SEO or Search Engine Optimization is the not-so-secret weapon in the Digital Marketing arsenal. Without SEO, your website can’t be found and indexed by search engines.
Those who need your content won’t find it on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) and won’t be able to visit your website.
An effective SEO strategy drives traffic to your website and generates leads that can be converted into sales. If you’re not familiar with SEO, you can read an article we wrote about the basics of SEO a few years ago.
If you have a website that’s powered by WordPress, like 42% of the websites on the Internet, you’re already ahead of businesses that use another brand of Content Management System (CMS).
Why? Because WordPress was developed with SEO in mind. Knowing how to use optimization tools and techniques will help you build web pages that are SEO-friendly.
But if SEO is such a valuable component of Digital Marketing, how come only 63% of small businesses invest in it?
That’s because small business owners get frustrated when the SEO strategy doesn’t deliver the desired results.
What they fail to understand is that SEO is more than just keyword research, backlinks, and frequent blogging. Those are tools of the SEO trade – the basics. In this article, we’ll go into the details of an effective SEO strategy and discuss one of its foundational pillars – On-Page SEO.
What Is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO is sometimes referred to as on-site SEO. As the term implies, optimization techniques are done directly on the web page itself.
We briefly touched on some of these optimization techniques and tools such as keyword research, backlinking, and frequent blogging. Proper on-page SEO can enhance the visibility of the website to search engines and create more inbound traffic.
The objective of on-page SEO is to steadily move up the search rankings and make it to the first page of the SERP where a website can reap the benefits of online traffic.
Why is it important to be on the first page of the SERP? According to various studies, the first page accounts for 71% to 92% of all online searches for that particular keyword. Only 6% of Internet users visit the second page of the SERP.
Go to our stated objective of on-page SEO: To steadily move up the search rankings and make it to the first page of the SERP; emphasis on the word “steadily”.
Landing on the first page doesn’t happen overnight. One week or one month won’t be enough time to get your website to the first page.
SEO is a process and as such requires time, consistency, and intent to yield positive results. The steps might be small but as long as the numbers show forward progress, you’re on the right track.
The First Step: Making Your Web Pages SEO Friendly
As we mentioned earlier in this article, WordPress was designed by developers with SEO as a priority. The CMS has built-in features that can give your optimization efforts a big boost.
But these features aren’t automatic. You’ll have to do minor configuring and there are some processes that have to be undertaken.
We highly recommend delegating these tasks to a professional web designer who’s an expert in WordPress. Some of the steps require technical skill and might take time.
Even if you’re knowledgeable and experienced in web design, as an entrepreneur, your time is best allocated to managing the core functions of your business.
Thus, we won’t go into detail on what you need to do to make your web pages SEO-friendly. However, the brief descriptions should be enough to give you an idea of what the web developer needs to do and how these steps will prepare your website for on-page SEO.
- Believe it or not, WordPress has a feature that makes your website invisible to search engines. Go to the admin dashboard. Click “Settings” then “Reading”. The “Search Engine Visibility” box must be unchecked.
- An XML sitemap is a file that informs the search engine of a website’s important pages. Create an XML Sitemap and submit it to the search engines.
- Protect your website by encrypting information with SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificates.
- A permalink is the URL of a web page. Customize a permalink structure for your web pages.
- Create structured data, WordPress tags, and WP categories to help search engines better understand your content.
- Breadcrumbs are like a map at an amusement park. They are links that show site users where they are on your website. By activating Breadcrumbs, you improve site navigability and User Experience (UX).
- Activate the Manual Comments feature to protect your website from spammers.
- Activate the Last Updated feature to inform site users that your content has been updated.
After you’ve gone through each of these steps, your WordPress website is now ready to run your on-page SEO strategies.
6 Effective Strategies For On-Page SEO
Everyone has access to the same SEO tools. The advantage lies with the person who can extract maximum value from them. On-page SEO won’t be effective unless you have the correct strategies in place.
