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Lesson 9 – Part 5 – Developing your On-page SEO

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The next thing we’re going to talk about briefly is developing your on-page Search Engine Optimization. The moment you add content to a page, it’s time to talk about Search Engine Optimization for the page. We also have extensive resources on the site about Search Engine Optimization. In fact, we have a couple of recent blog posts on SEO that show all of the resources that we have here on the site.

This BYOBWebsite SEO Reference Sheet and SEO Example is a two-part series that highlight all the search engine optimization elements of Thesis and WordPress and links to all the resources on our site so I encourage you to take a look at these as well.

What is Search Engine Optimization?

Having said that, we’re going to talk briefly about this because Search Engine Optimization is absolutely an essential part of developing your own website. You want to be found and the only way that you’re going to be found is if somebody is looking for you and if Google knows who you are and knows what you are about. That’s all Search Engine Optimization really is, it’s telling Google what it is your site and your pages are about.

Four Versions of the Page Title

Search Engine Optimization starts off with “On-page Search Engine Optimization”, that is with a page or post title. Actually, it really starts off with your site structure which was what we talked about last week. Once you’ve got the site structure in hand, it’s time to talk about your page title. Thesis Theme gives you the opportunity to customize your page title in 4 different ways. You can have 4 different versions of your page title.

The Role of the Page Title Place

Before we start talking about the different versions of the page title, you need to understand the role of the “Page Title Place”. The role of the “Page Title Place” is, it explains to the search engine and to a searcher what the content of your page is about so it should be descriptive and keyword-rich. Sometimes, that’s not the most user-friendly title for a given page. We’ll use an example here on the site and look at these videos here where we have an SEO title and we have a user-friendly title which are different.

Version 1 – Reader-friendly Title

Here’s our page title, “Lesson 7 – Part 1 – The Kind of site we are creating”. If you are working your way through the videos, this is a very friendly title, “Lesson 7 Part 1”. It tells you where you are in the series, what video part you’re looking at and is a very useful, reader-friendly title.

This is a very poor search engine title because “Lesson 7-Part 1” doesn’t actually tell a search engine anything about the content of this page or this post.  It may tell them something about the sequence but it doesn’t tell them anything about the actual content. So, we have our page title, “Lesson 7 – Part 1 – The kind of site we are creating” which is one kind of title.

Version 2- Search Engine or Google-Friendly Slug

The second kind of title is our Page Slug. The page slug by default is the page title with all of the capitals removed and all of the spaces removed and replaced with hyphens (-), that is the normal page title. However, we don’t really think that’s particularly helpful to a searcher. A searcher doesn’t need to see “Lesson 7 – Part 1” in this because I’ve already said “Lesson 7” some place in this URL so we need to take this and to make it an even briefer summary.

We want our URL to read, “video-tutorials/how-to-build-a-website/using-thesis-theme/lesson-7-site-organization/what-we-are-creating/”. That’s how we want this URL to read. Part 1 of the site title is the user-friendly site title, Part 2 of the site title is the slug which we used in connection with the entire URL so that it reads like a sentence.

Version 3 –  Search Engine Friendly Title

Part 3 of the title is the “Search Engine Friendly” title. A good Custom Title Tag here would not include “Lesson 7 Part 1” but it would include the content of this post. In this case, it is “This course teaches how to create a professional services website”. Our keywords in this case really are “professional services website” and what we have here is this Custom Title Tag.

Custom Title Tag or Meta Title

Thesis Theme gives you the ability to essentially recreate your page title in a way that is more useful to search engines and the searchers, The Custom Title Tag is actually the search engine title for the page which is embedded in the HTML of the page. We routinely call it the “Meta Title” because it’s not something a human ever sees when on the page itself, it’s something your web browser and Google or other search engines see and may use on the Search Engine Results Page.

I say “may” because if the search engine thinks there is a better title based on the content, it may use a title directly from the content of your page. This should only happen if you have not been properly descriptive of the actual content of the page in the Meta Title. So, make sure your custom title tag or meta title reflects the actual content on your page.

This custom title is much more useful because it’s not focused on the sequence, it’s focused on the content. If you’re actually reading this page and working your way through the videos, the sequence is really important to you.

The net result of this is that we have 3 different titles. We have the “Reader-Friendly Title”, we have the “Search Engine Friendly Slug”, we have “Search-Friendly Title”. There is actually a fourth version of this title which doesn’t show up here because we aren’t using this page in the menu. But the fourth version is what you would give for a title in the menu.

Version 4 – Navigation Title Version

If we come back over here for example,”West Seattle View Home Designed by Rick Anderson”, this might actually be used as a title because I’m trying to establish the connection between my name and “Home Design”, right? I’ve got some keywords in here that I’m trying to connect up. I might in fact connect those two together in this title even if I wouldn’t put it in the URL. I definitely don’t want those additional words to show up in the Navigation Menu.

