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SEO Basics: On-Page Optimization

Ross Beyeler

This is the fourth post in Growth Spark's SEO Basics for Business Owners series.

There are many things you can do on your webpage to influence traffic rankings. These things mostly have to do with placing your keywords in particular parts of code included in your page. Without getting too technical, we will explain where to be sure to put your keywords, in order of importance.

One thing to remember is that although inserting keywords into the page is very helpful, be sure not to overdo it. "Keyword stuffing" is the practice of filling up a whole page with keywords and, aside from the fact that it's barely readable, search engines are smart enough that they don't get tricked pages that are stuffed with keywords and may tend to ignore them.

  1. The Title Tag

    It is especially important to have your main keyword in your site's Title (which shows up at the top of the browser and in search results), and if possible, put it as the first word.

    Some companies who want brand recognition will put the company name first in the Title. Unless your brand name is readily recognizable, or you are running a branding campaign, I would generally recommend putting the keyword (name of the page) first, then putting | followed by your brand name

    In Google's search engine results, they only display the first 65 characters of a Title, so keep your Title shorter than that as a general rule.


    <title>Blue Suede Shoes | The Boston Shoe Company</title>
  2. Root Domain Name

    This is something you would need to plan ahead for, but having your top keyword in your domain name can be beneficial for SEO.

    While it is very helpful if you are only selling one product for example, most companies will rather choose their brand name as the root domain name. It is more more recognizable for customers, and will not change over time.

    If you are promoting a certain product or service, you may plan to build a specific webpage just to promote that product or service. In that case, it will be very helpful if you can get a domain with the keyword in it.

    Example: or

  3. H1 Headline

    Each page of your site should have only one h1 tag, and it should ideally contain your keyword. This is the main header that search engines will take note of. Using the keyword in h2 and h3 sub-headers are not as important


    <h1>Blue Suede Shoe Models</h1>
  4. Internal Link Anchor Text

    Anchor text is the words that you use to link to another web page. Internal link anchor text refers to links that lead to other pages on your own website. By using your keyword as the anchor text for these internal links, it will have a positive effect on your page's rankings for that keyword.


    <p>See more <a href="">blue suede shoe</a> models on our men's suede shoes page.</p>
  5. External Link Anchor Text

    Similarly to internal links with anchor text, external (out-going) links can have a positive effect as well. While it can be tempting to keep all the links to yourself, it's best not to be greedy with links. Linking out can have a lot of benefits, in addition to increasing your rankings for the anchor text keyword. It can also gain you some recognition and, depending on who you link to, could inspire more people to link back to your site.


    <p>Did you know that <a href="">blue suede shoes</a> inspired a song?</p>
  6. Keyword in first 100 words of the body

    Having your keyword mentioned in different variations throughout the page is great, but more importantly, you should mention your most sought-after keyword phrase within the first 100 words of the text on your web page. The earlier you mention it the better, but be sure not to mess up grammar to insert your keyword. Remember, you should write for your customers and visitors first, and optimize your website for search engines without hindering the visitors' experience.

  7. Keyword in image "alt" text attribute

    The alt text of images does not much affect the behavior of visitors, and will go unnoticed by most. It is designed to provide a snippet of text in the event that the image doesn't load or the visitor is visually impaired. However, since search engines read html and do not see images, they will look at the alt text to determine what it is and ultimately what your page is about. This can help your images rank better in image search, but it also can have an influence on the page's rankings.


    <img src="" title="Blue Suede Shoes - Front View" alt="blue suede shoes">

    Note: The image title attribute doesn't have an affect on rankings, but is optional text to provide more information to visitors. It usually will show when a visitor has the mouse on top of the image. Image title text is optional, but alt text should be on every image on your site.

Incorporating your keyword into all of these elements will be a good foundation to move up in the search engine results. For more competitive keywords though, you will need to do off-page optimization. Off page search engine optimization generally consists of acquiring links to your site, whether from people naturally linking to you, or through linkbuilding.

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