Why Is On Page SEO So Important?
If part of your marketing strategy is content marketing, then you have no doubt kept up with the latest changes in the world of search engine optimization. Whether you want to admit it or not, you need SEO in order to maximize your company’s exposure on the internet. And one of the major things you need to take into consideration is your on page SEO let me tell you why.
Since the early part of 2013 Google has really been on a rampage when it comes to cleaning up the spam that is in its index. This became apparent when the first major update in a long time came along called Panda.
Panda’s objective was simple, penalize sites that had content on it that appeared mathematically to be of less quality. And a lot of sites were victims either because their site indeed had bad content, or because they were in a niche known for bad content.
And to be 100 percent upfront, this site was hurt in the rankings because of the Panda update. If you never been here before you wouldn’t know, but I used to write a lot of company reviews on different network marketing opportunities out there.
This in and of itself was a pretty good way to generate a lot of traffic. But I wrote a lot of them in a very short period of time. And as a result, I created a template of sorts for my posts to speed up the process a bit.
What happened as a result was that my articles actually started to look alike.
So much so that towards the end you would have thought I was using the same article and just changing the company name. And thus, mathematically considering my website less quality, Panda lowered the overall rankings of my site. And I deserved it.
I had ignored one the most sacred of on page SEO optimization tenants, “thou shall write high quality and unique content”.
By creating a template I was able to speed up the process of writing the company reviews. Which overall is not a bad thing, especially when your just starting out. But, when I wrote so many reviews in such a short amount of time. That is what caused all of my troubles, I was not writing unique and high quality content anymore. And I was not listening to the on page SEO tips that I knew in my soul were the right things to do.
Your on-page optimization is the beginning of your journey to get your sites listed on the search engines. This is where all your customers start when looking to solve a problem, buy a product, or just be entertained. And if you ignore the rules your going to miss out.
Rant: Bare with me a bit while I go off on a bit of tangent. Since the onset of the Panda and Penguin changes there seems to be this shift in the online marketing space. I know you have heard it, “SEO is Dead”, or worse yet, you get some less than helpful information about it in general. Try go to an online forum where people are talking about internet marketing and ask the question “How do I get my sites ranked in Google?”. Or do a search for that question yourself.
You will undoubtedly find over 100 people answering with “SEO is dead” or “Just write high quality content, people will like it and build links for you!”. Both of these statements are probably the most repeated pieces of advice around. And both of the most inaccurate things anyone could ever say.
SEO is not dead, not by a long shot. Amazon, Huffington Post, CNN, Target, Walmart, they all still practice search engine marketing every day. Ryan Deiss, Dan Kennedy’s GKIC group, and many hundreds more marketers who have mastered it, still practice it everyday.
Why you ask, when they can just pay for traffic?
Because its a long term strategy to bring free and targeted visitor’s to their offers on autopilot. Plain and simple. No, its not quick. No, you won’t get rich in a week by practicing it. But once your site is proven to be an authority in your niche, it will bring you clients and sales over and over again on while your on a beach somewhere enjoying a Mojito. And as long as people continue to use Google, Yahoo, Bing, or any of the hundreds of other engines, you should focus on that when creating, maintaining, and filling your site with content.
And the other one, by saying writing high quality content is all you need, is a biggest lie the so called guru’s have been able to spread far and wide in years. I do not care how great your content is, if you don’t get traffic, its just another lonely website on the internet. You have to promote your content, plain and simple. And part of that promotion, the centerpiece if you want to be realistic, is your application of on page SEO strategies.
Spending hours researching and creating content is just not going to cut it. Write once, then promote, promote, promote.
End of rant
WordPress Is Over Optimized Out Of The Box
I am pretty sure its a given that WordPress has become the content management system of choice for business on the internet in the last couple of years. The software is easy to use, and the customizations that are available are out of this world. With it, the possibilities are endless, for people new to the online space to create and put up a site that would rival any of the major brands in their market.
You can find a WordPress plugins and/or themes that will aid you in the fastest and prettiest way possible to start branding yourself or business in about an hour. Two if your a perfectionist like me.
