There are several different elements and aspects that you can focus on. Ideally, you’ll have a comprehensive on-page SEO strategy that encompasses the best practices and innovative optimizations that will drive long-term success.
But if you’re challenged by time, budget, or other limiting factors, you may need to prioritize your efforts and demonstrate quick wins to justify further investment.
In this column, you’ll find tips on which on-page SEO elements to start tweaking for better rankings, and context to help you understand why you’re making these changes in the first place.
What Are The Top Elements Of On-Page SEO?
There are two primary types of on-page SEO elements:
Your content elements include your website’s written, visual, and video content.
The content you write and the content you embed into your website should focus on providing value for your audience.
If your content doesn’t have a clear focus, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to provide your audience with the information they need.
Your content needs to be making good use of your keyword research, too.
If you’re not focusing on keywords relevant to your audience, how can you possibly create relevant page content that meets their needs?
An HTML element is anything part of your web page defined in HTML, the default code behind the scenes. This includes items like the title, meta description, and image alt-text.
It also includes the HTML elements that are rendering the page.
HTML elements play a crucial role in telling Google what your page is about and how it should rank in its search results.
If you’re not using these elements correctly, then they could be negatively impacting your rankings.
5 On-Page SEO Elements To Tweak For Better Google Rankings
There are many ways to optimize your website for search engines, but some basic elements should be present on every page.
Here are five on-page SEO elements to test and optimize if you find your pages are underperforming – and as best practice for new webpages, as well.
1. Written Content
Of course, the first place you’ll want to turn your attention to is your page’s written content. If your primary purpose of writing content is to convert your audience into paying customers, you’ll want to ensure that each page focuses on providing value to your audience.
Make sure that the content you write is making good use of your keyword research. If you don’t have a clear focus for your content, then your audience will be hard-pressed to engage with it.
Use HTML subheadings to give your content structure and call out topical relevance signals to both readers and search engines.
And although we know that E-A-T is particularly important in YMYL topics, all web content can benefit from being made to demonstrate more expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
2. Title Tags
The title tag is the “title” of your page and is the main element that search engines use to determine what your page is about. The title tag should be focused on the exact keyword that your page is targeting, as Google has confirmed it is a “tiny” ranking factor.
If you target the keyword [Boston Baltimore pets], your title tag will need to include that phrase. This will help your page appear higher in the search results and make it easier for your audience to find it.
See this Complete Title Tag Optimization Guide to learn more.
3. Page URL
URLs play an essential role in both SEO and user experience. Every webpage generates a unique URL, and you should be taking the time to make sure that yours contain the right keywords.
Try including your target keyword in the URL in a way that makes sense to your audience.
If they are looking for a product, you may want to include the product’s name in the URL. If you are targeting the keyword phrase “Boston Baltimore pets”, for example, then the URL could look something like:
Including a keyword in the URL is an easy way to help Google determine the content of your page and how it should rank.
You also want to ensure that your page URLs are short, sweet, and to the point. Long, complicated URLs are difficult for search engines to understand and a challenge for searchers.
Your URLs should be easy to decipher and remember or recognize – making it easier for your audience to type into the search bar should they need to return to a specific page.
See The Ultimate Guide for an SEO-Friendly URL Structure to learn more.
4. Image Alt Text
While more content creators are beginning to understand just how vital the visual elements are to a website, too many still neglect an important on-page SEO element: their video and image alt text.
Alt text is a description of the image or video that is displayed behind the visual element. They don’t typically appear on a well-functioning website because it’s used as an alternative way for the viewers to see what was intended.
For example, if a photo doesn’t render properly once your webpage loads fully, then the alt text would take its place so that the view can still understand what it was you were trying to show them.
If you don’t include your target keywords in your alt text, the search engines won’t index your visual elements, which can prove detrimental when your audience decides to do a video or image search instead of a standard Google search.
Alt-text also ensures that your content is accessible to everyone who views it.
That’s because the alt text is the easiest way to tell someone using a screen reader that there is audio or video associated with a page.
These tools can be beneficial for making certain types of content accessible to users with visual or hearing impairments.
