on-page SEO

Now that you’ve learned the process of keyword research, the next step is to understand the factors that are involved in proper on-page optimization and some off-page. Armed with this knowledge, you can apply the right keywords needed for optimizing your website, blogs, affiliate landing pages and other online assets, resulting in a quick rise to the top.
Let’s start with important on-page optimization strategies essential for any well positioned website. You can manage many of these on-page factors using your website editor, plugin, or html editor. If you don’t have access to your site’s web pages or lack HTML experience, you can outsource this work but still need a basic understanding of what to do and how to do it. I cover everything you need to know about outsourcing later in this website so take a deep breath and relax. Effective search engine optimization is actually easier than you think.
As a quick side note, let me emphasize the importance of having direct access to your website. Many of the clients I’ve worked with over the past decade have to contact someone, usually with whom they haven’t spoken with in a year or more to get access to their own website. The days of abdicating responsibility for your website are long gone. Remember, it’s your responsibility to have ownership over your own website – it’s the lifeblood of your business. I’m not saying you have to do all the work yourself, or any of it for that matter, but you should always be able to log into the back end of your website and access your hosting account at a minimum.
You can easily gain control of your site by visiting your webhost (ex: Godaddy) and getting all of your login credentials. All of these sites have very helpful customer support if you don’t know how to find the information you need.


A meta tag is any one of a variety of labels you give your web page. There are quite a number of different meta tags but we’ll only be discussing the most common ones here. These “tags” or labels are essential for helping search engines understand the name of your website’s pages, what information the pages contain, are used to display a small description for search engine result listings, and determine how best to treat each page when indexed.
Meta tags are important because different search engines weigh the information in these tags differently. It is believed that Google uses meta tags in relation to other factors, ensuring consistency and validating key metrics about page content. It’s good practice to make sure that your meta tags are complete, accurate, and up-to-date.
Note: Each page found on your website must have its own unique set of meta tags. Duplicate tags will harm your rankings.
Here’s an example of the home page meta tags I use to describe just one of my websites,
<title >Big Fin SEO | Affordable Search Engine Optimization</title >
<meta name=“Description ” content=“Big Fin SEO is a search engine optimization service that helps companies improve website visibility and ranking by using only the latest SEO strategies.”>
You will notice from the example above that I’ve used only two primary meta tags. These tags include the Title tag and the Description tag. Many SEO’s have stopped using the keyword tag and for good reason. It’s believed that Google doesn’t even consider the keyword tag anymore so there’s no harm in simply leaving it blank. More meta tags exist but the title tag and description tag are the most important ones you’ll need to use when thinking about improving your ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). Other tags like the “robots” tag and “author” tags are helpful, but they aren’t crucial to getting you ranked on top. Let’s discuss each of the before mentioned tags separately and make sure you understand how to create each individual tag.
Did you know?
Depending on your website platform, accessing your meta tags can be really easy. Check for a plugin like Yoast or page editor that gives you direct access to your web page code. 


This tag is the page title. Not only does it tell search engines what the main theme of your page is, it also shows up as the title of your website on a search engine results page. For example, using the title I noted for my own website, “Big Fin SEO | Affordable Search Engine Optimization”, users will see this exact text when they google my company name. This is the beauty of SEO, you can control how your pages show up in search results. If I wanted the title to be different I could quickly change the meta title on my site’s home page and it would be reflected in Google search results.
As a general rule of thumb, make sure your title tag is no more than seven words and less than sixty characters , including spaces. This is the maximum number of letters and spaces displayed as a Google title. If your title is longer, it could run off and include three trailing dots when appearing in Google search results. On mobile, the length is even shorter (about 40 characters) but will wrap to the next line.
The reason you want to limit your title tag to only seven words is because Google places a weight (level of importance) on each word in your title tag. Therefore, the more words you have, the less weight applied to each word. This is why it’s so important that your title tag contains the key theme of your web page or website and focuses on your keywords.
Note: Place your keywords in the title tag! I’ll be covering keywords in the next section, so for the time being just remember that your title tag should include your keywords. Also, don’t be afraid to lead with your non-branded keywords on top level pages of your website. Your site should naturally rank well for your brand name so putting it at the end of your title tag is perfectly acceptable. On lower level pages of your website, including your company name is not necessary.
Update:  It used to be common to focus on two keyword phrases in your title tag and separate with a post (example: Internet Marketing Expert | Marketing Secrets ). However, Google is no longer providing benefit to webmasters using multiple keyword phrases in their page titles. Due to a variety of updates, Google has become much more advanced and interested in the context of the title tag in relation to a user’s search and page content. If you see other sites using multiple keyword phrases in their title tags, they’re probably missing out on ranking opportunities and applying outdated optimization techniques. Don’t dilute your keyword strength unnecessarily.
As a final note, work within the framework provided for title tag creation. By using up to seven words in your tag, you can develop many keyword combinations, mixing and matching terms. Keep in mind that every title tag you place should be unique but related. Using the same title tag on multiple pages can negatively impact your ranking.


