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Developing Your On-page SEO

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Next we’re going to talk about developing your on page SEO for this Professional Services WordPress website. We are going to start by looking at the Table of Contents of the Search Engine Optimization starter guide. We already talked about improving site structure and the structure of your URLs and now we’re going to talk about optimizing content and SEO basics.

Each Page Should Have a Single Topic

A critical thing to say about optimizing content is that each page should stay organized around a single topic. This is why those one page websites really don’t work that well.

The problem with a one page website is that they’re often about many topics. So you’ve got your portfolio, you’ve got some testimonials and you’ve got some service descriptions and you’ve got some examples of your work. And it’s all packed into one page which means that you don’t have the opportunity to take advantage of Google’s search results saying this web page is about this subject.

Google wants you to keep each web page you have organized around a single topic.

Create Content for Your Users Not Search Engines

They also want you to create content primarily for users and not for Google. That means writing something that’s useful for your end user so that when they read it they’ll understand it and it will reinforce your expertise. Writing for search engines has content stuffed full of keywords that tries to trick Google into thinking that the content has high quality.

Google wants to return valuable content to users through its searches. They want you to create content for the user.

SEO Content Basics

There is also a set of content SEO basics. And those involve headings, links, emphasized text, image alt text and image titles.

Use Heading Tags Appropriately

The right way to use heading tags is to imagine that you are writing an outline of the content of your page. Heading tags represent the structure of that outline.

The first heading, H1 is the main page title. It should describe the content of the page so that you can tell by the title what the page is about.

The H2 should set off the main elements of that subject. And should be descriptive of the content that goes below them.

H3 tags can be used under H2s to further breakdown content, especially on a long page with a lot of content. You can even go below that to the extent that it seems reasonable for the content.

Descriptive of the Content that Follows

Google looks to these headings as if they are an outline. To the extent that those headings are descriptive of the content that follows them they’re useful to you in SEO. If they’re not descriptive of the content that follows them then they’re not going to be useful to you, they’ll be detrimental.

Concentrate on not being cute with headlines but rather on being descriptive with headlines.

H1 Tag Only Used in Page Title

The H1 tag should only be used once which means you’re never going to use the H1 tag inside of the content. It is reserved for the page title.

Sometimes people say I don’t really want Home showing up on my homepage. That’s fine, don’t make Home the title of your home page. Make the title of your home page something that is descriptive of the content of the page. That makes sense, right? Just because it’s your front page that doesn’t mean it needs to be called Home.

Headings and Subheadings Give Structure

Then you’ve got the primary structure of your content and subheadings and sub subheadings if necessary. If you do this not only will your readers know what the page is about but search engines are going to know what your page is about.

Emphasized Text

We talked about emphasized text when we were talking earlier about making your content easily readable. That same emphasis is used by search engines for identifying what’s important in the paragraph. Google looks at bold text and italicized text to help determine what the paragraph is about.

It’s important to use emphasized text but not to overuse it. Instead of bolding an entire sentence you can bold the important phrase or group of words in the sentence

Adding Internal Links to Text

There’s no way to understate the value of links. When you add links to text, you tell Google what other pages on your website are about. The starter guide talks about writing better anchor text.

What Makes Good Anchor (Link) Text

If you’re writing out a paragraph that says “development in the city of Seattle takes a great deal of expertise and you can find some examples of our projects here”, you wouldn’t want to make “here” the link. You would want to make “you can find some examples of our projects here” the link.

Good anchor text tells Google what the page that you are linking to is about. Google looks at links that point toward a page to help it understand what the page is about.

So what makes good link text? Good link text tells users and Google something about the page that you are linking to. It should be short descriptive text and this is especially important for your own internal linking.

Aim for 3 Internal Links Per Page

You should strive for at least three internal links on every content page that you have. An important aspect of Search Engine Optimization is linking to some other place in your website and using linked text that is relevant to what the content of the page you’re linking to is about.

