Have you ever thought if the on-page SEO tips that experts suggest work? I mean, does use your targeted keyword in URL have an impact on SEO? Or does site speed plays a factor in the ranking?
Here I’m going to break down the top on-page SEO techniques you can use to get a higher ranking in Google, backed by hard cold data. Let’s start the step by step On-Page SEO Checklist 2021.
Step#: 11 Set Up Essential SEO Tools And Plugins
Your first step is to make sure that you have three important SEO tools set up and ready to go.
The first tool that every site needs to have is the Google Search Console. This tool makes it super easy to track your site’s performance in Google. Google Search Console helps you find technical SEO problems that affect your on-page SEO and hold you back.
The most important factor of the Search Console is: It shows you the exact keywords that you rank for and where you rank for them. You can trust this data because, Unlike third-party tools, Google providing all this information about your site.
The Next Tool you need to set up is Google Analytics. Google Analytics gives you a complete and best view to see how customers find and use your website. Google Analytics provides you with all types of cool stuff like, Find Top-ranked pages of your website, Identify different websites that bring traffic to your website. You can also check and monitor the bounce rate, Session time of visitors and much more.
Final Tool, if you’re a WordPress user, you need to install the Yoast SEO plugin. Yoast SEO is the most popular and commonly used plugin among WordPress users. It makes it super easy to manage your website SEO.
Step# 10: Make Short URL’s
Always use short URLs for your pages. Here’s an example of a short URL.
And here’s an example of a long URL.
So the question is, do short URLs rank better in google? A detailed study on on-page SEO factors shows that short URLs with a median of around 15 or so characters ranked visibly better than long ones.
IF you’re a WordPress user, then all you need to do is click on the URL box, and enter your short URL. But does this mean that you should go and change all of your long URLs to short ones? I wouldn’t say so.
Even though there’s a small correlation, I don’t think it’s a significant enough ranking factor to change your existing ranking pages.
Step# 9: Use of Primary Keyword in URL
As I am writing an article about SEO Check List 2021, my final URL with my keyword target would look like this.
So does this technique helps you rank high in Google? The answer, according to my study, is true. Interestingly out of all keyword-related on-page SEO factors that I have studied, this was the only one that showed a negative correlation.
John Mueller from Google shares some thoughts about on-page SEO factors. John Mueller says, “If we add keywords in URL, it may not be considered a ranking factor. So he said that he would not recommend you to do it. And for this reason, you do not even need to restructure your site, just so you can get keywords in your URL. “
But do I recommend it? Absolutely for two reasons. When your link gets shared, people can easily identify what the page is about without even clicking through to the page. This should increase the referral traffic of your website.
Example of URLs:
- domain.com/post=23241 (WRONG)
- domain.com/easy-guide-to-do-this[….] (RIGHT)
The second reason is, the exact match keyword that you want to rank for will be included in the anchor text of every naked URL backlink you get. I studied anchor texts, which shows that top-ranking pages tend to have a larger percentage of exact match anchor text links in their backlink profile. So take some time to customize your URLs and reap the benefits.
Step# 8: Use Of Keyword in headlines
Make sure to use your main keywords in the H1 tag. In my study, around 85% of pages that rank in the top 10 of Google don’t have their keyword in their H1 tags. But there is still a small correlation, so I still recommend using various keywords in your headings and subheadings.
This is because its more user experience based. A study from Neisen Norman Group found that, on average, a user will read, at most, 28% of the words on a page. But then they said that the 20% is more realistic.
Here’s the thing:
Scanning text is a widespread behaviour of the users. You may look at a page, scroll down for a bit, and if something interesting pops out to you, you read that section. And if you think that section was awesome, you may scroll back up, and then you read the post.
Using trigger-like keyword phrases in headings and sub-headings may be enough to pique a user’s interest and have them stick around a little bit longer.
Step# 7: Add External Links In Your Content
Add External Links to authoritative websites. Again, John Mueller said that adding external links to other sites is not a ranking factor in google’s algorithm. But online study disagrees.
