A lot goes into good on-page SEO. There is no one single thing alone that will make your page rank – not anymore. Several different elements have to work together on a page to accomplish good on-page SEO.
The content on the page has to be well-written and more authoritative than anything else currently published. You have to use the right keywords in the right areas, your title tag and meta description have to be on point, and any links you include have to be relevant for the user. On top of all of this, your content also has to be structured well for readability and flow – that is where headings and subheadings will help you. Here are some on-page SEO tips to help you improve your site pages:
1. Use Headings
Headings help you break up large blocks of text and add space for easier reading. One of the most common mistakes in on-page SEO is with headings – mostly that they are bold and do not use Htags. Heading tags specify a hierarchy and establish priority within your content for both users and search engine spiders. Bolded or italicized headings do not do this.
Your H1 is the most important heading on the page, which is usually reserved for the page title or blog post title. From there, there are H2s, H3s, and so on, as needed. If you’re structuring your page based on keyword research, keywords related to your page topic should be included in your headings. When writing in a logical progression for the topic, this should occur naturally. As part of the content review process, pay close attention to your headings – are they tagged appropriately? Do they accurately describe their section for the reader? Do they include the main keyword topic for the section in a way that makes sense?
If you’re not using heading tags in your content, you’re missing out on a big piece of on-page SEO that can help you – especially when it comes to semantic search.
2. Craft a Unique Title Tag and Meta Description
The title tag and meta description of a page lets users know what a page is all about when they see your website listed in the search results. The content you have in these areas can make the difference between a user clicking on your content or scrolling past it.
The title tag of a page appears as the hyperlinked text at the top of an individual listing in the search results. You want to make sure this accurately describes the content a user will find on the page when they click through to it. It’s important to include the main keyword topic of the page in your title tag as this will help both users and search engines understand what your content is about. You also want to make sure your title tag is not too long or too short. In WordPress, there are plenty of SEO plugins, like Yoast SEO, that can help you manage these.
For search engines, the title tag is more important than the meta description, but that does not mean you should ignore the meta description. The meta description is the content that shows underneath your title tag on your listing in the search results. Although search engines tend to ignore this content, for the most part, it’s important to craft something meaningful for users.
When someone is scrolling through the search results, your title tag can grab their attention and the meta description can encourage them to click on your listing. You can use the meta description to further describe what users can expect to find on the page and encourage users to click.
Will Duplicate Meta Titles and Descriptions Get a Google Penalty?
The short answer is no. The longer answer is that, although you may not get an official Google penalty for them, they can still impact your site’s performance in search, and can have a significant impact in certain cases. Duplicate content tends to be a huge no-no in SEO. When it comes to duplicate title tags and meta descriptions, it’s a different situation.
You certainly don’t want to have multiple pages competing in search engines for the same keyword, so check your pages showing duplicate title tags and meta descriptions. If these are blog category or tag pages, you are usually better off adding a no-index tag to these pages. This ensures that Google is only crawling and indexing the pages of your website that offer value to users and are the most relevant to your site. If you have two or more blog posts that are focused on the same topic, you may want to consider combining them into one post and redirecting deleted posts to the most relevant, descriptive URL.
If there are duplicate title tags and meta descriptions because they are necessary for a large directory, ecommerce, or archiving site, they would likely not have a significant impact. Another thing to consider is that, for the most part, search engines don’t pay much attention to meta descriptions. Those are mostly meant to serve your users and are an opportunity to further describe the content on the page. Oftentimes, search engines will create their own meta description using the beginning content of the page if one has not been identified or they “don’t like” the one that’s there.
In a perfect world, every single page on your website would have a uniquely crafted title tag and meta description. This is simply not feasible for some websites, especially for large sites that frequently add pages and change pages. The best approach is to do what’s best for your users and what’s feasible for you and your website.
3. Don’t Forget URL Structure
The URL of your page should be friendly to users and to search engines. It should contain the main keyword topic of the page and a user should be able to tell what the page is about from the URL. Ensuring the URLs of your website are search engine friendly makes them easier for search engines to crawl and index. You want to keep URLs simple, clear, and concise.
If they are too long, they may look confusing or look like spam. So, make sure everything you have listed after the domain name makes sense and adds value and understanding for the user. Domain/main-subject or domain/broad-topic/main-subject is much clearer and easier to understand for both users and search engines than domain/545/359/main-subject-plus-some-extra-words-that-are-not-necessary.
4. Add Images
Pages and blog posts with images get more interaction, more engagement, and more shares than those without. So, make sure you are adding relevant images to your website pages and blog posts. Then, make sure you add alt tags and title text to your images to improve accessibility and ensure that everyone, including search engines, can understand what your images contain.
5. Integrate Relevant Links
Integrating relevant links into your content helps users navigate your site more efficiently and it helps search engines better understand how different pages of your site relate to each other. You definitely don’t want to go overboard, but if a link makes sense for users, then include it to link related content together. Although you don’t want to encourage people to click away from your website, you do want to include links to other websites when it makes sense. This makes your content a true resource for users, makes it more valuable, and adds authority to it.
6. Incorporate Schema
Schema is a type of structured data you can use to help search engines better understand the context of your website and your content. It’s a semantic vocabulary of tags that you add to the HTML of your site and it helps improve how search engines read your pages and then show them in the results. Oftentimes, the better search engines can crawl and understand your website, the better chance you have of showing up in the search results and the more opportunities you have for an enriched snippet.
Schema can be used to add things like star ratings, publication dates, prices, and more to your listing in the search results. Structured data also gives your content the opportunity to show up in more than just the website listing of the search results. Content with proper markup can appear in standard page listings as well as in the rich snippet above the standard listings or the knowledge graph to the side of the results.
On-page SEO is just a small part of overall SEO best practices, but can go a long way in making your content more valuable for users and more effective for your business. For help with your on-page SEO or your website, contact us for a meeting of the MINDs!