Every day we see great sites that are stuck on the second page of Google, or lower. Most often they are missing just a few key components that could completely transform their visibility. Today, we’d like to peel back the curtain and show you some of the most common mistakes DIY website designers make, and how to fix them.
In this blog we will be explaining what on-page SEO is, some common technical mistakes that might be holding your website back, and wrapping everything up with a brief look into content and how to target the keywords you need to be successful online. Let’s dive right in!
What Is On-Page SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, it's how you set up a website to rank well on Google or any other search engine. “On-page” means that these edits and strategies will be happening on the pages of your website. We are affecting the site itself, not your local listings, social media, paid ads, emails, or any other “off-page” channel.
On-page SEO is more than just the text and images on your site, it can also include some technical features as well. Titles, headings, alt text, internal linking, navigation, and so much more could also be considered on-page. These are just a few sections that we often see not fully optimized, or completely ignored in many websites.
How To Make The Perfect Titles & Descriptions
Titles, descriptions, and headings are tools to organize your site in a way that is easy to understand. Titles and descriptions do not appear on your site, but are displayed in the search engine results page (SERP). This is the list of links that Google displays when you type anything into the search bar.
Titles add context to each page by clearly stating the main focus of the page in just a few words. This is an ideal place to put valuable keywords including the name of your business or the primary area you service. Descriptions offer viewers additional information about the page or your site by offering space for a sentence or two to further elaborate on your offer. Google does not pull keywords from the description, so this section can be purely informational or include a call to action such as “Call us today at 123-456-7890” or “Learn more about our birth center today!”
One common issue with most sites that aren’t ranking well is they lack a title or description. Each page on your site needs its own unique title and description that matches the intent of the page. You also want to make sure they are not too long, or Google will cut these tags short, which may look unprofessional. Page titles have a limit of 580 pixels, and descriptions have a limit of 920 pixels. Please be aware that they are limited by pixel length, not the amount of characters. Let's look at an example of a Title and Description to give you an idea of what you should aim for:
Baby Steps OB/GYN | Dallas, TX
Trusted OB/GYNs serving Dallas, TX. We provide complete women's health care, from low to high risk obstetrical care. Contact us at 123-456-7890
Here we clearly stated the name of your practice in the title and even included the service area. Next we gave a short explanation of who we are in the description and added a call-to-action, asking the viewer to call us. We even provided our phone number to make it easy for them. If you want to see how your titles and descriptions will look, you can use this free tool on To-The-Web.
Head Into Success With Headings
Headings are a simple tool which can make reading large amounts of text manageable. Imagine if this blog wasn’t broken into sections and was just a solid wall of text. There's a good chance you wouldn’t have even read this far into it. Headings do so much more than just make your content look good, they also provide valuable information about what each page contains and the order of importance of each category.
Google’s spiders crawl your site to determine the context and keywords for each page. It compares similar pages across hundreds of sites in order to rank them against each other and determine which sites to show first, second, third, ect. However, when combing through so much data, it's easy for Google to get confused or fail to understand the context of a page. For example, a water birth tub and an outdoor kiddie pool can look very similar. Without additional context, Google might mislabel offering a water birth experience with selling a summer-time kids toy.
Headings can be used to organize your website from most important to least important info. We know all your information is important, but you want the main focus as a Heading 1 tag, followed by a few H2s, and possibly even H3s. Heading 1s hold the most weight and send the strongest signal, but you are only allowed to use one H1 tag per page. H2s and H3s send a slightly weaker signal, but can be used as many times as you like. Don’t try to cheat the system by making all your text a H2 tag, It’s a bit like highlighting every line in a text book. When everything is marked as “Important”, nothing seems important.
Let's take a look at a good example of using Headings to organize a birth center which also offer at home births:
H1: Birth Services in Dallas, TX
H2: Our Dallas Birth Center
H3: Tour Our Space
H3: What To Bring
H3: Our Convenient Locations
H2: Home Birth
H3: Water Birth
H3: How To prepare For An At Home Birth
H2: Labor & Delivery
Content is Still King
Content is King. If you have read some of our other blogs, then you might notice we say this a lot. That's because it's true. Content is one of the biggest ranking factors for every major search engine, and this is unlikely to change any time soon. Adding valuable text, that is relevant to your focus and filled with targeted keywords, is one of the best ways to climb the ranks and get to the first page in the SERP.
You want 500+ words on each page that is important to your website. This means that if you offer at-home births, water births, and prenatal care, that you will want to write at least 500 words about each of these topics, so 1,500 total. More is usually better, as long as it provides value and you're not repeating yourself too often. You also want to refrain from copying other site’s content or using AI to 100% write content for you. You can use the competition and AI as inspiration, but at the end of the day, it needs to come from you or you might get penalized for plagiarism.
It's also important that you mention the right keywords in your content. For example, let's say you own a birth center that follows the Midwifery Model of Care in the heart of Dallas that also offers water births. You want to think of ways to break each of these key points about your business into bite-sized chunks called keywords. The board keywords for this example would be
- Birth Center
- Prenatal Chiropractors
Now we can start combining these important pieces of information about our business to create more targeted long-tail keywords. For example, we could create: “Dallas birth center”, “Prenatal chiropractors for Dallas mothers”, “Water birth in a birth center”, or “Birth centers that offer water births”. These are just a few ideas of the keywords this theoretical site could add to their content to help improve their rank.
That’s a Wrap
While there is a lot we didn't cover in this blog, these are some of the most common and obvious issues we have seen when it comes to on-page SEO. There are so many sites that are hidden away on the second page of Google or lower, when a little elbow grease could help them climb to the top. For a recipe for success: fill your site with exemplary content, organized with proper headings, and labeled with a stellar title and description.