500 SEO Tips: Essential Strategies To Bulldoze Through Google's Rankings, Increase Traffic and Go Viral
Chapter 3: On-Page SEO
On-page SEO is all about optimizing your page so that Google knows what keywords you want to rank for. It's also about making sure that you have the right elements on-page, so that you will keep both your readers and Google happy. A strategic, easy to read page lays a powerful foundation for heading into the rankings.
Optimizing The URL
52. Include Only Targeted Keywords In The URL
Include your targeted keywords in the URL. This will specifically tell Google what your page is exactly about…no questions asked. It would also give your page an immediate boost in the rankings, because it is so targeted at that keyword phrase.
53. Keep The URL Short
Keep the URL under 100 characters. Any longer than that, and things start to get a little messy. Preferably, you should keep your URL under 50 characters to be more suitable for social sharing, bookmarks, email links and so on. When people see a short URL, they are more likely to share it on social media since it's short, tells their followers what the page is about and doesn't clog up the social media post. Compare this to using a shortened link such as a bit.ly link. Since it doesn't actually tell you what the domain is, people would be more reluctant to click on it.
54. Hierarchy's In A URL Show Extra Relevance
Your website may be divided up into a hierarchy. Pages may be organized under several category pages, eg: technical SEO or keyword research. For example, if you wrote a page about Vitamin C benefits and placed it into the “vitamins” category, your URL would look like this: www.yourdomain.com/vitamins/vitamin-c-benefits
Hierarchy’s can give extra details to Googlebots that display more relevance.
55. Don't Overdo Folders In Your URLs
It's good practice to place blog posts into their relevant folders, but don't include more than one folder (two folders max) in your URL. Any more than that, and the user starts to get detracted from the whole purpose of the URL which is, telling the user what kind of a page they'll be landing on. For example:
This URL contains way too many folders and only junks up the entire URL. Instead, shorten it down to something like this:
Or even better, try this:
56. Get Rid of Unnecessary Words In The URL
Take out any unnecessary words that don’t have any impact on the meaning of the URL Avoid any flabby words such as “the”, “a”, “in”, “or” “and”. They aren’t counted for anything really - and puff up your URL to a much longer size.
57. Separate URLs with Hyphens/Underscores, Not Spaces
Yeah. Believe me, I've seen URLs that had spaces separating the words. Don't try it, because it causes all kinds of issues with search engines and hosting services.
58. Don’t Keyword Stuff Your URLs
It's still a common sight to see URLs that contain their targeted keyword phrase more than once. For example, www.website.com/cute-puppies-10-pics-of-cute-puppies. Whilst you may be tempted to get a relevancy boost by including your keyword twice, don't even think about doing it. This practice is old school and you'll only get penalized for it.
Essential On-Page Elements To Add
59. Make Sure You've Included Your Keywords
Google isn't psychic, it doesn't know if you want to rank for a certain keyword (well, not yet). You need to tell it specifically what keywords you want to rank for.
The best way to do this is to place your keywords into your title tag, first 100 words, content and sub-headings. However, don't overdo this as it can get risky!
60. Links To Authority Websites
Google have actually stated that when you link to authority websites (Wikipedia or .edu sites, for example) you may get an increase in PageRank. This is because it signifies relevance and quality. If you chose to link to Wikipedia, it must mean that you want only the best content for your readers.
Even two links in your content is sufficient to show that you have linked back to further research. Think about it. Would you prefer linking to a shoddy affiliate site than someone linking to an article by Harvard? Thought so.
This little technique is not well known in the SEO community so use this trick to your advantage.
61. Awesome Content
So what kind of content does Google love and how can you best go about that? The answer is quality. I never liked people harping on about something but if there is something to harp on about, this is it.
I think it’s time to start realizing the effects that stunning content is having on Google. Even without any SEO (just targeting a certain keyword), it is still possible to rank on page one for medium competition terms!
Most people don’t have a clue about what SEO is and can still rank on page one for keywords they tried to target. It’s the off-page strategies that get you ranking first for those terms.
The side-effects of great content not only applies to SEO but to social media sharing and building backlinks. When you create a piece of content that just knocks everything else out of the water, you have a right to get this shared across the web.
