Today, on page SEO is no longer just about stuffing keywords and trying to bypass Google’s algorithm.
Today’s on page SEO is about publishing content that:
- Fulfils the user query
- Personalized, researched
- Is optimized for search engines
I’m going to talk about the three pillars of on page SEO that make up our on page SEO process that has single handedly helped one of our sites grow from 1k to 20k global traffic in 6-8 months.
Pillar 1: Technical SEO
- Use Short, Sweet and Simple Friendly URLs
Google has stated to avoid long and complicated URLs. Make your URLS shorter and sweet. This can be changed in the permalink settings of your site.
- Include Your Target Keyword in URL
Short, Sweet URLS:
- Site Architecture and Mapping out Keywords to Content
It’s not uncommon to see site owners include as many keywords as possible into one long title tag, hoping to rank for multiple keywords for with one piece of content.
If your niche isn’t as competitive, that is possible, however, for most crowded markets, you’ll need different pieces of unique piece of content to address different keywords or search queries.
This gets me to my next point.
You’ll need to understand site structure and how to map ‘more competitive keywords’ on the ‘top of your site structure’.
You’ll see here that the site owner is attempting to rank for ‘life coach’, ‘masculinity’, ‘relationships’ and ‘dating coach’ all in one title tag.
These terms are hugely competitive.
I can assure you that he isn’t ranking for any of them by stuff all of these in one title tag because if you stuff multiple keywords in on title, you’re diluting the weightage of each keywords.
Here’s a good example used by a competitor of mine (I’m not ashamed to say it when I see good SEO).
The company optimised his title for: “digital marketing courses Singapore.”
They also smartly added in the word ‘short’ to further optimize for an extra keyword with 70 searches a month by Google. Essentially, they are killing two birds with one stone. This can be done because both search queries with the modifier short means the same user query.
This is where content clusters and pillars come into play.
Instead of stuffing all your keywords in one title, you should separate them research longer tailed keywords for your that keyword and internal link them up to each keyword accordingly.
You can use Keyword Insights tool for keyword clustering at scale.
The Main Target Keyword on a One Page:
- Life Coaching
3 Long Tail Keywords (Preferably with Search Volume) with 3 Separate Posts that Links up to Target Keyword Page:
- What does a life coach does exactly?
- Do you need a life coach?
- 5 Benefits of life coaching
Note that these articles are topically relevant to the main keyword: life coaching.
I explain a little more in detail about site architecture later in this article.
- Include Keyword in Title Tags and Make Them Pop
Title tags can be adjusted through a SEO tools such as the All in One SEO and Yoast SEO plugin.
You should limit your title Tags are to 60 character H2s per title as Google search results can’t show more than a limited number of words.
Your title tags should also be:
- Relevant to user query
- Relevant to content of your post/ page
- Relevant to backlinks that point to your post/ page
- Compelling and Persuasive
- Bonus tip: keywords placed nearer to the front of the title can increase ranking weightage
So, how can you create compelling, relevant title tags?
Think of yourself searching through Google and you’ll be most likely be more encouraged to click on titles that are more interesting or attractive to your search query right?
Titles such as ‘How To…’ and ‘Why He or She….’ are compelling titles motivate the user to click through on them.
Using modifiers like “2016”, “Best”, “Guide”, and “Review” can also make your titles more compelling.
Including and writing title tags and meta descriptions that includes emotions like fear, love, disgust can also increase your click through rates.
Here are some of my GO TOs:
Long Tail Keyword + “No Nonsense Guide”Long Tail Keyword + “a Definitive Guide”Long Tail Keyword +”The Ultimate Guide”
- How to Write Titles That Pop
It’s researched that a search result with higher click through rates can get a permanent rankings boost: if no one is clicking on your site, there’s no reason Google will increase your rankings.
The more your pages beat the CTR for a given position, the more likely you’ll appear in higher organic positions.
The more your pages fall below the expected organic CTR, the more likely you’ll appear in lower organic positions on the SERPs.
I mean, if your site is getting clicked on like it’s the best thing since sliced bread, why would Google keep it buried on the #9 spot?
So how do you make your titles pop?
How can you better the rankings of pages and posts that are already ranking on your site? You can do it by increasing click through rates.
Step One: Research data from Google search console. Figure out the post and pages with low click through rates, and test out different titles tags and descriptions.
Step Two: Change either the title tag or meta description.
Control one variable as at a time. Use the fetch option in Google search console to get Google to crawl your page immediately. Then measure the results by the increase in number of clicks for an observed period of time.
Persuasive title tags and meta description can give you the extra 1 or 2 ranking boost etc that may give you the edge amongst your competitors.
So how do you go about writing a good title tags or meta descriptions? Here are some tips:
Include a Number, Time Line and a Clear Benefit:
When you write your titles, you need to ask yourself: what’s in it for your audience?
Search users desire a clear benefit. They want to get something out of clicking on your result.
How can you include a clear benefit in your titles?
