The following are page-level on-site optimization strategies, part of our 101 ways to improve SEO.
38. Build personal brands.
It should be obvious that you need a blog if you’re running an ongoing SEO campaign; as you’ll see in some of the coming strategies, the optimization work of your blog posts feeds into a number of off-page SEO or on-site SEO angles. However, before you start, it’s a good idea to set up author roles as personal brands in the context of your site. Personal brands will allow you to characterize various writers on your team, giving them each a unique voice and area of expertise. You can showcase these brands on an “author” or “team” page, but the real benefit is having these personal brands develop your articles. It will optimize your articles for author-specific searches and give you better options for guest posting and social media marketing (which I’ll dig into later).
39. Optimize your title tags.
Your title tag are the bits of information Google uses to fill in the headline for sites in its SERPs (like “SEO.co: link building & Content Marketing Agency” in the screenshot below). This tells Google or other search engines much about the content of your page, so include at least one target keyword here. You’ll also need to make sure your titles are 70 characters or less, and try to make them catchy if you can. Remember, earning rankings in Google is only part of the equation—you also have to persuade your new viewers to actually click through. Most CMS platforms allow you to edit this easily for any page on your site.
40. Optimize your meta descriptions.
Similarly, you should optimize the meta descriptions of your pages—these feed into the text beneath the green link to your website. Here, you have more wiggle room—160 characters—so make sure you include multiple target keyword that accurately describe the content you have on-site. Again, this is your chance to be persuasive, so show off your marketing skills and write copy that entices the user to actually click your search results instead of the other 9 competing search results on the page. While there’s debate about whether the meta description is actually a ranking factor anymore, there’s growing evidence that the CTR (click-through rate) of search results is a h2 factor in the ranking algorithm, which means a good meta description could indirectly affect your rankings, depending on how well it compels users to click your result.
41. Keep your title tags and meta descriptions unique.
When you learn that every page of your site needs a title tag and a meta description, and that all of them should be optimized for target keyword, you might be tempted to create “templates,” which you can then copy and paste or modify only slightly to make quick work of optimizing each page. However, it’s actually in your best interest to develop unique titles and descriptions, from scratch, for every page. Having too many duplicates or near-duplicates can make you seem like you’re keyword stuffing. It will take some extra time, but it’s worth it. You can use a tool such as Screaming Frog to check the title tags and meta descriptions of each of your pages and identify duplicates or blanks.
42. Include proper header tags on all your articles.
In your website’s code, there are header tags, numbered sequentially (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to indicate where the main headlines and sub-headlinese of an article are. When evaluating the subject matter of content, Google or other search engines looks at these tags to give it a better sense of the article’s structure. To optimize these, you’ll first need to outline your articles with headlines and sub-headlines, and then you’ll need to ensure they’re marked up with appropriate tags in the backend of your site. Finally, for each article, you’ll want to include keywords and highly descriptive phrases for these key opportunities.
Including proper header tags (and limiting them in some cases) can help to improve your website for ADA compliance purposes as well.
43. Optimize your URLs for your on-page content.
I’ve already talked about general principles for URLs—they should be static, short, and featuring a breadcrumbs-style SEO trail to help users with navigation. But on the page level, they should also be optimized to appropriately describe your on-site content. For example, if you have an article on how to make chocolate fudge, a URL ending in “how-to-make-chocolate-fudge” is more descriptive and therefore better optimized than “online-recipe-3331.” Generally, you’ll want to avoid any numbers or special characters, include keywords where you can, and strive for intuitiveness. If a user can figure out what a page is about just by looking at a page URL (without even clicking it), that’s ideal.
