While the latest SEO tactic for off-page search engine optimization will usually fizzle out with each change or overhaul to the search algorithms underlying the Google, Yahoo, and Bing platforms, on-page optimization remains the foundation that the rest of your search engine optimization needs to be built on.
Capable of providing you with incredible search engine ranking growth over time, on-page optimization – if done right – is a game changer in today’s hyper-competitive business environment.
By the time you’re done reading this, you will have the knowledge to outsmart your competitors that continue with off-page, flavor of the month SEO approaches.
Content is King
Search engine networks main priority is users to be happy with the results of their search.
That’s it, end of story.
Each change a search engine like Google makes is done to improve the search results that they share with their users. These changes encourage them to come back to Google each time they need answers. Google uses many different metrics to understand the quality of the results that they share with their users. The quality of your content – and the length of engagement that Google users have with your content – carries a lot of weight.
The backbone of a successful business today is top notch content. This content that isn’t going to act as filler on your website, but instead acts as a business and traffic generator.
As a general rule, you are going to want the content you create to be:
- Laser targeted to the needs and interests of your target market
- Fully worked out and easily consumed by your market
- Fully worked out and easily consumed by your market
- Content that users want to share and can share with ease
… But there’s more!
It’s a good idea to watch what your competition is posting and what topics are trending in your target market. Doing this will give you a good idea of what your market is looking for such as content topics, questions, or general information they are looking for.
Of course, it’s important that you utilize your content to improve your search engine rankings and drive traffic as well.
Content marketing and on-page optimization go hand-in-hand with one another when you sprinkle longtail keywords into your content. Longtail keywords give you an opportunity to generate a lot more traffic in a lower competitive keyword space – giving you another advantage.
For example, say you sell fly fishing rods.
You’d want to include longtail keywords like “picking out the right fly fishing rod” or “matching the hatch on the Madison River”, rather than flooding your content with short tail keywords such as “fly fishing” or “trout”.
This kind of approach cuts down on keyword stuffing – something that all of the major search engines will punish you for – while also giving you a chance to own the top results for less competitive longtail keywords.
Of course, you’ll need to make sure that your content flows well, is structured correctly, and is created most importantly for the user. Only then should you go back in and tinker with your content to make it more appealing to those search engine rankings spiders.
Anchor text almost always underlined in blue and acting as a “hot link” is a crucial thing to get right when it comes to on-page optimization.
Search engines will not only focus on the anchor text of your off-page optimization but the anchor text you include on internal and external links on your own pages as well.
In fact, Google tells you that you should be smart with how you use your anchor text to improve your rankings and that you should: “…make sure that the anchor text you use within your own site is useful, descriptive and relevant”.
The best way to optimize your anchor text is to make sure that it is short and succinct, laser targeted, and relevant to the content that it is being used to link and that you don’t go overboard with keyword stuffing.
The importance of describing your link succinctly is that it provides your link description a lot of relevancy, which is one of the key metrics for improving your search engine rankings. Relevancy of both your anchor text in the link itself will provide you with a lot of “link juice”, increasing your rankings once the search engine spiders combo your site.
Again, however, it’s critical that you don’t flood your site with overly optimized anchor text. Search engine networks will punish those that over-stuff their keywords, and you don’t ever want to find your site shuffled to the back of the “Google sandbox” because you went a little heavy-handed with the anchor text keywords.
Mobile Friendly and Responsiveness
Is your website mobile ready this moment? If no, then this needs to be one of the highest priorities on your list of on-page optimization changes. 80% of all internet users own a smartphone, 48% of consumers start mobile research with a search engine, and 33% of them go directly to the mobile site they are looking for. On top of that, internet users spend 70% of their time consuming media on their smartphones and Google, Yahoo, and Bing are responsible for driving 99% of all mobile search engine traffic.
Of course, you also want to rollout mobile-ready websites because that’s today’s standard. Google has been punishing websites that do not have a mobile-ready version and that arents using responsive design since 2015. Mobile friendly websites will have designs and user interfaces that scale effortlessly depending on the size of the screen that they are being displayed on. On top of that, the media, images, and even the structure of the content shared on these pages will scale automatically as well – a huge reason to push towards responsive design or a mobile-only version of your site that is served whenever a mobile user accesses your pages. Some of the common mistakes people make with designs that are anything but mobile friendly are:
- Websites that have design elements that scale, but content that does not
- Websites that have design elements that scale but content that does
- Websites not optimized to be navigated with touchscreen or compact devices
- Websites that do not load fast enough on mobile internet networks
It’s important that you correct those common mistakes as quickly as possible, but that you move towards responsive design completely (if possible) – or at the very least get a mobile ready website hosted on your server as a stopgap kind of solution.