You can include a number, a specific benefit and a time constrain in your copies.
- 10 Ways to Rank Better without Backlinks within 2 Weeks
- The 1 Secret Grey Hat Technique to Increase Rankings by 20%
The Product Comparison:
- “Using Yoast? This is better”
Include Your Target Keyword in H1 Sub Headers
It’s recommend to only have one H1 tag in your content. There is a difference between your title tags and your H1 tag.
- Include Your Target Keyword in H2 Sub Headers
It’s researched by MOZ that including your target keyword minimally once in your H2 Sub headers is a relevancy signal.
For Eg. If I’m targeting How to Do On Page SEO… then I’ll include my keyword in a H2 sub header with ‘How to Do On Page SEO – an Ultimate guide’
- Include Keyword in Meta Descriptions and Write Persuasively
You’ll want to include your targeted keyword and write persuasive meta descriptions on important pages such as home pages, the general pages on your website such as about us, services page, contact and more.
I like to use: “Step by step guide on… + Keyword”.
For EG: “Here’s a step by step guide on how to do on Page SEO for your website to increase your site’s organic traffic from search engines such as Google.”
- Include Keywords in Image File Name
Google doesn’t crawl and understand images, flash and some forms of graphic content.
Renaming your photos before uploading the can be a good on page SEO strategy.
If you’re a photographer, naming your galleries, categories of photos are good ideas on introducing text to your design based website.
Until Google figures away out to understand images from images themselves, we’re going to have to play by these rules.
- Include Accurate Descriptions in Alt Text
Next, when uploading images, there’s the title option, the caption option, the alt text and description option. Filling them up will give the search engines more textual content on the image.
If you’re a graphic designer or photographer.
Having text surround the image is one of the ways to have Google bots understand the content of the photographer’s website better.
Note: there’s no need to keyword stuff here, just accurately describe the image as best as possible.
- Keyword Density
The age old question.
How important is keyword density today? Google themselves once refuted the importance of keyword density.
I find that true today. I spent years playing around with keyword density, and my site only really grew after building high quality backlinks.
However, it’s recommended by MOZ to include your targeted keyword in your content at least once or twice.
On Page SEO Pillar 2: Content
You are probably shit bored of hearing that content is king.
However, long form quality content, researched and sharable content is never going to go out of fashion.
It’s researched that content with 1900 words and above ranks higher than shorter content.
Our team personally sticks to this rule when writing long form content for informational search queries.
Quality content boosts time spent on a page, repeat visitors and increase Google searches for your brand and etc.
These are all indirect, correlated SEO ranking factors.
I’m not saying that you need to stretch out your content for the sake of publishing long form content. However, I’m saying length do play a role.
There are SEOs that use negative tactics and make you scroll forever just to read their content.
This is a negative user experience. Yes, you may get higher time spent on page initially for your rankings, however, you’ll hurt your brand as a whole. You also don’t want to be scam-my or spam-my with your titles.
User experience is going to be increasingly a ranking factor for Google.
How to Publish Remarkable Content
There’s a ton of information out there on the web, yet the majority of content on the internet do NOT get traffic to them.
It’s said that you only have 2 seconds to convince your user if your page is a good fit when they click through.
So what makes your content stand out from the rest? Is it the way it’s written? Is it high researched? Is it relatable and funny?
One of ways is to write remarkable long form content is to publish content that is useful and engaging for your audience:
- Researched guides
- Case studies
- Real life examples
- Personalized Stories
- Branding Your Content & Techniques
When you brand your content or techniques, it’s shown to increase click through rates as it creates intrigue.
Instead of just writing a title named: The five steps to getting your dream job.
You can use a title: The brief case technique to getting your dream job. This way your content is perceived as unique and branded.
- Customer Research: Hopes, Fears and Dreams
No one cares about your unique 200 factor model of intelligent investing, everyone cares if they are able to retire early and support their kids.
You can’t sell a stock investing program, but you can sell an early retirement program.
This is why delving deep into your customers hopes, fears and dreams and addressing these issues in your content is going to make remarkable content. You’re actually writing something that they are already thinking about on a daily basis.
Your customer is going to find you infinitely more relatable instead of being overwhelmed with jargon.
You should do your customer research and get feedback from your audience before you launch a marketing campaign.
There are many ways to do customer research: you can through:
- Using Reddit
- Paying attention to reviews on Amazon
- Youtube/ Facebook groups comments
I am a huge huge fan of using customer research forms. (read: I use Google survey forms, it’s free)
There’s nothing like an informative persuasive video that can paint a thousand words.
Properly crafted out videos retain your audience to spend a longer time on your page. Time spent on a page is an indirect SEO ranking factor.
Note: you can’t just spam random videos and expect people to watch. Your video has to fit into the context of your post/ page.
On Page SEO Pillar 3: User Experience
Links can be bought and manipulated, however, user experience is rarely left up to manipulation.
