The Definitive On Page Optimization Checklist
On page optimization is the number one thing that you can do for your website in order to ensure that you get the high rankings you deserve. Other than proper keyword selection, there is nothing more important than making sure you site is set up properly.
In this part of the What Is SEO? series I am going to give you an on page optimization checklist that will ensure that every time you put great content on your site your ready to go from day one. I have even taken the time to create some great video tutorials on some of the more technical aspects of site setup. Don’t worry though, nothing I do will take all that much time. And when we are done your site will properly optimized and it should take you around 30 minutes to get all the base work done.
I am going to however assume that you know how to install WordPress on your hosting account. If that’s not the case, just let me know in the comments that you need help with that and I will create another piece of content and walk you through that as well.
Ok, are you ready to get started? Then let’s go!!
Getting Your URL’s Right
The very first then we want to do is get your WordPress installation set up properly to take advantage of the features that is provides. By doing what we are going to do, you will never really have to worry about editing your URL’s manually. Of course there might be times when you have to do it based on your topic of choice. But this is really designed to make sure you don’t have to 99.9% of the time.
The point of what we are going to do is to ‘silo’ your website. The main purpose of siloing is to ensure that all of your content is categorized in the proper place. This will not only allow the robots to properly index your site. But it will make it 1000 times easier on your readers. You don’t want them to have to hunt and peck around your website for information. They will quickly get tired of doing it and move on to somewhere else.
In order to do this we need to take advantage of the categories option in WordPress. In order to do this your going to click on Posts, then Categories, then your going to add new categories. Don’t worry if you don’t know all the categories your going to write about. Just add one or two for now. You can always go through and pick more later. The point is to take advantage of more keywords.
For example, Central87.com is all about marketing. That is the primary keyword for the whole site. But within that keyword are several different long tail keywords that we are going to address as well. i.e. Social media marketing, search engine optimization, and video marketing. So those are the categories of the site. Does that make sense?
I like teaching this kind of stuff by video, so here is how you can do it pretty quickly.
We don’t want that because we need to have our keyword in our URL. This is both for the search engines and the readers who are choosing your site amongst the many others on the SERP’s. So in order to change our permalinks we need to get into the Settings section. From there you are going to see a block marked ‘custom structure.’
Inside that block I want you to paste this
Then click save settings.
What you just did was take your ugly URL and create one that is structured. Now when you write a new post your URL will be written for you automatically and will look like this:
Now for the video to show you how to do it. By the way, in the video I am going to show you a plugin that I use to keep everything cleaned up on my site. Its called WordPress SEO by Yoast and its free. But if it wasn’t I would buy it in a heartbeat because, in my opinion, its hands down the best SEO plugin out there today.
Time For Meta Tags Optimization
Ok, so I am going to assume that your using the recommended plugin to get to these tags. Or your using a premium theme that already has them built in. Either way we are going to be entering this information into each and every piece of content we create.
The title tag is probably the second most important piece of content that you are going to create for your site. It really does two things. One is that it has your keyword in it. This is the first opportunity that the search engines get to know what your content is about. The second is that it should be compelling enough to get the reader to click on it and read your stuff. Can choose to set them up in a variety of ways.
I prefer to leave the title of the site out of my title elements and set them up like so:
What Is SEO? Part Three – On Page Optimization
But you can also set them up under the following formats.
Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name
Brand Name | Primary Keyword and Secondary Keyword
Its really up to you how you want to go about doing. Just remember, your keyword needs to be in your title tag. Regardless of the format that you choose. I found when I do it the way I do it, I get more click throughs. Plus, when your sharing on the social sites like Facebook, my way results in more shares and more traffic. So be sure that your working on not only keyword usage, but user engagement and experience as well.
One other thing that you need to be mindful of is length. The limit of your title tag is 70 characters. Anything longer and the search engines shorten it automatically and you don’t want that. The SEO plugin gives you a character count as your typing them so don’t worry about counting them yourself.
The Meta Description
Meta descriptions really don’t have all that much effect on SEO. Sure having your keyword in there helps, but in the grand scheme of things not all that much. But they are very very important. Your meta sescription is your first chance to make an impression on the reader. They are extrememly important to getting the user to click through to your page from the search engine results.
Think of them as an ad. You are going to employ your keyword into them in a way that makes sense. But you want to make it compelling enough to the user to click. It has to be relevent to the page and you have to make sure that each page on your site has a unique description. There are a lot of plugins and themes that will allow you to create a default description. This will put the exact same description on each and every page. Don’t let it do that. Make sure you take the time to write one for each post.
It doesn’t take all that long however.
Since they can only be 150-160 characters you can pump them out really easily. Any longer and the search engines shorten them automatically anyway.
Some key things that you also need to avoid is using quotes inside them. Google will cut off the description when you do. Also don’t use numbers or any type of special characters in them as well.
You may have noticed that I left out how to optimize your content. I actually did it intentionally. You see I wanted you to focus on getting your site set up right before you started writing content so that you don’t have to go back and fix stuff.
Plus, if you try to change your permalinks when you already have a lot of content on your site you will give the search engines heartburn. It won’t hurt you, but you will notice a loss of traffic for a while until your new URL’s are indexed. So why go through the drama if you don’t have to right?
In the next part of the series we will go over all things keyword research. If you have any questions on the topic of on page optimization though please be sure to leave them in the comments section.