Now, simply making an amazing website is not enough to realise that goal. The old adage of “build it and they will come” doesn’t work on the web. After building a website, businesses must continue investing in marketing it and further fortifying their online presence with visibility.
From social media advertising to inbound marketing, there are several ways to market your business on the web. Despite the introduction of so many new marketing strategies and technologies, organic marketing on the search engines is still considered one of the most effective ways to gain targeted visibility for business websites.
With that said, optimizing your website for search engine performance entails a long list of tasks. That’s why, a lot of businesses enlist the help of an SEO company to help them with their efforts of ranking for the relevant keywords in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
There are even aspects of search engine optimization that are not under your direct control. These are called off-page ranking factors.
On the other hand, there are also several on-page factors that you must optimize for, before you can even begin off-page optimization.
In this article, we will be focussing on such factors. Let’s begin by looking at on-page SEO in a little more detail:
What Is On-Page SEO?
Simply put, on-page SEO is the practice of optimizing the elements of your website to make it discoverable by search engines.
The web is currently populated with well over a billion different websites, with several hundred millions of them trying to secure high ranking positions in the SERPs of the search terms that are relevant to their business or industry.
With on-page SEO optimization, website owners can help search engines categorize their website in the right niche and in turn, ensure that their website appears in the SERPs for relevant search terms.
In short, on-page SEO optimization is aimed at helping search engines easily find and crawl your website, and categorize the pages of your website in the right niche.
Now that we have understood what on-page SEO is, let’s look at how it is performed.
Using The Right Keywords, The Right Way
Keywords are perhaps the most important element of your on-page optimization efforts. Keywords are the search terms that your potential customers and target audience use to conduct searches on various search engines.
In turn, search engines use the presence of these keywords to determine the search queries where displaying your website would provide their users with the information they are looking for. Naturally, getting keyword research and optimization right is critical to the success of your search engine optimization efforts.
So what does keyword research and optimization actually entail? Let’s look at both in a bit more detail:
- Keyword Research: Simply put, keyword research is the act of finding relevant keywords that you want your website to rank for in the SERPs. Most of the time, keyword research for new websites starts with a ‘seed keyword’ that is an educated guess of a keyword that you think your users might be using.
Alternatively, you can also start researching for keywords by identifying online competitors and researching the keywords that they are optimizing for.
To find a list of keywords with either of those strategies, you will require a robust keyword research tool. Fortunately, most SEO tools available today come with an in-built keyword research feature. However, if you are just starting out with your SEO efforts, you might not be able to justify the cost of an SEO tool.
Thankfully, there are several free tools that will enable you to perform keyword research for free. In fact, certain SEO tools offer a free version that allows website owners to conduct keyword research and other on-page SEO optimization tasks with a free SEO checker feature.
However, such freemium tools usually put limits on the number of tasks that a free user can perform in a particular window of time, or on the number of features they can use.
Still, if you are just starting out, the features you can access for free are good enough for you.
Here’s an excellent guide to help you with your first keyword research.
- Keyword Optimization: Once you have determined which keywords you want to target, it is time to include them in various elements of your website. Keywords are usually included in the content, the meta titles and descriptions, the alt text of images, and in the URLs.
We will be discussing each of this in the following sections but for now, let’s look at the things you must keep in mind while including keywords in your content.
For starters, you must limit the number of times keywords are used in your content, regardless of whether it is a blog post or a product page. Using a high concentration of keywords in content is viewed by search engines as ‘keyword stuffing’ and their algorithm is designed to punish such practices. Instead, use keywords whenever and wherever they are contextually relevant.
With that said, it is a common best practice to include keywords in the title and the first paragraph of your content. Once again, this doesn’t mean that you should cram your keywords into the title even if they don’t make sense. Instead, think of a way to include the keyword in a manner that doesn’t compromise the quality of your title.
Tagging Titles And Subtitles
Tagging your titles with <H1> tags and subtitles with <H2> tells search engines about the hierarchy and structure of the content present on a particular webpage.
