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On Page SEO

On Page SEO

On Page SEO

On Page SEOWhether you are new to the website game or have had a site for years, you always have a traffic concern.  The goal is to get as much real traffic to your site as possible.  It is not just eyeball count either, quantity, it is quality as well.  The combination of quality and quantity with on page SEO can make a big difference in your site and company’s bottom line.  The more quality eyeballs, the more likely they convert to sales and also help increase search engine rank standing.  

What do you consider your grasp of on page SEO?  Are you looking for ways to enhance the traffic heading to your site?  On page SEO is nothing new, but it continues to evolve in how it is applied day to day.  You may think you are an expert at on page SEO, only to find new on page SEO tactics you may never hear of prior.  

The guide below is included to be a bigger one for on page SEO professionals looking to improve upon their skills, increase their knowledge of on page SEO, and achieve results.  The path to a successful website is always going to be quality traffic, enough to help you get a notice from Google and also help convert eyeballs into sales dollars for products or services.  On page SEO is the best way to get there, and this guide can serve as a great start on the path.  

The build of this guide is to help you get an introduction to on page SEO.  From there, we want to go over information about keywords, content creation, etc.  We will dig into some coding, architecture, HTML and other factors at the tail end of the piece.  By the end, we hope that you can have the working knowledge to apply on page SEO to your website.

Understanding the Concept of On-Page SEO

The concept of on page SEO is to optimise various components of a website.  The optimisation is all full of the goal of helping increase where your page ranks on search engines such as Google and others.  The more optimisation, the higher the search engine ranking for your website.  

The goal for many website owners is the first page of Google search engine results.  If you manage to get to the top page for Google results, it is an excellent chance user will see your site, click the link, and begin to explore.  

How correctly do you optimise for on page SEO though?  What should you be honing in on?  It is a combination of the content that you put on the site, the way that the HTML code writes, as well as the architecture of the site.  It is these three main components that will come together to nail the level of optimisation you enjoy.

Differences Between On-Page and Off-Page SEO 

On page SEO and off page search engine optimisation spark confusion frequently.  Some will think that on page SEO is the same, whether it is on or off the page; this is wrong!  On page and off page search engine optimisation focus on very different things.  The focus of this guide is on page SEO.  You can do a lot off the page, but on page is the correct spot you could be starting.

So what is the difference between on page and off page search engine optimisation?  You want to think of on page SEO as a focus on your website itself.  It is optimisation you are doing to your website, to make it more appealing to a search engine and the rankings it receives. 

Several factors go hand-in-hand with on page SEO.  Examples of these will include:

  1. Site performance
  2. Anchor text
  3. Broken links
  4. URL structure
  5. HTML tags
  6. Linking internally
  7. Density of keywords
  8. Content

As you can see from all of the examples above, everything there you are in control of right on the website itself, on those pages.  Off page search engine optimisation includes things you will do off of the site. Think of off page search engine optimisation similar to how companies will market their products, or raise brand awareness.

Some of the areas of focus for off page search engine optimisation will include the following:

  1. Social networks
  2. Mentions of the brand
  3. Social marketing
  4. Guest Blogging
  5. Link building
  6. Sharing of images and videos

Off page search engine optimisation is all about getting the site you own out in the open.  Help people know that you are there in ways that go above and beyond just appearing in a search engine result.  When you do off page search engine optimisation, Google and the other big search engine players will take notice.  You will become the authoritative source for content you deliver, increase in your rankings, and get more visitors as a result.

In short, it takes on page SEO and off page search engine optimisation to get to where you want to be on Google.  The combination of both approaches will assist you in your drive to succeed, to the top of the search engine rankings.  Focus on one, and you will get halfway, but do both, and you will get to the finish line successfully, quicker than you think.

Focusing on the User-Friendly Experience

Before we jump into on page SEO and the specifics around it, we want to focus on, first and foremost, your site and its design.  You could have the best optimisation work ever, but if the site is not user-friendly, no one is going to make use of it!  A user-friendly site always has to be the priority for you as a website owner and search engine optimisation professional.  When you have a user-friendly site, you will benefit, as well as your users.

