Software, Technology

How-to: Understand On-Page SEO

Spiders Web by Steve GibsonOn Page SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is all about getting good rankings for web pages in the search engine results. It should be about structuring content so that the search engines understand its relevancy.

However like anything related to the black-art and voodoo fakery surrounding SEO, a lot of Internet Marketers (shysters) try to use it to game the search engines in search of advertising revenue. Good on page SEO is not about manipulating the search engines; indeed, developments by them in recent months have been designed to stop it.

If you are serious about getting the search engines to find, index and rank your site you will need to consider on page SEO from the outset.

You have to remember that the search engine spiders cannot understand the content they trawl, so they are looking for indicators of relevance, including looking at the content of the title tags, the header tags, the image ALT tags, the links and their anchor text amongst other things. On Page SEO is like writing so that a six year old can pick up what the content is about, without any understanding of what it means. But… Proper On-Page SEO means more now than ever.

You may have heard of Google’s Project Panda which introduced a whole stack of new scanning algorithms designed to cut the rankings of those sites attempting to ‘game’ the search engine. No longer are back-links and simply pinging or sending out a RSS feed the key to getting Google PageRank or Alexa Rankings. So what is good On-Page SEO?

The good news is that the normal rules of good content writing still apply.

  • Know what keywords you are trying to promote. That means relevant keywords, plural, that make sense in context – not a hotch-potch of random words thrown together. A single keyword won’t stand out in the billions of pages crawled.
  • Your keywords must appear in the title and in the URL of the page.
  • Your keywords should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page.
  • You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keywords.
  • Then you should properly spread all H1,H2,H3 tags, containing relevant keywords in your article so that there is proper mark-up of important terms within the article.
  • There should be one internal link to a page on your site and you should have one image with an alt tag that contains your keywords.

For longer content, you should be wary of repeating verbatim to many instances of keyword phrases, since Panda is likely to look at this as an attempt to cheat the rankings, particularly if the content is short. Keyword density has been the main part of search engine optimization for many years, since it is easily understood by beginners in website design and article writing. The two major factors influencing search engine placement were the use of keywords and in-links (back links). This isn’t so true any more.

You will still find a general recommendation that you should optimize your keyword content and make sure that it has a keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Treat this general percentage ‘rule’ as a bit of voodoo. The tip about LSI, however is good

Latent semantic indexing
When Google introduced Adsense, it soon became apparent to the Internet Marketers (shysters) that there was a lot of money to be made generating web-pages specifically designed to display Adsense ads. Thousands of dollars could be made daily by generating thousands of pages, using template-based page generation software built for the purpose. Of course, the sites were of no use to the visitor, filled with junk content whose only purpose was to serve up Adsense adverts.

Latent semantic indexing was introduced in an attempt to improve the service offered by Google and other search engines to those using their services. Abbreviated as LSI, Latent semantic indexing it is an algorithm used by search engines to determine what a page is about outside of specifically matching search query text. It involves analysis of words used based in ‘natural language’, the synonyms and closely related words used when determining the general theme of a page. At least, in so far as natural language can be codified into a set of rules.

The LSI algorithm doesn’t understand the meanings of words on the page but is looking for patterns of related words. LSI will may return relevant results that don’t contain the keyword at all, including pages with related words.

Latent semantic indexing was initially used in Adsense to enable adverts targeted to the theme of a web-page to appear on that page. It a recent development that Google applied the algorithms to search engine placement, and it is now used by search engines other than Google. It complements keyword analysis which still goes on.

LSI is only as good as the set of rules fed to the algorithm; it is not perfect and can lead to results which are justifiable under the rules, but have no meaning in natural language. The semantics of the page must make the meaning and topic of the page clear, which is why, since the introduction of Latent Semantic Indexing, many sites have been de-listed by Google.

What is the impact of LSI?
If you are producing content with integrity, for the value of producing it, then LSI should actually help you without you having to do much, if any, extra work. Be aware of what the search engines are looking for. If you’re one of those shysters producing junk content for the ad revenue – hasta la vista, baby. AJS

Image credit: Spiders Web by Steve Gibson

Related: How-to Decide Posting Frequency on Your Web-site

About Allan J. Smithie

Allan J. Smithie is a journalist and commentator based in Dubai.


4 thoughts on “How-to: Understand On-Page SEO

  1. It’s true that the LSI algorithm doesn’t understand the meanings of words on the page… but how does it manage the correlations between them ?

    Posted by Anthony | Sep 21, 2012, 11:04 pm
  2. Effective SEO is about precision, ranking and recall, that requires more than brute force. LSI was first developed at Bellcore in the late 1980’s, surprisingly how search engines do what they do is little-known.

    Posted by Rose G Molina | Sep 22, 2012, 5:28 am


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