On Page Optimization – A Complete Walkthrough

SMS Text

Getting a good ranking in a search engine hasn’t been the easiest thing for many. Search engines are getting more smarter & intelligent everyday, so now it takes more than just good content to top your competitors.

On page optimization is one of the very first step of SEO which every webmaster should look into. It probably won’t even take you an hour to learn and implement some of these on-page optimization techniques. But you may ask me, why it is so important? – Well literally speaking, if you can do proper on-page optimization for your website you can not only rank well in a search engine but also can increase the overall readability of your website for your visitors.

Below I have tried to summarize some of the most important on-page optimization techniques for you. You can implement some of these if not all to give your site a better exposure to the search engines as well as to increase your overall CTR (Click-Through-Rate) ratio.

1. Title Optimization

A site’s title tag is by far the most important website optimization element. A title tag should be short but descriptive enough for your visitors to identify you and your business. Title tag is the first thing that is shown & indexed by the search engines. So naturally it is given a very high importance – out of thousands results that a searcher sees, your site’s title has to be appealing enough for him to want to find out more information. On the other hand, your title has to be appealing enough to the search engine in order to rank you above thousands of other similar websites like yours.

Important things to include in your title:

  • Your Name/ Business Name / Site Name: This is very important for breading propose. If you feel that your customers may search you by your brand name than it’s also useful to put it somewhere in your title.
  • Keywords: If you want to rank for a certain keywords it is always good to place some of them in your title tag. A Title tag represents the whole flavor & content of your website. So if you are selling pizza online you can include keywords like – order pizza, home delivery pizza etc in your title tag. Don’t staff too many keywords in your title. Write a title which is readable to humans & also good for the search engine. (e.g. Domino’s Pizza, Order Pizza Online for Delivery – Dominos.com)
  • Include your 1-800 or other toll-free numbers: Some may not agree with me on this, but I think including your phone number in the title tag does help your visitors to take a direct action! It also makes your site look more professional and legit when it’s being displayed in the SERP (Search Engine Result Page). Searchers are likely to ‘click’ on the result that has a phone number attached to it because in their unconscious mind, they will have a good impression on the authenticity of the business and the level of support. If you prefer not to include your number in the title tag, you can alternatively include it in your Meta Description which will give you almost the same benefits.

2. Meta Tags Optimization

A site’s Meta tags may not be as important as it used to be before, however I feel that Meta Description is something you can’t just ignore. A site’s Meta description should contain a brief description of your website focusing on the areas and services that your business is specialized in. This small piece of text can be considered as a selling snippet, if a searcher finds it appealing he is likely to click and go inside your page to find out more information. But if your Meta Description is too generic and isn’t written too well then there is a good chance that your site will simply be ignored.

Important things to include in your Meta Description:

  • Include your Selling Point– Tell your customers what they want to hear through your site’s Meta Description, and you will definitely get some advantage over others in the SERP. For instance – if you sell ‘cheap web hosting’ then including a phrase like “hosting starting from only $0.99” may result in more clicks and visitors because your description will exactly match the flavor of search performed by the user.
  • Keywords – Including some of your keywords will give you some advantage in Google’s relevancy algorithm.
  • 1-800 or other Toll Free Numbers – if you haven’t included this already in your title, you can rather include it in your Meta description. If the users have skype installed on their system, any number on their browser will become clickable which will result in a direct skype-out call. So basically, if your number appears in the Meta description some of your customers might just prefer to call you directly instead of going through your site.

3. Important HTML Tags

It is necessary for you to highlight certain parts of your website that you want your readers to look at. There are several tags in html which allows you to do so. For instance – the header tags [h1] [h2] [h3], Bold [strong], Italic [em] etc. The text inside your header tags (e.g. [h1]) is given very high importance by the search engine. Usually you can use them to define the page/post titles or the important sections 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 where appropriate. 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.

4. Keyword Optimization & Synonyms

Your site’s content needs to be optimized in such a way that it can suit both search engines & your readers. Stuffing your site with too many keywords can make your site unreadable. So you will need to have some sort of balance between your keywords & your content.

Important elements of Keyword Optimization:

  • Research: Do a proper research before you decide on your keywords. There are plenty of free tools out there that can help you to do keyword research. Some of my personal favorites are: SEObook Keyword Suggestion tool, Google Adwords Keyword Tool & Overture Keyword Tool.
  • Keyword Density: Try to have a moderate keyword density so that it can help the search engine to determine that your page is indeed related & relevant to the keyword that you are targeting.
  • Synonyms & Related Keywords: I personally like to use synonyms instead of having a high keyword density. This helps to make my content sound natural but still helps in SEO.
  • Long Tail Keywords: It’s often good to target some long tail keywords as they are comparatively easier to rank for. During your keyword research you should be able to gather some good long tail keywords that you can optimize your site for. But you can also come up with your own long tail keywords; for example try adding some common words like – ‘best’, ‘free’, ‘cheap’, ‘top’ etc. along with your actual keyword and you might eventually get some good long tail keywords.

5. Link Optimization

It is important to optimize your internal & external outbound links for search engines as well as to give your visitors a better navigation.

Important elements of Link Optimization:

  • Try using good Anchor Text when you are linking to other people. Include the appropriate keyword in the anchor text which gives the outbound link a ‘proper meaning’ and value.
  • A good & clean Internal Link Structure with proper use of anchor text will definitely help. E.g. “Credit Card Application” is a better anchor text compared to “click here”
  • If you are using a CMS, then try using permalinks. This way your keywords/post title will be on the link itself and thus it will valued more by the search engines.

6. Image Optimization

If your site has lot of images, you need to optimize them too as they can’t be read by the search engines. It’s very easy for a human reader to interpret the image into its meaning. However for a Web crawler the whole interpreting process is completely different. Search Engine spiders can only read text but not images. So you need to use some special tags for your images in order to give them some meaning.

Some Important Image Optimization Elements:

  • Alt text : ALT text or Alternate Text is the text to describe your image when your mouse moves over an image on your web page. The text should be meaningful but short. You can use your relevant keywords as ALT text. If your browser can’t display the image for some reason, the alt text is used in place of that particular image.
  • File name : always use meaningful file name for your images, use names like “apple-iphone-cover.jpg” instead of meaningless “DSC24045.jpg”. Keep image file name same or similar to the ALT text.
  • Image Title : always use the title tag in images which will show the title as tool tip when a user moves his mouse over the image. Example of an image with title tag: [img src=”http://imagelocation.jpg” alt=”Image description” title=”Title of the Image”]
  • Image Linking : Whenever 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.

I hope you have found my On-page Optimization walkthrough useful. If I have the chance, I’ll definitely come up with more SEO tutorials in future. If you have any comments or questions, you can write to me at saad[at]seocompany.ca.

Saad Kamal
Saad Kamal writes about Search Industry News, Social Media & Online Marketing for Small businesses and other daily tech news in his Search Marketing blog.... Read Full Bio
Subscribe to SEJ!
Get our weekly newsletter from SEJ's Founder Loren Baker about the latest news in the industry!