A lot of people think of on-page SEO as being the sweet and simple combo platter of a title tag, meta description, and keyword tag for a specific website page. In reality, on-page SEO refers to both the content and HTML source code of said page.
Above and beyond content and code, there are some often overlooked steps that can have a significant impact on Google’s ranking factors that will continue to be important heading into the New Year. As Google’s algorithm continues to evolve, so too must the on-page SEO tactics marketers implement in order to gain visibility through the search engine.
Pages Need to Run at Top Speed
There’s nothing people hate more than clicking on a Google result that takes forever to load. Well as it turns out, Google hates it just as much as everyone else and that’s why it’s so important to make sure all the pages on your website are loading as fast as possible.
We already know how important mobile-first indexing has become in recent years, now consider this: 53% of visits are abandoned if a mobile site takes longer than 3 seconds to load. That means your window of opportunity is quite literally a couple seconds long and you need to have pages that load efficiently in that timeframe.
From a user perspective, slow loading times are not only annoying — they can also make you look sloppy and unprofessional as an organization. A business that values its digital content will always do its best to get you to it as quickly as it can, even if it means putting in a little extra work to ensure they’re hitting that 1-2 second loading mark consistently on all their pages. It’s not always easy, but the effort you put in will pay off as users won’t be tempted to hit the “back” button and head to another source.
If you’re finding that your page loading times are coming in slower than the average site within your industry, you should start by focusing on little things you can do to remedy that. (Pro tip: to test your site speed, use a trustworthy resource like Pingdom)
A common issue is large images slowing your site down. Examining your image sizes is something you can do pretty easily. If your page is full of big and beautiful images that are each 100 gigabytes, you might want to compress them so they’re not eating up as much bandwidth while loading. You can still keep those great images you want, but you’re also making sure they aren’t cutting down on that loading time.
Create Short URLs That Accurately Describe Your Pages
We’ve all been on the receiving end of a link to a page someone sends us, only to do a double take after seeing the link has about a thousand numbers and letters after the site name. It looks super sketchy and you’re not sure if you’re going to open up a cool blog post about Italy or get a computer virus.
You need to have short and descriptive URLs for a few reasons. The most obvious is that you want people to know exactly what they’re clicking on. Searchers are looking for results that match their search query and the closer you can get to being that answer in your URL — the more fondly Google will look upon you as a result.
For example, we wrote a blog post titled “How Competitor Content Can Help You” a little while back and instead of our URL having a bunch of random letters and numbers in it, we made it reflect an answer people might be looking for: https://getmintent.com/blog/how-to-use-competitor-content/. The URL alone tells you exactly what you can expect in the blog post and Google is far more receptive to that kind of precision.
Another thing that descriptive URLs can help with is giving your keywords a little more shine. You should always be on the lookout for new ways to implement the keywords you’re targeting and while you don’t want to force it by jamming in words because you think they’ll help your ranking — always see if there’s a way you can make it fit naturally.
Use Descriptive Alt Text for All Images
Much like the descriptive URLs we just touched on, you should be applying that same practice to images. The concept behind why it’s important is also similar to descriptive URLs in that you can help your SEO efforts with keywords and clearly lay out what the image is so that Google can take note of that.
This is critical considering Google can’t read images. It indexes them to match search queries based on information you add to the image, so you have to explicitly tell Google what that image is.
You do that by filling in your alt text, which is HTML used to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page. This is also a place to add your target keyword for that page so your image will appear for related queries on Google Image Searches.
Also, if someone is visually impaired and can’t see your image, the alt text can describe it for them. It will also display that text if a photo is not loading properly and no image is showing. For example, in a blog post we did titled “Measuring the Strength of Your Content Marketing Strategy,” the alt text appeared like this for one of the images:
<meta property=”og:image:alt” content=”Measuring_Content_Marketing” />
At the end of day, it’s a relatively easy thing you can do to help bump yourself up Google’s rankings in a small but significant way. It helps to optimize your website pages and is an important step that is often forgotten.