SEO optimization can be a complex and strategic process, but there are some best practices that are easy to implement and very beneficial for the SEO health of your website.
Below is a list of some of the on-page SEO best practices you can follow on your own for optimizing your web pages for specific keywords.
Before you continue, it may be helpful to create a list (or sitemap) of your existing website page structure, containing the page URL and page name. A spreadsheet in Excel can be helpful for that.
1. Keyword Search
Having a list of your website pages in hand,
- Identify two (2) keywords that are most relevant to the overall page content i.e., what key words or phrases best describe what the page is about;
- Choose one (1) primary keyword relevant to the page’s content and one variation of that keyword (e.g. plural variation or two closely related keywords) per page.
If you can’t identify one primary keyword for a page, you’ll need to create new website pages to separate the different content (add them to the spreadsheet). If you are not sure what the primary topic of the page is, then your visitors and the search engines won’t be able to understand the page either.
2. Page Title
The page title appears as the blue (or purple if it is a previously visited link), bolded, underlined text on a Google search results page, and also on the top-left of the browser bar. The page title should follow these guidelines:
- Be under 70 characters with no more than two long-tail keywords per page title;
- The primary keyword should appear first;
- Each keyword phrase should be separated by pipes (|), which you create by [shift + back slash];
- Each page title on your website should be unique;
- Except for your homepage and contact us page, each page title should NOT include your business name.
3. Meta Description
The meta description appears on a Google search results page under the Page Title. It works as a call-to-action, since it will help people decide whether to click on your result, or on someone else’s. The meta description should follow these guidelines:
- Be between 100-150 characters (take advantage of the space you have);
- Incorporate the primary keyword and at least one secondary keyword in a conversational format. However, don’t sacrifice usability for the sake of jamming extra key words in there. Remember that your audience is actually a person not a search engine spider;
- Don’t repeat page titles – be creative;
- Provide a valuable, compelling reason for why someone should visit the page.
4. Page URL
That’s the link people will click on to get to your page, or that will be shared on social media, so it should be easy to read e.g., in our case the URL is skunkworks.ca
- The URL of the page you’re optimizing should include the primary keyword;
- Each word in the URL should be separated using dashes (-). e.g.www.examplesite.com/your-service-page.
5. Heading Tags (H1)
Heading tags have this name because they wrap around your page headings to give depth and organize the page content hierarchically (H1, H2, H3… ). The most important heading tag is H1, because it’s used for the first heading (title) of the page.
- The page should have one H1 tag that incorporates the primary keyword;
- The H1 tag should appear at the top of the page and should be the first thing people see when they arrive on a page;
- The H1 tag should align with the page title and the URL.
6. Page Content
- Use your primary keyword a few times throughout the page’s content;
- Mention the keywords naturally. Don’t over think keyword density or placement;
- Try to bold or underline the keyword at least once. This has an effect on how relevant the keyword is to the page;
- Also mention the secondary keywords when you can.
- Remember you are writing for real people. Google’s objective is to provide the most useful results that are relevant to whatever search the user (your reader) has conducted. If you create content that is jammed with key words but makes no sense or is hard to read…your page rank (where you appear in organic search results) will ultimately suffer.
7. Internal Links
- Create one or two links on related pages that link back to the page that you’re optimizing, using the primary keyword of the page as the anchor text in the related pages.
8. Call to Action
Calls to action can help SEO by creating an internal link on your website to a specific landing page. Most calls to action are images; therefore you can optimize the image filename and alt text for the primary keyword you’re targeting on the page.
- Every website page, including your blog, should have at least one call to action above the page’s fold. (Don’t make your website visitor scroll down to see the call to action);
Any images used on the page should be optimized so that search engines can “read” the image.
- Optimize the most prominent image on the page using the primary keyword, and then use the primary and secondary keywords for any other images.
Images can be optimized in two ways:
- File name: Each word should be separated with dashes (-), e.g.marketing-services-promo.jpg
- ALT text: The alt text should match the file name, without dashes, e.g. Marketing Services Promo
- If you are unable to change image file name or if it’s too time consuming, then only change the most prominent images’ alt text using the primary keyword.
10. Meta Keywords
Although meta keywords aren’t part of Google’s or Bing’s search algorithm, you can still use your primary and secondary keywords in the page’s meta keywords. Smaller search engines still might use them in their algorithm, but major search engines do not use them.
Conclusion and Final Tips
Going through each step in each of your website pages may seem like a lot of work, and it is!
You can start with the top 5 most visited (or important) pages of your website, and continue to optimize the other pages in steps.
Remember that on top of optimizing existing pages, creating new optimized content on a weekly basis is critical to achieving long-term success with SEO.
If your website is powered by WordPress, you can do On-Page SEO (and much more) all on your own.
You can also have Skunkworks help you optimize your website pages. Just give us a call.
May you succeed and achieve all your business goals!