On Page SEO 2019: How to Get Your Page Found in Google

Getting your webpage found on Google is not as simple as publishing the page and waiting for the search engine to find you. Google has a set of rules called algorithms, which it uses to decide which results it's going to show its users. The search engine algorithm looks at a variety of traits to evaluate both the quality and the topic of a website/webpage. In this article, we'll go over some of the key traits that Google searches for and provide you with a list of actionable changes that you can make to get your page found on Google.

Must Haves:

Bonus Points:

Must Haves

1.) Good quality + unique content

First and foremost, Google wants to present their users with the highest quality content. From a search engine standpoint, all good content has two things: good content must supply a demand (answer a question/satisfy a search) and must be linkable (ie, must inspire people from other sites to link to it). Google is very concerned with 'uniqueness' of content: their users want diversity in the search results and not the same article over and over, so they choose to consolidate and show only one version. To ensure your content's 'uniqueness', you must ensure that it is not simply a duplicate of something else that is on the internet (on ualberta.ca OR another site). Note: in 2019, Google made a distinction between 'copied content' and 'duplicate content' - they are concerned about the former. If you republish posts, press releases, or new stories found on other sites, then those pages are very likely going to struggle to be found on Google. If you are republishing content, try to think about how your version can 'add value'.

2.) Relevant Title Tag

The title of your page not only shows up on your page itself, but also as the headline in search results. Not only is your title tag useful for users, it's also user for Google to determine what the topic of your page is. Ensure your page has a title that accurately describes your page, ideally less than 65 characters (note: Google has experimented with longer character allowances in the past but 65 seems to be the most consistent).

3.) A URL that makes sense

Google uses the URL structure/keywords of your URLs as an indicator for the topic of the page. Follow these URL tips: Don't use acronyms that wouldn't make sense to a user. Have pages nested under relevant topics/sub-folders (unless it's a page that is not covered by any topic on the site). Use the pages keywords in your URL Google prefers that you separate words with dashes - rather than underscore _. Example of a well structured URL for a page that talks about career counselling for students: https://www.example.ca/student-services/career-counselling/ Bad examples of URLs for the same page: https://www.example.ca/career-counselling/ < not nested (Google will infer that this page is about career counselling for the general public not just students/staff). Vs https://www.example.ca/page-id=12322/ < not using keywords Vs https://www.example.ca/student-services/cc/ < using acronyms that mean nothing to users (Google would likely think this page was about student services rather than career counselling. This is a problem because the content of the page would not be about 'student services' generally and would not satisfy a search who is looking for 'student services'.)

4.) Internal Links to Your New Page

If you've created a relevant/high quality/unique page, then Google assumes that you'll naturally link to it. Ask yourself: why would Google send users to a page that you yourself don't think is important enough to link to? This is why internal links are so important. Once you've published your new page, ensure that you link to it from other relevant pages. Is your new page about an upcoming conference? Add a link from your events page OR from other pages about the topic of the conference (ie, holding a conference about Diabetes Research? Why not link to it from a news article/course/program about Diabetes Research?). Internal linking is the best way to show Google that a piece of content is important.

Bonus SEO Points

1.)Engaging Meta Description

A meta description is the small description that appears under your Title in the search results. While Google does not consider meta descriptions as a ranking factor, a good meta description can get someone searching on Google to click your link. Your meta description can heavily increase your search results 'curb appeal'.

The Do's and Don'ts of Meta Descriptions

  • 'Do' use your keyword.
  • 'Do' have a clear Call to Action.
  • 'Do' write a meta that is under 155 characters in length.
  • 'Don't' assume that Google will always use the meta description you dictate.
  • 'Don't' stuff your meta description with keywords (only use it naturally).
  • 'Don't' duplicate your meta descriptions (while Google doesn't use metas as a ranking factor, they will pay attention if a number of pages have the same meta description as this is an indicator of duplicate content).
  • 'Don't' feel pressure to write meta descriptions for every single one of your pages - Google will pull a meta description from the content of the page if you don't dictate one. Just prioritize your top pages (homepage, popular pages etc) and focus on that.

2.) Use Headings and Subheadings that make sense

Google likes pages that follow a logical structure: one level 1 heading, followed by various level 2 section-headings and level 3 sub-headings. On websites, level 1 headings are marked with what's called an 'H1 tag', coded as H!. Level 2 headings are 'H2 tags' or H2, and level 3's are 'H3 tags' or H3 (and so on). If you were to look at the code of a well structured page, you would see these heading tags denoting the 'hierarchy' of the headings.

<h1>This is an H1 heading </h1>

<h2>This is an H2 heading</h2>

<h3>This is an H3 heading</h3>

The browser sees these tags and translates them into various styles associated with them (usually, h1 being the biggest, h2 being slightly smaller, h3 smaller still etc etc), like this:

This is an H1 heading

This is an H2 heading

This is an H3 heading


Not only do these tags dictate the style of the text in these headings, but it also tells Google about the structure of the page.While there are plenty of arguments about how to properly use each heading, the following is the most established best practice:

Your H1: introduce the topic your page is about (like a title tells a reader what a book is all about). Rule of thumb: only have one H1 per page.

Your H2: are akin to book chapters, describing the main topics you'll cover in sections of the article.

H3s to H6s: serve as additional sub-headings within each section, like a book chapter may be split up by multiple sub-topics.


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