Note: This guide isn't in any specific order, and there isn't a set priority queue for what OnPage needs doing first, so just read and extract/use what information you want.
When I do my consulting sessions, the number one issue I find with websites is terrible OnPage. People are skipping by the essential (and sometimes boring) tasks of basic OnPage, and going straight for the links.. Your website won't rank (usually) without proper OnPage SEO.
Let's look at an analogy in the real world:
Say you go to the gym, and you start off by doing basic, compound lifts like the bench press, deadlift, squat, and overhead press. These are compound exercises that will help you when you decide to move onto other, more specific exercises. By creating the initial framework, once you start on other exercises, you'll be a lot stronger and will reach an intermediate level much quicker.
SEO is the same way - without that initial framework built, you're basically wasting your time when you're doing things like building backlinks, doing outreach, working on building your social media, and more. Despite popular belief, OnPage SEO isn't as easy as it looks either. You don't just plop down some title tags and expect your site to rank. Google is always changing, and there are a lot of different factors you have to take into consideration.
We're going to talk about several different main factors you need to consider.
Table of Contents
1 Title Tags
2 Header Tags
3 Bold Tags
4 Keyword Density
5 Latent Semantic Analysis
6 Bounce Rate
7 Length of Content
8 URL Optimization
9 Meta Description Optimization
10 Interlinking (aka Internal Linking)
There's a lot to cover, so let's get started.
The first thing on our list, and one of the most important factors when it comes to OnPage SEO.
This tag can be automatically added by many CMS's. Although you may want to override this by manually adding your own title.
Essentially, the goal of the title tag is to tell Google what the topic of your post is. For example, the title tag on a post, "How to Optimise Your Business Website", tells Google exactly what the post is about.
Make sure when using title tags that you include your main keyword in your title. If that main keyword stops the title sounding natural and impairs the quality of the title, don't use it, but if you can insert it and make the title sound realistic, go for it.
We don't want to destroy our bounce rate or click-through-rate on social media by writing a bad title like "SEO|Dorset SEO|Business Website Digital Marketing|Search Engine Optimisation Dorset".
Don't stuff a bunch of keywords in your title, just make the keyword naturally occur if you can.
Remember that the main goal is to tell Google what the post is about. When they see the title tag, they want to know what the title of your page is. That's it, don't get overly complicated here. That being said, let's move on to talking about header tags.
You only get one title tag, but you can use unlimited header tags. Hopefully you've used these before when writing blog posts. These help segment your post into different "headings". Like in this report for example, we see that each different heading is in bold, and has a slightly larger appearance than the rest of our text. This allows us to tell Google what each heading is about, and allows us to break down big posts into easy-to-view chunks.
To use header tags, simply insert tags like so: <h1> this is an h1 tag </h1> <h2> this is an h2 tag</h2> <h3> this is an h3 tag </h3> and so on, I would not use anything other than H1, H2 & H3. Most CMSs will allow you to automatically insert the header tags too.
When using headings, we achieve two things. We help ourselves rank for secondary keywords not included in our title tag, and we make the page more aesthetically pleasing for our audience
Looking at a quick example, let's say you had a piece of content about Digital marketing. You might have your <H1> tag say something like "Digital Marketing Tips". Under this, you might have <h2> tags for things like "How to Optimise a Title Tag", "Optimising your Header Tags", and so on. Maybe under your "Optimising your Header Tags" heading, you'd have a blurb about "How to format H1 tags", and so on. Basically, you use these headings to distinguish between different parts of your content. It helps Google find what your post is about, and helps viewers skim the content to find what they really need. Use them, or your site will suffer.
Pro Tip: Format the header tags into a table of contents like the one I have above, or the ones you see on Wikipedia. This helps markup the data for Google to offer "jumps" to specific pieces of content that users want to see, and also has some ranking benefit.
