Tag: seo

Best Practices: What is On-Page SEO?

on-page seo

With so much information accessible, it’s crucial for brands and businesses to have the ability to stand out from the competition. Depending on your budget, a large marketing and advertising push may be beyond what you can afford. The question remains though, how do you get found for the right items or services? Regardless of your budget, your efforts should be spent building up your local presence in search engine rankings through search engine optimization, especially on-page SEO.

Consider the behavior of a typical consumer. When looking for a product or service, they search one of two ways:

Method One: Broadly search for a type of service or product

Method Two: Search for a brand/business/location near them

Ultimately, they have a question and are looking for an answer. By using a strategic SEO-based approach in your content, you can appear in the search results and offer them an answer.

What is On-Page SEO?

This post will break down the major elements that contribute to search engine rankings. We will discuss topics such as focus keywords, content formatting, meta information, local relevancy, and tools to use. While there are many facets of SEO, this guide will cover the foundations of On-Page Optimization.

Focus Keywords

Focus keywords are search strings and phrases that you want to be found for. They are the basis for on-page SEO tactics. An example would be a company selling clothes would use ‘clothing, apparel, or dress clothes,’ in a variety of focus keyword phrases. They are extremely important to search engine optimization. That said, Google and other search engines have become increasingly more attentive on SEO methods and will actually penalize a website for just ‘stuffing keywords’ into content that offers no sort of value whatsoever.

The solution? Make your content as genuine as possible. Always consider the user and how they would find the content you are providing. If you are trying to use the phrase, ‘clothing in New York,’ your content should talk about how your quality or methods make it the best (a reinforcing statement can go a long way) rather than just saying – ‘We have the best clothing in New York.’

Long Tail

Long tail focus keywords are full search phrases that could potentially be used. This includes stop words, which separate focus keywords and overall phrases such as ‘in, or, to, of, etc’ ← This is sometimes unavoidable and can benefit more than hinder (it’s much more organic/genuine)

An example of a long tail focus keyword phrase: ‘the best clothing in New York’

Short Tail

A short tail keyword is just the string of words you want to be found for. Using the example above, the short tail keyword would be: ‘clothing.’


While using a focus keyword throughout the content is important, you also need to use variations of it as well. The overuse of one keyword will hinder more than help while variations help you rank among other similar search results.

An example of the above in a different form would be ‘NY Retail shop’ or ‘New York apparel’


As stated above, keyword density plays a major role in your search rankings. This doesn’t mean use the keyword in every sentence, or even in every paragraph. The percentage should always be between 3-5% – meaning if you have a page with 100 words, the focus keyword (not including variations) should be used 3-5 times.


Finding a keyword you can compete for can be complicated or frustrating at times. Using Google’s Keyword Tool requires an Adwords account but there are some free keyword finders that can be helpful. When it comes down to it, it’s better to use the keywords you feel describes your brand, consider what you want to be found for in search results.

H1 H2 Formatting

One of the components to focus on during the content strategy phase is how you will integrate the focus keyword into each page. Consider the keyword as the framework and the content as the padding and finishing touches. At the start of each page, your focus keyword should be an H1 or H2 title, which also helps search engines rank the strongest pages. Basically, if you’re using the keyword in a header, Google will push your page higher than one that just has the keyword in the body copy. This is because a whole section devoted to the keyword is much more valuable than a mention in the copy.

Keeping the example going from above an H2 could be, “Find the Best Clothing in NY”

Meta Information

Remember the whole concept of making a good ‘first impression?’ The meta information for your page is what the consumer will see in the search results. It’s also what helps Google and other search engines pull the right results for the right keywords. This means it’s imperative that you have the focus keyword in the meta information.


The title of your page should reflect the keyword or phrase a person would search. If you are a local company that tailors suits and want to direct people to your contact page the Meta Title would be ‘Tailored Suits’ You have about 100 characters to work with. Our recommendation would be to format the title like this: A Perfect Fit: Tailored Suits from Brand Name


Your meta description needs to reinforce the title. Your title is the hook, the description is the line. You need to create a catchy meta description that includes the focus keyword to reel them into your site.


The page URL should also contain the focus keyword or variation of, to cover all bases. This also helps search engines weed out the good content from the bad.

Image Optimization

When you think about your content, are you factoring in the visual assets you have on your site? Even the file names and alt tag fields of the media you upload onto your site play a role in your search engine rankings. It’s always good practice to save your images and videos under the focus keyword you will be using for that page, along with using a variation of the keyword in the alt tag field.

