On-Page Optimization for the Home Page
When it comes to a dynamic web presence, what are search engines looking for? You want your website to emerge in a way that will positively impact your visitors/customers, as well as Google, Bing, and other search engines. Proper understanding and use of effective SEO can ensure your rankability, market familiarity, and profitability. Google, specifically, uses your on-page content in order to determine your relevance. Which keywords your pages rank for is determined by the content they contain.
Search engines are looking for very specific information when determining your ranking. Through algorithms, they factor in several criteria to place you right where they think you ought to be. Educating yourself on these standards, you will take your place at the top of the list. Some of the elements that determine ranking are:
- Content: Keywords, related topics, sources and graphics all play a huge role in your website’s presence in search engine ranking.
- Performance: How fast is your site and does it work properly? It is vital to consistently evaluate your site as it develops and evolves in order to remain healthy and speedy for your users.
- Authority: Does your site have good enough content to link to? Do other respected and trustworthy sites reference your website as a dependable resource or cite the information that you have available?
- User Experience: How does the site look? Is it attractive and easy to navigate? Does it look safe? Is it plastered with ads and distracting external “grabs”?
Equally as important are the elements to avoid. Some tactics may seem as though they will provide you an easy and flashy catch rate, but these pitfalls can easily trip you up in you SEO game. Avoiding them can only keep your reputation clear and your website respected and solid. Items the search engines don’t want are:
- Keyword “Stuffing”: Overuse and gratuitous placement of keywords on your pages. Sometimes too much of something is just that – too much.
- Purchased Links: Buying links will get you nowhere when it comes to SEO, so be warned.
- Poor User Experience: You want your site to be a pleasing experience for your customers. Ambiguity, lag time, an overabundance of ads and poor site construction/mapping make it difficult for people to find content they’re looking for. Once they’ve entered your site you want them to stay. An unimpressive site with only increase your bounce rate. If you know your bounce rate it will help determine other information about your site. If, for example, your bounce rate is 80 percent or higher and you have commanding content on your website, chances are something is wrong.
Let’s take a look at the tools you will want to use to make your site the forceful presence you know it should be. There are specific elements you will want to keep in mind as the titans of effective SEO ranking. The first of these is your keyword(s). Page title, description, and URL terminology must always contain your target keyword. Keyword strategy is not only important to implement on-site, but should extend to other off-site platforms. Being consistent with keyword phrases will not only help your branding efforts, but also train users to use specific phrases you’re optimizing for.
Having keywords you’re trying to rank for in your domain will only help your overall efforts. Not only does your URL provide additional value to your keywords, it also appears within the search results.
Your URL forms part of the ad which appears for your site in organic search results. That has a direct influence on whether people choose to click your link. It is important to understand that Google shortens longer URLs to make them display neatly. The middle section is hopped over, leaving the most important parts for the user - the domain and the page. With this in mind, you will want to keep your URL short and sweet, or at the very least, as concise as possible. A good test is to see if your URL reflects your page title. Be sure it is clear, includes your main keywords for the page and looks good on page.
In addition to optimizing for the desktop experience, make sure to focus on mobile and tablet optimization as well as other media.
- Create rich media content like video. It is easier to get a video to rank on the first page than it is to get a plain text page to rank.
- Optimize your non-text content so search engines can see it. If your site uses Flash or PDFs, make sure you read up on the latest best practices so search engines can crawl that content and give your site credit for it.
The next important component to consider is your page title – quite possibly the most overlooked yet the longest serving core on-page SEO factor. People search to find a page which contains the content they need. It might be a specific product or information about a product or service. Your page title is the element on the page where it is most important to strike a balance between readability and SEO. It is crucial that your key terms are placed within your title.
While these parts are truly the building blocks of a solid SEO foundation, the greatest part of any website is the readability of the content on page. Your message isn’t just about using the right keywords, but also writing content that's high quality information that people will want to read, share, and link to.
Keywords are important. They are how search engines link what people are searching for to the content ranked for those searches. You need to make sure that the keywords you want to rank for are included in the first 100 words of content. Additionally, you will want to take care to see that the primary and secondary keywords are within your body copy and feature prominently. However, do not fall into the trap of sacrificing quality of the copy to include your keywords. If you find that you are having to try and shoehorn your keywords into the page, you probably have the wrong keywords for the copy. Google looks at the overall meaning of the page, including keywords which don't really fit not going to help you in the long run.
Google breaks your content down and analyzes the relationship between words that are used rather than just the number of times they are repeated; it looks at how those words fit into the overall content of the information on-page.
By keeping your content on-topic and focused on each page you will find that you create content in which the keywords have a strong relationship. This gives a strong indication to Google what the page is about and therefore what it should rank for.
Images possess a few key elements that should also be properly optimized. The first is the image file name. Make this descriptive and unique. Additionally, they have a written description, through the image title and alt tag. These are two HTML elements which provide written information about the image. Take care to ensure the image alt tag uses keywords related to the information on-page. Google uses the content surrounding an image to try and determine its purpose. You want to be certain that this is cohesive and focuses on the same topic.
There is a laundry list of additional considerations to take into account that can put you over the top in your SEO ranking. Linking is at the top of that list. It's not just who links to you that's important, but where you link to. This can affect both relevance and trust. If you're linking out to on-topic sites, that's a good indication that the content is relevant to the terms in question.
Linking out to low quality sites from bad neighborhoods, sends a negative signal to Google. Additionally, no-follow links to poor quality sites are likely to damage rankings.
If your page takes forever to load, it's going to create a poor experience for the user. They are likely to click back to the search results and look for another result. Google recognizes that slow pages provide a poor user experience and therefore incorporate load times as a ranking factor.
Ad placement and inclusion is of vital importance to your site’s searchability and credibility as well. If your page is covered in ads that make the content hard to access or read, it's going to negatively affect rankings. This is a delicate balance for webmasters, as it demands striking a healthy balance between profitability of a page and rankings.
With a keen and careful consideration given to the information you provide, your website can be an industry leader and a standard in the SEO world of visibility. Be vigilant, be intentional, and be seen!