We created this list of the best on-page SEO strategies so you can avoid the guesswork. Use them to tweak your current SEO campaign or to plan your next one.
1. Create High-Quality Content By Doing Comprehensive Research: Topic, Keyword, and Resource
Creating high-quality content drives traffic to your website. But what are the characteristics of high-quality content?
Site users want content that is:
To produce high-quality content, you must conduct comprehensive research in 3 key areas:
- Topic – What does my target audience want to read about?
- Keyword – What words and phrases are popularly used by my target audience to launch their search queries?
- Resource – Where can I find the most reliable and reputable resources to use for my topic?
You can carry out topic research in a number of ways:
- Review your website and social media analytics and identify the types of content that have garnered the highest levels of engagement and have impressive numbers for time spent on the page.
- Conduct surveys via email and social media.
- Find out what your competitors are writing about.
The best resources are usually the popular websites with a huge following and are often presented on the first page of the SERP. You’ll also know if the website is a credible resource by checking its domain authority score.
Keyword research helps you find the right keywords that will make your content visible to the search engines. As you’ll read in this section, keywords play a key role not just in content but also in your tags, descriptions, and images.
Read our comprehensive guide about keyword research and the best tools to use. Once you have a list of the keywords, organize them in a spreadsheet and identify the main keyword for your topic.
By doing so, you avoid the risk of keyword cannibalization – a situation where multiple web pages are using the same main keyword. When this happens, the click-through rate will be distributed among those pages. You’ll be competing against yourself!
The main keyword must be located in these 5 sections:
- First Paragraph
In this article, the main keyword is “SEO” and you can find it inserted in the 5 sections. You’ll notice that “SEO” is the first word in the first paragraph. Ideally, the main keyword must be found within the first 100 words but the sooner the better!
By conducting comprehensive research, you’ll be able to produce high-quality content that can be indexed by search engines and enjoyed by your target audience.
2. Include Meta Titles, Descriptions, and Images in the Optimization Process
When you review the URLs that are presented in the SERP, you’ll most likely base your decision on which one to click first on 3 factors:
- The rankings
- The title of the web page
- The description of what the page is about
If your web page isn’t among the top 5 URLs, optimizing the meta titles and descriptions will give it a fighting chance to be the one selected first by the user.
Here are a few tips on how to effectively optimize the meta titles and descriptions of your website:
A. Meta Title
- Keep it under 60 characters.
- Include the main keyword.
- Create a unique meta title for each web page.
- Don’t use clickbait or titles that are eye-catching but aren’t relevant. Google views clickbait titles as an example of deceptive practices.
B. Meta Descriptions
- Include the main keyword.
- Include a Call-to-Action (CTA).
- Keep the descriptions under 160 characters.
- Google and other search engines will cut off descriptions after they come across quotation marks. It’s advisable to use the apostrophe character instead.
- Create descriptions that are relevant and easily associated with the content of the web page.
The images that you upload on your website must also be optimized. If the image files are too big, they will slow down your website.
Optimizing images means reducing the file size, compressing them, or choosing the right file type so the server can upload them without compromising speed and the quality of the resolution.
You can read more about image optimization in a recent article we wrote about the topic.
3. Choose the Right Heading Tags
Heading tags organize content and structure it to make it easier for the reader to understand what the article is about.
For example, in this article, H1 or the first heading tag is the title, followed by:
- H2 – What is SEO?
- H3 – The First Step: Making SEO-Friendly Pages
- H4 – 6 Effective Strategies For On-Page SEO
The heading tags will help guide the reader’s “train of thought” and help him comprehend the information shared in this article.
Here are some useful tips when choosing the right heading tags:
- Include the main keyword.
- Keep the heading tags under 70 characters.
- Present a header in question format.
Remember, Internet users often phrase their search queries as a question. By doing so, your content might appear in Google’s “Featured Snippet” section.
4. Use a Focused Linking Strategy
Links are used to add value, and credibility and when used strategically, can drive more traffic to your website.
