Beginner’s Guide to OnPage Search Engine Optimization

New to an old issue that relates to Search Engine Optimization? Never mind; here is a simple tutorial that will take you through the essence of SEO with special emphasis on On-Page Optimization. You see, SEO has customarily been split into two principal areas: On-Page Optimization which covers what can or ought to be done on the pages of the website and Off-Page Optimization that relates to things that happen elsewhere, such as link-building, etc. However, today I will try my best to familiarize you with On-Page Optimization techniques, not only because it has almost become mandatory for all websites but also because it will greatly enhance your website ranking in search engines.

Here are some of the factors that will govern your On-Page optimization techniques…

Title Optimization

The title of any topic, especially that of a website obviously is the most significant website optimization element. Think of the immortal novel “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, written by American Nobel laureate Earnest Hemingway way back in 1940 when websites were not even conceived. The title of the novel was so enticing that thousands of copies were sold out the moment the book was published. Similarly, the title tag of a website has to be so appealing that it can be indexed immediately by the search engines. In fact, it should also be attractive enough so as to guide the searcher from among hundreds of websites displayed before him/her.

Important things that need to be included in your title are listed below…

  • Your name / Business name / Site name and your Brand name, if you feel your customer may search you by that.
  • Keywords are most important. The title tag tells in a nutshell what the website is all about. For instance, if you are selling dancing shoes online, you might use keywords like – Order your Golden Slippers here or Put on your dancing shoes. However, you need to be reticent too – do not stuff too many keywords in you site since that will not only prove irksome for the search engines but also become monotonous for the reader.
  • Your toll-free telephone number may also be included here, though some prefer to put it at the end. Nevertheless, I feel that a telephone number appearing in the title tag more or less convinces a searcher about website’s bona fide.

Meta Tags Optimization

Your website’s Meta or concise description, especially those that focus on products or services that you have honed into perfection will appeal to people who are looking for it. On the other hand, if contains simple generic or hackneyed phrases, there is every likelihood of getting rejected right at the beginning.

Important things that need to be included in your Meta description…

  • Your Selling Points should get priority here. To be practical, here is the chance to match your selling points with what your customer is looking for. Incidentally, if your business includes selling ‘cost effective web hosting’, then you might include a phrase that says ‘hosting starts from as low as $0.99’. This will surely result in more visitors (clicks, too) because it will also click the heart of the visitor eager to bargain in the super highway of the World Wide Web.
  • Keywords – As these will give you ample advantage in Google’s relevancy algorithm.
  • Your toll-free telephone number – the reasons for which have already been disclosed earlier.

Essential HTML Tags

When it becomes necessary to highlight certain areas of your website that you think are vital for your readers, you use certain html tags to achieve that purpose. These include header tags [h1] [h2] [h3], Bold, Italics and almost defunct LOWER CAPS. Incidentally, the text within your header tags, such as h1 receives ample attention of the search engines and so you can use them to identify page or post titles or key areas of your website.

Header Elements

Header 1: Header 1 should be used to define the most important section of your page. Usually Header 1 is used for Site’s title or header text.
Header 2 & 3: Header 2 and 3 can be used for Page/Post titles or important sections of your pages. Separating your content with headers is a good practice as it makes your site more readable and easy to navigate.

Text Styles

Bold: You can bold (e.g. [strong]) certain words which are of high importance. Sometimes it’s good to bold your keywords wherever found suitable. However overdoing this may get you penalized.
Italic: You can use the [em] tag to emphasize certain words which will appear in italic.
Quote: This is very useful when you are quoting from someone else’s copy.

Keyword Optimization / Synonyms

Website content writers are often persuaded to believe that their contents should become eye-catching before the search engines, completely ignoring the fact that contents are basically meant for the readers. High density of keywords not only kills that purpose but is also rejected by the search engines. The ideal content should satisfy both – the reader as well as the search engine.

Important elements of Keyword Optimization…

  • Intensive research is needed before selecting the right keyword. There are a good number of free tools available online that can help you conduct the keyword research. Among them Google Adwords Keyword Tool provides the most in-depth and up-to-date details.
  • Keyword Density – Although a fairly debatable topic, you can easily strike a balance if you apply a little aesthetic with common sense. To be precise the search engines favors something around 3 to 4% of keyword density. Beyond this mark, search engine may disregard your content.
  • Use of synonyms has two-fold advantages. On one hand, it enhances the flavor of the content while on the other it receives the attention of search engines. And on top of all, it reduces the monotony of the readers.
  • Long-tail Keywords also have similar advantages. Additionally, they attract more number of visitors on account of their special appeal. Instead of using ‘bikes on sale’, if you use ‘High-speed super-comfy bikes for sale’, would obviously can steal a march over your competitor.

Link Optimization

It is essential to optimize your internal and external (outbound) links both for the search engines as also for providing better navigation for your visitors.

Factors that are important for Link Optimization…

  • Using good Anchor Text is a better option when linking to other people. Additionally, including appropriate keyword in the Anchor Text will give the outbound link a better value and ‘appropriate meaning’.
  • A practical and effective Internal Link Structure along with suitable use of Anchor Text positively helps in most cases. The best course is to avoid the hackneyed “Click here” phrase.
  • When using CMS, opt for permalinks because then your keyword / post title will be on the link itself and so will be much appreciated by the search engines.

Image Optimization

Search engine spiders, as you know, can not read images. Therefore, you need to use some special tags for image optimization, some of which are described below.

  • Alt text or Alternate Text is the text that describes your image as when your mouse moves over an image on your web page. The text obviously has to be meaningful, yet short. Related keywords are also often used as ALT text.
  • File Name for your images need to meaningful and appropriate for easy comprehending. For instance, instead of ‘DSC2405.jpg’, if you use ‘apple-iphone-cover.jpg’ it becomes more momentous.
  • Image Title: Don’t forget to use title tags in images that will display the title as tool tip when any user moves the mouse over the image.
  • Image Linking: Every time you want to link to your image, use the image keywords in your link text. Example: use “view an Apple iPhone”, instead of “Click here to view” as the anchor text.

Conclusion: Although this tutorial may introduce you to some of the key elements of On-Page SEO Optimization, yet this is the tip of the iceberg called Search Engine Optimization and so you may need to explore much before fully realizing its true character.