When you try to rank a website page, you may be convinced that your best bet is to get as many backlinks as possible. Or to share it on as many social network sites as possible.
What a lot of people forget about, or perhaps remember to do but do it poorly, is on page SEO.
What is on page SEO?
As you may be aware, search engines like Google use different metrics to rank pages. In fact they use something like 200+ different metrics to help gauge the quality of your site and position it correctly within the rankings.
A small but important section of these metrics relate the actual content of the page. Not just the words in your article, but the less visible code behind it too.
Things such as the different tags attached to an image code or the title tags are picked up on by the search engine bots that see these things even though 99% of your visitors will never even know about them.
Difficulty level: easy!
Thankfully these things are easy to add and change, especially if you are a WordPress user. WordPress’ default features allow you to modify some of them, and plugins such as WordPress SEO allow you to modify the rest.
Ways to improve your SEO
Here are my 7 top ways to improve your on page SEO, following these for each page will certainly help your overall SEO strategy.
SEO Friendly URL’s
If you are not already using your post title as your URL, what the hell are you thinking?!
Search engines read through the URL just like content and use the terms found there as a ranking signal.
The following URL will mean nothing to search engines or visitors alike: www.yoursite.com/?page_id=123
Change that to the post title to something like www.yoursite.com/my-amazing-post-about-seo and all of a sudden it has semantic meaning.
Throw in a keyword and your good to go.
There is one caveat though, keep it short and to the point. Long titles not only look ugly but can lead to the temptation of keyword stuffing.
As with URL’s keeping titles short is a good thing. Generally titles are used in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) so overly long titles will be truncated, and meaning can be possibly lost.
Keep a title to fewer than 55 characters when at all possible.
It is also a good idea to throw in a keyword if it makes sense within the title. If it looks out of place, go without it or re-word the title till it makes sense.
Make sure the title uses an H1 tag. This is because it is the primary header tag and most search engines consider anything that uses that tag to be the post heading.
Images and Videos
Not only do rich media like videos and images make a page look good, they have added benefits too.
The can be shared on social media and often (especially with videos) keep visitors on your page longer, thus increasing time on page which helps with overall SEO.
One area that often gets over looked when optimizing images and videos is the file name. Get into the habit of adding a file name that has meaning (and ideally a keyword) thrown in.
A file like DSC34434jhs.jpg does not mean anything to anyone.
A file named optimizing_on_page_seo_a_diagram.jpg has more meaning and more SEO value.
You don’t even need to bother adding in dashes when naming a file, Windows for one doesn’t require it and when uploaded, WordPress automagically adds dashes!
A final piece of the visual jigsaw is the ALT tag. These are used when an image cannot be displayed, but they are also tacked by search engines. Providing a short, to the point description of the image (with keyword!) will help and it can be easily added via the WordPress media editor.
Adding ALT tags has never been easier!
I keep mentioning keywords, and I’m sure you know what they are. There are many different tactics for using keywords in content, but my general rule of thumb is to use the keyword once in the first 100 or so words of the article and then once again further down the article preferably in a title.
To bolster the keywords use related keywords elsewhere in your article. A related keyword is one that is different to the keyword but has semantically a similar or the same meaning.
For example, if you were writing about the paleo diet instead of constantly using the phrase paleo diet, you could mix it up by using dairy free diet, protein rich lifestyle, reduced carb diet, and so on.
All of those different phrases relate indirectly to what a paleo diet is.
Don’t be afraid to use outbound links in your articles; just remember to make sure they are to respected authority sites!
Outbound links like these help search engines to figure out what the article is actually about, so while seeming to be unhelpful, carefully selected outbound links can help with your SEO metrics.
On the subject of links, never ever forget to add a title to the link, as once more it is used as a metric signal.
Google PageSpeed is a wonderful tool to help you with this.
Not bad, but could be better!
There is much to say about optimizing content but it can be summed up in this short list:
Make sure the content is relevant and useful
Make sure it is spelling error free and grammatically correct
Make sure it has been formatted well, with plenty of space and focused headlines.
No one wants to read a wall of text, not a beautifully formatted article that has spelling errors every other word.
The Bottom Line
Making some basic changes to the way you handle and create content can help to maximize your on-site SEO and (in theory) improve your overall page rank in the SERPs.
These changes can be easily incorporated into your daily work flow, and shouldn’t be considered a chore, but rather a fundamental part of your SEO strategy.