On-Page Search Engine Optimization for SMB Owners

On-page search engine optimization refers to the ways you can optimize the HTML code and structure of your web page to capitalize on search engine algorithms at a given point in time. As search engines change their algorithms to enforce existing best practices and impose even more rules as time goes on, optimizing your web content will continue to be an important factor in search engine marketing well into the future.

Always Publish High Quality Content

Google, and theoretically other search engines, will lower page rank for sites with lower quality content. The main intent of all previous Google algorithm updates, such as Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, was to increase the quality of SERPs presented to users. The only way to provide users with the highest quality SERPs is to ensure that the sites listed on the first page of search results contain high quality information.

As Google is the currently arbiter of web quality, closely follow Google’s guidelines for what they consider to be high quality content. For example, Google recommends removing low quality pages from your promoted site. Consider moving lower quality pages to another, not so prominent domain.

When the time comes to optimize your on-page SEO factors, consider going over all content with a fine-tooth comb. Replace any poorly written content and remove any content that could be considered “spammy” by Google’s standards. If Google deems your content to be low quality, your site’s page rank will suffer. Your readers deserve high quality information so meet both objectives by always presenting the highest quality content that you can generate.

No matter how tempted you may be to create content exclusively for Google and the other search engines, resist this temptation. Always create your content for humans – not for search engines. Ultimately, the human user is your customer, not Google or any other search engine. However, you will need to optimize your content for search engines so your human customers can find you.

Reduce Number of Above-the-Fold Ads

Google penalizes sites for being overly heavy on ads, particularly ads that are “above-the-fold,” or in the top half of the page. Reduce the number of ads on landing and home pages to improve the content quality of your site and subsequently increase your site’s search engine page rank.

Utilize Landing Pages

Landing pages are brief, concise pages that address a single topic or keyword phrase. Creating effective landing pages that represent keyword phrases you use for your campaigns is key to obtaining and maintaining a desirable page ranking. Focus on one keyword phrase or concept per landing page. Create a landing page for each of the keyword phrases you seek to dominate. Research the competition’s keyword selections, and then create landing pages for those as well. Utilizing the same keyword phrase in the URL of the landing page will boost your page even higher in rank.

Mobilize Your Site

If you have not already done so, optimize your main site for mobile devices. Google is now including load time and performance as factors in the page rank formula. If your site does not load quickly or does not render appropriately on mobile devices, your page rank will surely suffer. As more users move to mobile, more weight will most likely be given to these factors in the future.

Make the Most Out Of Meta Elements

Though meta-tags generally will not greatly affect page rank, well-conceived meta elements can improve your conversion rates. The most prevalent meta element of any web page is the page title, however, the meta-description provides a considerable amount of value to search engine users.

The meta-description is the snippet of text that users see along with the link when your site is listed in the SERPs. Use this description to convey as much information as possible to potential customers. After all, the most important metric is not how high your page ranks in the SERPS, but rather the conversion rate of search engine users to actual customers. Include critical information about your product or service, such as your location and phone number, in the meta-description of each landing page, particularly if your business is location-based. You may find that you obtain new customers without so much as a click-through to your site.

Alt text is another meta element that can improve your site’s on-page SEO. Many people are aware of the importance of using the Alt tag to describe images to make the graphics available to screen readers and other devices used by the visually impaired. However, did you know that Alt tags can also be used to describe hyperlinks? Describe each image and link with an Alt tag, incorporating keywords as they would naturally occur if you were describing the picture or link to a friend.

Internal Links

Before Google’s Penguin update, SEO pros sung the praises of internal links. However, when Google began to penalize sites for overuse of this strategy, many webmasters started to shy away from linking to pages within their own site. Internal links are still very important to page rank. Just be sure to link identifying phrases to applicable content within your site.

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