So it 2014 and Google is making it as difficult as ever to do Search Engine Optimization the same way we are used to doing it. Recently we’ve talked about Guest Blogging, Link Earning and Building the Perfect Landing Page. Today we are going talk about in my opinion one of the most important tools of SEO, which is On Page Optimization. These 13 elements of On Page SEO are what every page should have if you want to rank in the SERPs today
1. Create the Best Blog Ever with the Best Content
As I have stated many times, “Content is still King” and if you are not creating quality content then you have no chance these days. So what does that entail? It means you create a blog for your site and update it as frequently as possible. Most of the highest visited blogs publish content daily which draws in traffic at a much higher rate.
Not only is it about publishing content every day, the content also has to be what I like to call “Readworthy & Shareworthy”. This means creating quality content that is natural and addresses whatever topic it is you are aiming for, not just words thrown together for the sake of having something. Create content you know fits your audience and will attract new people. People share content they like, so create content that is likable. Check out our post on “The Importance of Quality Content” to learn more about just how important quality content really is.
2. Google Authorship is a MUST
So if you are living under a rock and completely unaware of what Google Authorship is, it is basically Google’s way of verifying that you are the author of the content and basically tries to give authority to that particular author, which gives you credibility or the concept known as Author Rank. The result of Google Authorship is why when you do a search for something your Google+ profile image shows up next to the URL in the search results (i.e. image above).
Now you are probably thinking, “Oh that’s great! How do I increase my so called Author Rank?” Since Author Rank technically doesn’t exist in Google’s ranking algorithm yet, except for “In Depth Articles”, so there is no way to tell if this increases rankings as of now. Search Engine Land shared an article on Author Rank that has great information which you can read here and learn all about how to increase your Author Rank with In-Depth Articles. Most likely in the near future Google will add Author Rank to their ranking factors. For now if you keep pushing great content with Google Authorship integrated, you are going to be ready for when they do, and you will build credibility in your field not only with your audience but with your competition/friendly neighbors as well. So just keep sharing awesome content and you’re Author Rank will increase on its own.
3. Title Tags: #1 in My Book
Title tags have always been, and will continue to be one of the most important parts of On Page SEO ranking factors. As we have seen in the past, keyword stuffed title tags are unnatural and not something Google likes to see. When I market anything I stick to the concept of marketing for consumers not Google rankings. With that mindset I am able to naturally come up with great title tags that are on point with my topic and include my keywords.
I included the word topic there because we are seeing a change in Google rankings where topics are more valuable than just aiming for one or two keywords. If your title tag isn’t enticing no one is going to click through to read your content. A good rule of thumb is to include your company’s name in the title tags. Ideally title tags should be no longer than 65 characters and if you are aiming to target a local area, include it in the title tag. It should read well and make someone want to click through naturally. Another great trick for creating a great title tag? Use modifiers. These are some examples of modifiers:
- “Best of”
- “Guide to”
- “How to”
- “Top __(number)
The trick is to make it urgent and make the reader feel like they are going to be reading something that is knowledgeable, up to date, and again enticing.
4. Headline & Sub-headers
If you are not using H tags in your content, get to it because the H1 and H2&H3 heading tags are great for traffic, sharing and one of the key elements that Google uses to figure out what your page is about. Each page should only have ONE H1 tag, which tells Google and readers what the main topic is. Most CMS programs automatically H1 tag your title tag, but if that isn’t happening make sure it does from now on.
Another great use of H tags is using H2, H3 and so on, to break up your content. This not only helps readers distinguish what your content is about, but it also helps Google know this page is actually about what you title states. Now I am not saying you must use header tags for every post, again use them naturally. Much like the way my post is broken down with headers for each numerical topic.
5. Wait…Let Me Take a Selfie! ( Multimedia & Image Alt Tags)
Images, videos, infographics, diagrams, screenshots, music, any type of multimedia are a gold mine. People respond to visual content which in turn makes them want to read what you have published. Engaging images lead to users staying on the site longer, which in turn helps your rankings with a lower bounce rate and longer time on page.
Look at Buzzfeed for example. People love the lists they post which gifs, videos and images which leads to large amounts of traffic and even more social sharing. There are plenty of sites out there that allow you or designer to create amazing media like the gif in this section, or infographics which are great for sharing so make sure you are using quality multimedia that requires a reaction from visitors. Along with posting images and multimedia, with images you can target the Alt tags to your main keywords. Always make sure when you include an image to add Alt tags with keywords that make sense and keeps it natural. An alternative is to use Long Tail Keywords, which will help your images rank as well as your content which brings us to…
6. Keywords, Topics & LSI’s! Oh My!
As I am sure you know from reading numerous articles about On Page SEO, keywords are key to optimizing your site as a whole, although as you will read below you should begin practicing topic research not just keywords. It has be proven from experience that your target keyword should appear within the first 100 words in your article. Most of the time, if the person who is writing your content is good, your keywords are sprinkled throughout the content naturally, so usually this is automatically done by the writer. If it isn’t edit your content to make sure your keyword(s) appear naturally and are not stuffed in there.
As I said before there has been a huge shift recently with Google aiming more towards topic targeting using related keywords rather than aiming for a few short tail, highly competitive keywords. In 2013, Moz shared an article “Stop Thinking Keywords, Think Topics“, and we couldn’t agree more. The best practice of this is using long tail variations, known as LSI’s, of your primary keyword, which results in ranking for long tail keyword as well as short tail. Aiming your content at topics is great for traffic and makes it “Shareworthy” which will help in the long run of naturally attracting links.
