Disclaimer: This article is refreshed as of 18 April 2017 to provide our readers updated information about On-Page SEO Strategies.
Growing your business’s traffic and revenue will need some strategic planning, time and resources to move your business in the right direction. One of the most effective ways to boost organic traffic for your brand is through on-page SEO strategy.
On-page SEO strategy has changed considerably over the years. What might have worked in 2005, may be considered obsolete or a blackhat SEO technique today. Google changes its search engine algorithms every once in a while. This is to enhance user experience while providing quality results to millions of search queries from its users.
In today’s post, we will show you a list of on-page SEO strategies that you have probably used, but may still prove important and relevant for your on-page SEO strategy for 2016.
Content is one of the most important on-page SEO strategies
Always write with users in mind.
Search engines like Google and Bing use sophisticated ‘spiders’ or ‘crawlers’ that crawl the entire web for relevant links based on keywords used, but these automated bots can’t shop online, email customer support, or download an ebook.
Only humans can, so make sure that you generate web content targeting your end users. Of course, you still need to use keywords but it’s crucial NOT to overdo it. Keep it naturally readable for your readers.
Nothing beats quality content.
No matter how many times Google changes its algorithm or ranking factors, one thing that remains the same is the emphasis on quality content. Any type of digital optimization can be effective if it has unique and high-quality content front and center.
As with any content, whether offline or online, it has to be understandable and readable for readers to be able to engage with it and take action. Again, your content should be written for visitors, not search engines.
Start your strategy with a good keyword research
Lying at the heart of every on-page SEO strategy are keywords. Conducting a keyword research is still the most effective way to discover the best words or phrases that your prospect visitors or clients use to search for answers or relevant products and services.
For those on a tight budget, you can use free tools like Keyword Planner and Google Analytics and Google Search Console to find out the current keyword(s) that bring traffic to your site. With these free tools, you can find new keywords to target, get search volume data and ideas on how to plan your budget for Google ad campaign.
Target mid-tail and long-tail keywords
This is highly recommended for small or new websites because targeting competitive keywords will take years before you see any traction. It would be hard for you to rank for certain keywords when you’re competing against well-established companies that market the same products or services.
Instead, you can focus on more targeted mid-tail or long-tail keywords, which provides greater opportunity to target relevant traffic to your website.
These keywords may bring lesser monthly average search volume, but when users key in such keywords, your website stands a higher chance to compete against long-standing competitors and bring a more relatable traffic to your website. Refer to the following screenshot for a sample:
These keywords can be of mid to long tail variety–one that includes three or more words. Visitors who search using long tail keywords are usually looking for something specific and may already have narrowed down their search.
On the other hand, broad search terms may not convert well because searchers may still be researching and may not be sure on what they want.
Diversify with LSI keywords
Using focus keywords key phrases will ensure that your post is aligned with the topic. However, it’s best to ‘sprinkle’ your focus keyword throughout your content in different ways. You don’t want to be using the exact same keywords many times because that can wear out your readers if they see them over and over again.
In Google’s point of view, it will only make your content look more spammy and unnatural, which may lead to a dip in your search rankings.
Instead, you can use related or similar keywords known as LSI (Latent Semantic Index) keywords. So, let’s say your focus keyword is “lsi keywords”, then the LSI keywords can be any of the following:
- Google search – Just type your main keywords and it will automatically fetch LSI keywords related to that search term. It could be from the predictive search from the search bar as per the above screenshot, or at the end of the page.
- Google Keyword Planner – there’s plenty of keywords you can mine from this tool.
- LSI Graph – LSI Keyword Generator page
- SEOPressor – these is a premium WordPress plugin that can fetch LSI terms.
Optimize meta description tags
A meta description tag is a preview snippet below your search listing that briefly describes what your page is about. It is not considered a ranking factor but still plays an important role in increasing your click-through rate for organic search results.
As a best practice, make sure to include target keywords, words that can encourage people to click on your meta description. It’s best not to go over the 156-character limit so the text will not be truncated. Here’s an example of Vodien’s search listing in Google:
Optimize title tags
Considered as one of the critical on-page SEO strategy, title tags contain the title of a web page or post. It is commonly displayed on search engine results page (SERPs) as a preview. It is meant to provide a short and accurate description of what the content is about. To better optimize your title tags, here are some tips:
- Keep your title within the 50-60 characters limit so that it will show at least 95% of the title.
