The Basics of On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO 101: What is it? On-page SEO is exactly what it says: search engine optimization on any page on your website.  SEO used to be all about programming in meta descriptions ad title tags, and link building was "in" for a while.  SEO experts were "keyword stuffing": placing a word or phrase they wanted to rank for in a piece of content as many times as they could. This alerted  search engines that a site was relevant for a particular topic, and the page would be found at the top of the search results.  The problem? To a human, the content didn't make sense.

Now, Google wants to see content with keywords inserted in the way a human being would read it.  In its 24th version, Google's Panda's goal is to push only high-quality search results from sites that have high authority.  So, if you want to rank for “Vail hotels,” you have to be smart about how and where you place that phrase throughout your copy.  If content is written in a way that stuffs keywords into it and/or doesn't make sense to a human (like this sentence:  "Our Vail hotels is the best in Vail with amazing hotel amenities near Vail Mountain hotels."), a) you will not rank for the phrase, and b) Google will punish you by pushing you down in the search results.   To optimize for Google, the most important on-page search engine optimization elements are:
  1. Content of the page
  2. Title tag
  3. URL structure
  4. Image alt text

Content
Content that is readable by humans is key, and it needs to be relevant, transparent, informative, engaging and educational so that the search engines believe you have authority on the topic.  To negate the above poorly written sentence:

"Come stay at The Hotel in Vail, Colorado, where you'll find relaxation and tranquility on your ski vacation.  Located only steps from the lifts, our caring hotel staff ensures all of your needs are met with in-room dining, ski valet, spa, and transportation to and from the airport.  There's no comparison to other Vail hotels - ours is simply the finest in luxury ski vacations."

Content should be a minimum 300 words, with the sweet spot at 500-700 words.  In a 500-word piece of content, you might have some combination of “vail hotels” three to five times. One phrase every two sentences is a lot, so spread it out.

Title Tags
If you write in a content management system such as Drupal, you can create title tags without having to know how to program - it's all set out for you in the CMS.  The title tags are also called headings.  There can be up to six levels of headings, but typically a client uses only 3-4.  This is what Google sees as one of the main indicators about what information the page contains.  Your keyword(s) should be located here in order to tie into your Content, URL string, and image alt tags.


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URLs
URL structure was important long ago, became non-important, and now is important again but not in the same way.  In the "old" days, the URL (i.e., www.nicholsinteractive.com) was what drove Google to find your site.  If you were a Vail hotel, you'd have wanted a URL like this "www.vailhotel.com".  Then, URLs were not so important, but meta tags were.  Now the pendulum swings back but the URL (the "www....com") is not as important as what comes after it:  "www.nicholsinteractive.com/digital-marketing-agency-vail".


If your URL reads something like this: http://www.companyname.com/123456, Google doesn't know what your page is about and won't stop to find out.  What you want is this: http://www.companyname.com/search-term-or-content-topic.

Funneling content into silos where Google can easily break down what the content is about and how it is relevant to the searcher is a solid strategy that typically stands the test of time.  So, deciding how your content is structured is a key element to building your site correctly.  This is one of many factors decided in our Discovery Process.  Your SEO expert will then place relevant and strategic keywords or phrases  into your URL structure.

In Drupal, these can be easily manipulated as needed through configuration of your SEO tools in the build process, and then ongoing by your SEO expert by simpy clicking on the page and editing the line called "URL".  So, if the algorithms change or people change what terms they search for information by, you or your SEO expert can easily change the URL by changing the words in the URL string. In Drupal, this can be configured to automatically redirect the old URL to the new one so those who may have a page bookmarked can still access the page.

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Image Alt Text
Every piece of content you write should have an image inserted. Why? Well, the internet is visually based, and people want the messages you want to give them in image format.  One picture says a thousands words, no?  Images also break up the text so it's easier to scan.

When you insert a photo or image into your content, it will let you change the line that is labeled “alt text.”  Here, you place the same keyword(s) or phrase(s) that you have in your content, your URL strings, and your page titles.  Minimum 1, maximum 3-4.  Every image should be tagged with alt tags, so when you build your photo and video galleries, make sure your programmer sets up the images to allow for alt tags.

If you have questions about Search Engine Optimization or want to get started on driving more traffic to your site, our experts are Google and Microsoft certified with a combined with 18 years' experience in search marketing.  Contact us today to find out more or call 970-306-4393.