When you’re trying to optimize your website for the search engines, you might feel overwhelmed at the amount of advice there is out there regarding on-page and off-page SEO. Chances are, you already have a few keywords in mind that you want your website to rank for, so what needs to be done to make sure you show up on the first page of the search results? Fortunately, ranking for the keywords you have in mind is easier than you might think. It takes a bit of hard work and effort, but once you understand the basics, you’ll be able to ensure greater search visibility.
Let’s start with exactly what on-page SEO is. Essentially, on-page SEO refers to the practice of optimizing individual web pages with the goal of ensuring those web pages rank higher in search engines. While off-page SEO refers to activities and/or things you do outside of your website, such as links and other external signals, on-page SEO refers to activities and/or things you do inside your website, such as changing the content or HTML code of a page.
Now that we’ve gone over exactly what on-page SEO is, here are 30 on-page SEO tips to help you achieve greater search visibility:
Do a quick search with one of your commonly used keywords to see what the most relevant results are for that particular term or phrase. Go through the first few results that pop up and look at the pages. They’ve done something right to end up on the first page of the search engine, so pay attention to the URL, title, and any other relevant information. Next, look for any missing information you can provide. Try to be even more thorough than what’s on the first page.
The meta robots tag is a special piece of HTML code that tells robots (or search engines) whether or not to index the content found on that particular page. If this tells them not to index the content found on that particular page, it won’t show up on search engines, and it won’t be scanned for any links. Google and other search engines regularly crawl through websites to determine what keywords they’re relevant to rank for, so make sure your meta robots tag allows crawling.
You probably already have a few keywords in mind, but it’s important to have an in-depth keyword strategy wherein you identify your target market first and foremost. Think about their interests, demographics, and other important information so you understand who you’re targeting. Next, segment your market into categories based on needs. People who are browsing will search for different terms than people who are ready to buy. Lastly, keep voice searches in mind. These are more commonly done with questions.
Similar to your meta robots tag, the robots.txt file is a text file that tells search engines which pages on your website to crawl or which pages on your website not to crawl. You want to make sure there are no URLs disallowing crawling on your website. In addition, make sure all URLs you want to rank are found on your site map as this will make a big difference.
When you’re posting content, always watch your URL structure to make sure it’s short and concise without missing the main keyword you’re trying to rank with on that particular page. Google’s algorithm actually prefers URLs with 3-5 words, so keep it simple and accurate in terms of what the page is actually about. You don’t want to add a keyword into a URL that has nothing to do with the content on that page. Google does look for context and/or relevancy.
Schema markup is a type of microdata that can be added to a webpage — creating an enhanced description or “rich snippet” that will appear in any given search results. Whenever possible, add relevant schema markup to let the search engines know what your page is about. This is vital to providing context to the page that helps the search engines understand it. While you’re at it, make sure your website is HTTPS - SSL secure.
Similar to URLs, search engines crawl through title tags to determine the intent of the web page. Google and other search engines will look for title tags to find keywords that give them insight into what the page is about. Typically, the results you see on any given search will be taken straight from the title tags of the websites. You should aim to include roughly 2-3 keywords within your title and keep the rest of the text compelling so people will actually want to click on it.
Let’s say you’re a coffee shop. Try to make sure internal pages are linked to other internal pages on your website. For example, an article about “how to roast the best coffee” should have a link within it to your coffee beans. Your first step within your article may be “choose the best coffee beans” linked to your own page showcasing your coffee beans for sale. Google will be able to get more insight into what you offer if it’s clear throughout your website.
All of your subheadings should be done in H2 text. This helps to make your content easier to read for end-users, as well as the search engines who will be crawling through. You want your website to be easier to read for end-users because this will decrease your bounce rate (the percentage of people who leave the site shortly after coming to it.) Make sure you’re using your target keyword as much as possible in your H2 tags. But of course, keep it relevant and don’t overdo it so it’s not seen as “keyword stuffing.”
WCAG 2.1 is the most recent web content accessibility guidelines. Make sure you’re keeping these guidelines in mind as they not only ensure your website is accessible for those with disabilities, but they also make it more user-friendly, which leads to a higher search ranking. Many of the guidelines help with SEO, but more importantly, they help ensure end-users have a positive experience on your website. This naturally decreases your bounce rate, and more often than not, increases your conversion rate. Remember, a responsive design that works on mobile devices is important.
Essentially, meta descriptions are small bits of text that briefly describe any given page’s content and what it’s about. Google will sometimes use the meta description of a page in the search results or choose a piece of text from the page that is more relevant. Google increased the maximum description allowance from 160 to 320, so take advantage of this and make sure you’re giving a full summary of the page in the meta description.
If you’re not using videos, it’s time to start. There are many types of desired media you should incorporate into your site, including images, video, and different forms of content. All content should be optimized. For videos, this means they need to be easily understood and indexed. Pay attention to your video title, include a full description that uses your keywords, choose a relevant thumbnail image, and of course, use subtitles to ensure all users can watch your videos.
Page speed is often confused with “site speed,” however, there is a difference. Page speed is more accurately described as “page load time” rather than the overall speed of the website. Google has stated that page speed is one of the signals used to rank pages, so make sure your pages load quickly. This can be done first and foremost by using a reliable hosting company. Aside from that, check to make sure you’re using CDNs and compressing images wherever possible.
