On-Page SEO Basics and Best Practices

So you are about to publish a new blog post or page on your website. You are hoping that Google likes your page enough to rank it, and users like your content enough to share it and link to it. Below you will find some SEO basics and on-page SEO best practices for creating a new web page or article.

This checklist acts as a guide to ensure that each new page contains Google SEO basics for each of the primary SEO elements that Google uses to determine relevancy.

1. Basics For Creating Unique URLs

URLs are valuable to both user and search engines. They help both user types understand what a web page is about. Below are the SEO basics for creating a URL that is valuable to both users and search engines.

  • Use all lowercase characters
  • Use hyphens to separate words,
  • Create static URLs – avoid session IDs and dynamic parameters
  • When possible use 115 characters or less
  • Remove words such as “the, and, it, a, etc.”. These are known as stop-words.

2. SEO Basics For Create a Unique Title and Description Tag

Title Tag Creation Basics

The title tag is one of the primary pieces of a web page that Google uses to determine what a page is about, and for which topics it’s relevant for.

  • Select one or two keywords that accurately describe the page’s content – this should’ve already been completed when you did your keyword research.
  • The title tag should include your primary and secondary keywords written in a concise conversational statement.
  • It should be 70 characters or less and include your Brand name at the end.

Description Tag Creation Basics

The description tag provides users a glimpse into what a page is about before they click through to the page from the search results.

Google will show the description tag in their search results by either; reading the custom description tag you create for your web page, or by compiling a description tag based on the users search query.

  • Include your primary and secondary keywords to accurately and conversationally describe the page’s content in 180 characters or less.

3. SEO Basics For Optimizing Page Content

When we reference optimizing web page content, we are not talking about keyword density or just adding keywords. The SEO basics of optimizing page content include the optimization of structural, copy, and keyword components.

Beyond making sure the content is outside of flash, javascript or an iFrame, and that text is not rendered as an image, there are a set of primary locations you’ll want to focus on. Let’s start with a couple structural concepts – content hierarchy and diversity – and then dive into where keywords should be included.

Content Hierarchy Creation Basics

Users rarely read all of the content on a page. They are more likely to skim a page to find the content section that has the best chance of answering their question. Making this behavior as easy as possible will increase user satisfaction and lead to higher engagement rates.

Having a structured hierarchy for your web page also helps Google understand topic hierarchy for your content, giving them better insight into what your content should be ranked for.

A content hierarchy is built by using H1, H2, H3 tags to define sections of content.

Content Diversity

Utilizing a variety of content formats such as videos, images, and lists within a piece of content have been shown to increase engagement, social shares, and inbound links.

Because of this, it is beneficial to try and include each of these formats in your page or post where it makes sense, and where it will add value to the overall experience for the user.

SEO Keyword Use Basics

Keywords should be included naturally within the following content locations. They should include head, mid-tail, and long-tail keywords and phrases.

H1 Tag Basics

  • Make sure you have one H1 tag.
  • The H1 tag should include your primary keyword topic for the page(head term).

H2 Tags Basics

  • Make sure you have a few H2 tags.
  • These should be sub-topics of your primary keyword topic.
  • These should include the keywords of your secondary content topics (mid-tail keywords).

H3 Tags Basics

  • Make sure you have a few H3 tags for each H2 tag.
  • These should be sub-topics of your secondary keyword topic.
  • These should include the keywords of your tertiary content topics (secondary mid-tail keywords).
  • Having H3 tags are not always relevant unless you are diving deep into a topic.

Paragraphs

  • Paragraphs should be concise, focused, and digestible for users – preferably 4-5 sentences long so you don’t overwhelm users.
  • They should include primary, secondary, and long-tail key phrases – think diversity, not density.

Image Optimization Basics

  • Add an ALT tag to all images describing the image
  • Name your image by describing it in 2 to 3 words – use hyphens to separate words.

4. SEO Basics For Using Meta Directives

  • If the new page is replacing an existing page, place a 301 redirect on the old, relevant content to pass link metrics.
  • Use the “rel=canonical” tag if the content may be considered duplicate and closely mirrors a more authoritative page.
  • Use the Robots.txt directive <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”) if you wish to keep a page from being indexed by Google or do not want link metrics to be passed through the page.

Bonus: Notify Users and Search Engines

Finally, you’ll want to make the page accessible to users and search engines, and give Google a little nudge that there’s a new piece of content on your website.

Make sure you’re letting Google and users know you’ve published a new piece of content by doing the following.

  1. Add the new URL to your XML and HTML sitemaps.
  2. Add at least one on-site link (where relevant) to the new page.
  3. Tweet and socialize the new article
  4. Fetch the new page as Google within Google Webmaster Tools (Google Search Console). Once you fetch it, the tool gives you the option to submit it to Google.