How to Optimize Your Webpage for SEO
It’s essential to optimize your webpage for SEO if you want to grow organic search results.
Here are 11 key elements you need to make each page of your website work as hard as possible for you. The elements are grouped into 3 categories.
Critical elements reflect “must have” information. Important information helps your page rank higher. The remaining, nice to have, elements help engage readers and improve site value that way.
Don’t be tempted to skip any of the steps because you think it will save money or time. The value of your website is the consistent practice of these strategies.
Critical SEO Items to Optimize Your Page
There are three critical elements to optimizing your website.
- Use the keyword in the title tag
- Long clicks vs pogo sticking
We’ll look at each of these three elements for our target page and review its strengths and weaknesses.
Use the Keyword in the Title Tag
SEO META in 1 Click is a free Chrome extension that shows you the metadata of a page.
Let’s use Wikipedia’s page on Abraham Lincoln for our example.
As you can see in the screenshot, the page’s title tag uses the keyword, Abraham Lincoln. Since this page ranks #1 in Google searches, this title tag doesn’t need to be updated.
However, you can see that the tag is only 27 characters.
To optimize your website, each page title tag should have between 50 – 60 characters, including spaces. It also helps to add the brand after the subject, like the way “Wikipedia” ends the tag above.
Long Clicks vs Pogo Sticking
This is more audience controlled rather something the site writers and designers control.
However, you can influence the long click, the effect of keeping people on the page, through various content, formatting and design elements.
Make sure your keyword is correctly selected for the page. When a visitor goes to your page, they need to know in less than three seconds that this page contains information they want.
An easy to read, conversational writing style will also help draw their attention and keep them on your page longer.
Use formatting to break up the page, add white space and give their eyes a break from a wall of text.
You can see how the page on Lincoln uses headers, bold text and links in blue to create breaks.
The headers allow a reader to skim and go directly to content they are most interested in.
The page also uses pictures on the right side of the page to draw a reader’s interest and provide helpful information. These elements help keep a reader’s presence on your page.
You could optimize your website by using the from this page, but also changing the placement. The Wikipedia page still looks like a wall of text. Placing pictures between paragraphs or using tables and numbered lists are additional ways of breaking up the text. They still provide valuable information, but also help keep a visitor’s attention.
Google rewards websites that keep information up-to-date fresh. In fact, they’ve added an algorithm called QDF, query deserves freshness. Google uses this to rank important news and information higher than older content.
When updating a webpage, add fresh content and delete anything that may be old or outdated.
Add a new published date, but don’t change the URL. The new date will help readers know the information is up-to-date as well. Many news pages use this technique to keep stories current without creating new pages.
You should also promote fresh content through email newsletter, social media or paid advertising.
Wikipedia includes a tab that shows a history of page updates. Here, users updated the page over 500 times between February and July 2020.
These three items are critical to keeping your website optimized for SEO. They prove the site’s value to readers and therefore gain credibility and ranking with Google.
Optimize Your Webpage with Important Information
Several items on the checklist will help improve your page’s SEO. These aren’t critical like the previous items, but including them in your content can make a difference.
The three items important for website optimization are:
- Using the keyword in the H1 tag
- Using internal links
- Depth of Coverage
Let’s look at each of these.
Use the Keyword in the H1 Tag
The H1 tag is the page title. This is like the paper title or news article. It gives your reader an immediate idea what the page is about and should draw their interest.
The H1 tag is often the same as the title tag, but may be different.
The tag may include a close variation of the keyword rather than being an exact match.
One mistake that some page builders make is failing to include an H1 tag on the page or making it a weak title.
When writing content, include links to other pages and information on the same domain.
These internal links build credibility within the site you are working on. They lead readers and search engines to more relevant information on your site.
The anchor text (used to create the hyperlink) should be keywords on the page when possible.
However, the content should sound natural and flow freely. If you need to adjust the anchor text to keep the reader’s attention, do so.
A look at the Wikipedia page on Lincoln shows many links. They all take a user to a new page on Wikipedia for more information.
Depth of Coverage
Depth of coverage is a little tricky. Most people will tell you they don’t like to read long pages heavy with text. Your page should be long enough to answer their questions and satisfy their curiosity. However, don’t add unnecessary information just to increase the word count.
Google also rewards pages that are longer and cover the material related to the keywords on the page.
You can use headings and tables to help guide a reader to the information that is important to them without it feeling like hard work for them. However, you provide the information, make sure it is relevant and covers the topic of the page.
Wikipedia shows depth of coverage and guides readers to the most important information by using a table of contents found just under the page introduction.
Nice to Have Items for Webpage Optimization
Five items have some impact on SEO and are nice-to-have pieces. They are less about gaining Google’s attention and more about holding your reader’s attention. When you can use these elements to your advantage, they will help improve your webpages’ optimization.
These 5 items are:
- Using the keyword in the image alt text
- Using the keyword in the meta description
- Using the keyword in the URL
- Using an easy readability level
- Using different media
Let’s take a quick look at each of these.
Keyword in Image Alt Text
Images should include descriptive alternative text. This text shows when the image won’t load, the visitor is using a screen reader or when you hover your mouse over the picture.
It is useful if the alt text includes the page’s keywords. However, it’s more important the text describes the picture.
You’ll want to use a clear description. Using “A man” is a weak description. On this page, you’ll see the alt text is “An iconic photograph of a bearded Abraham Lincoln showing his head and shoulders.” A screen reader or person reading the text should have an obvious idea of what the picture and why it’s important to the page.
Keyword in Meta Description
The meta description is a short, compelling statement that describes the content on the page. Google uses it in search results so visitors know the page topic.
Ideally, the meta description is between 50 and 160 characters. While is doesn’t directly impact SEO, a good meta description will help draw your target visitors to your page.
If you don’t specify a meta description, Google may automatically create one for the page. Google’s description may not say what matches for your purpose for the page.
Our example page doesn’t have a meta description. Adding this information is a way you could improve a page you are updating.
Keyword in URL
If possible, you’ll want to include the page’s keyword or a close match in the URL. This helps Google identify the topic of the page to determine its relevance in search results.
If you are creating a new page with a new URL, write one that is descriptive and uses your keywords.
It’s important to note that you do not want to change the URL of a page you are updating. If you believe it’s necessary, get help from someone with expertise in technical SEO.
The reading level of the page doesn’t directly affect SEO. However, if a page is difficult to read, the visitors won’t stay to read the material. Bounce rates will probably increase and pogo sticking will increase.
Will Newman, one of AWAI’s copywriters and instructors, calls this his secret weapon for writing. A reading level of 5.0 describes content written at the 5th-grade level and is easy to read. A rating of 10.0 or higher is difficult to read.
It’s a good idea to keep your writing 5.0 and 8.0.
Use of Media
Using videos and pictures is also good for keeping a visitor’s attention on your page. A how-to video can help a visitor see a process you may be discussing.
Relevant pictures help explain points. They also break up text to make it easier for a visitor to read.
Using media is not part of Google’s algorithm, but it helps keep a reader’s attention, a critical goal for a webpage.
In this article we showed how the On-Page SEO Checklist applies to a live site. Wikipedia’s page on Abraham Lincoln averages between 10,000-30,000 views daily and is a well-optimized webpage.
The webpage you write does not need to achieve all items on the checklist to be optimized. Your most important job is to write for your target reader. Make the page interesting and valuable for them.
If you are interested in receiving an analysis of your website, reach out and contact me. Let’s see if I can help you.