On-Page Keyword Optimization
Broad Keyword Use in Page Title
Moz’s correlation research has also shown that higher rankings are strongly connected to the use of a keyword in the title tag. When search engines rank your page for a keyword, they consider the page title tag (<title>) to be the most important place for some form of the keyword to appear. Using keyword optimization or phrase in your title helps search engines associate the page with a topic and/or set of terms.
SEO Recommendation: Add some form of your targeted keywords in the page title tag, preferably as one of the first words in the tag. Using the exact keywords is preferable, but using some form of your targeted keywords in your page title is also helpful for SEO. See http://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag.
Accessible to Search Engines
To rank in search results, search engines have to be able to crawl and index your page. Before you can benefit from keyword targeting or other optimization techniques, you must make sure your page is accessible to the search engines.
Make sure this page:
- Returns HTTP code 200. See http://moz.com/learn/seo/http-status-codes.
- Is not blocked with robots.txt, meta robots or x-robots protocol. See http://moz.com/learn/seo/robotstxt.
- Does not use a meta refresh to another URL. Even if you don’t want this page visible to search engines, use a 301 link to permanently redirect to a new page and preserve all of the link juice from this page. For more information on redirection, see http://moz.com/learn-seo/redirection or http://moz.com/blog/whiteboard-friday-which-way-did-he-go
Avoid Keyword Stuffing in Document
If you use keywords too many times in the document text, search engines may tag your page for over keyword optimization (A.K.A. ‘stuffing’ – a form of search engine spam), which can hurt your rankings in the search engines, as well as appear spam-like to potential visitors in the search results.
Recommendation: Edit your page to use your targeted keywords no more than 15 times. See http://moz.com/blog/perfecting-keyword-targeting-on-page-optimization.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing in Page Title
If you use keywords more than once or twice in the title tag, search engines may tag your page for keyword stuffing (a form of search engine spam), which will hurt your rankings in the search engines.
Recommendation: Make sure you don’t use your targeted keywords more than twice in the title tag.
Avoid Multiple Page Title Elements
Web pages are meant to have a single title, and for both accessibility and search engine optimization reasons, we strongly recommend following this practice.
Recommendation: Make sure your page contains only one page title tag. See http://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag.
Exact Keyword is Used in Page Title
Moz’s correlation research has also shown that higher rankings are strongly connected to the use of a keyword in the title tag. When search engines rank your page for a keyword, they consider the page title tag (<title>) to be the most important place for the keyword to appear. Using a keyword or phrase in your title helps search engines associate the page with a topic and/or set of terms.
Recommendation: Add the exact keywords you want to optimize for to your page title tag, preferably as one of the first words in the tag. See http://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag.
Only One Canonical URL
The canonical URL tag is intended to refer duplicate pages to a single canonical URL. To ensure the search engines properly parse the canonical source, your page should use only one version of this tag in the header.
Recommendation: Make sure pages that are duplicates of another page use the canonical URL tag to point to the same, correct canonical URL. See http://moz.com/blog/canonical-url-tag-the-most-important-advancement-in-seo-practices-since-sitemaps.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing in the URL
If you use keywords more than once in the URL, search engines may tag your page for keyword stuffing (a form of search engine spam), which can hurt your rankings in the search engines, as well as appear spam-like to potential visitors. Keyword stuffing also makes your URL longer than it needs to be, which can have a negative effect on users and search engines alike.
Recommendation: Rewrite your URL to use your targeted keywords no more than once. See “Keyword Stuffing” on this page: http://moz.com/blog/should-i-change-my-urls-for-seo.
Exact Keyword Used in Document Text at Least Once
Search engines and potential visitors are both seeking the targeted keywords in the text of your page. Using keywords in the document element is not only a best practice, but an essential part of SEO and good user experience.
Recommendation: Use your targeted keywords at least once in the document text of the page. See http://moz.com/blog/4-graphics-to-help-illustrate-onpage-optimization.
Keywords in Image Alt Attribute
Using keywords in the alt attribute of an image on a page is slightly positively correlated with good rankings. It also helps your page rank better in image search, a popular and oft-employed universal search system. Correctly describing your images using keywords also adds value for sight-impaired users who may be using a text reader app to browse the web.
Recommendation: Add this page’s targeted keywords to the alt attribute of a relevant image or graphic. If your page doesn’t contain any images, consider adding one. See http://moz.com/learn-seo/on-page-factors.
