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SEO made simple Part 3 – On Page Optimization

If you’ve been following Part 1 and Part 2 of the SEO Made Simple series, you should have a list of keywords ready to be integrated into the pages of your site.

There are a few on-page optimization best practices that will substantially increase your website’s relevance.

Site Title (or Title Tag)

One of the most important SEO elements. If you don’t have time for anything else, at least fix this. It’s a meta tag, meaning it’s a text element that is not visible on the webpage but provide important information to search engine crawlers. It does appear at the top of your browser window and as headline of your website on search engine results.

Best Practices: Keep within 60 characters long to avoid getting truncated on Google search results (although in the past year Google may be showing less characters.) Try to place keywords closer to the beginning of the Site Title, as order makes a difference here.

Site Title Example (use my own site as an example):

Glossary of SEO terms made simple – Part 1 |

What it looks like in the coding

Title Tag in View Source

What it looks like in Google search results

SERP screen capture

SERP Screen Capture: Meta Title in Purple

Site Description

Similar to Site Title, Site Description is also a meta data. It is not visible on your web pages but does appear below Site Title in search engine results. It provides a summary of what your website is about.

Best Practices: Keep it below 160 characters (space included). Although considered less of a ranking factor compared to Site Title, Site Descriptions are often written as advertising copy with lots of buzzwords and call-to-action. It is an opportunity to advertise as it is the next thing a user would read before deciding whether your page is relevant enough to click. Most relevant keywords should still be used here as they would be bolded and highlighted if they match what the user is searching.

Site Description Example:

Bombarding friends with SEO terms and search jargon! Yup I’m guilty. Hence I present you a glossary of SEO terminology made simple and to the point. 

What it looks like in the coding

Meta Description in View source

What it looks like in Google search results

SERP screen capture

SERP Screen Capture: Meta Title in Purple, Meta Description in Gray

Here’s a good example of what happens when your meta description gets truncated.

Heading tag

This is literally the heading of your webpage, similar to heading of any document or newspaper article. It’s the first place users and search engine crawlers read to determine the theme of the page.

Best Practices
There are divided opinions among SEO professionals in regards to whether H1 is an important ranking element (I’ve been a part of two search agencies – one couldn’t care less about leaving the h1 out, the other stressed placing the most important keyword in the H1)

My thought is, if it’s an on page element that users and crawlers would look to first before reading or crawling the rest of your page, it should include the most relevant keyword, and also be relevant to the rest of the content on the page.

On a side note: don’t you hate those Upworthy-inspired headlines that starts with “you’ll laugh…” or “you’ll cry…”. Yes, on one hand, you are able to draw readers with a catchy headline, but you’ll end up alienating readers by not delivering what you promised. (Okay…there’s my rant of the day.)

What it looks like in the coding:

H1 in View Source

H1 in View Source

What it looks like on-page:

Heading Screen Capture

Heading Screen Capture

Image Tags (or alt text)

These are names and descriptions given to images. Search engines don’t understand images as well as text. In order to increase relevance of pages and show up in Google image search, alt text needs to be created for important images that add value to readers.

Best Practices
Sure it’s another opportunity to optimize the page, so relevant keywords if applicable should be mentioned. The “if applicable” part is important, since you want to also accurately describe the image. Nothing turns off the reader more when they place a cursor over the image and the alt text that pops up has nothing to do with the image.

What it looks like in the coding:

Alt Text  in View Source

Alt Text (alt=”…”) in View Source

What it looks like in Google image search:

Example of Google Image Search

Example of “SEO- what my friends think I do…” in Google Image Search

I’m barely skimming through the basics and would really like to hear your feedback, whether you are a veteran of SEO or just recently considered doing it for your website. Part of the challenge is staying on top of all the changes and new tactics in the industry.

If you have anything to share about on page optimization or other topics, please leave it in the comments below! Would love to hear your thoughts!