This is a simple fast track guide to making sure your on page SEO techniques are up to speed for 2017.
SEO can do amazing things to your bottom line, however, one of the most overlooked areas of optimizing your website is on page SEO. On page SEO accounts for about 70% of the reason why you rank well, while backlink signals account for about 30%. Having a perfectly optimized page will impact your rankings in a big way.
Let's Define It
Here’s a simple definition of what on page SEO is: On-page is how you structure your keywords on your website to give high relevancy signals to Google for the keyword theme you are going after.
Why On-page is Important
I understand this is difficult stuff to execute on. It’s difficult to find the time in the day to stay on top of every proper on-page SEO optimization step. I’ve seen so many SEO’s and marketing managers make costly mistakes by using outdated methods of on-page SEO (or by using none at all), but don’t worry –I’m going to help you be successful.
Optimizing your website is not merely about the amount of keywords on a page, or even how much you delight people with your content. Great on-page is a mixture of building an understanding of the pain your customers are trying to solve, and doing keyword research with tools like SEMRUSH and “Google Suggest” to reverse engineer the exact keywords your customers are using. Then, write an amazing article that resonates with your customer.
Let's Get to the Good Stuff
Ok, so now you know a little bit of the reason why we need to do great on-page SEO. In this SEO cheat sheet, I’m going to give you a tutorial on exactly what you need to do to make your website rank above your competition, so you can start getting more wins for your bottom line.
Oh, and hang in there, because at the end of my article you can download my super duper easy visual at the bottom and post it on your wall for yourself or for your internal team to use for reference (I like visuals too).
First, Optimize for Speed
Your website should load in under 3 seconds. A recent study found that 47% of users expect your page to load in under two seconds, while about 60% of your users expect your page to load in under 3 seconds.
Great load times make users browse more pages, which provides better engagement signals to Google. It also allows Google to index more of your pages, giving you better relevancy scores.
- Use a great content management system like WordPress
- Use a safe & secure host like WPengine
- Use a CDN and caching
- Optimize your images with WP Smush.it
- Optimize your database with WP Optimize
- Disable hotlinking of your images in pages & posts
- Speed up page loads with Lazy Load WP
- Delete old post revisions with WP Revision Control
- Turn off pingbacks & trackbacks
- Avoid other unnecessary WordPress plugins that bloat your website
- Check your load times with GTmetrix
Here’s a snapshot of what one of our client’s rankings did when we increased site speed:
Fannit provides WPEngine hosting as part of our local marketing packages. This allows us to stay focused on driving leads to our clients because we don’t have to worry about slow load times or hacked WordPress sites.
Second, Optimize Your Page with Perfect Keyword Density
First, meta tags are located within the data that google sees behind your website when you right click and say “view source” on your browser. They are also the most important relevancy signals that you can manipulate to help Google rank you higher.
Remember, Google reads every page left, right, top, bottom. Here’s how you should add keyword density on your website in order:
- Title Tag: This shows the title of your website on the search engine results page (SERPS). Your title needs to be between 50-60 characters long and should be focused on the keywords you’re trying to rank for on that page. Never use duplicate title tags on your website. This will cause a devaluation of your content and will make it harder for you to rank. Be sure to start your title with your keyword (Google reads left to right).
- Meta Description: This is the little area below your title in the SERPS that should be no more than 160 words for best user readability. Technically, your title and description will not be penalized if they are over the allowed limit (which may allow you to place more keywords within reason), but having too long of a title or description will sometimes make it difficult for the user to understand the value you’re giving them for that page or blog post (so use discretion). It’s important to also not have duplicate descriptions.
- URL: Your URL should be short and concise and include the main keyword theme you’re going after.
- H1: The most important heading that Google looks at. Often, WordPress will duplicate your title tag and also make it the H1, however, you can manipulate this to make each one unique so you can go after even more keywords and user engagement (adding title modifiers) with the SEO plugin by Yoast.
- H2: The second most important heading. Be sure to use a variant of your keyword theme in your H2. While you can only have one H1 per page, you can have multiple H2’s per page.
- Alt Text in a Dazzling Photo: A great place to wow your readers and also put another variant of your keyword in, especially if it’s difficult to place your keyword in the text of your article.