You may think people are more interested in short form content that gives them what they need as quickly as possible, but in this day and age, there is so much information that is readily available. People want content that gives them all of the information they need in one place. They want their questions answered without having to read multiple different websites. As a general rule, aim for 2,000 words. Break it up with H2 tags and bullet-points to make it easier to digest. As an added bonus, longer posts tend to attract more back-links than shorter posts. Remember to add social sharing buttons to every post!
While we’re on the topic of content, make sure it’s fresh and up-to-date. Go through your content at least once a year and make updates wherever necessary to ensure you’re providing the most useful information to your readers. This might mean you change a few facts or add in some new back-links to more relevant information. Google will take note and rank you a bit higher because of your efforts.
You’re using the right titles and keywords, but don’t forget that many searchers are using long-tail keywords. This is where modifiers come in handy. Words like “best” or “guide” can be helpful to ensure you’re found when someone searches for a longtail keyword that’s relevant to what you provide in terms of products and/or services. For example, a coffee shop may be trying to rank for the keyboard “coffee for sale” but someone is likely searching for the “best coffee for sale” as well.
This doesn’t take much time or effort, but it’s incredibly valuable as search engines are starting to look for content that specifically answers questions. In fact, including frequently/commonly asked questions can also help you get featured snippets. Moz Keyword Explorer is a great place to start to find the most commonly asked questions for any given keyword term, but you can also talk with your prospects and customers to get an idea about the questions they have coming to your business.
While it’s great to have various forms of media on your website, you don’t want to forget image alt tags and descriptions. These allow search engines to understand the purpose and appearance of any given image found on the page. Plus, if the image doesn’t load properly, end-users will still have an idea of what the image is supposed to be. Those with disabilities that limit or completely remove their ability to see will also be able to understand what the image is. Always add the keyword you’re trying to rank for within the image description.
Whenever it makes sense, add a summary to the page! Many web developers or owners underestimate the power of summaries, but a lot of search engines often look for them. In fact, Google uses summaries provided in the page as a featured snippet sometimes. A summary not only makes your content easier to digest for end-users, but it also makes it more accessible for search.
The review schema snippet allows you to showcase excerpts of reviews or ratings, which is great for increasing your credibility with those coming to your website. Plus, if you’re generating fresh reviews on a regular basis, the search engines will rank you higher as they’ll know you’re relevant. If you’re not sure how to gather reviews, check out a few review generation platforms. Alternatively, you can simply ask your customers to leave you a review on Google.
TF-IDF, also known as term frequency-inverse document frequency, is a term that reflects how important a word is to a document in a collection. When we speak of SEO, this refers to how many times a particular term is found on a page divided by the number of times it’s mentioned anywhere. Basically, you want to make sure your search term is found frequently on your website compared to others. Again, do this without “keyword stuffing.”
Outbound linking is a critical part of any great SEO strategy. Make sure you’re linking to credible sources, and when possible, link your keywords to a very credible post about that particular topic. As an added bonus, this will help encourage those sources to link back to you.
LSI or LSA, commonly referred to as latent semantic indexing, is a technique wherein you speak about topics that are commonly related to your keywords. For example, if you’re speaking about your coffee shop, you may also write an article on 10 ways to stay productive while working outside of the house.
Try to write in natural language that’s easy to understand. Unless the topic requires a more advanced, complex language, aim to ensure anyone with a ninth-grade reading level would be able to comprehend the text. This helps ensure end-users stay on the page rather than leaving quickly — enhancing your bounce rate when they do. You want a low bounce rate to help you rank well.
This is a readability test designed to determine how easy or difficult any given passage is to understand. There are tools available online to run your text through this readability test. Similar to the point above, you want your content to be easy to understand. The easier it is to read, the better your results will be in terms of your search rankings.
Make sure your content is well organized in terms of the way it’s laid out. Can a reader easily skim the text and get an understanding of what the page is conveying? If not, it’s probably not very well organized. You want someone to be able to read the page quickly and still have all of their questions answered. This not only helps with SEO but also helps with converting prospects into customers.
This is yet another tip relating to content. Are you starting to see a pattern? Content is so incredibly important when it comes to SEO. That’s why you’ve likely heard the phrase “content is king.” Try using adverbs in your titles — best, review, checklist, top, etc. This will help you achieve a higher click-through-rate as your title will be more compelling to those skimming the search results.
Your most important keyword should be used at least once within the first 100-150 words of any given page or blog. This is likely something that will happen naturally on its own, but it’s an important rule of thumb to keep in mind when you’re writing your content.
Do a search for your most important keyword and take a deep look at the top three results. What do they have in common? Are there any relevant keywords they all use? Are they all formatted in a similar way? See if you can take the best parts of all three search results and work them into your own piece of content/page.
This is likely the most difficult tip to follow. Google’s algorithm, in particular, tends to change often. In fact, they launched an update to their algorithm in June 2019. They have a long history of updating their algorithm on a regular, unexpected basis, so make sure you’re staying up-to-date.
There are likely thousands of ranking factors, and it’s not always easy keeping up with algorithm updates, but if you follow the 30 on-page SEO tips above, you’ll be able to maintain a relatively good position on any given search engine. Just make sure you’re reviewing your website regularly to keep your content fresh and up-to-date.
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