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Why It Makes No Sense (And What to Do Instead)

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Why It Makes No Sense (And What to Do Instead)

Everyone knows that structuring your website in a logical way is as important for users as it is for SEO, and “siloing” is one way many SEOs recommend doing this.

But I think that “siloing” is a terrible idea and isn’t something you should do.

In this post, I’ll explain why that is and what you should do instead.

But first, let’s make sure we’re on the same page…

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What is silo structure in SEO?

Silo structure in SEO is a type of website architecture where you group, isolate, and interlink content about a specific topic. This creates clean, distinct sections of related content on your website.

Here’s roughly what SEO silos look like in practice:

Flowchart of silo structure in SEO

You can see that each silo consists of a main silo page and related content, all of which are interlinked. However—and this is a crucial point—the content in one silo does not link to the content in another silo. That’s why it’s called silo structure, as the content is literally isolated in silos.

Why is siloing so popular?

If we run a quick search in Content Explorer, we see over 11K published pages containing the phrase “silo structure” and the word “SEO.”

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Content Explorer search of "'silo structure' AND seo"

The reason for its popularity is the perceived benefits, which usually go something like this:

1. It helps Google to find your pages

Internal links are one of the ways Google finds new pages, so it’s best practice to ensure that all of your pages are interlinked in some way or another.

Siloing can help with this because it creates a logical hierarchical structure with consistent internal linking.

2. It boosts rankings

There are two main reasons why siloing may help to boost rankings.

Better flow of PageRank

PageRank (PR) is Google’s formula for scoring the value of a page based on the quantity and quality of pages linking to it. Backlinks are how PR flows into your site, and internal links are how PR flows around it.

As all pages in a silo are interlinked, siloing helps PR flow between them.

In effect, if one page in a silo attracts lots of high-quality PR-boosting backlinks, some of that PR is shared with other pages in the silo through internal links.

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More contextual internal links

Silos are groups of related content. This means that the internal links between pages within them are usually contextually relevant. In other words, siloing creates internal links to and from pages about similar or related things—and usually with relevant anchors, too.

Both of these things help Google to understand the context of a page, as John Mueller explained in this Webmaster Hangout:

[Internal linking] also helps us to get a bit of context about that specific page. And we get some of that through the anchor text …  and some from understanding where these pages are linked within your site.
John Mueller

For example, if you knew that a page had these internal anchors…

  • The company founded by Steve Jobs
  • The iPhone manufacturer
  • CEO, Tim Cook

… you could probably figure out that it’s about Apple.

The same would be true if a page had internal links from pages about these things:

3. It creates a good user experience

Internal links aren’t just useful for SEO; they also help users to navigate your website.

For that reason, siloing can improve user experience, as it effectively brings topically similar pages closer together. In other words, siloing places content about Steve Jobs, iPhone, and iPad fewer clicks away and helps you find relevant content more easily.

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What’s the problem with silo structure?

Given the potential benefits of siloing, you may be wondering what the problem is and why it’s not something I’ll recommend.

The answer: Forbidding internal links between silos is silly and doesn’t help SEO or users.

For example, let’s say you had these three silos:

Flowchart of three silos: gym studios, gym classes, gym instructors; notably, instructor "Sarah" is under the silo "gym instructors"

Very neat. But what if Sarah teaches Pilates at the New York studio? Wouldn’t it make sense to internally link Sarah’s profile, the class she teaches, and the studio she works at?

Of course. But this would ruin your “silos.”

It’s worth pointing out at this stage that some SEOs disagree with the idea of restricting internal links to silos, including Gael Breton from Authority Hacker:

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Historically, when reading about SEO silos, you’ve probably read about the idea of ‘keeping link juice in the silo’ and only internally linking to pages that are in the same site section.

We disagree with this.

We believe that, in content, as long as it contextually makes sense to link to another page of your site, you should do it.

Gael Breton

However, the reality is that once you do that, you’re no longer siloing. You’re effectively just using a traditional pyramid site architecture, which is recommended by pretty much everyone, including John.

The top down approach or pyramid structure helps us a lot more to understand the context of individual pages within the site.

