Once you have your list of keywords, the next step is to use your targeted keywords in the content of your site. Each page on your site should focus on a core term and a “basket” of other terms that are related to it. Here’s what an on-page SEO-friendly page looks like:
Let’s look at a few important, basic on-page elements you need to know about if you want search engines to send people to your site:
Even though Google is trying to figure out what a page is really about and is de-emphasizing (and even punishing) the use of keywords in a manipulative way, it is still important to include the term (and related terms) you want to rank for on your pages. And the title tag of your page is the best place to put your keyword.
The title tag is not the main title of your page. Most of the time, the headline you see on a page is an H1 or H2 HTML element. The source code of your page is put into a meta tag, which is what you see at the top of your browser:
The length of a title tag that Google will show varies (it’s based on pixels, not character counts), but a good rule of thumb is between 55 and 60 characters. If you can, you should use your main keyword, and if you can do that naturally and interestingly, you can also add some related words around that term.
Keep in mind, though, that the title tag is often what a searcher will see when they look up your page. It’s what shows up as the “headline” in organic search results, so you should also think about how clickable your title tag is.
The title tag is like the headline of your search listing. The meta description, which is another meta HTML element that can be changed in your site’s code but isn’t seen on your actual page, is like extra ad copy for your site.
Google isn’t always strict about what they show in search results, so your meta description might not always show. However, if you write a compelling description of your page that makes people more likely to click, you can get a lot more traffic.
(Don’t forget that showing up in search results is just the beginning! You still have to get people to visit your site and then do what you want them to do.
Here’s a real-world example of a meta description that appears in search results:
Your page’s actual content is, of course, very important. Different kinds of pages will have different “jobs.” For example, your “cornerstone” content, which you want lots of people to link to, needs to be very different from your “support” content, which you want your users to quickly find and use.
Still, Google has been giving more and more weight to certain types of content. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you build out any page on your site:
1.) Thick and Unique Content: There is no magic number for word count, and if you have a few pages of content on your site with a few to a couple of hundred words, you won’t fall out of Google’s good graces. However, recent Panda updates, in particular, favor longer, unique content.
If you have a lot (like thousands) of pages with only 50–200 words of content or a lot of duplicated content where the only thing that changes is the page’s title tag and maybe one line of text, that could get you in trouble. Look at your site as a whole.
Are a lot of your pages thin, duplicated, and not very useful? If so, try to find a way to “thicken” those pages, or check your analytics to see how much traffic they’re getting. Then, use a noindex meta tag to keep them from showing up in search results, so Google doesn’t think you’re trying to rank low-quality pages by adding a lot of them to their index.
2.)Engagement: Google is putting more weight on metrics that measure the engagement and user experience. You can change this by making sure your content answers the questions people are asking, which will make them more likely to stay on your page and interact with your content.
Make sure your pages load quickly and don’t have design elements (like too many ads above the content) that are likely to turn searchers off and send them away.
3.) Shareability – Not every piece of content on your site will be linked to and shared hundreds of times. But in the same way that you don’t want to release a lot of pages with little content, you should think about who is likely to share and link to new pages on your site before you release them.
If you have a lot of pages that aren’t likely to be shared or linked to, those pages won’t rank well in search results, and it won’t help search engines get a good idea of your site as a whole, either.
How you mark up your images can affect both how search engines see your page and how many people find your site through image searches. If a user can’t see an image, you can give them other information with an HTML element called “alt attribute.” Your images may stop working over time (files may get deleted, users may have trouble connecting to your site, etc.), so it can be helpful to have a useful description of what the image is. This also gives you a chance to tell search engines what your page is about in a way that isn’t in the text.
You don’t want to “keyword stuff” your alt attribute with your main keyword and every possible variation of it. Don’t put your target keyword here at all if it doesn’t make sense in the description. Just don’t forget the alt attribute and try to give a full, accurate description of the image (think of it as if you were telling someone who couldn’t see it what it is). That’s what it’s there for!
By writing naturally about your topic, you avoid “over-optimization” filters (it doesn’t look like you’re trying to trick Google into ranking your page for your target keyword) and give yourself a better chance of ranking for valuable “long tail” variations of your main topic.
Your site’s URL structure can be important for both tracking and sharing. With a logical, segmented URL structure, you can make it easier to separate data in reports (shorter, descriptive URLs are easier to copy and paste and tend to get mistakenly cut off less frequently). Again, don’t try to cram as many keywords as you can into the URL. Instead, make it short and clear.
Also, don’t change your URLs if you don’t have to. Even if your URLs aren’t “pretty,” don’t change them to make them more keyword-focused for “better SEO” if you don’t think they hurt users or your business in general.
If you have to change the way your URLs are set up, make sure you use the right type of redirect (301 permanent). When businesses change their websites, this is a mistake they often make.
Schema & Markup
Lastly, once you’ve taken care of all the basic page elements, you can think about going a step further to help Google (and other search engines that understand schema) understand your page better.
Schema markup doesn’t move your page up in search results because it’s not a ranking factor yet. It does give your listing more “space” in the search results, just like ad extensions do for your Google Ads (formerly called AdWords) ads.
If no one else is using schema, and your site shows things like ratings while others don’t, you can get a nice boost in click-through rate in some search results. In other search results, where everyone uses schema, reviews may be “table stakes,” and if you don’t have them, it could hurt your Google CTR:
You can add different kinds of markup to your site. Most of them probably won’t apply to your business, but at least one of them will likely apply to at least some of the pages on your site.