Some SEO's swear by the notion that they believe bold tags will increase their rankings. By thinking so, they go ahead and bold their keyword, they italicize it, all to no effort. There has been no significant proof by anyone that bolding keywords actually increases rankings. If anything, when people randomly bold keywords, instead of action words, it turns the audience away from what the real meaning of what the piece is about.
Let's look at an example -
If you are looking to optimise your business website so it can get found for more specific terms in the Google search results you can use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as a way of doing this, you can learn more about SEO and Digital marketing in this article.
One bit of that bold text would probably increase conversions, and one bit would probably lower it. Use bold tags to emphasize words, and that's it. Same goes for italicizing and strong tags. Don't think of it as an SEO factor, think of it as a factor that helps your audience understand your content better.
Keyword density is a HOT topic amongst SEOs right now, and always has been. It might be the most debated topic in the field of SEO, and for good reason.
Back in the glory days of SEO, you could keyword stuff articles with over 5% keyword density, and they'd rank. Do that now, and you'll likely run straight into a sandbox. Now, many people argue about what the "right" keyword density is for an article, and if I'm being honest, I'd say this.
Google Doesn't Care.
As long as you aren't sticking out like a sore thumb with crazy keyword density (over 3%), and you aren't avoiding your main keyword like the plague, Google isn't going to change much at all. If you have your main keyword included with a 0.7% density, and your competitor has 1.1%, I honestly don't believe much changes at all. One thing you DO have to avoid is keyword stuffing on your page when you don't even realize it.
Let's say your main keyword for your site is "Digital Marketing". So you have the keyword Digital Marketingâ€ a few times in your article, once in the title, once in the URL, and you have three category pages "Digital Marketing Tips", "Digital Marketing For Business", and "Advanced Digital Marketing". To add on top of this, you have a "recent posts" widget in the sidebar that showcases five of your latest articles, all about Digital Marketing your content from top to bottom to get a true feel for your keyword density. When in doubt, check your posts with this tool to check the real density. What you find may be shocking. http://tools.seobook.com/general/keyword-density/
Earlier we talked about how keyword density doesn't matter as much in modern day SEO. Of course, including the keyword once or twice is going to be a benefit, but overstuffing the keyword isn't going to do you any good. By utilizing latent semantic analysis, we can include different variations of our keyword, and Google will still know what we're talking about. It's thinking PAST the keyword you're going for. For example, people might search for "Digital Marketing", but they're also thinking about things like "How can I get more visitors to my site", "How to sell more online", and more.
Grasping this concept can be difficult. I did find this short video that explains it if you can get past the cheesiness of the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2512bduT-c&feature=youtu.be
Latent semantic analysis is something to keep it in mind when writing, you'll rank for a lot of different variations of your keyword, and will even hit a bunch of different long tails you never would have imagined.
Write things naturally and don't focus on the keyword too much, and you'd be surprised that you'll actually rank for a lot of different keywords with on-page SEO. Your competition will have their sights narrowed down onto one keyword - you'll be focused on every variation that exists. This is what looks natural, not including your main keyword 37 times in a 3,000 word post.
We aren't going to talk about bounce rate for very long. Your bounce rate means your website is getting found, but people aren't visiting any other pages on your site. You want user engagement to be high, so attempting to get a low bounce rate is crucial. It has not been proven that your bounce rate actually impacts your search engine rankings, but it will affect your conversion rates.
Try to use lots of interlinking in your content to get people to visit other pages. Mention other articles in your posts as often as possible as long as they're relevant and it does not spoil the flow of the content.
This didn't play a huge factor a few years ago, but the length and quality of your content is now key when trying to rank a site. A few years ago you'd see these "huge" 1,000 word posts. Now those posts are more like 5,000 to 10,000 words. Google has won - people now want you to provide actual value.
Having longer content allows you to include more heading tags, it allows you to include more long-tail search terms, and it allows you to really sell the potential visitor your idea or product. Check out any major Google result and you'll find that the pages that provide the most value will end up ranking near the top. This is one of the reasons Wikipedia always ranks so highly for major search terms. Long content ranks, and if you truly want to rank for a keyword, be sure to go with long content at first.
