On-Page SEO: The Basics You Need to Know
In a previous article, you learned the basic concepts of SEO. Now, it’s time to explore the two sides of search marketing in more detail.
Simply put, on-page SEO consists of the elements behind search engine optimization you perform on your site, whether in the content, design, or page and internal linking structure. The basic factors are content, title tags, internal linking, and meta descriptions and tags.
Content, Content, and More Content
It can’t be stressed enough: Content, content, content. And not just any old content, but fresh and unique content. For most affiliate marketers, regardless of your niche, this means a blog post, updated 2-3 times each week, or even daily.
“Really good blogs will gain popularity and get people subscribing to RSS feeds, which assist in getting traffic to your Web site,” writes Mark Jackson at Search Engine Watch. “Other ways of creating meaningful content might be a glossary of terms, forums (highly moderated, so not so good if you don’t have the staff to manage this), and FAQ pages.”
Think about the sites you like to visit every day: You certainly wouldn’t visit them if they didn’t offer new content each day. While you may not be able to write a new article each day, the more you do update your content, the more people will revisit your site.
More to the point, though, Google favors sites with new content. In 2010, Google added its “Google Caffeine” metric, meaning that the search engine specifically favors sites that are updated frequently.
How frequently is frequent enough? That’s for you to decide and it depends on the competitiveness of your keywords and your competition. But from what the experts say, we can tell you that more frequent, quality content is the best way to get maximum search results.
Don’t Overuse Your Keywords
In your content, you may be concerned about getting the right keyword density. That’s tough, because if you do a little too much (more than 4 percent), Google might look at your site as if you’re keyword spamming. Be subtle and use your keywords in 1-2 percent of the content. (Figure out the percentage by dividing the number of times you used your keyword by the number of total words in the article.)
You’ll get a little more mileage out of your keywords if you use them in subheadings, or wrap them in < strong > tags within content. Again, be careful here; too much of a good thing can be bad for your SEO.
Using Keywords in Title Tags
Each page of your website should have a unique title tag using the best keyword for that page’s content. You want your page titles to reflect exactly what both readers and search engines should expect to find there. Use a descriptive title, and not your company name; avoid marketing tricks in your tags, too. Also be sure that your tags fit within the 70 character limit.
“In addition to original content, each page should have its own topic, title, and page-specific keywords,” according to the Yahoo style guide. So, keep it simple. Each page should cover one topic, and one topic only per page.
And, according to SEO Moz, you’ll get more mileage out of your keywords by placing them closer to the start of your title tag.
Make Sure You’re Using Internal Linking
This is a function of SEO-friendly web design and site navigation — something that should be set up when your site is first built, but that can be added later if necessary.
“One of the most important basic SEO tips is to provide clear paths for spiders to follow from point A to point Z in your website,” writes Jim Hedger at Search Engine Guide.
So, you need a sitemap that lets visitors (and search engine spiders) navigate your site easily. Within that sitemap, your internal navigation links need descriptive anchor text — again, using relevant keywords, as in your title tags — to make it as easy as possible for the search engines to navigate your site, and better index and rank it.
Meta Descriptions Are for Users, Not Search Engines
Meta descriptions aren’t as important as they once were, but they still probably shouldn’t be ignored. Here, you’ll want to take it easy on keyword stuffing — use your relevant keywords, of course, but also make sure that each page’s meta description makes sense to a general reader. Search engines will pull your meta description into the listing of your page. In fact, that’s pretty the only practical use for these tags.
In general, don’t waste your time with meta keywords. Most major search engines have all but admitted they ignore meta tags, probably because of years of abuse by the earlier generation of gimmick SEO gurus.
Tomorrow: Off-page SEO. Stay tuned.