Do you want to increase your website’s rankings? SEO is a powerful way to do this. On page SEO refers to the content on your website, and it can take time and patience to get it right. In this blog post, we will go over three tips for optimizing SEO on your website so that you can rank higher in search engine results pages (SERP).
These tips are the foundational pieces that I have used for my business and clients that flat out get results.
SILOing Your Content
A big part of search engine optimization is creating content. One mistake people make is not structuring that content properly so it is easily followed. The first thing you need to know is how to structure the content so when someone comes to the site they can easily navigate and find the content they are looking for.
The best way to do this is through SILOing your content.
What is SILOing you ask?
SILOing stands for “siloing information.” It’s the process of organizing website content in a hierarchical manner. On each page, you have to provide links that lead users down a hierarchy, or order, of topics or subtopics.
I like to draw it out on a white board and make it look like an organizational chart.
Here is an example of what a hiearchy would look like:
The main topic of focus for the entire website is right at the top. Below the main topic, start creating subtopics. I like to keep the subtopics to 5 or less in the beginning. Then, underneath each subtopic, start writing all the potential things you can write about on that particular topic.
If you have a hard time coming up with things to write about, go to websites like answerthepublic.com or quora.com and search the subtopic. Then just write down all the questions that come up and answer them.
How long should each article or piece of content be for SEO?
There are many answers to this question depending on where you focus. From our experience with clients, we have found that top-performing content is at least 1200 words and that content should not be less than 800 words. If content is under 800 words, it typically performs poorly in rankings.
Now with SILOing, you can use multiple pieces of content in a “series” like format to get the word count up.
The idea behind having this much content is that you want to build authority on the topic.
Google hasn’t really come out and said 800 – 1200 words is the mark, but if you can easily write 1200 words on a topic it shows that you know a little of what you are talking about, Google likes that.
As for keywords and getting all that in there. Each piece of content should be themed towards a question or single topic that falls under that sub topic. This makes it really easy for keyword strategy.
What I tell my clients is to not worry about making sure the right keywords are in the right place. I tell them to focus more on providing high quality content that is easily consumable. The keywords will appear where they need to.
You want your content to be organic, authentic, and easy to read and understand. The more you focus on this, the better your content will be and the higher it will rank.
As you build out your SILO visually, it’ll be easier to also connect the dots across categories where you can provide internal links for additional content to better strengthen your content.
Once you have content written the next thing you should put focus on is Rich Data snippets, or Schema Markup.
What is schema markup?
Schema markup is a way to structure your content for search engines. On the internet, there are different types of data that websites can use, and it’s important to be able to “mark them up” so that they’re easily understood by search engine crawlers.
There are two main things you need schema markup for – reviews & people or organizations.
Of course there are other areas such as videos, FAQ’s, breadcrumbs, etc.
The type of site you have will dictate how in depth you want to go with the schema or structured data snippets.
The way Google likes to see it is in the JSON format.
Now I know what you are saying…”that sounds super techie and I don’t want to do it.”
I’m here to tell you…yes it is techie and you must do it!
Luckily there are a ton of plugins and websites that will write this for you and all you have to do is give the information.
The website I like to use and have clients use is https://technicalseo.com/tools/.
This website has a bunch of other tools to help with your robots file, sitemap and htaccess file.So you can leave the real techie stuff to the software. All you need to worry about is copy and pasting it into the right place.
The really cool thing about schema is not a lot of websites do it. If you are in a niche, especially a local niche (ie. HVAC, Hotel, dentist, massage therapist, etc.) you will easily beat out your competition just by adding schema to your site.
Just remember, Google will always serve you when you give them as much information as possible in their preferred format. In many cases, this will be the sole reason you outrank the competition.
There are many other factors in getting high rankings for your website, but having well-written structured data is one of the big factors that Google looks at.
Now that we have awesome content that is structured with a SILO, and the site is properly marked up with Schema, we must continue with providing that great user experience.
The best way we go about doing that is making sure the site loads fast.
