On-Page SEO Guide for Beginners
I had not written any articles related to SEO for a while, because I like to try things for myself before writing anything and thus verify that what I write is true. I do this because there are many myths and legends about SEO, but I’m not going to rely on any of these, but I’m going to use common sense and the Google Webmasters tool to write this On-Page SEO guide and show the key points.
1. About the On-page SEO Guide.
The guide will be quite extensive but direct, so I recommend that you read it all carefully and paying attention, since all the points are important . I will try to show you the why? Of the reasoning, which I think are key to making a good SEO On-Page at the same time that will help you make certain decisions in the future.
I must also make it clear that at no time will we use illegal or penalized techniques by Google , since the vast majority of the information that we will use here has been provided by Google itself in its official guide for search engine optimization beginners.
The guide will be based on my experience with WordPress, but everything is applicable to any other type of CMS or web application.
2. What is SEO On-Page?
On-Page SEO, also known as On-Site SEO, consists of optimizing and improving the internal contents of our website to obtain a better search engine ranking , mainly Google.
3. Optimizing the content of your blog or website.
Naturalness of the content.
If we understand this point, we will take a big step in the On-Page SEO. When we add keywords, when we write, when we put titles to our articles, etc … in short, when we “mold” our blog, it has to be naturally and not as if it were done by a robot.
Naturalness is achieved by acting as a person when adding content to our website and for this we must dispense with automatisms.
Quality content (optimize the content of our articles).
Quality content is one of the most influential factors in Seo On-Page. It is useless to have content that is not useful for our visitors. We have already dealt with this topic separately in a couple of previous articles, which you have to read carefully, there is no hurry, I wait for you here.
The first article is very important as it teaches us the keys to create articles with quality content .
The second article explains that it is more important, if you have quality content or a good design , do not miss it.
Other factors that affect quality content.
Spelling : it is a fundamental aspect and that we must take care of. Putting the marks correctly, using the punctuation marks and everything related to maintaining a careful spelling will help us position ourselves better and have a good image in front of our readers. Nobody likes to read an article and find things like: “I bisto que” , “check that it works” and a long etc … At the same time, punctuation marks facilitate the reading and compression of the text.
Use of bold, italic and underline : these text styles are used in everyday writing and should be used in writing articles. In addition to giving a more pleasant visual appearance, they allow shading certain parts of the text to facilitate understanding. Bold letters are often used in keywords or in important and descriptive phrases.
Readable source : this is an aspect that does not affect SEO itself, but the user experience. Because of its importance, I mention it so you don’t overlook it. I think we will agree when I say that it is useless to have a good text and good content if afterwards the letter is so small that our users cannot read it or if the chosen font is very aesthetically beautiful but, its reading tires the view.
Let’s not complicate life with rare sources and use solutions with sources that always work like Arial and the like.
Express yourself correctly : when you write an article you are transmitting information to other people, so expressing yourself correctly is essential for the message transmitted by the article to reach the readers. It is also important to be orderly and give the information in a structured way so that the user does not get lost.
Do not give up : on many occasions seeing poor quality items better positioned than ours can lower our morale, but we must not give up. If we believe that our content deserves to be in the number one of Google but it is not, we can use other means to reach people and believe me that if users deserve to be in first position if they will realize and eventually Google too, So I encourage you to continue. This is not an aspect of SEO On-Page, but I think it is necessary to make known that sooner or later we will have our reward, we must be aware.
4. How Google indexes my content.
First things first, know what elements Google will index and how it will index them. For this section I will resort to a capture of a search snippet that Google shows us. The capture and the different elements we see below:
4.1 – Title optimization.
It is perhaps the most important element we are going to talk about next. It is a part of SEO On-Page that we must take special care of. Below I will give you a series of tips to choose a good title for your article:
- The title should contain our keyword and if it is better at the beginning.
- The title should be descriptive and give a clear idea of ??the content of the article.
- The title must be unique. No other article in your blog can have the same title.
- The maximum number of characters in the title is 70 characters. * Read clarification # 1 *
- The minimum number of recommended characters is 40.
The title directly influences whether our content appears or not in the search results of a keyword in search engines, so take care of this part and spend the time you need to choose a good title.
Clarification No. 1:
When we talk about maximum number of characters (in the title, meta description and URL) we mean maximum number of characters that are displayed in the Google search snippet. So you can put more characters but they will not be shown in the snippet (when you exceed the maximum number of characters the Google search snippet shows ellipses).