John Mueller

Best practices for site structure

With silo structure out of the window, let’s look at a few simple best practices for planning and structuring a website with SEO in mind.

1. Use a pyramid structure

Pyramid site structure puts your most important content at the top, followed by your second most important content, your third most important content, etc.

This is how most websites are structured.

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For example, here’s what a website selling home furniture may look like:

Flowchart of pyramid structure with "home" branching out to "living room" and "dining room"; each of them then branches out to related furniture categories

You can see that the internal linking structure resembles a pyramid.

Here are the benefits of pyramid site structure:

  1. Easy to navigate – Visitors start on the homepage, choose a category, then dig deeper.
  2. Good PageRank flow – Site homepages tend to get the most backlinks, so having important content close by makes sense.
  3. Internal links are contextual – Categories link to their respective subcategories and vice versa.

You’ll notice that those three benefits pretty much align with the perceived benefits of silo structure. It just doesn’t have the downside of prohibiting internal links between silos, which brings us neatly to…

2. Internally link where relevant

The main problem with SEO silo structure is that it prohibits linking relevant contextual opportunities outside of the silo. Using a pyramid structure with no such stipulations solves this.

For example, let’s say that you have some dining room chairs and a sofa in the same style. You can happily internally link between those pages despite them being in different areas of the site.

Flowchart of pyramid structure; notably, "blue velvet sofa" and "blue velvet chairs" can be interlinked even though they're located in different areas of the site

This is better for users and your bottom line.

If you want to find relevant internal linking opportunities, there are a couple of ways you can do that using Ahrefs’ Site Audit (get access for free with Ahrefs Webmaster Tools account).

The first is using the Link Opportunities tool, which suggests where you should add internal links.

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For example, here the report is suggesting we link from our SEO glossary to our meta robots guide:

Internal link opportunities report results

This is because our meta robots guide ranks in the top 100 for “meta robots.”

The second is using the Page Explorer tool, which allows you to search for mentions of any word or phrase on your website.

For example, if we search for mentions of “search quality rater guidelines” on the Ahrefs blog, which is a keyword we’re targeting in our QRGs guide, we see a mention in our list of Google ranking factors.

Page explorer report results

It probably makes sense to internally link from here, as it may help boost our page in Google.

3. Create content hubs for blog content

Blog content typically suffers from a lack of contextual hierarchy because it’s published chronologically. You can solve this by creating content hubs out of related posts.

Content hubs are similar to silos in that they are interlinked collections of related content.

Here’s what they typically look like:

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Flowchart of content hub: "vegetable" is in center and branches out to different vegetables like carrot, beetroot, etc

The only true difference between hubs and silos is that you’re free to link between content hubs.

For example, let’s say that we have two content hubs: one about fruits and the other about vegetables. Given it’s a common misconception that tomatoes are vegetables, it may make perfect sense to internally link from the post about tomatoes to the vegetable hub page.

Flowchart showing 2 content hubs "fruits" and "vegetables"; "tomatoes" connected to "fruit" can be internally linked/connected to "vegetable" hub

You’re free to do that with content hubs because, unlike with siloing, there’s no rule that you can’t.

In effect, content hubs give you the best of both worlds; related content is grouped and interlinked (as is the case with silos), but you’re also able to internally link between pages where it makes sense. 

Recommended reading: Content Hubs for SEO: How to Get More Traffic and Links With Topic Clusters

4. Make sure important content isn’t too deep

Deep content is harder for users to find, but it’s a common misconception that this is also true for search engines. As long as your content is internally linked, Google will be able to find and index it.

The problem is that Google may not prioritize the crawling or indexing of deep content because it assumes it holds little to no value for searchers.

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This is why you need to ensure that important content is not buried deep in your site.

You can see how deep your content is at a glance using Ahrefs’ Site Audit. Just go to the Structure Explorer and toggle the “Depth” tab.

"Depth" filter in Structure explorer

For example, you see above that most of the pages on the Ahrefs blog are between one and three clicks from the seed (in this case, the blog homepage). However, a few pages are 5+ clicks away, which probably isn’t ideal for important content.

