In this article, I am going to discuss about the on-page optimization factors in deep detail. I personally feel that on-page optimization plays an important role in ranking a certain page for a certain search term. Its almost 25% of your entire SEO efforts. So, time to take it more seriously.
The main idea behind on-page optimization is to target your page to get ranked for a particular keyword. It will help Google to understand how relevant a certain page is, with respect to a certain keyword. Based on the relevancy of the page, Google will decide whether to rank it or not.
After Domain Authority/Trust and Page Authority, on-page SEO is the third most important factor in the ranking algorithm of Google. It is the only factor that is completely under your control. So, as it is such a factor which is completely under your own control then why not try your best to ensure that it stays strong enough (better than your competitors).
This article will be like a checklist for you, so you can bookmark it so that you can return back to it whenever you need help from it while writing any article. I have also mentioned these factors according to their impact like High Impact, Medium Impact and Low factors, so that it becomes easy for you to prioritize among them.
(Image Source: SEOmoz.org)
Titles – High Impact
Keyword Usage (High) – It is very important to use your target keyword in the Title of your post. All research and experiment show that, using the keyword in the Title has the highest positive correlation with better rankings.
Keyword Position (High) – The position of the keyword is yet another factor that must be kept in mind. It is always a good idea to use the keyword in the beginning of the Title, rather than in the middle or the end. It will not only help you to rank better, but will also help in increasing CTR to some extent.
Title Length (Low) - The length of the Title should not be too short or too long. Too short title, (containing the keyword only) is never considered good by Google and too long Titles will also not fit well in the SERP. So try to maintain a moderate length of the Titles.
URL – Medium Impact
Length (Medium) – The length of the URL should not be made long, as it will create problems for the users who intend to copy or paste it. Try to maintain it short or medium, and not long.
Keyword Usage (High) - It is very important to use the target keyword in the URL too. Google pays good importance in this factor. I guess it makes Google understand that you are more serious about this keyword targeting this particular post.
Keyword Placement (High) – Placing the keyword closer to the domain name helps a lot in ranking better. Like, http://yourdomain.com/keyword-other words/ shows better correlations in ranking better in the search engine rankings than http://yourdomain.com/many-other-words-keyword/
Meta Elements – Low Impact
Meta Description (Low)- It has been confirmed that meta descriptions do not help your SEO in any way, but is a good practice to use your keyword in the Meta Description. Writing a good meta description can help you to get high CTR. Also try to keep the keyword in the beginning of the description.
Meta Tags (Low) – Meta tags also do not contribute towards search engine rankings. And it is also not recommended to use your keywords in the meta tags, as it can make the job of your competitors much easier in finding the keywords you are trying to rank for.
Body/Content – High Impact
Avoid Keyword Density (High) – It is a very common SEO myth, that higher keyword density can help you to rank better in the SERPs. Google is intelligent enough to use various other metrics in determining the relevancy of a certain page with respect to a certain keyword, other than using Keyword Density. Try to write as naturally as possible, and the keywords will come up automatically.
Keyword in the First Paragraph (Medium) – Try to use your target keyword in the first 50-100 words of your document. This has proven to help in achieving better search engine rankings. Though not a very important factor, but still to be well-kept in mind and implemented wherever possible.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing (High) - Avoid this at all cost. After the rise of the Pandas and The Penguins, don’t think of getting into all this black hat SEO mess in any way .
LSI Keywords (Medium) – This is another important factor that we often ignore. In spite of using a single keyword repeatedly in an article and killing our own SEO, what we can do intelligently is find some synonyms (similar meaning) keywords which are just variations of the main keyword.
These keywords will make things look more natural in your site and will also increase your chances of getting better traffic by making you rank for many other keywords variations of the main keyword.
Decorations (Blod/Italics/Underline) – Decorating some important words or phrases can help visitors get a better reading experience. Not only that, it will also help the search engines, understand better what your document is actually about and what you are actually trying to target.
Image – High Impact
Image Alt Text (High)– This is a factor that many of us tend to neglect a lot, but it is one of the most important factors that can get you to huge image search traffic. Don’t forget to use your keyword/phrase in the Alt text of all the images. Proper use of this, can get you good amount of traffic without any additional efforts.
Image Filename (High) – Try to keep the filename clean using hyphens to separate words. This is really a very good practice to keep the keyword in the filename too. But do not over-optimize these imaging techniques. Try to keep them as natural as possible.
Internal & External Links (Low Impact)
Internal Linking – This is yet another important factor that many of us tend to ignore quite a lot. Internal linking not helps helps a lot in ranking the pages better, but it also gives a scope for the readers to go to other pages on your site. It also helps in reducing bounce rate.
External Linking – Search engines appreciate this practice of linking to a single or several useful external resources. But ensure that you do not put the keyword as anchor text of the external link. That will not help you to get better rankings.
Critical Factors (We Often Ignore)
Ensure the page is Crawlable – It has been many a times, when we ignore this simple yet very important factor. If by mistake we have kept our page as “noindex, nofollow”, then the Google crawlers will never be able to crawl your page and there remains no chance at all to get your page ranked in the SERPs.
It is always a good idea to go to Google Webmaster Tools and try to fetch the particular page as Googlebot and see if the bots can successfully crawl it. In WordPress, you can use the SEO by Yoast or Robots Meta plugin, to make individual pages “index, or noindex, follow or nofollow” as you desire.
Implement Canonical Properly – Many times your page may not rank well in the search engines due to duplicate content issues. Google even can penalise you for duplicate content issues badly. So, it is really very essential to implement the canonical tag properly in the posts.
Now it’s Time to Break Some Rules?
Following these on-page optimization factors correctly, will definitely help you to create a perfectly optimized post, but to keep things natural, it is always a good idea to break some of these rules. Sometimes over-optimize or sometimes under-optimize your posts intentionally.
Google has never recommended anyone to use these factors anytime. SEO experts have experimented and researched on thousands of webpages and have found correlation of these factors with better rankings. So, we are following these techniques, and obviously getting good results.
But Google doesn’t expect you to keep things perfectly optimized. So, manipulate these factors to a small extent (mainly the low impact ones), to keep everything optimized yet natural in the eyes of Google.