Good SEO is like a great sandwich. With a great sandwich you need two things – freshly baked bread and your favourite tasty filling. Sandwich greatness only comes when these two ingredients are present. With SEO, the two vital ingredients are on page SEO and off site SEO. In today’s post we’ll be discussing which aspects of a web page need looking at, in order to rank well for your chosen keywords.
The Title Tag
Arguably the most important on page ranking factor, the contents of the title tag are limited to 70 characters. Google displays the title tag when it lists a site in the results page. If you want a web page to rank well for a particular keyword, it’s essential to have this word at the beginning of the title tag (search engines generally place more importance on the words at the beginning of the title) possibly followed by your company name. For example, if you wanted to rank well for ‘blue widgets’ a good title tag would be Blue Widgets – Company Name.
There are two tags you need to be concerned with here – meta robots and meta description
- Robots – If you find a meta robots tag there is probably an issue with your site which will impede search engine spiderability and affect rankings for some of your site’s pages. There are two scenarios to watch out for. <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”/> instructs a search engine to not index a page. <meta name=”robots” content=”nofollow”/> instructs a search engine to not pass link juice via the links on a page.
- Description – Google, Bing and other search engines display the meta description in the search results pages. Although the description probably has only a minimal effect on getting a high ranking, use it to market your company and services and improve click-through rate.
Although heading tags affect rankings to a much lesser degree than title tags, they are still an important element to get right when considering on page seo – the <h1> tag being the most important. They also create a good user experience notifying visitors that they are on the correct page and guiding them through the content.
I’ve read many blog posts over the years which talk about an optimal number of times a keyword should appear on a page. In the past having the ‘correct keyword density’ may have helped with rankings, but Google has got a lot smarter these days. Google’s mission is to serve the most relevant search results for any given query, and as SEOs we have to consider the user more and not the search engine algorithm. Keyword density is old hat as well as black hat. Writing for visitors and not search engines will mean keywords will appear naturally and your content won’t look spammy.
Naming the various pages of a web site with target keywords influences search rankings. For example if your page was about blue widgets, naming its category hierarchy this term would give the url
This will indicate to search engines what the page is about before the content has even been crawled. It also enhances user experience as anybody can tell what the page is about from the url.
Image alt Tags
Having a keyword in an image alt tag used to influence rankings to a small degree but nowadays it is more important to use this tag the way is was intended – to display a description of the image for those whose browsers have image rendering switched off. Again, optimise for the user, not the search engines. However, giving keyword rich names to image files is good SEO practice.
If you are linking to a page that talks about blue widgets then using the anchor text blue widgets will help the linked to page’s ranking ability. Using keyword rich anchor text also ticks the box of usability as users will know that the page they are visiting will be about blue widgets.
Any link building campaign to improve organic visibility in the search results will never reach its full potential if the on page work hasn’t been done. It would be like putting low grade fuel into a Ferrari – it may work, but sure as hell not as well as it would with premium quality fuel!