You can see the pages in each depth bucket by clicking on the corresponding part of the visual representation.

For instance, if we click on the “5” bucket for the Ahrefs blog, we see only archive pages:

List of URLs and corresponding data in the "5" bucket

As these pages aren’t particularly important, the depth probably isn’t an issue. However, if we saw important pages or posts here, we might consider adding relevant internal links to them from other content higher in our site’s hierarchy.

Final thoughts

Organizing your content makes sense, but siloing your content doesn’t. All this does is preclude you from internally linking to your content from relevant and contextual locations on your site, hindering SEO.

My advice is to organize your site roughly in a pyramid structure, group related blog or informational content into hubs, and then simply internally link to and from pages wherever it makes sense. This is not only best for SEO, but it also makes your site easier for visitors to navigate.

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Got questions? Disagree? Ping me on Twitter.




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How We Built A Strong $10 Million Agency: A Proven Framework

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How We Built A Strong $10 Million Agency: A Proven Framework

Building a successful agency can be a daunting task in today’s ever-evolving space. Do you know the secrets to succeeding with yours?

Watch this informative, on-demand webinar, where link building expert Jon Ball reveals the closely guarded secrets that have propelled Page One Power to become a highly successful $10 million agency.

You’ll learn:

  • The foundational principles on which to build your business to succeed.
  • The importance of delegation, market positioning, and staffing.
  • More proven lessons learned from 14 years of experience.

With Jon, we’ll provide you with actionable insights that you can use to take your business to the next level, using foundational principles that have contributed to Page One Power’s success.

If you’re looking to establish yourself as a successful entrepreneur or grow your agency in the constantly evolving world of SEO, this webinar is for you.

Learn the secrets of establishing a thriving agency in an increasingly competitive SEO space.

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View the slides below or check out the full webinar for all the details.

Join Us For Our Next Webinar!

How An Enterprise Digital PR Firm Earns 100’s Of Links In 30 Days

Join us as we explore how to scale the very time-consuming and complicated process of earning links from digital PR, with proven case studies showing how you can earn hundreds of links in 30 days.

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SEO Woe or a Load of Baloney?

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SEO Woe or a Load of Baloney?

Toxic backlinks are links that some SEO tools say could hurt your website’s Google rankings. The implication is that you should disavow them to keep your site safe.

But there’s some disagreement and confusion among SEOs as to whether “toxic” links are actually a thing and what, if anything, you should do about them. 

If you believe Google’s John Mueller, they’re not: 

Yet, according to my poll, the majority (just!) of SEOs think they are: 

So… what’s the deal here? Are toxic backlinks actually a thing? Are they hurting your site? And if so, what should you be doing about them? 

Before we can answer those questions, we need to understand the terminology… 

Every website has some spammy backlinks that just don’t make sense. But that doesn’t necessarily make them manipulative or “toxic.”

For example, here are a couple of obviously spammy links to our site: 

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Example of spammy links, via Ahrefs' Site ExplorerExample of spammy links, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

We didn’t build or buy either of these, so they’re not “manipulative” by definition. They’re just low-quality links we’ve attracted over time because the internet is rife with spammers. 

If you study Google’s link spam documentation carefully, you’ll see that, in theory, these aren’t the kind of spammy links they have a problem with. They warn only against the ill effects of spam links intended to manipulate rankings. 

Google uses links as an important factor in determining the relevancy of web pages. Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site. 

Here are the examples Google gives of these manipulative links: 

What Google says are manipulative linksWhat Google says are manipulative links

As for “toxic backlinks,” this is just a term made up by certain SEO tools to describe backlinks they think could hurt your rankings based on several so-called “markers.”

Key takeaway

  • Spammy links are low-quality links that every site attracts through no fault of their own. 
  • Manipulative links are links built or bought solely to improve Google rankings. 
  • Toxic links are links that certain SEO tools say could hurt your website’s rankings. 

If you asked this question before September 2016, the answer would have likely been “yes.”

So what changed? 

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Penguin 4.0.

With this algorithm update, Google switched from demoting pages to a system that tries to ignore bad links.