The minimum number of characters is very important, since otherwise we will see messages in the Google Webmasters panel saying that we have meta descriptions too short, etc. It seems that the maximum number of characters that Google shows in snippets, can be reduced in some minor resolutions, but I recommend ignoring this fact, I put it only as a curiosity.
When I choose a title, before “baptizing” my article with it, I do a Google search using the keyword and analyze the results. With this I can see the competition, I can see if someone has used exactly the same title as me, I can see similar titles that give me new ideas, etc. It is always better to have a unique title than one repeated thousands of times on other websites, but maintaining all the requirements we have talked about before.
The title goes into the HTML code of our website, it is recognized because it goes between the title tags:
<title>Vozidea.com - tutoriales, guias, tecnología, android, reviews</title>
4.2 – Meta keywords.
I have little to say about meta keywords since they are obsolete. Its use is not penalized but today it makes no sense to use them. None of the important search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) take them into account so, let’s not waste another minute with the meta keywords.
4.3 – Meta descriptions.
Meta descriptions are brief text portions that describe the content of our article and help the user to decide if it is the content they are looking for or not. Meta descriptions are shown in Google’s search snippets, so they are also an important element and I recommend following the following tips:
- The meta description should include the keyword, if it is in the first sentence better.
- The meta description should provide the user with an idea of ??the content of the article.
- The meta description must be unique. No other article in your blog can have the same meta description.
- Never use false meta descriptions or that do not fit the content of the article.
- The maximum number of characters in the meta description is 156 characters. * Read clarification # 1 *
- The minimum number of recommended characters is 120.
As we did with the titles, do a Google search of our keyword and analyze the meta descriptions of our competitors. With this I can get new ideas and try to improve what my competition offers in its meta description, adding new elements that make it more attractive to users. A good practice if we do not have relevant ideas is to use the titles used by the competition in our meta description if we have room.
The meta keyword is recognized within the HTML code because it is identified as follows:
<meta name="description" content="Aquí iría todo el texto de una meta descripción con un límite visible de 156 caracteres y un mínimo recomendado de 120."/>
4.4 – Friendly URL (slug).
First to clarify that there are several ways to refer to friendly URLs, they are also known as semantic URLs or friendly URLs in English or in WordPress refer to them as permalinks.
This URL contains an important part that comes after the domain, it is called slug. This slug must be formed in an appropriate manner following the following recommendations:
- The slug must include the keyword.
- The slug should give an idea of ??the content of the article, so it is highly recommended that it be equal to the title of the article or very similar.
- Whenever possible keep the slug as a phrase with its own meaning and not single words.
- Keep the maximum number of characters at 60 although it is best not to exceed 40.
- The slug does not have a minimum number of recommended characters, but since it must include at least the keyword you can already get an idea.
Personal strategy when choosing a slug
- The slug in WordPress is written using the title of the article, this is the most widespread and recommended practice. But the problem of slug comes when we have to reduce its length to not exceed 40 characters or in specific situations not to exceed 60. Below I show some examples of how we should shorten the slug, taking into account that the most important thing is to keep a slug with proper meaning and not end with a slug formed by single words.
- Imagine that my title is: “What is the ideal length of a slug in a friendly URL”. The slug will be: what -is-the-ideal-length-of-a-slug-in-a-friendly-URL . This slug has a size of 56 characters so it is advisable to shorten it to 40. For this we would start by removing secondary elements: which is the ideal-length-of-a-slug. This slug already has 36 characters and it would serve us perfectly, as we can see I deleted the secondary element that was URL-friendly .
- Now let’s imagine that this slug is still too long to continue exemplifying the order of elimination of elements when shortening a slug:
- The next element to eliminate would be the articles (el, la, los, las): which-is-length-ideal-of-slug .
- Pronouns (what, which, how): ideal-length-of-slug .
- Finally, the prepositions are very aggressive (de, en, por, sin, etc ..): ideal-length-slug .
4.5 – HTML header tags (h1, h2, h3, h4, h5 and h6).
These header tags are another point of the most important when facing SEO On-Page. The headers must be well defined and structured, both in the content of our article and in the structure of our theme or template.
