25 Important Factors To Be Considered For On Page SEO
In the previous chapter – Keyword Placements As Part Of On-Page SEO Effort, we learned how to strategically place keyword(s) on our webpage for SEO purposes. This chapter focuses on all the important factors to be considered for on page SEO
In this chapter, we will learn the 25 important factors that are considered as good SEO practices for ranking your website and webpages higher on the search engine result pages.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that, for the sake of simplicity in writing, I would use the term Keyword(s) which directly or indirectly means Keywords or Keyword Phrases
Important Factors To Be considered For On Page SEO
Apart from keyword(s) placement on a webpage, there are 25 more important factors that need to be considered to successfully execute an SEO campaign. Those factors can be classified into two categories – “Website Design/Development Related Factors” and “Hosting/Server Related Factors”. They are as listed below.
- Writing Rich Content
- Maintaining Code Standards
- Having Sitemaps On Website/Webpage
- Use CSS For Designing And Formatting Code
- Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly
- Have Unique On-Page SEO Elements
- Include Engaging Objects In Your Website
- Build A Dynamic Website
- Build A Easy To Use Website
- Have These 5 Elements On The Page Footer
- Implement Site Search option On The Website
- Create Call-To Actions On Website
- Categorize Your Website Based On Products And Services
- Include robots.txt In Your Website
- Avoid Duplicate Content On Your Site
- Implement Structured Data MarkUp
- Place outbound links on the web pages
- Design and Develop Fast Loading Websites
- Use 301 redirects when a page is permanently moved
- Customize your 404 error pages
- Avoid Soft 404 Error
- Say No To Low-Speed Servers
- Avoid Hosting Websites on Virtual IP addresses
Let me explain each one in detail.
1. Writing Rich Content
It is a known fact that in marketing “Content Is King”. People visit your site for information. How much pleased is your website visitor depends on the quality and quantity of your website or webpage content? Keep this in mind – Quality weighs more over Quantity. If your website visitor is happy about your site, then, the search engines too are happy. Else, the vice versa. The whole goal of search engines is to give web users – a pleasant search experience.
Give rich (high quality), relevant and enough(moderate quantity) information to your website visitors to help them take appropriate decisions. The richness and relevance in the content should be such that, they must come back to you for more and more.
Make sure you optimize the content with the appropriate keyword(s) as discussed in the chapter Keyword Placements As Part Of On Page SEO. Search Engines will rank those sites on the top of search engine result pages, that are considered as authoritative and expert in a particular subject.
For you to be considered as an authority on your niche, write page content that consists a minimum of 600 words. Have several such pages/posts/content on your website. A website with 1000 pages of relevant content is considered to rank higher than the one with only 20 pages of relevant content on a specific niche.
2. Maintaining Coding Standards
Google search engine loves to organically rank website/webpages that follow and adheres to strict coding guidelines. The reason is the search engine finds such websites/webpages easy to navigate and evaluate.
These guidelines are specified by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) and the coding standard is famously referred to as W3C coding standards. For successful SEO of your website/webpage, make sure, your website/webpage code meets W3C standards. You can validate your webpage/website code for W3C standards using the free tool – W3 VALIDATOR. After validating, If you find any errors in your website/webpage code, quickly fix it. Either you can do it yourself (if you know to code) else outsource it to someone who knows to code.
3. Avoid Websites/Webpages With Flash Content
Google search engine cannot read flash content. How much ever great your website looks with flash content, it is of no use when it comes to search engine optimization. Though Google is striving its best to enhance its search engine’s capability to read flash files and its textual content, there is no much success in that area. Therefore, placing keyword(s) in any form into your Flash file does not yield organic results on SERPs.
5. Use CSS For Designing And Formatting Code (For Improving Page Load Speed)
It is a good practice to use CSS (cascading style sheets) for formatting the code while developing webpages. Instead of placing all formatting-related code on the webpage itself, separating it using CSS will keep your webpage code neat and clean and help load pages faster.
