“Before you build links to your site…. build web pages worth linking to”
On page SEO is a combination of meeting the needs of users and search engines, this posts outlines the areas you can look at to review your own on page SEO effectiveness.
You can quickly review the effectiveness of your current on page SEO and create a strategy for changes to test using free online tools.
As you gain more experience and understanding paid options can help you gain even more insight.
Optimising a site for search engines is not just about monitoring rankings, it is equally about delivering pages which answer user search queries. Both businesses and developers can be guilty of ignoring this especially when looking at on page SEO.
Developers can be guiltily of ignoring technical factors which influence SEO and businesses can be guilty of creating on page content which does not focus on use search queries and intent.
So how do you avoid making common mistakes with on page SEO?
First it is important to understand there are no SEO magic pills that will transform the fortunes of a website. However with focused activity you can provide a positive influence.
What makes up on page SEO?
There are three areas which influence the outcome of on page SEO:
- Technical which includes how a page is coded and structured.
- Content itself & how it is structured and related to the rest of the site.
- Finally how other entities that make up the web relate to the page.
Map out the user & SEO goals of your pages
The first step is create a quick chart of what you believe the page is about
Next look at the page content and see what the content is actually about
Next look at tools to identify how a search engine will interpret the page.
So write down the content theme as you understand it and the keywords you believe are being targeted. Then write down what you want the page to target.
At a basic level a page is made up of HTML (Hyper Text Mark Up Language) this is code which tells search engines what the elements on a page are.
A vital area of on page SEO to understand is how the Metadata of a webpage relates to the goals and focus of a page.
Metadata is made up of tags which identify the content of a page to search engines. Some Metadata is seen on page by users others remain hidden used only by search engines.
Metadata and HTML tags are designated with <> brackets the text in the brackets designates the element. The brackets are always closed showing the the tag information has ended this is shown by brackets e.g.
example text of what the page is about
Search engines are aware that all the text between the tags describes the on page content . The title and description tags are shown in organic results as below. Make them count provide reason to click your result.
Titles and descriptions vary in length from 75 characters to 160 characters, though titles and descriptions with thousands of characters have been successfully indexed.
To find and view the metadata of your site go to the page on your website, right click and select view source. This shows you the raw HTML of the page.
Next click Ctrl F to find input
And copy and paste your title
Important tags which help to influence on page SEO include:
- h tags
- Alt tags
Titles appear in search results and on browser tabs
Descriptions appear in search results
H tags help to structure the on page content and are used as titles e.g h1 and sub titles h2.
Alt tags are means of identifying the content of images
Publisher tells Google that a verified Google+ account is responsible for a website.
Author tells Google that a verified personal account is responsible for a particular piece of content e.g a blog or news piece.
Which SEO Tools Help with On page SEO?
There are some quick checks you can make to identify areas which might need to be improved. Screaming Frog is a useful free SEO tool which can help you to review on page metadata.
Googles Webmaster tools will be a good place to start, there are several functions you can use to quickly identify problem areas.
Keyword content – Does Google agree with you what your page is about. This is often a revealing list for any business as the interpreted focus is not what they want at all.
Using your analytics package such as Google Analytics, Get Clicky , or Pwik can help you identify the types of queries a page is getting identified and attracting visitors for.
Using analytics as an example use the left hand menu to identify the content tab, click all pages. When the report appears on the dashboard used the advanced tool to add the URL of the page you want to review you only need to use the part of the URL after the main domain. Click apply, next select secondary function and apply keyword.
Now you should see a list of terms which have resulted in the page attracting clicks and visits. At this point focus on the terms, the time on site report is misleading (more about this in our posts on analytics)
Does this list match your expectations?
What to do does the on page content offer an answer to someone typing the top queries (Query Formation is a more complicated issues which we will take you through in a later post)
HTML errors – This function identifies points where issues such as short or duplicate information can be identified.
As rule of thumb each page should have:
- Unique titles and descriptions
- One main h1 tag
- Sub heading h2’s
- Unique alt tags on images
Clear linking structure to other pages on site and to other pages offsite.
Create a plan for focusing the metadata around the content which users want. Create some focus in the content around the terms.
Avoiding over use of search terms. Write a piece of content which tells me about the subject and offers solutions to their queries.
Technical elements of on page SEO once revolved around the placement of keywords and the number (density on the page) in relation to the total content.
The growing sophistication of search engines and their ability to understand the content of web pages has meant on page SEO requires an emphasis on user experience. Lots of debate is raging on the importance of bounce rates and the ‘Back to SERPS metric’ Or ‘Dwell Time’ as described by Bing in 2011.
This is a roughly a combination of how long a visitor stayed on the page and then returned to serps. There are all sorts of technical issues here – how it is measured, does a closing of a tab mean the same thing as a return to serps and the list goes on.
Think about ways in which the content of the page actively helps and encourages users to go deeper into your website.
Areas to watch out for on a website include:
- The robots.txt file – is it there does it reference the sitemap.xml?
- Sitemap.xml does the site have one does it update dynamically?
- Are URL’s clearly marked and indicated for both search engines and users?
URL’s are produced and created differently depending on the technique and software used to build the site. Dynamically generated URLS pull content from a database and display that within a pre set theme. This can result in multiple versions of a page existing.
If you’re content can be found on multiple URLs containing the same content. You can use different methods to combat this.
Basically the multiple URL’s dilute the authority of the main domain. Links may have been built to versions of the URL you did not want.
Use of 301 redirects or a canonical tag will help search engines to identify the most important versions of the URL and serve these as results.
IF you have dynamic URLs then look to create human readable versions. Most typically this type of URL apprears on a large e commerce site with lots of products and categories
But non descriptive URLs, e.g www.example.com/p10/ are not uncommon and a service called Mod rewrite can help you overcome this.
Do not ignore social aspects to a page, ensure you include the ability for the page to be shared.
Lastly consider the mobile experience. Does the site display well on mobile? How are mobile visitors finding the pages what are they doing. Most sites have a visitor level between 10-14% from mobile devices, this will only grow.
Mobile search is different from desktop and having a mobile version of a site is important going forward. Talk to your developer about responsive design. If they give you a blank stare then talk to us.
Never consider a webpage as a fixed entity you will need to test what type of content works best for your visitors and gets them to take the action you want.