- Place target keywords near the start of the title tag to increase chances of searchers clicking on them.
- Add brand name at the end of the title tag to leverage awareness for your brand.
- Create a compelling and relevant title tag that pulls visitors to come click on your web page. It should invoke their emotions but do not mislead them.
Many people are not aware that H tags can optimize your keywords, but only when done strategically. Place your focus keyword in the H1 tag, of course it should blend well with the entire phrase for it to make sense to your readers.
Distribute the rest of these keywords in ascending H1 tags, H2, H3, and so on. These tags signify descending importance for each heading so think twice when using heading tags. Keep in mind to only use H1 tag ONCE while others can be used multiple times when needed.
Again, do not repeat your main keywords for each H tag, rather use its variations to reinforce the value of the content and break up blocks of texts to make it readable for the readers.
Here is a checklist to make your URLs more SEO-friendly:
- For better readability, use hyphens in separating words. Don’t use spaces, underscores or other characters to separate words. Hyphens are considered as space while underscores are not.
- It should not go beyond 2,048 characters since some browsers like Internet Explorer won’t load the web page.
- Keep URLs short, readable and descriptive as much as possible to give your visitors the idea on what to expect about the post or page. Instead of http://mywebsite.com/static/Browse/id57/12118889/ c_1/1%8Ccategory_root%8web+hosting%7C17749703.htm, you can make into something readable like this one: http://mywebsite.com/blogs/web-hosting-strategy.
NOTE: If you are using WordPress, you can easily change the URL structure for your website via the “Permalinks” settings. We recommend that you go with a URL structure that both your readers and Google can understand.
Don’t forget to optimize your image alt text
Google places high value on alt texts because it provides them useful information about the topic surrounding the image. It helps them to provide the best image results based on a searcher’s query.
Aside from the fact that strengthening your alt attributes will increase visibility for your website. So, make it a habit to have an alt text for every image of your content. Make sure to insert your focus keywords in the alt text of your images for search engines to crawl it.
Insert keywords on your image’s file name
Instead of uploading generic image file names like DCMIMAGE25.jpg, it’s better to name it with keywords inside. An example is web-hosting-tools.jpg if your image is about web hosting tools. Again, always remember to put alt and title tags for your images to increase your on-page SEO and get your images to rank higher.
- When choosing a theme for your website, make sure that it is search engine-optimized. It should not have any coding errors, put extra load on search engine bots, add extra loading time, among other things. For WordPress users, there are several SEO-friendly themes you can choose from.
- Also, the theme should be ‘mobile-friendly’, or responsive. Google place a high importance on such factors and it will definitely affect your search engine rankings, as well.
- Google has made it clear that site speed is one of the important factors to consider for search rankings. Check out this article we wrote on ways you can speed up your website.
- To make online access more secure against hacking, Google emphasized the importance of using HTTPs over HTTP. An HTTPs website encrypts the visitors’ access to the website so it minimizes the chances of it being hacked. If you have a website that stores customer’s information or purchase information, then it’s best to invest in SSL certificate.
To give your site a much-needed SEO boost, we recommend the free SEO plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast. It is by far one of the best WordPress plugins because it offers a complete on-site search engine optimization. This plugin allows you to customize your SEO title, meta description, h1 tags and other elements to each posts or pages on your website.
- Create a sitemap for your website. Sitemaps tell search engines all the pages listed on your website and index these pages more efficiently. Setting up a sitemap is fairly easy. If you have a WordPress website, you can install Google XML Sitemaps or SEO by Yoast plugins to automatically generate an XML sitemap. Another good plugin for sitemap generation. Then submit your sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools to show if pages are indexed, errors and other site stats.
Create Compelling Content with Your On-Page SEO Strategy
Even if you have awesome products and fantastic content to boot, your chances of dominating the search results will be very slim if you don’t market it well.
Most brands make the mistake of ignoring the basics of on-page SEO strategy and go straight at doing exchanging links as their primary aim.
Keep in mind, SEO continues to evolve as time goes by, but this brief guide will provide you with an essential guide to ensure that you can propel your business to the top of search rankings and even eclipse your competitors on the SERPs.