Trying to diagnose what is wrong with a particular webpage can be incredibly difficult. There are a number of issues that could be causing a drop in rankings and traffic. Below is a checklist of what you should review to determine if there is an issue with your on-page SEO.
1) Review Your Title Tags
The title tag is one of the most important areas of your page. It serves as the attention grabber in the SERPs and is used by search engines to determine relevance of that page. If you just list a bunch of keywords that you’re hoping to drive traffic for then you’re not doing it right. This is valuable ad space and should be treated as such. Put yourself in the position of the individual doing the search, would you click on it what’s there?
There are various schools of thought as to what the proper way to use a title tag is, here are just a few ways you can organize it:
- Many still favor the pipe ” | ” method of separating first and secondary keywords such as this:
- Keyword 1 | Keyword 2 | Company Name
- You can use a hyphen ” – ” to separate keywords like this:
- Keyword 1 – Keyword 2 – Company Name
- The third method is a mixture of the above techniques and uses both hyphen and pipe
- Keyword 1 – Keyword 2 | Company Name
A fourth approach that we’re starting to see more of is borrowing from the AdWords mindset and looks a lot like ad copy:
- Keyword 1 is a great way to relax | Company Name
- Browse Hundreds of Keyword 1 Online | Company Name
I have seen many different combinations of title tags work over the years, the main takeaway from this should be that you avoid keyword stuffing and try to have your main keyword as close to the left (the beginning) as possible.
2) Check The Header Tags
The H1 Tag
After you have chosen a suitable title tag to use for your page the next step should be choosing an H1 tag further highlights what the page is about. Second in order of importance to the title tag, the H1 tag lets readers (and search engines) know what they’re about to read. You don’t necessarily need to copy the title tag verbatim but you should include your focus keyword here.
- Keyword 1 Is A Great Way To Relax When You’re On Vacation
- Hundreds of Keyword 1 Are Available Online, Shop Now
There are different mindsets as to the optimal length of an H1 tag; I have seen shorter ones rank well and I have seen full sentences rank well. I personally try to keep them under 80 characters and include the keyword as close to the left (beginning) as possible. Also, there should only be one H1 tag per page.
The H2 Tag
If you have a particular page that has a lot of content on it then you’ll want to break that up into sections to make the information easier to digest. The H1 tag will serve to let someone know what the entire page is about while the H2 tags highlight each section of that page. Take this page that you’re reading for example; the H1 tag is On-Page SEO Checklist and there are several H2 tag underneath that. Each one calling attention to a particular section of what you should look at when reviewing your website. There are even some H3 tags which serve to further organize the data on this page.
Here is an example of how you can use these different tags:
- <h1>Your Keyword 1 Title Will Go Here</h1>
- <h2>Your Supporting Keyword or First Section Will Go Here</h2>
- <h2>Further Supporting Keyword Sections May Go Here</h2>
The main idea with header tags is that you want to use them to separate your content into sections so it’s easier to read and reference.
3) Take A Closer Look At Your Images
Pictures are a great a get way to both attract visitors as well as visually describe what a particular page is talking about. Your image selection may include multiple variations including screenshots, cartoons and pictures (photographs). Whatever you decide to adorn your page with just make sure you are taking the following steps to fully optimize them.
- Check to see that the images file name is a description of what the image actually is. For example, you may choose to add a picture of construction works building a house as a clever play on words for manual link building. The image should be titled: construction-workers-building-a-house.jpg or whatever file extension you decide to use.
- Add meta data to the image
- The title and description elements of an image help to further discern what the image is about and how it’s related to your pages content.
- Add a caption to the image
- This is a brief one to two sentences that appear under the image and is another chance to include your keyword.
- Sometimes it may be easier to link an image to a particular page rather than using anchor text. The visual cue may yield a higher CTR (click through rate) than words alone.
4) What Does Your Internal Linking Structure Look Like?
Links are a great way to navigate within a website and the internet itself. The general rule of thumb for websites is that you should be able to get to any page on a site within three clicks, any more than that and you risk losing the interest of your visitor. Here is a breakdown of how I try to arrange links on a website:
Whether you’re using top or side bar navigation, you should make sure that it’s consistent and appears on every page. The main goal is to make it easy for a visitor to navigate your website from any page that they’re on.
If you write a page of content that references another page you have, you can link to that page within the text by using keyword rich anchor text. Be careful not to abuse this as anything that looks spammy will not rank well. They only time it’s acceptable to link out to multiple pages is when you have a category landing page.
Category Landing Page
These pages serve as an overview for particular categories which include a brief description and links to other pages that fall in that category. For example, an exterminator may have a services page that gives an overview of what they do and the different services they provide and link to those individual service pages; Termite Control, Rodent Removal, etc.
5) What Information Should Go In The Footer?
Think of the footer as another chance to help your visitor navigate your site. The footer of a website usually contains navigational links, contact information NAP (name, address, phone number) and copyright info. Some websites also include links to a disclaimer and HTML sitemap. Do not use this area to stuff keywords or hide text as it is a shady practice and you will be penalized for that.
Here you can put navigation links (sans drop-downs) to category level pages so visitors at the bottom of your website don’t have to scroll up to get to another page on your site.
Listing your Name, Address and Phone Number are necessary when you own a business. Providing methods of contact such as a phone number and an email address allow users more ways to reach out to you. Listing your address shows Google that you’re have a physical brick and mortar location and will help you in terms of local search.
With so many different types of websites and businesses online today it can be difficult to find exactly what it is you’re looking for. When you decide to build a website, make sure you follow these steps for clarity and consistency:
- Make sure that the keyword you choose is close to the left in your title tag and H1 tags. Search engines tend to put more importance on terms that begin with a keyword.
- Images should have proper file names that describe what the picture is about
- Internal links should be consistent when used for navigation, cautiously when used on page
- A good footer will most likely reflect the header in terms of contact information.
There you have it, five steps to review when considering the health of your on-page SEO. What are some things you look for when reviewing a website?