Optimizing a website for Search Engine can be classified as two parts. One is on page SEO and other is off page SEO. As their name indicates, the first one deal with all the activities that take place inside the page or it’s source code. And off page activities don’t have any direct connection with the website. What makes them different is that, for doing on page activities, you need admin access. But off page activities doesn’t need it.
By on page optimization activities, what you are really doing is that you making your site as per Google quality guideline. There is a set of recommendations by Google about the structure and quality of a website. A webpage will rank on search engine only if it follows them clearly. So on page optimization is very important and without that, your SEO will be a total fail. In this article we are gonna take a deep look on all the aspects of on page SEO.
1. Domain name
Domain name of a webpage has significant role on SEO. There are certain things to be consider before choosing a domain.
- Presence of keyword in domain will help to rank it well on search results.
- Country level domain ( eg:- .in/.co.in for India ) may have more chance to rank for particular Geo location.
- Avoid hyphens and underscores from domain, that will decrease page credibility.
- Keep the domain short as possible
2. Title of webpage
Title tag is the most important part of a website, which should be unique and creative enough to attract the user. The best practice is to short title less than 55 character. Because, search engine will only display first 50-60 characters of the tile. Also presence of keyword in the title will perform well in search results.
Title should be placed in head of the webpage within title tag (<title> </title>). Using more than one title will ruin your website.
3. Meta tags
Meta tags are html tag used to tell search engine about a bit details of the webpage. When we are in 2015, actually meta doesn’t have such weight as it had in past. Still it is best practice to use meta in a genuine way. Copy and paste the below meta codes to <head> of your webpage.
<meta name=’keywords‘ content=’keyword1, keyword2, keyword3, etc‘/>
Replace the yellow text with your description and keywords respectively. Just add a unique description and few keywords that match to your website.
4. Image Optimization
Using images in webpage is a great way to drive traffic. Because images will help to get organic traffic from image searches. Also content with rich media will be a plus point in search ranking. But there are several things to be consider while using an image, otherwise it will not give desired results.
- Use image file name as helpful to identify it (eg:- rename img001.jpeg as sunflower.jpeg).
- Use Alt tags to tell search engine what is this image about.
- Title tag is also best practice for optimizing images.
- Compress the image to make faster loading.
- Use relative URL instead of actual, which will help in case of domain change. (ie use src=”image/star.png” instead of src=”http://www.example.com/image/star.png” )
This is an example of image tag that having alt and title tags. The pink, green and yellow colors represent file URL, alt tag, and title tag respectively.
5. Header Hierarchy
There will be several headings we will use in webpages. As per Google guidelines, headings are structured in a hierarchical order that having H1 to H6. H1 is the most important and main heading of a webpage. Presence of keywords in heading tag is also a strong signal to search engine that tells it is relevant to that keyword. Using more than one H1 tag is not a best practice. Following header hierarchy will boost your rank on search result.
An example of best header tag hierarchy is,
6. URL Structure
URL structure is also an important factor in SEO. A best structure should be simple enough to identify what the page is about. Lengthy URLs with numbers and question marks are bad SEO practice. Which will really hurt site ranking. URL structure also have role in identifying whether a page is relevant to the search or not.
Here is some examples of good URL structure practice,
And here is some bad URL practice
7. Page Speed
Another important thing we have to optimize under on page is page load speed. It is having very significant role in search algorithm. There is no point in how good a webpage is if it taking too much time to load. Because of the seriousness of this factor, I have already wrote two articles. How to get Google Page Speed Score 100/100 and 15 Tips to make your website load faster. As these articles cover all the aspects about page speed, I’m not going to repeat it here.
8. Canonical Tag
Canonical is an html tag which we used to tell search engine that which is the exact url of the content. Canonical helps to protect our website from copyright issues. For example, if your webpage is accessible in one or more URLs , which one will Google consider as genuine. In this case we can use canonical tags.
Most cases, www.example.com and www.example.com/index.html will having the same content, this is a typical condition for using canonical tag. So always try to add canonical tags to all your important webpages.
This is how a canonical tag looks like. It should be added to the <head> section of web page by replacing the yellow area with the exact URL of a page.
9. Naked Domain handling
Please refer An Important SEO Factor, That No One Really Cares, for reading more about naked domains and how should it handle.
10. Sitemap and Robots files
Xml sitemaps are used to navigate search bots when the try to crawl our website. So it is really important to make a xml sitemap of a website before starting off page SEO activities. There are several plugins available for CMS websites to generate xml sitemap. Also online tools are available for the same. Best practice is to make your site map accessible in www.example.com/sitemap.xml
Robots file is a text file which will control the flow of search bot inside your website so search indexing too. Similarly like sitemap, plugins and online tools available to help you in generating one. If you doesn’t set a robots file, then all of your pages may crawled and index by search engines. Just like sitemap file, your robots should be accessible in www.example.com/robots.txt
11. Internal Linking
Internal linking is simply linking all your pages together, the great example is Wikipedia. In Wikipedia, while you reading one page, it will be linked to related pages through relevant words. This is called internal linking. Internal linking will make the flow of search bots smoother, so it can crawl and index all your pages.
Also internal links may help to circulate the page authority of your root domain to all your internal pages, which help those pages to perform well on search results.
If your webpage is having all these three pages, that will make your page credibility higher. Which will also effect your search position. Not having much weight, but you don’t have to skip this step as it doesn’t take too much time or investment. May be a very simple signal will help you to beat your competitor in SEO.
13. Signup and integrate Webmaster tools
At last when you finish all these steps successfully, now your site is following almost all Google guidelines. Then it’s time to submit your site to different search engines for getting search traffic. Signup with these below search engine’s will not only give you a chance to submit your site to their database but also it will help you to monitor how your site performing on different keyword searches and what actions required to make it better.
Bing webmaster tools will be enough for yahoo also. Baidu is a Chinese search engine which having lot of users today.
Now you may get a clear idea about all the steps which comes under on page SEO. When you complete all these steps, half of your SEO works are completed. Also your site become an ideal one which following all the search engine guidelines. Soon i will come to you with a detailed off page guidance too.