5. Both Internal And External Links
Internal links are links that point to other content within your website. They help Google understand the context of a page and how it relates to other pages on your site.
Check out these internal linking best practices that can help support your SEO strategy.
External links, on the other hand, point to content outside of your website. They can help you build reader trust by linking to reputable sources and offering more information on complex or lesser-understood topics.
Conduct Regular Audits To Ensure Your On-Page SEO Is Up To Par
Ensuring your on-page SEO is up to par is a continuous process and should always be a part of your SEO strategy.
If you have the manpower and resources to conduct regular audits on your site, you should be conducting them at least once a month. See 9 Page-Level Factors To Assess As Part Of Your SEO Audit for a checklist to help guide your efforts.
With the right support, you can ensure that your on-page SEO is top-notch and that your site generates high-quality leads and conversions.
YouTube CEO Defends Removal Of Dislike Counts
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki defends the removal of dislike counts on videos in her annual letter outlining the company’s priorities for the year.
Many may be disappointed to hear that revisiting the decision to remove dislikes is not in YouTube’s plans for the year, as Wojcicki stands firm in her belief that it’s best for the platform going forward.
This is quite a contrast from how a YouTube co-founder feels about the decision, saying it was a bad move.
Wojcicki repeats much of what we’ve heard before from YouTube spokespeople, saying dislikes were removed because they were sometimes a reflection of viewers’ opinion of the channel and not the video itself.
“We heard from many of you about the removal of public dislike counts on YouTube, and I know this decision was controversial. Some of you mentioned dislikes helped you decide what videos to watch.
However, people dislike videos for many reasons, including some that have nothing to do with the video, which means it’s not always an accurate way to select videos to watch.
That’s why dislikes were never shown on the home page, search results, or Up Next screens where users were most likely to choose a video.”
Further, Wojcicki repeats the standard company verbiage that it was best to remove dislikes sitewide due to select channels being targets of “dislike attacks.”
“We also saw the dislike count harming parts of our ecosystem through dislike attacks as people actively worked to drive up the number of dislikes on a creator’s videos.”
Removing dislikes allegedly has no impact on viewership, Wojcicki says.
However, that doesn’t take into account the impact to user experience.
“So we experimented with removing the dislike count across millions of videos over many months. Every way we looked at it, we did not see a meaningful difference in viewership, regardless of whether or not there was a public dislike count. And importantly, it reduced dislike attacks.”
The dislike button remains on the site and channels can find their dislike counts in YouTube Studio.
Dislikes will continue to be factored into YouTube’s recommendation algorithm, impacting the videos that are suggested to users on the home page.
Other Highlights From YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s Annual Letter
In Wojcicki’s letter we learn:
- YouTube Shorts has reached 5 trillion all time views.
- The number of channels making more than $10,000 a year is up 40% year over year.
- YouTube Channel Memberships and paid digital goods were purchased or renewed more than 110 million times in 2021.
YouTube’s key priorities for the year include YouTube Shorts, helping creators make more money, and improving the shopping experience.
In the coming months YouTube will expand on Shorts by introducing more ways to remix content.
YouTube will continue to allow creators to make money on Shorts through the Shorts Fund, which is now available in more than 100 countries.
The Shorts fund isn’t exclusive to creators in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). Over 40% of creators who received payment from the Shorts fund last year weren’t in the YPP.
This year, YouTube will test new ways for Shorts creators to build branded content through BrandConnect, a program that matches creators with brands.
Wojcicki highlights the following recent updates to content monetization, which will continue to be priorities this year:
- Pre-publish checks: Allows creators to find out if there’s a problem with copyright or ad-suitability before hitting publish.
- Updates to advertiser-friendly guidelines: Allows additional content to be monetized.
- More details about policy violations: The company is hiring more people to provide creators with specifics about policy violations, like timestamps of where a violation occurred.
YouTube will continue to work on a product tagging pilot program that gives viewers the chance to browse, learn about, and shop products featured in videos.
The company is in the early phases of testing how shopping can be integrated with Shorts.
Also in testing is a livestream shopping in the US, South Korea, and Brazil.
This year, YouTube will bring shopping to more creators and brands by partnering with commerce platforms like Shopify.