A user-friendly website is going to encourage engagement from the independent reader.  It is usually the ten-second test that most website owners will make use.  If a user gets on your site and clicks off of it within ten seconds, it was either that the content was weak, or that it was not user-friendly.  You want people to look at your site and want to play around.  

When you are doing on page SEO, keep a user-friendly experience top of mind.  You want to ask yourself three fundamental questions at all times:

  1. What are the website and the individual web pages all about?
  2. What is the goal of the user’s search that drives them to your site
  3. Are the content pages useful to the user?

If you answer all of these questions, you will be that much closer to getting a site that looks great and is also user-friendly at the same time!  

On-Page SEO and Its Major Bullet Points

When you think about on page SEO, you want to think of things on the visual end, as well as on the back-end.  Think of it as a tree.  If you have a tree, you have the trunk, what stabilises the tree, makes it go high in the air for all to see, and you also have the leaves that show off the great colors.  It is the same with your website.  The code is the trunk, while your content and visual pop are all of the leaves.

On Page SEO – The Leaves

The first significant bullet point on page SEO is to think about the users who come to your site.  You want to make sure you are giving them exactly what they went and honing in on some critical areas of focus.

What is the value of your site?  Are you delivering value to the independent user or reader?  The value of the site is going to be a reflection on its content.  The site’s value will derive from headlines, the individual stories on there, topics, images, videos and everything else.
The user experience, how is it?  How quickly does the site load up so that everything is clear and visible?  How easy is it for users to click oared on the site?  Are you able to quickly move about the site on mobile and desktops? 
 
How are the keywords and content set up?  Is all of the content designed for an intent to get it in front of users who value that content?  Where are keywords located within the material and what is their density?  Think of it this way; if someone were to search for something as a question on Google, would your content match up and deliver it to that reader?

On Page SEO – The Tree Trunk

Google will also look at the site from the back-end perspective, the trunk of the tree or your sit.  They will think about how authoritative the site is, in general, by looking at things such as the following:

  1. How friendly is the site to mobile users?  Do you have optimisation in place so that, if viewing it from a mobile device, you oddly era able to get a response and see everything easily?
  2. What is the state of your metadata?  Looking at HTML, can you get a sense of the content that is within it?  Meta descriptions, tags and such can go a long way to helping deliver this successfully.  
  3. Can Google bots crawl the site with ease?  Google does everything via bots and algorithms.  If they can crawl your site quickly, scrolling through pages and reading content, you are in good shape.  

Section 1 – On Page SEO Content Optimisation

The first step to quality on page SEO is to optimise your content.  Without content optimisation, there is no hope to get to the top of Google search engine rankings.  The process of optimising content gets focus around the content itself, as well as the keyword you embed within.  The combination of these two factors will lead to content optimisation that will reap benefits.  

Section 1.1 – Keywords for On Page SEO

Research the Keywords

Before you jump into the content itself, what should the keyword focus be of the content?  One of the core principles of on page SEO is focusing on quality keywords.  When you go to Google, enter questions and hope to get back answers, it is the keywords and keyword strings you will get a match with.

You need to do a lot of research on keywords in isolation.  Do your homework!  There are plenty of different tools on the market that can help you with keyword research.  The trick with keyword research is that there is no one best way to do it.  You may have a great idea that works for you and your site, only for a different person to have a better approach in their opinion.  

You want to hone in on keywords that are lucrative, that will give you significant gains.  It is all about search engine rankings and trying also to do a bit of a gap analysis.  Are there any areas on the web where your users are searching, but there is very little competition.  

In your research, you want to come up with a list of potential keywords you can make use of.  When you are doing keyword research, focus on the following:

You need to get all of the keywords that are being in use by your competitors.  These may be websites you are trying to compete with directly, or indirectly.  A direct competitor would be a site after the same target market.  An indirect competitor is a website that is using keywords you want to use, but selling content, a product or service, that is different than yours.  The indirect competitors can impact your search engine ranking.

Look at the list of keywords you have and figure out where there is a lot of volume and a lot of value.  Take away keywords where there are intense competition and a lot of density already.

Once you have done this work, the keywords that remain should be your niche, where you will want to hone in on.