This tag provides a description of your website or web page. When you enter a description for your web page it will show up under the website title in the Google search engine results listing. Meta descriptions can be any length, but Google generally truncates snippets to around 155–160 characters. It's best to keep meta descriptions long enough that they're sufficiently descriptive, so keep descriptions as close to 160 characters as possible.
I like to use my keywords in the description tag twice if possible—yes, two times. This has a direct impact on my SERPs and helps to improve click-through rates. The impact to Google is minimal but does help with your overall optimization efforts and click through rate as search terms are highlighted on search results. If you can, work your keywords into a description that seems natural and be sure to repeat your keyword phrase. Your description should be compelling and accurately describe what users will find when they click through to your page. This consistency is important to Google and the user experience.
Example of what to do:
“ SEO Made Simple can help you improve Google search results . Read testimonials of those who have improved their Google search results with these secrets.”
Example of what NOT to do:
“Google search results , Google search results , improve Google search results , buy this book to improve Google search results. ”
Overemphasizing your keyword phrase and stuffing your web page description can have a negative impact on your search engine rankings. Try to use your keyword phrase twice and no more. And be sure to generate a descriptive tag that compels browsers to click through to your website. This can provide a significant increase in the number of browsers who actually click through to your site from the search engine results page. Google has confessed that click-through rate is a significant driver of rankings.


The keywords tag is another way to educate search engines about your website but is no longer necessary. This is due to Google’s algorithm being able to determine the context of your webpage or digital asset based on other criteria. My belief is that keywords themselves don’t carry significant weight in isolation, but analyzed in conjunction with the overall theme of your page, could signal Google as to the legitimacy of your content.
The keyword tag, if used, should include your main keywords, those you’ve chosen as the main focus of your website, as well as those associated with the theme of your web page. That being said, as long as you follow the other on-page techniques explained in this book, there’s no need to use the keyword meta tag.
Note: Avoid keyword stuffing. When users place keywords on their web page or within their meta tags over and over again in an effort to improve SERPs—search engines (like Google) actually discredit the value of the web page.
When including keywords on your actual web page, you may want to think about keyword density and placement. Keyword density is the frequency of your keyword phrase in relation to all the words appearing on your web page. Although some SEOs still debate the value of keyword density, I find positive results when keyword density is between 2 and 4 percent. Meaning, only use your keyword phrase 1 – 3 times for every 500 words that appear on the page. Google is smart enough to know what your page is about… so you don’t have to go out of your way to tell it.
That being said, it’s important to make sure you’re using other words that reflect the topic your page is about. For example, if you’re focused on teaching people how to build a bird house, you may only use “bird house” a few times but you better include things like “birds”, “wood”, and “glue”. With just a few related phrases, images, etc. Google will know exactly what your page is about and what to rank it for in search results.


A Meta Author tag declares the author of the HTML or XML document of a website. An example of a Meta Author tag is as follows:
<meta name="Author" content="Michael Fleischner ">
In the Meta Author tag it will reference the name of the person who created the HTML or XML document for the site being viewed. If you use the Meta Author tag, it is recommended that you use the author's first and last names to avoid any conflict with other authors who share the same name.
The Meta Author tag is optional to use for your website but we know that Google is using this tag to pass authority to specific content, influencing it’s ranking in search results. If you have many individuals that are contributing to the content of your website, use the Meta Author tag to help track the author who wrote specific pages.
Personally, I like to use this tag to track the individual in my company that authored the page and let Google know that someone from my company is the originator of the content. This is particularly handy when other sites have copied our website pages and neglected to take out the Meta Author tag. It’s always great to hear their denials of plagiarism but even more important is the fact that Google credits our site with original content.


