You are now living in the midst of a tantalizing revolution as the great minds of user experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO) finally converge to produce beautiful on-page content designed to rank in search results AND engage or educate the user.
Gone are the days of plugging in keyword phrases into your blog posts to get the density just right and building landing page after landing page targeted at keyword variations like, “automobiles for sale”, “cars for sale” and “trucks for sale”.
Since the introduction of RankBrain, the machine-learning component of Google’s Core Algorithm, in late 2015, Google has moved farther away from a simple question and answer engine and has become a truly intelligent source of information matching the user’s intent — not just the user’s query.
Crafting compelling content is tough, especially in such a competitive landscape. How can you avoid vomiting up a 1,500-word blog post that will meet the deadline but fall very short of the user’s expectations? If you follow these 10 on-page essential elements, your brand will be on the right track to provide a rich content experience designed to resonate with your audience for months to come.
Always seen in theblock or the beginning of a web page’s source code, the title tag is text wrapped in the
What I mean by “intent” can be illustrated with the following example. Say my title tag for a product page was Beef for Dogs | Brand Name. As a user, I would not expect to find a product page, but rather, information about whether I can feed beef to my dogs.
A better title tag to accurately match my users’ intent would be Beef Jerky Dog Treats | Brand Name.
Identifying what has been set as the title tag or meta description of your pages can be done URL-by-URL or at scale for many URLs. There are distinct uses for each discovery method, and it is always important to remember that Google may choose to display another headline for your page in search results if it feels that its title is a better representation for the user. Here are a few great online tools to get you started:
NOTE: If you are one that prefers to “live in the moment”, you can also view the page source of the page you are currently on and search for “
” in the code to determine what should be output in search results. Lifewire produced this handy guide on viewing the source code of a webpage, regardless of the internet browser you are using.
Yes. The optimal title tag is designed to fit the width of the devices it’s displayed upon. In my experience, the sweet spot for most screens is between 50-60 characters. In addition, a page title should:
Though the text below the headline of your search result, also known as the meta description, does not influence the ranking of your business’ URL in search results, this text is still important for providing a summary of the webpage. The meta description is your chance to correctly set a potential user’s expectations and engage them to click-through to the website.
Pay close attention to three things when crafting a great meta description for each of your website’s pages: branding, user-intent, and what’s working well in the vertical (competitive landscape). These 150-160 characters are a special opportunity for your page to stand out from the crowd.
Do your page descriptions look and sound like they are templated? Investing time in describing the page in a unique way that answers user’s questions before they get to the website can go a long way in delighting customers and improving search performance.
Take for example the following product page for the Outdoor Products Multi-Purpose Poncho. The top listing for this product page is via Amazon.com, with a very obviously templated meta description. The only information provided is the product name, aggregate rating, and an indication of free delivery.
While not the top listing, the following result from REI Co-op clearly includes the product name, breadcrumbs, aggregate rating, price, availability, and a unique non-templated meta description. The standout feature of this meta description is that it does not copy the manufacturer’s text, provides some product differentiators like “easy to pull out of your bag” and “great travel item” that speak to user questions about portability.
The meta description plays an important role in complementing other elements of a well defined rich result, and it is often overlooked when retail businesses are using rich results to improve the ecommerce search experience specifically. That said, the same considerations apply to information focused pages as well.
Section heading elements (H1-H6) were originally intended to resize text on a webpage, with the H1 being used to style the primary title of a document as the largest text on the page. With the advent of Cascading Styling Sheets (CSS) in the late 90’s, this element had has less effect. CSS started being used for much of this functionality, and HTML tags acted as more of a “table of contents” for a variety of user-agents (i.e. Googlebot) and users alike.
For this reason, the primary header (h1) and subheaders (h2-h6) can be important in helping search engines understand the organization of and context around a particular page of written content. Users do not want to read through a huge brick of text and neither do search engines. Organizing written words into smaller entities (sections) will help digestion and lead to better organic results, as seen in the example below:
In the example above, the primary topic (How to Teach a Child to Ride a Bike) is marked-up with an H1 tag, indicating that it is the primary topic of the information to follow. The next section “Getting Ready to Ride” is marked-up with an H2 tag, indicating that it’s a secondary topic. Subsequent sections are marked up with