On-page SEOOn-page search engine optimization (SEO) is about words. To wit, the words you use on your web pages. If you choose the right ones for your web site, you can do a lot to reach the top of your customers’ search results.

Even though it may sound complicated, SEO is refreshingly logical (mostly), democratic (available to anyone willing to put in the time), and can be absolutely FREE. And you will almost certainly see results if you work at it.

One of the aspects of SEO I really enjoy is that it’s “pull” marketing. You’re no doubt familiar with “push” marketing, which inserts unrequested ads and e-mails into inboxes and onto results pages (I really dislike the blinking ones). Pull marketing simply helps people find what they’re already looking for.

What on-page search engine optimization is

So one key to helping people is to make sure you’re speaking their language. Quite literally. This means you need to think about what people type into a Google search box when they’re looking for your products or services. These are called key words.

The important thing is that when someone enters key words into a search box, the results will be prioritized by how close they were to the original searched words. Simply put, if someone enters, “How can I find the best personal coach in Baltimore?” theoretically, your link will appear in the search results first if you’re the only one to have those words in that particular order.

So you first need to determine key words that work for your business. And after you’ve made a list (quite possibly by studying the web sites of your competitors), begin putting the key words into question form as well, because it turns out that a lot of people write questions to Google, not just words and phrases.

Once you have a keyword list, you do just about everything possible to use these key words liberally (but not obnoxiously) on your pages.

Notice that I said “just about” everything. Google is not stupid (and yes, Google really is the primary search engine you need to concern yourself with, but not the only one). In fact, millions of dollars every year go into Google’s frequently updated “search algorithm” so that it’s not fooled by shysters. Some people (mostly in the past) have actually stuffed their pages with “invisible” key words (making them the same color as the background so the words are unnoticeable in a browser window). Web pages with this kind of “trick” will be penalized by Google and possibly other search engines. Such techniques are called “black hat” techniques. Honest, hard-working SEO is called “white hat.”

Google rewards you for honest attempts to help your audience find information. Keywords in page titles are weighted more heavily, for instance, than in metatags that are buried in the html of your pages.

What on-page search engine optimization is not

There are other SEO strategies you’ll want to look at:

  • inbound links
  • outbound links
  • local SEO (which literally puts you on your local map)

SEO 101: On-page SEO

by susan time to read: 2 min

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