Many website and blog owners often don’t fully optimize web pages and blog posts because there are several components to achieving 100% on page SEO.
As a result, their web properties struggle to attract free, organic, long term and targeted search engine traffic. For example, many bloggers are successful blogging but only until they continue to blog. What happens when they stop producing content?
The traffic stops coming in and so do the advertisement deals (the #1 way most average bloggers make money online). A well optimized blog or website on the other hand can generate free, targeted traffic for a long time well into the future, forming the basis for a residual income stream.
There are numerous challenges at play here. First, many don’t know what SEO is and what it really can do for them. Those that do may confuse on-page SEO and off-page SEO (search engine marketing). Those that do get what on page SEO is may not know how to fully execute it. And finally, those that execute it may not be executing it as well as they should.
Moreover, blogs have an inherent limitation when compared to static niche websites when it comes to “on page” search engine optimization (SEO). On page SEO refers to the stuff that you physically do to a web page or blog post, whether it is the visible content, or the back-end content (code) that is not visible to the human eyes). I will discuss this limitation later in this post.
And as if this material isn’t already convoluted enough, add to that the fact that is there even such a thing as 100% optimization? If so, according to who?
Every web page or blog post that you publish gets an on page SEO score from search engines. Only search engines know this score, and it evolves over time as their search algorithms change. However, representatives of major search engines (i.e. Matt Cutts of Google) give enough public guidance to deduce what consists of good SEO.
In order to maximize the chances for your web page or post to rank on page one of search engines, you must do all you can to optimize your published material. There are other off-page Internet marketing strategies you can engage in as well, but this post will only focus on the on page SEO characteristics. In other words, actions you can take that directly pertain to your webpage’s or blog post’s content and code.
The on page SEO components involve the keyword you will be targeting, the post or web page’s file name (slugs), meta data, page headings, keyword density within the content and anchor text linking.
Let’s look at each one of these in detail.
Any SEO starts with effective keyword research and keyword selection. Though you can target any particular keyword you want, targeting one that is highly searched for or popular will bring you more traffic providing you can rank on page one of search engines.
There are Internet marketers that will attempt to target a dozen keywords or even more in each post or webpage they publish. Super optimization is tough because your attention starts to shift away from your human reader in the interest to forcefully include keyword that may unfavorably affect the way your content reads.
Excessive and repetitive keyword usage may also be penalized by Google as “keyword stuffing”. Search engines are only getting more sophisticated, which is also a big reason I am not in favor of this strategy. When I attended the Google webmasters conference, it was widely agreed upon by website owners and bloggers that one should limit targeted keyword usage to five keywords per content piece.
What I do for my niche websites is exactly that. From the keyword research I conduct, I choose a set of five related keywords to target in a single content piece. Of those five, one serves as the main keyword for that content piece, while the other four are “supplemental keywords”. More discussion on this below…
You can read more about the keywords in my post on why keyword research is critical to your success online here.
File name refers to the name or the unique identifier of your content piece. For example, www.dubai-information-site.com/dubai-flights.html is a unique URL that pertains only to that respective webpage.
The two components of your content piece’s unique identifier or URL are the main URL of your website or blog, which in this case is www.dubai-information-site.com, and the actual file name which is dubai-flights.html.
So how do you optimize the file name? Simple. Make it the main keyword of that particular webpage or blog post. In this example, the main keyword targeted in this content piece is “Dubai Flights”, and thus the file name.
As I wrote about in my post about the best domain name for your website from an SEO perspective, including your main keyword in anything you do is important. There is much debate about separating words with dashes rather than underscores or nothing at all from an SEO perspective so I won’t get into that much. Suffice it to say that I have several niche websites that are on page one whose domains contain dashes, while I also have sites on page one that have domains with no dashes.
Once you have the file name of your post determined, it is time to optimize the meta tags of your webpage or blog post. If you don’t know what meta tags are or where on your website or blog you can find and edit these, you will appreciate why my blog’s SEO is so good. Getting the meta tags right is the most critical component of on page SEO.
There are three important meta tags that you must include your keywords in, the title tag, keyword tag and the description tag. There are some very specific guidelines for each of these fields if you want to maximize your on-page SEO. Let’s look at each in detail.