Do not panic if you aren’t aware of web development. Most SEO professionals don’t understand web development. But a good understanding of web development will be an added advantage. If you aren’t good at it, you can anyways outsource the development work to someone who is good at it.
6. Having HTML Sitemap on your website
A sitemap is an actual page of your website that provides access to all other pages on your website through links or anchor text. It outlines the complete structure of your site to a user as well as search engines. The link to anchor text has to be placed on the main homepage where the user first visits. Though not mandatory, it is the generic way. You can decide to place a link to the HTML sitemap based on your SEO requirements.
The HTML sitemap is a very important factor to be considered as part of your SEO effort as it serves three important purposes. Firstly, it is valuable for human visitors, as it allows them to find any page within your site quickly. Secondly, HTML sitemaps represent a very efficient way to distribute your link juice (importance of a webpage) among the other pages of your site. Thirdly, it enables search engine spiders to crawl your site much quicker.
7. Making Your Website Mobile-Friendly
Approximately, 75% of all the internet traffic comes from mobile devices. Google has confirmed that mobile friendliness is one of the major factors that it considers to rank a website higher on search engine result pages.
The looks and functioning of the website on the mobile should be as easy and pleasant for the user as it is on the desktop. To know how to make your website mobile friendly, you must read this chapter on – 12 Tips To Make Your Website Mobile Friendly
8. Have Unique On-Page SEO Elements
The following On-Page SEO elements should be unique for a particular page.
- Meta Title Tag
- Meta Description Tag
- Meta Keywords Tag
- Website URL
- Heading Tag ( H1 )
These are the elements used by search engines to uniquely identify a particular page on your website. Having multiple pages with the same content in the On-Page SEO elements will confuse the search engines.
As a result, the search engines will ignore those pages assuming redundancy and deny them the ability to rank for several keyword(s). Therefore, the contents in the on-page SEO elements must be unique for every webpage.
9. Include Engaging Objects In Your Website (To Reduce Bounce Rate)
Engaging Objects include images, videos, audios or podcasts. Having engaging objects will enhance the user experience of your website visitor and encourages him or her to stay a long time on the page.
Spending a long time on your website will enable the user to build an internal relationship with your website and your business that leads to conversion.
As visitors spend more time on your website, the bounce rate comes down drastically which is a positive sign from a search engine point of view. Bounce rate is another major factor search engines uses to ranks pages on its result pages.
Bounce Rate is the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page – Wikipedia
Images could be your product/service related pictures (think amazon.com) and videos could be product demos, client testimonials etc. All these will help customers stick on to your site for a longer time.
10. Build A Dynamic Website
A dynamic website is built using CMS (content management system) such as WordPress. The advantage of having your website dynamic is that one can quickly and easily publish webpages without having to learn how to code. From an SEO point of view, a non-coder need not worry about changing the HTML code for SEO purposes.
The CMS comes with handy tools that automatically helps you to optimize your website for SEO. Also, there are several ready-made plugins available which can be installed into your CMS with just a click or two.
These plugins help website owners to easily optimize websites for SEO without having to know HTML coding. In other words, these plugins will generate HTML code on the fly by just clicking a button.
11. Build A Easy To Use Website ( To Reduce Bounce Rate )
The percentage of visitors who visit only one page on your website is called Bounce Rate.
Bounce Rate and Time Spent On Site are two of the other major factors that search engines take into account while ranking websites/webpages on search engine result pages.
To reduce bounce rate, you have to build a user-friendly website. Visitors should find it easy to navigate through different pages of your website and stay connected to it. Give the visitor the information upfront as soon as they land on your website or webpage.
The user behavior is such that, upon not finding the relevant content upfront, they tend to click the back button immediately to find the information elsewhere on the web. This is sensed as a negative signal by search engines about your website which can demote your search rankings.
