These on-page search engine optimization tips will assist you in setting up your pages with the appropriate title and meta tags, headers, text elements and alt attributes.
1. Title Tag
The Title tag is used to define the title of a web page, with the Title tag placed between the <head> and </head> tags in the html of the page. Search engines will recognize the Title tag as the title of the page. Each page should have its own distinct Title tag.
- The Title will be displayed within the browser at the top of the browser window or tab.
- When a user searches for a specific word or phrase, Google will return a link to the website, and the Title tag will be displayed as the anchor text for the website link.
- The text in the Title tag is one of the most important relevancy factors influencing search engine ranking algorithms.
- Using your most important keywords or keyphrases in the Title tag will have a dramatic effect upon your page’s ranking for those keywords.
Take Aways: It is recommended that you keep your Title short, preferably between 10 and 64 characters, 70, at most. Over 70 will not contribute any weight as part of the document.
Use of irrelevant words (not found on the page) in your Title will dilute the impact on your targeted keywords. Use of irrelevant words can also trigger the spam filters of the search engines. Place your most targeted keyword phrases as early as possible in the Title. Try to minimize the use of stop words, such as a, an, of, on, etc., as they consume character count and offer no value.
2. Description Meta Tag
Used to provide a brief description of a Web page, the Description meta tag should clearly describe the purpose of the page, for both the user and the search engines.
- The importance of the Description tag as an element of the ranking algorithm has decreased significantly over recent years, but some search engines may still support this tag.
- The search engines will often display the Description along with the Title in the SERPS (search engine results pages).
The maximum length of a displayed description varies between search engines, so wherever possible, try to place your most important keywords early in your Description tag, in case the search engine truncates the results.
Keep your Description between 50 and 149 characters, including spaces, whenever possible. Google will display 154 characters, but other search engines display less. Longer descriptions are of little value, as most search engines place little to no importance on this tag.
In extreme circumstances, the Description can be as long as 200 characters (including spaces), but understand that there is a high probability of truncation. As is the case with the Title, the use of irrelevant words can trigger the search engines’ spam filters. Avoid adding text that is not found within the visible text of the page.
Description Meta tags are not intended for the search engines, they exist for human users. Therefore, the text should be written to attract the user and convert them to a buyer, achieving the best ROI for your SEO efforts.
3. Keywords Meta Tag
This tag lists the words or phrases that are descriptive of, and found within the contents of the page. This tag provides some additional text for crawler-based search engines. However because of frequent attempts to abuse their systems, most search engines now ignore this tag.
Note: Of all the major crawler-based search engines, only Inktomi currently supports the Keywords Meta tag.
Similar to the Meta Description tag, there is a limit to the number of captured characters within the Keywords Meta tag. Keep the tag to between 4 and 8 keywords or keyphrases, separated by commas.
All keywords listed in the Keywords Meta Tag should appear at least once in your content (body), or they may be considered to be irrelevant spam. You should also avoid repetitions, to prevent penalization by the search engines for keyword “stuffing”. The most important keywords should be listed first, to increase their prominence for the search engines that still consider this tag in their determination of your pages’ rankings.
Side Note: Approximately a year ago, Yahoo was still considering the keywords meta tag. While that may have changed, it will do no harm to use this tag, provided you don’t abuse it.
Attention! If you are utilizing XHTML+RDFa (which is recommended), you should not use the keywords meta tag. Opt instead, for the implementation of “Common Tags”.
Yahoo! Announces the “Common Tag” and why is it better: Like The Meta Keywords Tag, But Even Better.
4. Heading Tags (H1-H6)
Syntax: <h1>Keyword1 in the Heading</h1>, <h2>Keyword2 in the Heading </h2>, etc.
The “Header tag” is nothing more than a headline of the page, so it should be kept short. 45 characters, including spaces, is a good target.
Each page should have a clearly defined <h1> header tag, to identify the primary subject of the page to both the user and the search engine. Be sure to use the primary search phrase you are targeting within this tag.
Note: It is important that the primary keyword is located in the first heading tag on the page, regardless of its type. Placing the keyword early in the header tag will increase its prominence.
Standard rules apply for the structure of HTML pages. Written in a document-like fashion, they should include:
- Major heading, describing the main purpose of the section.
- Subheadings, highlighting the key points of each subsection.
Many search engines rank the words found in headings higher than the words found in the body text of the document. Some search engines will also incorporate keywords by looking at all the heading tags on a page.
Don’t try to stuff your heading tag with too many keywords, or words that are not relevant to the content in the body. Having multiple <h1> tags on the same page may cause you to be subjected to a penalty by the search engines, as it may be seen in the same light as “keyword stuffing“.
It is certainly appropriate to have multiple headlines appearing on a page, like <h2>,<h3>, etc., provided they follow a hierarchical order. The <h1> should be the first heading tag, followed by the <h2>, then the <h3>, and so on.
5. Phrase Elements
Use the semantical tags <STRONG> and <EM> tags for targeted keywords within the visible content of your pages, but sparingly. Those tags are alternatives to the <B> and <I> tags, which can also be used, but are for visual presentation purposes only.
6. Alt Attributes
Resist the temptation to stuff your alt. attributes with keywords. Keyword density is no longer as important as it once was, and doing so could subject you to penalties.
A tutorial for how-to: Alt Attribute & Image Search Engine Optimization (please rate it and add your comment there).
I hope my search engine optimization tips are helpful to you.