Penguin is now more granular. Penguin now devalues spam by adjusting ranking based on spam signals, rather than affecting ranking of the whole site. 

Since then, Google’s stance has been that you can ignore spammy backlinks. 

If you’re seeing individual links that pop up and you say, “oh this looks like a spammer dropped the link” or whatever, I would completely ignore those. […] because these spammy links happen to every website and Google’s system has seen them so many times over the years that we’re very good at just ignoring them. 

John MuellerJohn Mueller

But is this true? Is Google really as good at ignoring low-level spam as we’re made to believe? 

Judging by my colleague Chris’s recent poll on LinkedIn, a good chunk of SEOs (38%) don’t think so, as they’re still disavowing them. 

Most SEOs either disavow or do nothing about spammy backlinksMost SEOs either disavow or do nothing about spammy backlinks

Does that mean they’re right to do so? Not necessarily. It just means they don’t fully trust Google that they won’t do any harm. They’re being careful. 

Personally, the person I trust most to answer this question in 2024 is Dr. Marie Haynes. I don’t think anyone’s done more research into this than her. She’s spent well over a decade working to understand Google’s search algorithms and auditing link profiles on behalf of business owners. 

Now, the interesting part of that statement (and why I actually trust her!) is the obvious conflict of interest. Until fairly recently, she made her living selling link audit and disavow file creation services—and for a pretty hefty sum at that! 

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Pricing from Marie's link audit services page in March 2023Pricing from Marie's link audit services page in March 2023
Pricing from Marie’s link audit services page in March 2023

Clearly, it would be good news for Marie if Google were still terrible at ignoring spammy backlinks because she could sell more link audits! 

Yet, these days, she no longer appears to offer such services. In fact, she’s actually been warning folks against the need to disavow low-quality, spammy backlinks for a few years. 

Here’s a quote from a 2022 blog post of hers:

While there is no harm in disavowing low quality spammy links, it likely does not help improve rankings. We believe that Google’s algorithms are already ignoring these links. […]. When we do see improvements these days after disavowing, it is always in sites where we have disavowed links that were purposely made for SEO and very little else. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

It’s clear that Marie is being cautious with her words here. But overall, her opinion after digging into this for many years seems to be that, yes, Google is now pretty good at ignoring most low-quality spammy links. 

Does that mean they’re perfect? No. But it does mean that worrying about obvious low-quality link spam is probably a waste of time for most people.

If you’re buying or building the types of links that Google class as “link spam” then, yes, they can absolutely hurt your rankings.

But before you panic about that link exchange you did with your best friend’s wife’s brother, Google is likely looking for patterns of manipulation here. In other words, manipulative link profiles rather than manipulative individual links: 

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Danny Richman, founder of Richman SEO Training, agrees: 

Here’s a bit more context from Danny: 

As for Marie Haynes, she echoes a similar sentiment in this post. She states that manual actions aside, she would only recommend a client disavow links if they have “a very large number of links that [they] feel the webspam team would consider to be ‘manipulative.’ ”

In these cases, Google often slaps the worst offenders with an unnatural links manual action. If you get one of those, that’s Google telling you, “Hey… you’re being demoted in search because we think you’ve been trying to game the system with manipulative links.” 

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But this doesn’t have to happen for manipulative links to be a problem. It’s possible for Google to algorithmically demote a site if they detect a large volume of spammy and manipulative links, at least according to John Mueller.

If we see a very strong pattern [of spammy links] there, then it can happen that our algorithms say well, we really have kind of lost trust with this website and at the moment based on the bigger picture on the web, we kind of need to be more on almost a conservative side when it comes to to understanding this website’s content and ranking it in the search results. And then you can see kind of a drop in the visibility there. 

John MuellerJohn Mueller

Either way, the point remains: it’s patterns of manipulation that are likely to hurt rankings. There’s very little chance that you need to worry about the odd potentially dodgy link here and there. 

While it might be tempting to use an SEO tool that finds “toxic backlinks” for you, I’d seriously urge you to reconsider. Trusting these can do more harm than good. Way more. 

