SEO – On Page Factors

Posted by: Matt Koulas

While there are many elements of SEO, they can be broken down into two main categories: on-page factors, and off-page factors. On page SEO elements are things which you, the designer or site owner, can control directly. Off page factors are a bit different, but are even more valuable. Some off page factors you can control, and some are a bit more out of your hands.

SEOmoz.com conducted research where they surveyed experts in the search engine optimization field who estimated the value of on-page SEO elements at only about 15-20% of an overall SEO campaign. So what makes up on-page elements?

URL/Filename

The URL of a page is one of the more important factors you can control. The filename (page.html) should include your keyword in a short, but descriptive manner. Additionally, you should list the files in a folder that relates directly to the page topic. Folders should be named the general topic (i.e. /phone-systems/), with pages in that folder being named, and about subjects under the general topic (i.e. small-business-phone-systems.html).

Title Tags

Title tags are the next most important on-page factor. The page title should include at least your main overall keyword for that page, as well as a brief description of the topic or call to action for the user. There is also direct correlation between the location of your keyword to the front of your page title, to how high your page ranks in the search engine result pages.

Images with Alt Text

Images can be another important element in your SEO plan. While text in your images cannot be crawled by a search engine, you can add alt=”" and title=”" HTML tags which are descriptive tags to help with user experience, especially for users with disabilities.

Content & Keywords

There’s a saying, “Content is king.” This can be true, but great content doesn’t necessarily guarantee you great search results or great traffic. Great content should be used to generate in-bound links (which ties into off-page SEO factors). If your content is average, it should at the very least be unique and valuable to users. Your content should be keyword-focused, though not keyword-stuffed.

H1 Tags

While H1 tags are becoming increasingly less valuable for SEO purposes, they still maintain a low level of value, and are important from a usability perspective, to show users which section of the page is the most important, and to display article headings. Best practice, is one H1 tag per page.

Styled Text

Styled text, such as bold and italic text should be used sparingly but also to appropriately attract attention. These items are not valued as highly, but are again, valuable for user-experience.

META Data

META tags have varied value to the search engines in your optimization campaign. The META Keywords tag is reportedly only used by Yahoo these days, and have drawbacks as potentially giving your keyword research to your competitors. With Yahoo having a slim and dying market share in the search market, they may be better to avoid altogether. The META Description tag however, is very useful, as the content in this tag is what is displayed in the search engine results page underneath your title tag.

In conclusion, on-page elements are important for search engine optimization, yet they are only a small portion of the overall SEO picture. This is meant as a guideline, and each of these listings can be delved into deeper. These items also tie directly into usability and user-experience best practices. These elements help users identify important content, identify topics, get information even if they are disabled, and keep information architecture clear. The better you design your site, pages, and content – the better your SEO campaign will do.

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