There are two main areas that search engines consider when they’re deciding how to rank your page:
The first is the stuff you have on your page and how relevant that is to what people are searching for. We call these on-page factors. The good thing with these is that you can optimize them pretty easily… it’s simply a case of editing your website.
The second thing the search engines look at is how popular your site is on the internet. How many other sites are linking to you? Do you have big, important sites linking to you? What text do they use in your link? These factors are called the off-page factors. (We’ll talk about these in the next lesson.)
In my experience the off-page factors are more important than the on-page factors in determining your rankings, but on-page factors are still important. You’re unlikely to get to the #1 spot in Google purely because of your on-page factors, but they could mean the difference between being on page 5 or page 1, or being ranked 1st or 5th on page 1, so that’s still pretty important.
Below are the 6 critically essential on-the-page search engine optimization factors:
#1: Include the keyword phrase that you are optimizing for in your
<title></title> tags indicate the title of your webpage. Your title doesn’t actually appear in the main part of your page, but it does show up at the top of the browser window, and the clickable text that appears at the top of your search listing in the search engines. It’s really important that your
<title> tags contain the keywords that you’re optimizing that particular page for. It gives the search engines a strong clue as to what your page is about.
If you have written an article about how to stop a dog from digging, then the title of the page could be:
How to stop a dog from digging | Stop Dog Digging.
Note how I used the | separator to add in some extra keywords: this is a nice, natural way of doing it.
Another example: This time for an article targeting the keywords: World of Warcraft Mining Guide. Simply make the title of the page
World of Warcraft Mining Guide.
I know this sounds very obvious, but if I had a dollar for every time I saw a page called “
Page 1“, “
Untitled Document“, or “
#2: Include the keyword phrase that you are optimizing for in your
H1 tags are like headlines in a newspaper: The search engines read them first to find out what your page is about. If the search engine spiders find your important keywords in your <h1> tags, your page will be seen as more relevant for that search term.
Unfortunately many people don’t use H1 tags on their sites because the default styling of an H1 tag is rather big and ugly. In reality it’s very easy to style these tags with CSS so that they look good in your site AND capture the attention of the web spiders.
#3: Include the keyword phrase in your first 50 words (not counting header tags)
Many search engines pay more attention to the first 50 words on your page than to the rest of your content, so make sure that you’ve included your keywords at least once within the first 50 words (not including your headings).
#4: Include your keyword phrase at least once every 100 words in the text of your page. (ie. Keyword density at least 1%).
The days of appealing to the search engines by “keyword stuffing” your webpage are long gone, but you should still ensure that your keywords appear a few times in the course of your page. I recommend somewhere between a 1% and 4% keyword density. Don’t go any higher than this, or your site will look like a spam site to the search engines, and may be penalized. You can analyze the keyword density of a page in Traffic Travis, under the Page Analysis » Words & Links tabs.
#5: Include your keywords in your internal links
You might have heard of “Google bombing”, where many people link to a certain page using certain text and boost that page to the top of the search engines, even though that page might be on a completely different subject. This is because search engines use the words in your link text (otherwise known as “anchor text”) to figure out the nature of the page you’re linking to.
This can be used to your advantage in your on-page SEO efforts, giving your pages a little boost for your keywords.
For instance, how many sites have you visited where you get back to the home page of the site by clicking a big “home” link? Quite a few, I bet. All these sites are missing out on some easy, free keyword optimization. They’re optimizing their home page for “home” when they should be optimizing it for their main keyword. You could change the “home” text to read “Dog training home”, or “Pie recipes home”, thereby giving yourself a boost for “dog training” or “pie recipes”. If your keyword for a page is “stop cat scratching”, then link to it from your menu using the text “Stop Cat Scratching”, or “How to stop your cat scratching”.
The same goes for all pages on your site. Don’t ever link to a page on your site using “Click here” unless you want to rank well for “click here”!
#6: Use good, original content on your site
The search engines don’t want to display twenty sites with the same content. It doesn’t provide a good experience for their users. So you’ll find that many search engines have what we call “duplicate content penalties” for sites that seem to be displaying content very similar to content on another website. They’re not really penalties as such… your whole site isn’t going to be banished to a dark corner… but it probably won’t rank very highly in the search results.
So what do you do if your content is the same as someone else’s? This happens quite often, particularly if you’re using content from private label rights (PLR) articles, where hundreds of other people might be doing the same thing. The trick is to reword the article to make it unique. Shuffle the paragraphs, use synonyms, and try to change the article at least 25%, and preferably 50% to be on the safe side.
The other option, of course, is to write your own content or get it written for you. Try to get the best quality content that you can for your site, because the search engines will also pay attention to how long people spend reading your site: The longer they stay, the more relevant your site looks. If they “bounce” away immediately, the search engines might think that your site isn’t a very good fit.
There are a few other on-page factors that have a bearing on your site rankings, but in general the six we’ve just discussed are the most important.