Source: YouTube Official Blog
Featured Image: Wachiwit/Shutterstock
Why Does Google Not Recognize My Competitor’s Links As Manipulated?
This week’s Ask An SEO question comes from Arvin from Vancouver, Canada, who wrote:
“One of our competitors has gotten tons of backlinks from unrelated posts including forums like that of apache.org (and many other .edu sites, too). Even after updates like Penguin, why are they considered relevant backlinks by Google?”
Let me begin by saying, Arvin, that we are a sports-loving family.
I currently have four kids on seven teams.
I love the lessons that sports teach my kids.
And one of the big lessons I work to instill in my kids is never to blame the referees for a loss.
I’ve never seen any sporting event where, if one of the teams did something better, the referee’s call would never factor into the outcome.
This lesson translates well to SEO.
Focusing on your competitor’s SEO instead of improving your own is a frustrating waste of time.
But, as an SEO, it is important to understand the factors that are affecting the rankings of each keyword.
Like Anyone Could Ever Know
Unless you work at Google, you can never be certain about why one site is ranking over another.
We can run sophisticated mathematical models to try to understand the algorithm.
But the bottom line is we can’t ever know for sure.
In fact, I’m not even sure the folks that work at Google could unequivocally tell you why one site ranks over another.
The algorithm is so complex that no one person could ever decipher it completely.
How Do You Know The Links Are Relevant?
There is no way to know if the links that your competitor has built are being counted by Google.
Google knows a lot more than our tools tell us it knows.
None of the many backlink analysis tools available on the market today can tell you if Google is counting a link or isn’t.
These tools use data gleaned from their own analysis to determine if a link is relevant or if it is toxic.
Meanwhile, one piece of content or simple link from a strategic site could be boosting the site’s rankings.
Concentrate On Your Competitor’s Strengths
When you look at the “bad” things your competitors are doing, you may miss a tactic that could put you over the top for that keyword you just can’t get to rank.
Instead of looking at all the things you think they are getting away with, look at what they are doing that is legitimate that you aren’t doing.
Frequently, when a prospect comes to me screaming about the travesty of an “inferior” company is ranking above them, the real reason for the ranking usually has nothing to do with the perceived injustice.
But usually when we find the real reason – or at least what I think is the real reason – we uncover a technique that this prospect should double down on.
It could be that your competitor has more robust content around a specific subject.
It could be that your competitor is utilizing technical SEO techniques better than you are.
It could be a thousand things.
Bottom line – when doing competitive analysis, concentrate on discovering things your competitors are doing better than you are.
Look for techniques you can modify for your own use rather than concentrating on how your client is cheating.
Especially if you don’t plan to cheat yourself.
And I recommend you don’t.
Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!
Featured image: VectorMine/Shutterstock
5 Key On-Page Optimizations For Local SEO
When trying to capture those “near me” results, these are definitely beneficial.
However on-page optimization also plays a significant factor in the signals that are sent to the search engines to influence your local rankings.
On-page SEO helps you rank higher in organic results and in MapPack results, as well.
Here are five on-page optimization tips to help boost your local visibility in search.
1. Make Sure Your NAP Is Consistent
NAP is an acronym for Name, Address, and Phone Number.
These three simple pieces of information can make or break your local SEO strategy.
Make sure you have these bits of information displayed prominently on your site. A footer is a great place to house your NAP since it will appear on every page.
Linking it to your Google Map is even better.
You can also display your NAP on service area pages and on your contact page in the body.
Consistency matters. It’s important that this key business information is the same anywhere potential customers find you online – and anywhere Google may be using it for comparison to ensure its accuracy.
This helps crawlers and bots to connect the dots between your Google Business Profile, website, and other local citations through the web.
Don’t get lost in minute details such as abbreviations over spelling out street names. It doesn’t really matter as long as you choose one and stick with it.
2. Spruce Up Your On-page Content
Your site content is an opportunity to show both your customers and the search engines that you are the authority in your area for the service you provide.
Include specific details such as landmarks and street names, in addition to the services you provide in this area. Make it clear why the customer would need your service in that specific area.