7. URLS: K.I.S.S (Keep It Short & Simple)
URLS are obviously still a major factor for ranking in the SERPs, and there are certain practices that will make your content hard to miss. Short URLs have proven to convert more traffic, rather than long drawn out permalinks. Your URL should be short, simple and to the point. Always try to avoid using numbers in your URL as most CMS systems automatically make the link a number when first created. Numbers are ugly and give no authority. Experiment with different topical keywords and keep in mind some studies show that the first 3-5 keywords are given the most weight. URLs shouldn’t include more than 3 subdirectories tops and again if you are targeting and keep it under 65 characters. Just keep it short and simple!
8. Outbound & Inbound Links: How to Do It Right
Let’s start with inbound links. Internal links are great for lowering bounce rate and keeps people engaged in your site as a whole. Linking to 3-6 pieces of older content helps build credibility with your readers and increase visibility through social sharing. A great example of inbound links is any page on Wikipedia. They use internal links naturally so when you click on the link it goes to a page relevant to the linked word. If you send someone to a page that has nothing to do with the word that was linked people often feel tricked, as I do when that happens to me and I swear off that site forever( or until I StumbleUpon the page again).
Outbound links are huge for building authority and helps in rankings. Outbound links helps Google zoom in on what exactly your content is about. According to a Moz Survey of the Top SEOs external links (another name for outbound links) are the most important source of ranking power, If you link out to a high authority site, which is a must, people feel like you are linked to this high authority brand and will begin to associate you with the big names in your field which increase traffic, ranking, visibility, and in turn helps build relationship for link earning.
9. Sharing is Caring (Social Sharing Buttons)
As we all know from Google’s constant reminders social signals are not a big part of Google’s algorithm currently. Personally I think social sharing of your content can definitely give you a little boost in rankings, but never the less social sharing has a lot of value in it of itself. That is why having social sharing buttons available on all of your sites pages are important. If you are posting amazing content people are going to want to share it, which is why social sharing buttons are key. There are plenty of plugins for social sharing buttons such as AddThis or ShareThis and sites that allow you to embed them to your page. The more people share your content the more it reaches others which increases traffic and increases the like likeliness that someone will eventually link out to your. Almost every site you see these days has sharing buttons on them, so if you haven’t done so yet, do it, it makes link earning a lot easier and will increase traffic to your site.
10. Fast as the Speed of Light: Load Speed
The load time of your page is another one of those very important factors when it comes to ranking as stated by Google itself, aka through Matt Cutts back in 2010. There are a few things you can do yourself when it comes to lowering load time like compressing images, getting rid of unnecessary plugins and using a cache plugin, use a CDN and of course make sure your hosting server is the fastest you can have. Sometimes this means moving to a more expensive hosting service but if it will increase your rankings and make consumers happy, it’s definitely worth it in the long run.
11. Make it Pretty, Make it Nice: Layout of Your Page
If you do enough research on the actual psychology behind why consumers react or buy something you will find out one of the most important aspects of that of the visual kind. An article from Inspired Mag explains exactly what cues consumers use when browsing websites which will help when creating the perfect layout that your audience will respond to. Just as much as visual merchandising is a huge part of real in-store experiences the overall layout of your site can affect consumers the same way it does in real life stores. Keeping that in mind the layout of your site can determine whether a person is going to stay on your site. Elements of a great layout can include easy navigation, visually appealing colors and solid multimedia placed perfectly throughout the page. There is tons of research out there on how to create the perfect layout for your site just always remember, a clear layout and easy to use site will always see great results and help with lowering the bounce rate and increasing time on page, two factors which help greatly when it comes to ranking.
12. Create Great Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions do not really have much weight when it comes to rankings, but your descriptions can increase traffic which therefore helps increase rankings. The Meta description is what readers see in their search results and is your chance to stand out from the crowd and get people to your site. If you haven’t done so already, every single page on your site should have a Meta description that is engaging, to the point, and jumps at readers. You only have one chance in the search results to grab traffic and your Meta description is one of the factors that entices a consumer to click through and read what you have to say. Make sure it is under 100 characters and includes the target keyword, or phrase you are going for so Google and consumers know what this page is about. There is a great article on creating better Meta Descriptions from Weidert Group that is sure to help if you are having writer’s block. Just remember to write a description that is for your audience not for search engines and most likely it will end up helping your rankings.
13. Length is Strength When it Comes to Content
Many moons ago you used to be able to write 400-word articles, get them to rank pretty quickly and that was it. Well that no longer is a reality, longer content consisting of usually 1000 words or more can help in many aspects of SEO. First off if you are publishing content that is over 1000 words it is more likely to contain long tail keywords and natural variations of your topic/keyword which will help you rank higher for long tail keywords. Google itself has been leaning towards rich, quality longer in-depth content when it comes to rankings so if I were you I would hop on this train immediately. Go through old content and see if you can give it a makeover just make sure it is engaging and of course, the best quality content possible.
Wrapping It Up…
Well, that about wraps up this week’s article, what I want to know is what are some On Page tactics you use for optimizing your site? Share with us below in the comment section and stay tuned to Stodzy Internet Marketing as we continue to share our wisdom of SEO, Content Marketing and Social Media with you guys. If you are looking for an expert when it comes to internet marketing as a whole, contact one of our team members and let us put together a tailored plan of action for you to dominate the internet today!