Keywords in the Meta Description
If your keywords are in the meta description tag, it is more likely search engines will use it as the snippet that describes your page. Potential visitors see the keyword bolded in the snippet, which increases your page’s prominence and visibility. Be careful not to use keywords excessively, however, as it can be seen as spam by both search engines and potential visitors and reduce the chance potential visitors will click-through to your page.
Recommendation: Use your targeted keywords at least once, but no more than 3 times in the meta description tag. See http://moz.com/learn/seo/meta-description.
Sufficient Characters in Content
Search engines seek pages that contain a sufficient amount of machine-readable content, assuming those pages are more likely to fulfill the goals of potential visitors. Pages with unique machine-readable content are also much less likely to be seen as duplicates of other pages and removed from the index as such. Our 300-character minimum is admittedly somewhat arbitrary, but it is a reasonable rule of thumb for an acceptable level of ‘absolute minimum’ unique content in most cases.
Recommendation: Make sure your page contains a minimum of 300 characters (not including spaces) of machine-readable, substantive, unique content that provides value to potential visitors. Remember that images (without alt text), Flash files, Java applets, and other non-text content is virtually invisible to search engine spiders. See http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/basics-of-search-engine-friendly-design-and-development.
Sufficient Words in Content
Search engines seek pages that contain a sufficient amount of machine-readable content, assuming those pages are more likely to fulfill the goals of potential visitors. Pages with unique machine-readable content are also much less likely to be seen as duplicates of other pages and removed from the index as such. Our 50-word minimum is admittedly somewhat arbitrary, but it is a reasonable rule of thumb for an acceptable level of ‘absolute minimum’ unique content in most cases.
Recommendation: Make sure your page contains a minimum of 50 words of machine-readable, substantive, unique content that provides value to potential visitors. Remember that images (without alt text), Flash files, Java applets, and other non-text content is virtually invisible to search engine spiders. See http://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo/basics-of-search-engine-friendly-design-and-development.
URL Uses Only Standard Characters
If you only use characters that are common in URLs, it makes it easier for more users to access and interpret your URL. Not all users have keyboards that can easily enter less common characters, or browsers that support the display of these characters, and some special characters can look spammy. Using only standard characters can also avoid potential problems with your search engine ranking.
Recommendation: Make sure your URL contains only these characters: letters, numbers, slash (/), comma (,), plus (+), exclamation point (!), period (.), and dash (-). Parameters using ampersand (&) and pound (#) are okay too.
Use Keywords in Your URL
Using your targeted keywords in the URL string adds relevancy to your page for search engine rankings, assists potential visitors identify the topic of your page from the URL, and provides SEO value when used as the anchor text of referring links.
Recommendation: Use your targeted keywords in the URL string of the page. If you are targeting a multi-word phrase, use hyphens to separate individual words. Hyphens allow the search engines to read the URL as separate words. See http://moz.com/blog/11-best-practices-for-urls.
Moderate Importance Difficult Fix
Use Meta Descriptions
While a meta description does not influence your page’s rankings in the search results, it can be valuable to improve the click-through rate of potential visitors from the results page, and to provide context to potential visitors about the page’s topic and focus. The meta description is also what will show up as a description when users share your page on social media sharing sites like Facebook and Google+.
Recommendation: Add a meta description tag to your page, describing the page’s content in a way that will make it compelling to potential visitors who see the snippet in the search results. See http://moz.com/learn/seo/meta-description.
Use Static URLs
Using a static URL can improve your performance in search engine rankings. Moz’s correlation research shows that URLs with dynamic parameters have dramatically worse performance in the rankings. Using dynamic parameters does not necessarily cause worse rankings, but there does appear to be a correlation, and they generally do lead to lower click-through rates. Dynamic URLs are also a common source of duplicate content.
Recommendation: Use mod rewrite or ISAPI rewrite to change your URL to be static (removing all instances of ?, =, etc.). See http://moz.com/blog/url-rewrites-and-301-redirects-how-does-it-all-work.
Avoid Too Many External Links
Linking externally is generally a good thing, but as with many optimization tactics in SEO, moderation is the best path. If your page uses a high number of followed links to external pages, it may prevent the engines from passing much value through any given link and may also set off spam/manipulation triggers, particularly if those links are not pointing to high quality/trustworthy sites.
Recommendation: Reduce the number of external, followed links on your page to under 150. In most instances, under 100 is optimal. See http://moz.com/blog/how-many-links-is-too-many.
Avoid Too Many Internal Links
Google has confirmed that the use of too many internal links on a page will not trigger a penalty, but it can influence the quantity of link juice sent through those links and dilute your page’s ability to have search engines crawl, index, and rank link targets.
