visitor.
SEO is all about convincing Google’s algorithm that your website, and therefore your business, is the industry expert and the most relevant to the searcher’s needs. Here, we’re focusing on on-page SEO, or what you can do with a specific web page or blog post to improve your domain’s ranking. On your website, the most influential tools at your disposal are going to be strategic content creation, proper content formatting, and best practices for SEO tagging.
So, no, it’s not rocket science. But it can definitely be confusing. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Tip #1 – Straightforward Content Strategy
A good strategy starts with a goal in mind. We’ve established that you’re interested in website visitors who are looking for your product or service. The other part of strategy is creating a plan to achieve the goal. So, with a content strategy, each page or post on your website should have a goal of what the visitor should learn or interact with. Content strategy is the organization and planning of this content.
The page experience for your visitor and potential customer is directly affected by this content strategy. Google rewards websites with the best page experience. This is often measured by how long a user stays on the page, how much they scroll, how much they interact with it, and what pages they click through to.
Using keywords on your pages and posts that match what search engine users are searching for is how Google knows that your page content is relevant, and therefore your domain should be listed on the SERP. Essentially, answer questions through your content.
Check out a past post of ours to learn a bit more about how to use content to answer user’s questions through Search Engine Marketing (or SEM) and your entire online presence.
Writing keyword-rich content with a specific goal in mind is the basics of content strategy for SEO.
Tip #2 – Formatting Website Content
In addition to the words on the page, Google’s algorithm considers the formatting of the words, paragraphs, images, and any other content on your page as well. Formatting helps to further indicate that a web page is user-friendly with a good page experience and relevant to the search query on Google.
Think about it this way: would you prefer to order sushi off a well-bound menu with clear choices and descriptions in a clean environment? Or from a couple of choices scribbled on bar napkins at the bowling alley? Format matters.
There are several key practices for formatting content for SEO. Here’s the most important.
Proper HTML Tagging
Ensure your content uses proper heading, paragraph, link, and image tags especially throughout your content. It is also vital that H tags and headings should be related to the topic of the page, and should be short and to the point.
Though these are not all of the HTML tags that should be used and optimized, utilizing the following tagging guidelines will create a great foundation for the content on your page.
- Include one H1 tag on the page typically for the title of the page or post.
- Use H2 tags for major section headings.
- Use H3 tags to break up content within sections.
- Use p tags for all body content.
- Use a tags for links to other pages.
- Use img tags for any images that add value to the content on the page.
Short Sentences & Paragraphs
The content on your website should be easy to read. Writing graduate-level dissertations with hard to read sentences and paragraphs will likely reduce the amount of time your website visitors spend consuming your content, and therefore will not impress Google’s Algorithm. Keep things simple, straightforward, and to the point wherever possible.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
We mentioned writing keyword-rich content according to a specific content strategy. Well, the extreme of this is called “keyword stuffing,” and it is frowned upon by search engines.
Not only will keyword stuffing negatively impact the readability of your content, but it will also be obvious to both your audience and the search engine. This can be looked at as “gaming the system”, which Google and Bing frown upon and could penalize your page for it. Instead, focus on a natural and more authentic writing style.
Tip #3 – Additional On-page Optimization
At this point, you have the right words and have formatted the content on the page. There’s a little more optimization that can be done to further improve a search engine’s understanding of your page. We’ll call these practices additional on-page content optimization for SEO.
Each page on your website has a title tag, which is not to be confused with the H1 headline on your page. This particular page title does not show within the content of the page, but can be seen by hovering over a tab in your browser.
Similar to the content on a page, search engine algorithms will use this content when evaluating what the web page is about. Also, as with the content on the page, keyword research and content strategy come into play here as well.
It’s important to note that page titles are the first line of your domain listing on a SERP. So, keep them concise and to the point, but also make them attractive to draw the user’s attention and influence them to give you that sweet, sweet click.
Meta descriptions and meta keywords had much more of an effect on SEO in the old days, so we’re not looking for an improvement to your domain ranking necessarily. However, like page titles, the meta description shows with your domain on the SERP and gives the user a better understanding of the content for the page they may click through to.
Concise but informative meta descriptions are best. Keep the content extremely relevant to the content found on the web page being linked to. Meta descriptions, along with the page titles, are the first impression that many of your leads will have with your brand so make the content count.
Alt Tags & Title Tags
When thinking of images within the content of your web page, remember that Google doesn’t have actual eyes. An alt tag can be easily added through any CMS like WordPress to the images on the page and should describe the image while following the content strategy of the page.
Title tags are added to links and buttons for a similar reason: to help the search engine algorithm understand the purpose of the link and what it links to.
The same principle for alt tags goes for the file names of images and other documents on the website. Use descriptive file names with dashes between words to help the search engine algorithms understand the context of the image.
An added benefit to this is that your images may start showing for relevant searches on Google Images as well, which increases your search visibility, improves your SEO, and potentially leads to additional website traffic.
Get the Most Out of Your Website
There are many factors affecting Search Engine Optimization, but these are some of the most important and easiest to implement. Understanding these basic SEO practices will allow you to take advantage of the content on your website in a way that will greatly benefit your digital marketing in the long run.
Ready to optimize your website and bring in new traffic? Square 205 can help. Contact us online or call us at 940-323-2341 today!