November 4th, 2014

Get Up to Speed With On-Page Optimization

by sage island

The purpose of search engine optimization is to answer one basic question: “What is this page about?” Search engines cannot interpret a page like we can. They need structure and clues to decipher what content means, so it’s more important than ever to have correct on-page optimization. And no, this does not mean keyword stuffing—those days have long passed! On-page optimization has drastically changed in the past couple of years and it’s crucial to stay up to date on the best practices. Understanding the techniques used to better cue what content relates to, will ultimately lead to higher search rank. Though these rules can be experimented with, here are a few present-day ways search engines determine on-page relevancy.


When SEO first took off, keywords were everywhere. SEO marketers concluded that if the focal point of a page was a particular keyword, search engines would rank the page based on the amount of times that keyword was found in areas of the page including the metadata, headlines and within the content. Having a keyword mindset is still good, but the influence of keyword stuffing has greatly decreased. It’s still important to include keywords on pages, but that alone will not impact rankings. Keyword stuffing is an obsolete practice because search engines are learning. They no longer measure how often a keyword appears, but how it ranks in importance compared to the overall expectation of the page. For example, a page with the keyword “cat” is broad, vague and has much less impact compared to a page with the keyword “cat litter.” “Cat litter” explains much more about the topic of the page. Descriptive keywords have become one of the new components of SEO.

With billions of searches every day, search engines have collected an abundance of information to decide what searchers are trying to figure out when typing queries. Google proved that synonyms of keywords are a major factor in 70% of searches. Search engines can now look at words and phrases and match up content to queries that use synonyms and close variants of the topic. MOZ gives a great example: “Dog pics can also mean dog photos, pictures of dogs and canine photos.” Knowing that search engines can interpret this, content should be created using natural language and variations. The same keyword over and over again is ineffective.

Content Placement

The location of where content is placed is just as important as the words themselves. The makeup of a web page includes headers, footers, sidebars, etc. Search engines can analyze and breakdown which part of a web page is most important. Google and Microsoft both claim that content in particular sections hold more authority than other areas. Content written in the main body of a web page is the best location for pagerank. As more websites go responsive, it’s imperative to place content in the main body because mobile devices hide portions of pages they deem irrelevant.

Content on a page should always follow the same structure: a header followed by the body of the copy. Similar to a blog title, a header should announce what the page is about. Most of the time, the header includes some type of keyword or phrase. The body of the content should provide proper introductions, ideas organized into paragraphs and conclusions. Think of a web page content as a collegiate essay. Search engines are now programmed to read content like a professor reviewing a paper. Proper paragraph structure is essential to SEO rank. The same goes for punctuation and spelling. Currently, Bing is the only search engine to include spelling and grammatical errors in its algorithm. Google analyzes content for quality and reading level, but it won’t be long before they update their algorithm as well.

On-page optimization is simple. If the content is written by humans for humans, then great search rank will take off on its own. Don’t try to trick the search engines! They’ve come a long way and can spot old, ineffective methods. Stay up to date with on-page optimization, and page rank will never be an issue. These tips are current for on-page SEO now, but it won’t be long until Google or Bing update their algorithms again.

There are countless ways to improve SEO rank through on-page optimization, but many business owners continue to ignore best practices out of fear of change. Let a professional marketing agency help optimize your web pages for higher page rank. If you’re ready to put the Sage Island team to work for your business, contact us today!

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