Over the years, “on-page SEO” has gone through a lot of changes. What was once synonymous with generic copy, hidden text and keyword stuffing has now transformed into a far more legitimate and necessary part of website page optimization. Today, on-page SEO has three distinct goals:
- Embed keywords strategically into web page copy so Google can easily identify the topic of that page.
- Create a user experience and site design that encourages visitors to keep coming back to your site.
- Post amazing content that encourages people to link to and share your website on social media platforms.
Now that you understand what on-page SEO can do for your business’ website, lets take a look at how to create search optimized pages that feel natural and won’t turn off your readers.
One Keyword Per Page
One of the most common SEO mistakes small businesses make is trying to cram a dozen keywords into every page. Take a peak at the title tags used by many small business websites and it’s not uncommon to see something like:
Kayak Rental Portland | Oregon Kayak Rental | Boat Tours Oregon | Sailing Lessons Portland
Looking at the meta keyword tag (something Google no longer even uses) and you see the same type of confusion.
Kayak Portland, Oregon kayak, boat tours, sailing lessons, etc. …
Stop and think about: How can the home page – or any page of your website – be about renting kayaks, boat tours and sailing lessons?
Clearly this kind of structure makes little sense. Because the message of the page is so muddle, Google has no clue how to rank your page, so you end up not ranked for anything.
The solution is easy – one keyword phrase per page.
Keep in mind, Google wants to show users pages that are highly relevant to what they’re searching for. Their algorithm prefers to show a user searching for “Portland Kayak Rental” a page featuring in-depth information related to the best places to rent a kayak in Portland, rather than a page overstuffed with mixed keyword messages. So if your business wants to rank highly for five specific keyword phrases, create five fantastic landing pages built around each individual phrase.
Add Your Keywords in the Title Tag (Once)
Think of a page’s title tag like its headline. It by far sends the clearest signal to Google about the topic of a page. In most cases, you should attempt to mix your keyword into a compelling title that helps draw the reader’s attention (which hopefully results in your site getting more clicks).
If you want to rank for “Portland Kayak Rental,” for example, you could use titles like:
- Portland Kayak Rental: 10 Thing You Should Know
- Why Portland Kayak Rental Makes a Great Way to Spend an Afternoon
- Five Ways to Save on Portland Kayak Rental This Spring
These types of titles explain what each page is about in a way that’s easy for both humans and Google’s algorithm to understand.
Place Your Keywords at the Beginning of Your Content
To make it as clear to Google as possible what a page’s primary topic is, you need to add keywords throughout your content. However, don’t confuse maintaining appropriate keyword density with keyword stuffing (a practice that could result in your site getting penalized by Google). To achieve an optimal keyword density in your content, you only need to mention your keyword a few times. The most important place to include those mentions is at the top of the page.
Think about formatting your content like a reporter writing a news story. You want to make sure to include the how, what, where, when and why within the first 100 words so readers know what an article is about. The same principle applies to keyword placement.
Once you’ve included the keyword at the beginning of your content, you only need to mention it again once or twice. While you can certainly use your keyword more often if needed, adding further inclusions won’t help further improve your page from an SEO standpoint.
Keep Load Times Consistently Fast
Google has admitted that it factors a site’s load time as part of its algorithm’s ranking factor. While having a slow site won’t completely destroy your SEO campaign, it will make a significant difference. Once you consider how competitive the market is for the most sought after keywords, every little advantage can have a big impact.
You can determine how quickly your site loads content using a couple of free tools:
Google PageSpeed Insights: Provides users valuable information about how to change a site’s HTML and images in order to improve load times.
WebPageTest: Uses a virtual browser to load your site. Will also provide tips on how to improve performance.
Include Outbound Links to Trustworthy Websites
Search engines like to send users to hubs where they have access to a variety of information. Sites that act as a hub by linking to other high quality websites full of useful content are viewed more favorably as a result. When it makes sense, try including a few outbound links to other sites in the body of your content.