On the contrary, if users find relevant information and content upfront when they visit your website, they tend to navigate through other pages of your site resulting in reduced bounce rate and increased time spent on your site. This is sensed as a positive signal by search engines about your website and thus promotes your website on the top of search engine result pages.
Also, make sure the navigation to find more information from one page to another page is made as smooth as possible without much clutter and confusions. This improves user engagement.
12. Have These 5 Elements On The Footer
Having the following 5 elements on your website increases the authenticity of your website in the eyes of users as well as search engines. It is a must and the right place on your website to have these 5 elements is the footer section.
- Contact Address Of Your Business
- Link To Contact Us Page
- Disclaimer Document
- Terms & Conditions Document
- Quick Links To Other Important Pages Within The Site
- Short Description About Your Business
13. Implement Site Search option On The Website
If your business demands a massive website, with 1000s of pages of contents, then, Site Search Option is a must. Site Search Option helps website visitors to locate the information and content that they are looking for easily. It helps user engagement, decreases bounce rate and increases the time spent on the site – Overall a good strategy for SEO. Huge e-commerce websites like amazon.com have a well-defined internal site search options which are a search engine by itself.
14. Create Call-To Actions On Website
Call-To-Actions include a contact form, hyperlink to other webpages, Add To Cart option or anything that requires user action to achieve their desired goal. Having strong call-to-action helps increase user engagement and are strong positive signals for search engines to rank your websites on higher on search engine result pages.
15. Categorize Your Website Based On Products And Services
If you are a website selling multiple products or services, creating separate landing pages for each product and services is a good idea. This not only helps search engines rank individual pages for specific products or services but also helps in improving the overall user experience.
Categorizing your website separately based on individual products and services will avoid dilution of your website/webpage theme. After categorizing, each individual pages should be well connected to each other through internal links and anchor text. This aids users and search engines in finding relevant content easily.
It is a good idea to design it this way – if you have the main product and supporting products or services, make the main product’s landing page as the home page and landing pages of other products/services as internal pages. Give links to the other pages from the homepage and let the other pages point to the main page to indicate the importance of the main page. The page that gets the maximum number of links pointing to it, is considered as the main page of that particular website. An SEO strategy. This technique is called “Siloing”.
A detailed understanding of Siloing is explained in the chapter – 5-Step Method To Organize Website Content For Higher Search Engine Rankings
16. Include Robots.txt In Your Website
Robots.txt is a text file on your website that is created to instruct search engine robots (also called “spiders” or “crawlers”) how to crawl pages on your website. In practice, robots.txt files indicate whether search engine robots can or cannot crawl and index parts of your website.
These crawl instructions are specified by “disallowing” or “allowing” the behavior of certain (or all) search engine robots. Search Engines does not consider ranking your websites without a well written robots.txt file. In fact, it is said that robots.txt file is the first thing that a web crawler checks for in a website for crawling and indexing purposes.
More about robots.txt is explained in the chapter – Fundamental Understanding Of Robots.Txt
17. Avoid Duplicate Content On Your Site
Duplicate content on your site could be intentional or unintentional. Whatever may be the cause, having duplicate content on your site (either yours or copied from other websites) is a serious issue.
During the crawling and indexing process, the search engines will filter out all the pages with duplicate content from its database while delivering search results. With an extra-ordinary algorithm in place, it is not at all a difficult task for the search engines to figure out which was the original content. One of the ways could be using the publishing date.
And in worst cases, if search engines understand that you have intentionally plagiarised others content, you stand a chance for a penalty which might range from a simple rank drop to a major problem like the entire website getting de-indexed.
If the page being filtered out happens to be the one with more number of external links pointing to it, your link equity for the page is at stake – which is bad for SEO.
18. Implement Structured Data MarkUp
Structured data (also called “Schema”) is a set of tags or code snippet (Rich Snippets) in a standardized format that needs to be added to your HTML for providing clear-cut and quick information about a particular page and its intentions in order to drive users to click on their links.
By adding structured data, you can improve the way search engines read, interpret and represent your page in search engine result pages.
