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On Page Basics for SEO – Title Tags, Body Content and Meta Descriptions

November 30, 2011 · 3 comments

in SEO

On Page Basics for SEOWith so much focus being placed on the value of link building there is an increasing number of site owners who ignore the very basics of SEO. Even if you’re creating the most amazing infographics, or selling the most compelling products, nobody is going to be able to find you if your on-page optimisation isn’t up to scratch. Fortunately, most elements of this are really easy to implement and once you’re in the habit of doing so won’t add more than a few minutes to your content workflow.

Title Tags

When it comes to on-page SEO, title tags are your bread and butter. All too often I see sites that have exactly the same title on every page which is, put simply, a complete waste of ranking potential. Getting this right is the key to moving your site towards that elusive top 3 and really does take just a few seconds. I’m not going to cover keyword research in this post and will, instead, assume that you know what you want to rank for and have done your due diligence. In this example we’re trying to rank for ‘Dog Anatomy’.

If you have a content management system for your site that allows you to edit title tags this section isn’t relevant to you specifically, but you never know when you’re going to need to change something manually so it’s worth having this information stored away. The title of a page is changed by updating a HTML tag that is contained within the <head> section of your page. At the most basic level this might look something like:

<head>
<title>Dog Anatomy – Canine Anatomy | Your Site Name</title>
</head>

Ideally you’ll keep the text within the title tag to around 65 characters as this means that it will be shown, in full, on the SERPs (search engine result pages). You’ll also want to keep your most important keyword at the start of the tag, with any secondary preference to e middle, and then finally your brand name. This structure is easy to read from a usability point of view, makes sense to the search engines, and also helps raise your brand awareness as the name of your site will be shown.

As I mentioned earlier, if you’re using a CMS you won’t need to code this manually but need to remember to do this for every single page you create. For those using the power of WordPress, I’d advise using WordPress SEO by Joost as it’s really easy to use, very powerful.. And free!

META Description

The first thing to mention here is that the META description doesn’t have a direct effect in your rankings. What it does act as, however, is your advert on the SERPs as the description is used to make up the blurb that appears under your listing. Think about it – what are you more likely to click on – a description that gives an interesting snippet about your content or something that’s really generic and doesn’t really say much about what’s on the page? People are lazy, and they simply want to be able to tell, at a glance, what they’re getting.

Pro tip: This is especially important from an e-commerce perspective – including words like ‘Free Shipping’ or ’20% Off’ could drastically increase your click-through rates. Just make sure that what you say is true or you’ll end up with some very upset customers!

So, again, if you’re using a CMS that allows you to easily change the meta description you don’t need to know the code that does this. It is, however really simple, so for anyone that’s doing this manually there’s no need to panic. Going back to the example above, you just need to add in an extra tag:

<head>
<title>Dog Anatomy – Canine Anatomy | Your Site Name</title>
< META NAME=”Description” CONTENT=”Amazing dog anatomy information. Find out everything you could ever need to know, including illustrations.”>
</head>

Notice that the structure I’ve used includes a short sentence at the start with our keyword included. This is because the description is often used in sitelinks which appear just below your main site listing for some keywords (search for your site name to see these, or check webmaster tools). The keyword will also be highlighted which, again, just gives extra prominence to your listing.

The final tip is to try and keep this to around 20 words. This isn’t an absolute limit but search engines limit the amount of text that’s shown so sticking to this will help make sure that you’re not wasting your time by writing loads and loads of text.

Body Content

There’s so much to cover here it could easily be a post in itself. So, to keep things simple I’m going to cover some very quick tips to help make sure you’re setting your page content up properly.

Keyword density is a largely outdated term but you do need to make sure you’re using your chosen keyword a few times within the body copy. Aim for about 3 uses per 500 words – more if you can make it sound natural. Content should always be written to appeal to the person reading it, not an imaginary search-robot-spider!

Don’t forget to include images with relevant alt tags. Break up your content using header tags. Use H1 as your page title and H2 / H3 for sub-sections. These don’t directly affect your page rankings but are great from a usability point of view. Be sure to make your content look more appealing by using strong, italics and bulleted lists.

And Finally

Remember that this is all about making sure that your content is created in a way that’s as understandable as possible. All you’re doing is laying out some key pointers to the search engines to help them understand what you’re telling people about. Doing so should become second nature, take just a few minutes, and in doing so potentially result in a massive increase in site traffic.


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Matt Beswick is a consultant offering Milton Keynes SEO and Web Design services who also runs a number of e-commerce based businesses. These include Kart365 and Pet365 - a UK based pet supplies company selling amazing dog products, including collars and accessories.

Matt has written 2 awesome articles for us at Opportunities Planet

Twitter: @mattbeswick | Facebook | | Blog → Milton Keynes SEO

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Fatima Hipolito December 2, 2011 at 11:26 am

This is really useful Matt, because some SEO are dont know how to do this format glad you share this in here.
Fatima Hipolito recently posted..smsMy Profile

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