I’m often amazed when I look at the source code of web pages, because creating a page that’s optimised for the search engines is so straightforward – yet so seldom done.
I’ve said repeatedly: Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is not a black art, so don’t let anyone tell you it is.
All you need to know about SEO is readily available on-line – and Google Webmaster’s Tools is a great place to start.
A quick recap:
On-page SEO is about the way you construct your web pages and your content. It’s more of a one-time exercise than off-page SEO – although it does require some maintenance, particularly if you change the content or focus of your site.
Off-page SEO is what the Internet at large thinks about your website or page. It’s not complicated, but it does require a continuous effort.
This article looks at how to structure a web page effectively – on-page SEO
There are 3 areas to focus on:
- Your META tags. This is data that sits in the
<head>area of your page and is specifically designed to tell the search engines and browsers about your page: how often they should visit it, whether or not they can index it, whether they can cache it, and so on. The search engines will naturally look for META data whenever they visit your page.
- Tags within your content. This is information that’s contained within HTML tags in the content you write. It’s designed to give the search engines information about things they can’t read (images, for example) and let them know about information you consider to be important – headers, sub headers, bolded text, bullet points and so on.
- Your content itself. The search engines can and do read this. As I mentioned elsewhere, search engines can now assess the quality of spelling and grammar on a web page, and how well it is laid out. This leads to an assessment of the user experience your page offers.
So let’s take each of these in turn.
This is an image of the page source of the header section of one of my sites. The META tags go in the header area – the bit between the
</head> tags (circled above) which, themselves, sit between the
body tags (1 in the image above).
These tags give information to the search engines about your page, what it contains, who wrote and designed it, how often they should visit and so on.
If you’re using WordPress you will need to install one of the SEO plugins. These plugins add fields for things like the SEO title, META description and keywords onto your new post or post edit screen that you need to fill out.
The plugins will then generate the appropriate code for the search engines and place it in the
<head> area of your page.
Tags within your content.
The tags within your content give the search engines information about content you consider to be important or content they cannot read – such as images.
The content you consider important is defined by the H tags, and these are no different to the ‘header 1’, ‘header 2’ and ‘header 3’ paragraph definitions in Word.
The title of your page always uses the h1 tag and there should only be one h1 tag on a page.
Headings and sub-headings in your page should use h2 (headings) and h3 (sub-headings).
Assigning these tags in WordPress is straightforward. Here’s how if you’re using the classic editor:
And here’s how if you’re using the block editor:
Selecting Heading 2 or Heading 3 (classic editor) or H2, H3 (Block editor) will cause WordPress to assign the correct tags for the search engines.
You should use these tags to define headers and sub-headers within your content. Not only will this make it easier for readers to understand what your page is about, it will make it easier for the search engines too.
The other principle tags to use within your content are tags to tell the search engines what your pictures are about.
These are the
alt tag, which defines the text that will be tell the search engines what the image is depicting. It will also be displaid if, for any reason, the image cannot be rendered.
title tag, which tells the viewer what your picture is about when they mouse over it.
Both of these tags are readable by the search engines, whereas the images are not.
These tags give the search engines what may be important information, especially if you’re using an image to make an important point within your content. They are also helpful for SEO if you include your keywords in them.
Of course, your text in these tags should make sense – don’t just spam keywords into them!
Your content itself
As long as your page is focused on one subject (which, generally, it should be) your content will naturally contain relevant keywords.
An important message here is to write for people.
Don’t stuff keywords into your text in order to attract the search engines or achieve some keyword density target. It will read unnaturally, with the result that it won’t impress people. And it won’t impress the search engines either.
However, it is worth finding a way to incorporate your main keywords into the H1, H2 and H3 content. Remember, these tags tell the search engines (and readers) what you consider to be important.
So getting your main keywords into these tags is a good way of letting the search engines know what your page is about.
So, in order to create a web page that is effective in the search results you need to focus on 3 things:
- Your META tags
- Your tags within content
- Your content
It goes without saying that these should all be tightly focused. In other words, keywords that you define in your META tags should be completely in sync with the words you use in your H tags and the content of your page.
As such, you should be writing your page content first and refining that. Once you’re happy with the content you can define your META tags and H tags.
For other articles that I’ve written on SEO, click here.
Owner – WealthyDragon