Thursday, June 25, 2009

SEO: On page Optimisation

In the economic downturn, marketing budgets are being slashed and jobs are being cut. Companies are cutting costs any way possible to stay afloat. However, companies still need to keep a presence in the market place, otherwise their brand awareness will diminish. Many companies have been looking to towards internet marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO). In this article we will shine some light on one of the most fundamental SEO techniques: on page SEO.

In SEO there are two factors that will help you rank highly in the major search engines. The first one is on page factors. These are like dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s. These on page factors help tell the search engine spiders that your website is relevant for the keywords that you would like to appear for. The second is off page factors. These dealing with creating inbound links to your website. This is where the majority of your rankings will be derived from. However, you first need to get your on page work done, as linking campaigns can take many months to implement.

On Page Factors

To understand how Google sees your site go to Google and type in a search query. When the results show go to anyone of the results and choose the small link at the bottom right of the result that says cached. The cached version is a snapshot of the page that Google took the last time that they updated their indexing. At the top of the page choose the option “text only version”. This is what Google actually see’s when they crawl your site. Google does not actually see the graphics on page, only the text. The enlarged bolded headings on the page are your H1 and H2 tags. Knowing how the search engines see your page make help you realise the importance of creating correct on page optimisation. We will go on to explain these main tags as we go through this article.

Title Tags

Title tags are the most important elements in on page SEO. This is the first tag that search engine spiders read. Your title tag tells the search engines what the most important phases are for the page. There is an art to creating title tags that are keyword rich for search engine spiders, and still accurately and succinctly conveying the content of the page to the reader.

With your title tag, always place your most important keyword first. For instance, let’s take an example of a site that was trying to optimise for Accounting. If from your keyword research that you would like to optimise for accounting and also the long tails of accounting such as accounting in the state you live and accountants, then your title tag should read as follows:

Accounting, Accounting Melbourne, Accounts

In this example you will accurately convey to the search engine spiders that the relevant terms on page are accounting, accounting Melbourne and accountants. Now the rest of your tagging and copy needs to show the spiders content relevant to your title tags.

One note to remember when you are creating any major on page tags is not to key word stuff your tags. An example of keyword stuffing in the same example would be Accountants, Accountants, Accountants. This may seem odd, however in the early days of SEO spammers use to trick the search engine spiders with such techniques. This second example would now be detected by the search engine spam filters instantly.

Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are used to give search engines and users a 160 character description of what the content on page is about. Keep this consistent with your title tags. The content of this tag is important as a well worded meta will increase your click through rate when it appears in the search results.

The second use for meta descriptions is to give a snapshot of the page content to users on the search engine ranking placements (SERPS).

H1 Tag

In HTML tags go from H1-H6. The H1 tag is the most important of these. There are a few ways that you can position H1 tags. The aim should to have the H1 at the top of the page so this is the first thing that they crawlers read after they have read you title and meta’s. An effective way is to put these in the header file at the top right of the page. The other way is to make your main headline your H1.

One word of warning with H1 tags. Be careful about hiding them in the style sheet. Some designers will do this, as at times it is difficult to find a place to position the H1 tag. While Google can’t read your style sheet, you run the risk of a competitor reporting you to Google for spamming.

H2 Tag

The easiest way to position the H2 tag is in a heading. Try adding a keyword at the beginning of the heading.

Other on page techniques

Keyword density

Keyword density and keyword saturation are important to let search engines know that your page is relevant for the keywords that you are optimising for. However, keyword density is becoming less important as search engines become more sophisticated. Still try and keep keyword density to 2-3%.

Strong Tagging

Tagging is when a word on the page appears bold. Don’t overuse this. Once or twice on page is fine.

These on page SEO tips will help your SEO campaign and help you rise to the top of the search engines!