Website Loading Speed
One of the main things that affects website ranking is how fast the site loads.
Google has said that they are using page speed as a ranking factor.
There are many things you can do to increase your website’s loading time, such as optimizing images, compressing files, and caching static content.
Using sites such as GTMetrix will give you an awesome idea on where you can get started with your speed optimization and what is going to make the biggest impact right away.
Once you have made the adjustments, I always cross reference through Google’s PageSpeed tool to make sure I am doing the right things and getting the desired results.
Another thing you can do is use a content delivery network (CDN).
A CDN is a service that distributes your website’s files across multiple servers located around the world. This speeds up the loading time by serving the files from the closest server to the visitor.
There are many different CDNs available, such as CloudFlare and MaxCDN. I like to use CloudFlare because it’s free and easy to set up.
One Last Recommendation
This bonus tip is to make sure you have a Google Search Console, formerly known as webmaster tools, account. You can use this to check your crawl rate and see if there are any errors you need to fix on the site. On top of that, it’s great for getting feedback from Google about how they view your website.
Just by doing these few things, you can greatly improve your website’s loading time and boost your SEO rankings.
SEO is not a one time fix and it’s an on-going process. You must always be working to improve your website’s ranking. These are just a few of the things you can do to get started.
Better Alternatives To ‘Click Here’
Nothing is more boring and unmotivating to a user than seeing a big “Click Here” or “Learn More” link.
As a user, they’re already researching a product or a service they want to purchase. Of course, they’re going to click links to learn more.
Going Beyond “Click Here” Or “Learn More”
So, how do we get users motivated to take the action that we want them to?
It begins by:
- Understanding user goals and user behavior.
- Establishing trust.
- Creating accessible, clearly labeled directions that inspire interest.
It sounds so easy in theory, but in truth, why are our webpages only converting at an average of 2.8% in the US?
Obviously, something is missing from our webpages. If 97.2% of us don’t convert on a webpage, we’re likely confusing our users on what we want them to do to some degree.
Let’s dive into how we can accomplish this.
While You’re Here, Go There Now
The trick to optimizing calls to action is to present the action at the precise moment when your website visitor is most interested in taking the next step.
If a user is met with a call to action before any information, do you think they are going to click on it?
If the landing page isn’t what a user expected, every time you present another opportunity to leave the page, your user may not trust that you can help them solve their problem.
The call to action is clearly labeled in the example below.
Even better, it is obvious designers understand their customers’ fears over money, ease of use, customer confidence, and the use of color.
First Date Links
When your webpage visitor is ready to take action, they must feel confident that the link invitation is worthwhile, credible, and constructive.
When you present a new product offering, nothing should prevent your visitor from immediately seeing what it is.
We may begin by being sly, especially if we want something. I call these “First Date Links.”
The screenshot above is taken from an ecommerce website. What you see here is the entire top half of the homepage.
There is no text. There are no product images.
First-time visitors would need to know in advance what the company is selling.
With this website, first-time visitors are required to scroll down, wait for the gigantic images to load, and scan minimal text to gain a better understanding of the brand and its products.
The fun part of this “First Date Links” example is knowing that this particular brand runs this special or something similar to it every single day.
There is no incentive to “shop now” for regular customers and first-time visitors have no idea where that “shop now” button is taking them.
They’ve been presented with this link that will likely overwhelm them with choice and decision paralysis – and most likely leave the site.
Try adding specific promotions for your loyal customers, or even first-time customers, into your marketing strategy.
By creating specific promotions segmented by customer type, you’re showing that you understand what they’re searching for.
Trust, credibility, and being forthcoming with your story add spice to calls to action on websites and real-life too.
If you have watched the original film, “The Wizard of Oz,” you will understand why I refer to these calls to action as “Scarecrow Links.”
These are calls to action that provide many choices, usually with vague labels and often to the same destination.
In the film, when Dorothy is traveling the Yellow Brick Road to find Oz, she comes upon the Scarecrow and asks for directions.
