SEO can be a confusing game when you’re first getting started. There’s a lot to learn.
When it comes to on-page SEO, there are guidelines that can be relied on to ensure you will have the best chance possible to rank for your topic and target keyword.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO (aka On-Site SEO) refers to the specific optimizations made to the pages of your website that give them the best chance possible to rank well for their respective target keywords and drive targeted, organic traffic to your domain.
Common on-page SEO strategies include optimizing headings, titles, links, and the content itself for the target keyword for which the underlying article is intending to rank for on Google.
Why is On-Page SEO Important?
One of the primary goals that Google has for its search product is to provide the best, most relevant results for any given search query.
On-page SEO is important because, when done properly, it will result in providing both Google and users with exactly what they’re seeking. When you signal to Google that your particular article on a given topic is the most relevant by addressing the ranking factors Google commonly evaluates, you set yourself up for first-page rankings.
On-Page Optimization Tips
Here are some tips to properly optimize your online content and increase organic traffic:
1. Keywords Optimization
As digital marketers, we need to take that sentiment and add an extra layer of “what’s working now” in order to achieve the rankings we’re after.
When it comes to keyword placement and density, there are a few rules of thumb to follow in today’s SEO environment.
- Body Content: Do your best to match the body content keyword density of the top 10-15 pages. If you don’t have that metric, try to include your target keyword 3-5 times and secondary keywords once each.
- Heading 1 (H1 Tag): Include your target keyword as close to the beginning of this heading tag as possible.
- Headings 2 – 4 (H2, H3, H4 tags): Try to include the target keyword in ONE of these heading tags. Use secondary and related keywords in heading tags whenever possible.
- Title Tag: Include your target keyword as close to the beginning of the title tag as possible.
- URL Slug: Use the target keyword as the URL slug for the post.
- Images: Use your target and secondary keywords as image filenames and ALT text.
Following these guidelines should signal to Google that your article is on the topic of your target keyword, which should lead to improved rankings.
Be careful not to overdo your keyword density, especially in the body content of your article. Also, keep in mind that image ALT text counts toward keyword density!
2. Internal & External Links
Both internal and external links build trust and improve user experience. Optimizing for both should be a part of your on-page SEO strategy.
- Internal Links: Links to other pages on your website should be used to direct users to support information related to the article they’re currently reading. These supporting pages can be the “hub” page of a topic cluster or other pages related to the topic of the page they’re currently on. When linking to other internal pages, always use an anchor that describes the page being linked to. Do not use internal links to pages that are not relevant to the page you are linking from.
- External Links: Links to third-party websites are also used to support the information in your article. Link to third-party sites that are seen as authorities on the topic and make sure the specific page being linked to is hyper-relevant to the article topic of the linking page.
A proper linking strategy can actually reduce the number of backlinks needed to rank for a given target keyword. Take the time to create a logical strategy that will ultimately increase your ROI!
3. Content Structure, Formatting, and Media
There are specific optimizations that should be made to the structure and formatting of the article that will help improve bounce rate and dwell time. Inclusions of various media types will help as well.
In general, we want to build an article so that it’s “skimmable.” This allows the busy reader to quickly understand what the article is about so they can make a decision on whether or not they want to commit to reading the entire piece.
- Paragraphs: Each paragraph should focus on a single thought. Try to keep paragraphs to 3-5 visual lines (aka lines counted on the screen) to ensure they’re easily absorbed by the reader.
- Bold & Italic: Use this type of formatting at your own discretion to help emphasize information that would be particularly useful for your audience.
- Sentences: Each sentence should be concise and succinct. Overly verbose language makes it harder for the reader to internalize the information.
- Tables: If relevant to your content, include a table to display specific information in a clean manner.
- Lists: Try to use at least one unordered list per article to help them be easier to skim. Lists are fantastic options for actionable processes or a group of items within a specific category.
- Photos & Video: Both video and pictures help to break up the content further and keep visitors around longer. Always make sure that the included media is relevant to the text that appears before and after it.
- Interactive Content: Quizzes, tools, calculators, games, and content upgrades are all great options to capture (and keep) the attention of the audience.
While not all of these optimization tips directly relate to a search engine ranking factor, they will indirectly lead to improved rankings and increased traffic.
Here are a few other tips related to on-page SEO:
- Word Length: The length of the article should fit with the length of the articles currently ranking for the target keyword. Get the average of the top 10 ranking pages and try to write your article so it’s within 10% of that.
- Freshness: Part of Google’s goal to serve the best results for a given search quality is freshness. As your content ages, the included information may become out-of-date. Ensure that your older content is always kept up-to-date by regularly fact-checking information and correcting anything that is no longer valid.
- Data-Based Tools: Tools like Clearscope, SurferSEO, and Frase help to speed up competitive analysis. Try using them to cut down on the amount of time spent on on-page optimization.
By following the helpful on-page SEO tips above, you will be giving your content a significant edge over the competition. Try implementing these guidelines today and watch how quickly your rankings and traffic improve!