SEO Best Practices and Glossary

What is “On Page SEO”?

SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization”, and on page SEO is the strategy that someone uses on their actual website or blog in an effort to increase their page ranking results in search engines such as Google. Doing so improves traffic and overall revenue by increasing the number of organic page views.

The best practices for SEO cover a wide range of different things, including the deeper technical aspects that some site owners do not consider, such as tags, site navigation, and structure.

Creating Page Titles

The page title, also known as the HTML title element, is easily one of the most important elements of SEO. Understanding how to create a good page title is therefore very important to the success of your SEO.

Best Practices:

  • The title needs to be relevant to the page, meaning that it cannot be deceptive.
  • It should also contain at least one keyword.
  • The page title will be the element that people see when they search on Google, so a good descriptive title with a keyword or two is vital.
  • Try to keep the number of characters down in the title as well – between 60 and 70 characters, including spaces, is good.
  • The title should also be unique from the other titles on your site.
  • Write the title so that it is helpful to both humans and for the search engines that crawl the site for indexing.

Creating the “Description” Meta Tag

The meta description tags are not vital to your ranking in search engines, but they are highly important when it comes to getting someone who sees your site in the results page to click through and visit your site. The tags serve to let someone know if your site will have the actual information they need, so it is important to make sure the meta tag is as descriptive as possible.

Best Practices:

  • The meta tag can, and should, have keywords. However, those keywords need to be used in a descriptive sentence or two that makes it clear what the site is and what it offers.
  • The length of the description should be between 150 and 160 characters.
  • Make sure that you are only using alphanumeric characters in the tag description as well, since Google will cut off the description at certain characters, such as quotes.
  • As with the title, make sure that the meta tags for each of the pages is unique as well.

Creating the URL Structure

A webpage’s URL is very important for SEO purposes. When creating the URL structure for the pages and posts, it is best to keep things as simple as possible. If you’ve already created a good and descriptive title, much of the work of setting up the URL structure is already done.

Best Practices:

  • Keep the URL as short as possible. One way to do this is by removing numbers. It also makes more sense from the point of view of someone searching for content. For example, most people would likely look up “best apple pies in New York” rather than “10 best apple pies in New York”. The numbers simply are not necessary. The words you do use should be descriptive though, and they should be keywords.
  • Separate the words with hyphens rather than with underscores, and always use all lowercase letters in the URLs.
  • Use static pages rather than dynamic pages, and do not use sub-domains.
  • It is also a good idea to be consistent in the way that you create URLs for your site.

Creating the Site’s Navigation

All websites that want to be successful need to have great navigation for several different reasons. First, good navigation and structure on the website makes it easier for the spiders to crawl through and index properly. This can affect your page ranking. Good navigation also affects the visitors to the site. A website that has good and easy to use navigation is simpler for the users to get from place to place, and that can lead to more conversions.

Best Practices:

  • Navigation needs to be intuitive. People should be able to get to any page in your site in a couple of clicks, and they should be able to navigate back to the home page from any page in the site with just a single click. This ensures no one is lost in a labyrinth.
  • Remove clutter from the site as well. A cleaner looking site is always easier to use.
  • Choose easy to read fonts as well.

The home page should not have dozens of menu links. Instead, they should have six or seven that lead the visitor through to other pages, which then have additional menus. This is easier for the visitors, so they do not become overwhelmed with too many menus. It is also easier for the spiders that search the site, and for those who have to keep the site organized.

Content for SEO

The content that goes onto the site is as important as the tags and the navigational scheme of the website or blog. Without great content, even the best looking and most easily navigable site in the world will not get any visitors.

Creating Quality Content and Services:

When creating content and services for people who come to the site, it is important to remember that quality and consistency are both very important. Take the time to create content, whether it is text, video, audio, or photos that your visitors will actually enjoy or benefit from using. Becoming consistent with posting content is important as well.

Quantity is important as well. Create as much content as you can while keeping the quality as high as possible. Use quality titles that grab the attention of those who might be scanning your site or the search results pages. Find out what your visitors or target audience wants and create content geared specifically toward that audience.

Writing Anchor Text

The anchor text is the actual text that will contain the links to another page. When linking back to your own page from an outside source, it is now important to make sure that you are using different text for the links. Google becomes suspicious if the same anchor text that goes back to the same place is used repeatedly.

Best Practices:

  • Change the text you use, and do not always link to the home page.
  • Link to the page that is most relevant.

