Marketers use many tactics to attract new visitors to their websites. Many of these tactics, unfortunately, are inefficient and don’t result in a high return on investment. They spin their wheels attempting to become more visible, but in the end, it makes little difference when it comes to increasing their traffic.
One way that has proven effective is improving on-page SEO. Using a variety of on-page SEO techniques can help to boost traffic and, as a result, bring in more customers.
To get started, marketers have to know what on-page SEO means. Ahrefs defines it as the practice of optimizing website pages to ensure they rank higher on search engines.
Ranking high on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is critical for driving traffic. According to a recent study, Position 1 on the SERP, or the first result, will receive 20.5% of clicks, Position 2 will receive 13.32%, Position 3 gets 13.14%, Position 4 gets 8.98% and so on. The farther down on the page a result is, the less likely people are to click on it.
With so much outdated and inaccurate information out there when it comes to on-page SEO, it’s essential for marketers to learn what really works. Google is constantly changing its ranking criteria, and on-page SEO techniques like keyword stuffing just won’t cut it anymore.
If you're looking to boost your on-page SEO efforts, follow these steps.
1. Include Keywords in Specific Places
While keywords are not the end all be all for improving on-page SEO, they should still be used strategically on blog posts and pages. The target keyword should appear in the meta description for the page, in the first 100 words of the page, in an H2 and wherever else it fits in naturally within your content.
Keywords shouldn't be repeated just for the sake of ranking high. Visitors will catch on that you’re simply trying to win that coveted first position on the SERP.
2. Put the Title Into an H1 Tag
The H1, which is the title of a page or a blog post, is the text that will be the most visible on the page. When creating a new page or post, take a look at the HTML and ensure that the title is wrapped in the H1 tag. A title should look like this: <H1>How to Improve On-Page SEO</H1>. Most content management systems, such as WordPress, will add the H1 tags automatically. It’s also important to use the target keyword in the H1 for maximum optimization.
3. Emphasize Mobile Responsiveness
Mobile devices are primarily used to visit websites, and people are five times more likely to exit a page if it's not mobile-friendly. Google has followed the trend by ranking websites that are mobile-friendly higher on the SERP.
Your website should adjust to mobile screens and feature text that’s easy to read and images that are easy to see. There shouldn’t be any Flash or slow-loading elements, autocorrect should be on for forms, images and CSS must be compressed and buttons should be big enough to see and push.
4. Increase Page Speed
People don’t stick around slow websites; 40% will leave a site that takes more than three seconds to load. Google caught onto this, so it made page speed on desktops a big factor in SERP ranking. Since 2010, this has affected desktop search, and in July of 2018, it became a ranking factor for mobile search as well. Marketers need to take steps to increase their web page speed on mobile and desktop devices if they want to rank in those coveted first positions.
To do this, check your website speed on PageSpeed Insights. Google will provide suggestions on what they can do to boost speed, including deferring unused CSS, properly sizing images and eliminating render-blocking resources.
5. Include the Target Keyword in Images
You may not think that on-page SEO techniques have anything to do with images, but even the file names of images count toward a page’s ranking. The target keyword should be used in the file name of the image, along with the alt text, which describes the picture using HTML code. For instance, marketers writing about content marketing strategy would name an image content-marketing-strategy.jpg and write the alt text, “create a content marketing strategy.”
6. Insert Outbound Links
Outbound links to relevant and high-authority websites demonstrate to Google that a page is trustworthy and authoritative. The opposite is also true: If a website points to a number of low-ranking pages that were obviously created solely for getting clicks, and not to help out searchers, then that website could be penalized.
When writing blog posts, include links to high-quality websites to provide your readers with further information. To figure out if a page is high quality, you can use MozBar to check the page and domain authority.
7. Correct Broken Links
Dead links not only frustrate visitors, but they also lead to a lower ranking. Improving on-page SEO includes cleaning up all the links on pages and blog posts. A simple way to find broken links is to use a broken link checker, like BrokenLinkCheck.com. It’s a free tool that allows users to put in their website address, and then reports all the broken links and their URLs.
8. Use Brief and Descriptive URLs
When uploading blog posts or creating new pages, modify the URLs. These URLs should be brief and describe exactly what the blog post or web page is all about.
For example, if Coca-Cola wanted to create a page about its history, the optimized URL would read “/history-coca-cola.” If a marketer was going to write about improving a content marketing strategy, the URL could be, “improve-content-marketing-strategy.” The URL should include the target keyword that is also used on the page or in the blog post.
9. Write Longer Posts
Longer content tends to rank higher on the SERP since it typically includes more thorough answers for searchers. Google is in the game of delivering the best answers possible, after all!
Determining how long posts should be is not an exact science. However, one study by AppSumo and BuzzSumo revealed that the posts that receive the most shares are between 3,000 and 10,000 words long. The study also found there was 16 times more content with less than 1,000 words than content with more than 2,000 words, leading the researchers to recommend writing posts of at least 2,000 words to improve on-page SEO.
10. Encourage Blog Comments
Turning on blog comments is an effective on-page SEO technique. A comments section can increase a user’s time spent on a page as well as show Google that people enjoy and interact with content.
To encourage comments, include questions at the end of your blog posts. For example, a call-to-action for commenting might read, “What do you think of this post? Leave us a comment!” or “What strategies worked for you? Let us know in the comments section below.”
Marketers should continuously look for new ways to boost on-page SEO to stay competitive on the SERP. It’s how they will continue to increase brand awareness, establish trust, draw in customers and, ultimately, improve their bottom lines.