There are six header tags, from h1 to h6. The label number indicates the relevance of the label, for example, the h1 is the most important and the h6 the least relevant (although it is not necessary to use the 6, the first 3 or 4 are usually used ). Below we show a series of recommendations when using HTML header tags:
- As we have said the h1 tag is the most important, and there must be one and only one h1 tag in each article.
- The h1 tag must contain the keyword of our article.
- The content of the h1 tag must be descriptive and have its own meaning.
- The length of the h1 tag must not be excessive, it must be the same size or similar to the title of the article.
- As a general rule, header tags should be short and direct phrases. You should never put a full paragraph as a header tag.
Personal strategy when working with HTML header tags
- Normally the h1 tag is used to highlight the title, and is the most effective in my opinion. In other words, we would use the title of the article between the h1 tags.
- The h2 and h3 tags personally is something I reserve to use in the content of my articles. For the above reason, I never use these headers anywhere else in my theme or template. With this I get to give more relevance to my content.
- The h4, h5 and h6 tags are reserved for the different elements of the theme or template (text headers in the sidebars, text in the footer, etc …).
With this distribution of header labels I guarantee that the really important thing (the title and the content of the article) stands out on the secondary elements of my template or theme (sidebar, footer, etc …).
4.6 – Images.
In this section we must differentiate between the images we use for the design of our theme or template and the images we use within the content of our articles.
About the images that we use in our theme or template there is little to say, you just have to pay attention that they are well optimized (so that the loading time of these is not a problem) and it is preferable that the images that are part of the theme or template be called from the CSS code and not from the HTML directly. If we had no choice but to call the images from HTML code, then follow the same recommendations that I will give to optimize the images of the content of our articles.
When we talk about the images we use in the content of our articles, they are especially important since they have a triple function:
- Visually improve the content of our articles.
- Get traffic through the Google image search engine.
- Enhance the keyword content of our article.
Due to the great importance of these images we must follow the following recommendations:
- Images must be optimized in both size and dimensions to fit the content correctly.
- The images must be related to the content of the article.
- The images must have the HTML
altattribute so that it contains the keyword.
Personal strategy when using images
- A good practice is to use the keyword as a name for the image file, for example if my keyword is On-Page SEO Guide my image should be called, for example, guide-seo-on-page.jpg . To optimize images for SEO On-Page I have nothing more to say.
- In this section of the images the user experience takes on a special importance, so I will give a few strokes on the subject, so that you take it into account even if it is not SEO On-Page.
- I recommend always using images in our articles, especially if they are very extensive since they visually break the content giving the reader a break, especially if they are very arid articles.
- I recommend using images of appropriate dimensions, which are not so small that they are not well appreciated, or so large that they go beyond the limits of the screen.
- If we use high resolution images, because our content needs it, it is highly recommended to use plugins to give a Lightbox effect (this effect consists of opening the image in full size in a pop-up or pop-up window that overlaps the content of our article and once visualized the image can be closed easily and continue reading).
4.7 – Quotations and literal content from other websites.
Many times in our articles we need to mention portions of text literally extracted from other websites, in this case, the correct way to place this text within our article is to use the
blockquote HTML tag with the
cite attribute pointing to the URL from which we extract the information. For example the HTML code would be like this:
<blockquote cite="https://www.vozidea.com/protocolo-http-desarrolladores-uno">Las transacciones del protocolo HTTP están formadas por un encabezado de petición (opcionalmente se pueden agregar datos). Este encabezado de petición es enviado por el cliente al servidor. A continuación el servidor interpreta el encabezado de petición enviado por el cliente y retorna un encabezado de respuesta.</blockquote>
There is also the possibility of using this label in famous phrases, in this case we can omit the
cite attribute. For example:
<blockquote>Ser, o no ser, esa es la cuestión.</blockquote>
4.8 – Internal links
We are facing a point that will help us position our articles and promote the contents of our blog, but we must do it correctly. The first thing is to know the nofollow attribute and how it works, for this I send you to an article that we have written a while ago for you to read it carefully. The article is as follows and deals with what nofollow links are and how they affect SEO .
Another concept that we have to be clear before continuing is that it is an “anchor text” also known as “anchor text” and is nothing more than the text that links to a web address. In the following image with the HTML code of a link we can see which is the anchor text or anchor text:
We already have the basic concepts defined, now we have to talk about the strategy to create internal links in our content. When we write an article we sometimes mention aspects related to other articles that we have already written a long time ago, because it is very important to link these mentions with their corresponding articles. With this, we promote the content of our blog so that it is not forgotten and at the same time we better distribute the link juice in our blog. A clear example can be seen in this Seo On-Page guide, when I have previously linked to an old article about nofollow links.
