The Rudiments of On-Page SEO

In percussion music, rudiments are small patterns that are the building blocks for drum beats and fills. We practice the fundamentals so that a lack of technique doesn’t get in the way of artistic expression.

Search engine optimization (SEO) has its own form of rudiments. These fundamental webpage elements must be optimized for search engine ranking and visibility. Share these basics with copy editors.

What’s Visible in Search Results

These are the elements that display when your page appears in a search result or if shared in a social media feed.

Page Title

  • Descriptive but concise (50-60 characters)
  • Tell people what the page is about
  • Include your brand
  • Must be unique for every page

Page Description

  • Inform people with a short, inviting summary of the page content (150 characters)


  • Maintain a simple URL structure that groups related pages within the same directories 
  • Use lower-case keywords separated by hyphens
  • Avoid repeating the same word

Page Content

Ensure your words and images can be read by people and machines.

Heading Tags

Use headings in the same way you would outline a school research paper. Heading 1 is your main topic and a page should have only one H1. You then begin subdividing pages using Heading 2, which you can use multiple times, and use Heading 3 if H2 needs subdividing, and so on. Don’t skip headings. Let your content dictate.

  • Heading 1 = Make a PB & J Sandwich
    • Heading 2 = Ingredients
    • Heading 2 = Sandwich Options
      • Heading 3 = Toasted Sandwiches
      • Heading 3 = Non-Toasted Sandwiches
    • Heading 2 = How to Make the Sandwich
    • Heading 2 = Eating the Sandwich
      • Heading 3 = Sharing
        • Heading 4 = Sharing with Neighbors
        • Heading 4 = Sharing with Family
        • Heading 4 = Sharing with the Family Dog
      • Heading 3 = Devouring It Yourself


Pictures tell stories and improve comprehension for visual learners. Additionally, a lot of web traffic is acquired by people using Google Image Search, so here are a few optimization tips:

  • Use a descriptive file name. I recommend lower-case relevant keywords separated by hyphens (e.g. dog-driving-car.jpg, vs dogdrivingcar.jpg or IMG_OOOO123.jpg,)
  • Add SEO-friendly alt tag to associate relevant keywords with the image (this is also a basic web accessibility requirement)
  • Compress your images using Adobe Photoshop or an online tool like TinyPNG. Page speed affects SEO and bloated images take longer to download, frustrating people and machines (i.e. search engines)
  • Be original, don’t steal! Use licensed images or create your own. Violating copyright hurts your reputation.


View these resources for a deeper dive on this topic.