Just look at this unfortunate Redditor’s reply to John Mueller: 

Someone on Reddit's traffic tanked 60% after disavowing "toxic" backlinks in one SEO toolSomeone on Reddit's traffic tanked 60% after disavowing "toxic" backlinks in one SEO tool
A 60% drop in traffic! That’s no joke! 

Even if this is an extreme case, worrying about these links likely only wastes time because, according to Marie Haynes, they’re rarely truly toxic: 

I find that the truly toxic links…the ones that could have the potential to harm your site algorithmically (although you’d have to really overdo it, as I’ll describe below), are rarely returned by an SEO tool. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

Sam McRoberts, CEO of VUVU Marketing, seems to agree: 

So… how do you find truly toxic backlinks that are likely to be hurting your site? 

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The truth? You might not even need to look for them. If you haven’t built or bought links that Google considers link spam at any reasonable scale, chances are you’re good. 

If you’re not confident about that, do a manual backlink audit with a tool like Ahrefs’ Site Explorer.

The Anchors report is a good starting point if you’ve never done this. It shows you the words and phrases people use when linking to you. If they look unnatural or over-optimized (lots of exact matches of keywords you’re trying to rank for), that could be a sign you have paid or other links intended to manipulate rankings. 

Example of keyword-rich anchors, which are often a sign of paid backlinksExample of keyword-rich anchors, which are often a sign of paid backlinks

If things look fishy there, use the Backlinks report to dig deeper and check the context of those links. It’s usually quite easy to spot paid and unnatural ones. 

The Backlinks report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer showing the context of the backlinkThe Backlinks report in Ahrefs' Site Explorer showing the context of the backlink

Just remember that you’re looking for patterns of unnatural links, not just one or two. 

WARNING

If you’re not 100% sure what you’re looking for when doing a backlink audit, hire someone who knows what they’re doing. You need to be confident that the links are truly “toxic.”

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If you have a manual action for unnatural links or a bunch of what you believe to be truly toxic backlinks, yes. Google’s advice is to disavow them (assuming you can’t get the links removed). 

You should disavow backlinks only if: 

You have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, 

AND

The links have caused a manual action, or likely will cause a manual action, on your site. 

Marie Haynes advises the same: 

There are two situations where we will recommend to our clients a thorough link audit followed by filing a disavow: 

  1. The site has a manual action for unnatural links in GSC. 
  2. The site has a very large number of links that we feel the webspam team would consider to be “manipulative”.
Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

If you just have a bunch of spammy backlinks that most sites naturally attract or the odd paid backlink, probably not. Google probably ignores most, if not all, of these links, so disavowing them is likely a waste of time. 

While there is no harm in disavowing these links other than the time spent analyzing them, there is likely no benefit either. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

But what about negative SEO?

Being the victim of a negative SEO attack is indeed the possible exception here. This is when a competitor sends a load of spammy or toxic backlinks your way to try to get your site penalized. 

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Google remains adamant that it basically never works, but it really comes down to what you believe. 

[I’ve] looked at hundreds of supposed cases of negative SEO, but none have actually been the real reason a website was hurt. […] While it’s easier to blame negative SEO, typically the culprit of a traffic drop is something else you don’t know about–perhaps an algorithm update or an issue with their website. 

Gary IllyesGary Illyes

If you see a traffic drop after an influx of backlinks in Site Explorer, I’d say that it’s at least worth a bit more investigation. 

Site with traffic drop coinciding with an influx of backlinksSite with traffic drop coinciding with an influx of backlinks
This site experienced a traffic drop coinciding with an influx of referring domains. Maybe there’s benefit to disavowing here… and maybe it’s something else!

As Gary said above, something else could be to blame—but you never know. There’s always a chance that Google’s algorithms rule it was you who built or bought those backlinks to try to manipulate rankings and penalize you for it. 

If you just found a bunch of so-called “toxic backlinks” in an SEO tool, probably not. Again, most of these are probably just link spam Google already ignores. 

