How HTML affects On Page SEO


Part 2 in our series of On Page SEO factors.  The first was about quality content.  Today we are talking about HTML.

As a reminder, these are the three groups of things that search engines examine on any given website.  So these should be our priorities for on page SEO.

  1. Content

    High quality articles and static pages.  Quality is determined by the standard of writing, the usefulness to the reader and how easy it is to read.

  2. HTML

    Is the markup language the internet depends on.  Yours needs to be high quality and well maintained.

  3. Site Architecture

    This is the structure of your website.  How your internal pages link, how it appears on various devices and your URLs.


So, how does HTML affect your Search Engine Optimisation?

Title Tags (HTML)

Search engines will look at your page’s title tag to determine what the page is about. The title tag is an HTML tag that resides inside the head tag.



<title>My Page Title</title>


The information contained within the title tag is used in a number of ways. Browsers commonly display it at the top of the application so users know what the page is about. Search engines also use title tags to create the headings displayed in the search engine results.

A well-written title must be useful for humans and formatted for search engines. A title should:

  • Be between 20-60 characters long

  • Use the most important keywords at the start of the title

  • Use simple, short and to-the-point wording

  • Attach any additional details (like a company name), at the end of the title

  • Be unique and specific to the content of the page (you don’t want 10 pages with the same title)

Be careful not to stuff your title with keywords. It should read naturally and be attractive to real human readers. Remember to consider the emotional impact of the title.

Good: <title>Beautiful Kittens for Sale in East London</title>

Bad: <title>My website is about fluffy tortoise shell kittens I sometimes have for sale in England</title>


Header Tags and Strong Tags

Header tags are HTML tags used to identify which parts of the text are headings. Just like the turquoise text you just read. Headings should be used throughout a web page or article to structure text and to help identify content. Search engines use them to identify important keywords on a page.

People use them to scan the text for relevant information to decide whether or not to keep reading.

The top heading is represented by the <h1> tag, which should only be used once per page. Subheadings can be used throughout the page. For example:


<h1>Blue Widgets for Cars</h1>

We sell blue widgets for cars…

<h2>Blue Widgets for Volvo</h2>

Our blue widgets for volvos are great

<h2>Blue Widgets for BMWs</h2>

Our <strong>blue widgets for BMWs</strong> are great


Strong tags can also be used to highlight important words within the text, but avoid over-doing it.

Good: Only use one H1 heading and use relevant keywords within headings

Bad: Too many headings or irrelevant/random words in headings

Alt Tags for Images (HTML)

The alt attribute for the image tag is designed to display alternative text if an image cannot be displayed. Search engines also use the information in an alt tag to help them understand the contents of an image. It is always a good idea to fill image alt tags with relevant keyword-rich descriptions. You should also name your images appropriately so users and search engines can understand what they are.

Good: <img src=“blue-car-widget.jpg” alt=“Blue Car Widget”>

Bad: <img src=“x87685.jpg” alt=“”>

Meta Tags (HTML)

Meta tags are HTML attributes that are used to describe the information on a web page.

The meta tags appear between the <head> tags in the HTML. Here are some meta tags in action:


<meta charset=”UTF-8″>

<meta name=”description” content=”This is my website about widgets, come visit it!”>

<meta name=”keywords” content=“Widgets, Doohickeys”>

<meta name=”author” content=“Jane Doe”>



Meta tags were once a key component of on page SEO and search engines used their contents to determine where a page should be ranked. That is no longer the case and they are no longer relevant for determining search engine rankings.

However! The description meta tag remains important because it will be used to display a description about your website in the search engine results. Some tips for writing a description meta tag:

  • Write it like an advertisement so people feel compelled to click it!

  • Keep it below 160 characters in length so it will fit on the search engine results page

  • Keep it unique, every page needs a unique description

  • Use keywords and search terms in the description that you think people will use

If a user searched for “blue widgets”…

Good: “No one knows what blue widgets are, but if you’re reading this there’s a good chance you want to learn about them. Click here for more information on blue widgets!

Bad: “Having no text or text that doesn’t describe the page properly!”

Did you find that useful?  Are there any key pieces of Meta Data you think we have missed?

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