NoHat 101 – On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO is one of the most important aspects of SEO today as it has become an increasingly important role in Google’s algorithm.

While it may sound hard, it’s not – just write content with readers in mind, not SEO.

This is the best way to get sticky visitors, have the opportunity to go viral, and avoid any over-optimization penalties.

Here are some best practices to follow that will please both crawlers and users.

Page Structure

Let’s go through a few key components of a webpage.

The URL

url-example

You want to try and shoot for a URL that doesn’t look spammy (bestpethairvacuumsinireland.net), so make it simple, relatively short, and brandable. If you can include one of your targeted keywords in it, then that’s even better, but don’t force it.

Also, if you’re already using WordPress, we strongly recommend you to use the Post Name permalink setting.

This will automatically put your title as a default URL (www.yoursite.com/your-post-title).

sample-permalink

Title/H1 Header

Your title has to include your main keyword. It’s the first thing that Google’s crawlers will look at when getting onto your page, so consider your title as your page’s ID.

The "Title" is located on the tab as well on at the top of your articles.

The “Title” is located on the tab as well on at the top of your articles.

That being said, always remember that your title is also the first thing your readers will see when browsing on Google. If it’s not appealing, they won’t click on it and you’ll lose all the purpose of ranking high, so make sure your title pops and uses the right keywords in it as well.

Your "Title" also shows on Google’s results pages.

Your “Title” also shows on Google’s results pages.

The H2 Header

This is most likely the second thing crawlers will look at when they get onto your page. If you can, try to include at least two H2 titles on your money pages. You don’t have to include your main keyword in the H2, but try to at least include synonyms or related terms to make sure that crawlers understand what your page is about.

h1-vs-h2-headers

The Body

Again, the rule here is to write the best content possible for the user without focusing on SEO too much. You should however be careful not to mention your targeted keywords too many times. At NoHatDigital, we think that one mention per 750 words is more than enough. If your keyword is a 4-word+ (e.g best hotel in Texas), we recommend you aim for even lower than that.

article-body

Pictures

Crawlers obviously can’t look at images. This is why you have a Title and Alt tag to tell them what your images are about. We generally don’t use main keywords for images but rather synonyms and related terms in order to avoid over optimization.

it's important to use "Titles" and "Alt text" within images.

Right click and view the image properties of this image to see what we mean.

Remember that Google likes a page with lots of images, and it can also be a way for you to rank on Google Image.

Meta-Description

The meta-description is the two line snippet you’ll find below your title on Google’s results page. It is the second thing readers will see after the title, so it should be engaging and reinforcing why your website is what the user is looking for.

Like this…

meta-description-serps

It’s always a good idea to include some of your targeted keywords in it, but make sure it is readable and inviting for the user so they will click on it!

Over-Optimization

While the Google Penguin update was more focused on off-page factors, the Panda update was aimed at penalizing websites with suspicious (aka crappy) on-page content.

Avoiding a Panda penalty is very simple as long as you follow these 4 rules:

Duplicate Content

Weeding out pages that had duplicate content from its SERPs (search engine results pager) was Google’s main objective with the Panda update.

Several online publishers/marketers were simply grabbing tons of content from other websites and slapping them on their own because they didn’t want to spend the effort in creating good content for their readers.

Just make sure that the content on your site is original and you’ll be fine.

If you are hiring writers for your content, always make sure that you use Copyscape and make sure it’s unique and doesn’t exist somewhere else.

Keyword Stuffing

Keyword stuffing consists of trying to mention your targeted keywords as many times as possible on your page to potentially rank higher by including them in the body, title, images, footer, sidebars, meta tags (which are useless anyways these days), and the meta-description.

Simply put – just don’t do this. It worked years ago, but will kill your chances of ranking today.
Logic will also tell you that this is just a horrible user experience.How do you feel when you see this:

Great example of keyword stuffing. “Cheap loans” is mentioned 7 times in a 520 word article.

Great example of keyword stuffing. “Cheap loans” is mentioned 7 times in a 520 word article.

Too Many Damn Links

While having links on your page is generally a positive signal for Google (especially if they point to big authority sites), a page with too many links can be harmful for your site.

Just make sure that the links you put on your site are really useful to the reader, and never link to pages that look spammy.

When you get to the Off-Page section of the course, you’ll learn why using exact match anchor text during your link-building efforts is a big no-no.

Don’t Hide From Crawlers

At some point during your SEO journey, you will probably run into tons of  “SEO gurus” that will share all their “underground” techniques on how you can manipulate the search engines.

One of these techniques is fooling the crawlers by having them show users content that they cannot see (ex: white keyword stuffed text on a white background).

This technique is known as cloaking.

The bottom line is that you don’t want to hide or misdirect users because it’s only a matter of time before Google catches and penalizes you.

Just don’t do it. It’s not worth the risk

Internal Linking

internal-linksInternal linking is when you use links like this to point to other pages of your own website and should be a priority when it comes to your On-Page SEO strategy.

Using this technique passes around link juice (i.e. strength) to other pages on your website and makes your website “stronger” in a sense.

For example, if you have a specific page on your site that is getting a lot of traffic and has high PA/DA metrics, then you need to capitalize on the strength of this page by linking out to other pages on your site.

Doing this can help rank your other weaker pages in Google, which in turn, can attract more traffic.

Done!

Boom – now that you’ve learned a thing or 2 about On-Page SEO, it’s time to drill down some solid Off-Page strategies that will help put you on Google’s radar!

Next Step: Learn About Off-Page SEO