on page optimisation

SEO Tips: On-Page Optimisation | Part 1

2

What is On-Page Optimisation?

Unlike Off Page Optimisation (that focuses on the external activity linking to the website), On-Page Optimisation consists of the techniques that are implemented directly on the website. A bit like a car that requires mechanical tweaking underneath the bonnet, implementing on-page techniques requires editing the content, code and architecture of the website. This information is ideally shared with your developer who can make the necessary changes to make your site SEO friendly. See here for a great post from Lisa Jahred about some crucial technical SEO changes to make to your website.

On-Page Optimisation is just one of the stages of an SEO Strategy. To see a list of all the stages, click here.

 

How to Create a Perfectly Optimised Page?

It sounds promising doesn’t it? A checklist and instruction manual on perfectly optimising a page for a specific keyword.  To some extent, this is what happens! As an SEO company, we keep track of the changes within the Google algorithm and follow a checklist for optimising a page according to best practice.

In the first part of this post, I am going to share with you recommendations on tried and tested techniques that will give you a well optimised page. These are the fundamentals that should be sorted above all others.

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Don’t use Flash or Javascript

Whilst search engines continue to improve at interpreting Flash and Javascript data, they are still not consistently good at it. Whilst this is the case, I don’t recommend using either of them for a page that should be visible to search engines. In some exceptional cases, technical methods can be employed to show the content to search engines, however for a new site, I would not recommend taking the risk from the outset.

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Have an SEO Friendly Site Structure

From the start of the website process, the site architecture of the website should be designed and optimised for the search engines in mind. To do this, make sure that the page can be navigated by the user with the fewest clicks from the home page as possible. See the image below for an optimised page structure. Furthermore, make sure that all of the pages of the website are linked to the overall structure.

 

Optimal Website Structure

 

It’s also essential to make sure that all of the pages of the website are linked to the overall structure and there are no orphan pages as shown below:

 

Site Orphan Example

Have Nice Clean URLs

It’s important to have relevant and well described URLs for the benefit of both the user and search engines. When a user looks at the URL, it should give some kind of hint at what the page will bring. From an SEO point of view, the search engines will find it easier to understand the page is it is named correctly.

 

It’s best to have URLs like this:

www.example.com/product-name

 

but NOT this

www.example.com/node?type=756&hygn=2

 

Finally, from a keyword targeting point of view, it will assist to make sure that your specific keyword is included as part of the URL.

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Meta Tags

Let’s get the misconception out of the way first. Google has not used the meta keyword tag as a ranking signal for quite a few years. Here is a post from way back in 2009 of Google’s Matt Cutts confirming this. The meta keyword tag used to act as a ranking signal but hasn’t for long time. Despite this fact, there is still the ongoing myth with some people (even those who call themselves SEO consultants!) who believe that the tag can effect rankings. In reality, the meta keywords tag has been redundant for a long time.

The meta description tag on the other hand is very important to include. This is the text that you read below each search result. It’s important to write this from a marketing perspective as it serves as your advert to those potential customers. Try and include your unique selling point that makes them choose you over your competitors. As with any advert, it’s important to stand out from your competitors. If this is done well, you will get better click-through rates than your competitors.

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Title Tags

The title tag is one of the most important optimisation factors. It should be short but descriptive and show visitors who you are and what you offer. Include the following.

  • Business Name/Site Name/Blog Name: From a branding perspective, this is very important. Customers may decide to search for you by business name so it’s important to include it here.
  • Targeted Keyword: If you are targeting a specific keyword for the page, it’s a good idea to have it in your title tag (without stuffing multiple keywords in there). When your target customer performs a search for “pepperoni pizza”, they want to click pages that respond to the query so this is good for your click-through rate.

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Include Images and Name Them Properly

It’s great to have nice looking images around your website but you have to make sure that the search engines can read them. Search engines can only read text so we need ways of telling them what the images represent. We therefore use the following to tell the search engines.

  • Image File Name: When the image is uploaded, make sure that it has been given a meaningful file name that describes the image. Use “pepperoni pizza.jpg” instead of “DSC2961.jpg”.
  • Alt text: The ALT text is used to describe an image when the mouse hovers over it. It’s a good idea to include your keyword as part of the alt text as that brings in an alternative source of traffic as well as a good ranking signal.

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That’s it for part 1. In part 2, I will go through more on getting the content keyword rich, page speed and avoiding duplicate content.

 

  1. trish
    trish05-04-2012

    Hi nick. Thanks for sharing your expertise 🙂 . As I’m in the process of setting up my website this interests me. You mention orphan pages and orphan tags. can you give an actual eg of what you mean by this… cheers 🙂

  2. Nick
    Nick05-04-2012

    Hi Trish.

    Thank you for your comment and question. 🙂

    I suggest to avoid having “Orphan Pages” – This is simply a page that cannot be reached through any kind of structure. Unlike a page that is navigated through a structure: “Home-Services-Product1”, an orphan page isn’t part of any such structure. Without having a structure that can be crawled by the search engines, these pages may as well not exist. I should mention that a lot of large website fall into this error when a lot of pages are created.

    The solution is to make sure that the website structure represents a logical pathway for the search engine to reach each page – e.g: Home-Services-product1

    Hope that helps Trish.

    Nick