17 Tips for On-Site Optimization
Now that you know how your target market is searching, through your keyword research, it’s time to dive into on-site optimization.
On-site SEO is multifaceted and extends beyond the content into other areas like schema and meta tags. Read below for our 17 Tips For On-Page SEO!
Creating Your Content
Applying Your Keyword Research
We have previously written about keyword research, where we showed you methods for discovering how your target audience is searching for your content. Here is a simple outline to follow when applying your keyword research:
- Take a survey your keywords and group those with similar topics and their intent. These groups will be your pages, rather than creating individual pages for every keyword variation. Doing the later will create an excess of redundancy.
- If you haven’t already, evaluate the SERP for each keyword or keyword group to determine what type and format your content should be in. Take note of pages that are:
- Image- or video-heavy
- Length of content
- The content formation, lists, bullets, or paragraphs?
- Think about the unique value that you offer and how you can make your page better.
On-site optimization allows you to turn your research into content your audience will love. Just make sure to avoid falling into the trap of low-value tactics that could hurt more than help!
Low-value tactics to avoid
Content should not be created for the purpose of ranking highly in search alone. The rankings are a means to an end, the endpoint is to help searchers.
Let’s take a deeper look into some low-value tactics you should avoid when creating search engine optimized content.
It is a common mistake thinking you will rank if you include certain keywords or keyword phrases within your pages contain a set number of times. Keyword stuffing is the act of adding a set number of keywords or phrases in your content. For example:
Joe the Plumber in Stuart, FL
I’m Joe the Plumber in Stuart, Fl. I’ll fix all your plumbing needs in Stuart, FL because I’m Joe the plumber. I am rated the best plumber in Stuart, FL, so call Joe the plumber in Stuart FL.
If a page is going to add value to a consumer it needs to sound natural and understandable to your readers and not like a robot wrote it.
While it’s common for a website to have different pages on several topics, an older content strategy was to create a page for every single iteration of your keywords in order to rank on page 1 for those highly specific queries.
This practice created tons of thin, low-quality content across the web, which Google addressed specifically with its 2011 update known as Panda. This algorithm update penalized low-quality pages, which resulted in more quality pages taking the top spots of the SERPs. Google continues to iterate on this process of demoting low-quality content and promoting high-quality content today.
Google is clear that you should have a comprehensive page on a topic instead of multiple, weaker pages for each variation of a keyword.
Duplicate and Scraped Content
Duplicate content refers to content that is shared between domains or between multiple pages of a single domain. Google refers to substantial blocks of content within or across domains that either completely matches other content or are appreciably similar to be duplicate content. This can be done maliciously in an attempt to win rankings, but ultimately will get penalized by Google.
Scraped content entails the blatant and unauthorized use of content from other sites, usually the more popular sites. Scraping includes taking the content and republishing as-is or modifying it slightly before republishing, without adding any original content or unique value. This is not a long term marketing solution to get more content, as it does not provide consumers with unique quality content.
Doing either of these practices might work in the short term but ultimately it will end up hurting your rankings.
The Right Way Of Doing On-Page SEO
There is not a magic solution to ranking in search engines, SE. Pages will rank highly because they provide the best answers to searcher’s queries. Even by not doing any of the previous items listed on the “bad” list, you still must provide value to searchers. There is a simple formula for content creation to help in achieving higher rankings:
- Search the keywords you want to rank for
- Identify pages that are already ranking high for those keywords
- Determine the qualities those pages have
- Create better content than those pages.
Moz calls this 10x content. Essentially you need to create a page that is 10x better than other pages ranking for the keyword you want to rank for. It does require more research, better content, better writing, and it is a lot of hard work, however, it will pay off when you increase in organic traffic.
Local SEO For Local Businesses
If you’re a local business that makes in-person contact with your customers, be sure you’re including your business name, address, and phone number (NAP) prominently, accurately, and consistently throughout your site’s content.
Local vs National vs International SEO
Not all businesses operate at a local level and perform what we call “local SEO.” Some businesses want to attract customers on a national level (ex: the entire United States) and others want to attract customers from multiple countries (“international SEO”).
