When marketers look at SEO, we tend to organize our efforts into one of two buckets: Off page SEO (sometimes referred to as off-site SEO) and on-page or onsite SEO. Off-page SEO refers to any external effort to improve organic traffic such as links and shares, while on-page SEO typically refers to improving the HTML code and content.
Most marketers start their on-page SEO by optimizing things like title tags, meta descriptions, and header tags. Optimizing these HTML elements are VERY important, but on their own won’t always lead to the increased search engine visibility you’re looking for. Here are our three tips for better on-page SEO for improved SEO marketing performance.
Content for Real People (and Robots)
In marketing, there’s a popular adage, “content is king.” Searchers want content that adds value and demonstrates an understanding of their needs. As such, people need search engines and search engines need content to show them. You can provide that content (but it needs to serve both real people and the search engines).
Important content considerations relevant to on page SEO include the following:
- Understand Searcher Intent – Users are searching because they are looking for answers— they are looking for information. Give them that information and help them take the next step.
- Content Length – There are a number of studies that suggest that longer content gets more engagement, shares, links, and rankings. Long-form content should be a part of your SEO/content strategy, but most of your customer’s frequently asked questions don’t need 3000+ word answers when 30-300 word ones will do.
- Don’t Keyword Spam – Back in 2007, SEO marketers could stuff their content with spammy keywords and see immediate results—not anymore. Optimizing your content isn’t so much about keyword usage frequency as it is understanding entities and how the Google’s machine learning algorithms understands entities.
When people think about user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), they tend to think about design, and for good reason. However, there’s much more to UI and UX than making something look cool. Steve Jobs famously said “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.” For our purposes, this means there are elements of design that impact how a search engine views your website.
First, there is the organization of your website and therefore the organization of information on your website. Do you host your blog on a subdomain of your site (like blog.yourdomain.com/)? Most SEOs would agree that utilizing a subdomain or even an external site for your blog is unwise in most instances. We’re big fans of yourdomain.com/blog/ or even dropping /blog/ entirely.
Second, how many clicks does a user have to make to get to the information they are looking for? A well-thought-out internal linking structure will help search engines crawl and index your website, build authority around different topics, and help users navigate your site. For move information on SEO-friendly site structure, head over to this amazing resource by Yoast.
Third, are your website URLs search engine and user friendly, or are they impossible to remember and don’t contain keywords? Including keywords in your URLs can help search engines determine your site’s relevance for a topic.
If all of this adds up, it creates a better user experience and improved search engine crawlability of your website.
Speed Up Page Load Times
Since 2010, site speed has held its place as one of Google’s ranking factors. This has only become more and more important as the number of searches done each day rises with the preeminence of the smartphone/voice assistant/smart device. As of early 2017, Google’s latest research indicated that the average mobile page takes 22 seconds to fully load.
One way to please searchers and search engines alike is to speed up your page load times. This can be accomplished a number ways. Here are five tips Big Leap’s web developer, Phil Sanders, gave in a recent team training on speeding up your page load time:
- Caching – Enable caching at the server, browser, and object level
- Transfer Less Data – Image optimization, minification, compression, and not loading unnecessary elements such as scripts, stylesheets, or fonts
- Make Fewer HTTP Requests – Deactivate/uninstall unused plugins and leverage CSS sprites
- Reduce Distance Data Travels – Use a Content Discovery Network (CDN) which can store your content on distributed servers and deliver content to site visitors based on their geographic location
- Server Improvements – Update core technologies such as WordPress and PHP
Success in SEO marketing usually doesn’t happen all at once. Improving each of these on page elements is just a part of the equation leading up to success.
What on-page SEO changes have you seen for increased rankings and organic traffic? Reach out to us on Twitter at @BigLeapMKTG and let us know!