I ran a little experiment on two completely made-up words and set up 10 different websites. 5 websites were linked to authoritative sources like genome.gov, Oxford, and Cambridge. And the other five had no external links at all.
The results were clear. The sites that contained external links ranked higher than the ones that didn’t work for both keywords. In my personal experience, I found a small positive correlation of pages that link to Domain Rating 70+ sites ranked in the top 10 of Google.
So, here’s an easy takeaway. Don’t be afraid to link out to other resources that will enhance the experience for your readers.
For Example, if you are writing a blog post on the best golf gear and found a great comparison of golf balls, link them out to them. But don’t just do it for the sake of SEO.
Step# 6: Add Internal Links to Your Post
Add internal links to your pages that you want to rank. Internal links are essential for ranking purposes. Try to add more relevant internal links to your webpages to help your audience find more and more relevant content on your website. These have been proven time and time again to help with rankings.
A quick tip is to look at your pages that are currently ranking on page 2 of Google. Add some internal links to relevant pages that you want to rank, and hopefully, it will be enough to give your pages a small boost in rankings.
You can easily find the rank pages on page 2. Just visit the Google Search Console and then click on search traffic and move to the search analytics. Make sure to check all the boxes and then sort the positions in descending order. You can quickly spot bigger numbers, which suggests that there’s a higher search volume.
As they are average positions so you might not find them very accurate. You can use some paid tools like Ahref to find more accurate keywords to add internal linking to your post.
Step# 5: Reoptimize Titles Of Underperforming Pages
If you have the perfect SEO title and well-optimized meta description combination. Still, it won’t matter because unless you’re on the first page of Google, it won’t help you either way. Because you may hear the phrase: “What’s the best place to hide a dead body? It is on page 2 of Google’s search results.”
In the First step, you need to identify the ranked pages on page one of google. Again it’s straightforward for you to use Google Search Console and look through the different positions verses click-through rates.
As a very general benchmark, the #1 ranking spot sees an average CTR of 33%, #2 gets 15%, and #3 gets around 10%. If you see anything below that, make a note of it and start playing around with your titles and meta descriptions.
Here are a couple of ways to get some great ideas for new titles. Let’s say that I’m creating an epic post on “hotels in San Francisco”. After looking at the organic Search Results in Google, you can see the most probably results appear is the list posts of the top or best ones. And some of them include prices in the title.
This can tell you a lot about the intent behind a searcher’s query. So you might want to create yours similarly. Next, look at the ads. You may see the advertisers constantly experiment with the high CPC terms like “hotels in San Francisco”.
You can easily find some solid titles and description ideas that will surely help you boost your CTR. Use the Ahref tool or any free tool to see all the different variations of titles used in the ads and attract the most clicks for them.
If you’re still unable to find some good ideas. You can use these viral sites like Buzzfeed or Upworthy. For example, if your search the query Site:buzzfeed.com “hotels in San Francisco,”. You can see some cool ideas that can be used in your title tags.
Step# 4: Create In-depth Articles
Everybody talks about “long-form content” for quite a time. My study showed that content length had the second-best correlation across all on-page SEO factors that we have studied.
But how long is “long-form?” 1,500, 2,000 or 5,000? We found the median value for a #1 ranking result to have 800 words, which I don’t think quite fits into the category of “long-form.”
So instead of focusing on word count, focus on coverage; for example, if you’re writing a piece on making the perfect cup of coffee, you can’t just say: “grab a cup, put in the machine and wait.”
If you truly want to deliver on making the perfect cup of coffee, you’d want to talk about beans, water temperature, brewing methods like a French press, drip, or using and Aeropress.
Here’s the best way to find related subtopics. Just Google the keyword phrase you want to rank for. The next step is to skim through the sub-headings from the top-ranking pages and try to cover as many topics as you can. So forget word count and focus on covering the topics and sub-topics that will serve the searcher’s intent.