The simplest of all meta tags, the robots tag, signals the Googlebot, Google’s search engine spider, to crawl your entire website. In order to index your website properly and include all of your web pages, search engines send their spiders to review and scan your website on a regular basis. Google does this every two or three days. Some argue that the robots tag is no longer necessary for a full crawl. Whether true or not, this is something I don’t leave to chance. Adding the robots tag and uploading a sitemap to Google webmaster tools is the best way I know to help Google find all of the content on your website.
When the crawlers view your meta tags and see that your robots tag indicates “all,” they simply start crawling. Although some spiders would search the majority of your site without the tag, having it provides the added direction to search engine crawlers. Make sure the robots tag is included in your meta tags to improve crawling rates.
There are some Internet marketers or webmasters who recommend submitting each page of your site directly to search engines via single page submission. I don’t think this is even possible anymore and even if it were, it isn’t necessary, especially if you’re including the robots tag. Search engine crawlers do all the work for you.
What’s important is that Google indexes your site, and when it does, it can find all of your content. The robots tag can help with that process. Equally, if not more important, is compliance with W3C standards (industry accepted HTML standards) and a sitemap. When you combine the robots tag with an easily indexed website, Google and other search engines can find and index all of the pages on your website or blog.


Many people believe that if you have a special URL, one that contains the keyword you’re trying to rank highly for, you’ll be number one on Google. This isn’t true but it helps. The reality is that having your keyword in your URL does help in many instances but is not essential. In fact, past Google updates, exact match domains (domains consisting of only your target keyword phrase) were targeted– penalizing them for trying to game the system. Exact match domain penalties only impacted about 3% of active domains but underscores the fact that having a keyword as your entire domain name (URL) isn’t enough for number one rankings. 
Let’s explore this idea a little further. If this URL theory were correct, then a site that wanted to rank well for “seo company” could simply buy the URL of But do a search on Google for “seo company” and see what happens. You’ll discover that doesn’t even rank on the first page. This is because there are hundreds of factors that weigh in to number one rankings and exact match domains are no longer a sure thing. I do believe that having a portion of your keyword phrase in the URL is helpful (i.e. shows in results). 
Having your keyword phrase in the URL also helps with local search. Although probably not as important as including “SEO” in a title tag or having a site full of search engine optimization related content, having your keyword – in this example “SEO”, in the URL can certainly help point to your site’s theme. A more important factor is URL length. According to a recent Ahrefs study of over 2 million URLs, shorter URL’s performed better in search results.
In addition to having your keyword in your own URLs, you can also have your keywords in URLs that point to your website. Referred to as ‘link building’, having keyword rich anchor text is an essential link building strategy. Each time a website links to your website using only your URL address (example:, if that URL is partially made up of keywords, it provides a boost to Google search results. As I’ll show you later, having the right link profile, including your URL, variations of the URL, brand name, and target keywords, can help boost search engine results significantly.
Another great example of this URL concept is the keyword phrase “gopher.” Go to Google and enter the search term, “gopher.” If the URL theory was correct—that you have to own the URL that contains only your keywords—you would expect the first search result to be . However, the first few results are for authoritative sites like YouTube and Wikipedia.
Why? It’s because more sites link to the YouTube videos and Wikipedia’s listing of “gopher” and it has more authority than the next authoritative sites listed. As I mentioned, there are a lot of factors that go into producing top rankings and having the perfect URL is just one of them.
Another technique that I have found to be particularly useful from an SEO perspective is buying aged domains. An aged domain is one that was established some time ago and may even have some traffic coming to it. You can search for and buy aged domains using GoDaddy or . If you can purchase an aged domain that already has a portion of your primary keyword phrase included, the better. This can give you a jump start when launching your website because it has been indexed by Google, likely has inbound links, and may currently rank for the keywords for which you’re trying to optimize.


Before we leave the topic of URLs, it’s important to talk about SSL certificates. When you browse a website, its address either starts with http: or https: The second one, https://, means the site is secure. Some time ago, Google began penalizing sites that do not have the https:// designation, which means your site has acquired an SSL certificate. SSL stand for Secure Socket Layer.
An SSL is the backbone of a secure Internet and it protects your sensitive information as it travels across the world's computer networks. SSL is essential for protecting your website, even if it doesn't handle sensitive information like credit cards. Getting an SSL is rather easy to do and provided by most hosting companies.
If your website does not have an SSL certificate, get one now. You can confirm whether or not you have one by typing in https:// followed by your website URL. If your site doesn’t appear with the https:// designation, you don’t have an active SSL certificate. Sites with an SSL certificate should redirect to https: when users type in any version of their site - http://, www., etc. Check with your hosting provider and make the small investment in an SSL certificate if you want to improve website rankings.


