What You Really Need To Know About On Page SEO
Its that time of the year when all the SEO blogs come out with their SEO checklists and cheat-sheets for another year for On Page SEO, Backlinking strategies, seo tools, video seo, wordpress seo checklists and the list goes on.
Some do a complete revamp while others simply update their content and they produce something fresh to either help get us through the next 12 months or make sure they get traffic for the next 12 months.
So I decided to take a different approach to one of the most popular topics and thats on page SEO as it means something completely different to me now than it did just 3 or 4 years ago. Perhaps with changes to what Google wants and likes, or perhaps it's just growth and experience.
Either way its made for an interesting take on one of the most duplicated SEO topics around and we approach it with a fresh perspective and the aim of improving your content marketing SEO for longer than 12 months!
Lets Get Started With This Infographic and then I will expand on each point and add some videos under that to give you a better insight on how to rock your content with SEO best practices and some suggestions that i just know have never been taught anywhere else 🙂
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On Page SEO 2018 Introduction
Create A Compelling Title Tag With Your Main Keyword
SEO experts suggest that the keyword should be front loaded at the beginning of the title, which is fine, but only if it reads well.
Write for humans first and not for search engines.
Your title has a major impact on your CTR from the search engines which is a bigger ranking factor, so focus first on crafting your title for clicks by creating scarcity, curiosity or even controversy and fit your main keyword in there anywhere.
The Real Importance Of Title Tags For SEO In 2018
See My Title & Description Meta Tag Example In The Screenshot Below Using The Title Tag Preview & Google SERP Simulator Tool at http://www.seomofo.com/snippet-optimizer.html
Pro Tips: Using Brackets and Snippets Make Your Title and Description Stand Out and using list style posts with an odd number increases CTR too.
Here is a simple Blog Title Generator To Help With Great Title Tags
Use Modifiers In Your Title: People tend to use modifiers when doing a Google search like “best”, “offers”, “buy”, “cheap”, “review” and “reviews”, “2018”, “deals”, “guide”, and “compare” ...use modifiers in your title tag as it can also help boost your rankings for long tail variations that have better buyer or commercial intent.
Another awesome benefit is that searches performed with modifiers trigger featured snippets.
Here are some title tag modifiers grouped for you to refer back to to help your on page SEO with long tail keyword variations.
Informational Modifiers: Best, New, Top, Compare, Online, Review, Reviews, 2018
Commercial or Buyer Intent Modifiers: Buy, Affordable, Coupon, Deals, Price, Cost, Shop, Cheap, Free Shipping, Fast Delivery, Free Delivery, Used
Get My Full List Of Meta Title and Meta Description Modifiers (Including 67 Modifier Words & 70 Buyer Intent Phrases.)
Use Your Meta Description As Advertising Copy
Optimizing the meta description is a very important aspect of on-page SEO, the description meta tag snippet can now be up to 320 characters and this is shown on the search results, again you should add brackets, modifiers and main keyword using a long tail variation of the main keyword into your description.
Now that we have this extra character limit you need to be careful how you use it. Keep in mind that if you answer the search query in your description then people may not click on your link as they no longer have to, so use it to create curiosity or offer something that will cause people to want or need to click through to your content from the SERPS to get, and add some scarcity if you can too.
Try to make it compelling enough to encourage the click through by offering a solution to a problem and even mention a content upgrade such as cheat sheet or infographic.
Check adwords ads for ideas as the advertisers will have tested many variations of their copy for the best CTR as your description works in much the same way as advertising copy to entice people to click through from the search results.
Use LSI Keywords : here is a simple tool to help find LSI keywords for your main keyword
Your description can be up to 320 characters
Use the longer character limits to add more LSI keywords or words from related searches in the search results for your main keyword but ONLY if it fits in naturally and you have the same LSI synonyms in your content
Write your description for the reader and not for the search engines, the click through from the search engine results is by far a much more powerful ranking factor than a long tail keyword in your description
Make your description benefit driven to encourage CTR from SERPS
Entice the click by using curiosity, scarcity or a promise to deliver on a solution to a problem
Check out the adwords ads to see whats working for advertisers who are split testing their ads and they know what works best for CTR
Adding a Call To Action in your description will also increase the CTR, try offering an infographic, cheat sheet or a trial for example and this will help you stand out in the SERPS
Short URLs Are Better
Keep your urls short and include your main keyword. do not be tempted to keyword stuff the url.
