There are several boxes that need to be ticked to really optimise a page to rank as high as it can in search engine results – including links to the page – but the easiest is probably ‘on-page SEO’ – the stuff we can just do ourselves, right now. I’d break down on-page SEO into six elements.
1. The Content
This has been the most important part of SEO for a long time now, and is only getting more so. The page needs to have substantial, authoritative content, and it’s never too late to add more, or update it. The more original the content, the better – both within the site and on the web as a whole.
2. The Title
It may not appear on the page, but the page’s title is critical both in telling the search engine what the page is about, and also because it’s what appears in the search engine results. No matter how good the page behind it, if the title is poor, nobody’s going to click on the search engine result. What do yours look like in the search engine results? Are they informative and attractive, like advertising headlines, or just awful ‘labels’ created by a content management system?
3. The Description
Write an attractive one which contains the search term for which the page appears in the search engine results, and it’ll probably be used in the search engine results, just like the title. Ignore it or write something irrelevant, and the search engine will just display some random text plucked off the page.
4. The Headlines
The main headline and the sub-headings on the page are crucial signals to the search engines of the page’s relevance to the search. Check your source code for anything in ‘h1’ or ‘h2’ tags in particular, to see what the search engines see.
5. The Keywords
This doesn’t refer to the keywords meta tag, which hasn’t been used for years, but the presence of the targeted search terms on the page. As search engines get increasingly more efficient at recognising similes and understanding intent, having the exact targeted search terms on the page has become less important, and certainly there’s no longer any need to keep repeating terms. However, it’s still hard to rank for a search which doesn’t actually appear on the page.
6. The Images
Image search is used quite a lot, and if people click on your image there when searching for a specific term, that must be a signal to the search engines of the relevance of the page to that term in general. Giving the search engines every clue as to the content of an image, through the use of ‘alt’ tags, filenames and captions, will certainly help.