10 On-Page Optimization Tactics You (Probably) Don’t Know
SEO is all about testing.
It’s about making a conclusion on what works and what doesn’t.
In my experiment as an SEO, I have discovered that a significant change can be effected in ranking when on-page optimization is properly done.
If you get your optimization right, you will spend less on link building, and significantly lower the probability of getting hit during periodical algorithm updates.
The truth, however, is that; most bloggers and marketers are stuck in the early 2000’s idea of page optimization. As a matter of fact, most of the SEO plugins that were popular back then are yet to evolve to suit the current situation of things.
Back in the days (late 1999-2004+) you don’t have to bother about algorithms because they were very primitive. As long as your page has the keyword splashed all over it, you would easily rank for the keyword.
The image below is a typical example of what “page optimization” was back then.
You guessed right…
The author was trying to rank for a particular weight loss program that has “lazy way” in its name. In the article, he used the phrase “lazy way” sixty-two (62) times all over the page. And ‘lose weight’ appeared, approximately thirty (30) times.
The truth is; if you try to pull stuff like this in 2018, your page would never see nor smell page one on Google.
This is exactly why most people don’t go beyond page two or three, no matter how hard they try. Their on-page optimization simply sucks! And fixing it requires a broad knowledge of what is wrong and how it can be corrected.
By the time you’re done reading this article, you should be able to diagnose a page with on-page SEO issues and give a precise instruction on what needs to be done to fix such page.
Tactics #1: Your Page Title Still Matters
A page title serves two purposes; it tells the search engine algorithm what your page is mainly about, and also clearly inform the searcher what to expect as contents of the page. Truth is, at a certain point, one purpose is more important than the other.
When your article is on page two, and your main source of traffic is the search engine, then the search engine algorithm purpose is more important than the searcher purpose.
But when you have your page on #1 to #5 of page one, then you must focus on the searcher purpose while crafting your page title, because it will greatly influence your CTR (Click Through Rate) from the search page to your site.
When trying to rank for a particular keyword, it is important to put the keyword in your page title. Usually, your page title represents the H1 (heading) of the page, which implies that it is the most important word on the page.
A quick search for the keyword “on-page optimization” on Google returned the screenshot you saw just now.
I have highlighted the appearance of the keyword being targeted to show that each of the pages has the keyword in it’s heading.
Whatever you do, it is imperative that you use your targeted keyword in your page title. There is an issue about targeting long tail keywords.
Take for instance you’re targeting keywords like “Best X For Y With Z” in cases like this, using the entire keyword in your page title might defeat the second purpose of the page title.
The best approach to dealing with page title in situations like this is to use a parent topic in the page title, then use your specific keyword as H2 in the article.
A good example will be you targeting: “Best Birthday Gift For ten years old Kid Who Has Everything”. While you can easily put that in your page title, in most cases, it would not be as easy all the time. You can go for a page title like this: “Best Birthday Gift for Ten Years Old Kid”
Then you can add the exact keyword as an H2 in the body of the article.
Tactics #2: The Shorter The URL the Better.
….Do you get the picture?
At this stage, I don’t have to tell you that having dates in your URL is a bad SEO practice, and the only exemption for this is if you run a new site with date sensitive information. But if you run a site with evergreen contents, then you should never have dates in your URL.
… you probably know that already, so let’s talk about what most people are guilty of…
By default, most content management software like WordPress will automatically grab your article title, remove the stop words in-between and use the rest as a slug for your page. Usually, you end up with a very long URL.
The best practice is to keep your URL as short as possible. Three to four words is ideal, at most five. If you’re dealing with a long tail keyword, then use the parent topic that is very close to the targeted keyword.
From the previous example, a good URL for that keyword will be site.com/best-birthday-gift-for-kids
The benefit of using parent topic in title and URL is that; you get to expand your article as you gain traction.
Tactics #3: The First 150 Words In Very Important.