44. Include a few hundred words of unique content on every page.
Every page of your site needs to have some content on it—otherwise, Google may see it as a placeholder page, something worthless, or something designed to manipulate users or search rankings. Obviously, the length of content you can write for a given page is dependent on its subject of focus, but you’ll want to include at least a few hundred words of content as a minimum. Of course, you’ll also have to make sure this content is unique—don’t copy and paste paragraphs between pages unless you have a darn good reason to. This advice applies to product and service pages; for blog posts or other content, aim for at least 1,000 words. For homepages, you don’t need to worry about this; focus instead on creating a high-converting design that drives users to the pages you want them to visit (such as product or service pages) along with a h2 navigation architecture.
45. Create specific pages to highlight your target keywords.
Though some would argue this practice is somewhat antiquated, I still see positive results from it. For some of your most important target keyword and phrases, create dedicated pages with titles that correspond to those keywords. For example, you might create a page for “custom picture frames,” or one for “emergency vet clinics.” The only caveat here is that you’ll need to create pages that seem natural; in other words, if you have a strange-sounding page title (one that’s clearly just a play at ranking for a keyword), it could do your site more harm than good. Keep it natural.
46. Utilize target keywords throughout your content.
There isn’t a specific rule for how Google evaluates the keyword density of your content—in fact, thanks to the Hummingbird update, it pays greater attention to your semantics than the actual words and phrases you use keyword density. Still, it’s a good idea to include your desired keywords on every page of your site. This will increase the perceived relevance of your content to queries that match those keywords and phrases, and increase Google’s or search engines understanding of your brand and site. However, your keywords still need to be worked in naturally; if they appear unnatural, Google could flag you for keyword stuffing, which could cause your rankings for that on-page SEO important or on-page optimization to drop thanks to the Penguin algorithm.
47. Aim for high-length content posts.
There’s no hard rule for how long your content has to be. I’ve seen incredibly short posts circulate virally and earn tons of internal links and long-winded detail-stuffed eBooks get practically no attention. The quality and appeal of your work is far more important than the length, but the data points toward longer posts as being more popular for building links and on-site SEO or off-page SEO—that is, at least several thousand words long. These posts tend to be more detailed, more practical, and more unique than shorter articles, and therefore attract more attention.
48. Produce new content regularly.
Google pays attention to how often you produce new blog posts. You might have a large archive of valuable posts from 2012 and before, but if you haven’t posted anything in 4 years, you’ll probably see a steady decline in your organic traffic as time passes on. Increasing the frequency of your updates won’t be a major boon here—though having more high-quality content is always a good thing—so strive to update your blog at least once a week.
49. Make your content more useful.
I’ve already casually mentioned that your content needs to be high-quality if it’s going to succeed; that’s because Google judges the quality of your piece when it considers how to rank your authority (both on a domain and page level). What does “high-quality” mean? A lot of things, actually—just take a look at the Search Quality Rater’s Guidelines Google or search engines publishes. However, one of the most important qualities is usefulness. How beneficial is this content to an incoming audience? Do you answer their questions succinctly and accurately? Do you give them instructions or directions where appropriate?
50. Make your content more unique.
You’ll also need a degree of differentiation if you’re going to stand out in search engines. If you’re competing with several big-name companies with similar pieces of content, you’ll probably have a harder time getting that number-one position. But if your content features topics that no one else is doing, or if you explore those topics in new and innovative ways, nobody will be able to touch you. In many ways, SEO is just about being better than your main competitors. Take advantage of that.
51. Update your content significantly.
Google also pays attention to how often you update the content of your site and how significant those updates are. For example, if you rewrite the entirety of your homepage with information about your latest products, that registers as more significant than only changing a few words around every few years. It takes extra work to consistently keep your site updated, but it will help you not only earn more authority, but keep your users up to speed as well.
52. Check your grammar and spelling on every page.
Google has built-in quality detectors that can immediately evaluate the subjective quality of a written piece. For example, it can tell if the article was written by a native speaker of the language, and it can tell if the article is riddled with grammatical and spelling errors. In the case of the latter, Google or other search engines may degrade the quality of your work—even if it’s well-written—costing you serious ranking opportunities. You don’t need to freak out over every little detail, but do take a few extra minutes to proofread your pages before publishing them.