Here’s yet another quote from Marie Haynes backing this up: 

While there is probably no harm in disavowing [links reported as toxic in SEO tools], you are not likely to see any improvement as a result. Disavowing is meant for sites trying to remove a manual action and for those who have been actively building links for the purpose of improving rankings. 

Marie HaynesMarie Haynes

There’s also the risk that you could end up disavowing links that are actually helping you… 

Patrick showed further evidence that this can absolutely happen when he experimented with disavowing links to the Ahrefs blog. Traffic dipped, then went back up after he removed the disavow. 

The impact of disavowing links to the Ahrefs blogThe impact of disavowing links to the Ahrefs blog

Final thoughts

“Toxic backlinks” is a term made up by certain SEO tools to scare you. That’s not to say bad links can’t hurt your site. They absolutely can. But fortunately for most site owners, it’s rarely a problem worth worrying all that much about. 

Got questions? Disagree? Ping me on Twitter X.

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On-Page SEO Checklist for 2024: A Comprehensive Guide

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On-Page SEO Checklist 2024

On-Page SEO Checklist 2024

Want to make your pages rank high on Google? You won’t be able to do that if you don’t know where or how to start your on-page SEO — and with each Google update, this pillar of SEO gets more and more complicated. To keep you updated with the best and most relevant practices when it comes to this aspect of your website, I have prepared an on-page SEO checklist for 2024. 

On-Page SEO Factors

On-page SEO, in simple terms, is all the ways you can optimize your website take place on your website. Tweaking certain elements of your pages can enable them to climb very quickly up the ranks when done right. These elements include essentially everything you can see on your webpage, like its title tags, headers, and images.

Webmaster’s Note: This is part two of our SEO checklist series. Part one covers our technical SEO checklist, so go back if you haven’t seen that yet. I also do deep dives into other aspects of on-page SEO in other articles, like the best content strategy for SEO, how to hack on-page factors, and ways to dominate niche keywords in your industry.

1. Identify Your Target Keyword

This is where any SEO effort should start. Identify which basic keywords you would like each page to rank for. From there, you can expand into common phrases, questions, and related words people use to find pages like yours through keyword research. 

Key Aspects of Keyword Optimization:

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  • Keyword Research: Identifying the right keywords that your target audience is searching for.
  • Keyword Placement: Sensibly incorporating keywords in titles, headings, the first paragraph, and throughout the content.
  • Searcher Intent: Catering to why someone is performing a search, whether it’s to find information, make a purchase, etc.

Effective keyword optimization allows you to create pages that best meet user intent. This boosts your chances of ranking highly for your chosen keywords. 

Using a Keyword Research Tool for On-Page SEOUsing a Keyword Research Tool for On-Page SEO

I have longer guides on the types of keywords you should look at, and another on how to do keyword research you can follow for this step.

2. High-Quality Content Creation

Quality content is the keystone of on-page SEO. It is, after all, fundamental to the selling point of Google — which is that it is the go-to place to find answers to your questions. It’s why Google pushes Helpful Content Updates every so often.

So, your content must meet Google’s standards of quality in order to make it to the top. To do that, your content must be authoritative, valuable to the reader, and deliver on the promises made by your meta tags and headings.

What Constitutes Quality Content:

  • Originality: Your content must be unique and offer fresh insights.
  • Relevancy: It should align with your target user’s intent and be updated regularly.
  • Engagement: Content must encourage users to spend time on your site and interact with your offerings.

Creating content that exceeds user expectations can dramatically bolster your SEO as it can directly affect user engagement metrics and boost the credibility of your site. 

Webmaster’s Note: Beyond making sure all new content is high-quality, however, is ensuring all of your existing content is also up to par. I’ll be covering that in part four of this series, so keep an eye out for that. 

3. URL Structure

URLs are not only a ranking factor but also enhance the user experience when structured logically. 

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Features of an Effective URL Structure:

  • Concise and Descriptive: A URL should be concise and explain your page content. No stop words.
  • Keyword Inclusion: A relevant keyword can enhance a URL’s performance.
  • Use Hyphens instead of Underscores: Conventional use dictates using hyphens to separate words.

A clear URL helps users and search engines make sense of the page’s content before they even reach it.