Generally, your “above the fold” content should be engaging enough to keep visitors on your page. Aside from that, one of the most common on-page ranking signals is the appearance of your targeted keyword in the first 100-150words of your article body.
This section is reserved for the introduction. A writer would write in such a way that the introduction briefly summarizes the entire content of the page. While crafting this introduction, do it in such a way that you use the exact phrase you’re targeting in the first 100 words.
This rule applies to all the niches I have examined so far. From health to tech, to entertainment; just name it.
Tactics #4: Sub-Headings Will Take You Places.
A few years ago, Google introduced latent semantic indexing (LSI). This introduction of LSI made it easy to target more than a single keyword in an article. Back in the old days of SEO, once you write an article, you dedicate it to a single keyword.
But now, you can literally target several keywords, as a matter of fact, you can rank for thousands of keywords with a single article. It is important to clear out the confusion on whether LSI keywords are synonyms with the primary keyword; not it isn’t.
Take for instance a perfect example of an LSI keyword is “women”, “fashion” and “makeup”. If the algorithm should analyze a page and see two of these keywords in a particular page, it would automatically figure out that the “makeup” used on the page is in the context of fashion accessory.
You can take advantage of this LSI in your article subheading to target keywords that are related to your primary keyword.
Because Google is currently focused on understanding searchers intent, then sprinkling the appropriate LSI on your page will make it easy for the search engine to understand what the page is all about, then rank it for long tail keywords you did not even think about when writing the article.
Take a look at the analysis of the page that brought in those search query from Google. The title of the article is “Jumia Contact: Addresses and Phone Number”.
Now take a closer look at the circled query above, this same page is bringing in traffic for keywords like “jumia office in abuja” and “where is jumia office” etc…
Hopefully, you get the idea by now?
Those keywords are not primarily targeted, but they’ve been strategically located in the article as LSI within the article, some as the sub-heading, others as a simple phrase.
When constructing your page, make a large list of LSI alongside your primary keyword and sprinkle it over your page.
Tactics #5: Bullet Points and Tables Equates Snippet
SEO goal is to rank for #1 on Google’s page one for the targeted keyword. But there is a position higher than page one on Google.
It’s called “SNIPPET”. or simply put, position zero.
I am using Google as a reference point in this article because a larger percentage of people use Google on daily basis as compared to other search engines.
No back to position zero on page one…
When your page is well marked up, ranking for page one becomes very easy. And the good thing about position zero is that your page does not necessarily have to be on number one for you to claim the position zero on page one.
The key to winning this page is to have a well-structured markup on your page…
Tables, Lists and Subheading is the key to getting the featured snippet on Google. When writing an article, structure it in such a way that the most important data on your page is expressed in either a list format or table format.
That picture above should give you an idea of a component of a typically featured snippet page. First, the subheading should indicate what the data below is all about, then the subheading should be followed by a table of a list.
Google knows how to filter through the page and extract the data to featured snippet once you hit page one.
PS: Look at the bolded text in the picture above, that’s LSI earlier discussed in the article.
Tactics #6: The Article Length Myth.
For a very long time, there has been lots of published article on why your article should be very long for you to rank on page one.
At some point, the article length became an unreasonable competition. It becomes a competition of who can add fluffs to article the most. Bloggers started writing articles that are as long as 5,000 words on a topic that could be explained in just a thousand words.
Don’t follow the length myth…
If you can clearly explain the topic in 500 words or a thousand one, then go ahead and do just that.
When analyzing a particular page some months ago, I stumbled about a page on “how to boil a hard egg”, this page has less than 300 words and five bullet points on how to get it done, and it’s getting millions of visitors on monthly basis.
This further reinforces my point on the article length myth. If your niche or industry does not require lengthy articles, then don’t bother creating a gigantic article because you want to rank higher than your competitors.
Tactics #7: Images and Videos Improves Dwell Time.
If you’re a keen observer, you would notice that I have been using lots of images since the beginning of this article. It’s an intentional move, and you would most probably not read up to this point if it has been a wall of text all through.