As mentioned previously, I’m not a programmer, and, in fact, I know very little about web development. But I do know there is a right way and a wrong way to design a website. How do I know? I learned my lesson the hard way—through trial and error. Once I made the appropriate changes designed to help my SEO, my SERPs began to climb. That’s how I discovered the importance of proper formatting and coding.
If you work for a company or have ever made a call to a customer support representative, you know that businesses operate according to specific standards and service levels. The same is true when it comes to web programming. When dealing with website code, these standards are referred to as W3C. The acronym W3C stands for the World Wide Web Consortium. You can learn more about the consortium by visiting their website at .
For implementation of proper SEO techniques, you should verify that your website meets these industry standards. In my opinion WC3 has become a bit outdated, but there’s a good chance that Google is still using them. When visiting the W3C website you can learn more about W3C and even check to see if your site code meets W3C standards by using their free validation tool at . I recommend using this free tool that provides specific feedback as to which area(s) of your code meet HTML standards and which do not. Run each key page of your website through the validator.
Any errors you encounter will need to be fixed by someone who knows the code in which your website was written. It is important for you to resolve the coding errors noted for a variety of reasons—not the least of which is that Google will have an even easier time evaluating your website. If using Wordpress, search for W3C plugins that can identify or remedy any coding issues.
Note: Be sure to use cascading style sheets (CSS) when developing your website pages. A Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) is a file containing code that dictates the look and formatting of a web page. This helps to keep your code very clean. Instead of placing formatting code on the page itself, make a call to your CSS, which allows you to reference all of the design-related elements you need across your website. Most template sites already do this for you.

 HEADING TAGS (<H1>, <H2>, AND <H3>)

Heading tags (sometimes referred to as headers ) are used to emphasize text on a web page. Search engines love to see these header tags because pages with large headings indicate the substance and importance of the content. Use the tag—either <h1>, <h2>, or <h3>—that’s appropriate for your page and be sure to include your keywords in the tag. For example: <h1>free marketing articles</h1>.
Using the <h1> tag will display your text in a rather large format unless altered via CSS. The <h2> tag displays text slightly smaller than an <h1>. The <h3> tag displays text smaller than <h2> and so on. Try to use at least one <h1> tag on the page you are trying to optimize.
Don’t overdo it on your heading tags. One to three is sufficient on a page. The key is to make it flow well and appear natural. Placing tags that make your text appear unnatural will only hurt your website’s readability and performance. Google sees that you’re emphasizing text using these tags and giving the phrase a stronger weight.


