On page SEO Techniques
Before Website Designing
These are the things which you should do and you can do this before or while planning your website. These factors which will impact your on page optimization or its results in some way. This is in the sense that these are actions that are done on the web page and these, like, on page, can have effect on rankings directly or indirectly.
An HTTPS status helps a website build trust and authenticity, as well as provide online protection. This is not a direct on page factor but since it is seen as a ranking factor as it builds trust, it will certainly help achieve on page results in better ways.
2. Domain Name
Earlier years it would have been a keyword specific domain but not now. This is more about what not to do than what to do for domain name. You can have your main keyword or part of it which is general in your domain name in a way that does not sound stuffed. If you decide to put your keyword then it should only be to give your viewers an idea of what your site is about.
Tip: Avoid keyword focus in domain name and use it for branding, there are plenty other places where you can use your keywords.
3. Site structure & planning
Site structure and its planning could go a long way in making a website user as well as search engine friendly. It can make the on page work much easier when a you have clear idea of how to build and structure your website. It means planning your website's overall framework which assist in many important on page optimization tools or steps coming ahead like designing, keyword research, navigation, internal linking, etc. This would typically include, understanding your key subject, creating sub topics, hubs of similar sections, how other and all sections could related to each other and to your main subject, plan and visualize type of content for each, look how your competitors do it, looking for a better way of doing it, translating your business profile into an online profile, etc.
4. HTML Sitemap
This is an HTML version of your sitemap which you put on your website as a page. This simply creates an ordered or categorized list of all your pages divided by (if any) sub sections. This could be similar to what your website menu looks like, just with much more detail and having all the pages listed here. This lets users and bots know better what you covering and how your site is structured.
5. Use of Media
Use of images can bring lot of difference to your page's readability and ease of understanding. It maintains, improves and create interest in viewers to read further. Visual content i.e. images, videos, charts or infographics help a great deal in making viewer understand and get a quick grasp of what the content is about. These media also highlight meaning.
6. User friendly design & layout
Design, layout and flow of content through the site and web pages should create interest. It should be easy for viewers to find the information they are looking for. The menu should also be clear and visible. It should clearly list out things that you can do for them and provide easy navigation.
7. Responsive Design
If you understand why you have to do on page then this step becomes a high priority. By this time a significant number of viewers and searches are on mobile, and if your content does not look readable on a mobile then rest of the on page tools and techniques could be of little use to your website and its rankings. And when Google has gone all in for "Mobile first indexing" your focus should be more here.
Build Foundation and Direction
8. Start with Keyword Research
Keywords are the map and direction of your SEO journey. Without the use of right keywords, any SEO campaign will be directionless no matter how good it is going to be and no matter how relevant, valuable and high authority backlinks you can get. For this keyword research is what needs to be done. We cannot just randomly select some keywords and start our SEO, as this would be all the more dangerous. The factors which we need to see and what is normally included in keyword research are:
- A. Website subject, further divided into onto web pages
- B. List of (all possible) keywords related to our subject
- C. Categorize by pages or sub topics
- D. Segregating keywords by their meaning & intention
- E. Further narrowing the list by difficulty level, relevancy, etc
After this foundation level and important exercise of keywords research, the below on page techniques are about keywords optimization i.e. the right use of those keywords and other optimization tools to support keywords optimization.
On page SEO checklist: Start implementing the techniques
9. URL Structure
This includes the length of the URL and how structure it. It should not be too long. This is the first place where you can use your keyword without the explanation or stop words. To separate the keywords or the words use hyphen (-). Never use underscore (_) or space or mix all the words without space.
10. Title Tag
Title tag is placed in the header section of the page. The code for this is <title></title>. The text between these codes is the title, like this, <title>Use your keywords here</title>. Here you can create an attractive and purpose oriented short one line sentence which includes your keyword. Ideal length is said to be between 50-60 characters. I have seen full titles with 69 characters showing.
Tip: If Title tag is short or a group of short ones separated by commas, etc. then Google can change part of it (usually the later part) to make it more relevant.
