On Page Optimization
On Page Optimization is putting the rubber to the road. On page optimization refers to making changes to your on-page elements to attract keyword searches from search engines. Everything on the page is a potential asset to be used in the optimization process. The key here is that on-page optimization is a page-by-page process. In strictly technical terms, SEO is about pages, more than it is about websites. You want to set up your web pages to be optimized for your keywords. The website within which the page is contained is certainly relevant because it has a number of links pointing to each page through the navigation, and search engines do factor in the rest of site content as a relevance factor.
Matching Keywords to Pages
Step one for on page optimization is to take your list of pages and identify which of your primary keywords match with the content of each of your pages. Also select one or two of your secondary keyword phrases that are related to your primary keyword and relevant to the content on the page. When matching keywords to pages, resist the temptation to optimize a page for everything that seems relevant. If you try to optimize for everything, you end up watering down everything and your results will be watered down. This is why we select a specific and short list of keywords for each page, so that we can make these keywords on the page apparent to the search engines. Think of it this way, we are trying to make it blindingly obvious to search engines what the page is about, and there are a number of key indicators that search engines use.
Using On-Page Assets
Web pages consist of elements that can be viewed with your browser plus all the code that is used to tell browsers how to display the page and other meta data not viewable on the screen (use View-Page Source or View-Source in your browser menu to see the page code). Search engines use varying combinations of the page content, formatting code, and the meta data (a.k.a. meta tags) to decide what a page is about. I refer to these as SEO assets. The most important assets to concern yourself with are content (first), the page title tag, the page file name and path, and your headings. Use your primary keyword in both your page title tag and your page file name. Work your keywords into the other on page assets such as your category headings, image file names, and image alt/title tags. Key point, do not stuff all your keywords into any asset or tag, stick to one keyword and keep it brief. For images, name your images with a keyword that matches the alt/title tag you plan to use.
Content vs SEO
Always write your content for humans first, but with SEO in mind. Search engines algorithms, in the early days of the internet, could be fooled with stuffing keywords in the keyword tag and repeating them multiple times in the text and other assets. Algorithms are now incredibly smart and are built to give higher ranking to well written copy, copy written for humans. If you have a dilemma, keyword density or copy that makes sense for human readers, write it for humans.
Use it All
Do not overlook a chance to help search engines understand your page and content. Everything that points to your pages, including your navigation links, should be built with the content on the following page in mind. Use the anchor text of a link and the title attribute of a link, to match the title tag and primary content of the resulting page. Every time an on-page asset matches the content of the page, it is another indicator to the search engines regarding what your page is about.
In a very simple summary, do everything possible to help Google and other search engines understand what your pages are about by matching the on-page assets to your keywords.
About the Author: Galen Sonntag is the principle member of Sonntag Search Marketing. Galen has a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Lewis Clark State College in Idaho, where he attended on a baseball scholarship, an MBA from the University of Saskatchewan, and a Diploma in Internet Marketing from the University of British Columbia. Several of the companies Galen has done work with include ABEX award winners for Marketing and Business Growth as well as the STEP Exporter of the Decade Award.