What is On-page optimization?
Search Engine Optimization has traditionally been divided into two categories: On-Page Optimization and Off-Page Optimization.
On-Page Optimization is the process of making the pages on your website search engine friendly. It contains everything from correcting your website’s errors, canonicalization of the URLs of the website to creating the perfect tags to make sure Google reads your page and ranks it for the keywords you want it to.
There are articles on the web containing lists which more often than not confuse a reader. Nobody has a set of steps that need to be taken to make your website rank on top of the SERPs. Google has devised its search engine and the ranking factors in such a way that nobody knows the right blend to rank better. What we can do is take care of the most important factors and do test to see which parameters are generating the best results.
On Page SEO factors (in no particular order):
1) Content is the King!
No matter what you do, if you don’t have quality content on your website, you will never be able to rank high on the SERPs. But everybody says that; Create Good content, Original content etc. We all know that. But what is the crux of Good content?
The first step while creating content is to define what your page is about and who are you targeting. If that is not defined properly, you will never be able to create good content.
Are you creating content to sell a product? Or is the page about giving information about a product? Or is it something in between?
Avinash Kaushik very well defines this very well in one of his articles. I will summarize it here for you.
He talks about dividing your audience into 3 categories:
I believe the context is very clear from the terminologies he has used.
Once done with that, the next part is about creating the right content and making sure you connect the See, Think and Do pages so that you create a user flow. A user in the “See” category, should move the “Think” category after reading your “See” page and a user in the “Think” category, should move in the “Do” category similarly. If you are able to do and measure that day in, day out, you are through with the creating good content part.
And guess what, while creating the good content, you created a link chain as well (By linking the “See” page to the “Think” page and linking the “Think” page to the “Do” page). This internal link chain will help your pages to rank better.
Though there are hints from Google that it is giving correlation more importance that keywords, I’m pretty sure that content will not lose a lot of value.
2) URL Structure
If you are creating a new website, defining the URL structure is the first thing that you should do. Not only will this make life easier for you, but also for Google bots. Unless you are dynamically generating pages for each search query by a user, you should never indulge in creating crappy URLs.
Example of a good URL
But again, do not add a lot of words and make your URL so long that it starts to look spammy.
Keyword stuffing is BAD for your website. In the URL or on the page!
Try to start your URL with the target keyword. The first few keywords are given more importance according this interview by Matt Cutts.
And yeah, don’t forget to have a sitemap for your website. Google might not be able to crawl all your pages, but a sitemap can go a long way in making sure all your pages are indexed.
EduTip: Google search site:yoursitename.com to check how many pages from your website are getting indexed and if the number matches your calculation.
Metadata is the data that gives information about other data. While buying a book that you don’t know about, don’t you always read the “About the book” part at the end of the book? If that looks interesting, you end up buying the book(probably after reading a few reviews).
This is what the meta tags do. The title and the description of a page are what will get the clicks from the SERPs. If you have a poor title and description, you are losing out on potential clicks from users.
Other tags to worry about:
The <h1>,<h2>…<h6> tags are used to define the HTML tags. They are how we can semantically define the headings and sub-headings of a page. A page usually should not have more than one heading, and similarly, it is better if your page does not have more than 1 <h1> tag. Having H1, H2, H3 tags are a good signal to Google.
Google does not know what an image is about. Alt tag is used for that. This will help your images come up in Google image search and might end up bringing quality traffic to your website.
Bold, Italics etc.
Bolding, highlighting and italicizing words help will tell Google about the important keywords.
Doesn’t all this seem very trivial? When reading anything in a newspaper, what hits the eye are the headings and the sub-headings. Then comes the bold and italicized text. And every image has a description which explains what that image is about.
EduTip: Though a lot of SEO experts have starting playing down on the importance of these tags, I will still suggest you to keep this up on the priority list. The title and the description are the tags which not only tell Google about what your page is about but also attract the users on the SERPs for clicks. If implemented properly, these tags will improve your CTR.
4) Structured Data/ Schema Markup
Schemas markup is something which webmasters can use to markup HTML pages in ways which are recognized by Google, Yahoo! and Bing. This markup makes the search engines understand the data better and helps improve the search results.
Not a lot of websites across the globe are using the schema markup, but studies say that they definitely improve your rankings a little. Well, obviously they will. If Google understands your website better and your website has good content, it will and should rank better.
I will followup this post with a detailed explanation and a step-by-step approach to using Schemas on your website.
EduTip: Implement Schemas on your website before you competitor does. It will give you benefits.
5) Speed (Zip Zap Zoooom..)
Nobody is going to like your website if it takes time to load. Good Site Speed not only improves the user experience, but also impresses Google. If your site loads fast, Google will give you points for that. And if it is slow, be certain that your website will be penalized.
Google has provided this easy to use Page insights tool, which will tell you about all the parameters you need to improve on your site to make it load faster. On an average, a score above 90 is what you should aim for.