The elements of a web page for SEO

If you make or edit online content, you are a content creator. As a content creator, you’ll need to strike that balance between SEO (search engine optimization) and a positive user experience. Remember that you're creating content for both the humans that are reading your page and the robots that rank it for Google. 

93% of global traffic comes from Google search, Google Images, and Google Maps. Since so much traffic comes from search engines, it is critical to optimize your pages for SEO.  

There are several key SEO elements that every web page should have. To make sure everyone is on the same page, here is a list of the different elements that combine to create an engaging and well-optimized piece of content.

What are the SEO elements of a web page?

  • The Page Title
  • The Meta Description
  • The Headline (H1)
  • The Sub-Headline (H2)
  • The Content
  • In-Content Links

The Page Title

The Title of a web page shows up in the browser tab, search engine results page, and social media snippets. It is very important to explain concisely what the page is about in about eight or fewer words.

In the HTML, the Title tag looks like this:

<title>This is the title of the page</title>

Here are a few ways to optimize your Page Title: 

  • Keep your title tag under 60 characters
  • Include your target keyword in the title tag
  • Write a catchy, attention-grabbing title 
  • Create a unique title tag for every page 
  • Include your brand name in your title tag whenever it makes sense

What's the difference between the Page Title and the Headline?

As mentioned above, the Title is something that is seen only in the browser tab and is placed in the HTML. But the Headline is part of the content of the page. This is an example of a headline ("Which Companies Have the Best Reputations?") that is at the top of a blog post:

example of a headline in a blog post

Compelling Titles show up in search. Compelling headlines get people to read the content.

People click on your articles and other content in search results because the title was good. A good article with a bad headline will attract far less page views. Page titles should be engaging and persuasive so that searchers are drawn to them.

Copyblogger’s guide on creating magnetic headlines is a great resource to learn more about creating titles for your web pages. Here is an example of a "clickbait" headline. It makes you curious.


You might also find this article not only informative but amusing, and this one is very good as well. 

Headlines drive clicks and rankings

Several experiments have shown that a page with a higher CTR (Click Through Rate) quickly rises in search results. In other words, the more people that click on your Title in search results, and the longer they stay on the page, the higher your page may rise in search results.

  • People click on compelling page titles in search results.
  • The best titles and headlines have the search phrase (key phrase) in them.
  • Clickbait headlines can be ridiculous, but they work if not overdone.

You don’t need to write ridiculous headlines that compel people to click, but keep the theory in mind when you do create headlines.

The Content of the page

The main content of a page may be text, video, graphics or images, or something else. Search engines are getting to the point they can understand images and video to the point they can text. 

How important are keywords today?

For text-based content, keywords help search engines understand. Keywords/search phrases are becoming less and less important as artificial intelligence rises. Keywords (also known as search phrases) are the words people use to search anything on Google or other search engines like Bing, YouTube, and even Facebook (yes, Facebook is a search engine). For voice-based search they are spoken, usually as part of a longer phrase.

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As a content creator, you need to identify the keywords that your audience is using to search for the answers to their problems on Google and make those keywords a part of your content strategy. If your content is primarily video or images it may be less important, but it can help. 

Further Study

Keyword research is a detailed topic that you should study. Backlinko has published probably the most comprehensive keyword research guide on the web which would tell you everything about modern keyword research techniques and how they can be implemented in your content strategy.

Related Search Phrases Help You Spy on People's Intent

At the bottom of search results in Google you will often find “related searches.” Related searches can be used to understand what people are searching for, for key phrase research, and to improve the quality of your articles by including additional information you may not have thought of that people want.

Example: Here is an image of the Related Searches for the search term "related searches":

example of what related searches look like in google

Page Titles Tell Search Engines the Main Point

The Title of your page is usually (but not always) what Google puts into search results. Here is the Title of one of our pages in the browser tab (the top tab in your browser).

example of a title tag in a web browser

Here is how Google portrays it in search results.

what a title tag looks like in search results

The page title tells Google and the readers about the content of a page, in this case "Reputation Protection Solutions". The Title tag is one of the most important on-page SEO factors and has a direct impact on your site’s search engine rankings. 