UX experience is an increasing ranking factor Google: mobile friendliness and site speed are official ranking factors.
Come on, it’s the 2020s, stop designing non intuitive sites.
Nothing will beat opening up a website that works intuitively with well written content that fulfils the user search query.
Your competitors may have more links than you, however, you can outsmart them by crafting your site and content in a manner that has better a user experience.
Imagine getting on a site and you love what it’s written and you love the content. It’s helpful and solves your pain point. There are no annoying ads, no annoying pop ups and the content isn’t scam-my.
Yes, that’s user experience.
- Install HTTPs
Https is officially deemed as a SEO ranking factor from Google.
Simply put, a Https certificate is used to encrypt your data and your user’s data. This includes credit cards, personal information and etc.
It’s an added layer of security on the internet and makes the whole web experience a much safer experience.
Installing Https may lead to a temporary drop in rankings. However don’t be alarmed. Just keep calm and continue on.
Google has also recently announced there’s no loss of page rank when converting to Https.
- Include Multimedia In Your Post
It’s researched that posts with more than one image gets shared more.
Images, videos and other forms of multimedia can reduce bounce rate and increase time spent on your post or page.
- Mobile Friendliness
If your website isn’t mobile friendly today, you deserve to be shot.
Imagine loading up an ugly website on your phone screen that load slows and doesn’t function well on your smartphone screen. I can assure you’re going to X it.
This way, Google won’t recognise your site as a valuable site because of people coming in and leaving immediately.
I was once handled an SEO project where we tweaked our website to a non-mobile friendly theme for merely a week and our website traffic went down by 25%.
To check if your website is mobile friendly. Use the Google mobile-friendly test tool. It’s free.
- Page Speed
Google has stated officially that site speed is one of their ranking factors. Faster site speed reduces bounce rate and increases time spent on your site.
However, do note that page speed is a nifty 1% as compared to the other many other ranking factors. Google built us a free tool, Page Speed Insights Tool, for you to test your websites and pages.
It also allows you to test for page loading speeds and point out errors from a Google’s perspective.
Investing in a good web host is non negotiable. I also use other SEO tools that help with page speed loads: plugins such as Autoptimize and WP Cache.
- Optimize Your Images
Images that are huge in size slow the performance of your website down. Get your images optimized before you upload them or use an image optimizer.
I used the Short Pixel plugin.
- Internal Link Equity: Link from Your Older Posts, and Link to Your Newer Posts
Internal links help Google crawl bots crawl deeper into your website, and help human users better navigate your website.
Here are two key points:
- Internal links should be varied and not only keywords focused and rich.
- You should aim to link whenever necessary and deemed helpful.
It’s also good to have an understanding of site structure and how link equity is passed through your site and link accordingly:
- Link out to Resources
Linking out signals relevancy of what your post or page is about. It’s an underused white hat SEO strategy. Linking out to resources, goes hand in hand with writing long content, that is researched and of high quality.
- Fix Broken Links
Nothing irks a user more than a buggy link that leads to a dead page.
Check for broken links using Ahrefs site audit or Broken Links Checker. Internal and external broken links is going to lead to a lost in internal link equity and user experience.
- Social Sharing Buttons
Social signals are not a direct ranking signal. However, Google has mentioned that social sharing and links are an indirect ranking signal. Studies have shown that having social sharing buttons increases social sharing by 700%.
- Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Words and Fulfilling User Query
So… what the hell is LSI?
Latent semantic indexing is a mathematical method to determine the relationship between keywords and terms. In SEO world, this is commonly known as LSI in short.
These days, I don’t worry too much about LSI but focus on if my content fulfils the query of the user.
If you are worried, then sprinkle these LSI keywords like fairy dust in your post/ page.
Tracking and Optimizing Your On Page SEO Efforts
It’s one to apply on page SEO, but it’s another to measure your efforts.
How can you track your on page SEO efforts?
Using Google analytics, you can figure out what you are already ranking for. This can be done under the search engine user acquisition tab in Google analytics.
These aren’t set in stone but here are some metrics you can use to measure your on page SEO efforts:
- Click through rates can tell how compelling is your title and meta description is
The higher your click through rate, the better. It’s a no brainer.
- Bounce rate can be used as a rough measurement of the relevancy of the page’s content
Bounce rate is the rate at which someone leaves your page without clicking into another page. The lower the bounce rate the better.
- Time spent can be used as a rough measurement the quality of the page’s content
Google has confirmed that they use time spent on page as a ranking signal. The average time spent on page for a top 10 Google result is 3 minutes and 10 seconds. The average session duration shows the time spent on a page. The longer the better.
In modern day SEO, on page SEO is more about fulfilling to user query than keyword density.
Have you ever come across a site that you click through and it doesn’t fulfil your query? Yes, that’s an example of NOT fulfilling the user query.
Fulfilling the user query means crafting out content that answers the user query, and then optimizing that content for search engines: keyword research, including them in title tags, H2 headers and etc.