This blog post is my attempt to an overview of natural and organic OnPage SEO optimization techniques divided into three major aspects of website development:
- Optimizing your pages’ coding
- Optimizing your pages’ contents
- Optimizing your site’s architecture
Optimizing your pages’ coding for search engines:
- Use meaningful, optimized, short and unique title for each page. Best and optimized meta title length would be below 60 characters
- Use unique meta description tag for each page relevant to that page. Write this for human viewers – not search engines. This is the snippet that usually shows up in search results for your site. Best and optimized meta description tag should have around 160 characters. No more
- Ensure that your coding is Valid HTML and CSS according to W3C standards. Use the W3C online validator at http://validator.w3.org/
- This one is little tricky based on site’s design. But try to achieve it if you can. The code for the navigation bar/s should be at the bottom of the HTML code above the footer. The content and sidebar code should be crawled by search engine bots before the navigation code.
- Keep the final/rendered html and css coding clean. Remove unnecessary and unused tags and classes
- Pay attention to the code to content ratio. A higher code to text ratio gives you a better chance of getting a good ranking for your page in search results. Use divs to design your page layout instead of tables
- Instead of using inline CSS styling, create a CSS class for your style in the main CSS file and refer to that. This will help keep your coding clean and increase your code to content ratio
Optimizing your pages’ contents for search engines:
- Your Search Keywords and Key Phrases should be emphasized in a natural and organic way for both the website visitor and the search engine spiders at the same time.
- Do not “KeyWord Stuff” your web page, by repeating the search phrase over and over again in your webpage so it becomes unreadable to huma viewers and reads inorganic and unnatural. Keyword stuffing often results in a Search Engine Penalty and moves your site’s ranking lower in the results instead of higher
- All text should be presented in HTML/CSS whenever possible rather than in images
- Use header 1, header 2 and header 3 (h1, h2, h3) tags to for content titles to indicate their importance but do not overuse the h tags
- This is the age of social networking. Keep social sharing icons at prominent location on all your pages for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+1, YouTube etc.
- The text font color code (html color code) should be clearly contrasted against background so search engines may not suspect you of using black hat SEO technique to hide text from human visitor but stuffing keywords for search engines.
Optimizing your website architecture for search engines:
- All site URLs should be Search Engine Friendly (SEF URLs). If possible, no URLs should end in an extension such as .html, .php, etc. No URLs will contain index.php or anything similar. All URLs should be human readable. It is good practice to have URLs of the web site’s main sections to end in a trailing slash and URLs of web pages to NOT end in a trailing slash
- All URLs should be in lowercase. Words in the URLs should be separated with a dash “-” character instead of space or underscor ( _ )
- A user friendly 404 page should be offered for pages do not exist anymore or for missing links. The 404 page should include the site’s normal navigation, a site search box, and a standard “We are sorry but the page you requested is no longer available” message
- The website should only be available in either the “www” or “non-www” format. Use 301 redirect of one of the versions that you are not using to the other one. Use a single URL format uniformly to link internally and externally to your site from everywhere
- Internally, on a page, the first appearance of a link to any other page is what counts to search engines. So, this link’s anchor text should be optimized for search engines and contain the keywords or key phrases that you want to rank on search engines for. You can have multiple links to other pages from the same page but the subsequent links will be ignored. Only the 1st link matters.
- A common mistake on many websites you will see is to link to home page with www.domain.com/index.html etc. Very wrong. Always link to the full single URL from everywhere or use a forward slash (/) to link to the home page from all other pages
- Sitemaps are important. Sitemaps should be auto-generated if you are using a CMS. A HTML sitemap should be be available in the footer link. An XML sitemap should be generated weekly or monthly depending on your website’s page update frequency and submitted to Bing and Google. In xml sitemap assign the weight of pages according to their importance