A Practical Guide to On-Page Optimization

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on-page optimization and page structure

How To Structure The Best Optimized Page

Understanding the proper structure of website pages makes a large difference in terms of ranking well with search engines. Many businesses online compile as much information as they can and attempt to inundate visitors with seemingly useful data. However, if they’re not following healthy on-page optimization best practices, they’re missing out on opportunities to perform better. Since Google Algorithms are constantly being updated, it’s important to create web pages that follow a consistent, impactful structure.

A properly structured website not only boosts your Google rankings, it helps visitors become more familiar with what you have to offer. If you’re trying to say too much (or too little), you run the risk of losing engagement quickly.

On-Page Optimization Tips

The first step is understanding the needs of your target audience. You may be asking what that has to do with page structure. When creating content and designing a site, you need to create a user experience that addresses a search intent quickly. Knowing what concerns your audience is key to communicating with them.

This practical guide to on-page optimization will set you in the right direction with actionable insights. So, let’s take it from the top.

1. Research and identify keyword topics that mean something to your audience or answer their questions. If you noticed, I used the word “topic” instead of keyword terms. You can still build a keyword strategy, but with the advent of artificial intelligence being used more and more, standard keyword terms limit your results.

Machine learning is changing how search engines interpret relevance. So establishing a list of targeted topics is a perfect starting point as you embark on building an optimized landing page. I like to use a technique based off Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). You’ll find these long-tail topics as you start to type a search query or at the bottom of a search engine result page (SERP). Using these topics within your content and page structure will give your site an adrenaline boost. It also helps algorithms, such as Rank Brain, understand the value you’re trying to dispense to visitors.

2. Create a short URL that uses the main keyword topic you discovered from your research. In most cases, this will simply be a service, product, or some other location from your navigation menu. The point is to make sure you’re taking every opportunity to grab the attention of potential visitors and the search engines alike.

Your URL should not be too long. If it is long, then you can be pretty sure that you’re engaging in some sort of over optimization or keyword stuffing. Make your URL short, to the point, and what a user would theoretically be looking for to satisfy a search intent.

3. Write an informative Page Title that houses your main keyword topic, preferably as close to the beginning of the title as possible. The goal is to not cram in topic after topic, but to elaborate on the value each page provides for a visitor.

For example, if you sell motorcycles then these titles are not the solution:
Affordable Motorcycles in Philadelphia | Best Motorcycles For Sale | Motorcycles For Beginners
Best Motorcycles For Sale | Cheapest Motorcycle Brands | All Motorcycles

Not only are these titles too long but take note that the title will become even longer when you add your business name to the end. Keep your page titles between 55 – 60 characters (sometimes you can get away with 70 characters, but I wouldn’t use that practice). The reason for this is impact. When coming up with a page title, determine what would be the most compelling title that a user would click on before clicking on your competitor.

You already know the keyword topic and the purpose of the page. Basically, the search intent is the question and your web page is the solution. So make the title impressive enough that it influences a user to select it first in search results.

4. Compose a compelling Headline that introduces the subsequent content. Remember the Latent Semantic Indexing technique? Well here’s where the magic begins! Choose a variation of the keyword topic you already researched. Then take that topic and use it in your headline. The headline is encased in what’s called a Heading Tag or an H1 tag (in code). This first heading tag tells search engines and certain algorithms what your page is about.

The most used heading tags are the H1, H2, and H3. You will hurt the structure of your web page if the H2 comes before the H1. There is a hierarchy in regards to heading tags and search engines look for this “order”. When adding your second headline, use another topic from your LSI. Just make sure that the headline is short and to the point. You want the visitor to see exactly what they typed into the search box or see the reason they clicked on your organic result in the first place.

When used together, page title and heading tags can be very powerful. Remember, machine learning is looking at historical relevance. So try very hard not to just stuff a whole bunch of topics into your title and tags. Another reason to use keyword topic variations is to show substance.

5. Use content creatively in a conversational manner that not only answers a users search intent, but also adds more value than they were expecting. Start off with well written unique content and add in images, videos, and social media sharing capabilities (if applicable).

Many companies out there will tell you content, content, content and not focus on what matters most to visitors. Creative MMS understands the digital needs of clients. Where other agencies fall short is that they don’t know the purpose of having various forms of content on a page or within a website. So let me “bounce” this concept off you.

Time on site is extremely important and it shows how well a site or page is engaging an audience. Low engagement can affect your organic traffic. This is why it’s so important to understand a visitors intentions and to churn out informative content. If visitors are coming to your site but the content is weak or lacking value they’ll leave your site right then and there. This is what’s called a Bounce. If the content isn’t strong enough to hold a visitors attention or it’s not what they were looking for, they’ll leave your site without taking any action.

What I mean by this is you want visitors to interact with your site. They’re basically engaging with your business when they fill out a form, push play on a video, or just click through your site to learn more. Why is content still King & Queen? Because visitors want to be convinced that you truly are the solution to their problem or circumstance.

6. Internal link important long-tail keyword topics within your content to improve the user experience. It’s not best practice (or helpful for that matter) to just take one word and link it to another one of your pages (or posts). Your goal is to secure the attention of the visitor, and then give them the opportunity to get more value than just what that landing page offered.

Google takes internal linking very seriously. Search engines look at links as added value, so make sure that they direct a visitor to another relevant part of your website. This will accelerate or satisfy their search intent even further.

When adding external links to your content, make sure that the resulting domain also has good page structure and is relevant. Your website should be seen as a hub of quality information that visitors find helpful. Google takes this into account when ranking. So if you need to add an external link or two, make sure that it’s going to someplace that still improves the user experience. If you just send visitors to an app page, a page that loads slowly, or that doesn’t build trust for your business- don’t add that external link.

7. Give your images meaningful file names that deliver the same message as the content on that page. Google places a lot of emphasis on images and the engines look for relevance in a name. So if you sell chairs and you name an image chair-photo1.jpg, img1234.jpg, or chair-pic.jpg…then you’re doing it wrong.

Add descriptive file names that properly describe your products or services. Consider certain attributes that your products provide. From the example above, these file names are more effective: mahogany-chairs.jpg, oak-dining-chairs.jpg, or antique-oak-chairs.jpg.

Speaking of attributes, add what’s called image attributes (most commonly known as “image alt tags”). Again, use a keyword topic variation to describe your images. This part of image optimization helps your site perform better in the eyes of search engines.

8. The meta-description for pages and posts is arguably one of the most important components when structuring your web page. Although this is done in the backend, it’s the message you want visitors to read the most. Since your page title and meta-description are displayed together, making sure they’re both specific and to the point is imperative.

Your meta-description should be around 155 – 160 characters. Any more than this and your description will get cut off. That’s like cutting your business message or core values in half.

A meta-description is your 30 second elevator pitch…only you have way less than 30 seconds to make a connection. This description should use your keyword topic and drive home the point that your page is the answer. One way to look at this meta-data is to write a description that speaks to intent. This way, when a user sees you in search results they already see value before clicking through to your site.

Improve Your Conversion Rate

Just because you have a website doesn’t mean that visitors will flood to your pages. If you want your website to perform well, then all of your pages need to perform at equal levels. On-page optimization strengthens a site and can build upon its domain authority. Creative MMS develops user focused websites designed to improve conversion rates. Fill out our contact form and see how we can structure your website for success.

Ben LeDonniApril 24, 2017by Ben LeDonni