(Originally posted 1/5/2013, updated 9/13/2016)
As we discussed in our previous blog post, there are two types of basic search engine optimization (SEO)—on-page vs off-page SEO. In this post, I’d like to delve into the six individual components of on-page SEO techniques, what they are, and how they’re used.
1. Page Titles
Page titles are one of the most important basic on-page SEO factors. Page titles are the text you see at the top of your browser window when viewing a Web page. They are also the title of the page that is presented in search engines.
Page titles can be found and edited in your site’s HTML. The text that is surrounded with the <title> tag is your page’s title. The following are guidelines for devising good page titles:
- Include keywords that are relevant to your recruiting firm. Think along the lines of someone searching for your service using a search engine (like Google or Bing). Think of the words that get to the core of your service.
- Make your page titles less than 55 characters long. Longer page titles will not be seen in your Web browser or in Google search results. Also, if you make your page title too long, it will dilute the importance of the keywords included.
- Put the best keywords as close to the beginning of the title as possible.
- Make it readable and understandable for job seekers and clients. It needs to make sense.
- Use different page titles for each page within your website. Why? Because each page is an opportunity to target different keywords and the page titles should be consistent with the content on the page.
2. Meta Descriptions
The meta description is the text seen as the description of a site (or page within that site) in a Google search. These words attract a searcher’s attention and indicate if a search result is relevant or not. It’s a recommended practice to include important keywords in your meta descriptions. By setting a meta description for your page, you control the text that users see when they are searching in a search engine. If a meta description is not set, the search engine will often use the first one or two sentences on the page as a meta description. This is not ideal because the search engine is just guessing what the page is about. It is best to tell them exactly what is the most important information in about 150 to 160 characters.
3. Header Tags
If a piece of text appears bigger or more prominent than the other text on a page, it’s probably part of a heading. You can verify this by checking the HTML code of your website, and seeing if the text has a <h1>, <h2>, or <h3> tag surrounding it. Text in the headings is more likely to be read by search engines as keywords than text in the rest of the page.
Search engine robots look at page titles first and then turn to header tags to learn what the page is about. An <h1> tag is the most important information under the title tag. The rest of the header tags decrease in a decreasing order.
To get a better ranking in search engines, make sure that the web page headings contain all (or the most important) keywords that are relevant for that page or the paragraph below the heading. If the same keywords are repeated in the paragraph following the heading, the page will receive a boost in ranking. Be careful to not stuff too many keywords into one page though. Search engines will penalize you for trying to manipulate the system, but you can use your keywords often without any harm.
4. Images and Pictures
Images on a Web page can definitely enhance the user experience. However, when using images and pictures, please keep the following in mind:
- Don’t use too many images. Using more pictures means that your page may take longer to load, which has a negative impact on the user experience and overall on-page SEO.
- Include ALT tags for every picture. Search engines do not “read” images; the robots that crawl websites only read text. If you add pictures, make sure they contain ALT text, which is an HTML attribute that can be added to pictures so the search engines replace those images with the associated text.
- Use keywords in your image file name. This will help draw in relevant traffic from image searches. Make sure to separate the different keywords in the file name with a dash (-).
5. Domain Information
Search engine rankings favor sites that are connected to quality links, exact-match keyword domains, and registered for a long period of time. Google and Bing are always looking to provide the most relevant pages for their users. For this reason, the reward pages for being linked to other trusted sites. Keywords are important, but it is also a good practice to have an exact-match keyword as your domain name. A domain name like topITrecruiters.com will help you rank higher when users are searching for top IT recruiters. Also, longer domain registration periods indicate a commitment to the site, which also indicates that it’s less likely to be a spammer site. Therefore, link your pages to other quality sites, be strategic when setting up domain names, and extend your website registration to receive an on-page SEO boost just short of guaranteed SEO rankings.
6. URL Structure
The URL of a web page is its web address. For example, the Big Biller Recruiting software URL is https://www.topechelon.com/recruiting-software/. The URL structure of a website is about how the different URLs connect with each other.
Unfortunately, improving your site’s URL structure is one of the more difficult aspects of on-page SEO. The methods of fixing these issues depend entirely on the back-end parts of your website, such as your content management system or programming framework.