Dorothy: Now which way do we go?
Scarecrow: Pardon me. That way is a very nice way… [pointing]
Dorothy: Who said that?
[Toto barks at the Scarecrow]
Dorothy: Don’t be silly, Toto. Scarecrows don’t talk!
Scarecrow: It’s pleasant down that way too! [pointing in another direction]
Dorothy: That’s funny. Wasn’t he pointing the other way?
Scarecrow: Of course, people do go both ways [pointing in both directions]. That’s the trouble. I can’t make up my mind. I haven’t got a brain. Only straw.
Sometimes, calls to action are placed within webpage content at a moment when we really don’t want choices. We just want to be directed to that cool thing you just showed us.
In the example below, the top CTA is the best option because the destination is clearly defined and is the desired user task.
If the company wants customers to learn more about curvy jeans, they can provide this information on the landing page that presents sorting options when they click to shop all the curvy jeans.
The smaller link to details would make more sense if it explained what the details are about.
Is it a size chart? Pricing?
What does that link do for us that “Learn more” doesn’t offer?
What does the user really want to do here after they have been shown images of curvy jeans?
Link Optimization Is More Than A Label
This next example is a mixture of a button, text sentence, and text sentence with a clickable icon overlaying a large header image.
If you were to watch someone using your website during a live session, you would most likely watch them mouse over the button, the text, and the text with the icon to see which one is going to go somewhere they want to go.
For this example, the “Learn more” button label provides no information about what we are going to learn.
It is the most visible CTA and the eyes of the person in the image are facing the button, which is a designer trick because studies show we look to see what the face is looking at.
How can we optimize the CTA for this page?
First, remove the “Learn More” button. We are going to give it an upgrade.
The text below the image, in tiny font size, is not linked. It asks a question, but the user must look for where to get the answer.
It also asks a question that may not be as important or interesting as the one following it. I would remove the entire “Want to get to know us better” sentence.
The more compelling story is why.
The button can be larger and placed in line with the model’s eye gaze. The button label is the invitation to “See why we do what we do” and link that to their story.
Not only does this narrow the choice to one link for one lead task, but it is easier for screen reader software to announce the link and direct visitors listening to the page.
Links with labels such as “Learn more,” “Read more,” “Shop now,” “Submit,” “Click here,” “Download,” and “Continue” are common.
However, these links are probably less likely to be clicked on than a more specific, inviting link.
Don’t be afraid to experiment to optimize calls to action by inviting the action. Don’t be afraid to tell the user what you want them to do by clicking that link.
If anything, you’re guiding them on their purchase decision journey.
Now, sometimes we may get a little too enthusiastic with our link text.
Every Call To Action Is A Risk
Remember that when providing a call to action, it must be placed at the moment when you inspired your reader to leave their train of thought.
Every call to action is a risk. At the minimum, your link should:
- Have a clear label with the exact destination.
- Be easy to see and read.
- Be compelling to the person.
- Present itself at the exact moment when it is most useful.
- Not have competition (other links) nearby.
- Navigate to the desired task that will provide a benefit to your user.
As humans, our attention span is already short.
Each time a call to action takes them forward, they may have forgotten where they just were.
Calls to action are sometimes annoying interruptions.
What additional incredibly fascinating information is hiding behind “Learn more” that is so compelling that you have interrupted their thought process?
It better be worth it.
We have a small window of time to catch a user’s attention.
Using generic language like “Click Here” or “Learn More” won’t cut it anymore. When creating call-to-actions for a user, try to reiterate what exactly you want them to do.
Don’t insert CTA links for the sake of having them or taking up space.
Rethink your link strategy by viewing it from a user’s point of view: Is there more than one link option? Are they both needed? Are they clear enough for a user to take action?
Furthermore, your content leading to that call-to-action should be enticing enough for them to want to take action.
Featured Image: Motortion Films/Shutterstock
In-post image #4 created by author, June 2022
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