When we talk about SEO (Search Engine Optimization), there are 2 parts to it – On page optimization and Off page optimization.
Big words? Yes. But to put it simply, On page SEO means working on your own website to make sure it is optimized for search engines. Off page SEO means optimizing your website for search engines based on external factors (not involving your website).
In our own words:
Good On Page SEO optimization refers to providing good user experience from the time visitors search with questions to the time they found their answers on your website.
Whatever and however we do On page SEO, it must improve the user experience on your website. Period.
If you have done SEO before, or have engaged in SEO services to help you with your websites, you would have known what the basics of On Page SEO is. If you are new to SEO, then here is a checklist that you can use to check if you are implementing On Page SEO correctly.
This is the exact checklist that we use to optimize all our own websites, as well as our clients’. We make sure that all criteria are fulfilled before we proceed with Off page SEO. This checklist is applicable to WordPress, Weebly, Wix, or any other Content Management Systems. (However, we will talk more about WordPress as it is the platform we use most.)
You only implement this On Page SEO once you have done your keyword research. If not, how do you know what keywords to optimize for? So let’s assume you know what keywords to rank for, let’s start!
The 10 On Page SEO Questions To Ask
1. Are your titles and description optimized?
Your website and inner webpages have titles. But are they optimized?
For the purpose of learning, let’s use a fictional example here.
You run a Car Rental business in Singapore. Your company name is called ‘TopGear Rental’.
A good optimized title for the home page will be:
TopGear Rental | Car Rental in Singapore (40 characters)
As you can see we put the brand name of the company in front, a separator, then the keyword we are optimizing for. Keep the title to at most 60 characters.
A good optimized description for the home page will be:
Looking for Car Rental in Singapore? TopGear Rental provides the best rates for car rental, for any car models. Check out our rates here! (141 characters)
For the description, we include the keyword ONCE, along with the description of the business. Keep the description to at most 160 characters.
Do the same for every page on your website.
Title & Description Summary:
- Include Keyword only once in title & description
- Limit to 60 characters for titles, 160 characters for description
- Use plugins like All In One SEO or Yoast WordPress SEO for WordPress sites.
2. Do you optimize your permalinks?
All webpages are given IDs to differentiate themselves from the home page. However, these IDs are not optimized for search engines.
CarRentalWebsite.com/car-rental-rates (if ‘car rental rates’ if your keyword for that particular web page)
If you use WordPress, you can change the permalinks in Dashboard>>Settings>>Permalinks. Choose to use the custom format of yourwebsite.com/%postname%/ .
If you run a news publishing website and you want Google to regard your piece of content as a news article, do include 3 unique digits in your permalinks.
- Do not use page id as your permalink
- Use your keyword in the permalink
- Include 3 unique digits in permalink to optimize for Google News
3. Do you have relevant keywords in your content?
Do you write by using relevant keywords in your content? This is different from keyword stuffing where you repeat the same keyword that you want to rank over and over again. Use your main keyword, use its synonyms, use related keywords in your content.
Back to the Car Rental business. Do not repeat the keyword ‘Car Rental in Singapore’ over and over in your home page write up. Do use other words like ‘renting a car’, ‘car rental company’, ‘car rental rates’, ‘short-term car rental’.
There are many suggestions on the number of times to use the keyword in the content – keyword density. For us, we don’t care so much about the number of times we use.
We just use the keyword once, and continue writing to make writing as natural as possible. After all, it is human who will visit our business website and buy from you. Keeping the count to ‘once‘ also prevent you from over-optimization of keywords.
Keyword density Summary:
- Use keyword once only
- Use synonyms and other related keywords
- Write for human eyes
4. Is your content original and unique?
Google clam down hard on duplicate content to prevent duplicate results from appearing on top of search results. Google Panda updates penalize websites which post poor quality, spun content from other websites.
Even if you might not copy content from other websites, you may still run the risk of duplicate content, if you are running a website, especially e-commerce website.
E-commerce website is known for having multiple product listings, which leads to multiple product pages. In such cases, if the webmaster is not careful, he might just use the same product description for same product of the same brand, albeit a different product title.