The more you sound like you belong there, the better the user experience for your customer.
Think as your customer thinks.
If you were looking for your service near you, what terms would you use?
Would you include your local metro, city, or even neighborhood?
The answers to these questions will help you determine the type of content you need and which keywords to include in this content.
These keywords will help you target both combination searches [dentist in Chicago] and GPS-based searches [dentist] while sitting in Chicago.
This is where the “near me” searches come into play.
Google matches the location of the user (using IP or geolocation) with sites that service the area near the user to provide these search results.
You can optimize these keywords on overall service pages or on targeted pages created specifically for the service and the targeted service area.
Using the dentist example, let’s say you offer teeth whitening services throughout the Chicago and Southern Wisconsin areas.
In addition to your main teeth whitening page, you may have individual pages for teeth whitening in Chicago, Evanston, Milwaukee, and Racine.
Each of those pages should be hyper-targeted and optimized for that specific location.
Don’t be shy here; this may be the landing page for many of those location-based searches.
Really tell your customer why they should trust you enough to click on either the next page or your CTA.
Don’t forget to do your research.
Customers who live in an area will know the common jargon and things that are native to the area.
If you come in with half-baked information, they won’t trust that you are authentic and truly care about their local area.
3. Optimize Header Tags
If you haven’t explored this subject yet, be sure to check out this resource on best practices in using header tags.
By creating local-based service pages, you have just created additional real estate to create highly targeted header tags including local-based keywords + your services.
Having great header tags gives both the visitors to your site and the crawlers a basic idea of the overall structure of the page and what to expect as they read through the content.
Be careful not to just stuff keywords into the header tags as this will be unnatural to both your visitors and the crawlers.
Keep it relevant.
4. Internal Linking
Use the power of internal linking throughout the site to educate both your customer and the search engines that you are available to serve customers in that local area.
As you are adding city names to your on-page content, you can use them as an anchor link to the service area pages.
You can also get a bit creative and create widgets, lists, and blocks that house multiple links to your service areas on top-level pages for a bit of SEO boosts.
This could be in the form of a “metro areas we service” block that includes the name of the metro, an image of the area, and a short excerpt.
The text would then link to the location page.
5. Local Business Schema
Schema markup can help give the search engines a better understanding of your site.
The local business schema type includes important and relevant information such as addresses, reviews, hours of operation, social media accounts, service area geo-shapes, and departments in your code that may not necessarily live in your on-page content.
This tells the bots and crawlers all about who you are, what you do, where you do it, and why others trust you without cramming it all on a page.
This also gives you a bit more control of the information you are putting out there instead of relying on the search engines to figure out different resources around the internet.
How Will I Know If This Is Working?
Once you have everything optimized and ready to go, you will want to know if this is really having an impact on your local SEO strategy.
There are many tools out there however we will take a quick look at a few.
Local Search Results Tools
There is nothing like looking at the SERPs directly unless you can look at the SERPs in a simulated environment that mimics the local area that you are targeting.
With these tools, you even have the option to view Google Maps, select options such as desktop and mobile, and get as granular as the zip code level.
Geo-Grid Local Ranking Tools
Geo-grid local ranking tools like Local Falcon and Local Viking are a bit more visual and monitor the map results within a selected area.
These tools are great because you can actually schedule periodic scans that will capture a snapshot of your results and keep a history of how well your site has performed locally on the maps throughout time.
Since these scans are also keyword-based, it’s also an effective way to monitor optimizations within your content and title tags.
Google Business Profile Analytics
There’s nothing like getting information directly from the horse’s mouth.
When making optimizations, if successful, you should see a boost in your Google Business Profile metrics, whether those are click-throughs to your site, calls, or requests for driving directions.
As your visibility increases, you should naturally see an increase in traffic.
Remember when optimizing for on-page local SEO, keep it simple and relevant to your business.
Once customers see that you are providing what they are looking for in the location that they desire, the rest is natural.
It is your job to make sure that you are providing them with the right information.
Even with the rapid changes within the local SEO space, a solid on-page strategy is a winner for both you and your customers.
Featured Image: MaDedee/Shutterstock
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