Another thing to keep in mind when building these internal links is the anchor text or anchor text, which must be appropriate and must be related to the content to which the link points. It goes without saying that we should never have broken links or links that do not exist.
I will tell you how I try to build my internal links. Some friends tell me that my strategy is too conservative, but for me it is important to stay safe from penalties. The guidelines I follow are the following:
- Within the content, I only have to link once the article I want to promote.
- I try to maintain the following ratio:
- In articles of 200 words, one or two internal links.
- In articles of 300 or 400 words, two or three internal links.
- In long articles of more than 500 words, an internal link every 200 words with a maximum of 5 internal links.
4.9 – Keywords.
Many of you will have noticed that it seems that everything revolves around an element, the key word and you are not wrong. The keyword is nothing more than a phrase, the phrase you would use in search engines to find the information you are looking for, so you have to take care that it is appropriate. There are a number of rules when using this keyword in our content and they are the following:
- The keyword must be unique to the content of the article, that is, we cannot use the same keyword in different articles.
- Do not repeat the keyword excessively within the content, as this is penalized by Google. Repeating the keyword many times is known as keyword stuffing and we must avoid it, for this we must maintain the density of keywords around 1 and 5%. Exceeding that 5% could be considered “keyword stuffing” if we do it very often. Then I will give you some reference numbers, when I talk about my personal strategy for keywords.
- The keyword must be included in: title, meta description, header tag
h1and in the
altattribute of the images embedded in the content of the article.
- The keywords must be distributed in a more or less uniform way within the article, not placing several repetitions of the keyword within the same sentence or paragraph.
- You should never link content to other pages (whether external or internal) using the keyword as anchor text or anchor text (this point is very important).
Within this section of the keywords, we must comment that the keyword should never be repeated in excess, it is a practice penalized by Google. About how many times I repeat my keyword in an article, as they tend to be:
- Three times in different HTML elements within the content of the article (in articles with more than 300 words).
- Again in the
altattribute of the image.
- Again in the article title that goes between the
In total they would be 5 times, expressed as a percentage of a 300 word article would be 1.7%, which is within the admissible. The percentage in a 200 word article would be 2.5% that is also within the permissible.
Personally when I place my keywords I always look for the right moment. I usually follow the following strategy:
- At the beginning of the article I write a phrase that contains the keyword and I put it in bold.
- In the first
h2of the article I include the keyword.
- In some
h3of the article (no matter what is the first) I include a derivative of the keyword.
- In the
altattributes of the image as I said before.
Obviously this strategy is not always possible, but it is my priority to carry it out. Many friends have told me that they find it very conservative, that even if I included the keyword in the content again, nothing would happen, but I prefer to work on insurance.
Instead of using the keyword more times, what I do is resort to expressions with the same meaning and synonyms, but in a moderate way, only in certain paragraphs. For example, if my keyword was SEO On-Page Guide I would add content such as: SEO tutorial for personal web pages , . Website optimization … “,” … improve search engine optimization … “, etc …
4.10 – Duplicate content.
According to the Google Webmasters application, this is taken as duplicate content if two or more articles have:
- The same title tag.
- The same meta description.
For this reason we must use different meta descriptions in each article and different titles for each article.
Obviously (although Google Webmasters does not show it) it will also be duplicate content if we copy the content of the article from another website or blog and put it on ours directly, this practice is even penalized by Google, so avoid it.
4.11 – Canonical URL.
The first thing is to explain what a canonical URL is . This URL is to put it in some way, the URL with its own name, the URL that the Google bot must index. This is also called a normalized URL. I know that nothing is clear with that definition but you will understand it perfectly with the following example. The Vozidea.com home page can be accessed through the following URLs:
We can verify that both take me to the main page with the same content and this can cause Google to detect them as duplicate content. Defining my canonical URL that will be
http://www.vozidea.com I tell Google that this is the page that should be indexed and not the others. If we see the HTML code of
https://www.vozidea.com/page/1 we can appreciate the following line:
<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.vozidea.com/"/>
This line of code is what defines my canonical URL and will be the one that indexes the Google bot when I visit the URL
https://www.vozidea.com/page/1 thus avoiding duplicate content.
