2021 SEO On-Site Best Practices

search engine optimization 2020 terms

URLs Best Practices

Keyword Value

If your page is targeting a specific term or phrase, make sure to include it in the URL.. The primary benefit of having keywords in your URL is the contextual value your website. Google can parse out keywords from the URL define the relevance of the page being linked to (IE: like normal keyword focused anchor text or alt text on images)

      • yoursite.com/dog-leashes-that-are-blue/blue-dog-leashes (N)
      • yoursite.com/leashes/blue-dog-leashes (Y)

Click Through Rate

Google highlights keywords that are in the title, description, and URL that match the users search query. Matching users search intent with URL structure can help CTR due to the bolding of keywords in the SERPs.

Social Value

Social sharing is one of the indicators that the search engines use to determine the value of a page. Creating short, concise URLs that are easily copied and shared, and which show up in the social networks in an optimal way is important for branding and click through.

Best Practices

SHORT:  No more than 100 characters with stop words removed.

      • yoursite.com/category/subcategory/productpage/product (N)
      • yoursite.com/category/product (Y)

DESCRIPTIVE: Use real words and remove any special characters.

      • yoursite.com/category/item?23434 (N)
      • yoursite.com/category/dog-leashes (Y)

HYPHEN: Use the hyphen “-” character to separate words in a URL.

      • yoursite.com/category/dog+leashes (N)
      • yoursite.com/category/dog-leashes (Y)

LOWERCASE:  www.yoursite.com/dog and www.yoursite.com/Dog can be seen as different URLs.

NO JUNK WORDS: Junk or Stop words are very common words such as, ‘of ‘ , ‘or’, ‘the’ etc.

CATEGORY LEVELS: 2 levels or less – Level 1 should be the site section/category. Level 2 should be the sub-section/second category.

      • yoursite.com/category1/page-name (Y)
      • yoursite.com/category1/category2/page-name (Y/N)
      • yoursite.com/category1/category2/catetory3/page-name (N)


If it is necessary to use tracking parameters on internal URLs to better understand click-path, or for external marketing campaigns, make sure you use the canonical tag and point it to the URL without tracking to eliminate duplicate content issues.

Google SEO Tagging Best Practices

SEO Title Tag Best Practices

SEO Title Tag Structure:

Title tags should include keywords but should also be conversational in nature.

SEO Title Tag Length

Originally the length of the title tag for SEO was 70 characters including spaces, but more recently it was discovered the Google defines length by pixels more than purely by character count. Google calculate the pixel width of the characters used in titles with a limit of 512 pixels. Anything over this limit, Google truncates the title and includes an ellipsis.

Meta Description Tag Best Practices

The description tag, also known as the meta description tag or SEO meta description tag, is the short snippet that is shown under your search result within Google’s Search results.

Google SERP Meta Description

The Description Tag You Write: This version will show up most of the time if the keyword the user searched for is in that tag. For this reason, it makes it important that when defining your description tags, you put the primary keyword target of each page in the description tag.

The User’s Search Query: The second way Google builds the description tag is generating it based on the search query. Google reads through the on-page content to find the keyword a user searched for, and pieces together the keyword, and a word or two on either side of it,

Description Tag Structure: When writing the description tag for your website, the best way to think about the structure and what to include, is to think of it as a paid search ad. The content of the description tag is used to entice the Google user to click on your listing by giving them targeted information about what to expect on your web page.

Description Tag Length: Meta length between 150 and 160 characters.

Canonical Tags

Canonical tags are used by the search engines to consolidate pages that a website owner defines as duplicates.  Each web page that is duplicative of the canonical version of the page gets a canonical tag placed in the header that defines the canonical version. Canonical tags can be used for internal duplicate content, meaning on the same domain, or they can be used as cross domain canonical tags, where duplicate content exists across different domains. Every page should have a canonical tag, even if there are no known duplicates.

The Structure of Canonical Tags: Canonical tags are placed in the header area of the code and are defined by using the following.

        • <link href=”http://mysite.com/canonical-version/” rel=”canonical” />

H1 Tag Best Practices

H1 Tags are the header tag that defines the primary topics of a web page. They are used by both search engines and users, just in slightly different ways. Search engines use the SEO H1 tag to help understand the primary topic of the page. A web page should have one H1 tag per page. This tag should represent the primary topic of the page and fall between 50-100 characters.

Image Alt Tag Best Practices

The term “ALT tag” is a common shorthand term used to refer to the ALT attribute within in at image tag. Any time you use an image on a website, be sure to include an ALT tag within the image tag. Doing so will provide a clear text alternative of the image for users who are using screen readers. The ALT tag is also used by search engines as anchor text when an image links to another web page – thus passing link relevancy for a specific topic. There is not a defined length for an alt tag, but best practices for alt text define the length as somewhere between 3-5 words that describe the image.

Optimizing Page Content

When we reference optimizing web page content, we are not talking about keyword density or just adding keywords. The SEO basics of optimizing page content include the optimization of structural, copy, and keyword components.

Content Hierarchy

Having a structured hierarchy for your web page also helps Google understand topic hierarchy for your content, giving them better insight into what your content should be ranked for.A content hierarchy is built by using H1, H2, H3 tags to define sections of content.

Content Diversity

Utilizing a variety of content formats such as videos, images, and lists within a piece of content have been shown to increase engagement, social shares, and inbound links.

SEO Keyword Use

After you’ve found the best keywords for your page, the question becomes, where should you include your SEO keywords? Keywords should be included naturally within the following content locations. They should include head, mid-tail, and long-tail keywords and phrases.


      • Make sure you have one H1 tag.
      • The H1 tag should include your primary keyword topic for the page (head term).
      • Keyword use in the H2 tag.


      • Make sure you have a few H2 tags.
      • These should be sub-topics of your primary keyword topic.
      • These should include the keywords of your secondary content topics (mid-tail keywords).


      • Make sure you have a few H3 tags for each H2 tag.
      • These should be sub-topics of your secondary keyword topic.
      • These should include the keywords of your tertiary content topics (secondary mid-tail keywords).

Keywords in paragraphs.

      • Paragraphs should be 4-5 sentences long. Include primary, secondary, and long-tail key- phrases.

Image Optimization

      • Name your image by describing it in 2 to 3 words – use hyphens to separate words.

Meta Best Practices

      • If the new page is replacing an existing page, place a 301 redirect on the old, relevant content to pass link metrics.
      • Use the “rel=canonical” tag if the content may be considered duplicate and closely mirrors a more authoritative page.
      • Use the Robots.txt directive <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, nofollow”) if you wish to keep a page from being indexed by Google or do not want link metrics to be passed through the page.

Notify Users and Search Engines

    • Add the new URL to your XML and HTML sitemaps.
    • Add at least one on-site link (where relevant) to the new page.
    • Syndicate new content across social platforms

**Fetch the new page as Google within Google Webmaster Tools (Google Search Console). Once you fetch it, the tool gives you the option to submit it to Google.