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On-page optimization is: “The process of refining the content and structure of a website, so that it will be indexed and ranked by search engines by means of keywords, new content, meta tags, and other site reports.”
Basically, on-page optimization looks at all the on-page components you can improve across each webpage of your site.
First, let’s look at meta titles or as they’re sometimes called, page titles.
A meta title is the main text that describes a webpage and is one of the first things that search bots crawl when they are analyzing page content.
Meta titles can appear in two places. You will see them on:
The keywords you use in your meta title are crucial, as they are the main cues that search engines use to understand the content of the page.
A well-structured meta title:
There are a number of best practices that you need to follow when writing meta titles for your site:
Meta descriptions sit just below the meta title on search engine results pages. They are used to preview the content of a given webpage. While not important to search engine rankings, meta descriptions are an extremely important factor in gaining user click-through from search engine results pages.
A well-structured meta description gives users an insight into the type of content they can expect on a webpage, and encourages them to click.
Here are some best practices for writing meta descriptions:
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator and, much like the postal address of your house, a URL is the address of a webpage. Each page has its own unique URL, which is how your computer locates the webpage that you are trying to find.
URL structure is another important component to consider in providing a better user experience to your customers. As the URL is displayed on the search engine results page as part of the search result snippet, users will be more likely to click on a URL structure that is readable and relevant.
This URL follows a structured approach, listing relevant keywords: www.example.com/mens/shirts/short-sleeved/shirts
This URL displays an internal method of sorting pages, which would be confusing to a user: www.example.com/pageid=2/productid=46
The first URL is far more likely to get a click.
In terms of best practices for URL structure, URLs should:
Another aspect of on-page optimization is header, or H1, tags. You should have a Heading or H1 title for each page. Headers allow you to quickly display to a user what is on the page and also allow you to separate on-page content.
It may not add any additional SEO value to the page, but having at least a H1 enables search engines to understand the structure of what is on the page.
The heading should act as a further reinforcement for what the page content is about.
In terms of best practice for header tags, it’s important to:
Search engine crawlers are unable to crawl or understand images when they crawl the content of a page. As a result, it’s very important to add alt tags to each image on your site.
The purpose of an alt tag is to provide a description of an image that a search bot can read and understand.
For example, a search bot can’t read the image of a tree, but it can read and understand the alt text, alt=‘tree’ and so knows how to index and potentially serve this image.
The reason alt tags are important is that they provide text for users who can’t see images in their browsers, or for visually impaired users. They also potentially allow the images on your pages to rank in image search results.
With site images, you should:
Anchor text, also known as a hyperlink, is the clickable text that links one webpage to another. Anchor text links can be from a page within your website to another page or to an exterior site linking to you.
Using anchor text for internal links can increase the number of pages that a user visits each time they come to your website, which improves site engagement and reduces bounce rate.
When using anchor text:
The content of your page can take many forms: it could be text-based, image-based, video-based, or an infographic. Ideally, a webpage will be a combination of all of these. When thinking about the content of your webpage, remember:
Shane Lyons is head of Search & Analytics at Mediaworks, an award-winning media and communications agency. He has been working in Digital both in Ireland and abroad for the last 8 years and now specializes in SEO and Analytics.
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