Am I using Step 1’s insights for page targeting & structuring?
If you did your homework, you would have made some discoveries about how to rank for keywords.
If you haven’t already checked it out, see Step One to SEO Success: Keyword Research to find out how to get started on this critical stage.
If you’ve done your research, let’s take a look at what you’ve discovered.
Two of your major findings would have been:
- How people are searching for your product or service offering and,
- How your offering aligns with their queries.
Using as many tools as possible, you compiled a list of long-tail keywords. You ranked them by relevance and difficulty and then chose the ones that are most relevant and least competitive.
Great, what were they?
Now, what do we do with this? Let’s get to the nitty gritty…
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO is essentially structuring individual web pages around target keywords with the goal of creating more traffic and achieving a higher rank.
It’s also about responding to the people who come to your page looking for answers.
One of the most obvious ways to hit on all these points is through content so let’s start there.
You could start structuring content around the keyword “gluten-free supplements for weight loss” because it is both relevant and low competition. This is a perfect jumping off point for a review of competitors’ brands (if there are any), or an article about how gluten-free supplements are hard to come by (until they stumbled across your brand of course), etc., etc.
Let’s hope you don’t just plop this juicy keyword into existing content about the benefits of supplements.
Of course you wouldn’t because you know as well as we do that it is better to start at the beginning.
Like a plant has a seed, a keyword is the crux of great content, which is still one of the top ranking factors. It’s easy to sniff out in the opening paragraph when keywords have been stuffed or simply dropped into existing content. Readers will quickly realize that your page is not going to deliver what they came looking for.
Irrelevancy makes you unreliable, and when you’re unreliable, people aren’t going to ask you for help and Google will note that and respond accordingly.
Don’t be that guy.
Make yourself trustworthy and deliver fresh new content that answers your users’ questions.
Now, let’s take a closer look at why content is king in SEO success and how to masterfully craft content around the keywords you want to rank for.
RankBrain is a machine-learning component of Google’s algorithm that measures dwell time (how long users are spending on your page) and click through rate (CTR), which is the total clicks divided by total impressions (read more about Google Analytics here JOEL – PLEASE ADD A LINK TO STEP 3 BLOG ONCE IT’S PUBLISHED). RankBrain then moves your page up or down the SERP depending on those two factors.
3 Techniques for Improving Rank
There are three key ways to win at RankBrain. First, optimize your titles and meta descriptions for better CTR. Second, rank for highly relevant keywords. Third, write quality content.
Sounds easy, right? They are, and they’re also dangerously easy to overlook. Each point carries some pretty heavy weight when it comes to on-page SEO so ensure you are focusing your efforts on all three.
The first point is so important. Time and effort are wasted on creating great content out of awesome keyword research if there is nothing to attract users to your page. A gripping title and simple, to-the-point meta descriptions are necessary. Like the department store Macy’s revolutionized the storefront window, the title and meta description can lead users right to your page, wanting more of what your virtual window promises.
Target relevant keywords and the people using them.
Let’s highlight the second point. You can write as much content as you want but if it’s not relevant to your offering, people are going to bounce.
The word people is strategic here. We talk a lot about the user, which makes me picture a hand on a mouse, or the reader, which makes me picture a book. But when I read the word people, I imagine a face, which directs my efforts to a person with a brain and the ability to subjectively decide what he or she is going to read and why. It makes my work more personal.
Okay, maybe not that face exactly. This one is a little closer to human (and looks a little like my grandma):
This point is, I’m not directing my efforts to the Google Machine, I’m addressing the needs of the people who ultimately determine what Google does with me. Right? This is a critical mind shift with which to lead.
Create quality content.
High-quality content is one of the top ranking factors. But quality is a bit of an ambiguous, static term, isn’t it? Let’s go with engaging instead; it’s a bit more active.
Content that engages draws the reader in right away with a hook phrase that is both relevant and interesting. It keeps the reader wanting more by providing useful bits of information that are easy to absorb and answer the readers’ questions directly. It often tells a story to which the reader can relate. It also leads the reader to helpful resources that explore their query further.
Now, great content needs a bit of decoration. Something that yells out READ ME. Because let’s be honest, no one has time to fart around looking for the juiciest tidbit of meat.
When I land on a page, the first thing I do is cut the fat. I quickly scroll through the content to see if anything jumps out. What do I notice?
Three things, mainly: Images/videos, length, and headers.
We love images. They’re the eye candy that break up the text.
Length is often a good sign that a chunky chunk of content is going to feed me what I’m looking for.
Headers offer a place to start if I’m looking to pinpoint specific information. If the headers aren’t relevant to what I’m looking for (i.e., they don’t match my keyword query) then bouncy-bounce I go back to SERP and right into RankBrain’s time-out chair.
Rand Fishkin outlines seven elements of an optimized webpage. They are less quantitative than the SEO methods of yesteryear that called for specific keyword placement so they may seem a little loosey-goosey. But they’re not.
Qualitative strategies take center stage as the algorithms that assess relevance increase in complexity.
So, what makes a page brilliantly optimized according to Fishkin and Logical Mix?
- Offers uniquely valuable content and images
- Provides excellent user experience
- Targets specific keywords
- Easily shared through social networks
- Optimized for every device
- Accessible to crawlers
- Includes authorship, rich snippets, metadata, and schema
Fishkin created this genius, though mythical, perfectly optimized page, highlighting his seven factors, mentioned earlier:
Pretty cool, right? I’d love to land on more web pages like this: perfectly structured to answer my question and oh so pretty.
So there you have it. On-page SEO is actually a bit fun. Maybe not as fun as the keyword research it took to get here, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
What is the main takeaway?
Remember, you’re doing this for a living, breathing human being (or several thousand if you’re doing it right). Not a doll, not an ape (though possibly some monkey brains). Google is a machine, and although we want to please the machine, we’re still the ones ultimately in control… for now.
Appeal to your customer and find out how you can deliver what they want through super-duper on-page SEO.
When you’re structuring your pages, always keep this in mind:
People have questions. Be that place where the answers are.