Step# 3: Use Modifiers in Your Titles
Modifiers are add-0n words to a base keyword. My favourites are best, top, buy and the current years. For example, someone might search for “golf clubs.” But they might also search for “best golf clubs” or even “best golf clubs, 2021.”
A super cool way to find modifier keywords with search volume is to type in a seed keyword in the google search bar and search for the related terms you want to use with the seed keywords.
You will find some good suggestions with placement as prefix or postfix modifiers. Google suggestions mostly show those queries that searchers are intended to frequently search in google and have a search volume.
If you want to be more specific about the search volume, you can use some tools like Ahref or Long Tail Pro. Search your seed keyword in the search bar, and you will find tons of keywords having the same key phrase. Add the filter of your intended modifier, and you will get the exact match keywords with search volume.
Step# 2: Don’t Have Slow Loading Pages
In 2010, Google updated its ranking criteria and added the page speed factor in its ranking algorithm. In July 2018, page speed became a ranking factor for mobile searches.
But according to my search results, the correlation of on-page SEO factors with higher positions in Google is minimal. So you may be thinking the weather you should even bother to optimize the page speed?
Absolutely yes, It is more specifically related to user experience, and it will affect your bottom line: revenue. Later on, Google performed a study on 11 million mobile ads. Finally, google concludes that as page load time goes from 1 to 3 seconds, the probability of bounce increases by 32%.
Websites having loading speed from 3 to 6-second cause an increase in bounce rate round about 70%. As the load time increases, so do the probability of bounce.
Here are a few tips you can use to speed up your site. First, go to Google Pagespeed insights and enter the URL that you want to analyze. You can toggle between your mobile and desktop page speed here. Google Pagespeed gives you different optimizing suggestions. You can scroll down a bit to see all the different optimization suggestions.
Often, you’ll see that slower pages speeds are attributed to files like images, scripts, and style sheets. You can click here to download the optimized version of these and make the appropriate replacements on your page. The next tip, use a content delivery network (or a CDN).
For example, if your hosting server is located in New York, but your visitor is in Australia, it can take quite a bit of time to transfer data to complete. CDNs Network works to transfer some of your website data to the local servers near your targeted audience. And thus minimizes the distance between the visitor browsing from and where your website server is hosted.
The next tip is to use an image compressor. Images can affect your page speed if they are quite large. You can use many plugins to compress your web images, or you can use some online tools like Shortpixel and optimize your images online.
The final page speed tip is to cache. If you’re a WordPress user, you can use plugins like W3 Total Cashe and get a solid website cache configuration.
Step# 1: Improve UX by Enhancing UI
Finally, we’re on to number one! In this last SEO tip, I’ll try to summarize all the on-page SEO factors into one. So Google’s job is to provide the best result to their users for any given search query. And to help Google achieve that, you need to foster that user experience for their visitors.
Aside from the content itself, the user interface or the way the page look can significantly impact how people interact with your site.
The first is to improve visual readability. If you look at these two different pages side-by-side, which one is easier to read? The first one.
Let me break this down for this article which is about how to write a resume. They use readable font size, write in short sentences and short paragraphs, use bullet points, etc. Which makes a perfect and attractive structure for the users.
Some other tips to improve user experience through your user interface include a table of content for long posts. You can even make it scroll down with the user, so it’s easy for them to jump to different sections.
And the final one that I think will gain popularity over time ist to include interactive features within your blog posts. You can do this in simple ways by sharing a side desk, videos, survey, polls, and more complex ways like interactive tools.
You may only obsess over some low-hanging optimizations like keywords in titles and the first paragraph of your blog post. But if you figure out to apply all the on-page SEO factors, then there is power in cumulative value. While our data supports many on-page SEO factors, there is very little correlation in most of our findings on an individual level.
Most importantly, always focus on fulfilling the searcher’s intent the best you can, and you’ll be on your way to perfecting all the important on-page SEO Checklist one by one.