If using an SEO plugin use the canonical url option, especially if you are going to save your article into more than one category, this will avoid duplicate content issues.
In your permalinks settings set it to /%postname%/ (See screenshot below from WordPress settings)
Pro Tip: This setting is available in most SEO plugins such as Yoast (see image below) and All In One SEO
Use A Full Width Featured Image (Or Video) At The Top Of The Page
Using a high quality image at the top of the page helps with setting the tone of your article early and can be used with text on the image as an opportunity to hook the reader.
Adding your main keyword here in the alt tag will appease the SEO plugins scoring but you can also save the jpeg file properties with the main keyword in the file name too.
It also helps space out between the heading and the article and gives an opportunity to use an H2 sub title effectively directly underneath.
The image can be used creatively for various purposes such as table of contents, a quote from the article, stats/data or even a quiz or a poll.
I personally keep it simple with the intention of making the post look nicer with a relevant full width image and using a sub title directly underneath in order to get my H2 tag into the sub title.
Map Out Your Content With H3 Sub Headings
Most experts will tell you to use h3 tags for sub headings including your main keywords and you can use multiple LSI variations if you have 2 or more sub headings, which is not wrong, but looking beyond that is an opportunity that is often overlooked...
Starting your article by writing your sub headings first allows us to do very effective content mapping! This is made really simple if you use a template and also guides you in creating a story too which people love!
If you subscribe to the email list from the optin box on this post you can download a super simple article skeleton that i use personally that automatically gets you writing with a story format and will help improve your bounce rate and dwell time.
Bonus: Copy and Save My Review Post Skeleton Template...
How H3 Tag Sub Headlines Improve Your Rankings
Create A Compelling Headline: Include a product name if you're doing a review post and to draw in the reader by using using a question. Include the word ‘review.’ Write the headline when you have discovered the pros and cons of the product you are promoting or after writing the first draft of the review.
Introduction: Build empathy with your audience – connect and engage with them by using a chatty tone. Identify with their problem or issue and talk about your experience with the same problem or issue.
Offer The Solution: Introduce the solution that the product provides, explaining its features "with" benefits but in a non salesman manner. You are helping them towards a buying decision and this can be made easier if you explain the benefit of each feature like this "Vid Attack Alpha searches For your content in the SERPS and then clicks through and views your video "so that" you take advantage of 2 major rankings factors for today by getting high CTR relevancy clicks as well as high retention video views."
Insert Testimonials or Results to Provide Social Proof: Using testimonials and real reviews from customers or users of a product or service can be a very effective way to increase conversions, but add your own commentary to offer even more value.
Provide Details Of A Bonus With Scarcity: The bonus /scarcity strategy is tried and tested and works today as well as ever and that will never change. Create your bonus around the product or service to add more value to it or by filling in the missing piece of the puzzle if possible.
Add Your call To Action: Keep it simple, tell them what to do and if offering a bonus tell them how to claim that bonus and remind them about the scarcity
Your First TWO Paragraphs Are Crucial!
Ok so lets get the seo part out of the way first...
Use your main keyword in the first paragraph and try to sprinkle to related search terms or LSI Keywords throughout the first couple of paragraphs for relevancy.
Also you should use the first 2 paragraphs to get your internal links in early as people are more inclined to click when they first arrive on a page.
More importantly however is the opportunity to hook the reader and as most top ranking content these days are long form epic style posts you need to use the beginning of your article to really grab attention.
This hook can be used effectively by creating the beginning of a story or getting people to agree to a statement that is relevant to your content or by promising or reinforcing the solution to a problem that led the reader to click onto your website.
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Track Relevancy In Real Time!
Pro Tip: Use a plugin called RelevancyRank available from http://ntopic.org to score your article as you are writing it, Use this after the first two paragraphs to make sure you have a high relevancy score at the beginning of the article and then recheck as you progress to keep you on track.
