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With Google’s quality update rolled out (“Phantom), going back to the nuts and bolts of SEO has never been this important. I’m talking old school, elementary stuff – on page SEO.
I run a ton of SEO audits for large companies and it blows my mind how poorly optimized their pages are. Misused H1 tags, no image alt tags, and horrible use of keywords are common practices for a lot of sites.
Link building gets so much attention that the little things are easily forgotten – in this post, we are going back to basics, a walk-through in the anatomy of a perfectly optimized page.
The Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page
1. Page Titles
Page titles need to do 2 things:
- Contain your main keywords to help rank in organic search.
- Convince users to click on your link once it has ranked in organic search.
I like to use my main keywords in the front of the title and use the rest of the space to get creative and induce clicks.
The master of this technique is Brian Dean. He ranks for a ton of competitive keywords, including on page SEO.
On Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page
Note: To check your page’s title tag, view your website’s code (right click + view source code). Then, search for “title” within the code (control + f, type “title”).
2. Headline <H1>
An H1 tag is the headline for your content. If you’re using WordPress, your H1 will default to your title.
If not, use the H1 tags as a more descriptive headline for your content. It should match the page title because users will expect the headline to match with the SERP snippet once they find your content.
Best practice is to use an H1 tag only once per page.
Note: To check your page’s <h1> tag, view your website’s code (right click + view source code)/ Then, search for “h1” within the code (control _ f, type “h1”).
3. Body Text
You’re already aware that primary and secondary keyword phrases are important. The body of your content is where you can really blow out your keyword list and expand to cover long tails and synonyms.
Google has made tremendous strides over the last few years. While you should focus your content on your keyword research, don’t go out of your way to jam them in. Google reads countless pages just as users do, and connects words like how humans communicate.
Write your content with your own voice, and it will be indexed by Google the way it should be. If you try to jam in keywords into your text, you risk over optimization penalties.
4. URL Structure
URL structure is important and so frequently misconstrued. First, your URL should not contain any of the following:
- Capital Letters
- Special Characters
In addition, you should keep your URL’s short.
For example, my last blog post: How to Automate the Broken Link Building Process
Default URL would be: http://webris.org/how-to-automate-the-broken-link-building
I chose to make the URL: http://webris.org/broken-link-building/
Common thought is the first URL would rank better for long tail searches related to broken link building automation.
While this may be true, you’re missing out on other possibilities just because long tail searches. By keeping the URL short and focused on the main keyword, you’re open to rank for much more.
5. Images and ALT attributes
Both image naming convention and alt tags help give your page a ranking boost. Since search engines can’t see images, they rely on the file’s name and alt tag to understand what it’s about.
Don’t stuff in keywords in images—simply make a name that describes what the picture is. As long as you’re including relevant images for your users, the naming convention should match and help you get indexed for long tail searches.
Note: To check your page’s alt tags, view your website’s code (right click + view source code). Then, search for “alt=” within the code (control + f, type “alt=”).
6. External and Internal Links
Search engines crawl sites through links. It’s extremely important to interlink your content, not only to help search engine in its crawl, but to associate it with keywords through the use of anchor text.
In addition, external links can provide trust and relevancy. For example, if you’re trying to rank for “Boston internet marketing agency”, it’s helpful to link that page to relevant Boston resources like your Google maps location, your office building’s website, or even your local Chamber of Commerce profile page. These links tell Google that your page is serious about Boston and deserves to be part of the ranking conversation.
7. Meta Description (MD)
A page’s MD isn’t used directly in search engine ranking algorithms; however, because it appears in the search results, this plays a vital role in whether users will click the link or not.
As Google moves more and more towards user engagement signals (including SERP click through rate), meta descriptions are becoming increasingly important. Make sure to write one that capture’s the user’s attention and convinces them to click.
Note: To check your page’s meta description tags, view your website’s code (right click + view source code). Then, search for “meta name=” within the code (control +f, type “meta name=”).
8. Social Sharing Buttons
There’s no denying the impact of social media on SEO anymore. Google is clearly moving towards a ranking algorithm that relies less on links and more relevancy factors like social media shares.
That’s why it’s important to give users the ability to share your content with the click of a button. WordPress has thousands of free plug-ins, but any developer off Elance can get it done for you as well.
Wrapping it Up
As SEO’s, we’re too often immersed in landing links that are building off page signals to worry about basic SEO tasks.
As Google continues to increase their algorithm’s quality ratings, these things can’t go unnoticed.
Pay attention to the details – they’ll pay off in the long run.