Search engine optimisation is commonly broken down in to two main groups – onsite and offsite optimisation. To achieve good rankings, you cannot have one without the other but this article is primarily concerned with onsite optimisation. These are factors that anyone with a basic level of website understanding can manipulate and enhance in an attempt to prove to search engines that your site is worth visiting.
Page titles are one of the more important onsite factors in search engine algorithms. They are seen by search engines as a guide to a pages subject, so should be keyphrase rich and be specific to the content of the page. This is where good information architecture (site layout) will help. Ideally, every topic within your website should have its own page, enabling you optimise a page for a small set of key phrases. Search engines strive to deliver web pages to user that are directly related to their search term, so the more specific your web pages are to a search term, the more likely you will achieve good rankings.
Body content should also be defined and related to the subject matter. Good copy writing is a skill that will only come with practice so get going! Make sure that your content reads well, and contains numerous mentions of the key phrases you are optimising for although be careful, don’t make your content unreadable due to frequent mentions of key phrases. This will only reduce the quality of your website and search engines will pick up on this and likely penalise your website. It is also probable to lead to a high bounce rate.
URLs are a important factor in onsite SEO. It s vital that they include key phrases relating to page content. They should be as short as possible, particularly if your site contains many different levels and sub-sections. Characters and therefore key phrases near the front of URLs are given more importance, so this should be considered when designing the architecture of a site.
Image ALT texts are used as a text equivalent of an image. They are used by the visually impaired to aid navigation and can also be read by search engines. I do not advocate the use of ALT tag stuffing, which would greatly hamper usability for the visually impaired, but where possible, ALT text should contain keyphrases.
Headings tags can be used to include keyphrase variations such as pluralisations. They indicate the subject of page sections so are viewed by search engines as a good indicator to the key phrases being targeted.