See the topical content optimization video on this post for more pro tips on relevancy and learn how to get google to optimize your content.
Below is a screenshot of the RelevancyRank plugin on one of my niche sites.
Remove the Guesswork By Curating Google
Wait What?...Yep by curating Google we can take a lot of guesswork out of what Google think is relevant and likes to offer its search audience.
Try doing a search in Google and look out for the snippets and also the section that says "people also ask" to discover what questions that are relevant to the search term that people are asking.
You can copy and paste the questions and the answers into your content and rewrite the answers with your own thoughts and voice and i doing so you are giving Google what it wants.
How To Curate Google For Better On Page SEO With Optimized Content
Simple Rules For Outbound Links
Linking out from your article to relevant and authority sites is a great way to align with top ranking and high traffic content. High traffic content can be achieved through social media too so look at buzzsumo as well as search results for content to link out to.
The simplest way to do this however is to curate, even if its just a sentence or two and you have a real reason to link out by giving credits to the post you took some content from.
Its ok to link out to a social media post, it doesn't always have to be a blog or article or news story and its ok too if you use no follow on all your links as Google do with YouTube and its not having any negative effect on YouTube videos ranking.
Bonus Tip: Do NOT link out using anchor text that's the same as your main targeted keywords but DO keep it relevant and on topic.
Curate from a relevant blog or news story,
include a social media post with high engagement and
Using no follow is fine but ONLY for external links and also by doing no-follow, then there are no limitations on how many outbound links we can use as long as the links are useful to the reader
If linking out to a competitor for the same keyword then use nofollow
Use Multi Media In Your Content
Multi media can be images, gifs. slides or videos etc. If you have a tool like screen recording tool like camtasia then adding a video to your post is easy to do and can be a summary of your post or a video expanding on a specific point from your post.
This can also help with increasing time spent on your content which is a ranking factor.
Try out this brilliant wordpress plugin that i found, it creates interactive Infographics and take about 15 minutes to create a great looking infographic that you can add to your blog.
A poll, quiz, slide or video can also be used to increase engagement and increase time on your content.
Pro Tip: You can rename file properties with your main keyword for videos, slides and images as well as adding main keyword to your Alt tag for images after adding to your post.
Encourage comments only if you are able or willing to keep an eye and respond and always encourage social sharing with prominent share buttons.
Use a Quality SEO Plugin
There are multiple SEO plugins to keep you on track with many on page seo basics. Yoast SEO Plugin is the most popular, SEO Presser is also good as well as "All in one SEO Pack" plugin if you want a simpler plugin. With "all in one SEO" there are extra features that can be installed if needed too in the settings.
Keep an eye out for future posts where i will provide import settings for Yoast and All In One SEO
Use a Responsive Theme or Template
Most people reading this will be using WordPress which has a plethora of great themes.
Having a mobile friendly site is made easier with modern themes but if you are stuck you can use a plugin like WP Touch which will make your site mobile friendly with a couple of clicks.
Sites that are not mobile friendly will have a significant SEO disadvantage but this is easy to fix and there is no reason any WordPress user should be stuck.
You can also speed up mobile load time by using the WordPress plugin AMP for WP, see the description below...
"AMP for WP automatically adds Accelerated Mobile Pages (Google AMP Project) functionality to your WordPress site. AMP makes your website faster for Mobile visitors."
Think of the user friendliness of your content from a readability point of view. Keep paragraphs short and easy to read, break up your content with images and line breaks and even an inline CTR or optin form.
Plugins like thrive architect (which i am using to format this post) make formatting and creating posts that are pleasing to the eye very easy to do.
Easy Content Formatting Tips For Better On Page SEO
Have a Remarketing Goal With Every Piece Of Content
Maybe we should have started with this but as its a post mainly about on page seo i decided to hold this back.
We work hard to get traffic from SEO and we should always have marketing elements in place to bring that traffic back so that we can grow our audience.
Basic things like "in-line calls to action" such as optin forms, content upgrades that require a social share to access and even re-targeting pixels and push notifications should be added to every piece of content that you create and publish.