However, H1 and H2 tags aren’t just necessary to help search engine crawlers determine the structure of your page.
Search engines use the information and terms used in the titles and subtitles to gauge what kind of information is present on a specific webpage. This in turn allows search engines to present said pages as results for relevant queries.
Now, if the search engine doesn’t even know which text is the title, doing that can be very difficult.
This is where an H1 tag becomes important as they tell the search engines that a specific piece of text is the title and will communicate the important information about your content.
On the other hand, H2 tags tell search engines that you care about the user’s experience on your website. H2 tags are usually used to denote subheaders.
Breaking content down in subheaders makes it easier for users to read through the content and consume the information within. Using H2 tags with your subheaders allows search engines to rank your content based on the information it communicates, and not just the information that the title communicates.
Let’s understand this with an example. Let’s say you have a website dedicated to dental services and you write a blog post about maintaining dental hygiene at home.
Now, you decide to structure your article according to best practices and include each personal dental hygiene task as a subheader. Let’s say one of the subheaders talks about the benefits of brushing your teeth twice in a day, instead of just once.
Now, let’s say someone conducts a search about why one must brush their teeth twice in a day.
While your blog may not be about that topic, it will still stand a chance to be featured in the results, but only if you have ensured all subheaders are tagged with an H2 tag.
Creating Authentic, Actionable, and Value-Based Content
By now, you should know the keywords you want to target, the correct way of using said keywords, and the importance of presenting your content in a structured manner.
Now, let’s talk about creating content. Even if you are new to the world of internet marketing, chances are that you have heard the phrase “content is king”.
Even after all these years, this quote is still very much true for those who are looking to get organic traffic to their website with the help of SEO strategies.
This became even more apparent in 2011, with the Panda update rolled out by Google. The algorithm update was aimed at punishing thin content that was just uploaded for the sake of populating the website.
These days, Google continues to punish thin content but reward in-depth, helpful pieces of content with organic traffic.
So what makes a high quality piece of content?
The answer to that question is not definitive as something that may work for the audience of one business may not work with a different audience. However, there are a few guidelines that one can follow to ensure they aren’t producing a “thin” piece of content:
- Consider Relevance: Being relevant with content is perhaps the most important aspect of producing content for search engine optimization. Relevance of content is not limited to simply producing content that your niche might find helpful. You must ensure relevance in the content type and format both. This means understanding the intent behind the keywords you’re targeting and producing a relevant piece of content.
For instance, if you are targeting the keyword “email marketing”, make sure you search the term of Google before you decide what kind of content you will be producing. Here’s what the organic results look like when I search for “email marketing”:
As you can see, none of the organic results are selling anything. This shows that the intent behind the search term is informational and not transactional. This means, if you are trying to produce content with the objective of ranking for “email marketing” you probably will not be able to do it with a product page. A blog post about email marketing will probably work well.
Which brings us to content format. Just like content type, it is also important to observe the content formats that are ranking well for your target search term or keyword.
Check out my one simple SEO tip that you can do in the next 10 minutes
International SEO: Tips for the Grand Stage
So, in this blog post, you’ve learned about keyword research, tagging titles and subtitles, and other SEO tips that might help you out in general. But what if your company is set for international expansion? A good international SEO strategy lets Google or other search engines know which countries you’re targeting. This strategy includes:
- Using top-level domains and subdomains – You’ll need to use a country code top-level domain (ccTLD), plus subdomains for your page, and a subfolder or subdirectory. This is so you can host multilingual web pages in one website.
- Using international keyword research – You have to keep in mind that there are a different set of keywords that rank in different countries. Knowing the Google stats for this is key too.
- Creating localized content – You also have to ensure that the needs of each locale you’re targeting is met. Creating quality localized content will go a long way to create brand awareness through international SEO in those countries.
- Global SEO factors – factors like the use of hreflang, local site hosting, and local content marketing will help improve your international SEO strategy.
For a more detailed guide to a good international SEO strategy, you can look to this resource for answers.