Here's a quick overview on what "quality" defines:
1. 1500+ Words – Google knows the quality when they see the length. Would you rank a 700 word article higher than a 1700 word article? Thought not.
2. Images – Whilst you may not get much traffic from Google Images, incorporating imagery into your content is another quality signal to Google. If they are original (not from stock photo) sites, this is even better.
3. Video and other Multimedia – Videos and other multimedia, reduce your bounce rate and increase page dwell time. This produces engagement and a better user experience for every searcher.
4. Sub-headings – Nobody likes boring blocks of text all piled up into one mass mess. By having relevant (and keyword-rich) sub-headings in your content, you can target long tail keywords and break up the monotony that lots of text brings.
62. Don't Banish The Meta Description Just Because It Isn't A Ranking Factor
Meta descriptions are the little snippet of text that goes underneath the blue link in search results. Google have stated on their blog that the meta description is not a ranking factor, and that the keywords in the meta description will not be factored into the search algorithm.
This led many webmasters to believe that meta descriptions are useless, a complete waste of time and should be banished from their SEO efforts altogether.
But that's like committing digital suicide. You couldn't go more astray from the reality.
Meta descriptions are you're only point of contact with the customer. You need to sell your message to them. Your meta description has to be the best, and attract more eyeballs than anyone else's.
Google do take Click Through Rates (percentage of searchers that click on your result, over anyone else's, if 3 out of 10 searchers clicked on my link, my CTR would be 30%) into consideration when ranking your page. If your search result is enticing, and leads to a high CTR – your website must be useful and relevant to searchers. The only way to make your search result enticing and attractive is to have a click worthy title, tempting meta description and some rich snippets if you have the chance to use them.
The main point to take away from this is that you need a meta description, and even though some SEO experts may warn against them – always make the meta description the best that you can possibly make it.
63. Make Your Meta Description Alluring and Practical
Your meta description has to ignite curiosity within the searcher but also be practical at the same time. This contrast is the key to writing successful meta descriptions. In short, tell the reader what they'll find and then make them want more.
· Include your targeted keywords. This will make them bold so that when a searcher looks for those keywords on Google, they will see the bold words meaning relevance. When most of your competitors will have the search query in bold, you'd be foolish not to include the keyword.
· Give a quick overview of what the page is about.
· Make the user curious by cutting your meta description off with an ellipsis (…) at the end.
· Offer juicy promises and be bold.
· Make them want more information.
Fuse the two together, and you get a masterpiece of a meta description.
· Take out quotation marks, Google will cut them out.
· Keep your meta description between 150-160 characters, to avoid it getting chopped off.
· Don't use the same meta description in multiple pages. You risk getting it caught as a piece of duplicate content, so watch it.
64. Use These Meta Description Templates
If you need some quick inspiration before you get working on your meta descriptions, take a look at these. The first is for an online business and the other two are for blog posts.
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65. Optimize Your Meta Description Using AdWords
If you take a look at some of the meta descriptions that AdWords ads are using, you can get keywords which are guaranteed to get clicks.
For example, let’s say you're selling pillows and you want to get as many clicks to your website as possible. Some of the AdWords ads contain the words, "free delivery", "wide range", "soft or firm pillows" and so on. You can include all these words together, leading to an unbeatable meta description!
"Browse through a wide range of pillows, including soft or firm pillows. Plus, get free delivery internationally. Find the pillow of your dreams now!"
66. Cut Bounce Rate Through Internal Linking
Bounce rate is the number of people that leave your site without progressing further into the site. You need to keep users on your site, and slash your bounce rate. Bounce rate is a very important ranking factor to Google – because a high bounce rate website indicates that something is a little dodgy. For example, if you clicked on a website that had “pay $1500 to access material NOW!” plastered all over the page, in flashing red – you’d click back out in an instant, with your heart palpitating. It looks strange if every visitor left your site immediately after clicking in.
Cut your bounce rate by creating compelling content on a well-designed website. Also, link to related articles of yours at least once in your text. This will pass some PageRank to your site, cut bounce rate and get more readers
67. Google Authorship No Longer Exists
A lot of blog posts haven't been updated yet and still contain outdated information. If you've read that you should join Google Authorship or link your Google+ profile to your blog posts, just remember that Google removed this feature over six months ago. If you don't know what Authorship was, you've probably seen it before. Remember when search results were accompanied by a profile picture and a by-line? That was Google Authorship.