Make this your main goal for all of your content so that you will not waste the traffic that you have generated to your website, and create the opportunity to bring them back via re-marketing via email, push notifications, low cost paid ads etc.
Length Of Content
Statistics show that longer content ranks better and its hard to argue with the stats and fasts from multiple studies done on this subject, but there are bloggers like Seth Godin for example that do short, interesting and thoughtful content expertly and drive huge traffic.
Do what you are best at, if its long form content then great, if its short interesting and engaging content then put more emphasis on the other elements mentioned here especially CTR from search engines and social engagement.
Sometimes less is more but it ALWAYS has to be high quality.
And see the quote below which is the size of a typical post on his blog 🙂
What’s it for?
A graph only exists to make a point. Its purpose is not to present all the information. Its purpose is not to be pretty.
Most of all, its purpose is not, “well, they told me I needed to put a graph here.”
The purpose of a graph is to get someone to say “a-ha” and to see something the way you do.
Begin there and work backwards.
Automate Branded Social Syndication
Branded social syndication is having a network of social profiles on the main social platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, Linkedin etc.
You can easily set up automated social syndication to these branded social accounts via plugins such as Miroblog poster and "revive old post" which will post your latest content and it will republish it too periodically to get more traffic and social signals.
You can also do this using ifttt.com by attaching your branded social accounts into your IFTTT account which means one less plugin is needed in your WordPress site.
If using IFTTT just set up to syndicate from your blog feed which if using WordPress will looking like this https://yourblog.com/feed
I will cover this in more detail in another post about blog promotion strategies after you have published your latest blog post. In the mean time here is a chrome extension version of an older blog promotion checklist that i did last year and that may help.
Page Load Time
This can be tricky for many people especially when using WordPress with so many great plugins available.
Use basics like a wp fast cache and wp smush or similar and add a CDN.
Your hosting is really important for speed too, if you are on a shared host then consider to move when you start to drive more traffic.
My recommended affordable hosting would be wpxhosting.com which is what i use for this blog.
If you need help to get your page load time down to under 2 seconds then check out fiverr.com for services to speed up your site but make sure the seller has some good reviews and feedback before hiring.
This fiverr.com seller has 1865 positive reviews and is rated 5 star with 1005 positive ratings, and his services cost anything between just $5.00 and $55.00 which is a fast, affordable and simple solution!
Get SSL Certificate for Your Website
Google has started to put “Not Secure” warnings on websites that don’t have SSL with an update last October that penalizes sites that don’t have something called an “SSL Certificate.”
In simple terms, an SSL certificate is what makes a website secure.
Google will prioritize sites that are secure and penalize those that aren't secure. Unsecured sites will also have the dreaded “Unsafe Website” Warning, so you are advised to get it fixed and fast.
Nobody wants their website to have this displayed when people try to visit.
This will be a mandatory requirement to avoid security warnings when people click through to your site.
There are easy solutions however and WPX hosting offers it free and i would imagine other hosting services are offering it to, check with your own hosting support team first.
Another great option is to use is WPGateWay which costs just $27.00 and allows you to install the certificate on one click with zero skills or knowledge needed.
Optimize For Featured Snippets
Adding a table of contents to your site can help as well as doing list style posts and also comparison tables.
There are plugins that can help with each to make them more attractive such as Thrive and there are free TOC plugins that you can add to either the top of the post or in the sidebar for each post.
If doing amazon affiliate sites i recommend checking out Traffic Scout Alpha as it creates content specifically optimized for featured snippets.
We are also about to start work on updates for our Optimization Alpha tool which i will include featured snippets and "people also ask" optimization features.
Many themes offer schema markup for reviews, author, news and more and there are multiple plugins to do the same if your theme doesn't have it. This also helps your content stand out in the search results and can help improve CTR.
Two themes i recommend are publisher theme and goodnews theme which i use on this blog but i recently discovered publisher theme and it is being tested on one of my niche sites, so far i prefer it over good news theme and may change over for this and my other main blogs soon too.
You can use the structured data testing tool once you have set up your schema markup.
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About the author
This blog is a journal documenting my thoughts, case studies, challenges and things i have learned, tweak and evolve on my internet marketing journey .