But it does have a flaw, and in terms of SEO, its a great big one called duplicate content.
Duplicate content came about when Google noticed that a lot of company’s were creating hundreds of pages on their sites that pretty much said the same thing. The best example of this is the old JCPenny.com that was all but wiped off the search engine for violating this rule.
What they did was take each of their products that they offered and essentially used the same page with different titles for their products. Back in the day it worked, and it worked really really well. A company could run every keyword in their niche by doing it once they found the right combination on one page. So many people figured this little tactic out and Google put a stop to it quick.
Today people are so afraid of the duplicate content penalty, that its taken on the definition of “having the exact same piece of content ANYWHERE on the net”. Which is not entirely true.
Google knows that there are sites that aggregate information from other websites. I think its fair to say that most of these sites are in general a good thing. So what its algorithm does it look for the first instance of that particular content, and that is the one that ranks.
But I digress back to WordPress.
The basic out of the box WordPress installation is set up to display tags, categories, tag clouds, author pages, archives, and your blog page among other things. Which is pretty cool if your a user because all of these added things actually help your visitors find what they are looking for on their site. Or perhaps even discover something they were not looking for.
Unfortunately though, they create so much duplicate content on your site that you stand a pretty good chance at being penalized by Panda.
I’ll explain it like this.
Lets assume that you have a website about “dogs” and more specifically dogs of a different color. So you have five categories of dogs, “white dogs”, “tan dogs”, “grey dogs”, “black dogs” and “pink dogs” (that last one was for comedic effect). And under each of those categories you have have 20 articles about different dog in each color “Brown Dog – Labrador” for example. Plus on each post you use the tags “dog, dog color, color of dogs, brown dogs”.
That content will be list on each of these pages:
20 “brown dog” articles listed on the category page
20 “brown dog” articles listed on the author page
20 “brown dog” articles listed on each of your tag pages
20 “brown dog” articles listed in you archives
20 “brown dog” articles listed on you related posts page
Can you see the duplication there? Especially with your tag pages, if you use a lot of tags you’ll be creating tons of similar pages every time you post. What an on page SEO mess.
On Page SEO Optimization For WordPress
The rest of this post is aimed at helping you overcome any on page SEO challenges that WordPress may create for your site. I will be providing you with some quick and easy action steps that you can implement right away to correct an old site, or set up a new one right the first time. I will provide you with some long term things you should consider every time you post new content. As well as suggest some tools to make it all easier for you.
Now I am going to assume you already have a site set-up and we are going to fix it.
Install WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast
Unless your using a specialized theme with its own SEO options that do not integrate with this plugin (like Thesis), your going to want this plugin. I consider it the standard when it comes to optimizing my WordPress sites. Another option is the All-In-One SEO plugin. Both are free, and both have paid options, but the free is really all you need. The paid options just add some bells and whistles that most people don’t need, yet.
Everyone uses tags on their site for the most part. Its something we are just used to doing, and in general they are not a bad thing. Tags can be used by your visitors to move around your site based on keywords. But really, when was the last time you went to a site, saw a tag cloud and clicked it?
I don’t think I have done it in at least a year.
So don’t display a tag cloud on your site anymore, and disable them on your posts if they display there. It just increases the chance that you site “appears” to be keyword stuffing.
You also want to set you tags to “no index”. In the video I show exactly how to do it, but here is a picture of where you do it for quick reference:
I am sure you have heard all the latest craze about siloing your websites in order to establish a greater amount of authority in a niche. And the topic is pretty cool because it also keeps your website pretty organized and easy for the search engines to get around and index all of your content.
Typically a silo will look like this.
Assuming your site is like mine and you cover a few different topics, categories is the way to go to silo your site. So if your using them like I do, you can put each topic in a specific category. Then your end user can just fly though all the topics under that category with ease.
Setting the up is done under the “Posts” tab in your WordPress Admin Dashboard. If you need a bit more of an explanation on how you should use them, just leave a comment and I’ll create a video to walk you through it.
