On Page SEO Best Practice – Page One
Page One Covers; Keyword Research, Title Tags, URL Structure, Header Tags, Body Content and Images
SEO is only of value if the terms and queries your website ranks for, are being searched for. Understanding how many times per month a specific keyword or set of terms are searched helps to indicate not only estimated traffic but also to prioritize keyword groups for our SEO efforts. As part of your SEO campaign, your Croud SEO team will spend time to unearth and monitor all the conceivable keywords your business could rank for and categorize them by semantic intent. Sometimes, however, you will find out for yourself what themes and topics to write about so Croud recommends the following sources to help provide inspiration.
There are two tools we would recommend for understanding this information:
1. Google’s Keyword Planner – Google’s keyword planner has long been the go to source of keywords and search volume within Google. Google now only show ranges of results users who aren’t hitting an Adwords spend threshold but the data they have is still invaluable, in particular in identifying semantic sets of keyword terms and quickly yielding keyword opportunities.
2. Keywords Everywhere Chrome Extension – A very useful Chrome extension for highlighting the search volume of a particular search term directly in Google Search, Google Search Console or anywhere the extension is able to show keyword volumes. The information is of course derived from Keyword Planner and in our experience is often correlated to the volumes shown in Google Keyword Planner (US).
3. Google’s Auto-Complete – Have you ever tried just going to Google and started typing? Of course you have! Those recommendations that come up are derived from popular queries and are often a good source of inspiration when writing content.
Keyword Research Considerations
- Google’s Keyword Planner is comprehensive for shorter queries (short-tail) but not so much for longer queries (long-tail)
- Therefore, just because a search doesn’t have any volume according to Google, doesn’t mean it isn’t worth writing content for
- Some of the best content ideas derive from topical pieces that are part of the national conversation
- How can you tie these ideas into your business? How can you take what is topical and relate it to your industry?
THE TITLE TAG
The title tag is the single most significant on page ranking factor for your every page on your site. Every URL can have a title element and that
<title> should contain the most semantically and sought after target terms for your page. Every other important on page factor; header tags, body content, image alt tags etc. should derive from the title element.
The title can be found in browsers like Google Chrome by hovering your mouse over a tab at the top of the browser window or by viewing the source code (CMD / Ctrl + U for Mac / PC respectively) and search for
<title>. Title elements are not only relevant to search engine crawlers but also to users as they appear very prominently in every search performed on all major search engines:
So titles need to be optimized not only for search engines but also for people, to entice them to click on your result instead of the others in the results pages.
Title Tag Considerations
- Title tags will truncate if they are too long so it is recommended to keep them under 60 characters
- If you wish to test your title element then this tool at technicalseo.com is very useful
- It’s common practice to add the brand name to the end of each title separated by a “|” (pipe) or a “-” (hyphen) – the arguments for and against this practice are myriad but if the brand name is short and there is consistent use or either hyphen or pipe site-wide then you should be good
- The most important term should go at the beginning of the <title> – if your page is selling office tables then a great title would be
<title>Buy Office Tables | Tableseller</title>(if your brand’s name is “Tableseller”, of course…)
URL naming conventions are a critical part of SEO. It is imperative that a clear and coherent URL structure is used for any pages which need to be found by search crawlers (and ideally for those that don’t as well). URLs are the web addresses of the content in the files and folders on your domain. The address of a page of content on your domain could be found at an SEO friendly address like:
The address of a file, like a pdf, on your domain could be found at an SEO friendly address like:
Notice how these URL examples follow a clear and coherent format. Your choice of URL for any new page that is built should allow anyone looking at the URL to get a significant idea of what the page is about without having to view the page.
Let’s say you’re building a new page for your business financing company. The new page is going to target consultants in Florida. Here’s an example of a bad URL:
Now an example of a good URL:
It is instantly evident that one of these URL derivatives informs the user what the page is about and the other does not. The file and folder structure that comprises your domain won’t always allow you full flexibility to create whichever structure you wish (and URL creation should always form part of a larger information architecture strategy) but whenever possible, the following criteria should be adhered to.