Here’s an example of a bad URL slug. 

Example of Bad URL StructureExample of Bad URL Structure

And here’s an example of a good, optimized one.

Example of Good URL StructureExample of Good URL Structure

4. Title Tag and Headings

I find that certain practices for these two elements give the most benefit to a page’s SEO. 

Best Practices for Title Tag and Heading Optimization:

  • Use a Keyword-First Approach: Place keywords first in your title tag, as uninterrupted by stop-words as possible.
  • Keep it Simple: Title tags should be concise to ensure the entire tag is displayed on the SERPs.
  • Same Keyword, Different Phrasing: Use the same keyword in your title tag and heading 1. However, use different phrasing or wording for each. 
  • Insert Related Keywords: Do this for your heading 2, 3, and so on, where it makes sense.
  • Avoid Duplicates: Use different title tags and headings for every unique page.

4. Meta Tags Enhancement

Meta tags, such as the meta description, serve as a brief pitch to users on search engine results pages. Other meta tags, like your image alt text and links, provide important context to both the user and crawlbot.

Tips for Enhanced Meta Tags:

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  • Compelling Copy: Write title tags and meta descriptions that accurately summarize the page content and entice clicks.
  • Keyword Usage: Try to insert target keywords and/or related keywords effectively in your meta descriptions, and within the limit.
  • Uniqueness: Each page should have unique meta tags. 
  • Be Descriptive: Your image alt text should not only include a related keyword but should also adequately describe what is seen on the image. 
  • Add internal and external links: Semantic search means Google can use the links in your pages to gain a better understanding of its content. Always add relevant internal links, and only include external links from trusted websites. 
  • Use Noindex Robots Meta Tag: Add this to prevent any pages with thin content, or pages with little value and no intent from appearing in the SERPs.
  • Use rel=”canonical” Link Tag: Use this for any duplicate pages you have on your website. Doing this can help you control which version of the page gets indexed and ranks for your targeted keywords. 
  • Set your Open Graph Meta Tags: This will let you optimize how your pages look when they’re shared on social media.
  • Set your Viewport Meta Tag: This configures how your pages are scaled and displayed on different devices and platforms, which is important for user experience (more on that later). 

To get the most out of your SEO, don’t neglect this part of your on-page SEO checklist. The small tweaks here can add up to the big picture. 

Well-crafted meta tags have the potential to increase click-through rates, boost your visibility on organic search and image search, enhance user experience, and also distribute link equity throughout your pages. All these contribute to how well your page ranks. 

5. Internal Linking

Internal linking spreads link equity throughout your site and can help search engines discover new pages. Always link back to pillar content, or other high-value content on your website. 

Benefits of Strategic Internal Linking:

  • Navigation: They guide users through other relevant pages on your website.
  • Page Authority: Anchor text can help to convey what the linked-to page is about, which can aid in ranking for those terms.
  • User Time on Site: Providing relevant links can keep users engaged on your site for longer periods.

Good internal linking can significantly increase your engagement rates and contribute to building a robust site architecture. I have a separate post on how to build topical authority through internal linking you can check out.

6. User Experience (UX)

User experience affects on-page SEO because search engines favor websites that provide a positive user experience.

UX Factors to Consider in Your Website Design:

  • Mobile-Friendliness: The site must perform well across all devices — but especially on mobile-view, as most users use Google through their phones.
  • Ease of Use: The site should be navigable and logical in its layout. Navigation bars and other menus should be intuitive and prioritize the most important pages of your website.
  • Page Speed: Pages should load quickly to reduce bounce rates. Follow this guide to site speed optimization for this point.

As UX becomes an even more important ranking factor, I find it is necessary to add to this on-page SEO checklist. Sites that deliver a high-quality user experience will dominate search engine results pages.

Key Takeaway

Mastering this pillar of SEO is crucial for achieving high rankings on Google, and staying updated with evolving best practices is essential. But with every update, what works best changes. 

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My 2024 on-page SEO checklist provides basically the most up-to-date practices for the elements on your website. Follow it, and you should be able to boost your website’s authority, credibility, and long-term SEO performance.

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