Your audience will dictate how you should optimize your site. Think of your audience and their needs when creating your website’s content.
Other Technical SEO Aspects
Header tags are an HTML element used to designate headings on your page. The main header tag, called an H1, is typically reserved for the title of the page. It looks like this:
There are also sub-headings that go from H2 to H6 tags, although the use of these on a page is not required. The hierarchy of header tags proceeds in descending ordering of importance from H1 to H6.
We have previously discussed the importance of having a crawlable website. That crawlability lies in its internal linking structure.
When you link pages from your website together, you ensure that search engine crawlers can find all your site’s pages and you help visitors navigate your site.
Anchor text is the text with which you link to pages. The anchor text sends signals to search engines regarding the content of the destination page.
Be careful not to be overzealous and include too many internal linking using the same anchor text. Doing this is considered keyword-stuffing anchor text which can appear to search engines that you’re trying to manipulate a page’s ranking.
Google’s General Webmaster Guidelines, says to “limit the number of links on a page to a reasonable number.” This is Google’s technical guidelines and not its quality guidelines. Having too many internal links is not something that on its own is going to get you penalized, but it will affect how Google finds and evaluates your pages.
A link is a way to help users navigate to other pages on your site. Too many links will not only dilute the authority of each link, but they can also be unhelpful and overwhelming. You should use links that flow naturally on a page.
A great example of what not to is:
Welcome to our home gardening website! We have many articles on home gardening, how to start a home garden, and helpful tips and tricks on growing herbs, fruits, vegetables, perennials, and annuals. Learn more about starting your home gardening from our gardening blog.
This is what Google would consider being “thin content” as it does not contain much meat. It is a lot of links, and it also reads unnaturally. You should instead focus on quality and help your users navigate your site.
Alt text (alternative text) within images is a principle of web accessibility and is used to describe images to the visually impaired via screen readers. It’s important to have alt text descriptions so that any visually impaired person can understand what the pictures on your website are.
Instead of saying “cat in a chair” you should be more descriptive, “an orange fat cat sitting in a white wooden chair while soaking up the sun.” This paints a picture to someone that visually impaired.
Formatting For Readability
Your page should contain the best content on a subject, however, it is improperly formatted your audience might not ever see it. You should look at the readability of your page including, font style, size, paragraph structure and more.
A page’s title tag is a descriptive, HTML code that specifies the title of a particular web page.
Each page on your website should have a unique, descriptive title tag. What you input into your title tag field will show up here on the SERPs.
Your title tag plays a big role in people’s first impression of your website. It is an effective tool for drawing searchers to your page over any other result on the SERP. The more impactful your title tag, combined with high rankings in search results, the more visitors you’ll attract to your website.
Like title tags, meta descriptions are HTML elements that describe the contents of the page that they’re on.
What you input into the description field will show up here in search results, therefore, you should make sure they are relevant to the subject your page is on and ensure it is within 150-300 characters in length. Although not a ranking factor for Google, it does affect the click-through rate of a website.
You do not need to have a flat URL, it is proven that a shorter URL is preferred to longer URLs. Even with short URL you still need to be descriptive. Like our example previously:
Joe the Plumber, Stuart FL
Minimizing length, both by including fewer words in your page names and removing unnecessary subfolders, makes your URLs easier to copy and paste, as well as more clickable.
Keywords In The URL
If your page is targeting a specific term or phrase, make sure to include it in the URL. However, don’t stuff in multiple keywords for purely SEO purposes, as we learned it will only have a negative effect on your rankings.
Keyword overuse in URLs can appear spammy and manipulative, losing the trust of your potential customers.
Protocols: HTTP vs HTTPS
A protocol is“HTTP” or “https” preceding your domain name. Google recommends that all websites have a secure protocol (the “s” in “https” stands for “secure”). As of July 2018, Google Chrome displays “not secure” for all HTTP sites. This gives the appearance that the sites are untrustworthy to visitors and could result in them leaving the site.
No business can survive if it does not actively engage with its customers and positions it content in search results. By increasing your ranking you increase your visibility and traffic, which in turn will increase conversions and sales.
It is worth the time spent becoming an expert in SEO, and if you do not have the time to hire a quality SEO expert.