6 Critical Elements of SEO

Search Engine Optimization is critical for your website to show up on search engines and be found by your target audience.

Overview

If you’ve followed along with this series you should have a handle on site speed and security. In this third installment, we’re tackling Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

SEO is critical if you want your website to show up on search engines and be found by your target audience.

As with the other tips in this series, the most important elements to get right are the basics. Here are 6 areas that you must get right on your website for strong SEO.

Critical Element #1

URL Structure

The first step in optimizing your website starts with your URL structure. URLs should be consistent throughout your website and reflect the path users take to get to that page. For example, if a user reaches a subpage through your Services page, the URL should be: www.domainname.com/services/page-title

URLs should also include business name, primary keywords, and hyphens to break up content. Remember: short, descriptive URLs are best.

Critical Element #2

Page Titles

Page titles need to be consistent. They should be structured the same way on all of your website's pages and the URL needs to reflect the page title as well. It's very important to include the primary subject and keyword for that page within the title. 

For the best optimization, try to keep your page titles between 30 to 60 characters long and avoid Including unnecessary information. For example, page titles should be structured: Primary Subject | Company/Brand Name

At Onsharp, one of our main services is providing website design. However, we would not include "services" in the page title before "website design" because SERP (Search Engine Results Page) visitors will understand that "website design" is a service that we provide because it is listed under the service tab.

Below are some examples of correct and incorrect page titles:

Correct Examples:

  • Home | Onsharp
  • Website Design | Onsharp
  • Contact Us | Onsharp

Incorrect Examples:

  • Services - Website Design | Onsharp
  • About Us - Our Team | Onsharp

Critical Element #3: Keywords

Keywords are common words or phrases that users search for on the internet in order to find information, research before making a purchase, or browse products and services. Search engines use keywords to decide what results they should provide the users when a search is made.

There are two different types of keywords: short-tail and long-tail keywords. 

Short tail keywords are very broad and have very high search volumes. A good example of a short-tail keyword is the word "smartphone." 

Long-tailed keywords are more specific and give you better results because they focus on a user’s specific interest. Following the smartphone example, a long-tailed keyword would be "Apple iPhone 13." Another example of an even more specific long-tail keyword would be "Apple iPhone 13 screen repair."

When choosing which keywords you want for on-page and metadata content, you want to include a variety of top-ranking, short keywords for broad searches and long-tail keywords for specific searches. 

It is also good to include localized keywords that include your city or state name. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner to see what your customers are looking for, how many searches keywords get, and which keywords make the most sense for your target audience.

Critical Element #4: Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are brief paragraphs that appear beneath the Page Title and URL link during a search. They are your opportunity to entice a user to click-through. 

These paragraphs tell users what they can expect to find on your website before visiting it. This short description, at 160 characters or fewer, should be unique to each page and should incorporate primary keywords for an easy-to-read and compelling description. Below are some examples of correct and incorrect meta descriptions.

Correct Example:

"You've heard about SEO, but you're not sure what to do. We'll tell you how to optimize your website for search by focusing on these 6 SEO elements."

It's under 158 characters, contains keywords, and accurately describes what this page is about.

Incorrect Example:

"SEO Basics: 6 Important SEO Elements to Optimize Your Website"

This description contains keywords, but it's too short and doesn't convey the purpose of the page.

Critical Element #5: H1 Tags

Heading tags, located in the code of your website, are used by search engines to differentiate the overall theme of each page. Search engines place the most importance on the H1 tag followed by the H2 tag, H3 tag, and so on. Heading tags should include keywords that closely relate to the page title and content. Most commonly, the H1 tag is your page title and the H2 tag is a subheading that relates to the paragraph following it and contains other primary keywords.

Note: You should only have one H1 tag per page. 

Critical Element #6: Alt Text

Alt text makes your website's images accessible to those with limited vision who use screen readers. It's is also used as another avenue for search engines to find your website based on keywords. The alt text description you provide for an image, which is different from the title of the image, helps give search engines an idea of what the image represents and in what context it's being used.

It's unhelpful when the alt text of an image is not properly describing the image because then search engines cannot identify what it is. For example, IMG3806823 is a common file name for an image but it does not describe it at all. 

When writing alt text for your site’s images, imagine you are writing a caption for a photo or graphic that will be in a magazine. It is important to be succinct and descriptive.

The Bottom Line

These six elements are key components to optimizing your website for search. If this is done correctly, it can help your website rank on search engine result pages. If you're looking for more information or need help with SEO for your website, let us know. We'll help your website get in front of the audience that's searching for you.