Often when marketers talk about SEO it can sound really complicated. From search engine algorithm changes, to backlink profiles, 4xx errors and 301 redirects. However, there is an area of SEO that doesn’t need to be overly complicated; On-Page optimisation.
What is On-Page Optimisation?
As the name suggests, this is an area of search engine optimisation that focuses on the elements that actually make up one of your pages. These elements include:
- Meta Data
- H1 Header
- Sub Headings
- Written Content
- Images and Videos
On-Page optimisation is simply making sure these elements are created using best practices in the eyes of the major search engines.
Before we get into the details of each of these elements, it’s worth saying that you must not sacrifice the quality of your content just to keep search bots happy. At a recent HubSpot User Group (often adorably referred to as HUGs) Seán Reid brought up this awesome quote from inbound professor Justin Champion:
As far as Google are concerned optimised content is high quality content that answers the users questions. So, above all else, you must try to write content that answers your users’ questions.
With that out of the way, let’s look at how you can optimise your blog posts.
Optimising Your Meta Data
Meta titles and descriptions do not physically appear on your website. The meta title appears as the tab name of your browser, but beyond that these two pieces of data are only visible to your users from within a search engine.
I’ve talked before about SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) and how to make the most of new features Google have released. But now let’s take a look at the anatomy of an organic search result:
The meta title is important to your search ranking position – which means the keyword you are optimising for should be in the meta title – in the example above “SoftStone Digital” appears prominently within the meta title.
The meta description on the other hand is less important when it comes to SEO, but instead is more important in terms of maximising click through rate. In other words this small snippet of text needs to compel users to click on your link by demonstrating relevance to their query.
How to use an H1 Header properly
The H1 is the main title for your page. Unless there is a very specific reason to have more than one, your page should only ever have one H1. This heading should clearly define your subject or topic. So, if you’re writing a guide about how to optimise a blog post your H1 should be something like “How to optimise your blog posts” or “The ultimate guide to optimising your blog”.
To maximise the number of keywords you’re optimising for, you should avoid having the H1 and meta title the same, or too similar – you won’t be penalised for them being the same, but you’ll be missing an opportunity to include other keywords.
Using Sub Headings
Headings are defined by separate classes, H1, H2, H3, H4 and so on. With the H1 defining your key topic, H2s are the next level of importance on your page. Consider them as the headings for the sub-sections on your page which should contain related keywords around the topic you’re writing about.
When a search engine crawls the page it will use this structure H1, H2, H3 as a way of gauging the overall quality, depth and relevance of the content on the page. H2s are the most important sub heading and H3s are the next level of importance. Anything below an H3 becomes a lot less important.
The key thing to keep in mind is that these different classes of header will also control the appearance and size of the font, so the temptation is to use which header looks best on the page, but you need to avoid this temptation and stick to the guidance above.
Writing Relevant Content
The content on the page needs to be high quality, with good readability but most importantly it needs to be relevant to the topic. i.e. if someone lands on a page about optimising a blog, the content should clearly explain the key elements to on-page optimisation.
There’s a simple golden rule; if a user searching for your target query lands on your page, will your content answer their question? If the answer is no, then you need to reconsider the content. If the answer is yes, then it’s job done and you can move on to the other elements on the page.
Images and Videos
This final section relates to images and videos on the page. Search engines like pages with multimedia content – especially when the content is relevant to the page topic. Optimise images by giving the relevant alt text as well as file names and give your videos relevant titles which should include your target keywords.
There are still plenty of other ways to optimise a page for search – getting backlinks, building internal links and optimising page speed – but in terms of optimising the content, just follow the steps above and you will start to see improvements in your organic ranking.