Demystifying the “dark-art” of SEO just a little more.
In part 1 of my SEO for Beginners series, I covered a few simple but crucial on-page elements for Search Engine Optimisation.
By fixing these elements you can get yourself back in the good graces of Google, Yahoo and Bing.
The best part?
If you’re the website owner, you shouldn’t have to spend a dime.
Getting these on-page elements right are an absolute must if you want to get yourself on the map.
There’s absolutely no ifs, ands, or buts about it.
They’re the first port of call for search engines. Zero excuses.
By neglecting these elements, you’ll have search engines hating on your pages, your domain and ultimately your business.
The on-page elements are as below —
- Page title – the first element read by search engine robots. The page title is what helps the robots identify, index and serve pages to users after executing a search. While on page, users don’t see the page title.
- Meta description – the little piece of descriptive text that sits underneath the page title for any given search result. While it doesn’t have a direct impact on SEO, it’s a major usability consideration.
- H1 Tag – the next on-page element the robots look at after the page title. Most likely the heading at the top of the page.
- Content – the text on your page. If the content is well written it will entice your customers to get in touch and eventually pay for your products or services. If not, expect an escalating bounce or exit rate on your page and declining enquiries and/or sales.
Updating these easy-to-fix elements will immediately make your pages sexier to search engine robots.
When they find your pages a bit sexier, they actually serve them to prospective customers when they execute searches.
If you landed on this blog post via natural search, a social channel or directly, you may have missed the first post which you can read here.
For those of you who have read the first post and are up to date, read on!
More on-page elements for beginners
As explained in my last post, when a user executes a search, a robot runs around the search engine index to match the user’s keyword search with elements on-page.
Besides the page title, meta description, H1 tags and content, robots also crawl through the following –
- Page URLS
- Image titles
- Image alt text
- H2s, H3s and beyond
Again, we want to use the same keyword you used for the elements discussed in my first post.
For the abovementioned elements use your keyword again — except for the H tags (I’ll this explain this anomaly below).
Remember, stick to ONE keyword per page.
Don’t make the pages of your website fight each other by putting the same keyword on all of them!
SEO Element 5 – Page URLS (aka links)
The principal to keep in mind with URLs is, the easier it is to read with your own eyeballs, the sexier search engines will find it.
The reason for this is, the search engine leaders of the world such as Google, Yahoo and Bing want the internet to be a great place for its users.
If your URLs are full of numbers, symbols and junk that makes no sense to people, the pages get deprioritized.
The likelihood of those pages being served upon a user’s search crashes right into the pavement.
The great thing is, optimising a URL for users also optimises it for robots — the trick is to keep the URL short and to the point.
Let’s take a look at a few different examples using the keyword “basketball cards” again.
This is good. The keyword “basketball cards” sits in the URL —
This is also good as “basketball cards” is still in the URL —
This is bad —
This is even worse. Don’t ever do this!
And definitely don’t make a domain name and URL so long no one can remember it like the one below. People will just laugh at you. 🙂
TIP: If you stick to URLs humans can read you’ll be rewarded for it.
Remember, URLs are displayed in search results.
If they convey meaning or give the user a sense of what the page is about, the robots will love you for it! Keep the URLs as short as you can.
If the CMS you’re using automates URL generation, switch it off as soon as possible. Write the URLs yourself.
SEO Element 6 – Image titles
Image titles are an aspect of SEO often overlooked by beginners.
They’re, often labelled by beginners as image_01.jpg or pic.23.png.
The reason may be the website owner is trying to make it easier for themselves to manage the hundreds or even thousands of images on their site.
The problem is, you’re throwing an awesome opportunity away for people to find your site and your business.
You want to create as many pathways to your site as you can to improve your traffic and your chances of sales.
If you own an e-commerce store with thousands of photos of products, this is especially important.
What you need to do is label the image by using the keyword by which you want it to be found.
This time, I’m going to change the keyword example to “fairy wings.”
Searching for fairy wings under Google images, gives me the below. As expected there are zillions of images under the keyword search.
I like the look of the purple pair of wings in the top left corner so I click that.
It reveals a link to a web page (below).
I click the link and it leads me to a page about “fairy wings.”
Note how the page URL and the H1 (circled below) both contain the keywords “fairy wings.”
Now look at the actual image URL! Fairy wings again!
I wouldn’t say this page with fairy wings is the best I’ve ever seen.
In fact, as an e-commerce store it could do with a lot of improvement in the usability department (on arrival I couldn’t even find a CTA).
What I can say is, the image has been optimised correctly, simply because I was able to find it.
TIP: When you’re labelling your images make sure you front-load the image title with your keywords.
Remember to always use hyphens. The format fairy-wings.jpg works best.
Search engines don’t like underscores or periods. This is a no-no: fairy.wings.jpg or fairy_wings.jpg.
Finally, make the images as light as you possibly can. A slow website due to heavy images upsets search engines. Websites that take forever to load also annoy users.
Don’t drive potential customers away by pissing them off with pages that take forever to load!
SEO Element 7 – Image alt text
Again, image alt text is often ignored…mainly because a lot of people don’t understand what it is!
What an image title is, is completely obvious. But alt text is understandably more elusive and often forgotten about.
To explain, the leading search engines want to make the internet a friendly place for all users and this includes the visually impaired.
If a visually impaired person arrives at your site, the way they experience your website is via a screen reader.
A screen reader is an app that reads all the text on the page out loud to the visually impaired person.
They experience your site by listening to the app that reads to them.
Because images themselves can not be read as text, the screen reader will read the alt text if it is present in the page’s code.
If the image is this —
— the appropriate alt text would be: Image of great white shark jumping out of water.
If the image is this —
— the appropriate alt text would be: Image of dog wearing cape flying above clouds like Superman.
I’m certain there are more colourful and exciting ways to write an alt text description, but you get my point.
TIP: Front-load your alt text description with your keyword and make sure it’s an interesting description to your visually impaired user.
Search engines reward the presence of quality alt text.
SEO Element 8 – More H tags
In my first post, I covered usage of the H1 tag and its importance to search engine robots.
The H1 helps robots identify what your page is really about and in turn, helps the robots serve the page when it’s searched for by a user.
But the H1 isn’t the only H tag you can use on your page. H tags range from H1 through to H6.
The H2 through to H6 tag works much in the same way as the H1. The robots crawl it and use the information to help index the page.
The difference is that H2s through to H6s aren’t anywhere near as high on the priority list for SEO robots as the H1.
What you should use H2 to H6 tags for is to break up long passages of text for the purpose of usability.
Break up the text to make reading easier for human beings AND to make scanning easier for robots.
TIP: H2 tags should be used as subheadings of a H1.
H3 tags should be used as a subheading of H2 and so on and so forth up to a H6.
If dropping a keyword into a H2 through to a H6 contributes to the reading experience, go ahead and do it.
Otherwise don’t. It will start to look like SPAM really fast if the keyword is present in all headings.
The “dark-art” of SEO, demystified, just a little bit more.
I hope this article has helped you identify a few more on-page elements you can fix yourself.
These basic elements come secondary to the elements I discussed in my first article, but they’re still factors to work on and improve.
If you want to climb the search ranking ladder and reach the top, you need to be holistic and pay attention to every last detail. Leave no stone unturned.
Time to revise? Go back to my first article here.
If you’re an SEO pro, feel free to let me know if I’ve missed anything.
If you’re an SEO beginner, let me know if you found this article helpful. Feel free to share using the social share buttons.