4.12 – robots.txt file
Nowadays it is practically mandatory to have a
robots.txt file on our website. What this file does is indicate to the bots that index our pages that they should index and not. It is best to have this file in the root folder, for example
https://www.vozidea.com/robots.txt . For example, the content of Vozidea.com
robots.txt is as follows:
User-agent: * Disallow: /wp-admin/ Disallow: /wp-includes/ Sitemap: https://www.vozidea.com/sitemap.xml.gz
The first line of the
robots.txt specifies which index bot is affected by the
robots.txt . In our case, when using an asterisk, we indicate that it affects all indexing bots.
The next two lines prevent bot access to these folders, so they cannot index their contents.
The last line specifies a sitemap file to facilitate the indexing of our website. We will discuss this file in the next section.
4.13 – Sitemap file: Sitemaps
It is a file in XML format that contains information about the content of our website, to facilitate the task of indexing to search engine bots. This file indicates to the bots:
- Where our resources are located.
- The last time the resources were updated.
- The frequency with which it should be tracked for changes or modifications.
The latter, where the frequency is specified, I would not know to what extent the bots follow it, because I believe that each bot has its own way of establishing this frequency on its own instead of extracting it from the sitemaps, but we will specify it in a way as realistic as possible in case the flies.
It goes without saying that having a sitemap file on our website or blog is mandatory and its location is usually in the root directory, but nothing prevents us from using another location as long as we specify it correctly in the
robots.txt or Google Webmasters. You can use Google Webmasters to add the link of the sitemaps file and get a more complete statistics report.
4.14 – Web load time.
It is a perhaps less decisive factor when positioning, but no less important. Keeping a low charging time facilitates and improves:
- Indexing of our articles and tracking in general.
- The user experience, which will not suffer endless waiting.
Within Google Webmasters, we can find within the tracking statistics a graph with the download time of a page (in milliseconds). This graph will give us an idea of ??how our server is behaving, the ideal is to have values ??the lower the better, but staying below 800 milliseconds is a pretty good value and staying between 800 milliseconds and a second is an acceptable value and more of a second is a bad or very bad value.
To improve response times the most used is a cache system, either as a plugin (for example the famous cache plugin for WordPress W3 Total Cache) or as a server application (for example Varnish Cache ).
4.15 – W3C validation.
This is a section of which we have already spoken in a previous article and in which we already draw conclusions, we must read it carefully and then continue. The article is about how W3C validation affects SEO .
4.16 – Breadcrumbs.
Breadcrumbs are links, which in addition to facilitating user navigation allow indexing bots to understand the structure of our website or blog.
The breadcrumbs you recognize because they are links that are at the top of the articles and are of the type:
Inicio > Articulos > Guia de SEO On-Page
In these links each element points to a different direction, for example, “Start” would point to the main domain, “Articles” would point to the list of articles and “SEO Guide on page” would be the article we are in and the latter will be just text , not a link.
The use of these breadcrumbs is highly recommended, in Vozidea.com we have not yet implemented them, but they will soon be available.
5. Author’s comments.
The most important thing is to make all of the above a custom since they are fundamental methods for Google to correctly index your website. Do not delay reading this guide and put it into practice as soon as possible.
I do not want to leave anything behind or omit important points so if you see that some part needs to be modified, that improvements can be included or that I have omitted important things, do not hesitate to comment.
In the guide I have omitted some points on purpose, as I would not call them SEO On-Page formally, since they are rather improvements with other scopes. These omitted parts will have their own articles since they are extensive and I did not want to include here more data than there is already and make an endless reading. These articles will be written over the coming months and will be linked from this guide. The articles will deal with:
- Social networks.
- HTML5 microforms to create rich snippets .
- Practical WordPress application guide (that is, apply the information in this guide to WordPress).
- Redirects 301 and Errors 404.
I am also preparing this same guide in pdf format so that you have it more at hand, but it will take a while.
I am considering the possibility of creating a simple application to measure lengths of text strings (it would help us to check length of titles, meta descriptions, slug, etc …), but I don’t know if it would be useful (if I see comments asking for it I program it but do not).
I hope you liked the On-Page SEO guide, I have tried to explain myself in the simplest way I could without losing precision when giving the information. If you have any doubts, do not hesitate to use the comments, I will gladly try to solve them and so we will all learn.