The truth is, humans now have a very short attention span, and it takes extra effort to get people to read an entire block of text.
When people bounce off your page almost instantly, it sends a bad signal to Google that they’re not getting the information they need from the page, and this might negatively affect your ranking. This is technically called “bounce rate”.
When you increase your bounce rate, you increase your page dwelling time, and this is a very good signal for ranking higher.
The fastest approach is to use as many relevant images, videos and other types of attention-grabbing media on your page. Especially above the fold.
“Above the fold” means the upper part of your page that visitors would see without having to scroll down. Use images and videos that are relevant to the page and you will get visitors hooked to the content of the page.
Tactics #8: Topical Relevance
Topical relevance is becoming more important for search engines.
Here is a little story plug… Very recently, I was trying to rank for a particular page in the US search space. I did the important stuff, and let the page be for some months, but it did not move, sent more backlinks to the page, and waited for weeks, nothing happened.
Then I began to analyze the issue with this particular page. After some days of analyzing the page, I realized that it’s an isolated page on the site. My page does not have any other article that is closely related to this page on it.
It’s like having a site that publishes articles about women health, then all of a sudden, it has a page about mining gold in Africa. Something totally different from the regular.
It will be a bit of work for the page to rank for the strange article because it is not known for that kind of topic.
Back to my page that won’t rank because it was isolated…
Then I decided to publish short relevant articles, all linking back to the primary article I wanted to rank. I published five (5) short articles on the topic within a space of one month and linked to the main article from these short articles.
Within three weeks after the short articles got indexed, I saw a jump of about ten (10) position on the main page.
That’s to show you the power of topical relevance as far as onpage SEO is concerned.
Tactics #9: Internal Links and Anchor Text
More often than not, bloggers link to other pages anyhow!
Not because the page they’re linking to is relevant but because they want to pass link juice or direct traffic from a page to another.
This is a poor SEO practice. And it would cause more harm to your ranking than what you can imagine.
Don’t just link anyhow from one article to another. There is a concept of siloing, and It’s a concept that people don’t talk about that often but it is an important concept in the SEO world.
The idea behind siloing is to create an artificial family tree for your articles. I will write about this in details in the nearest future.
But let me give an overview so you would understand how to create an artificial silo, even when your page isn’t as structured from the beginning.
Let’s say you run an e-commerce site, and you sell clothes and other apparels on your site.
Your subtopic in this situation would be something like; shoes, men cloth, women cloth, kids cloth, etc….
Under the sub-topic, you would have several pages as well. The idea behind artificial silo is to stick to the rule of sending internal links to articles within a particular sub topic.
It means, no matter what, you will not link out to women cloth from the men cloth section of your site. This concept is important for internal linking, as it ensures that the right link juice is passed across the right channel.
Aside from passing link juice, it is also beneficial in establishing topical relevance for your site as discussed above.
When selecting anchor text for an internal link, it is better to settle for something more specific. Most people consider the use of the article title as an ideal practice.
Tactics #10: Keyword Density Is Not A Myth
I have seen pages get stuck on page two of Google, not because the content is not good enough, or because it does not have strong backlinks pointing to it, but because it has too many keywords stuffed in it.
This happens a lot when an inexperienced blogger is trying to rank for a particular page. You can avoid being in situations like this by analyzing your competitors and extracting data from the ranking page.
If you’re targeting a particular keyword. You want to get data from the first three of five pages that are currently on page one for that particular keyword and look through the page to see how many times the primary keyword appeared on that page.
This analysis should guide you on how often the primary keyword should come up in your own article as well. Remember that you don’t have to use the main keyword excessively, you can always rely on LSI keywords, as well as synonyms to make the establish the context of your article to the search engine algorithm.
There you go! On-page ranking blueprint in 2018. I have literally ranked sites in weaker niches solely through on-page optimization, without any external backlink whatsoever. This is to show you the importance of proper page optimization.