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    On-page optimization demystified

    Most people are at least somewhat familiar with the process of SEO. They get the basic idea, but not the fine details. Today’s topic is on-page optimization. Specifically, we’ll review what on-page optimization entails, and how to do it properly to achieve the best results. On-page optimization refers to any website design factors that can be altered by in-house webmasters to increase  organic rankings. Such factors include properly formatted HTML code, keywords and keyword density, and meta tags that are seen only by search engines. Play your cards right, and on-page optimization may significantly improve your site’s profile and ranking.

    Website structure

    Clean, well-structured layout and navigation schemes on your website are crucial. They help Google index your site more thoroughly and efficiently. The first step is to use short, logical URLs. Overly long, ugly-looking URLs are not only a pain to remember but also negatively affect SEO. Tune your rewrite engine to eliminate as many ugly characters as possible and keep it all in dictionary words if you can. Also, using rel=canonical tag tells search engine spiders which links should be indexed and which are user session-specific. Lastly, navigation menus that depend heavily on Javascript are more difficult to index, and should be avoided if possible.

    Proper tags for indexing

    You’d think this one is a no-brainer, but you’d be amazed at how often a website‘s keyword and header section meta tags are considered an afterthought. Some would argue they don’t matter anymore, but they’re still somewhat taken into account by search engines. The key consists in using accurate and unique keywords and meta tags that describe your page well, rather than using the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach in terms of keywords. In addition, a robots.txt file and an up-to-date XML sitemap are also basic common sense when it comes to being indexed quickly.

    Keywords and content

    While the mainstays of on-page SEO, like site structure and meta tags, are certainly important, they won’t really make up for poor content farms. Google’s Panda update from early 2011 served as a warning that content farms, no matter how well-designed and optimized, will be penalized for unoriginal or poor-quality content. Content that shows expertise truly stands out with their algorithms, so it makes sense to invest in quality rather than quantity. As far as keywords are concerned, it still pays to insert the main keyword or phrase prominently in the title, first paragraph, and here and there throughout the main body of the page.

    Performance and speed

    Although how much impact a site’s speed may have on its rankings is debatable, the fact of the matter is that slow-loading pages will be penalized somewhat for any noticeable lag. Using Google’s CDNs to fetch commonly used resources like Web Fonts and jQuery is always a smart idea. Compressing CSS and Javascript files should be a priority on your large or complex pages. And keeping Flash to a minimum is another must. Images should also be optimized to load as quickly as possible. This can be accomplished rather easily with CSS sprites and PNG files instead of JPEGs.

    Closing thoughts

    In the grand scheme of SEO, on-page optimization is every bit as vital to a high-ranking website as any other component, such as link building or social media. Due to the ever-changing nature of search algorithms in engines like Google and Bing, it’s difficult to stay abreast of new rules and their impact on your rankings. That’s why it makes sense to consult experts periodically and let them navigate the murky waters of on-page and off-page SEO on your behalf. Ultimately, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration this way. With the right SEO team, a small investment can reap big dividends in the long run.

    Christian Fillion

    About Christian Fillion

    President and co-founder of Marketing Media, Christian Fillion specializes in ecommerce solution. Entrepreneur by nature, he has over 10 years of experience in digital communications. He was also a consultant for multiple national companies in helping them define and implement successful Internet strategies..

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