An Introduction to SEO Part 2: The Basics of On-Page SEO
Updated: Jan 2
Well, it’s been about a month now since I posted Part 1 of this blog series. I know, dear reader, that you’ve been on the edge of your seat waiting for Part 2 to drop, so…wait no more!
In Part 1, I explored the following topics:
Why you should consider SEO practices to increase your website’s ranking on Google’s search results.
How Googlebots find and index your webpage.
The importance of building authority for the topic you want to rank for on Google search results.
How to integrate keywords into your webpage copy.
In Part 2, I will review some of the on-page SEO factors that can help improve your search ranking.
What is On-Page SEO?
According to Moz, “On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines. On-page refers to both the content and HTML source code of a page that can be optimized, as opposed to off-page SEO which refers to links and other external signals.”
So, let’s break down a few items that are included in the on-page SEO bucket.
Webpage structure (headings and titles)
Descriptive link text
Structuring your content
In today’s fast-paced world, people are skimmers. They skim content to find what they need, versus reading every word on the page. Funny thing, Google also skims content. So, when you write content on your website, you need to structure and format that content with skimmers in mind.
A great way to structure content is by using a heading structure. You may notice in this blog, I have several subheadings to break up the content. Subheadings are perfect for skimmers looking for a particular topic.
Here are a few high-level tips to consider when structuring your content:
The page title should always be a Heading 1 or <H1> tag in HTML. This is the most important thing on the page.
Subheadings down the page should follow an outline pattern. Nest an <H2> under an <H1>, and an <H3> under an <H2>, and so on. Try not to jump around with heading sizes, unless it makes logical sense to your outline structure.
It’s fun to be clever with titles and headings, but for the good of your SEO efforts, be sure the titles and headings are clear as to the content offered in that section. Include keywords when possible. Googlebots just don’t have the same sense of humor as some of us… :)
Would you click on a link if you weren’t sure where it was taking you? Most businesses train employees not to click random links for security reasons - you could be phished or have malware put on your computer. Well, Google advises this too, and they want to reward websites that tell people exactly what to expect from their links.
A good strategy for ensuring your links are descriptive, is to link to copy within your text. Don’t use “click here” or “more” at the end of a sentence, or include a full page URL.
Descriptive links also help with accessibility of your website, and are helpful to people using screen readers. (See how I linked the copy in this sentence? This is an example of a descriptive link.)
A final tip for descriptive links is to make sure that they are formatted in a way that makes them easy to spot. Either change the color of the text, or use an underline, or both!
Internal linking structure
Hyperlinks have assigned value in the Google ranking system. External links to your site from other websites have the most value, but you can also gain value from an internal linking structure - or linking from one page of your content to another.
Internal linking helps Google discover new pages of content on your website, and internal links also pass authority (aka “link juice”) from one page to another.
Consider site structure
Google is interested in your website’s structure, especially the hierarchy of your content. When deciding how you will internally link pages, consider your site structure. For instance, the page with the most beneficial content should be receiving the most links from other pages on your website. The page with the least beneficial content should have the fewest number of links to it.
At the beginning of this blog, I made reference to a prior blog written on a similar topic. You’ll see I provided a link back to that blog. This is called contextual linking. If you want more information or context about the content in this blog, I provided you a link to a resource with more information. Google likes it when you help your readers have a good experience.
Categories and tags
If you have a blog or article system, categories and tags are highly recommended. These help users and Google find connected content easily. You can also utilize categories to feature “related posts” at the bottom of a blog or article.
The structure of your URL is an important consideration for SEO. Very long and non-descriptive URLs will lose you points in the Google ranking system, so be sure to structure your URLs as cleanly as possible.
Here are some other best practice tips when it comes to URLs:
Include keywords in the URL if you can
Use hyphens instead of spaces between words
Keep the URL as short and simple as possible
Be sure the URL describes the page it is leading to
As I mentioned in Part 1 of this blog series, I am not a technical SEO guru. But, technical guru or not, there are some technical SEO items that can still be addressed by the average marketer, like myself.
Redirect codes - be sure if you move a page or temporarily move a page, that you are telling Google this by using a redirect code. Common codes are 301 for permanently moving a page and 302 for temporarily moving a page.
Site speed - Google cares how fast your webpages load, so be sure to test this. Google has a free page speed insights tool that you can use to discover page load times. A great way to reduce page load time is to optimize images by compressing them into smaller file sizes.
Mobile-first - Half of internet activity happens on a mobile device, so Google wants your website to be mobile-friendly. This includes using a responsive design, having images less than 100KB in size, and having a reduced menu of options.
Your SEO journey
If you are just starting out on your SEO journey, I wish you great success! Remember, SEO is not a one-time, fix-it and move on thing, it’s a commitment to fresh content, strategic linking and keyword research.
If you would like to talk through your SEO strategy, I’d love the conversation. Reach out and let’s chat!