Do you use graphics or images on your website? If you do, each image should contain an alt tag. An alt tag is simply the practice of naming a photo, image, or icon. You can check to see if your website images already have alt tags associated with them by running your mouse over the image. If an alt tag is in place, text should display. If text does not display, an alt tag is not present and needs to be added.
The literal benefit of an alt tag is that the text displays while your website images are loading, giving users information about the content included on your page. The primary purpose for alt text is to ensure people with disabilities can read the page. The secondary benefit (or primary SEO benefit) is that Google takes these keyword phrases into account when evaluating your website content.
The best way to tag your images is with your keyword phrase followed by additional content. For multiple images, use slightly different wording. For example, if you’re selling widgets and optimizing for discount widgets , you would include an <alt> image tag for your widget using the alt text “discount widgets on sale” .
The code that would be used to insert an image tag in this example:
<img src=“../images/widgets1.jpg” width=“125” height=“60” border=“0” alt=“discount widgets on sale”>
As with any optimization effort, don’t overdo it with images or alt tags. Too many images can result in a slow loading website, negatively impacting site load speed. Images that contain too many tags can signal keyword stuffing. Don’t neglect using alt tags for every image on your page. Be sure to label them with a single keyword phrase. 
The last thing I’d like you to keep in mind relates to images in general. Keep in mind that part of your website success depends on visitors staying and interacting with your content. In addition to tagging your images properly, it’s important to choose the right images. Use royalty free photos from sites like Pexels to offer high definition photos that engage your users.
Proper Keyword Placement
You must focus on where and how your keywords are placed on your web page. The frequency of placement is less important than once considered as we mentioned previously as Google has gotten more sophisticated with their ability to identify what your content is about based on just a few related keyword phrases.
Many people believe that if they fill their web pages with nothing but keywords, they can get top placement. Search engines have responded to this and actually penalize sites that over use keywords. The number of times your keyword appears on a given web page is called keyword density and you don’t need much of it.
The concept of keyword density isn’t talked about much anymore but is important to understand as well as the location of your keywords. The number of times your keywords are used on a given page as a percentage of the total number of words is a great start but doesn’t give us everything we need to fully optimize a given webpage. For reference, I like keyword density of 2 to 3 percent but never more than 4 percent.
Of greater importance is the placement and treatment of your keywords. Use the following guidelines to optimize your page:
  • Place your keyword(s) in the title tag, description tag, and alt tags.
  • Place keyword(s) in an <h1>, <h2>, and/or <h3> tag.
  • Place keyword(s) in the first twenty-five words of your page.
  • Once in the body of your page, and
  • Place your keyword(s) in the last twenty-five words of your page.
Note : A great way to get keywords in the last twenty-five words is by adding it to your page footer after the copyright. For example, “© Your Site Name. Your Site Keyword.” Adding your keyword phrase in this fashion is relatively natural and appears virtually unnoticed to those using your site.
Following these guidelines for proper keyword placement shows Google that your keywords are important to your web page and your website. It also helps you compete with other sites that are not as well optimized using these on-page factors.
The reason I take keyword placement seriously is because we don’t know how much of your page the Google bot is crawling. Of course the assumption is everything top to bottom, but do we know for certain? The answer is no, so we need to cover the basis. Based on some work we’ve done recently, pages that included keywords in the body section of the page performed much better than including a keyword phrase in the sidebar or footer.


In addition to ensuring that your website code is up to standards, avoid Flash and JavaScript on your page. In my entire career, I have never seen a site that leads with a Flash intro rank number one on Google. If you can find one, I’d be surprised.
Flash intros do not provide keyword content in a manner that is easily searchable by Google. Even if the Flash intro was well developed and contained your keywords in some shape or form, the Google spider would not be able to read it. The whole idea of a Flash demo, which is a self-contained entity consisting of dense code is the exact opposite of what Google values. Google searches for open content that is readable and easily navigated.
Is all Flash bad? Only if your site is completely Flash based or your homepage consists of nothing more than a Flash presentation. If your intro page is largely Flash or contains flash sliders with little room for additional text on the page, I encourage you to replace it with an HTML focused homepage. If Flash is still important, provide a link to your Flash script from your homepage. Also, consider using built in sliders like Slider Revolution if you’re using WordPress. By doing so, you can optimize your homepage and then drive users to view your Flash demo.
JavaScript, a type of code often used for the creation of buttons, navigation, tracking, and so on, is another double-edged sword. Using JavaScript can improve a user’s experience but at the same time, it can have a detrimental effect on your SERPs.
My recommendation is that if you would like to use JavaScript, place the code in an external file. This removes the majority of JavaScript code that appears on your site, helping your webpage load faster, and brings your most important content (meta tags, etc.) closer to the top of your page. You could also use a website plugin if you’re on Wordpress, to minimize Java script code.


A sitemap is a single page on your website that provides access to all other pages on your site, at least the most important ones. Sitemaps serve an important purpose. They enable search engines to spider your site much quicker. I strongly believe they are helpful in the optimization game – especially XML sitemaps uploaded to Google Search Console.
When a search engine bot arrives at your website, it will read the first page of your site and then start looking at your navigational links which include a link to your sitemap. When the search engine crawler reaches your sitemap, it begins visiting and indexing each link you have listed.
It’s a good idea to have more than an index of links on your HTML sitemap. Try to include short paragraphs of descriptive text for each link, which of course should contain your keywords.
You can create your sitemap in HTML. Doing so is easy and only requires an HTML editor. Your sitemap should consist of a single web page with links to your top-level pages.
Some search engines like Google require an XML based sitemap for proper indexing. Creating an XML based sitemap isn’t difficult at all. In fact, Google has made it easy for you with more free tools. You can get started with Google sitemaps and other tools by visiting Google at
A number of free programs on the web such as can help you create an XML sitemap. Once you’ve created a XML sitemap that lists all of the pages on your website, upload it to your server and submit it to Google Sitemaps through the Google Search Console feature.
Note: Don’t forget to update your sitemap every few months or so if you’re actively adding content to your website. And you should be. We’ll discuss content later in this guide so for now just keep in mind that as your site changes, and so should your sitemap to reflect all of the changes you’ve made.
Uploading your sitemap to Google can have a positive impact on SERPs. Take the time to learn more about sitemaps, develop, and publish your own sitemap in html and xml.


