SEO: 3 nontechnical tips and 3 somewhat technical tips for on-page optimization
So, it’s about your website…
Do you want to be found in search results for the essential services or offerings you provide (and you know you do)?
If so, here are a few tips to help you optimize your web pages, called On-Page SEO or Onsite SEO.
Let’s start with the not so techy SEO tips.
1- Page Topics
Develop one topic for each web page and ensure that you maintain a laser focus on that topic. Think of your topic as a tangible object where you describe each side or facet.
That said, some facets may have a distinct sub-topic or sub-category and could be developed on a new page. In this case, you could establish cross links from the primary topic to the sub-topics (more on cross linking later in the post).
The point here is that you should have plenty of material to work with just by focusing on one topic. Delve into the content with incisiveness. Explain why it matters to you and what it can do for your readers.
Researching the topic and the keyword (or keyword phrase) is crucial to meeting your goals. Find out what your audience is searching for and what keywords they are using. Pay close attention to what aspects of that search are essential and most sought after. These findings should be the driving force of your topic ideas.
Next, you need to choose the best keyword that addresses the topic’s primary focus.
Once you decide on the best keyword, be sure to include the keyword in the page heading or the page title (also known as the H1 tag, for which there should only be 1 per page).
When possible, use your keyword in subheads. Also, use it naturally within the body content of the web page. That said, it is counterproductive to stuff keywords into your headings, body content, or other sections of your web page. Search engines are sophisticated enough to understand word variations and there’s no need to overdo it. In fact, search engines may penalize your web page if it appears that you are stuffing keywords.
An important note: what takes precedence these days, thankfully, is good content. Understanding your audience and writing for them will always work for you. Keeping your visitor interested in your website’s content and generating traffic with your content matters more than keywords alone. Good content is the foundation of SEO.
Keywords are crucial for grabbing attention in a crowded space – that space being the search results page or other space where you’re promoting your offerings. And keywords help search engines index your web page properly, so when your web ranks well, it is for the intended search query.
3- Cross Linking
Ultimately, you will want to develop a cross linking strategy, a strategy to include internal links from one page on your website to another related or relevant web page on your website. Cross links are internal links within your website. Working in this way, you are threading pages, creating a pathway for your visitor to “link” one logical bit of information to another.
To refine your cross linking strategy, you should have a hierarchy or set of primary topics established for your website. These topics should represent your most important pages. As mentioned earlier, cross linking in its basic form is linking from the primary topic or category to related sub-categories. The basic structure of cross linking is structured like a pyramid where links flow from the home page to any given page on the website, as indicated by Moz, the SEO software professionals. In this way, you are distributing link equity or rank power across the website.
Cross linking strategies are complex, and how you structure them depends on your goals and how you want to optimize for those goals.
Sub-categories may link back to the primary category or other related primary topics on your website. The pages about your primary offerings, or the offering you want to optimize for SEO, may be the pages you should link back to most often.
A side note: when you create a link within a web page, the clickable text is called the anchor text. Make the anchor text descriptive so that the visitor knows what information they will find if they follow that link. Also, search engines prioritize anchor text, so use the keyword chosen for the page you’ve linked to within the anchor text.
Next, the somewhat techy tips for On-Page SEO:
1) Include the topic keyword in the title tag.*
2) Include the topic keyword in the URL.**
3) Write good descriptions for the image alt text.***
Wow, that was easy, right. It is a quick reference list. But if you need more details, read on:
* Title Tags
It is the title that appears on search results pages. Then, if the visitor has opened your web page, it is the title of your browser window. In this case, the title tag acts as a placeholder among other tabs that may be open in a browser window. You want to make an impact with brevity when writing your title tag.
Think of the title tag as a really, really short promo spot. First, include elements of your page title in the title tag, which should include your keyword. After that, include information vital to your website goals. It may be that brand is important to you, and if so, use that term in the latter part of your title tag. It may be that location is important if your business or organization relies mainly on local searches. Here are examples:
Again, keep the title tag brief. Research reveals that if you keep your title tag to 60 characters, Google will display about 90% of it, according to Moz. Ultimately, what determines how much of your title tag displays is how much fits within a 600 pixel-wide space. And this is current information as of this writing (March 2021). We know this stuff changes.
How to insert your title tag
Usually, your website framework or online site builder will provide a field in a sidebar or other designated section of the editor or plugin for you to insert the title tag.
** The URL
The page title you choose for your page is often the “path” of your URL or the trailing information. So if your website address is www.example.com, then the URL for your web page would be www.example.com/the-page-title.
Keep each of your URLs unique. Your keywords may be similar, but make sure that the use of your keyword within the URL is specific to the topic of the page.
If your page title is long, you may want to modify the URL so that your URL isn’t as long. That’s to say, your URL may be a shorter version of your page title, and in that way, you make the URL easier to remember as it is shared across the internet.
Typically these days, all website systems use your page title within the URL. If your URL uses a combination of numbers and letters, then your website builder or framework isn’t set to use “Clean URLs” (URLs that convert the machine-readable address to a word-friendly address). If this is the case, you should find settings within your website framework that allows you to indicate how you want your URL to display.
*** Image Alt Text (Alternative Text)
Every time you upload an image to your website, the website software should provide a field for the image “alt text” (alt attributes or alt descriptions). Complete this field routinely each time you upload an image to your website. The alt text tells the web crawler what your image is about.
Your alt text should be descriptive of the image itself and used in context to the topic. When possible, use your keyword. For example, if your web page is about the healthy eating habits of pets in their early years and the keyword phrase is “healthy pet treats,” then the image of a cat wouldn’t be just “cat.” Perhaps it would be “a kitten eating cheese crumbles, a homemade healthy pet treat”. And remember, no keyword stuffing in the alt text either. There is no need to use the keyword for every image on the page.
When writing your alt text, do not use “image” or “picture.” It is understood that the alt text describes a visual element. Also, keep the alt text short, no more than 125 characters.
Be selective in the images you choose (while also remembering proper copyright usage). Avoid overly used stock images when using an original image isn’t practical.
Important note: while important for SEO, the purpose of the alt text is to describe images to sight-impaired visitors or other visitors otherwise unable to see the image on your website. The alt text can be read by screen readers or assistive technology so that all visitors to your site will understand your content.
Wrapping it up
The web crawler or web bot is the mechanism that indexes your site. It looks for many elements on your website, but these steps provide the basics you should put to use on each of your web pages. Completing each of the three steps for the not so techy SEO and the somewhat techy SEO will help you attain better search results.
Remember, though, that for each of these steps, there is more to learn. As you improve your On-Page SEO, you will refine your research topics and keywords, plan more strategically for cross linking, and refine page titles and alt text. And if you have an image-intensive website, understanding how to optimize for images beyond the alt text is crucial.
Managing your website is time-consuming; it is a job in itself. Finding even just a bit of time daily during the work week helps. But once you are familiar with your website interface, you can easily create or update a web page optimized for Onsite SEO and ready for search engine showtime.
Remember, one step at a time, persistence has no time frame!
Published by Cindy Barnard, freelance writer, dba CCB Creative
Freelance Content Writer and Web Editor