On-page SEO: Main elements of influence

on-page-seo-optimizationThe two major areas your SEO efforts can aim at are on-page or off-page optimization. While the first targets the structure and content of your own site you can directly influence, the latter works on elements under the control of your readers, visitors and other publishers. In this article we are going to take a closer look at the on-page SEO elements.

Content

Search engines try to identify the sites which deliver good content to the users. With a target group in mind try to identify the major keywords people will be looking for and write your content around it. An optimal length is about 300-400 words for an article, preferable with new topics and issues included. In terms of keyword density 2-3% are recommended. The ratio being to low will cause that your article is not associated with the respective topic. Overshooting can lead to a penalty in the search engine ranking.

HTML Elements

Looking at the HTML structure there various elements you have to take into consideration for optimization purposes:

Element Description
URL A clean URL should include the keywords and all stop words have to removed. For readability for users it is recommend to use a separator such as “-” between words.
Meta title This information is shown as the title of the browser when the site is opened as well as the header of the search result. Maximum length should be 70 letters. It should include the main keyword and a “good reason” to visit the the site.
Meta description The meta description should advertise and summarize the content of the page/article with a maximum of 160 letters. Each page should have an individual description to guide users and crawlers. It will be also shown in in the search engine result page with the search terms highlighted.
Meta keywords Meta key words played an important role in the beginning of search engines. However, nowadays the don’t take a vital position but it is still recommend to fill them with your major keywords to give a general guidance to crawlers.
Headers (h1, h2, …) Headers indicate the hierarchy of the article and search engines tend to rank elements on a higher level better. Recognizing the relevant keywords in the main headers also reassures users that it is worth spending the time to read the content.
Document Text Using the key words in the text shows again that users have arrived on the right page. However, focus should be on the quality of the writing to attract users to return and re-link the page.
Image keywords and alternative description As images by themselves are not yet searchable the file name and the alt attribute should be used to give an indication of the content and to put emphases on the relevant key words again.

Architecture

In terms of the technical setup for on-page SEO it has to be made sure, that your CMS or page structure provides easy accessibility and understandable content for search engine crawlers.  Again URLs should be clean and meaningful, the speed of your site has to be appropriate. Also make sure that the viewing experience for mobile visitors is adapted accordingly. An absolute no-go is cloaking of content (different output for human users and search engines) which is penalized strongly.

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