The Business Owner’s Guide to On-Page SEO
Getting started with SEO can be confusing, especially for business owners with little time to no time.
After a quick Google search, you have a ton of resources and new terms thrown at you. Link building. Domain authority. Keyword research. Keyword density. Where do you even begin to understand, much less use, everything?
Not to worry. In this blog post, we’re going to break down the quickest and easiest way for you to get started with SEO.
We’ll walk you through the entire process step-by-step, defining each term and how it can help you. Once you’re done, you won’t be an SEO expert, but you’ll know enough to ensure search engines find your website.
Let’s get started.
What is On-Page SEO?
If you’re a beginner, on-page SEO is the first thing you need to learn. It’s when you make sure each individual page on your website is optimised for ranking in search engines.
Ideally, you want your entire website to rank for the keywords you’re targeting, but that would be difficult. You can break down such a huge task by optimising one page at a time.
Think of your website as a chain where each web page plays an important role. Optimised properly, a single web page can act as a gateway, leading visitors to other pages on your website. It gives you more chances to turn visitors into paying customers
On-page SEO also has one major benefit you shouldn’t forget. You can implement it right away. At this very second. With no professional help.
Your Title Tag
The title tag is the most important aspect of your on-page SEO. It’s the first thing that both search engines and readers see when encountering your content.
Whenever you enter a search query in search engines, the results always show up in the same format. There is a title tag followed by a short description underneath which is called a meta description. It’s a major deciding factor whether users will head over to your website or not.
Aside from showing up in search results, title tags are important for two more reasons.
They’re shown at the top of the browser when a user is on the page. If a user has several tabs open, they can see your title tag and decide to view your page again.
If a user shares your web page on social media, the title tag will be the first thing people see. Even if you’re not ranking for your keywords of choice, you still have a chance to grab attention on social media platforms. As long as you write an eye-catching title.
How to Get Your Title Tag Right
Keep it short.
Moz recommends that you keep your title tags 50 – 60 characters long. If it’s any longer than that, there’s a chance Google might replace the extra characters with an ellipsis instead.
Google doesn’t give a specific character count, because whether your title gets cut off or not, depends on several factors. One of them is the size of individual letters when displayed on a screen. A title could be longer than another but appears in full in search results, because the letters used aren’t as bulky.
If you’re unsure about your title tags, Moz has a handy title tag checker you can use. All you have to do is enter your title tag of choice. It will then show you how it’ll look in search engine results, giving you the chance to make changes before it goes live.
Keep it relevant.
A title tag is burdened with so many objectives. It has to contain a keyword, be less than 50 – 60 characters, and grab a reader’s attention. Coming up with the perfect title tag can be challenging.
Here are a few tips that can make things easier:
- Use your keywords first. – Get straight to the point. According to Moz’s research, putting your keywords at the beginning of your title helps you rank higher in search engines. It also helps you grab attention faster.
- Think of your readers. – When attempting to rank in search engines, it can be easy to forget about people who’ll actually find your content. You just want Google to find you. However, you can’t create your title to specifically please search engines or readers alone. You have to straddle the delicate balance between both.
If you’ve ever written a research paper or a report, you’re familiar with headings. They highlight your main points and supporting ideas.
But how do they work in the context of SEO?
Like title tags, headings serve two functions.
They show search engines how information is organised.
When search engine crawlers attempt to index your site, the headings will serve as a guide, giving them more information regarding your web page’s subject. This is why it’s highly recommended you use your keywords in headings and subheadings.
They summarise the main points for readers.
Let’s face it. Visitors don’t read every word on our web pages. In fact, 43% of people admit to skimming blog posts. They don’t read everything, so you have to highlight why they should continue reading and to lead them faster to the information they’re looking for.
H1 vs Title
Headings have a hierarchy. We have H1, H2, H3 and H4. H1 essentially acts as your web page or blog post title while H2 onwards showcase your supporting ideas.
But wait. Didn’t we discuss title tags earlier? If so, how are title tags different from H1?
At first, your H1 and title tag sound like they perform the same function but they don’t.
You can think of your title tag as your address. When users come across your web page in search engine results, it’s the first thing they see. It’s what leads them from search engine results to your website.
It also has limitations in terms of character length. If it’s more than 50 – 60 characters, Google might replace the extra characters with an ellipsis.
Your H1 acts like a newspaper headline. It can be longer and contain more details about your web page. When a visitor browses through your blog posts, he encounters your H1 when reading the titles, not your title tag.