Though Google or any other search engines does not guarantee high rankings in the search engines for webpages implementing Structure Data Markup, it is worthwhile to add rich snippets (Structured Data) to your webpages as it gives more meaning to your web links on the search engine result pages.
For detailed implementation, you can visit the chapter – How To Improve SEO Using Structured Data
19. Place outbound links on the web pages
Outbound links are those links that are going out of your site to point to some other site. Your reputation with the search engine increases if your website links to experts and other resources within your industry through outbound links on your site.
When you redirect users to a specific resource out of your website, it shows users about your intention to provide them with the best solution for their problem. It enhances user experience and their trust on both you and your business increases. The success of Wikipedia is – more relevant outbound links to help users find relevant information with ease.
While placing outbound links, link to non-competitive sites that are relevant to your business niche. Also, do not link to websites for the sake of having outbound links. The goal is to have links the provides users with useful and relevant information.
The utmost important thing about outbound linking is – link only to those websites that have a good reputation with search engines. Linking to irrelevant and spammy websites will destroy your reputation with search engines resulting in penalties.
20. Design and Develop Fast Loading Websites
If your website, does not load in less than 3 seconds (the max time), you got to seriously think of redesigning and developing your existing site. Loading speed is one of the major factors, search engines take into consideration while ranking your site on the search result pages. Faster the page load time, better the user experience. Better the user experience, high chances of ranking on top of search results.
This link helps you understand how to improve your page load speed – Speed Up Your Page Load Speed
Google’s page speed insights tool gives you a clear picture of your website’s page speed status – Page Speed Insights Tool
21. Use 301 redirects when a page is permanently moved
Assume your website had a page named “chicken-spicy-masala” that was already indexed by search engines with the URL “http://www.example.com/chicken-spicy-masala”. Recently, you decided to change its name to “chicken-spicy-and-tasty-masala” and the new URL becomes “http://www.example.com/chicken-spicy-and-tasty-masala”.
In such scenarios, you should redirect the old page’s URL to the new page’s URL using 301 redirects. A 301 redirect is an https server response code (sent to the web browser) which indicates that the requested page (either by user or search engine) is moved permanently elsewhere.
It is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. 301 redirects search engines and website visitors to a different URL than the one they originally typed into their browser or arrived at from a SERP.
By redirecting using “301 redirects”, the search engine removes the old URL from its index and updates it with the new URL. And also, it passes the link equity of the old URL to the new one. (Link equity is the importance the webpage carries in the eyes of search engines. Link Equity is explained in detail in the chapter – Fundamentals Of Link Building)
To learn how to use 301 redirects, you can refer to this article – How To Implement 301 Redirects
22. Customize your 404 error pages
What happens when one of your website page that was already indexed by search engines is removed from your website permanently? The server returns an HTTP response code “404-Page Not Found” error to the web browser when search engines and users try to access that page.
The only thing users do when encountered with a 404-Error page is – abandon the page either by clicking the cross button on the tab or hit the back button. The result is – Bad User Experience.
From an SEO point of view, there is no big impact when search engine encounters a 404-Error page apart from the fact that, it blocks search engines from navigating to other parts of the website during that particular crawling process time.
The smart way to handle 404 error pages is to avoid a 404 error page by having a physical page, that is well customized to provide a better search experience to both users and search engines.
From the user’s point of view, let the page indicate the users that the pages have been removed for so and so purpose, or apologize for being unable to render the requested page, redirect them to similar pages elsewhere, link back to your home page or something else that can keep your page visitors happy.
From the search engine’s point of view, include links to other parts of your website to avoid search engines abandoning your site from crawling further. It is always the best idea to give search engines something to follow.
23. Avoid Soft 404 Error
Unlike standard HTTP server response code 301 and 404, a soft 404 is not an official response code sent to a web browser. It is just a tag or label given to specific pages within the Google search engine’s index.