Title Tag – Your title tag must include your main keyword once and only once, preferably to start off the title. The title tag of our sample webpage is “Dubai Flights – Dubai Airfares, Airline Tickets to Dubai”.
As you can see, the main keyword “Dubai Flights” starts off the title of this page. Further, you can see that the title is limited to 56 characters. I am actually “underutilizing” the title tag’s potential because you get more characters for this field.
The accepted norm on title tag length is typically between 67-70 characters. Anything more than that is either ignored, or penalized by search engines, especially if you are “keyword stuffing” it. Moreover, your human reader will not be able to read a lengthy title because it cuts off right at the 67-70 mark when displayed in Google search results. Here is an example of how the title looks to the human reader:
Notice how my competitor’s title is cut off? 4 out of these 6 search results are links to my website. Notice that none of my title tags are cut off and that they look much cleaner to the human eye?
Keyword Tag – Your keyword meta tag is where you would include the five keywords that you are targeting in your content piece. The important thing to remember here is to include your MAIN keyword first, followed by the four supplemental keywords separated by commas.
Here is how the keyword tag looks like for our sample webpage:
Notice that the main keyword “Dubai Flights” in the beginning, followed by the four supplemental keywords I chose to target in this content piece (the rest are cut off because I had to crop the image size). Also notice how the supplemental keywords are directed related to the main keyword. This helps search engines gauge the relevancy of your content piece to what web surfers are wanting to read when they type in certain key terms when they search the Internet.
Description Tag – Your description meta tag is what readers see when they see your webpage or blog post listed in search engine search results. It looks like the tag underneath the keyword tag (see above).
Notice how the main keyword is included in the description tag? Also notice how some of the four supplemental keywords are included. As much as you can, try to include all five keywords in your description tag without sacrificing the quality of how the content reads.
You are not required to include all five for SEO purposes, but you are required to include your main keyword, preferably as early as possible in the tag. The rule of thumb for description tag length is 160-170 characters. Anything more than that is not visible to a web surfer’s eyes. Notice in the above image showing the search listings in Google how some of the listings have their descriptions cut off? Yes, including some of the links to my website.
Your page heading is the title of your content piece which is visible to the human reader when they are reading your content page. Here is what the heading looks like for our sample web page.
As you can see the main keyword is included in this heading / page title. Why is this important? Because to make the text appear big and bold, the HTML code that is used is typically the heading tag, which looks like < h >.
This alarms the search engine spiders to put emphasis on what’s in between those tags and heightens the important of the content in it. It is critical that you have at least one page heading, preferably at the beginning of your webpage.
This is how the code of the heading looks behind the scenes to the search engines. Anytime you want to see a web page’s background / HTML code, simply navigate to the “view” menu (usually on the top left of your browser) and select “view source” or “page source”. In Chrome, just hit Ctrl + U and the code will pop up.
Yes, you can spy on other websites and blogs to see what they are doing so well that is getting them ranked higher on search engines.
Final note on headings. There are a variety of heading tags, h1, h2, h3 and so forth. h1 is typically the one that looks the largest to the eyes, and the one that search engines heavily favor most. Try to use h1 in your on page SEO efforts. Further, include it in the beginning of your content piece (to start it off) like the example above shows. The image above also shows a sample h2 sub-heading.
At this point you should have your solid set of five keywords to target, a file name saved for your content piece, all the meta tags filled out and the most critical heading of your webpage or blog post. The next step is to optimize the keyword density of the content piece.
Keyword density refers to the weight of your targeted keywords in relation to your entire content piece. It is very important to get this correct. Not having enough keywords in your content piece will not maximize your on page SEO efforts, while including too many will cause search engines to penalize you for keyword stuffing.
What’s the right balance? Depending on who you ask the answer varies between 1-3%. I keep mine in the 1-2% ballpark. This means that I use my main keyword 5-8 times at best for every 500 words of content. In addition to the main keyword, I insert my supplemental keyword at least once within those 500 words.
The number of times I include the supplemental keywords don’t change as the words increase (you can however). However, I do increase the frequency of the main keyword as my content piece’s keywords increase.
Finally to conclude each content piece, you need a link from the content piece back to your website or blog’s main home page, which is the index.html file. Why is this important? It is important because your main URL or homepage is what you want to eventually propel into the first page of search engines.
