On-Site Factors in Search Engine Optimization
Many people worry most about obtaining external links to their websites in order to maximize SEO. However, do not overlook the great importance of what you control on your site with respect to optimization.
There are three major factors within a site that have the most significant impact on search engine optimization. All three are very important, and I’ll address each in no particular order.
The title of a page is not the same as it’s headline. The title is part of the meta data of a page. It appears in the very top portion of a browser window. The search engine robots find it as part of the title tag, which is normally not read by your website’s visitors.
In that meta data it will appear as such:
I may change it at some point in the future, but right now the title of this page is «SEO On-Site Factors.» So, this is the way it looks in the meta data:
The page title serves as an easy to decipher clue to the search engines about what the topic of the page is. We want the title to be accurate to give a correct idea to the search engines. The title is also the default setting for the name that will go into a bookmark list should a visitor decide to mark the page as a favorite.
In addition to selecting an accurate title, you should include one or more search terms for which you would like the page to rank (be found by searchers).
The search engine robots are able to «see» only alpha-numeric characters, although there are efforts to build robots that can determine the content of images, videos, audios, etc. For now, though, they can read only the words and numbers that appear in the page’s source code. Of course, that includes «alt descriptions» for images and tags (keywords) that you attach to rich media such as videos.
Whenever you create a page you need to use your keyword or key phrase often enough for the search algorithm to consider it part of the topic. However, do not try to overuse your keywords or the search algorithm may classify that use as «keyword spam» and penalize the page.
Generally writing well for a human reader will also happen to employ the keyword sufficiently, but if you want hard numbers try these guidelines:
- Use the keyword or phrase at least once in a headline or a sub-headline.
- Try to use it at least one time in the opening paragraph (second paragraph at least).
- Try to use it approximately three times in the area «above the fold,» the area that appears for the human viewer without having to scroll down the page.
Internal links include your navigation menu links. Search algorithms assume that the text that is linked, called either the linking text or the anchor text, is a descriptive name for the page to which it points. Thus, all of the links on your navigation menu must be decided upon with that in mind. Whenever you decide upon particular wording for a link, ask yourself, «Will this be clear to a visitor, and is this what I want a search engine to think the landing page is about?»
All of this is equally true to links from the content of your other pages as well. Consequently, if you want to put a link in a sentence such as, «Go to this page for information about our blue widgets,» don’t use the words, «this page» as your linking text. Instead, make sure that your anchor text includes the description of the content. In other words, link «blue widgets» or even «information about our blue widgets.»
Having many links pointing to a page is better than having just a few. That is one advantage that a large site has over a small one. (That, by itself, should not be taken as a mandate for only building large sites. Indeed, small sites have their own set of unique advantages.)