When a requested page does not exist, the typical server response must be “404-Page Not Found” error. But, there are high chances of a poorly configured server returning a success code ( 200 – For successful page existence) to the web browser when requested for a non-existent page. In some other cases, instead of a “not found” page, the requested page might be a page with a little or empty page which has no meaning by its very existence. Such URLs are termed as soft 404.
Having such pages indexed by search engines is considered a waste of search engine’s time and resource. It also has no value from the user point of view. Such URLs with thin content has high chances of getting hit by search engine penalties like Google’s Panda Penalty which might affect the overall performance of the website.
In such cases, you can do either of the following:
- Configure the server to return proper “404 – Page Not Found Error” in case the page is no more available. You can also display a custom 404-Error page, redirecting users and search engines to other pages of your website that deems important and informative to them.
- In case the requested URL is changed, use 301 redirect to redirect the user as appropriate.
- If the page exists, then, update and rewrite the content in a more meaningful way that has rich and quality information, thus enhancing user experience.
24. Say No To Low-Speed Servers
Server performance is one of the most important aspects while determining the health of a website, particularly when SEO is considered. It is not just okay to have a website that loads fast. It is also important to host our website on servers that delivers requested pages faster.
The speed of the page load depends on both website design as well as the quality of the servers hosting our website. If our website is not hosted on an optimally performing hardware (server), the site performance will be impacted at large.
There are various tools that determine the server speed. If your server does not meet your expectations, do not hesitate to move on to some other hosting provider.
25. Avoid Hosting Websites on Virtual IP addresses
When you buy a hosting service (servers on which your website resides), you are given an option (of course with a pricing difference) to host your website on either a virtual IP address or a dedicated IP address.
A virtual IP address (VIP or VIPA) is an IP address that doesn’t correspond to an actual physical network interface. If you have opted for a virtual IP address, your website on the server would probably be sharing the same IP address with other websites hosted on the same server space. It is similar to a persona living in an apartment building.
Whereas in a dedicated IP, you are the only one who resides with that address and the address is unique to identify only your website. The server cost is high for dedicated IP.
From an SEO standpoint, I would strongly recommend you to opt for a dedicated IP for your website. If you are a new business just starting out, you can start with virtual IP option, and eventually move on to dedicated IP.
The problem with virtual IP is that your website is associated with many other websites sharing the same IP. When other websites that are sharing the same IP addresses with yours, are indulged in unethical practices that annoy search engines (spamming, pornography etc.), chances are high that, along with them, even your website will stand guilty for no fault of yours. Along with theirs, even your website might be blacklisted from indexing and ranking in search engines. Though the chances are rare for such scenarios, precaution is better than cure.
With a shared IP address, there will be a performance hit on your website, if your neighborhood websites drive more traffic to theirs draining out shared resources.
Another problem associated with virtual IP is when a search engine or a user tries to access your website using an IP address instead of domain name. For example, instead of www.example.com, the user might try to access your website like this – 192.0.2.0. [Keep in mind, every domain is associated with an IP address]. In such cases, because you are using a virtual IP with shared resources, the resulting website could be some other website hosted on the same IP as yours.
Congratulations! You are done with the tenth chapter on “25 Important Factors To Be Considered As Part Of Your SEO Efforts”. Hope you enjoyed the reading.
All the best for your next chapter on “6 Tips To Optimize Website Images For SEO”. In the next chapter, you will learn how to correctly optimize images on your website as part of your SEO efforts.
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Subhash.K.U is a Professional Programmer turned Digital Marketing Enthusiast. He is the most sought marketing consultants for small and medium scale businesses. He founded Subhash Digital Academy to teach professional digital marketing skills to students, entrepreneurs, and working professionals. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and is an Oracle Certified Programmer. He also holds certificates of Google AdWords, Facebook Blueprint and Hubspot Marketing. He is the co-author of the best selling book – Cracking The C, C++ and Java Interview published by McGraw Hill. He is now penning another book on the subject of marketing and entrepreneurship.