On-Page SEO Best Practices
Use this on-page SEO guide when publishing posts and pages.
General ground rules: Take as much space as you need for on-page SEO, but no more than necessary. Put another way, say what needs to be said, nothing more, nothing less. Adhere to the limits below–but certainly, if it can be perfectly said in 40 characters and you have 70 characters to “fill up,” use 40 characters!
Most search engines limit the title tag to 70 characters. At the 70 character mark, most will present an ellipsis “…” — keep your title tags to 70 characters or less.
For more on the Title Tag — http://www.seomoz.org/learn-seo/title-tag
Meta Description Tag
This tag is no longer used by Google for SEO purposes; rather, it is a branding / sales issue. That is to say, the SEs don’t even look at the meta description when ranking a site.
However, the search engine results page (SERP) does display the meta description tag. Therefore, humans see it in the SERPs and act accordingly–if it’s a compelling message, people will click on it.
Most search engines limit this tag to 160 characters.
For more on the Meta Description Tag, check out these 2 hot resources:
Meta Keywords Tag
This tag is no longer used by Google (or Bing, as far as we can tell). Supposedly, it is used by Yahoo and Ask (but seriously, how many people use those search engines?).
However, you never know what “minor” SE may use it and become a dominant or significant player in the search engine realm. Nor do we know if or when a current major SE may decide to use it again.
Plus, it’s an easy tag to implement, so why not?
There is no theoretical limit to the number of keywords in the meta keywords tag. This is not to say that you should go nuts. Limit the number of keywords to 5.
Here’s the way we look at it.
Every page or post you publish ought to START with keywords.
- What keywords do you want to rank for on this page?
- Is there “money” in those keywords?
- Do these keywords align with your sales process?
Keyword Best Practices (A Primer)
- Limit each page or post to one primary keyword phrase and 3-4 related keyword phrases, variations or permutations. For example: (primary) Dog training, (secondary) training my dog, dog obedience, puppy training, canine training.
- Use those keywords in your meta keyword tag. Doing so helps you brainstorm and begin organizing your thoughts.
- Use those keywords in your title and description tags, your content, and your “tags” and “categories” (if a WordPress site).
- Use those keywords with your images. Include at least one image in each of your pages and posts! Your image file name, “alt” tag, caption, and description should all contain some variation of your keywords.
- If you link out to another page or post (yours or an external website), use a variation of your keywords in the anchor text.
- For backlinking (i.e., “off-page SEO”), make sure you use your primary keyword phrase as anchor text. But do it sparingly – Google now looks at your “link profile” to determine whether it looks “natural” or not – therefore, include anchor text like “click here,” “here,” and variations of your keyword phrases.
- In your content, mention your keyword in the first few words, somewhere in the middle, and at the end (as in, “tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them”). Use your phrase in a “heading” tag, bold it at least once, italicize it at least once, and where practical, use some color!
- Don’t underline or color your keyword phrases in blue. Reason: Most people are conditioned to think that blue underlined text is a link. For what it’s worth: Search engines don’t care.
Adhering to these basic and very simple “on page SEO” and keyword best practices will give your website the best chance possible to rank highly for your chosen keyword phrases. Of course, there is more to search engine optimization than on page SEO–getting your off-page SEO is critically important, too.
However, you can do a ton of off-page SEO and never get the results you are aiming for if your on-page SEO is insufficient.
Put another way, get both your off-page and on-page SEO right and the sky is the limit!