Focusing on Quick Optimization techniques for the newbie
Basic On-Page SEO
On-page optimization is often ignored by the top sites on Google - after all, who cares about a few percentage points when you can literally buy your way to the top of the search engine result pages (SERPs) with a bucket-load of inbound links?
Today I’ll discuss a bit about why, contrary to common practice, why on-page SEO is so important and then tell you how you can quickly optimize your web pages even if you have very little time!
On-Page SEO - The Benefits
A lot of webmasters (including some self-proclaimed SEO experts) claim that on-page optimization is obsolete - that the only thing that matters is off-page optimization (i.e. link building).
So is that true?
Actually, like most SEO hype, there’s some truth involved. Inbound links have become the overwhelming determining factor in a website’s search engine rankings, but theres more to the story then that.
Why bother with On-Page SEO?
Here are just three reasons off the top of my head:
• With everyone chasing after links, the playing field is leveled somewhat. This means that well-optimized pages will have a better chance of ranking higher if they might not beat the top websites on link count (but come close nevertheless).
• Because of keyword spamming, search engines paid more attention to links. Now, because of link-spamming, search engines are moving back towards paying more attention to other ranking factors, including on-page optimization.
• Over 90% of your competition probably doesn’t know how to optimize their web pages, or are doing it wrong, or are probably committing some sort of search engine spamming, so that you can immediately place yourself within the top 10% of your niche by just spending a few minutes on each page and getting things done right (or hiring someone to do it for you if you have a huge site).
I’ll be honest. No one knows exactly how important on-page optimization is. Of course, you should still be paying a great deal of attention to link-building, but the key is this – link-building is a long-term process, whereas on-page optimization a short, one-time thing. With its obvious ranking benefits, why wouldn’t you be optimizing your web pages?
On-Page SEO – A Quick Tour
Before I go over the techniques, I want you to remember these things:
Search engine optimization is a lot about doing things in moderation – you can’t do too little of it otherwise your pages won’t rank at all, and if you go too far (and start spamming the search engines), you’ll get your website banned and essentially kiss your online business goodbye.
Secondly, before you are optimizing a particular page, make sure you write down a short list of core keywords for that page. This is extremely important – search engines rank pages, not websites, so all your efforts should be directed towards making sure individual pages rank best for their own primary keyword.
The Title tag is where most webmasters make serious mistakes (in case you didn’t know, the Title tag contains the text that you see on the top of your browser window). Now the best way to write a Title tag is to make sure that you get your best keywords for that page in there. Don’t bother with words that are not needed, such as “and” or “the” – stick with your core keywords.
Using the example of a website owned by a professional resume writer looking to start their online business, for the home page you would probably use the following Title tag:
“Professional Resume Writer | Guaranteed Resume Writing”
Not only do you have your core keywords in there, you have also managed to combine them in one line without using the needless words like “and” and “the”.
Of course, you can always go too far and stuff the Title tag with as many keywords as possible. If you are thinking about doing that, DON’T! That sort of optimization will land you into trouble with the search engine algorithms, which automatically flag any website that uses spammy optimization techniques – and once you are “red-flagged” like this, you’ll be going down, not up in the rankings.
The next step is to take care of all your header tags.
Also known as H1 and H2 (and so on) tags, the header tags in your page give the search engine spiders an idea of how your page is structured. Therefore, if you can put in important keywords that are relevant to your page’s content in the header tags, the search engine will then “know” that this particular page contains information on topics relating to those keywords – thus helping your page rank better for those keywords.
It’s actually simpler than it sounds. Sticking with the “Resume Writer” website, let’s suppose you have a page that’s titled “How to write a Resume” (bear with me here). Now, you might have two sections on that page – an article on resume writing and general resume writing tips. Now instead of lumping it all together, here’s what you could do:
• H1 tag for the page heading – including a variation of the Title tag
• H2 tags for both sections – “Resume Writing” and “Resume Writing Tips” in this case.
When a search engine spider is scanning a page, it’s looking for several factors to determine what is important and what’s not. In particular, it looks for text tags – bold, underline or italics, to help it rank the page. Why?
Quite simply, the search engine spider is programmed to “think” that any text that is put in bold, italics or underlined is considered important information by the user, and therefore it “might” be important. This is where bullet points come in handy as well.
I said “might” be important because search engine spiders have very sophisticated algorithms that look at hundreds of other factors, including the relevance of the surrounding text.
So if you concentrate on putting bold or italics tags around your core keywords (while maintaining a natural flow of content), you will be directly improving the chances of a search engine spider ranking that page higher for those keywords.
Similarly, if you have an important list of points that you want to emphasize (or perhaps summarize), you could put them in an ordered (numbered) list or just a plain bulleted list on your page – this will set that portion of text apart and alert the search engine spider that this text is more important.
The Image Tag
This is an interesting tag because it’s not that widely-used, and when some webmasters do use it they tend to stuff the tag with keywords in a futile attempt to influence search engines.
The Image tag is supposed to help the search engines “read” into what the image that you are displaying is about – thus the need to plug in your relevant keywords into the tag. Note that if your image is, let’s say, a picture of a hiking resort and your website is an adventure tours business, then you might plug in keywords that relate to hiking resorts – remember to focus on the core keywords for that page and not just the website on the whole.