Page title or title tag is the HTML element that names a page on your website.
You’ve seen it before in search engine results pages (SERPs) as the clickable headline:
Page titles are a ranking factor that search engines use to determine what the page is about. There are two other crucial reasons they are important:
Reason #1: catchy page titles get more social media shares.
Reason #2: compelling titles get higher click through rates leading to better rankings.
To write an effective page title there a several best practices you need to follow:
- Every page on your website must have a unique page title
- Include relevant keywords where it feels “natural”. Don’t force in keywords, that is spam.
- Keep it below 65 character or else search engines will cut off some of your title.
Meta descriptions appear below the page title in search results. They provide a description of the content on the web page.
They are not a direct ranking factor in search engines. But they play a big role in getting high click-through-rates (CTR) in the SERPs.
You might be wondering:
“Why bother with meta descriptions?”
Here’s why: high click-through rate sends good signals to Google algorithm Rank Brain. Google has stated that Rank Brain is their third most important ranking factor.
Also if you don’t specify your meta description, search engines will use random text from the page.
Best practices to follow with meta descriptions include:
- Compelling, unique text.
- Avoid getting cut off and keep them under 160 characters.
- Make sure they include your focus keyword (Google will bold it in searches)
- Include a call to action or value proposition to encourage clicks.
Heading tags are another HTML element, like title tags, but they are visible in the page content. They communicate importance to search engines and you should try to use them.
Headings help structure the page and have a hierarchy from 1 to 6. The first three tags carry the highest SEO value.
Heading tags help Google and users understand the main content of the page. They will help you rank, improve user experience but aren’t a major ranking factor.
Best practices to follow:
- Only use one heading 1 tag per page.
- Avoid duplication of heading 1 tags.
- Include your focus keyword.
- Use heading 2 or heading 3 to break up content.
Pro tip: never use heading tags for styling purposes, if you want to make headings bigger or smaller you CSS.
URL structure is an important indicator to Google of relevancy.
Pro tip: define your own URL structure. Don’t let CMS, such as WordPress, create them for you.
It’s best practice to use a breadcrumb structure, this helps people and search engines. For example:
In this example, the URL helps users understand where we are on the website. It will also help search engines understand the relevance of the page.
You want to keep URLs short, concise and descriptive. They want to logical describe to the user and search engines where they are on the website. And contain keywords where natural.
There are a few best practices to follow with URL structure:
- Contain the target keyword, where possible.
- Be short. Short URLs get a much higher CTR.
- Use hyphens (-) between words to make it easy to read.
- Image Tags or Alt Text
Image alt text
Search engines can’t understand images on your website.
They need image alt text. Image alt text is a short description of what the image is.
Alt test is great to improve the user experience. In a case where people have accessibility problems and computers that can’t load images.
Best practice for image alt tags include:
- Store images on your website in one place.
- Give images a relevant filename.
- Include the images and locations in XML sitemap
- Use descriptive short sentences. Contain keywords if possible.
Internal Links and Anchor text
Internal links are a type of hyperlink that connects one page of a website to another page on the same website.
So search engines find your pages internal links need to be well thought out and structure.
For example, this guide to SEO is a high-level topic that covers a lot. I should link to other related SEO guides on my site I write in the future. This will help search engines find them faster and to pass authority.
Anchor text is the clickable text of a link.
The text should be succinct and relevant to the target page. Anchor text can enhance your internal links SEO value if you include keywords.
But be sure that you don’t over optimise anchor text. It should be natural and descriptive of the target page.
You should avoid using phrases like “click here” and don’t have too many on one page.
Page content is what your visitors are there for, and it’s very important to search engines.
For SEO page content you should focus on two things.:
Thing #1: it must meet user intent, and be super useful to the visitor.
Thing #2: it so useful that people want to link to the content and share it online.
Ask yourself, is this content so amazing that I’m questioning whether I should give it away for free?
If you answer yes, then it’s great content. If the answer is no, don’t bother publishing it.
Best practices to follow:
- Quality content over quantity
- Longer form content ranks better (aim for at least 800 words).
- Content must be unique, search engines don’t rank duplicate content.
- Contain target keywords. But don’t keyword stuff. Search engines can interpret what your content is about.