Foodie SEO: How To Boost Your SEO With On-Page Optimization
Welcome to another edition of FoodieSEO!
This entry's topic is On-Page Optimization, or things you should be doing to your actual web page to help it rank higher in search results and reach more users.
Off-Page Optimization are things you do separately from your website. This is mostly linkbuilding, which is creating links on other sites to your site. If you want to learn more about that, check out our Foodie SEO entry about links and how to build a linkbuilding strategy .
We'll discuss two main areas of On-Page Optimization.
1) The Technical
These are best practices when it comes to the set up and coding of your page.
2) The Content Related
This is what kind of content you should be creating, and how to display that content on your webpage.
We're going to go over individual best practices for both categories.
First: The Technical Stuff:
1) Create Accurate & Descriptive Meta Tags
A Meta Tag is an HTML tag that you create for a web page. It contains information about the page's content. Search engines will use this information.
There are numerous types of meta tags, but we are going to talk about three important ones that you should be optimizing: Title Tags, Description Tags and Keyword Tags.
You should have descriptive and accurate meta tags for each of your pages. This is something you should talk to your web designer about if you do not manage your own site.
A) Meta Title Tag
The title tag is an html tag which contains the title of your page. This is displayed on your site and in search results. The image below shows iFood.tv's title tags in red. The title tag usually appears in the first line of search results.
The Page Title helps users and search engines identify the subject matter of the page. You should have a unique page title for each page of your site, because each page is different! This is one huge thing that users will look at when deciding whether or not to click on your site in search results. If the title sounds interesting and relevant, they will click on it. In addition, words in the title will be bolded if they were used in the search query.
Therefore it's important to have descriptive and accurate page titles for each of your pages so you can make sure users know exactly what they are looking at! Titles should also be less than 70 characters. This ensures that the entire title will be displayed in a search result. Each page should have a unique title tag.
B) Description Meta Tag
The description meta tag is basically an html tag that is a short description of the page's content. It can be as long as a short paragraph. Google sometimes uses excerpts from your page's description tags to display underneath your page's title in search results. The image below shows the beginning of the description tag for iFood.tv's homepage.
Again, users may see this description and use it to determine whether or not to click on your site. Like the title tag, words in the description tag will be bolded if they were used in the search query. Create different, accurate description tags for each of your pages.
C) Meta Keyword Tag
The keyword meta tag is an html tag that is used to highlight specific keywords that are relevant to a particular page. You can include 5-10 keywords that are relevant to the page. This tells search engines about the subject matter of your page. You should have different meta keyword tags for each webpage, although some main keywords can overlap.
For example, a chocolate site's homepage might have a keyword meta tag with the keywords: chocolate, recipes, sweets. A page about chocolate candies on that site might have a keyword meta tag with the keywords: caramel, toffee, chocolate.
3) Use a Logical & Clean URL Structure
Use descriptive, simple urls for your webpages that describe the page, rather than a long list of random numbers and letters.
- This is another thing that may require cooperation with your web designer.
- For example, if your site has a page about chocolate candy, the url could be: http://www.examplesite.com/chocolate/chocolate-candy. This is much clearer than a url which is http://www.examplesite.com/folder1/ch31934.
Each page should have only 1 unique url. This is important because:
- Users will have a better idea of the content of a page with the url http://www.examplesite.com/chocolate/chocolate-candy vs a url that contains random numbers and letters.
- Users may link to you and use the url as the anchor text. A reminder from our Linkbuilding entry: Anchor text is the clickable part of a hyperlink. The anchor text for links to your site should contain relevant keywords that are related to your webpage. If you have relevant keywords in your url, this will better communicate what your link is about and also help you rank for those keywords through that inbound link.
4) Have Logical & Clear Site Navigation
Site navigation is how your site is laid out, and how a user naturally goes from one page to another.
A) You should plan out your site navigation based on your homepage, or your starting page. The navigation should make sense, as it flows from your homepage outward. Pages should naturally become more specific in nature as visitors navigate deeper into your site. For example, a chocolate blog could have the following navigation:
â Homepage → General Chocolate Page → Specific Chocolate Topic Page
B) Your site should have a breadcrumb list, which is a row of site links on a constant part of the site (top, bottom or sidebar) which shows visitors their path through the site.
This allows them to quickly navigate back to a previous page, hence the name breadcrumbs, like the trail left by Hansel and Gretel to remind themselves of which path they took.
To the right is an example of iFood.tv's breadcrumb navigation for a user that visited the homepage, then the recipes page before clicking on the Chocolate Upon Chocolate Meringue Cookies Video.
Why is this important?
1) Having clear and logical navigation will help visitors browse your site. They will be able to see what a page is about.
2) Search engines use your breadcrumb navigation to index your site. If you remember from our entry about how search engines work, they have to crawl your content to store it in a database before they can show it in search results. A search engine cannot crawl a page unless they know it exists, and you want search engines to index all your content. Having breadcrumb navigation will help search engines index your entire site because the crawler can go through each link and explore subsequent links.
5) Prepare a sitemap on your webpage, and submit a Sitemap to Google
A site map is a page on your site which displays the link structure of your entire site, in order.
- For example, Celebrity Wine Review TV has a sitemap which is shown in the image on the right.
- This helps users discover other pages on your site if they have trouble navigating it on their own. It also helps search engines index your content by giving them a clear map of your site.