11. Meta Description
This is a short description of what the page is about. This is now more used to attract clicks and increase click-through-rates (CTR) than to help a page rank better. This ideally should be about 1-2 lines, 25-30 words and under 150 characters.
Tip: Google changes description according to the search queries and even takes it from text to create relevant meta description.
12. Meta Keywords
No longer used by Google as relevant for ranking or anything else, still can be seen in many sites. It was used to point search engines towards targeted keywords and more keywords, usually the best place to stuff keywords, separated by commas, just like tagging in e.g. social bookmarking sites.
13. H1 Tag
This is your content's main heading, which should rightly describe what the content is all about in brief. You need to put your main keyword here in a sentence that tell viewers what they will be reading. It is important for keyword positioning and more importantly to make viewers read when they come clicking your search result. It should be in sync with your Title and preferably or could it's extension.
14. Other heading tags (H2, H3..)
These are sub headings and are used to organize the content. When you create and look at your content as a sum of parts which describe or elaborate your main subject (H1) then H2, H3s become your sub titles for each part.
You could and probably should use LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing keywords within your text. Using LSIs and also synonyms at some instances in a way reinforces, reminds the users what the topic is trying to say. It also helps boosting or supporting main keywords. And while it explains or elaborates various content points, it also makes a page rank for keywords which are these LSI & synonyms itself plus other many related keywords.
16. Optimized Images & other media
We mentioned above the importance of using media like images, videos, etc. to improve readability and build more interest. But these could very well hamper it if not used properly. The images and media files which you plan to use should be well optimized. Optimization means few things here. First, minimize the size (KB/MB) of these files while maintaining their quality. Second, use media with appropriate height & width, respective of the content section where you are using it. Third, use it only and at the right places where they can be of good use. Stuffing a web page with images and/or videos could make it look awful and will surely decrease your page's loading speed drastically.
17. Internal Linking
Internal linking is a way to give meaning, direction and structure to the whole website and/or to some particular sections of website with content on similar or related topics. It helps search engines to better understand your content. It also helps websites to put more of their content in front of viewers who can also understand and know your content and pages better through internal linking.
18. Image alt & Title Tags
Image alt text or the alternate text for images is very important part of images. Users cannot see this, but it is a way to explain what the image is about. This way it helps search engines understand your images and index these as well as related it better to the part of content where it is used. You can also use image title tag with a little shorter title like description of the image. The code is like this: <img src="image file name" alt="alt text" title="title text">.
19. Page Speed
Loading speed of a website is a very critical factor for ranking and user experience. Even if for a moment we leave ranking factor away, if a website takes ages to load then users will go away upfront. Every additional second of page load time bounces of significant users off your site. Keep your site's load time under 3 seconds, and even less preferably. Images are one of the heaviest part of a web page.
Tip: Optimized images; avoiding unnecessary use of scripts & proper placement of script codes; content length & page size.
20. Content Length
Content length in a way is a strong signal towards the depth of coverage of a subject on a web page. But that is not a strict rule or something. Keeping web page content between 1,000 words to somewhere 2,000 words can be a good idea. Pages ranking on top have a good amount of content, in the range of 1,800 - 2,000 words.
Tip: Do not sacrifice quality in favor of overstuffing of words to fill that content gap and aim for better or quicker rankings.
21. Content Highlighting
Overdoing of everything is bad in SEO, which will apply equally here too. You can highlight some of the important words or sentences or sentence parts by way of coloring, underlining, bold, italics or a combination of these. Again, do not overdo it.
22. Keyword Density
This is perhaps the most talked about or feared part of keyword optimization. Again what we said in the above point applies. It is afterall over optimization. It will never work, and could put your site on radar. Anywhere between 2%-3% of mentioning of the main keyword should be the ideal range you should be considering. If you truly write for humans and aim to explain it properly and write naturally, keyword density should never be a worry for you. Tip: Here LSI and synonyms come into play. Again no overuse!