By linking all pages of your website back to your homepage, you are not only ensuring that you pass page rank juice (popularity) upward, but you are also ensuring that all your web pages are “tied together” by linking all of them to the homepage. This makes it much easier for search engine spiders to crawl your website in its entirety. Read how you should really structure your website here for effective on page SEO results.
Not executing this step is one of the most common reasons why people have trouble getting all their web pages indexed / listed on search engines. This is also a big reason why many are not benefiting from their on page SEO efforts as much as they have the potential to.
Similarly to linking back to the home page, you should also link back to the web page from where your current content page originated from. If your current content page is going to be a link directly from your home page (what I call a tier 2 page), then you don’t need to take this extra step to optimize your content page.
But if your current content page is a page within a tier 2 page that is linked to the home page, you must link back not only to the home page, but also the tier 2 content page for the same reasons discussed above.
In our example, one of the links from the Dubai Flights page is a link to a Travel to Dubai page.
There is a very specific way you should link from your current content page to the home page and tier 2 page. Make sure your main keyword is part of the text you use to link to the home page. Further, ensure that the link also includes the main keyword of your home page. Do the same for the link to the tier 2 page.
Let’s look at the Travel page, which is a tier 3 page (which means that this page resulted from the Travel page which was a page directly linked to the home page).
Notice how there are two links to conclude the page. One link points to the tier 2 page from which this tier 3 page came from, while another link links back to the website’s home page. Notice the anchor text usage. These links successfully utilize the main keyword that each page is targeted for.
A word of caution here: Including your page’s main keyword in a link more than twice in the same page will raise a big red flag and will get you penalized by search engines. Not doing so all together will kill you from an SEO perspective. This is a critical step to conclude your on-page SEO efforts.
While each step discussed above can easily be implemented in a niche website, as you can imagine by now it is not as easily “executable” for a blog. Why? The structure of a blog is not really conducive to the interlinking efforts I’ve discussed above. Further, the file names, URL, permalink structure of blog posts are not as ideal for on page SEO purposes.
Another challenge with a blog is that posts are written with a more natural flow of words. Blogging is like chatting to most bloggers (I know it is to me), so it becomes more difficult to get the keyword density component of it right without sounding unnatural to your readers.
You can implement many of the strategies discussed in this article to achieve maximum on page SEO, but you may have to revisit each post or page with SEO specifically in mind, spend a bit more time implementing the strategies and ensure your density is correct. In short, it is more difficult to pre plan a fully optimized blog post in advance relative to a static webpage on a niche website.
That said, it is doable. After all, a blog post is just another webpage on the Internet. You will definitely see your on page SEO efforts pay off whether you build a niche website or a blog. However, a blog may get you 90% of the way there, whereas a static website may get you there completely.
This is why I prefer a niche content website over a blog purely from an on page SEO perspective. This is a big reason I am able to rank a niche website high on search engines quicker and much longer. I have websites that have been on page one for over 3 years now consistently earning a healthy passive income for me month after month.
You can also read a PhD professionals expert opinion on why niche websites are better than blogs for SEO and making money online here.
I know that all this information can be overwhelming. It can also be difficult ensuring that you execute each step correctly in your on page SEO efforts. What’s helped me over the years however is the Site Build It! automated tool that I use.
The tool not only reminds me of each step of the process while I build my web pages and blog posts, but also tells me what I have not done correct and what specific changes I need to implement to obtain a full 100% on page SEO score.
I can use the tool “unlimitedly”. I make the tweaks recommended by the tool and re run the program (screening process) until it has indicated that I have optimized every single aspect of my webpage.
Here is an example of how this tool looks:
I simply input the information in the relevant box and hit the “Analyze It!” button. A sample report looks like the following:
Notice the scoring system? Notice the specific instructions? The tool not only tells me what is wrong, but also why and what I need to do to fix it. After making tweaks, I can re run the Analyze function until I get a report that looks like this:
Only after getting such a report do I move forward with publishing my webpage. This is a one and done approach in that after you go through it, you will never have to touch that particular page again from an on page SEO perspective.
I also use this tool for my non SBI sites. I copy paste the information in the fields and run the Analyze function and keep tweaking until I achieve a full on page SEO score. Once I do, I simply take the information and use it on Dreamweaver, WordPress or whatever other website platform I am building my site on.