A lot of tutorials and SEO guides still recommend joining Google Authorship but remember that it's no longer possible for now.
68. Social Sharing Buttons Are Essential
Whilst social media signals are very weak ranking factors right now, I think that they will become more important in the future.
Looking at it from a non-SEO perspective, social media can supplement your traffic just in case your rankings change.
Place social sharing buttons in a prominent position such as on the side of the page, at the bottom, on the top or both. You can add a “call to action” at the end of the page. A call to action is basically a phrase that encourages people to share your content or to buy something. For example, “Share today to let everyone know of this!”.
69. Rich Snippets/Schema Markup
Rich snippets are extra “add-ons” you can apply to your search result listing such as review stars, recipe times, location, images, calories, number of votes and publish date.
The advantage of using rich snippets is that they increase the amount of searchers who click on your link. Including stars, calories and a splat of colour deeply enhance your pitch to the searcher. It is a fact that including rich snippets in your page increases Click Through Rate by 20-30%. Make sure that rich snippets are part of your on-page SEO.
70. Get Rich Snippets With These Tools
The first option is to use the Google Data Markup Highlighter. This tool can be found in Webmaster Tools. You simply paste in the URL you want to add schema markup in, fill in the details (number of review stars, number of minutes to make) and copy the HTML. It is a point and click tool, and is very easy to use.
The second tool you can use is www.schema-creator.org and is another excellent way to create rich snippets. You can use this to generate schema mark-up for any rich snippets you want to add. Simply fill in the details, copy the code and paste it into your website.
71. Check That Your Rich Snippets Are Working
Adding rich snippets to your site can go wrong very quickly, so always double check that they actually appear and are working properly.
The best way to do this is by going to Google's very own schema mark-up checker: www.developers.google.com/structured-data/testing-tool/ All you have to do is input your page's URL by clicking on the "Fetch as URL" button.
72. Use Review Stars, Calories and Time for Recipes and Tutorials
Make sure to use the full power of rich snippets by including them on every possible page. If you have content which teaches people how to do something make sure to get an advantage by including time and review stars on your page. Also, for recipes, include images and calories. The more, the merrier!
73. Keep An Eye On Technical Issues
Technical issues such as page load time, having a mobile website and indexing need to be attended to. Watch out for technical issues because if your technical issues aren't up to scratch, you could be losing out on higher rankings. Google take technical issues very seriously, and you need to make sure that all technical checks are performed on all your pages.
74. Include "Latent Semantic Indexing" Keywords, aka: synonyms
Latent Semantic Index keywords are words which are similar or found alongside your target keyword. For example, if your targeted keyword is "seo tips", some LSI keywords would be "keyword research", "on-page seo " and "technical seo". They're basically all words you'd expect to be in the content anyway.
Include variations of your keywords in your content, as the Hummingbird feeds off these. Google will then be able to "understand" what you're writing about, based on the LSI keywords you provide.
You can find LSI keywords in "Google's Relates Searches" box and also in Google Suggest. However, if you are writing quality content anyway, you will naturally be using LSI keywords anyway.
75. File Names Matter
Make sure that the names of the images you include are targeted towards your content, and not generic image names such as"DCIM331". If your blog post is about cooking pizza, an image called "pizza_ingredients" or "pizza_howto" would be very suitable. Google take image names into consideration when ranking your content, so always remember that!
76. Alt text
If your page fails to load properly, your images may not load either. Alt text basically describes what your image is about to search engines and users with low internet speed which results in their images not loading. Similarly, blind readers and those with disabilities can get the Alt text read to them. It helps a lot of people, and Google loves to see it too.
It might be an opportunity to slip in a keyword too, but don't add the keyword to every single image you have. That would be a bad, bad mistake.
77. Check Your Image SEO Automatically
Image SEO can become tedious especially when you have so many images to check. That's why you should automate it.
This tool checks the alt text of each image on the page you provide. It checks to see if the keywords conform to Google’s quality guidelines and if they are an adequate length. It also checks the sizes of the images themselves, and make sure that they are of a suitable size. You will also find an astonishing number of other on-page SEO tools on the site. (www.feedthebot.com/alt)