You should also create a Sitemap (with a capital S), which you can submit to search engines.
- A Sitemap, usually in a .xml format, is a list of all the pages on your site.
- Again this is important for making sure that search engines know all about the pages on your site.
- Sitemaps are especially helpful if your site is new and does not have many inbound links, or if your content pages aren't internally linked to each other very extensively.
For more specific information from Google on how to create a Sitemap, click here. You can also use Sitemaps to tell Google information about specific types of content on your site such as images and video. The Sitemap can also contain additional information about your site such as how frequently your site is updated.
There is no guarantee that a search engine will crawl or index every single URL you submit. However the Sitemap will provide them with information about your site's structure, which allows them to learn how to crawl your site more effectively in the future.
6) Have a useful error page
If a user types in a wrong url, have an error page that redirects them back to your homepage, or provide links to other popular content. This makes it easier for users to get back on track to what they are looking for, versus a generic error message.
7) Optimize your Images
A compelling site should include interesting images. You can optimize your images as well, although this may require some cooperation with your web designer as well.
1) Have clear, descriptive file names for your images, wherever they are hosted.
This helps search engines understand what the image is, so it can be indexed and displayed in image search results. The alt text and image name are the only way to tell search engines what your image depicts. If your images are optimized well for targeted keywords, you can receive traffic from image searches.
2) Store your image files in specialized directories
3) Have descriptive alt text for your images.
Alt text is an html attribute that will display alternative text if the image is unable to load for some reason.
â For example, if the alt text for a chocolate image is "Delicious chocolate chip cookie", that is the text that will display where the image is supposed to be if it cannot load. This will give users information about the image even if they cannot see it.
â Sometimes images will be blocked on certain devices, or there might be a temporary loading error that does not show the image. Having clear alt text for all your images will cover all your bases in case this happens.
â In addition if the image is linked, the alt text has a similar purpose to the anchor text of a text link. However you should focus on having mostly text links.
The Content Stuff
1) Optimize Your Links and Link Internally
Have relevant and descriptive (but brief) anchor text. Again, a reminder from our Linkbuilding entry: Anchor text is the clickable part of a hyperlink. The anchor text for links to your site should contain relevant keywords that are related to your webpage. Make links easy to spot to encourage click through.
You should also have an internal linking strategy. Link to your own content within your own site. You can have content such as related recipes, other articles that might be interesting, etc.
- This provides users with easy access to content that might be interesting, and encourages them to further explore your site.
It also helps search engines index your content by giving them more paths to other pages. If a search engine finds a page with no links, they are not able to go any further or crawl any more content from that point. Having links to other pages on your site helps them navigate more content.
2) Make Your Content Easy to Scan
Lay out your content so it's easy for a reader to quickly skim through and get information.
Some ways to do this are by using:
A) Short paragraphs
B) Bulleted or numbered lists
C) Headers and Sub-headers
- Use headings (titles) to help organize your content.
Incorporate keywords you found in your keyword research into these headlines.
- The closer these keywords are to the beginning of the title, the better the content wil rank.
- Users might end up using your headline as the anchor text when they link to you, which will help your site rank for those terms!
- Keep titles under 72 characters so that the full title will be visible in a search result, which will make it more clearly understood. This will increase the chances of a user clicking on it.
3) Create Quality Content
This is the most important thing you can do to optimize your site for search engines. If you don't have quality content to begin with, no amount of SEO tricks and linkbuilding will be sustainable.
- Your content should be relevant, original, and compelling. This will help your site attract users naturally. In addition users will be more likely to voluntarily share your content.
- Content that is at least 300 words or longer will have an easier time ranking in search results.
- Keep your content fresh and timely. As discussed in a previous entry, you can use keyword research to drive your content strategy by figuring out what users are searching for when it comes to your expertise.
- Use relevant keywords in your content. There are two important terms to remember when it comes to optimization with keywords:
- Keyword frequency: the number of times the keyword appears on the page
- Keyword density: the ratio of the keywords to all other words on the page
If your keyword density is over 5.5%, it may look like you are keyword stuffing, which is considered a spammy and bad practice. This will hurt your SEO, so make sure your page is not obviously trying to rank for a certain word. Use relevant target keywords as much as possible, but make sure it still sounds natural.
You can do this by using variations of your target keyword phrases through out the page. This will help you target a variety of relevant keywords while still keeping the language natural.
- Use synonyms, keyword modifiers, alternate word orders, etc.
- You can also use keyword variations that you find through keyword research tools when you look up your relevant term.
There are two main areas of On-Page Optimization.
These are best practices when it comes to the set up and coding of your website. This may require some assistance from your web designer if you do not handle the technical aspects of your site. and how your website is technically set up.
- Create Descriptive Meta Tags
- Use a Logical & Clean URL Structure
- Have Logical & Clear Site Navigation
- Prepare a Sitemap
- Have a Useful Error Page
- Optimize Your Images
The Content Related:
This relates to what kind of content you should be creating, and how that content should be displayed on your webpage.
- Optimize Your Links
- Have an Internal Linking Strategy
- Make Your Content Easy To Scan
- Create Compelling and Fresh Content
Of course there are even more things that you should be doing to optimize on your webpage, but these are some of the more important steps. If you'd like to find out more, take a look at the following resources:
Thanks so much for reading! Leave any questions or comments below.