There are 2 types of links:
- External Links – Third-party sources that you link to as references for data and other key information presented in your content.
- Internal Links – Hyperlinking the data or key information to sources from the same website.
You’ll notice that in this article, we’ve externally linked data to third-party sources as well as to articles we’ve written and posted on our website.
Linking to reliable and reputable sources lends credibility to your website and helps verify the accuracy of your data.
Meanwhile, providing links to useful and relevant pages on your website can help drive more traffic and potentially generate qualified leads for your business.
How do you qualify the sources that you link your content to?
- If you’re not sure because the site isn’t popular or familiar to you, check its domain authority.
- Choose sources that present the most recently updated data.
- Likewise, make sure the content that you internally link to is updated.
- Don’t link to web pages that require a subscription or sign-up.
It’s also a good idea to contact the owner of the website that you plan to use as a reference. The owner might be receptive to the idea of linking his content back to yours.
5. Include Video-based Content
How effective is video-based content in delivering website traffic? Video accounted for 82% of search traffic in 2022 and this isn’t an anomaly. And if that statistic isn’t enough to convince you of the value of video marketing, how about this one…
According to a study by EyeWideDigital, embedding a video on your home page can increase your conversion rate by 80%.
These numbers aren’t anomalies. The trend of showing video as the preferred medium for delivering content has been steadily rising over the years.
If you’re concerned that having videos on your website can slow down its loading time, the best solution is to set up accounts on popular video streaming sites such as YouTube and Vimeo. Then, simply embed the links to your home page and other pages that will benefit from having videos.
And yes – optimize your videos!
- Include the main keyword in the title of the video.
- Keep the video description down to 100 characters.
- Support your video by adding popular hashtags that are related to the topic.
- Customize the thumbnail for your video.
- Create a playlist about the topics discussed in your channel.
There are other tips and tricks you can do to optimize your videos. We will discuss all of the smart tactics in a future article.
6. Make Your Content Readable
You’ve done an amazing job conducting comprehensive research.
You’ve organized content using well-thought-out headers that are all properly optimized.
Now, you have to make your content readable.
In SEO, readability refers to how easy it is for your audience to read and understand your content.
You must have heard the popular tip on how to write content:
“Write your content in a manner that can be understood by a Grade 6 student.”
It might sound funny but trust us – the advice makes perfect sense.
This is because a lot of entrepreneurs who write content tend to focus on trying to impress their readers. So they use a lot of technical jargon that isn’t immediately understood by the average reader. Instead of educating the readers, they get them more confused.
How do you write readable content?
- Write using simple language.
- Write in a conversational manner.
- Avoid using technical terms.
- Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.
- Add space to your content.
At Mountaintop, we practice what we preach and implement these tips in our content.
Take for example, this article!
We provided well-researched information but we did our best to make the article easy to understand. If we used technical terms, we made sure these were defined and hyperlinked to a reliable, reputable resource with the latest data.
You might notice that the sentences are short and some of the paragraphs only have 1-2 sentences. We did this to create more space in the article.
If the paragraph looks condensed and packed, it can be perceived as a long and challenging read. Lastly, short paragraphs are easier to read when you’re scrolling down the screen.
After carrying out an on-page SEO campaign based on our recommended strategies, don’t get complacent and assume that success is guaranteed. SEO isn’t a plug ‘n’ play process. You have to measure and objectively analyze the results. Your findings will determine your next courses of action.
Frequently check your analytics, run tests, and implement the necessary changes to the strategies in order to fine-tune your SEO campaign. Don’t be afraid to make changes. Remember, SEO is a process that evolves over time.
Lastly, it might sound counter-intuitive but don’t react immediately to whatever the search engines say.
Yes, you want your content to be search engine friendly but don’t lose sight of whom you invested the website for… your target audience; is the potential end-users and customers of your business.
As the old saying goes, “trust the process”.
If you’re not getting the desired results from your current SEO program, give us a call or send us an email. Let’s chat over coffee and we’ll come up with a plan to get your online business back on track.
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