Major search engines like Google and Bing rely on hundreds of different signals to rank individual pages for specific queries. While many of those signals relate to external factors out of the direct control of a webmaster, some signals are easier to improve. On-page search engine optimization is the name for refining ranking signals on a particular website. Many of these signals are within the exclusive control of the site owner. On-page SEO is critically important for rankings, but it is also the easiest SEO strategy to implement for any webmaster. The following list contains eight ways to improve your on-page SEO:
1) Perfect Title Tags
As the official HTML standards organization notes, there should be only one title tag per URL and the tag should “identify the content of the document in a fairly wide context.” A title tag is the primary method of categorizing a webpage.
Title tags are critical for computer algorithms to understand the content of a page. Search engines rely heavily on a title tag to understand what the content producer is trying to communicate upon publishing a page.
All website administrators should take the time to craft perfect title tags which definitively identify the contents of a page. A site with poor or missing title tags is far less likely to rank in search engines for any queries.
2) Pyramid-Shaped Headings
Headings currently consist of six specific HTML tags: h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, and h6. Heading tags are supposed to be used in a pyramid-shape, with the most important concepts having the lowest number tags.
As such, the h1 tag for a specific page should be more important than the h2 tag, which should be more important than the h3 tag. Creating headings is a useful way of structuring information on a page to ensure that both readers and search engines understand the relative importance of different content.
Most importantly, heading tags are not intended to be used as formatting mechanisms. Internet browsers display different heading tags differently, with more important heading tags receiving larger font and bolded text. However, content creators should use other mechanisms, such as CSS, to affect visual display and use heading tags exclusively to communicate level of importance.
3) Use ALT Attributes For Images
Human visitors like seeing pictures alongside large blocks of text. While it is simple for any human reader to identify the context of the picture, computers have a more difficult time understanding images.
Web standards call for the use of an ALT tag within every img content item. The ALT tag allows search engines and visually-impaired readers to “see” a text description of the image. Every image on your website should have an accompanying ALT tag.
An ALT tag helps computers organize your pictures and the contents of the tag also affect ranking for image search engines.
4) Logical Site Navigation
Every website is organized differently, based on its purpose and target audience. But every website should employ logical site navigation to enable users to find relevant information on every level of the site.
On page 10 of the Google SEO starter guide, the search engine giant provides clear advice regarding website navigation. Among the most important tips are: create a naturally flowing hierarchy, use primarily text-based navigation, and implement site maps.
Not only does logical site navigation help readers find relevant information, but a better organized site is easier for search engine spiders to crawl. More efficient crawling means more pages in a search index and more pages likely to rank for search queries.
5) Fix Broken Links
Broken links are URL links which lead to non-existent or erroneous pages. Oftentimes, a link is working properly when it is created. However, the destination page may move, or the destination website may be taken offline. Unfortunately broken links cause issues for both the linking site and the site to which it links.
The linking site loses credibility in the minds of readers (and possibly search engines) because it is leading visitors to a non-existent page. The destination site loses the benefit of page rank and the attention from additional visitors.
Fixing broken links leading to your site is best achieved through Google’s Webmaster Tools which provides a list of 404 error pages on your domain. Fixing broken links from your site is more difficult and relies on either a comprehensive manual site audit or the use of commercial tools which verify every link from every page on your website.
6) Improve Site Speed
Website visitors are incredibly sensitive to the speed of different sites. If pages on your domain take a few more seconds to load than your competitions’, users will abandon your site regardless of its other advantages. Slow site speed causes users to click away from your site before they even have a chance to interact with your content.
According to internal data from Argon Marketing, SEO clients who were able to reduce initial loading time from six seconds to four seconds saw a 13 percent increase in net conversions after controlling for other factors. Faster site speed creates a large pool of visitors who can potentially turn into customers.
For many sites, improving site speed is as simple as reducing the file size of images. More complex sites may require the streamlining of back-end code or the use of a content delivery network.
7) Update Content Frequently
The internet thrives on new content. Websites that never produce new content wither as previous visitors have little reason to return. Websites that update content frequently provide former users additional opportunities to read and interact. Even more importantly, frequent content updates improve search engine rankings and create a larger pool of potential ranking phrases for a domain.
The addition of new content is often considered outside the scope of on-page SEO. But since it is a ranking factor that can be controlled internally by any site owner, more content is often the easiest solution to SEO problems. Additional content will attract more visitors, more backlinks, and more pages appearing in search engines.
8) Write Meta Descriptions For Humans
Once a major ranking factor for search engines, meta descriptions have become entirely optional. Neither Google nor Bing currently use the information in meta descriptions as a ranking factor.
Nonetheless, this does not mean that meta descriptions are worthless. Both search engines do display a brief description for each page within the results page of every search. Often, the description is taken word-for-word from a page’s meta description.
Thus, site owners who take the time to write meta descriptions should write them in such a way as to attract human readers. A great meta description can actually increase clickthroughs from a search result page even when a page is outranked by its competition.
Why On-Page SEO is Important
Most website owners and SEO companies are intensely focused on the quantity and quality of backlinks to a site. Backlinks are a critical ranking factor, but in many cases they are outside the direct control of a website.
On-page efforts are quite different. A site owner can improve on-page SEO without needing to interact with any external website. This level of control is not available for any other form of search engine optimization. As such, on-page SEO represents the easiest way for any website to improve search engine rankings.