- Paragraph Text: This is the main text you will use to write your article. You need to have a variant of your keyword theme about every 100 words. This is called latent semantic indexing.
- Use Outbound Links and Internal Links: Be sure to link to relevant content. This will boost your relevancy scores and help you beat out your competition.
Here’s a little visual to help you out:
Third, Start Publishing Content that Solves Your Customer's Pain (browse, compare, buy)
81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases.
Begin with your customers buyer’s journey in mind. First, they are trying to gather information, next they are comparing options, and finally, they are looking to buy.
If you're a local service company, you’re buyer's journey often looks like this:
- My water tank just broke and I need a plumber (awareness of pain).
- I’m searching Google for the most reputable plumber (consideration).
- I’ve found the best plumber and now I’m ready to convert (decision).
If you’re in a business with a longer sales cycle and high average sales price like manufacturing, your buyer's journey probably looks more like this:
- I just won this contract for Designing Architectural panels and need someone to manufacture these parts (awareness)
- I’m going to google to see who has experience with this type of work (consideration which requires more education then the plumber)
- I’ve been educated by an expert and feel comfortable about making the call to work with them (decision).
The most important thing you need to do is to make sure you’re solving the pain problem of your customer from their perspective.
So, here’s a quick list of things you can do to optimize your content:
Optimize content with user intent in mind
- Make sure your website is easy to use and has a polished looking design
- Produce high quality content that’s as long as 2000 words for highly competitive topics and as low as 500 words for low competition topics. Here’s a snapshot of one of our client’s sites whose rankings changed when they started writing 2000+ word articles in a highly competitive niche
- Make sure to publish fresh content often and be consistent (once a week or more).
- Stay away from duplicate content. In most cases duplicate content is not acceptable in written form. Duplicate content with added value can be acceptable, but be sure to reference the original author.
- Stay trendy with your content. Keeping on top of the latest news will help your site get indexed more often. This type of content is easy to update and helps your readers stay on top of the latest changes happening in your niche.
Fourth, Automate Your Content Writing System
72% of marketers say relevant content creation was the most effective SEO tactic they practice. You’ve got to systemize your writing system. You’ll need a process similar to the following to consistently get fresh content on your blog or pages every week:
- Research - Figure out the persona and keywords you’re writing for
- Writing - Have your team of writers write from your persona and keywords
- Proofing - Edit the content for grammar and proper on-page SEO
- Posting - Post the content to your website
- Promotion - Promote your content via the proper social channels
- Analyze - Gather data on how your content did so you can do better next time
If you’re stumped on what to write, try Hubspot’s nifty blog title generator. You should have a really solid idea of what to write though if you’ve done the proper research in step one.
Fifth, Make Sure Google Can Easily Crawl Your Website
Nothing is worse than a website that’s set to noindex. That little check mark in WordPress that says to discourage search engines from indexing your site should not be checked if you want Google to rank your website.
A 404 error is basically a dead page link. If a Google spider crawls your website and hits a 404 dead page, it’s going to stop crawling your website all together, which is going to put a huge kink in the indexing process of your website.
Finally, Your Web Presence Must Be Mobile-Friendly
65% of smartphone users agree that when conducting a search on their smartphones, they look for the most relevant information regardless of the company providing the information.
Check to see if your website is mobile friendly with Google here. If you’re not mobile friendly then you’re killing your conversion rates with mobile traffic. You must have a responsive website design.
Seventy-eight percent of local-mobile searches result in offline purchases. On average we see 50% of our clients traffic comes from mobile devices. Of the entire amount of leads our local service clients receive, only 40% are even visiting the website.
Most local service leads come from people looking at their reputation on their phone in the Google map listing and then clicking the “Call” button.
Here’s a look at one of our clients mobile friendly map listing:
You have to be mobile optimized with both your website and your local Google My Business listing or you're losing out on about half the conversions you could be getting.
Let’s Bring This Home
Carefully crafted buyer's journey content, mixed with the other great on-page SEO tactics I mentioned before, can do amazing things to your bottom line.
If you don’t slow down and make sure you’re really writing great content, content that is solving your customer’s pain from their perspective with great on page SEO, you’re just placing words on a page that will not affect your bottom line.
Happy content crafting! Also, make it easier for you and your team to remember on-page SEO by downloading my infographic below! Print it out, and post it as a reminder to everyone.