Use of Images

The images used on the site should relate to the content of the post or the site in some way, and one should always own the images they use, or have permission to post them.

When placing images on the site, it is important to tag the image with appropriate keywords, so the spiders can find it and have it show up in the search results.

Use of Heading Tags

With the heading tags that go into your onsite content, the H1 tag should contain the most important information. Most sites will have only one H1 element on the page. The next headings are the H2 headings, which would be the subheadings for an article. It is possible to use H3 heading tags for sub-subheadings as well. It is generally needless to go beyond the H3 heading, although you could go all the way to H6 if needed. You can use as many of these heading tags on a page as you need. However, when creating content, it is important to keep things as simple as possible for the readers.

Best Practices:

  • The best keywords should be in the H1 heading, but all of the headings should have some keywords in them.

Off Page SEO

Off page SEO refers to all of the SEO strategies that take place off the site. These can include links, and social media SEO, for example. Off page SEO is very important for ranking well in the search engines, but there are new practices in place for building links. Spam links and low quality links could actually have negative repercussions on your site. Google can actually strip sites of their ranking if they are using forbidden linking practices.

Use of Robots.txt

Using the robot.txt file on the web server can be helpful, as it determines which files the crawlers can search and which ones they cannot search. Users can ensure that the crawlers are not crawling AdSense ads and other similar types of links on the site, which could affect the page ranking in Google.

Best Practices:

  • Some of the best practices for the robots.txt file include only using “disallow” to prevent indexing”, and not using an “allow” line for anything. Disallow parts of the site that might affect the ranking in the search engines, but make sure you are not using the line “Disallow: /” in the file, as this will stop Google from crawling any part of your site.

Tag rel=”nofollow” for Links

“Nofollow” lets search engines know that they should not follow links on a certain page, or that they should not follow a certain link. Some of the times that a person might want to use “nofollow” would be for paid links or for content that they cannot verify. The best practices for using “nofollow” is be for user-generated content, embeds, comments, and the aforementioned paid links. This ensures that they do not affect the way that Google views your site based on those links, so that you can be sure that it will not affect your page ranking.

Promoting Your Website

SEO is one of the key elements for promoting a website, as it helps it rise in the search engine rankings. On site, off site, and social SEO all play crucial roles in marketing and one cannot ignore any of them.

Best Practices:

  • Blogging is a great way to boost SEO, provide valuable content for visitors to your site, and to find new readers who may become actual customers. Getting onboard with all of the different types of social media sites is very important as well. Have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn for your company, and make sure to utilize those accounts as much as possible.
  • Audio and video marketing can work well for many types of businesses too. Having a YouTube channel, as well as a podcast can help to drive more traffic back to your website. It is possible to share those videos through the social media sites as well.
  • Paid advertising can work, but it is cheaper to use the above methods to get organic results that can last much longer than an advertisement.

Mobile SEO

Most people today have mobile devices, from phones to tablets, which can connect to the web. Therefore, it is vital that companies think about just how they will be able to reach those who are on mobile devices.

Running Mobile Sites

Websites today need to be responsive, which means that they will adjust to the layout of the screen they are shown on, such as a mobile phone. Google actually prefers responsive sites to mobile HTML sites, which could have an effect on your rankings.

Best Practices:

  • You should only have a single URL that leads to the mobile and the desktop site.
  • Having just one URL also helps with ranking.

SEO Glossary

Algorithm – Program rules that determine the manner in which a search engine will display results to users and index content.

Anchor Text – The actual text part of the link, often underlined and a different color from the rest of the text.

Back Links – These links are from external sources that point back to your web page.

Call to Action – This is text used in advertising, as well as in blog posts, to get the reader to take an action at the end, such as “subscribe” or “click here”.

Crawler – The crawler, also called a bot or a spider, are programs the search engines use to go through sites on the web so they can catalog and index the pages for ranking.

Keyword or Key Phrase – These are the words that someone using a search engine might use to find out certain information. Adding appropriate keywords to content on a site, can help to boost the site’s ranking.

Off Page SEO – SEO practices and techniques that take place off the website or blog, such as back links or guest posting.

On Page SEO – SEO practices that take place on the site or blog, such as content creation.

Page Title – The title of the page, or title tag.

Robots.txt – A file for a website’s root directory that lets the user control how the search engine crawlers can access the site. It can also deny them access to parts of the site.

SERP – Search engine results page. The page that comes up after entering keywords into a search engine and hitting enter.

URL – This is the Uniform Resource Locator, typically called the web address.

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