In the HTML code of the web page, the Title tag looks like this:

<title>Reputation Protection Solutions</title>

Note: Whatever search phrase you want your page to show up in Google for, make sure it is in the Title tag.

Tip: Use the key phrase early in the title tag

From an SEO perspective, you not only want to make sure the search phrase you are targeting the page for is in the Title tag, but make sure your target keyword is used as early in the title as possible to not only give it a strong chance of ranking higher but also to make it more eye-catching for the user.

Tool Tip: You can use a free tool like Co-Schedule Headline Analyzer to analyze and improve your titles.

Beware the character limit so you don't get cut off

The character limit for page Titles is 70 characters for desktop and 78 characters for mobile search results. So, try keeping your titles to under 70 characters so that they’re displayed properly in search results.

Why is the Meta Description important?

The Meta Description usually shows up in search results and is one of the factors that helps a user decide to click on your web page. The Meta Description of your page is the text that appears right under your page title in search results. You cannot see the Meta Description in the content of a web page, but you can see it in search results. The Meta Description is not a search ranking factor for Google, but it does help people decide whether to click on your page or not in search results.

The meta description is important from a user’s point of view because it lets people know the subject of the page when they see it in search results. A compelling description can persuade searchers to click on your page which improves its average click through rate (CTR). This means it’s important to “sell” the link to your audience in search results - you can do this by writing a description that makes the reader really want to click on it.

The Meta Description HTML looks like this:

meta description example

Google often uses the page Meta Description in search results, but not always.

how a meta description appears in search results

H1 headline

H1 is the HTML tag for the main headline of your page (usually the title). Generally speaking, every web page should have one headline with an H1 tag and should contain the primary target keyword. But having more than one shouldn’t hurt your SEO. It’s more important to nest H3 headlines inside of H2 headlines inside of an H1 headline.

Wordpress Tip: In most WordPress themes, the title of your page is wrapped in H1 tag by default.

Google considers the H1 headline a strong indicator of the content of a page. Which is why using your primary keyword in an H1 headline gives you a better chance of ranking for it in search results.

Body content

The main content of your post is called body content. It should not only be optimized for search engines but should also be engaging for the readers (most important). Here are a few tips for achieving both of these objectives:

Write a compelling intro paragraph

Write a compelling introductory paragraph that’s no longer than 100-150 words (unless necessary). Read this detailed guide for more.

Include search phrase in first 100 words

If it makes sense, try to include your primary keyword in the first 100 words of the body content. This can help rank the page better.

Use short paragraphs

If possible, break down your content into short paragraphs to make it easier for the readers to skim through it. Most people don’t read the content all the way through, they skim it (sorry Writers).

Use H2 sub-headings with related search terms

Organize your content into different segments using multiple sub-headings (H2 Headlines). The H2 headlines should include “related search phrases” often found at the bottom of a search engine results page if possible. This acts as an additional hook for search engines to grasp and increases the elevance of your page for not only your main search phrase but similar ones as well.

Embolden Important Points

Use bold, italics and underlines to highlight important points.

Use Bullet Points

Here are some reasons to use bullet points:

  • They help people skim content quickly
  • Search engines like them and often show them in results
  • They break up the text to make it less daunting to read

Keep engagement with other content

Use images, snapshots and embedded videos frequently to make your content more engaging for the readers. People get bored easily. Here is an image to keep you from getting too bored.

photograph of a cute kitten

Use synonyms to make intent clear

Use synonyms and other terminologies related to your target keyword throughout your body content for better optimization. Again, related searches that appear at the bottom of the search page for your primary keyword can help with this. So can your trusty thesaurus.

Keyword tool tip

You can also use tools like Ubersuggest and LSI Graph to find hundreds of synonyms and related terminologies that you can include in your body content along with your primary keyword. Remember that you are writing for people first, so don’t stuff search phrases into an article that really doesn’t need them. Balance is key.

In summary....

Those are the main elements of a web page as well as some tips on how to improve how people and search engines interact with them. 

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