Think Like a Reader

To narrow your keyword list further, you want to think like one of your visitors.  Think like someone who is coming to your site to read a blog post or research a product and service.  What are the things they are going to type into Google?  How do you plan on them finding your website and your content?  Figure out all of the different ways that a user may interact with your site and add this to your list to go along with the keywords.  If you have overlap between research and what your readers will do to interact with a search engine, you are on the right track.

Bundle the Keywords

Once you have your keywords, you want to think about bundling them up as a topic or multiple topics.  Once you have them in groups, you can use them to plan out your content in a significant level of detail, with a lot of strategy in mind.  

The Value of a Keyword in On Page SEO

How much value do you place on the keywords and the research you have made?  Where do you rank the keywords in the value that they are going to deliver to you?  You want to value keywords with a basis of the customer in mind, how they go about buying a product of service.

Think about the stages of the customer buying cycle.  They go through phases such as awareness,  interest, consideration, purchase intent, and loyalty.  

With keywords, you want to focus on awareness initially, so that you have content and keywords in this category to help raise awareness of your website, your brand.  Once you get past this stage, keywords in the consideration and purchase intent categories should be about closing the sale, getting a consumer to buy your product or service.

Where this all falls concerning trying to put a value on the keywords is that you want to hone in on their purpose.  Some keywords will raise awareness, while others will help push consumers to purchase.  The trick is that they have to flow into one another.  You cannot get a customer to the purchase intent stage, without them having awareness initially.  Value your keywords accordingly to ensure you bring customers through the full buying cycle.

Track Everything With a List

You always want to have a grasp on the keywords you use.  Make a spreadsheet where you have all of the keywords listed out.  Track on the spreadsheet the volume or use of the keywords, as well as which topics they fall under.  You can even track the keywords regarding which phase of the customer buying cycle they get placement within.  Taking this tactical approach will help you retain the site of the keywords you use, where you use them, how, why, etc.  

Section 1.2 – A Focus on Quality Content for On Page SEO

The focus now has to shift to quality content once you have a firm grasp of the keywords.  You can fit keywords into all sorts of content, but you also do not want just to throw junk up on your site.  The goal of any website is to drive users to the site, to get them to read the content you are creating.  The only way to do this is to produce high-quality content in the first place!

How do you define high-quality content, though?  Is it just content that is long, or full of keywords?  It is a multitude of factors inclusive of the following:

  1. In-depth writing that contains long and short-tail keywords
  2. Engaging and visual in its design
  3. Solves the problem of the intended audience
  4. Optimisation with keywords
  5. Well-written, free of grammatical errors
  6. Unique

You want the content you create to be useful, to solve a problem!

Unique Content, Not Just Long Content

You can have someone write a blog that spans thousands of words but says nothing.  There is no value in a blog that is full of fluff and Google will pick up on it in no time at all!  Unique content that is dense with topical knowledge, not just words, is the primary factor to think about.  If someone wants to get the answer to a question on Google, they may find a blog that is just a few hundred words and delivers the goods.  Another blog may be at same the same thing with double the words, but it is not as useful as a piece and Google will figure that out.

Unique content also has to be an area of focus.  You want content that is fresh, that is not duplicative of tons of other blogs available on the internet.  Look online and see about some of the types of blogs competitors are writing.  Are there things that they are not addressing that your readers are going to care about?  If so, that is what you want to hone in on with your content!  Find the niche and fill the gap with fresh and quality content to answer the needs of your consumers.

Plan the Content With a Schedule

You do not want just to start tossing content out on your site with no rhyme or reason.  Similar to how you would set up a marketing campaign, you want a schedule that will plan to get content out in a strategic fashion, to get users to notice your site and gain search engine rankings.  

Think about how many pieces of content you need on your site, how many pages you are going to have.  There is no right or wrong answer to the question; you need to have an idea.  You don’t want to launch a site with every piece of content; you want to roll it out in waves.

Take a look back at a listing of keywords and the topics or groups you came up with.  You want to have content, at least, that will address every one of the topics.  Some of the topics that are more valuable to you may require additional pieces of content.  

You will want to create high-quality pages that will serve as hubs for sub-pages.  The pages should cover each of the topics in your list with the sub-pages breaking down into the keywords, including those areas.  

