The fact that links mean nothing without some effective on-page search engine optimization cannot be overstated. On-page SEO is simply essential for every SEO campaign. If a search engine can’t determine what your content is about, there’s no way it can rank you high for the keywords that you target.
On-page SEO doesn’t have to be complicated. Many webmasters associate on-page SEO with coding and programming, but this isn’t the case at all, especially if you’re using a blogging platform like WordPress. To effectively optimize the pages on your site for search engines, you have to let search engines know what you want to rank high for – and you will have to tell them in a variety of different ways. Let’s not beat around the bush anymore – here are 5 on-page search engine optimization tips that you can’t miss. Note that some parts of the following tips may be a little focused to bloggers, but with a little creativity, can be used to boost the search engine rankings of any type of website.
1) Write An Optimized Title
You probably think you can skip over this tip. While the meta title is the single most important on-page factor, writing a great fully search engine optimized title takes a few seconds. Wrong. There’s more to the most important meta tag than what meets the eye. So to start, look at the titles you came up with in the past. What do they focus on? Pulling in readers or telling the search engines what your content is about? If you focus your titles on pulling in readers and not search engine traffic, then you’re on the wrong track. Your meta title is where you should focus on SEO, not readers.
For example, “Click Here To Learn The SEO Secrets That The Experts Have Kept From You” is a terrible meta title. There is only one word in the entire 14-word title that you might want to rank for, (SEO) but it’s probably the most competitive keyword in the industry. “10 SEO Tips For Bloggers” is a great title that focuses on targetable keywords while still pulling in readers. Plus, it’s short and to the point. Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not saying that every piece of content on your page should be optimized like this.
If you’re a blogger, “Click Here To Learn The SEO Secrets That The Experts Have Kept From You” is a great post title that lures visitors into reading more. Just don’t make it your meta title. That’s right, your meta title can (and probably should) be different from the headings in your body content. If this wasn’t obvious from before, your meta tag should contain a lot of your page’s main keywords, all without being overly long. As you can see, writing a search engine optimized meta title isn’t so easy and requires some thinking.
Bonus: The same techniques mentioned above for writing a meta title can also be applied to effectively writing a search engine optimized meta description.
2) Focus Your Content
Your content is the most important part of your website. Effectively focusing it on the right keywords can skyrocket your search engine rankings very naturally, all with little overall effort. Think of it like this: How will Google give you the search engine rankings you want for the keywords you want if it doesn’t know what you’re content is about? As you can see SEO is more than just building links, as it may appear to a first time optimizer. If you are a blogger, your posts need to be optimized if you want them to rank high in the major search engines. Even if you’re an internet business without a blog to write content for, the words on your website that your visitors see cannot be left unoptimized.
When writing content for your website, always keep SEO in mind. Be sure to mention your target keywords often – this is one of the most important on-page search engine optimization tips I can give you. If your content uses your keywords often, and those keywords aren’t overly competitive, chances are that you may just rank high for those keywords. However, do not overdo this. It’s OK to do this when your keywords fit, but being overly repetitive with your keywords may just give your website a bad rep with the search engines. You may say that because spammers are lowering the quality of search results by means of techniques such as keyword stuffing, search engines are lowering the amount of importance placed on real site content. This may be true to some extent but the truth is, no matter what, Google will never be able to stop heavily relying on page content, because without doing this, it will never be able to deliver relevant search results.
And now, back to how to focus your content. A great way to show search engines which keywords you think represent your page the best is using special text. Special text is any kind of text that stands out – bold text and more importantly, big text. For example, bolded text carries more importance in search engines than nonbolded text. Keywords present in headings (like <h1>) really show that those keywords have a lot of importance. Just be sure not to overdo special text, as this may end up having negative effects.
It’s not hard to focus your content on the keywords that you target. It’s actually just a matter of focusing on your keywords while writing content.
3) Be An Internal Linker
Internal linking is important. While internal links don’t carry the same importance as links from other websites, it’s important to do this effectively within your own website in order to target important keywords using links. Using internal links, you can easily tell search engines what your other content is about all without leaving your own site! This is done using anchor text, the actual text that links to more content.
If you use online tools such as YSE to check backlinks, you may notice that by default, internal links are included. This is because they are important.
A great internal linking strategy is to always think about internal linking while writing your website’s content. More links to different content on your site will increase your pageviews/visitor and will also provide more quality content to readers. Most importantly, this powerful strategy will help your website become a network of internal links, helping raise the search engine rankings for the keywords you target. And now, on to more complicated on-page search engine optimization.
4) Have A Clean URL Structure
Having a clean URL structure is very important. Your URLs can be used to tell search engines what your webpages are about. However, most webmasters, especially bloggers, do not take advantage of this to properly optimize their websites.
For most websites, a good URL structure isn’t hard to think of. It may however, be hard to implement, which I will talk about later. But for now, what is a clean URL structure? A clean URL structure is made up of URLs that a web visitor could remember if necessary, but most importantly use have important keywords in them. For example, here are some “dirty” URLs: examplesite.com/page-number-47.html examplesite.com/47.html examplesite.com/?p=47 etc.
Now some clean URLs: examplesite.com/seo-tips.html examplesite.com/seo-tips/ examplesite.com/search-engine-optimization/seo-tips/ etc. As you can see, most of these URLs are within the main directory of the domain. This creates a sense of power within each page and is very important for search engine optimization. My personal favorite URL structure type is examplesite.com/seo-tips/ but any clean URL structure will work.
If you’re a blogger using WordPress, editing your permalinks is as easy as 1-2-3. In the WordPress Dashboard, simply go to Settings > Permalinks and than it’s pretty straightforward. But for the rest of you guys, you may want to learn how to edit your .htaccess files to properly set up a clean URL structure here: http://httpd.apache.org/docs/2.0/misc/rewriteguide.html
As you can see, applying a good URL structure may be difficult for inexperienced webmasters and could brick your website if done incorrectly.
5) Have A Good Navigational Structure
Having a good navigational structure makes you’re site… you guessed it, easy to navigate, but also helps search engines index your website’s content. There are many ways to improve your site’s structure.
Link to important pages within your navigation bar. You don’t have to link to every other page on your site from the navigation bar, but try to fit as many important links as you can. Be sure to use anchor text to target keywords. Your footer should contain links to more content and if you’re a blogger, you might be interested in a related posts plugin to increase internal links and have a good navigational structure. A great way to get all of your website content indexed by Google is submitting a sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools. There are many WordPress plugins available to do this, but I recommend Google XML Sitemaps.
I know many bloggers who go by the following navigational rule: That every page on your website has to be accessible from any other page using 3 or less clicks. I think this is a great rule to follow and I try to put it to use on my own website. Following this rule makes sure that each page on your website gets some link juice and that each page can be easily accessed by a user looking for it.
We’re not done yet!
It should go without saying that writing quality content is very important. Doing this often also gives Google reason to index your content more frequently and think of your site as an authority one. Writing quality content gives a reason to readers to promote and link to it.
On-page SEO is often overlooked. While no experienced webmaster forgets the phrase “Content is KING”, internet professionals often forget that there’s a lot to optimize on your site and resort to link building, which does nothing without some effective on-page work.
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Now it’s your turn! Share some of your on-page search engine optimization tips in the comments!
Karan Singhal is a 12-year-old blogger and search engine optimization consultant. You can read more about his consulting services at Trafficke SEO Consulting Services. Karan also shares more free advice at the Trafficke Blog. Contact Karan by email: firstname.lastname@example.org