Thinking of a title tag and a different H1 might sound like too much work, but you have to be strategic. The title tag reels readers in, encourages them to click on it and actually see what you have to offer. Your H1 closes the deal.
H2, H3 and H4
When using headings, keep in mind that H1 can only be used once. Using it more than once can confuse search engines, defeating its original purpose.
You can, however, use the remaining headings as many times as you please…as long as you still make sense.
In the blog posts I write, I use H2 and H3. Here’s one example using an outline I previously created:
- H2: Have you renewed your domain and web hosting?
- H3: What happens if you forget to renew your domain?
- H3: Tips to Make Sure You Never Forget to Renew your Domain
- H2: Is your website due for a redesign?
- H3: Signs You Need to Redesign Your Website
You’ll notice I used H2 and H3 several times in one blog post. I highlighted one main point using H2 and used H3 for the supporting ideas that fall under it.
You can do the same for your web pages. For example, you can use H2 for one particular product and H3 for its variations.
Internal links are links from one web page to another page on the same website.
Before we go any further, we need to define Domain Authority. It’s a scoring system generated by Moz to determine a web page’s chance of ranking in search engines. The more reputable websites link to your web page, the higher your Domain Authority will be.
If one of your web pages has high Domain Authority, it can pass some of that authority on to your other web pages…if you use internal links.
However, link equity which refers to the “authority” one web page gives to another isn’t unlimited. If your high Domain Authority page links to two different web pages, the link equity will be split between both web pages.
That’s why you should keep our next tip in mind when creating internal links.
Think of your readers.
Some website owners might try to work around Google’s system. They might link to web pages that won’t benefit a website visitor just to pass on some of that link equity.
However, Google gets smarter and smarter each year. It can tell if your internal links are relevant to your content and to your readers or not.
For example, let’s say you own a copywriting business, and you’re writing blog posts about marketing for copywriters. If your blog posts contain links to your “marketing for copywriters” classes, Google would consider those links relevant.
If you include links to a clothing store in the middle of your web page, Google will grow suspicious. The web page the link is on has nothing to do with clothes. It’s not relevant to your content so Google will assume site visitors won’t find it helpful and not pass on much link equity.
There’s no denying it.
Content that’s 2,000 words or longer ranks better in search engines. According to a study, first results in Google typically have 2,416 words. Creating long-form content benefits you in the following ways:
- It gives you the chance to answer all the questions a user might have regarding your target keywords.
- It allows you to use said keywords several times in an organic manner.
However, creating lengthy content isn’t enough. Quantity doesn’t equal quality. No matter how long it is, it has to be good.
Ranking in search engines is more competitive than ever. So, how do you even begin creating long-form content that’s actually good?
Start by researching your competition.
Use the keywords you’d like to target and do a quick Google search. Check the top five results and figure out how you can do better.
- How long are their posts and web pages?
- Are there points they could have expanded on?
- Are there any user questions they failed to answer?
Find answers to the questions above. Use the information you find as a jumping off point.
Maybe they briefly explained a specific point in one sentence. You could do better by creating similar content and expanding more on each point, giving several examples and more actionable steps.
If your competition created a list containing five tips, create a better list with ten tips or even twenty tips if you can manage it.
As long as your tips are useful, you’ll come up with content that’s better and lengthier than your competition. It all starts with research.
Unlike other aspects of SEO, on-page SEO is something you can start right away. It’s easy to learn and is completely within your control.
Create title tags that show search engines how relevant your content is to your keyword. It’s the first thing users see when they encounter your website in search results so it has to be better than good.
Use headings. They show Google how organised your content is and summarise your main points for users who prefer to skim (a large majority nowadays).
Don’t forget internal links. They pass on authority from one web page to another and encourage users to keep exploring your website.
As always, content is still king. 2,000 words is currently the ideal length. It might sound difficult to reach, but with a little research, you can do it and leave your competition in the dust.
Use the tips mentioned in this article to tweak your web pages today. It’s easy and something you can achieve without professional help.
Cornerstone Digital is an SEO agency in Sydney. Need help boosting your ranking in search engine results? Call us on (02) 8211 0668 or email us at [email protected]
A self-professed book and digital marketing nerd, Darlyn Herradura focuses on building trust between customers and businesses with the written word. She understands that creating valuable content is the best way to get found online and happily spends her time doing that.