Don't skimp on it right away - the long content will be easier to rank, and will provide your audience with more value. It's a win-win.
If possible, try to include your main keyword in your URL. It helps to tell Google what your page is about (as you can see we're giving Google a lot of information with our OnPage SEO), and helps the audience decide whether or not your link is relevant.
Your meta description is what's going to show up in Google when people see your website in the search results. You want to use your description to attempt to get visitors to click on your link, and also if possible, want to include your main keyword in the meta description.
Use the meta description to try to increase the click-through rate. Short and sweet typically works better than trying to fill up the entire 160 characters.
Interlinking is the last thing I'm going to talk about in this OnPage SEO guide, and it's undoubtedly one of the most important things to do. If you're not interlinking, you're missing out on rankings, usability, and most importantly, more engagement and traffic. You need to be interlinking. It's not something you can avoid.
By interlinking between different pages on your site, you're going to help pass authority and link juice between articles. Imagine a huge spider web where each article was the result of you spinning more web and reaching out to a different topic.
Here are a few tips you should follow when interlinking on your site -
#1: Is the Link Relevant?
Make sure that the page you're linking to is relevant to the topic at hand. Going back to the example of Digital Marketing, let's say you have an article on Digital Marketing Tips, and then you have an article on Optimising Title Tags. Perhaps you'd interlink the Digital Marketing Tips article to your other post, saying that if people don't know what to do with their title tags they can check out the article on your site. Make sure that the link is relevant, and people will click it. This helps to lower your bounce rate, and gets you more engagement in the long-term.
#2: Don't Move Away from the Main Point
If your article is about Digital Marketing, your general audience is going to be people looking for Digital Marketing. Don't go out of your way to sell them on A new accounting package. Don't sacrifice conversions for interlinking! Look into the buyer's mind. If they came to your page looking for Digital Marketing information, and suddenly you start talking about your new accountancy package you purchased, you're going to lose some of your target audience. Don't drive away from the main point when interlinking.
#3: Too Many Links?
As long as your page is resourceful enough, I wouldn't say there's ever a point where you can use too many links. Obviously use common sense, but as I mentioned earlier, you want to use long content. Long content is going to be full of links to other pages on your site, especially if the topic at hand is relevant to the rest of your site. If you run a resourceful website and by the end of your long content, people have sixteen tabs open to read tons of other content, it's a good thing! They trust you, and want to read more of the content on your site. Don't be afraid of using too many internal links.
#4: Utilize Anchor Text
This is a no-brainer, but make sure you're using anchor text when linking out to your pages. Tell the audience what that page is about, and how it can benefit them by going to it. This helps not only your audience, but Google as well.
The anchor text is the text that you click on to follow a link. Don't always use "click here" when you can use a keyword or phrase.
To conclude this guide, I just want to make sure I get one main point across. Make your website user-friendly, and it will be Google friendly too. All of the things mentioned above not only help Google, but will help the users of your website as well. Write your content for humans, don't write it for search engines. Keep in mind that the goal of your site is to make money, not just bring in search traffic.
Would you rather have 10,000 visitors where one person contacts you to buy your services, or 100 visitors where five people call you for your help?
If you follow every step in this report, you're not only going to have a site that is well-optimized, loads fast, and increases your conversions, but you're going to have a resource that people want to share. Remember that this process takes serious time, and rarely anybody ever has everything "perfect" with their OnPage SEO, so this is your opportunity to take advantage and beat them in the rankings.
In 2014 we were a new Community Interest Company (CIC) needing an easily managed and updatable, by us, web site very quickly. Motley & Co provided the goods with knobs on and with less than an hour's training even this 'Ludite' is now happily able to make text, format and picture changes. Starting from scratch and with no prior web site experience we are very happy clients of Motley & Co.Allan Peters from Rural Dorset Wheels to Work (RDW2W)