53. Include multimedia in your content.
Every content marketing on page SEO strategy should have a place for multimedia content. Visual content, like image or image optimization and videos, is naturally more engaging than written content because they require less focus for comprehension and indulge us in our h2est and most important physical sense. Make sure all of your posts have at least one visual element in them—even if it’s just a simple doodle or a photo of what you’re doing. It will increase the authority of your content and provide peripheral ranking benefits.
54. Include supplementary content features.
It’s also becoming more important to offer supplementary content features, such as interactive components. These could include calculators to help people estimate costs or project needs, checklists they can print out, infographics they can reference easily, or worksheets to help them put their new skills and knowledge to the test. Though there’s no direct evidence that there’s a specific ranking signal for these features, they will improve the engagement and quality of your content, which in turn will earn it more internal links, traffic, repeat visits, shares, and, as a result, higher search positions.
55. Optimize for organic click-throughs.
I referenced this briefly in bullet #40, but it’s worth revisiting in more detail here. This is a subject that’s been hotly debated over the years, but the most recent data seems to suggest that organic click-through rates (the percentage of people who see your entry in SERPs and click through to your site) does have a direct and significant bearing on the ranking of your site. For example, if you have higher-than-average CTRs, you’ll have a tendency to move higher in rankings; still, this is hard to measure because of the correlation between ranking and CTRs. Still, optimizing for higher CTRs is sure to be a benefit to you even if they didn’t have an impact on domain authority, so do what you can to encourage more people to click through to your pages with compelling, unique language. You can affect your CTR in search results by testing your title tags and meta description tags for each of your pages.
56. Find and eliminate broken links.
Google doesn’t like to find broken links on your site. If you have a link that points to an external source that source no longer exists (ie, it’s a 404 error page), it’s not a good user experience. It could also mean either your linked source wasn’t effective or worthwhile enough to stick around, or you don’t update your content frequently enough to keep it relevant. These aren’t good things. Take the time to occasionally comb through your old material and find any internal links or external links that are broken; then, replace them with more modern, live equivalents. There are tools that can help with this, such as Screaming Frog. For more information on this topic, please visit our comprehensive guide to broken link building.
57. Include content tags.
This is a way of categorizing your content, but on a smaller scale. With categories, you’ll select one or two big-picture themes in which your content topic fits. With tags, you’ll be selecting a number of different descriptors—sometimes into the double-digits—to assist in categorizing the blog post for searches. This is a key opportunity to tag relevant content with your target keywords—be sure to include multiple synonyms and variations if you have room.
(Image Source: WordPress)
58. Use more bulleted and numbered lists.
Providing your users with bulleted and numbered lists is a great way to make your content more engaging; not everyone has the time or patience to read every line of your deftly considered and worded content; the majority of them will probably just skim, taking away only high-level insights. Lists allow them to glean these insights and takeaways easier, helping them save time, which provides a better user experience. It also gives you an opportunity to include more sub-headlines, optimizing smaller entries of your content’s sub-sections for your target keywords. Use <h2> tags for your subheaders to maximize the SEO benefits here.
59. Use 301 redirects appropriately.
There are dozens of reasons to set up a 301 redirect, and almost all of them have benefits for SEO. For example, if you have inbound links pointing to a page of your site that no longer exists, you can use a 301 (permanent) redirect to re-route that passed authority to a new, equally relevant page of your site. It’s a way of telling search engine crawlers that you no longer wish to index the old page, but the new page should take its place. Best of all—they aren’t that difficult to set up.
60. Fix 404 errors (for the most part).
When someone attempts to access a page that no longer exists, it’s called a 404 error, and they can crop up for a number of reasons. You might have a server error or something wrong with your website, but it’s more likely that a page got deleted or removed. Some 404 errors are necessary to show that a page is gone, but others can interfere with your search efforts (if they appear as errors in search results or serve as dead-ends for older internal links or external links). Correct these errors by restoring your old pages or setting up redirects.
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