How Do I Build the Perfectly Optimized Page?
- Length – Shorter URLs appear to perform better in the search results and are more likely to be copied/pasted by other sites, shared and linked-to.
- Keyword Location – The closer the targeted keyword(s) are to the domain name, the better. Thus, site.com/keyword outperforms site.com/folder/subfolder/keyword and is the most recommended method of optimization (though this is certainly not a massive rankings benefit)
- Subdomains vs. Pages – As we’ve talked about previously on the blog, despite the slight URL benefit that subdomains keyword usage has over subfolders or pages, the engines’ link popularity assignment algorithms tilt the balance in favor of subfolders/pages rather than subdomains.
- Word Separators – Hyphens are still the king of keyword separators in URLs, and despite promises that underscores will be given equal credit, the inconsistency with other methods make the hyphen a clear choice. NOTE: This should not apply to root domain names, where separating words with hyphens is almost never recommended (e.g. pinkgrapefruit.com is a far better choice than pink-grapefruit.com).
- Number of Keyword Repetitions – It’s impossible to pinpoint the exact, optimal number of times to employ a keyword term/phrase on the page, but this simple rule has served us well for a long time – “2-3X on short pages, 4-6X on longer ones and never more than makes sense in the context of the copy.” The added benefit of another instance of a term is so miniscule that it seems unwise to ever be aggressive with this metric.
- Keyword Density – A complete myth as an algorithmic component, keyword density nonetheless pervades even very sharp SEO minds. While it’s true that more usage of a keyword term/phrase can potentially improve targeting/ranking, there’s no doubt that keyword density has never been the formula by which this relevance was measured.
- Keyword Usage Variations – Long suspected to influence search engine rankings (though never studied in a depth of detail that’s convincing to me), the theory that varied keyword usage throughout a page can help with content optimization and optimization nevertheless is worth a small amount of effort. We recommend employing at least one or two variations of a term and potentially splitting up keyword phrases and using them in body copy as well or instead.
- H1 Headline – The H1 tag has long been thought to have great importance in on-page optimization. Recent correlation data from our studies, however, has shown that it has a very low correlation with high rankings (close to zero, in fact). While this is compelling evidence, correlation is not causation and for semantic and SEO reasons, we still advise proper use of the H1 tag as the headline of the page and, preferrably, employment of the targeted keyword term/phrase.
- H2/H3/H4/Hx – Even lower in importance than the H1, our recommendation is to apply only if required. These tags appears to carry little to no SEO value.
- Alt Attribute – Surprisingly, the alt attribute, long thought to carry little SEO weight, was shown to have quite a robust correlation with high rankings in our studies. Thus, we strongly advise the use of a graphic image/photo/illustration on important keyword-targeted pages with the term/phrase employed in the alt attribute of the img tag.
- Image Filename – Since image traffic can be a substantive source of visits and image filenames appear to be valuable for this as well as natural web search, we suggest using the keyword term/phrase as the name of the image file employed on the page.
- Bold/Strong – Using a keyword in bold/strong appears to carry a very, very tiny amount of SEO weight, and thus it’s suggested as a best practice to use the targeted term/phrase at least once in bold, though a very minor one.
- Italtic/Emphasized – Surprisingly, italic/emphasized text appears to have a similar to slightly higher correlation with high rankings than bold/strong and thus, we suggest its use on the targeted keyword term/phrase in the text.
- Internal Link Anchors – No testing has yet found that internal anchors are picked up/counted by the engines.
- HTML Comments – As above, it appears the engines ignore text in comments.