Local Relevancy

Getting ranked locally can be easy to do, but it can also be hindering. It’s extremely easy for someone to think that listing out each city or location along with the focus keyword would be the best way to rank. Years ago, this was definitely the case when it came to on-page SEO. Because of how rapidly SEO changes though, a lot of those old-school techniques will now get your penalized. Top on-page SEO factors now go for quality over quantity. Your best bet is to use some of the following methods throughout your content:

  • Use the focus keyword and the overall local area you’re trying to rank for only once or twice.
  • Integrate the local areas you want to rank for within the content itself, rather than creating multiple pages with duplicate content.
  • Use variations of the area and keyword.

IF you are trying to rank locally, here’s one other thing you can do – Google, the most popular search engine tends to rank their own products above other sites. This means if you have YouTube videos (with a keyword title) or even a Google+ page for the location, it can amplify your optimization efforts.

Tools and Resources

For more information on getting started with on-page SEO, definitely check out these resources. Don’t get overwhelmed, there’s a lot to learn when it comes to SEO!


One of the many SEO resources we utilize. Their UI makes it extremely easy to assign focus keywords to pages, create meta information, and determine the strength of each page. It’s a great asset to have to ensure the basic SEO fundamentals are set on each page. 


Brian Dean is a distinguished SEO influencer who has made a career in helping websites rank higher in search results. The information he offers in his blog is always full of great insights.


I had mentioned alternative solutions for Keyword research along with overall site strength. Moz and their product, the MozBar definitely helps accomplish these two tasks. Their Keyword Explorer works just as well if not better (although you need to purchase a plan – Definitely worth it!) and their MozBar shows you broken links, Domain and Page authority (both are major components to the overall strength and effectiveness of your website. They even have a collection of Local SEO tools you can find here.

Also, each Friday Rand Fishkin (one of the original Moz’zers) does a Whiteboard Friday discussing new techniques for SEO and Content. You can always find a lot of great valuable insights here.


Neil Patel is another major influencer in the website performance and SEO industry. He shares his insights and experience through his blog, where you can find a lot of great information and tips on how to boost your page’s performance.

Keep in mind

This is just one of the many moving pieces to SEO. Optimization efforts are always evolving though, which means certain methods can become irrelevant pretty quickly. As long as your ultimate goal is to provide high-quality content around a focus keyword, you should be okay in the long run. It’s always a good idea to keep a pulse on the industry as well which can help you get a leg up on your competition.


Getting Started: Website Development and Design Basics

Whether you currently have a website or are in the process of creating one, there are a lot of basic fundamentals your finished product must contain. While many will look for the ‘cost-effective’ routes of doing it in-house with limited platforms like Wix and Squarespace, those who want to really succeed will understand that more effort and capabilities are needed to stand out among the competition.

At this point, everyone is connected to the web in one way or another. From smartphones and mobile devices to services like telemedicine and mobile payment processing, everything is connected to the constant stream of data surrounding us. While this makes it easier for brands to connect with their consumers, it becomes a double edge sword when you consider the amount of time and effort required to remain ahead of the competition. This post will give you an idea of website ‘must-haves’ to stay competitive.

The process of creating or even redesigning a website can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. In this post we’ll cover the basic fundamentals your website should definitely possess while offering some insight on how to actually get it accomplished:

  • Choosing a CMS Platform
  • Content Strategy
  • Responsive Design
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Brand Alignment

Where to Begin? Website Development Core Basics

Let’s start off by discussing how to choose the right CMS platform to use as the foundation of your website. A CMS platform is a content management system, a software that is used to create and manage, you guessed it…content. You have your basic platforms, your custom CMS infrastructures and even those that are created for high volume, enterprise levels of content.

There are a lot of great options out there with different capabilities, including:

Our preferred CMS is WordPress.

When you’re looking for the right CMS for your brand, consider what your needs are. What are you trying to accomplish? Unless you’re a big brand looking for enterprise level integrations and capabilities, such as churning out a ridiculous amount of content across multiple websites WordPress tends to be the ideal choice. The amount of customization, open integrations, and capabilities of the platform makes it a powerhouse CMS in the right hands.

