A strong SEO foundation is essential for first page search engine rankings. The great thing about on-page content optimization is that you are in control. With most content management systems, you can easily implement the 12 on-page optimization tips listed in this article.
What is on page search engine optimization?
Optimization involves a number of considerations and techniques. Some are ‘proven’ basics that will enhance rankings and there are some newer aspects to consider. I’ll break these down into 2 areas:
- SEO Fundamentals
- The NEW SEO
The fundamentals are just that. They are the techniques that we know work and should be baked into your content marketing system. They are steps in the process of good optimization. Many webmasters wonder if spending the time, trouble, effort, along with resources is really worth it. Let’s start with talking about the elements of SEO fundamentals.
Want to learn more on this topic? Join our webinar Thursday, July 21st with Mike to dive into how to proactively improve your SEO to avoid common problems. Register here!
What is a first page search result worth?
There is a direct correlation between ranking on page one of the search engines and traffic to your site. If organic traffic is important to you, content optimization should be a top priority. Optimization improves rankings and drives more traffic.
To determine the value of organic traffic, you can do the math based on what paid ads will cost indexed against the clicks you get from organic traffic from your top keyword phrase. You can even take that a step further and determine what sales you made from the organic clicks.
For example, if it costs $1.50/click using Adwords for your keyword phrase, then 1,000 organic clicks have a value of $1,500. So, rather than paying another $1,500 for clicks, the organic links are ‘free.’ Imagine if you had 10, 100, or even 1,000 keywords ranking on page one of the search engine results. What those clicks would be worth?
If you want to learn more about how to calculate the value of organic traffic, check out Clay Cazier’s post that includes a detailed walk through. The key is: organic traffic should (and can) drive sales.
What are SEO Fundamentals?
There are a number of on-page optimization techniques you should perform for every piece of content you publish. We oftentimes find these things are not completed, even though they are simple to do and don’t take much time. The key is to make them part of your system so they become a best practice.
These tags are in the code behind your page. These tags help the search engines better understand what your page is about.
This is one area that comes under constant dispute. Should you write a title that will draw your audience in or should you write a title for the search engines? The answer is neither. You should write a title that you know your potential customers are searching for. Do the research and write a title that people are already searching.
Your customers are looking for answers and learning more about how services and products will solve their problems, and the search engines want to provide them with the best answer.
We use a number of tools to help us understand what people are searching for and then we write titles around those searches. For example, using Google Suggest with the search auto-complete, we often find great titles. We’ll take it a step further and use a tool like Answer The Public, which will create a data list of keywords and questions that can be turned into headlines. The tool creates an interesting visual and the data can be exported.
Here are 5 tips on creating great titles from Zack Jones at Vertical Measures from his post, Why the Title of Your Content Is Everything:
- Brainstorm in a group
- Optimize content titles for search intent
- Use tools to generate content and title ideas (see above)
- Answer questions
- Be the authority and show your passion
If you want even more information on title tags, check out: http://searchengineland.com/nine-best-practices-for-optimized-title-tags-111979
Search engines still consider these tags as important elements of a page. If used properly, they can be effective in improving your rankings. The biggest mistake webmasters make is writing long H1 tags and not including relevant keywords.
Stay focused with your H1 tags. They should reflect the main purpose and focus of your article.
Example: Poor H1 tag:
“Check out this awesome blog post with SEO suggestions on improving your site.”
Example: Good H1 tag:
“The Top 5 Content SEO Optimization Best Practices.”
Think about what the user is trying to accomplish with their search, and build content around that intent. Your sub headers should help you organize your post into ‘chunks of content’ that help break up the post and make it look less like homework, while allowing for the reader to quickly scan for the information they need.
With that in mind, we often go back and review our content and freshen it. One such post was about the cost of content marketing. We researched what people were trying to learn about costs associated with content marketing and came up with a number of questions that were being searched.
When we updated the content about a year after it was originally published, we incorporated these questions into the sub-headers in the content. Right now, the article ranks #1 in Google for the exact title and check out (below) the rankings for the sub-headers in the article.
|How Much Does Real Content Marketing Cost? (title)||1|
|How much does content research cost?||1|
|How much does a content strategy cost?||1|
|How much does content development cost?||12|
|How much does content optimization cost?||9|
|How much does a content promotion cost?||1|
|How much for content marketing education and workshops?||1|
Many webmasters miss this opportunity because they’re in a hurry to publish and don’t take that extra 5 minutes to optimize their images, videos and graphics. Here are four things you can do to optimize your images.
- Image name: Don’t use the default name from your camera like 2342dsn.jpg. Change the name to something that relates to the image and the content. This allows the search engines to better understand the image and how it relates to the surrounding text.
Example: Non Optimized – DL00213.jpg,
Example Optimized – animas-river-sunset-by-andy-barbour.jpg
- Alt text: Give a short description of the image or graphic, which again should include keywords and what the image is about, and be in line with the context of the article.
- Image Title: You can also give your image a title. This is what you see when you roll your mouse over the image and it’s just one more thing you can do for optimization. Use keywords in the title.
- Image compression: Don’t use full file size images. Compress your images so they’ll load faster.
You can use the above techniques for images, graphics and in similar ways, video.
You’ve already done all the hard work optimizing your page and getting it to rank. So don’t forget to optimize meta descriptions to get searchers to click on your listing. The meta description is what the searcher sees when they’re on the search engine listing page while their trying to decide what listing to click on. If you don’t include a meta description, the search engine will pick one for you based on the content of the page. It’s better to be in control of that by writing a good one.
A good meta description can make the difference of the searcher clicking on your link or a competitor.
Avoid using URLs that don’t represent what the post is about. For example, many content management systems will create non-search friendly URLs by default.
- Non-search engine friendly URL – http://www.mywebsitename.com/?p=54382
- SEO-Friendly URL – http://www.mywebsitename.com/how-to-optimize-your-content/
Create URLs that include keywords, mirror your title and are user-friendly. These user-friendly URLs are called semantic URLs and are meaningful to both the user and search engines.
The NEW SEO
Now that you know the basic SEO fundamentals that have been around for years, let’s dive into the present state of SEO as well as where it’s headed in the future.
SEO is constantly evolving. The above techniques have been around as long as there have been SEOs. In the last couple years, there has been a dramatic shift from desktop to mobile devices when accessing the Internet, so algorithm updates are focusing more and more on the mobile user experience. The following SEO techniques will help with your mobile rankings while also improving your desktop positions as well.
In addition, focusing on single keywords and simple phrases is no longer necessary. The search engines are smart enough to know what your content is about, so moving forward you should be implementing a broader approach to targeting keywords.
A Semantic Keyword Approach
While keyword research is still very important, developing a more holistic approach is now necessary. Google is considering user intent in search queries. Rather than focusing solely on a particular keyword or keyword phrase in a one-to-one relationship, consider developing content themes and topics. Here is what a few experts have to say on the topic: