On-Page SEO Techniques To Rank On The First Page – 2018 Edition
Want to make your post keyword-targeted, SEO-optimized, and ready to drive more traffic?
Would you like to make it easier for search engines to understand what keyword(s) your blog should rank for?
If you answered “yes” to any of these, then you are about to learn the secrets of making your blog post keyword-targeted.
When it comes to optimizing a website or a blog post, there are two main factors at play:
- On-page optimization
- Off-page optimization
Today’s article will focus on on-page optimization, and I will be sharing lots of good on-page SEO techniques you should implement while working on optimizing your blog posts.
Now, let’s not confuse on-page SEO-optimization with onsite SEO-optimization.
- Onsite SEO refers to the optimization of the entire website with things like sitemapping and setting permalink structures.
- On-page SEO optimizes content for a target keyword within a single blog post. This includes using proper headings, proper keyword placement, ensuring content quality, and paying attention to many other factors.
Why Do You Need On-Page Optimization?
Now, when some bloggers hear the term “SEO-optimized articles”, they think this is some kind of bad practice.
But it’s not only not bad, it’s necessary.
Here’s what Harsh had to say about his effort to recover from Google Panda:
Search engines are nothing but a set of algorithms. They look into various factors to rank your page for certain keywords. Now, we need to help search engines identify that target keyword from the post in order to make that post more relatable to readers.
Here is some food for thought:
- Why are you not ranking on the first page of search results?
Well, there are likely a lot of reasons, but if you aren’t paying attention to SEO, then that’s probably the biggest reason.
So when we do SEO-optimization of a post, we follow a certain set of proven methods to rank it higher on a search engine.
Now, Google doesn’t only consider on-page SEO score when ranking an article. It also takes into account many other factors like social media signals (shares, likes, tweets, follows, etc.), backlinks, domain authority, and many other off-page metrics.
Our goal with on-page SEO is to optimize an article in a natural, but smart way, so that search engines can easily pick out the target keyword and bring our website targeted visitors.
Before you read more, I assume you know about keyword research and how to find keywords to target. If not, check out these posts:
- The Importance of Keywords in SEO: A Beginner’s Guide
- SEMRUSH Review: A SEM Tool to Research Competitors’ Keywords
- Best Keyword Research Tools For SEO: 2018 Edition
According to Searchmetrics, here are the latest search engine ranking factors:
As you can see, a lot has changed over the past several years. While you can clearly see from this infographic that off-page SEO is important, on-page SEO should not be neglected.
In particular, the golden rule still applies:
- Content is king.
One thing which I would recommend you start doing is adding in videos to your blog posts. Videos will not only increase the amount of media on your posts (which will engage users), it will also make your posts that much more informative and content-rich.
You’ll see an example of what I’m talking about in a minute.
10 On-Page Optimization Techniques For Better Ranking in 2018
Before I share some specific tricks, here are a few non-technical things that you can incorporate today:
- Improve user experience.
- Make sure your website is responsive and broken links are kept to a minimum.
- Ensure that readers coming from search engines spend a lot of time on your site. If they hit the back button quickly, your ranking will drop quickly too.
- Make sure your site is maintaining a standard of professionalism.
- Use proper copywriting techniques to make people stick around.
- Create good content.
- Try using benefit-driven sub-headings to be more engaging.
- Don’t write fluff.
- Seek feedback and improve.
So now I’ll share with you the 10 on-page optimization factors you should keep in mind while optimizing your blog posts.
1. Blog Post Title
This is the most important on-page SEO factor. The reason for this is because the more attractive and optimized your title is, the more people will click. And in general, the more clicks your post gets, the higher it will rank.
You should try to use the targeted keyword or phrase toward the beginning of title (H1) tag, but if that’s not possible, make sure it’s at least somewhere in the title.
You should also not repeat the same keyword more than once in the title tag because you think it will help the article rank higher. It won’t. It could actually hurt your ranking. Don’t do it.
And keep the title length to under 65 characters.
For more on how to write a great title, check out:
- 7 Free Blog Post Title Generators & Analyzers for More Traffic
- How To Write Catchy Headlines And Blog Titles Your Readers Can’t Resist
- How To Show Different Post Titles To Readers And Search Engines
2. Post Permalink Structure
Making sure your URL is displayed correctly is an important on-page metric. Again, you should use your target keyword in the URL, and avoid using special characters, symbols, brackets, commas, etc. within the actual URL.
Use dashes to differentiate the strings in your URL structure. These are called “pretty” permalinks and are supported by most web browsers.
Example of a good permalink:
For more on permalinks, check out:
- Which Is The Best WordPress Permalink Structure For SEO?
- How To Change WordPress Permalink Without Losing Traffic
- What Is The Best WordPress Permalink Structure For SEO?
3. Heading Tags
You should use heading tags to highlight various headings, sub-headings, and important points.
In WordPress, the title tag is set at H1. You don’t really need to use any more H1 tags anywhere in the article. One is enough. For section breaks, stick to H2 and H3 tags.
Also, don’t use too many H2 or H3 tags as Google’s algorithms won’t like that.
Here is what Google’s Matt Cutts has to say about repeating heading tags:
4. Keyword Density
You should keep the keyword density around 1.5% percent with a mix of LSI keywords. But as Matt Cutts explains in the video below, there is no real magic formula.
Use your main keyword once in the first paragraph and again in the last paragraph. And use it in the content where it makes sense.
- Shattering The Myth About The Keyword Density Formula
- 5 Online Free Keyword Density Calculator Tools
Here is Matt Cutts again:
5. Meta Tags
You should add a unique and relevant meta description with each blog post.
Again, you should use your use targeted keyword in the meta description, but don’t keyword spam your description. While search engines pick up on keywords, it’s also important for users to click on the post. You need to write user-friendly meta descriptions that make sense and are related to your post.
With regards to meta keywords, Google has made it clear that they don’t care about them. But some search engines, like Bing, may still care a little.
Here is the official statement from Google regarding meta keywords:
Image optimization does help a lot in driving traffic from image searches.
Keywords in the “image title” and the “alt text” help to make your blog post more focused and targeted.
But more important than that:
Images create engagement.
And the more engaged a user is, the more likely they’ll stick around, thus increasing your overall rank.
But there’s one very important point to note. Large images will slow down your site, and having a slow loading site will decrease your Google rank. So it’s very important to:
- Compress images.
- Use a caching plugin.
- Use a CDN.
For more about how to speed up your site, check out:
- How Website Loading Speed Affects Usability & Solutions For Slow Loading Sites
For more on images, check out:
- 20 Awesome Tools For Creating Engaging Visuals
- 10 Absolutely Free Websites To Download Stock Images
- 5 Best WordPress Plugins For Finding Images From The Dashboard
7. Word Count Per Post
Blog posts that don’t have a lot of words typically don’t perform well on search engines. That’s because they’re usually seen as being “less informative”.
Ofcourse there are exceptions, but for a general information-based blog, creating posts with at least 500 words is pretty standard.
It’s always better to be well-researched and overly informative than it is to not provide enough information. This is especially true if you’re targeting highly competitive keywords.
Suggestion: Analyze other posts for your target keyword and see how many words they have.
While there is no “official” count, longer posts tend to rank better because there is typically more information there. For instance, this post is over 2,000 words.
But be careful not to over do it.
For more on writing informative content, check out:
- How To Make A Content Marketing Strategy That Works!
- Content Marketing: 6 Essential Elements You Can’t Ignore
- Write A High-Quality Blog Post With These 6 Tips
8. Internal Linking
Place links to related posts from your blog inside of your blog posts.
Interlinking of blog posts will help your blog readers spend more time on your blog, and it will also help pass page rank to other pages of your site.
When interlinking, try to use a keyword as the anchor text, but be very careful not to overdo it.
Internal links that are relevant to the original post show search engines that you are providing extra information beyond what is being displayed in the content.
But make sure your interlinking is relevant and necessary.
For more on interlinking, check out:
- What Are The Top Benefits of Interlinking Your Blog Posts?
- The Art Of SEO Interlinking
9. External Linking
Apart from linking to your own blog posts, it is a great idea to link out to external websites as well. Again, only do this if the information on the external website is relevant to the information in your post.
While linking out to external websites, you should link to trusted websites only. And if you have doubts about the authority or popularity of a website, you can use a nofollow tag to avoid passing your link juice to potentially bad sites.
You should use dofollow links for trusted websites and nofollow links for those that are less trustworthy.
But somewhere authoritative like Wikipedia, or CNN, or a major player in your niche, will not only be trustworthy, they’ll likely have relevant content that your readers will love.
This will make your site appear more credible.
10. Write Engaging Content
You should write engaging content. Period.
If you’re trying to get by with low-quality content and “trick” search engines, you will surely fail.
Your post should be a complete manual for that keyword. You should learn how to engage your audience in a way that works for them. Try asking your readers questions and answering them. Understand what they want to read, and then write that.
If you are unable to write engaging content, people will not spend much time on your blog, your bounce rate will increase, and your rankings will plummet.
For more on creating great content, check out:
- How To Write TOP Content If You’re Not A Native English Speaker
- How To Use Creative Writing Elements For A Better Blog
- 5 Little Known Secrets of Writing Compelling Blog Posts
On-Page SEO Checklist:
Here is a checklist you can use to make sure you are doing everything possible to rank higher in search engines.
- Keyword in title.
- Keyword in permalink.
- Keyword in first paragraph.
- Keyword in image alt tag.
- Use LSI keywords in body (use SEOPressor plugin to find related keywords).
- Use LSI keyword in H2 or H3.
- Shoot for around a 1.5% keyword density.
- Remove all stop words from permalink.
- Add multimedia (video, slides, infographics).
- Minimum 500 words.
- Optimize images before uploading (compress and resize).
- Optimize page load speed.
- Create a meta title less than 65 characters.
- Create a meta description less than 320 characters. (This is a new meta description limit for 2018)
- Internal links to related articles.
- Outbound links to relevant high-quality sites.
Other things not mentioned here:
- Make sure to add an image for Facebook, Twitter, etc.
- Make sure to have social sharing buttons either at the end or floating on the site of your post.
- Have related posts after each post to lower down bounce rate.
Things not to do:
- Don’t put more than one H1 tag (your post title is H1).
- Don’t repeat the same H2 and H3 tag. Read about heading tags for SEO.
- Don’t stuff keywords.
Things to focus on:
- Use your keyword in the post title.
- Use long tail keywords.
- If writing in an evergreen niche, remove dates from the posts. (Use Date Exclusion SEO plugin.)
- Content length: The longer the content, the better it probably is. But don’t try to needlessly increase the content length.
- At the end of blog post, ask users to take action.
How To Do Proper On-Page SEO Of Blog Articles
So these are 10 tips that will help make your on-page SEO much better and more likely to rank on search engines.
But it’s important to remember:
You can’t trick a search engine.
The things that rank the highest are the things that are the most informative, the most engaging, and the most useful. So strive to create content that readers love, and search engines will love you too.
What are your tips for optimizing blog posts? Share them with me in the comments below!
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