Recommendation: Scale down the number of internal links on your page to fewer than 100, if possible. At a minimum, try to keep navigation and menu links to fewer than 100. See http://moz.com/blog/how-many-links-is-too-many.
Keyword is at Beginning of Page Title
Moz’s correlation research has shown that pages that use the targeted keywords in the first words of the title tag benefit greatly in the rankings. There is a direct relationship between proximity to the beginning of the title element and prominence/rankings as seen by the search engines, and the closer to the end of the page title the keyword appears, the worse the correlation with high rankings.
Recommendation: Rewrite your page title to move the targeted keywords to the beginning, or as soon as feasible, in your page title tag. See http://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag.
Low Importance Easy Fix
Minimize URL Length
Search engines often truncate the URL display at 75 characters and appear to pass less keyword value in longer URLs. We also recommend using fewer than three subfolders in your URL to make it easier for search engines to parse.
Recommendation: Rewrite your URL to be as short as possible, preferably shorter than 75 characters and three subfolders, while still being descriptive and using keywords appropriately. See http://moz.com/blog/11-best-practices-for-urls.
Only One Meta Description
If you have multiple meta descriptions, it can confuse the search engines and they may not display the intended meta description tag.
Recommendation: Make sure your page contains only one meta description tag. See http://moz.com/learn-seo/meta-description.
Optimal Page Title Length
When search engines display your page on their results page, they often only show about the first 70 characters (the exact number of characters depends in part on how many pixels wide each character is, but 70 is a good target overall). If your title is longer than this, engines may truncate your title with an ellipsis or replace it with other text. The best possible title (and best way to encourage potential visitors to click through to your page), is a title tag that is less than 70 characters long.
Recommendation: Edit your title tag to 70 characters or less. See http://moz.com/learn/seo/title-tag.
Optimal Use of Keywords in H1 Tags
Although using targeted keywords in H1 tags on your page does not directly correlate to high rankings, it does appear to provide some slight value. It’s also considered a best practice for accessibility and helps potential visitors determine your page’s content, so we recommend it. Over-using keywords, however, can be perceived as keyword stuffing (a form of search engine spam) and can negatively impact rankings, so use keywords in H1 tags 2 or fewer times. To adhere to best practices in Google News and Bing News, headlines should contain the relevant keyword target and be treated with the same importance as title tags.
Recommendation: Use your targeted keyword(s) at the beginning of your H1 headers 1 or 2 times (but not more) on this page. See http://moz.com/blog/4-graphics-to-help-illustrate-onpage-optimization.
Low Importance Easy Fix
Includes a Rel Canonical Tag
The Canonical URL tag tells the search engines that your page should be treated as though it were a copy of the URL the tag points to, and that all of the link and content metrics should flow back to the canonical URL (the one you want all the link juice to go to). You can use it to increase the possibility that a page that has parameters attached (for example, query strings, session IDs, scraped versions, or licensing deals) doesn’t create a secondary version of the original page and pull link juice or other metrics away. It’s important to verify that your rel=canonical tags point to the correct target URL, or link equity won’t pass correctly and you may have duplicate content problems in the search engines.
Pages may also contain a canonical tag that references the URL it is located on, also known as a ‘self-referencing’ canonical tag. While Google search has stated that this is fine, it is not known whether or not this can cause problems in Bing search.
Recommendation: If this page is a duplicate of another page, add a canonical URL tag to the header of this page to reference the page you’d like all duplicates to point to. See http://moz.com/blog/canonical-url-tag-the-most-important-advancement-in-seo-practices-since-sitemaps.
Optimal Meta Description Length
The snippets that search engines use to describe your page cut off after 156 characters in most cases. The meta description isn’t used for rankings, so words beyond this count aren’t seen by anyone or used by the search engines.
Recommendation: Edit your meta description tag to get your main points across in 156 or fewer characters. See http://moz.com/learn/seo/meta-description.
Use External Links
Linking to external pages is something the search engines have suggested provides potential ranking rewards, and many who’ve tested this can confirm it has SEO value. On any page specifically targeting a keyword, link externally to at least one (and possibly more than one) relevant, trusted resource as a best practice.
Recommendation: Add a link to a relevant, trusted resource that potential visitors may appreciate. See http://moz.com/blog/external-linking-good-for-seo-whiteboard-friday and http://moz.com/blog/how-many-links-is-too-many.
Source: Moz On Page Grader