Now that you’ve selected the right foundation for your brand, you can dive into the structure or layout of your site, which lays the blueprints for the overall design and aesthetics. For us, we use Coggle to create sitemaps and outline the content for each page. A mind map is a great tool to use so you can focus on the specific purpose of each page while remaining mindful of the bigger picture goals. Here’s an example of how we use Coggle during the planning phase for most of our projects.

Once you’ve adjusted your sitemap based on your needs and have a CMS platform in hand, here are the other four key components of any killer website:

  • Content Strategy
  • Responsive Design
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Brand Alignment

Content Strategy

Regardless of what you may read or what you have experienced in the past, content is king. Without it, the result would be similar to a ‘big-beautiful Cadillac with no engine.’ It may look amazing and snappy on the outside, but there are no guts to hold it together. In future posts we’ll definitely be focusing on your content strategy but until then, here’s what you need to keep in mind:

  • Your Target Audience
  • Overall Goals
  • What’s Your Value Prop?
  • Keeping Content in the Queue

The Content Strategy Quad, copyright Brain Traffic

Your content strategy spans across your entire brand, with your website being one of the cogs in a larger machine. After you’ve identified the right messaging for the right audience, there’s much more work to be done. As you create or redesign your website, consider how your messaging will play a larger role in your content strategy. Each of your value props should be a running theme for all of your blog posts, social media plans and more. Every message, line of copy or blog post should serve an overall purpose, whether it’s solidifying your brand as an influencer, increasing your followers or improving your conversion rate. You should never go into drafting blind, and you should always have a clear idea of how this piece fits into the puzzle.

Responsive Design

We’ve spoken on this topic before, but it remains true and will only continue to increase as the years go by and technology improves. Having a ‘mobile-first’ type of mindset will allow you to create an overall positive experience for all of your visitors regardless of their preferred device. Using a responsive design approach gives you the ability to ensure your website looks just as good on any mobile device as it does on a desktop. That’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it?

Consider how often people are on their smartphones and tablets versus on their desktops. We always have our phones on hand, and will constantly use it for research and browsing purposes. When creating or revamping your website, you need to consider how you can provide ALL Of your visitors with the best web experience regardless of the device. Keeping your information easily accessible is the best way to increase your page on-time and engagement metrics.

Search Engine Optimization

There’s so much noise out there on the web, it’s difficult to differentiate yourself even with all of your experience and credibility. One aspect that many companies fall off with is in their rankings. What are you doing to keep your website at the top of search results? Are you being found for the right terms and keywords? Search Engine Optimization is a fickle mistress, constantly changing her needs and wants based on the habits of consumers. What may have worked years ago is not guaranteed to work now, especially if it was closer to black hat techniques. That being said, it’s absolutely necessary to keep your finger on the pulse and identify the best tactics that will help your brand stand out.

At the very least, your website should have all of your meta-information optimized, a focus keyword for every page and overall configuration for efficient loading times. That’s only the beginning. Looking at the bigger picture, your overall content strategy and your SEO efforts should be working in-line, as you can’t have one without the other. Well, you can but it won’t really do jack for you. The more optimized content you produce, the more links you have pointing back to your website, the higher you will go in search rankings. More importantly, search engines like Google then consider you a much more credible source, which also affects your search performance.

Be sure to lookout for our upcoming post on best practices for SEO to learn more about how to get started.

Brand Alignment

If you’re going to take the time going through the entire web design or redesign process your ultimate goal should be to keep your overall strategy and approach aligned. If you have any silos within your brand working on different things, take a moment to understand how this can result in a disjointed, inconsistent appearance and actually hinder your brand in the long run. You create a stronger brand when you are all on one page rather than working on your own goals.

A unified approach gives all of your teams the perspective they need to understand how their responsibilities fit within the company’s overall plan or vision. It’s a great way to keep your team engaged and more importantly, will create more effective results than you were receiving prior. If you’re going to invest the time and money into a website or a redesign, it’s imperative that you also align your strategies to follow the launch and capitalize on the momentum.

To Sum it Up

In the end, the most important aspect of any web redesign or build is to remain focused on the big picture while taking care of the specific tasks at hand. Any distractions or loss in momentum can affect how cohesive the finished product is. Your overall goal should be to ensure a seamless approach with your other efforts when launching. Finding the right CMS platform, creating a strong content strategy, and keeping mobile in mind when designing will get you started on the right track. By using the insights offered above you can make sure you are taking care of the core fundamentals to your website.