Release Strategically and React

Release your content strategically and react to the commentary you get back from readers.  Perform an audit of the content yourself over time to see how you are covering the keywords, to see how Google is ranking the pages you create.  Are you getting the reaction you thought you would?  

Test out the waters with a few pieces of in-depth content.  Release them and see where things stand on Google.  Go to the conversations on social media, see how people are talking about the content, if at all.  Getting back to the audit, see what keywords you have coverage on and what you don’t  You can perform a content audit by doing the following:

Do an export of all of the pages of your site into an Excel spreadsheet.  You don’t have to use Excel; we just chose that for example.  
Once you have everything in Excel, add in information on page metrics.  How much visibility they are getting, where they rank on Google, etc.
Track the pages regarding what is doing well and what is not.  By doing this, you can find trends to locate what works and what does not.

You always want to react to not only the content you release but also the keywords you are using.  If you are finding you are not getting good results, try different keywords with different topics and play around with the reaction over time.

Section 2 – HTML Optimisation

HTML optimisation is the second phase of the on page SEO work you will be doing.  You are going to hone in on a few things here, including metadata, tags, structure, and keyword density.  It is the combination of all of these that will allow you to optimise your HTML so that it gets the most visibility by Google when crawling occurs.

Section 2.1 – Optimisation of Keywords

Keyword optimisation with metadata is the name of the game with on page SEO.  Metadata is sent to search engines through HTML.  It allows the search engine to get an idea of what the content is on a specific page.  It also helps people clicking the website, luring them in similar to how advertising like a billboard or commercial would work.  

Meta keywords are your LSI or Latent Semantic Indexing keywords.  They are found in the titles of your content, as well as throughout it.  Google uses these types of keywords to figure out just how relevant a particular piece of content is.  You want to use the LSI keywords in your metadata, whenever you can.  

The LSI keywords are essentially keywords related to the content.  They are also found together in a string.  If you type in a keyword into Google, you will see a bunch of keywords related to it that appear.  These are the LSI keywords.  

The reason Google relies on LSI is that it allows the search engine to ignore spamming of keywords.  Google links the keyword terms together so that they do not get separated in search engine rankings.  As a user, you do not have to put in all keywords as you search, Google helps fill in the blanks.

When you are working through LSI keywords in your content, be sure you are thinking of all scenarios and adding them into your metadata, into the titles so that they can fit a variety of searches users may type in.

Section 2.2 – Title Tags and Descriptions

The title tags are often forgotten about but play an essential role in the backdrop of your website.  A title tag appears like a piece of HTML code.  The goal of the title tag is to organize the various content you are getting up on your site.  

The two most crucial title tags are the H1 title and the H2 title tag.  When you do a search on Google for something, you usually get the title of the content and a description of it.  This generates by the meta tag and the meta description.  Tagging is vital, so Google gets a preview of the content, along with your readers.  

Title tags can be broken down in the following way:

  • H1 – Page title and used only once
  • H2 – This is the secondary title and gets used for every section of a piece of content.
  • H3 – This is the subhead under the H2 tag.
  • H4 – This is a subhead under the H3 tag. 

There are several tools available across the internet that let you quickly add tags if you do not have enough HTML experience on your own.  When you are creating the tags, try and incorporate keywords in the titles and the subtitles, on the H1 and the H2 tag-lines.  These are going to be the primary things that people will initially read, so the clearer they are the likelier it is they will click.

Click through rate or CTR is a measure Google will use to see how your titles look and how appealing the content is.  If Google notices people look at your titles, but are not clicking, it would be essential to take a look at why.  When writing the H1 tags, try to be sure you get keywords, get the topic, as well as an action item in there.  Also, try and incorporate your brand or site title in that H1 or H2 tag.  

Section 2.3 – Showing Lists in Google

Ever search Google and find that you are getting a list in the results?  This is in the way that the HTML structure is set up for a site.  When Google figures out that the content you create lines up with what a user is looking for, a feature snippet will show at the top of the rankings.  You use your H1 and H2 tags to do this structure already.  If you write a list-type article with the tags, you are even more likely to appear in those top results.

It is challenging to write HTML code so that it will absolutely get a feature from Google, but there are ways to improve your chances.

Focus on content that has an order to it with numbers or bullets.  Google looks for lists or outlines and will drag the forward in the snippet.  You can also use tables with HTML, or via a tool like WordPress, to make it easier for the data pulling to happen in the engine results.  