This tool is best for websites, and although you can make it work for blogs, the best comparable tool for blogs is Traffic Travis, which I use to optimize my niche sites that are built on the WordPress platform. It is a built in tool that automatically flags the “flaws” in your content and gives you suggestions to achieve a full on page SEO score for your posts and pages.
There are some alternatives to using the SBI tool, but they are more costly and limiting in their functionality. For example, there are paid WordPress plug-ins that will help you optimize your blog posts, but these services cost anywhere from $49 a month and upwards. That is a minimum of near $600 per year.
SBI on the other costs only $299, but the best part is that it comes with a full suite of tools, not only an on page SEO tool. For example, SBI comes with a built in keyword research tool, which is what I used to use before Market Samurai when brainstorming website concepts and composing blog posts.
This keyword research tool is just as good as Market Samurai, in fact it was the first and largest of its kind, but I would never subscribe to it on a stand-alone basis because it comes with an expensive monthly subscription cost. Market Samurai on the other hand costs only a one-time fee. However, SBI provides this tool built in for free, which is why I use it.
What is also God sent with SBI is the suite’s automatic updates of the search algorithms. The company backing up SBI dedicates a full staff on monitoring search engines and changes that take place in the algorithms. This ensures that you are always up to date on leading industry practices in on page SEO.
For example, if Google changes its rules on keyword density, or the title tag, or the interlinking rules, you wouldn’t have to worry about learning about the changes and then making changes to adopt to it. Rather, SBI will do this for you. When you run your content piece by the on page SEO tool discussed above, SBI will tell you what changes to make in order to fully optimize your webpage or blog post. This feature alone makes the suite worthwhile having.
Another benefit of SBI when using it to build niche sites is its ability to automatically generate and submit a brand new sitemap to search engines each time you make a chance to your website such as adding a new content page. Many don’t realize the importance of this and what they are missing out by not having this functionality. You can read more about my thoughts on the importance of a site map generation and submission process here.
Finally, SBI also provides full service hosting, your own domain name and industry leading customer support all inclusive in the $299 package. Do the math and add up the cost of a domain, hosting, keyword tool, on page SEO checker plugins and what have you. Add to that the coaching and other behind the scene tools you get with SBI and it starts sounding like a great deal.
As a “busy” individual who wanted to establish passive income streams on the side, SBI was and still is the perfect tool for me to accomplish my goal. I didn’t want to waste time learning about every single component of website building and marketing and then try it out to see if it’d work for me. SBI helps you eliminate all the learning curves and get straight to content creation while it takes care of everything else.
With all that said, I have just scratched the surface of what else SBI offers. For me, there is no single best tool to build niche websites than the SBI suite.
I hope you found this post helpful in your efforts to better optimize your web pages and blog posts. I know the information can be overwhelming, but it is not impossible to implement all the on page SEO steps effectively. You can do this manually, or by utilizing tools that expedite the process because you don’t have to worry about learning all the technicalities.
I felt like diving into the technical details so you become familiar with what goes into it behind the scenes. By no means should you feel however that you need to know this information.
It is good to have the right tools at your disposal to help you maximize benefits from your on page SEO efforts as you create your web content. However, by no means I am saying that you absolutely have to have these tools. You can definitely execute sound SEO without spending a dime by implementing the steps discussed in this article. Tools are meant to make our lives easier, save us time and many times overcome the fear of the unknown.
For me, it is nice to resources to help me execute the process, especially when the tools I use are so cost effective relative to the value I get out of them. My SBI sites pay for themselves quickly after having built them, thus yielding profits relatively early in the process.
Even if you don’t utilize tools in your online entrepreneurial initiatives, learning the proper way to optimize web pages and blog posts is critical to your long term success. Practice implementing the principles discussed in this article until they become second nature (and yes they will be).
Once they are, you can apply these principles in anything else you do online, as well as teach them to others on a consulting basis, or train your own staff like I did who now helps me optimize and market my niche websites on the internet.
Readers: Do you have any questions about the on page SEO methods discussed in this article? What are you doing to ensure your web properties are fully optimized? What tools are you using and how are they performing for you? Most importantly, would you rather take the time to go through learning all the components of online business before implementing them or would you prefer an easier route to bypass the technicalities and focus on what you do best, which is to create content for your own niche or business.Previous: My Top 5 Passive Income Streams: Peak Into My World