One of the most important on-page optimization opportunities you have is to develop a simple and direct internal linking strategy. Internal linking refers to the linking structure your site uses to reach secondary pages on your website – pages that are lower down in the hierarchy. How you link from one page to another is very important but often overlooked or dismissed as a minimal strategy. The reality is that many sites can significantly improve their rankings based on a strong internal linking strategy.
Internal linking provides direct access to your web pages in order of importance. The best practice for internal linking is to link to your main category pages from your website’s homepage. To illustrate, let’s say that I’ve created a website related to clothing.
In this example, the website’s homepage is all about clothing and the types of clothing being offered for sale. From the home page you can access main category pages related to specific types of clothing. For example, “men’s clothing”, “women’s clothing”, “kid”, etc. Once users navigate from the homepage to a given category they can drill down even further to see, “shirts”, “pants”, and so on. Within these areas of focus you can read all about products, prices, and how to order individual items. To facilitate easy navigation, the homepage has links to each of the category pages.
Category pages may also be referred to as “top-level pages.” The reason I use this label is because each of these pages is directly accessible from the home page in just one click. There are numerous benefits to this type of architecture which I’ll be covering in more detail but essentially, the closer a webpage is to your root domain (, the more page authority it will possess. Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) are directly correlated with website rankings. These measures refer to the overall importance of your website – domain or page. This has been proven over and over again when analyzing top ranked web pages. Keep your navigation simple and focus on a top down structure that passes authority to your most important web pages first and foremost.
Although internal linking can be accomplished in a variety of ways, this is just one example of a basic linking structure you can follow. Here are some tips you can use to ensure your internal linking is designed properly:
  • Include links to all of your main category pages from your homepage by placing links in a navigation menu. This menu should be available on each page of your website. Also, you can place links to your category pages in your website footer.
  • Include your keywords in links where possible. This tells Google what content can be found on the other side of the link and reinforces your internal linking strategy.
  • Don’t place more than three links to the same page on your homepage. This is unnecessary and it could trigger potential issues with the Google search engine.
  • Remember that your page is hierarchical, meaning that your home page and top level pages have the most authority. Pass that authority to the pages that matter most on your websites.
Never underestimate the power of internal linking. Internal links are important because they allow for easy access to your content by search engine crawlers and can transfer authority between web pages.
Warning: Make sure your internal, and external links, aren’t broken. There’s nothing more frustrating to a user than clicking on a link that goes nowhere or gives them a 404 error. This is true for site links as well as those pointing to a third party site. Moreover, Google penalizes sites with too many broken links. Top ranking website have less than 2% broken links. Use a link checker to make sure you’re okay. Search Google for a broken link finder and run a check, fixing any broken links on your site.
This wraps up some of the most important on-page optimization factors you should be working with to improve website rankings. From meta tags to title tags and even internal linking, on page optimization is essential for top rankings. Remember, an on-page optimization effort can’t be effective without considering what keyword phrases you are optimizing your web pages for and integrating them into your site. Always have 1-2 target keyword phrases that you’re focused on integrating into each web page. Trying to optimize for more than one or two per page will hinder your efforts for top rankings.


