Below are the main factors I try to pay attention to when focusing on-page SEO.
In a near future article I will go over internal linking and its importance. This guide is based on my years in the SEO industry.
And after consulting with my peers, I found that these factors still hold true today.
Page speed is a critical issue. Google has made a clear effort to focus on “mobile friendly” content.
And remember, Google has always put user experience at the forefront of its model.
This is because, if users have a bad experience then they may use another platform to find what they are looking for.
So for Google, and other search engines such as Bing, a page that loads too slow deteriorates the user experience and hence will be demoted to lower positions in search.
Back in the day people would create keyword rich URLs. This created a very long URL, which would be hard to remember, and look horrible.
This would equate to keyword stuffing, and Google didn’t like it. Remember, Google likes user friendly stuff.
Back in 2016, John Mueller (Google Senior Webmaster Trend Analyst) said this:
“What definitely plays a roll here is when we have two URLs that have the same content, and we try to pick one to show in the search results, i’ll pick the short one. So that is specifically around canonicalization.
It doesn’t mean it is a ranking factor, but it means if we have two URLs and one is really short and sweet and this other one has this long parameter attached to it and we know they show exactly the same content we will try to pick the shorter one.
There are lots of exceptions there, different factors that come into play, but everything else being equal – you have a shorter one and a longer one, we will try to pick the shorter one.”
Your title tag is the title of your page. It’s what displays in search results.
It’s also what bots read to help figure out what your page is about. More importantly it’s what tells users what your page is about.
Try to create title tags that accurately reflect your content, but also includes the main keyword you’re trying to rank for. This can help with click through, and will help to prevent bounces.
Meta description gives greater detail about what your page is about.
It definitely helps with click through, and can also encourage a user to click your link before clicking the one that ranks above you.
But other platforms use this description too, such as social media sites. If someone shares your link, they can extract the metadata and display it along with your Title Tag.
Again, this helps click through and bounces.
Studies on the use of header tags such as H1, H2, H3, H4 go back to the beginning of SEO.
One of the most common elements of similar content that ranks is the use of Header Tags. Header tags are used to help point out what content is about.
It can help draw the reader down the page, which creates engagement, and also tell search engine crawlers what the main topics and concepts of your content is.
While there may not be direct evidence that bolding and underlining terms, phrases and words is a ranking factor, it does point out to a search crawler trying to understand your content, that these words are special.
Many SEOs like to make sure they have a certain amount of keywords repeating throughout their article.
This can throw off the quality of your writing though, and readers may just leave if your content doesn’t make sense.
So start by writing for your reader first, then tweak after where it makes sense.
When determining word count, many SEOs look at what Google is ranking at the top. Much of the time, each url that ranks top 5 have a minimum word count.
For example, if the top 5 articles that rank for a search term all have a minimum of 2,000 words, then maybe you should too.
So if you ask a general question like, “how long should my article be?” the answer would be, “it depends on your niche”.
“LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing) are basically keywords that are semantically related to your primary keyword. Contrary to popular belief, they are NOT just synonym or keywords that are similar in meaning.”
If you have used Google Adwords lately you may have noticed that Google is now combining related terms.
So let’s say you are going for an Exact Match term, google will also show your ad for “near match terms” making it a bit more broad.
This is because Google is attempting to interpret intent vs being just keyword based.
However, using variations of your main search phrase throughout your article can help a search crawler determine what your content is about.
And could help you show up for long tail keywords you may have overlooked.
Structured data helps a crawler quickly determine what your content is about. It can also use this data to display your content a certain way.
It can help display business NAP (name, address, phone) along with business hours properly. Below are some examples of how structured data is used.
Structured data is commonly referred to as Schema.
Structured data can become get very complicated. But at the very least you can create your own schema to display basic information about your business.
Semantic Mastery provides a free schema markup tool on its Serp Space platform here (just sign up for a free account): https://www.serpspace.com/tools/structured-data-generator
You can also test your markup with Google’ structured data testing tool here:
OBLs are outbound links from your page.
There are many, many studies involving if a OBLs, and most say it is a ranking factor. I personally have noticed a difference when including OBLs.
Let’s say I am writing an article about dogs, and I discuss hip problems with certain breeds. I may choose to link out to American Kennel Club (AKC) for clarity on certain topics.
And because AKC is considered an authority, google will know exactly who they are and add more meaning to my content.
Just don’t pass your juice to a competitor…
This goes along with page speed. Large images can slow the load time of your page. Search crawlers can see how big images are and may opt to serve up something smaller, especially on mobile.
Engagement has become increasingly important.
Even if you don’t install Search Console Tools or Google Analytics on your page, there’s a good chance Google is still tracking the user.
If someone visits your page from a search result and clicks the back button, Google may interpret that as “the user didn’t find what they were looking for”… And rank another url above yours!
Try to include something that encourages the reader to take action, such as a share, like, or video.
Use call to actions to get users to interact.
We have noticed a big difference when interlinking between pages on a website. Use LSI/Match Term variations in your internal anchors.
This seems to help tell the search crawler that you want that page to rank for those terms and concepts.
Another important aspect of your internal link structure is telling the search crawler how to crawl your website.
The image below represents the internal link structure of a website.
Notice how the most important pages have more internal links going to them.
The smaller circles represent pages that link to the page, the bigger circles mean more internal links are pointing to that page.
A crawler will believe the big circles are more important.
And when linking to the main pages, use variations of the main keywords and phrases you want to rank the main article for.
The small circles would be considered “supporting articles”.
Always fix broken links, and watch for internal linking errors that could send the crawler in circles.
Keep this in mind. Each website is assigned a “crawl budget” meaning how much time a crawler will spend on your website.
The allotment of time most likely depends on site authority. So make the best of your crawl budget. Slow loading pages can affect this too.
In a previous edition of Power of Marketing we went over backlinks in the article titles SEO for NON-SEOs. Combining the concepts covered in this article and the previous one should set you on the path to ranking your own material.
In an upcoming articles we will cover how social media traffic can increase engagement on your content.
The Power of Marketing is a project by Hernan Vazquez Media, LLC. www.hernanvazquez.com. This initiative is to help small business owners, entrepreneurs and agencies learn tips, tricks, techniques and methods in regards to Digital Marketing and Marking in general.
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