- [Instructor] The main goal of a search engine is to guide people to content that is relevant to the keyword or phrase that they search for. We can fine tune the relevance of a page for a certain topic through the process of on page optimization. The Explore California website has a page focused on backpacking tours in California. And let's imagine that through our keyword research we decided that we wanted to optimize this page for the phrase backpacking tours in California. Let's walk through how we might optimize the different elements on this page for that particular search term.
The first element we're going to optimize is the URL. The URL is the location of the page we're looking at and you can find it up in the address bar. You can think of it almost like a file on your computer, and much like the path to any file on your computer, we can follow some simple guidelines that allow us to create a good URL that can be found and understood quickly. The URL length should be as concise as reasonably possible. While at the same time, contain some usable information about the page itself.
You might find that your website structure uses a system of sub folders and this can be good in that it helps with the site structure. Just be cautious about too many of them appearing in a URL. Generally speaking, shorter and more succinct is best Perhaps most importantly, you'll want to make sure that the keyword phrase we're targeting is found in the URL. Here, we can pick out the individual words of California, tours and backpack which is certainly helpful. But if we're targeting this page for backpacking tours in California, we can probably tighten that up a bit.
Let's go ahead and change this page name to backpacking-tours-in-california.html. It's short, it's very descriptive of this page and it matches the keyword phrase we're targeting. Also, notice how we use hyphens instead of spaces or underscores in the URL. This is important and helps the search engines break up words properly. Of course, it's best that you choose a proper URL from the outset. Generally speaking, you never want to rename already existing URLs solely for SEO purposes.
But if you do, you'll need to ensure that you're using the proper redirects from the old URL to the new. The next element we'll look at is the meta title tag and here, we're going to dive into the source code of this page. If you're a programmer, you'll be right at home here and if you're not, don't worry, just keep watching so you'll be able to talk the talk when it comes time to implement these items on your own website. This page's title is pretty generic, and doesn't really give a search engine any indication that this page is about our target keyword phrase.
So let's go ahead and change it to backpacking tours in California - explore California. Once our programmers have made this change and pushed it live, we see that we've got a title that's fairly short, very descriptive, and very targeted to the phrase we want to rank for. Notice that we didn't simply use our target phrase by itself or just repeat it over and over. Here, we included the hyphen explore California at the end. One reason for this is that the meta title tag is also the title that's used for the page's search engine results listing.
Not only are we trying to optimize a title so that search engine identify the theme of our page, we're also trying too entice users to click on it when they see it in the search results. In this example, we believe that mentioning the website name might reinforce the context of where this page lives and help convince people to click our result over the competition. But don't make the title too long or detract too much from your target keyword phrase as it will need to be readable. Too long and it will get cut off by the search engines.
Tools like the Moz Title-Tag Preview Tool can help you visualize and test how your title will look on a search engine results page. Another meta tag we can configure is the meta description. Although optimizing this tag won't likely do much to improve your search engine rankings and is largely ignored by the major search engines it can improve your search engine result's click-through rate. And that's a metric that informs how search algorithms evolve. You'll want to pay attention to it, because this tag can often be used as the text that shows up under the title of a listing in the search results, and optimizing it properly can both improve your click-through rate in the present and positively impact your rankings over time.
Spend some time writing compelling text that will lead people to click on your site and using keywords in your description will help reassure users that this is exactly what they're looking for. And as with many other aspects of SEO, you'll want to tweak it over time to see if you can improve how it helps drive engagement with your page. Next, let's take a look at the h1 header tag. This is typically the markup used for the main visible headline of your page and search engines know this. The purpose of using it is to give the reader a clear idea of what the content below is about, much like a newspaper headline does.
The current header tag, backpack Cali, is not very descriptive or specific to our target keyword phrase, and you'd have to read through the text to realize that this is actually the name of an organization. The truth is most people won't stick around long enough to do that and think about how confusing that must be to a search engine. Well, that might be important information to include later in the content, it's probably a waste of a header. So let's try to improve this element with something like: Backpacking Tours in California provided by Backpack Cali.
This not only clarifies the message it also works in our target keyword phrase. There are no defined character limits to headlines but much like in the news world, it's more effective to be concise. Now at this point, if you were a search engine, you've seen a URL, a title and a headline that are all talking explicitly about backpacking tours in California, and you're starting to get a pretty good idea of what this page is all about. And now we have the content itself.
The most important thing about your content is that it needs to be optimized for people first and search engine second. Make sure that you're content is written so that it communicates to your target audience in a way that's really engaging. As far as the search engines go, there's no magic formula for the perfect page. But what you want to remember is that search engines are trying to emulate a human being reading something and then figuring out what it's about. Search engines are looking not only for your target keyword but also for variations of that keyword.
It just makes sense that in a piece of content about backpacking tours in California, words like backpack, trip, outdoors and vacation will popup here and there. Different word orders are likely to be a part of the narrative and if you were a search engine, you probably wouldn't be surprised if related words like tent and map show up here as well. Search engines can get very sophisticated trying to map the semantic and thematic relationships between words on a page which is exactly what we as humans do. So ultimately, writing the way you would for a human is the best way to optimize these for algorithms.
And while there's no hard and fast rules, you might generally shoot for including your target phrase one to three times in the text, depending on the length of your content. Don't over think it and don't overdo it. One last element to optimize on this page are the images. Let's take a look at this first image. As human beings, we can look at this and quickly figure out that those are some footprints next to the words Backpack Cal. But when a search engine looks at it, all it sees is a bunch of dots and different colors.
While machine learning and artificial intelligence are tackling this problem, search engines aren't yet relying on a machine's ability to read words that appear in an image, or see the image like a person does. So search engines rely on a few other signals to understand just what those images are. Let's take a look at the code behind this image. Inside this image tag, you can see a few attributes. The first one is the source file name, or the URL of that image. This tells the browser where to go find the image so it can be loaded.
The alt text is reserved for a description of the image for those people or browsers that can't see the image itself. Both of these elements can be optimized to accurately describe what the image is about and also help support the keyword phrase we're trying to optimize for. Just like we changed the file name of this page in the URL, we can change the file name of actual the image on the server. To use the keyword phrase we're targeting on this page, and then update the reference to that file in our code. Something like backpacking-tours-in-California.gif.
We can then update the alt text to something like Backpacking Tours in California by Backpack Cali to be more descriptive to both the humans that need this description and the search engines that are trying to figure out what the image is all about. While there are many more items on a page that can be optimized, focusing on your URL, title, description, headers, body text and images will take care of a very big chunk of your on page optimization. Of course, doing this from the very beginning is the ideal situation.
But take a look at the existing pages of your site after you've done your keyword research and mapped your pages to your target phrases. You might be surprised at just how much optimization there is to do.
- Define search engine optimization.
- Explore the fundamentals of reading search engine results pages.
- Examine the essentials of understanding keyword attributes.
- Break down the steps for optimizing the non-text components of a webpage.
- Recognize how search engines index context.
- Explore an overview of long-term content planning strategies and how they can help keep content on your site fresh.
- Define your website’s audience, topics, angle, and style when mapping out your long-term content.
- Identify the steps to take when building internal links within your website.
- Recognize how to analyze links in order to measure SEO effectiveness.
- Break down the necessary components for understanding local SEO.