THE BLOG
04/22/2014 11:33 am ET Updated Jun 22, 2014

The Definitive On-Page Optimization Guide

Every business wants to achieve top organic search results in order to take advantage of consistent organic search traffic flooding their website. Many businesses (and SEO agencies as well) are so quick to start a search engine optimization campaign that they ignore and neglect one of the most important pieces of successful SEO. Our definitive on-page optimization guide is designed to help you make sure that your website is properly optimized.

Companies waste both time and money on large scale SEO efforts for websites that have not been properly optimized. You can throw large budgets at link building and content marketing but if the on-page optimization is not up to par then the website will never reach its full potential in the search engine results.

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Our on-page optimization guide will show you what impacts the on-page grade of your website and what the best practices are. For this guide we will be referencing the nonprofit marketing page of our website. The following are the most important on-page factors that need to be addressed prior to starting any search engine optimization campaign.

SEO Friendly URL

The URL for each page should always include the targeted keyword whenever possible. URL structures that contain lengthy drawn out descriptions with numbers and characters are not SEO friendly at all. Keep your URL's short and use your keyword. In the example below you can see that we have a very SEO friendly URL for this page.

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Authority Outbound Links

Outbound links to relevant high authority websites can help your content rank higher in the search engine results. On the example page we link out to Google's nonprofit grant page, which has very impressive metrics. The domain authority (DA) of the page is the highest rating of 100, while the page authority (PA) is 89. The page rank of that link is also a 6, which is strong as well. All together this is a very relevant outbound link as it relates 100% to the page content and has great authority.

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Page Title

It is a good practice to include your targeted keyword in the title of the page, preferably at the beginning. This doesn't mean you should stuff the title with multiple occurrences of your keyword, as this can actually have a negative impact on the SEO. Include it just once as close to the beginning of the title, but remember to keep it natural.

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Multimedia

It is always a good practice to use images, video, charts, and infographics to keep the visitor on the website as long as possible. If a visitor lands on your page and there is nothing of value they will quickly leave. This translates into a high bounce rate, something that can have a negative impact on your search results. You want to keep them on the page, so give them something to hold their attention. In the example page we provided we have an infographic and videos that does a great job of keeping the visitors on the page.

H1 & H2 Tags

Aside from SEO benefits, H1 and H2 tags are great for formatting your page content to break up sections and structure the content. We suggest including the target keyword in both H1 and H2 tag on the page. It is important to include it in a natural manner. Never compromise the quality of your content by stuffing tags with your keyword. Find a way to work them into your headings naturally for the best outcome.

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Website Speed

The speed of your website impacts your search rankings, so it is important to make sure that your site loads quickly. A page that lags and loads slowly will not only weight down your SEO efforts but it provides your visitors with a poor experience. They are unlikely to return if they experience a slow load time.

The Google PageSpeed test is a great tool that will give you a page speed grade and also suggestions of how you can improve your website to achieve a faster load time. Many businesses have slow websites because they are on cheap website hosting. Lightning fast hosting is well worth the cost, and if you are serious about your website performance then make sure you have a quality hosting service.

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Social Media Sharing

One of the easiest ways to acquire natural links back to your site is to provide social sharing options for every piece of content you produce for your website. It takes just seconds to install a social sharing plugin or code on your site and there is absolutely no reason your content should not have this option. We live in a world that revolves around social media. If the visitors that land on your website view your content as interesting and there is an option for them to share it they will do just that.

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Keyword at the Beginning of the Page Content

You want to make sure that you use your target keyword in the page content several times, but also make sure that you use it at the beginning of the content. As a general rule, we suggest using it once within the first 100 words of the page content. Make sure you don't stuff multiple occurrences of the keyword throughout the content. This is a quick way to receive a penalty and it also greatly lowers the quality of your content. Always write your content for the visitor first, and the search engines second.

Meta Description

Now, the meta description doesn't have a direct impact on your search engine rankings but we felt it was important to address here. This is the little description that is displayed in the search results under your page title and URL. The meta description is your way to grab the attention of the individual performing the search and get them to click on your website. Even though many say it doesn't impact rankings it is a great way to attract attention to your result in the search results.

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Image ALT Attribute

The search engines cannot read images, so it is a good idea to make sure you optimize all of your images with a descriptive ALT attribute that includes your keyword. It is a good practice to use descriptions that include more than just the keyword.

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Quality Content

The content on your page should always be high quality, written specifically for your target visitor. Don't focus on the length of the content, although each page should have a minimum of 300 words so the search engines have enough content to crawl. Some blog posts can get their point across in just a few hundred words while some will require thousands of words. Make it a point to produce content that your visitors will enjoy reading.

On-Page Grader

There are several online resources like Moz's on-page grader that will give you a good idea of how your on-page optimization stacks up. This is a great tool that will assign a grade to your on-page optimization for any URL and keyword that you input. You can then view the suggested improvements and then re-grade the page to see how your changes improved the grade.

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Making sure that your on-page optimization is on point prior to starting any link building and search engine optimization campaigns will ensure that your website stands the best chance of achieving high search rankings.

This post originally appeared on the Market Domination Media Blog.