On page optimization is comprised of a number of factors as we’ve already discussed. And keyword usage is where on page optimization begins to blend with off page optimization. But it all begins with a well-designed, fully optimized website. As I’ve mentioned throughout this guide, making sure that your technical (on-page) SEO is taken care of is the most important beginning to a powerful, well ranking site. I’d also like to stress three important factors to consider before we start talking about off-page optimization. These areas have only grown in importance as Google’s algorithm has evolved to improve the overall search experience.
Factor 1: Engaging Content. Google is really focused on evaluating the usefulness of content. There are a variety of ways this can be identified including time on page, number of views, and most importantly the number of shares. In fact, with a closer correlation between social media, time on site, and click-through-rates, greater focus should be placed on developing engaging content.
This is one of the reasons why long-form content still works well. It keeps users on a web page longer and encourages sharing. If you haven’t already integrated social sharing icons into specific content pages of your website, now would be a good time to do so. As your content gets shared, it builds authority through inbound links and popularity.
When producing content for your website and webpages, focus your effort on original, engaging content. I like to think about “long-form” content as integral to any SEO effort that builds authority and produces strong search results. Long form content is anywhere from 800 – 1,600 words and uses sub-heads, bullets, images, and even a topical index, to make navigation easy on both mobile and desktop. As noted earlier, include “Share” buttons on your webpages to help engagement scores.
If you’re trying to rank for position zero, appearing at the top of search results, consider doing your research before authoring your content. Although long form content that’s easily navigable is a must, you can learn from what others are doing who are currently in the top spot. Often times, with just a little bit of research, we can see someone appearing in the top result for our target keyword with outdated or incomplete content. If you model their content strategy and framework, you can often achieve a similar result give the right inbound link profile and page authority.
Factor 2: Website Load Speed.  A fast loading website is a very important ranking factor, it always has been. By using Google Mobile Speed Test or some other type of free online tool like GTmetrix to help determine how fast your website loads, compared to your competition, is an important step in the ranking process. Faster loading websites generally do better in search engine result listings (SERPs). This is because Google is interested in improving the online experience for users. If you clicked on a search result and did nothing but wait you’d grow impatient with Google and move on to the next search engine. Don’t overlook the importance of a fast loading website! Since the mobile first update website load speed has only become more important to your rankings.
Keep in mind that you want your site to perform well on both desktop and mobile. However, Google is indexing mobile first making it the best place to start. One way to test your load speed is with the Google Mobile Speed Test . Based on the analysis, you can update your site to respond more quickly. This will give you site an edge when it comes the competition.
Factor 3: Google Analytics. Tracking how people interact with your website calls for additional focus here, whether you like data or not. When you know and understand how people arrive at your site, how they navigate, stay, interact, and leave your site, you can dramatically improve engagement and popularity which are helpful from an SEO perspective. Engagement is when someone comes to your website and clicks on, or navigates to, specific content. For example, you may find that most of your visitors to your organically because of a blog post you did about a on topic. This would be an indication of what people want and you could replicate it with additional blog posts.
The opposite is also true. When you have the proper tracking code on your site, Google Analytics or some other type of web based tracking, you can see where people are leaving. Most websites have a 50% or higher abandonment rate on their home page. People get there and go back out to search results without clicking further. But some of your content might be really sticky. That’s what you want to learn so you can avoid this type of content in the future.
By considering and implementing all of the on-page factors associated with a well optimized site, you can gain an advantage against other websites competing for your select group of keywords. Start with effective keyword research and turn your attention to building or maintaining a well optimized website using the techniques we shared.


Here’s what you should take away from this section about on-page optimization:
✓   On-page optimization is what you do on your website to influence SERPs on Google.
✓   Doing proper keyword research is the first step to a successful SEO campaign.
✓   Keyword development is one of the most important on-page optimization strategies.
✓   Research keywords and competing websites to select ideal keywords.
✓   Research the strength of competing websites before selecting your final keywords using Google PR and authority (ex: number of inbound links).
✓   Having proper meta tags is essential. Always include your keyword phrase(s) in your meta tags.
✓   The proper meta tags include your title tag, description tag, keywords tag, and robots tag.
✓   Choose your URL carefully. Your URL doesn’t have to have your keyword included but it helps when other sites link to your site. Avoid exact match domains.
✓   How you format your page is important for optimization purposes.
✓   Make sure you design your web pages so Google is forced to read your on-page content first.
✓   Verify that your code is W3C compliant.
✓   Don’t forget to include your keyword phrase(s) in <h1>, <h2>, and <h3> header tags. This signifies the importance of your content to Google.
✓   Label each graphic with an alt tag that includes your keyword phrase.
✓   Eliminate Flash if it’s the main presentation of your website. Google does not view this favorably.
✓   If you’re going to use JavaScript to enhance the overall visitor experience of your website, place the code in an external file.
✓   Include a sitemap that’s easily accessible by Google. Submit an XML version of your sitemap through Google Webmaster Tools.
✓   Never underestimate the power of internal linking. A good internal linking structure can improve your SERPs.
✓   Developing engaging content is one of the most important things you can do to optimize your website. Make it easy to share pages on social media.
✓   Page load speed is a significant factor in Google rankings. Ensure that your home page loads more quickly than those of competing sites.
✓   Track what’s happening on your website and learn how to improve engagement.


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