SEO Basics

And then we have the SEO basics. What we just talked about is the on page SEO, it’s headings, emphasized text and the links. We have some things that are on the page but are not visible to anybody but search engines and that’s what they are referring to here under SEO basics.

Create Unique and Accurate Meta Titles-Descriptions

So the next thing to do as you are creating your page is to create unique and accurate page meta titles. So I’m going to show you an example.

We’re going to go back to that WordPress 4.7 course. You can see that we’ve got links off to other parts of the course. We’ve got H2 tags that summarize what’s going on here. We’ve got some emphasis text although not a lot. I probably could use more internal links in that.

Let’s edit the page and take a look. Here is the title, WordPress 4.7 Crash Course. The meta title or what Thesis calls the custom title tag says, WordPress 4.7 Crash Course Introduction Video Tutorial.

And the meta description is, Learn all the basics of using WordPress 4.7 along with changes to the editor, media library and customizer in this extensive video tutorial series.

Limit Characters to Recommended Number

The Meta title should have no more than 70 characters. In a minute we won’t be editing this stuff this way because we’re going to install Yoast SEO and we’ll use Yoast SEO for writing the text. I’m not currently using Yoast SEO on byobwebsite just because I have so many years of custom work done using Thesis’ system. But I am going to show you how to use Yoast SEO and I do recommend that you use it.

So we’ve got a custom title tag that is descriptive of the course, descriptive of the content. It has keywords, WordPress 4.7 course video tutorial. Let’s do a google search and see what Google returned. Search for WordPress 4.7 course.

That’s interesting. So Google changed it from what we have. Google can do what it wants to do with this and it may not always do what you want. It took the name of the page and then the name of my website and combined them together. This is not that unusual but ordinarily it would use this custom title tag as the headline for that.

Here’s the meta description. What Google did, in this case, was to take the first part of the content instead of taking this meta description. There’s nothing new about that’s what Google does, it decides for itself what it wants to do. It could be that this content here was added to the site before we had a chance to the meta title and description and so it already was indexed with the other information.

Nevertheless, they do recommend that you use a descriptive title tag that is keyword rich and is no more than 70 characters this is 54. And then the meta description again is descriptive of the content. Again, it’s keyword rich and it can be 150 characters and it generally shows up as the paragraph in that.

Role of the Page Title in WordPress

This seems to me like the perfect place to talk about the role of the page title because a page title actually plays four distinct roles in WordPress. And all four of these rules can be and generally should be tweaked.

  • Title for the Page
  • Title of Search Result
  • Part of the URL
  • Navigation Label

The first thing it does is, of course, provide a title for the page. That is the reader friendly title.

The second thing is that until you create a custom one it is the title of the search result. And so this becomes a search friendly title.

The third thing it does is it becomes the slug or the URL. For example, on this page we have, seminars, WordPress WordPress 4.7 Crash Course. The slug is this section, the URL is the whole thing. So the page slug is just the URL part of the page.

Finally, if this page goes on a menu it’s also the navigation label. All of those can be edited individually and we’re going to see more of that when we build menus.

Editing the Slug

But let’s go back to our sample site pages. And let’s go back to architectural services first. This is its page title. The slug here I would probably make “Seattle Area Architectural Services”. It’s nice and short. You understand what it’s about. Rick Andersen Architects, Seattle area architectural services.

It’s going to be ordinary that you craft this by taking out extraneous words, getting it down to its main keywords. It could even be Seattle Architectural Services but we’ll keep it as Seattle area there.

Using Keywords

And then in your title tag you would expand on that. So you might list some of the services but you’re still going to try to use the same kinds of keywords in your page title, in your URL, in your custom title and then your meta message description. Those words better show up in your content in order for all of that to work together.

Go to all pages. And let’s fix this custom home design services so it’s Seattle area architectural services. Custom home design, we don’t need services in here again so we just say custom home design. And now you have a very rational easy to understand URL that is full of your keywords. And that communicates to your end user what this page is about.

Now what we’re going to do is install and configure Yoast SEO because you don’t want to put this off. You want to begin your SEO work as you create your content.

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