6 Guidelines for Achieving Better On-Page SEO

by | Nov 29, 2016 | Content Marketing | 3 comments

by | Nov 29, 2016 | Content Marketing | 3 comments

SEO can be a confusing game at times. With so many things you can’t control, it can become frustrating to try to improve your search ranking for keywords and phrases related to your business. While it’s true that there are a lot of factors that go into your search ranking that aren’t directly caused by you, there’s a lot you can control as well. The best thing you can do for your SEO is focused on those things that you can control and make sure you’re following best practices and doing everything possible to set yourself up for SEO success.

Luckily, on-page SEO is all about the things you can control on your own site. According to Webopedia, “on-page optimization refers to factors that have an effect on your Web site or Web page listing in natural search results. These factors are controlled by you or by coding on your page.”

The definition goes on to list a few factoring elements involved in on-page SEO, including meta tags and keywords, but there are a lot of other things that can help you improve your on-page SEO. As an SEO or marketing professional, you should make it a priority to implement as many of these tips as possible on your own website and blog.

1. Focus on Providing Value to Your Audience

Value can be tough to measure, but part of good on-page SEO is making sure that your content is useful, relevant and offers added value to your audience. If, for example, you’re attempting to optimize a page for a keyword that really doesn’t have much to do with your site and content, you’ll probably get a lot of people clicking away from your site without giving your site a chance. Likewise, if your content is fluffy, repetitive or was obviously created to try and game search engines, you’ll probably see a lot of page abandonment. This can signal to Google that the content on your site is irrelevant and may hurt your search rankings.

Work to understand what kind of content your audience wants and needs and make sure that the blog posts and articles you create answer questions, provide solutions and offer novel information that your audience might not have heard before. The key part of this is to stand out among your competitors and the other results on a SERP.

Moz recommends striving to be “uniquely valuable,” which means, in short that your content should give readers something no one else on that SERP can. Analyze each piece of content you put out and ask yourself what differentiates this piece of content from all the other information available out there. Can you include your own research in a blog post? Can you present information in a new way? Can you include an infographic, downloadable resource or checklist that will benefit your audience? Consider these questions and any other ways that you can set apart your content.

2. Don’t Miss a Chance to Optimize Every Section of the Page

You’ve probably heard that “links and content” are the two most important factors Google uses in determining search ranking, as revealed by Google Search Quality Senior Strategist Andrey Lipattsev in a Q&A session earlier this year. But since quality content can be such a subjective thing, you need to understand what exactly you need to be looking at to make sure your content stands a chance.

seo optimized

Here’s a rundown of the main sections of a good blog post or web page and what to make sure you’re doing in each section:

Page Title

The title of your page signals to Google and to website visitors what your content is all about. In addition to being accurate and succinct, your title should ideally contain a keyword or keyword phrase you want to rank for. Although you may get good results from including related words and synonyms in the subject area you want people to find you for.

Meta Description

Are meta descriptions important? They might not be directly related to your ranking, but they are a good way to give Google searchers a brief preview of your content within a Google SERP so they can know if it’s worth it to click through. When you’re writing your description, keep it short and to the point but not so short that it doesn’t do a good job of describing the topic.

URL

We’ve all seen examples of unattractive, long, confusing URLs. With all the control you can have over URLs of specific blog pages, try to keep your URLs short, clean and descriptive, and include a keyword if you can. Google recommends that you use readable, simple URLs, break up individual words with hyphens and cut out any unneeded parameters.

Headers

Remember to include one H1 header (check to see if your titles are tagged as H1) and then multiple H2 and H3 headers where applicable. Using these headers helps Google and your audience easily get a feel for the main points of your content.

Body Content

Also, remember to keep your content on the longer side. It’s hard to give an exact number here, because every topic is different and requires a varying amount of depth and discussion. A few guidelines are to not write short, vapid content and to keep content on the longer side. This assertion is backed up by quite a few studies showing long content outperforming shorter content.

Backlinko (with SEMrush data) found that long content (around 1,900 words) is your best bet. That finding is substantiated by findings from serpIQ, showing that pages with upwards of 2,300 words saw some of the best search result positions.

Images With Tags

Your image alt text is another area where you can include keywords to influence SEO. Images are also a way to make your content more interesting, engaging and scannable, which we’ll go into more depth on later.