- URLs should always be lower case
- Spaces should be indicated using hyphens
- They should be as short as possible but contain the key terms defining the page’s intent
- Be less than 5 directories deep, e.g. This is bad – https://example.com/page/sub-page/next-page/more-pages/your-content/its-here
- Have consistent trailing slash or non-trailing slash at the end of URL across the entire domain (with the rewrite rules to ensure that a user is 301 redirected if visiting the non-canonical)
- Blogs should likely avoid using the date in the URL but should try using a format like
Header tags are a critical part of the semantic HTML markup of your pages. They should describe the section that follows their presence with a combination of creativity and keyword application. Header tags flow from h1 through to h6 and typically style headings from larger to smaller (but this is dependent upon the CSS rules for your site). It is recommended that header tags flow from top to bottom on your page from h1 to h6. To caveat that slightly, not all header tags need to be used and it is also more important that they follow a coherent structure than flow chronologically.
An example of good header tag usage might look something like this:
Header Tag Considerations
- The <h1> should ideally contain target terms semantically similar to the <title> but also have a human message to entice your audience to read further
- Other headers on the page should convey the sub-topic they’re detailing while maintaining the tone of voice of the brand
- There is no criteria for the length of any given header tag but use your intuition and think about what you would expect as a user
Another crucial on page component; the text that makes up the substance of your pages. There are numerous reasons why the text on your pages are significant but this primarily boils down to a couple of key points:
- Optimal Indexability
Writing for users is critical when putting words on your site. Everything you write, even product landing page copy, should be written with a desire to inform your audience in an entertaining manner. Why? Because web users, in particular mobile users, don’t have time to waste reading content that isn’t exceedingly well written and informative and because the engagement metrics derived from quality content will also vastly help your pages, e.g. links, social shares and pure engagement signals like dwell time.
If you’re writing a page about, for example, “How To Drive a Manual / Stick Shift Car?” then you need to include every conceivable piece of information relating to the considerations of someone who might need this information:
- Where in the world are manuals and automatics driven?
- The primary differences between driving an automatic and a manual?
- What does the clutch do and how does it affect the driving experience?
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
And so on. Each of these sections need to be fleshed out to clearly answer the questions proffered, preferably including relevant semantic terms where appropriate and include terms relating to the overarching goal of educating the user about how to learn to drive a manual car.
Body Content Considerations
- Don’t overuse keywords in content for fear of keyword stuffing
- Ensure all content on your site that you care about being indexed for SEO is written by a human
- Write concisely and don’t be afraid to break up text with images, charts, lists etc.
- Aim to write more than 500 words at a minimum – content length for SEO is an expansive topic but Google is more likely to rank longer content than shorter
Image optimization is both a technical and SEO undertaking. This is due to the fact that oversized images can seriously hinder page load performance, especially for mobile users. Images can also add much in terms of increased insight into the overall semantic understanding of a given page, primarily via two key properties which should have a value on every image:
The image alt tag
The image alt tag is a critical part of an image for SEO due to its application as a value of relevance in describing images to to search crawlers. The “alternative tag” may be shown instead of an image in some instances where a network connection is poor (for example) or can be used for those who are visually impaired so that they may better understand what content is on a given page.
It is critical that your image alt tags describe the image that is being shown first and then possibly include semantically relevant terms related to the image second. There is a fantastic Google Chrome extension called “View Image Info” that will show comprehensive image information when you right click an image:
The image file name
The file name of any image should be written in a similar fashion to that of a URL, that is, it should be descriptive, lower case and with spaces indicated by hyphens. An example of a good image file name would be as follows:
From a technical perspective, the following considerations are key:
The image format; .jpeg, .png, .webp etc.
Where possible, next generation image formats such as Google developed WebP should be used due to the huge reductions in image size that can be extremely efficient at scale across a large website. If this isn’t possible then choosing between more traditional file formats shouldn’t be a matter of guess work. The guys over at Who Is Hosting This? have put together an awesome infographic highlighting when each image type; jpg, png, gif etc. should be used.
The image size
As a rule of thumb, images should never be larger than 100kb in size (see file size scale here). But in truth it is much more complex than this; an image should never be larger than it needs to be while maintaining a minimum viable quality level. The quality of an image is obviously entirely dependent upon the needs of the page. Latest generation file formats (like WebP) will also assist greatly in lossless compression of image file size
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