Once your website is mobile ready, you want to consider moving towards a “mobile first indexing” phase of your on-page optimization. This compels your search engine robot visitors to index your mobile site first, indexing your fastest loading and best – optimized website before indexing your nonmobile website. This should give you a lift in the search engine rankings for sure!
APage Aesthetics for 2018t the beginning of this guide, we highlighted how important it is that you optimize your site for your human visitors.
Page aesthetics (the overall look, feel, and design of your website) is going to have a huge impact on the usability of your site, the engagement of your visitors and how long they stay on your page. This is because sites that are visually appealing are often visited more frequently, or seen as more trustworthy and authoritative.
As a general rule, you’ll want to make sure that you are polishing your website by:
- Decluttering your site of elements that detract from the overall look and feel
- Clearly delineating your navigational elements
- Putting your most important and engaging content up front and center
- Streamlining your content so that your page loads fast
- Designing your site based on what your customer’s interests
More modern and minimalist style websites are incredibly popular, and there is a good reason for it. They strip out a lot of the clutter that can get in the way of an otherwise beautiful design, but the content and experience visitors have up front and help to streamline the loading and optimization of these pages from an “under the hood” kind of standpoint.
The web is a more visual place than ever, and it’s vital that you take advantage of the visual nature of the internet today without bogging down your website with “heavy” content that slows it down and destroys the experience for your visitors.
On top of that, with proper image optimization, you will be able to squeeze a bit of extra juice out of your site and skyrocket your rankings. First, you want to use original and high-quality images. Google and the other major search engines are getting better by the day at recognizing quality original images on your site. The more you use high-quality images, the better your rankings will be.
Poor image optimization – images that aren’t original, aren’t high quality, haven’t been optimized, and do not include smart image file names and alternative text – will hurt your on-page optimization. You’ll lose quite a bit of SEO leverage here, and that’s not something you can afford in the hyper-competitive business environment that exists online today. Descriptive image names are going to be way better for your search engine optimization than the “stock filename” attached to those images. Change the name of the file to something that the search engine will be able to recognize, rank, and serve up when searched and you’ll see your results bump up almost immediately.
Alt text that has been search engine optimized is as important today as it was 10 or 20 years ago when websites had a much less reliable time serving images with any real consistency. The alt text that you use should be in line with the filename you have created, describing the image so that if it doesn’t show up on the site your views would understand what that empty space would have contained – but also to help your search engine spiders understand your image content and help to rank your site relevantly as well.
Sizing your image correctly is going to take a bit of doing, as each image is going to be an entirely different animal in and of itself.
There are a lot of tools and software that can help you to optimize your image content without degrading the quality of the file itself, and some of the popular CMS platforms (like WordPress, for example) include these kinds of tools – alongside renamer and alt text – to help systemize and streamline this grunt work. These tools will go a long way towards improving the performance of your website from a business standpoint, but will also help your search engine rankings from an on-page optimization standpoint
Wrapping Things Up
When it comes down to it, your on-page optimization efforts should be as important as your off-page optimization. On-page optimization principles haven’t changed in a long time, whereas off-page search engine optimization tactics change on an almost daily basis. What works in off-page optimization today likely won’t work tomorrow and if proper on-page optimization isn’t acting as your foundation, you won’t ever see the top of Page One.
It’s essential that you prioritize on-page optimization. You’ll want to make sure that you are optimizing pages as you create them. That every new piece of content you add has been created for humans first and search spiders second. Make sure you are ready to rock and roll as the new “mobile web” generation takes hold.
Focus on the fundamentals described above, and you’ll have no trouble whatsoever knocking things out of the park! You will find yourself enjoying the kind of long-lasting, stable, and reliable search rankings you deserve!
On-page optimization might not be the fast road to search engine ranking success, but it’s proven to be THE road to search engine ranking success.