3. Assess the Usability of Your Site

Beyond the tips for specific elements of your content shown above, you also need to aim for usability of your content and site. This means that a user should be able to navigate any given page on your site without frustration or hassle and be able to get the information they need quickly.

Most marketers are pretty familiar with the idea of creating scannable content, which is content that you can understand and digest without reading every word. Scannable content requires ample headers that summarize each section, bullet points and lists to convey key points quickly, and images like charts, graphs and other visual elements that echo and simplify the content of your post. If your content is usually long blocks of text with no other elements to add variety, try adding one or all of those scannable content features.

4. The Importance of the Mobile Experience

Another element of usability that you should be aware of is the extreme importance of making sure your pages are optimized for viewing on mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. According to a report from comScore, mobile viewing has already overtaken desktop viewing as the number one way to access digital media, and Google already made it clear in 2015 how important mobile-friendly sites are.

Mobile Site

If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, that needs to be changed immediately. Beyond having a responsive site, make sure the mobile experience for your users is a pleasant one. Often, excessive scrolling, annoying popup ads and poorly spaced content on mobile devices will frustrate users and cause them to leave your content without engaging.

Google’s introduction of the AMP (accelerated mobile pages) Project is aimed at fixing those frustrations and helping publishers provide a more elegant and simplified format for their content. Learn more about implementing AMP here.

AMP doesn’t just make your content simpler to read; it also makes it load faster, which is another thing you’ll have to think about related to your website’s usability. Many people will give up if a site takes too long to load, meaning that there are just seconds between keeping and losing customers. You can use this PageSpeed Insights tool to check the speed of your site and get suggestions on how to improve it.

5. Get the Most You Can from Keywords and Links

The amount and quality of sites linking to your site is a factor in SEO, but it’s not really related to on-page SEO. However, it’s also important to think about the links you’re using within your content. Make sure to use outbound links to reputable sites to support the claims you make within your content. Also, include two or three links to other pages on your site; this practice can help strengthen the internal link structure of your website and can guide readers through to other pages, which might result in them staying on your site longer and possibly up your chances of converting them.

We’ve already discussed where you should be putting keywords within your content, but as far as what keywords to use, here’s an important thing to remember. Keyword stuffing is an absolute no-no, but you should make an effort to include a variety of keywords and related words that pertain to your topic area. This helps you avoid repetitive content and results in quality pieces of writing.

6. Use Tools to Help Improve SEO and Track Progress

Online Tools

We’ve covered a lot of SEO best practices, and as you’re probably aware now, there’s a lot that you need to be checking to keep your on-page SEO in a good state. Because maintaining all these best practices and creating content can get time-consuming, it’s good to have an arsenal of web tools that can help you amp up your SEO and track progress toward your content marketing goals.

  • Google Analytics: If Google Analytics isn’t already a key tool for measuring the impact of your content marketing, it should be. With this free analytics tool you can analyze your site traffic, time on page, bounce rate and other metrics, and track progress toward goals. If you’re new to Google Analytics, the Analytics Academy provides a lot of helpful content to teach you all you need to know.
  • Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin: This WordPress plugin is an easy way to check that keywords are included in the right places on your page, that your content is a good length, and that you’re following other best practices for creating SEO content. This free plugin allows you to check all these things from the blog post you’re creating so you can feel confident hitting the Publish button.
  • Keyword Research Tools: Guessing what keywords you should use isn’t a good strategy, and even if it were, there are better ways to spend your time as a content marketer. Try amping up your keyword research with these three free tools suggested by Search Engine Land. The list of related searches at the bottom of a Google results page is another place to find ideas and keywords for your content.
  • CoSchedule: With all the other things you have to keep track of, you can’t let your content planning slide. A good process for planning content and a good tool to help you keep track of your schedule are both necessary. CoSchedule is a great tool for a number of reasons, including the integration with WordPress and Google Analytics.

Best practices for on-page SEO aren’t magic and you will have to put in consistent work to ensure you and the members of your team aren’t neglecting any of these tips. Start by going back through the content you already have on your site and implement all of the best practices above. Then, going forward, use these tips as a checklist for consistently producing content with great on-page SEO.

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