You will want to see what exists already for snippets and try to one-up with more unique, more dense content.  Use H2 tags in the content and with descriptions tying to each of them; you could get the structure you want and higher visibility on Google.

Section 2.4 – Keyword Review

You want to think about the density of the keywords you use.  You want to use keywords throughout the content, all over your site, but do not do too much.  When you have a keyword density that is too high, Google will give your site a penalty, drop you in the rankings.  There is no magic keyword density rate.  It is often best to rely on how easy it is for a site to read.  If the keywords are cramming throughout, there may be too many.

Section 3 – Architecture Optimisation and the Focus on Mobile

You need to do your homework when it comes to optimisation of your site.  The architecture can play a prominent role in how well the site reception is by users.  People want to find your site, but they also want to have a smooth time scrolling through it, reading everything.

Section 3.1 – The Focus on Mobile

You need to be sure that the user experience on mobile is as good or even better than it is on a desktop.  Page speed makes a big difference when Google is ranking sites.  Every second will count!  If it takes your site two-seconds longer to load than others, that can detract people from clicking through and browsing.  It can also deter Google from raking the site high.  Google came out and said over the years that page speed loading will impact search engine rankings.

Google also does mobile indexing, prioritising sites that have faster loading speeds on the mobile end.  It all comes down to making sure the site loads lightning quick and looks great, no matter what device you are on!

Areas of consideration with optimisation will include:

  1. What is the state of your website hosting service?  Are they up to par to handle traffic via desktop and mobile users?
  2. Try to speed up page loading with compression of images and other larger file types.
  3. Do not go crazy with a theme that is not mobile friendly.  It may look great on a desktop, but it may not seem so hot on an iPhone.

Section 3.2 – URL Building

You want the URL for a piece of content to be clear as day.  For on page SEO, it is all about making sure that the title of the content is a part of the HTML code itself.  You do not want random letters and numbers filling up the URL line.

A URL structure that is friendly to search engine optimisation may include something like the following:

http://www.thebestsite.com/blog/page-name  

Make keywords a part of the URL when possible so that Google can easily find them, link to them, and improve the standing in the ranking results.

Creating and adding a robots.txt file can also help as it will tell search engine bots where to look for all of your content.  A sitemap specific to mobile can also make a huge difference.

Section 3.3 – Focus on Security

The security of your site also is going to play a role.  Google announced around five years ago that they prioritise sites that have adequate security.  HTTPS Everywhere was the push that Google made and it continues to today.  

The goal is the security of users so that when someone comes to your site or leaves your site, it is secure in the data it is pulling down, what you are seeing, etc.  HTTPS is easy to implement and can make the difference in pushing your site one or two ranks higher.

You can get your site set up with HTTPS pretty easily by doing the following:

Choose a website host that has a dedicated IP address to your site.
Purchase an SSL certificate and activate it.  They are less expensive then you think.
Install the certificate and update your site to use HTTPS.

Section 3.4 – Internal Links

Internal links can have a significant impact on your site as well.  Internal links all have a focus on allowing people to bounce around your site, from one spot to the next, with ease.  Linking internally can enable Google to have a better view of your site as a whole and also allow people to navigate through content seamlessly.  

If you have content that has specific keywords and you write blogs referencing that other content, link to it!  It may not seem like it would do a ton, but it does in the eyes of Google and your users.  It helps to promote your content with minimal work add.

Conclusion 

On page SEO can have a massive impact on your site and its value.  You can do a lot on your own, as we write, without having a ton of knowledge on search engine optimisation.  

You can do things focusing in on the optimisation of your content, of your HTML and architecture, all with the goal of driving forward positive results.  

If you are looking at this guide and thinking that it is just too much or you to handle, break it up into chunks.  Do not try and do all of your search engine optimisation work in a day or two.  Spread it out over time, do it one piece here and one piece there.

What you will find as you start to put in place on page SEO is that the results will drive what you do next.  Where you get positive results, push forward.  If you are getting negative results, try and take a step back, pivot before you work and proceed again.  On page search engine optimisation can be a fun process to go through, it just takes time, patience, and a drive to succeed!