The Spiders Are Coming! Beginner’s Guide to On-Page SEO



While every company should strike a good balance between on and off site search engine optimization (SEO), there isn’t a magic formula for how much effort you should put into each one. Some experts say on-page SEO accounts for only 25 percent of your ranking.

That 25 percent though is very important to helping search engines know how to rank your website. It creates the compass for your site. If you skipped over it and did the other 75 percent, you might find your company in the east wing when you needed to be in the north corridor.

Going the distance doesn’t matter if you don’t know where you are going.

On-page SEO does more than just define your site for search engine rankings. It assures that consumers will find it easy to navigate as well. That is the end purpose anyways of SEO, to better serve consumers on the web.

One by Force

There are three basic reasons why search engines will crawl your site. The spiders will come when you first create your site. This might take a few months but they will come automatically (no need to submit anything). The next two are based on how often you update your content (never underestimate the power of visual communication) and if you resubmit your site to be crawled.

We’ll spend the majority of this article going over what an optimized website looks like. Before you dig right in, you might want to run your website through this free on-page SEO crawler to see what your website’s on-page analysis looks like.

The Good

1) Title Tags

Title tags appear both in search engine results pages (SERPs) and on your website’s tab. They are one of the more important on-page features because they give a clear definition to search engines on what people should find on that page.

  • Every page should have a different and relevant title tag
  • Title tags should be no longer than 70 characters (including spaces)
  • Optimal example: Primary keyword | Secondary keyword – Brand Name

meta and title tags

2) Meta Description

While meta keywords are no longer important to on-page SEO, meta descriptions are still very relevant. Once again, the description should be specific to that page as it will show under the title tag in the SERPs.

  • Maximum 160 characters (including spaces)
  • Includes targeted and relevant keywords for that page
  • Entices the user to click on the link in the SERPs

3) Infrastructure and Internal Linking

Websites should have a simple, comprehensive and easy to use navigation. Make sure a search bar is always on the page and breadcrumbs help direct both the spiders and customers through the site. Try to make all important information no more than three clicks away from the homepage.

12 Palms addiction rehab center has a great infrastructure that is only three layers deep, breadcrumbs that help the user know where they are at all times, and interlinking to relevant pages and blog posts.

4) Keywords

Each page should be assigned different keywords. Keyword density should at the very max be three percent of your page’s content. The spiders no longer tolerate keyword stuffing and will ban you from the search engines.

Choose one or two keywords to relevantly apply to your site. For example, a women’s magazine health section should use the keywords “women’s health” and “fitness” at appropriate places on that page. Make sure to include versions of the keywords in the title tag, meta description, internal linking on other pages, headline and breadcrumbs.

5) XML Sitemap

A Sitemap.xml is the guide you write out for the spiders to follow. Site owners should include the importance of each page in the XML.

Sitemap.xml is different than your website’s sitemap. Sitemap.xml is strictly for spiders. Website owners should also create one to help users navigate their site.

The Bad

Doing the suggestions above will get you on the good side of spiders and their greater counterpart, search engines. But spiders do have a bite if your website isn’t up to code.

Look out for the following three common mistakes that could hurt your on-page SEO:

1) Duplicate content: Whether it is duplicate content on your site or someone copying your information, in order to eliminate the possibility of a penalty, use rel=canonical or one of these other techniques.

2) Page load time: How quickly your site loads matters to Google and to the busy customer. Learn what might be slowing down your load time and how to speed things up here.

3) Broken or spammy links: Google’s most recent update to their algorithm punishes sites for spammy links. Many websites, especially large ones, can accrue broken links over time and even missing pages. Use 301 redirects to save inbound links and the SEO value of those links.

The Ugly

Do aesthetically ugly sites affect SEO? Depends on how you are looking at it. To see your site through the eyes of the spiders use this simulator. You might be hiding important keywords and navigation in JavaScript, Frames or Flash.

According to Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab, 46 percent of people say that website design is the number one factor in determining a company’s credibility.

Bad design can also cause a high bounce rate because people are repulsed by the hoard of text and lack of organization and leave. The best websites have ease of interaction and cohesive branding. My Rig’s website does a great job keeping potential consumers on site and providing clear and appealing information.

Images add a little extra benefit to help your SEO called the alt tag. It’s a short description you add to images in case they aren’t shown. Use keywords related to the image to help your on-page SEO. It’s proven that a picture of a smiling person on your website will increase conversions and leads.

Remember, first and foremost, it should be about helping consumers. Usability testing is a great way to make sure your design doesn’t interfere with functionality.

Two by Choice

There are two other times Google will crawl your site:

1)    Companies should update their site often to keep consumers informed and to qualify for the freshness factor in search engines. When you update your content, the spiders will once again crawl your site. This is a good time to make any SEO updates and to continue to perfect your content and interlinking strategy.

2)    At anytime you can submit a website to be re-crawled by spiders. For instructions to submit your site go to Google’s webmaster’s page.


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Alicia Lawrence

Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for WebpageFX. Her work has been published by the Association for Business Communication, Yahoo! Small Business, and Advanced Web Rankings.

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