If we look at our Navigation Menu and “West Seattle View Home Designed by Rick Anderson”, obviously I don’t want that part of it in there so we take that part of it out. The Menu would only say, “West Seattle View Home” even on the page title it said, “West Seattle View Home Designed by Rick Anderson”. That’s the fourth version of the page title.

Version 1 of the page title is the “Reader-Friendly Version”, version 2 is the “Google-Friendly Version in the URL”, version 3 is the custom title tag” which is the “Searcher-Friendly Version” and version 4 is the “Navigation Version”. Each of these are versions of the page title and it’s important to be able to customize each of them for their specific purpose.

Search Engine Results

Let’s take a look at the search engine result for a moment. I just want to show you what the search engine result looks like from this so you can see where the different pieces of the puzzle fit together.

We’re going to open a page, “Build an Online Store Using Shopp”. If we look at the search engine results on this, this is what the “SEO-Friendly Title” is or the “Searcher-Friendly Title” is, “Create an ECommerce Site with WordPress, Thesis and Shopp” and that SEO URL is video-tutorials/build-an-online-store-using-shopp.

These are two different expressions of that page title which is “Build an Online Store Using Shopp”, I don’t include “WordPress and Thesis” even though I do here in the custom title tag. So, we’ve got those 4 different views again of this title.

Meta Description of the Content of the Page

The next thing that you have to do is the “Meta Description”. The “Meta Description” is a description of the content of the page. It should be a keyword-rich and descriptive of the content and is not something that anybody sees when they look at your page but it is what is returned on the search results page.

This little block right here is the Meta Description and what comes back in the search result, “Learn how to create an ECommerce site using WordPress, Thesis and Shopp with our video tutorials series where we teach you how to create an online store”.

That is essentially our little sales pitch. It’s telling what the page is about, we’ve got a Meta Title that has our keywords in each, “ECommerce Site, WordPress, Thesis and Shopp” and then our URL that also has some of the keywords in it. Those are all parts of that “On-Page SEO” related both to the title and to the “Meta Description”.

There are bunch of other things that go into this conversation about SEO as well. We’ve got our “Title” and our “Meta Description” but we also have “Headings”. We’ve talked about the “Headings” being the logical organizational structure of the content of the page. In order for them to be that,  they also need to have keywords and they need to be descriptive.

The Importance of Descriptive Keywords

That’s what we include in this page, “A Fully Functioning Online Store Using WordPress, Thesis and Shopp”, a subheading, “Shopp and Thesis are a Perfect Combination” and another major heading, “Build an Ecommerce Website Course Outline” and then we have our subheadings with the different elements of the course outline. Each of these subheadings has keywords in them and it’s fairly easy to tell what this page is about simply by skimming through these various headings that have the relevant keywords in them and emphasizes to Google what the content of the page is about.

Internal Links

Then we have links. Remember I told you that the link text doesn’t tell you something about the content of the page that the link is on, it tells you something about the content of the page that is being linked to. The “On-Page SEO” for this doesn’t really show up on this page, it shows up on the other pages that are linking back to this page. For example, “customizing Thesis using hooks and filters”, this is a link and it’s linking off to a page that is about the subject “using Thesis hooks and filters”.

Relevance of the Link

This link doesn’t say anything about our “Build an Online Store Using Shopp” page, the link says something about the page it’s being linked to. However, links elsewhere on the site that point back to this page are reinforcing in Google’s mind what this page is about. That’s how you think about links, the link is relevant to the pages it’s being linked to.

Emphasized Text within a Content

Then we have emphasized text. For example, you can see this piece of text “WordPress, Thesis and Shopp”, Live Seminar Series”, both of those things are bolded. and this bolding emphasizes these words adding to the emphasis of what the content on this page is about. This page is about a “Live Seminar Series” and that “Live Seminar Series” is about “WordPress, Thesis and Shopp”. These bits of emphasized text whether they’re bolded or whatever they are, are reinforcing that.

SEO Benefit of an Alt Text Associated with Images

There aren’t any images on here, so I don’t have any “Alt text” but that’s the next thing that you can have.The “Alt Text” associated with these images has an SEO benefit. This is why you would include “Alt Text” because Google assumes that your putting the “Alt Text” there for the benefit of somebody who doesn’t see the image.

You’re trying to describe the image and since the image is relevant to the content of the page, Google thinks of that “Alt Text” as being useful to understand the actual content of the page. That’s why it’s important for “Alt Text”  to be descriptive and if the description should include keywords.

Title Property for Images and Links

Then you have one final thing which is the “Image and Link Titles”. When we hover over this thing, you can see “Builders Spec Home Design” as the title, that’s the tool tip that pops up, same thing when we hover over “Learn More About this Project”. Google also looks at that title property for images and links, for hints about the content of the page. This is also a way in which you can continue to reinforce your on-page SEO, reinforce what the page is about for search engines when they are indexing your page.

There’s so much more that can be said about this and so I do encourage you to take the time to go back and look at the information that I suggested to you on the blog about Search Engine Optimization as well as other videos I have on the topic especially as it relates to Thesis.

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