Spend some time to rewrite the product description. You can include product specifications, the uniqueness of the product, instructions to use, and many more, just to make the content unique.
Content Originality Summary:
- Write original content for all your webpages
- Write unique product descriptions if you are running an e-commerce website
5. Is your content long enough?
Google doesn’t like short content. Short content is deemed as ‘low quality’ content by Google. Its weird because some people just want short answers, doesn’t it? But too bad, we have to play by Google rules!
Some studies have proven that articles with at least 2000 words tend to rank higher. However, we know not everyone can write 2000 words for a given topic, or rather, not all pages can have 2000 words of content written up (Imagine writing 2000 words for a product listing of a $10 iPhone cover?)
For us, we don’t count our words to make sure they hit 2000-word mark, but we want our content to be at least 300 words. That’s the minimum we set ourselves. Once we reach the target, we will write for humans and provide as much value as they need.
Content Length Summary:
- Short content means low quality content (In Google’s eyes)
- 2000-word content tend to rank higher
- Write for humans and provide as much value as you can (Frozenrank’s way)
6. Is your content helpful?
When your visitors arrive at your website or webpage, does your content give them what they want? If yes, then it means your website or webpage deserve the rank on the search results.
To Google, it means you provide good user experience. This will lower your bounce rate (visitors leaving your website), and hence, it will boost your ranking!
This is also why you don’t see Google rank affiliate sales pages high up on search results!
Imagine if you search for ‘How to stop my diarrhea’ (so that you can stop rushing to the toilet), and you see a Clickbank sales page on #1 of Google asking you to buy an ebook… what will your response be?
You might hate Google for showing you the Clickbank sales page, and not a page which teach you simple home remedies how to stop your diarrhea fast.
Helpful Content Summary:
- Your content must be helpful to the visitor searching for information
7. Is your website too thin?
If your site has only a few pages, it will be seen by Google as some website that will come and go anytime. They don’t rank these sites high, and that’s why you seldom see landing pages get ranked.
Add more pages to your site with content to make it an authority site. Even if you run a very small business selling only one product or service, here are some pages that you can add to beef up your website:
- Terms and Conditions Page
- About Us
- List of recommended resources
- Company Mission
- Blog articles
Thin Website Summary:
- Add more pages to beef up your website
- Create a page for every product or service you have
- Add in a blog so that you can write articles for your website
8. Does your website load fast enough?
Back to the question of user experience. If your website doesn’t load fast enough, people will just click ‘Back’, and return to Google to visit another search result. Your bounce rate will increase, your user experience will drop, your search ranking will drop.
How fast is fast? 3 seconds. If your website doesn’t load in 3 seconds, then you’re slow! (Web visitors are impatient people!)
Check your website loading speed using Pingdom.
Website Loading Speed Summary:
- Reduce your website loading speed to improve user experience
- Web loading speed is also a Google search ranking factor
9. Is your website responsive?
There are more mobile phones than laptop in the world now. That also means more viewers are visiting your website with their mobile phones than desktop.
You want to improve your users’ experience by making your website responsive to desktop, mobile, and tablets. As of April 2015, Google is also using ‘mobile-responsiveness’ as a factor for its search ranking results.
Website Responsiveness Summary:
- Make sure your website is responsive to mobile
- Website responsiveness is a Google search ranking factor in April 2015
10. Does your website have good user experience?
We can do lots of designs and tweaks to our website. But we must know that the ultimate objective is to give our visitors good user experience in reading our content and navigating our website, regardless where and how they view it.
There are many more little details about on page SEO, like fixing broken links, organizing your content structure, and more. We will come to that in other articles. Do know that whatever you are doing, have your visitor’s interest in mind.
User Experience Summary:
- Place your visitors’ interest first.
Is the On Page SEO of your website optimized?
We hope that these 9 questions will help you rethink and relook at your On Page SEO for your website.
If all criteria has been fulfilled, your webpage will be indexed by Google, and you can start on Off Page SEO implementation to push your website up the search results.