In your SEO settings, let your categories be indexed. Yes there is going to be a small bit of duplication on your site, but this time its acceptable because this is the only place we are going to allow it. Your users and the search engines will reward you for your sites organization.
Breadcrumbs are nothing more than a navigation feature to help your users get around your site.
Typically they link to your categories pages. Mine are at the top of my posts, but you can put them on the top or bottom. Its really all up to you. My theme put them where they are at by default.
On a brand new niche targeted site like our example, don’t use them. They can create a keyword stuffing appearance on the whole page even if you where not trying to do that. Better safe than sorry where your on page SEO is concerned.
But on sites like mine, they are helpful, and since I want to ensure my category pages are indexed and crawled regularly I use them.
Author and Date Archives
These pages show the exact same thing as your home page, blog page, and category pages so “no index” these bad boys. Or better yet, just WordPress SEO to disable them all together. Especially if you have a single author blog. And if you don’t use the user settings to direct where you want your readers to go to learn about your contributors. If they want to read more articles from a particular author, create a list on the author page of their top five shared posts. That much better for interlinking, and keeps your site duplicate free.
Recent Comments and Related Posts Widgets
A lot so webmasters like to use these widgets in order to show a bit of social proof.
Its kind of like saying, “Hey look there, Sally Joe liked this so much she commented”. But if you have a site that has a lot of comments this could hurt you as well.
By having these up as a widget your creating site wide links to the pages or posts where the comments are on. Well you don’t want that because it takes away from your setup that shows how important your main pages are.
For example, your main page is about White dogs, and this is where you sell said white fluffy creature. All of your other white dog posts are linked to that main sale page. Every other post is designed solely to get people coming to your site for a long tail term and finding their way there. Your interlinking tell the search engines that your main sales page is really the main point in that silo, thus the authoritative page.
When you use recent comments widgets, you dilute that natural silo you have just created.
Recent posts do it as well a bit, but if you limit it to five of your most recent posts you will be ok. Especially if your updating your site regularly, the recent post widget will help your newer content get indexed a little faster. Just make sure you set it up so all that displays is the post title and a thumbnail if you want.
Its all about passing authority from your backlinks, through your subpost, to your main topic page.
It would take another 1000 words to explain how PageRank and Page Authority work so I won’t try here, just shut the recent comments widgets off.
The last section that we are going to talk about in the initial steps of on page SEO is what you put in your permalinks.
Permalinks is essentially how you want your url’s structured when you post content on your site.
Note: If you have an old site with a lot of content that has a lot of backlinks and is getting traffic, leave your permalinks alone. If you change them this late in the game you’ll be spending hours 301 redirecting your old links to your new ones. Take it from someone who has done it, you don’t want to go through it. But if you site is brand new or maybe 100 pieces of content or less, do this step.
Your actually going to take care of this the basic WordPress settings under Settings====> Permalinks. Once you get there all you need to do is scroll down a bit and click the button that says “post name”. That will enter a default where the title of your post becomes part of your url.
Now if you look at mine you will see that I have the category and the post keywords.
To accomplish this just addto the custom box and make sure you select its radio button.
I do this to improve the silo’ing of my site. I suggest you do it if your using categories, it just seems to keep everything much cleaner in my opinion.
Meta Tag Content On Page SEO Techniques
Now you have your site all set up from the get go to be well optimized for both your visitors and the search engines. You urls are clean, your silo is in order, and all you need is some content to throw up there and the millions upon millions of your fans will come to your site.
Well not really, remember the theory, “If you build it, they will come” doesn’t apply to websites.
But there is some stuff we can do in our content to get things rolling.
Don’t let the name freak you out, this is really easy, especially with the WordPress SEO plugin.
Do you see where it says SEO Title?
Well that’s your Title tag and you can take note that its the same as the title of this post. Pretty cool huh, just copy/paste and your all set. You don’t even have to enter it in there at all if you don’t want to because that auto fills. But I am using a cool tool I’ll tell you about some other time that requires that I type it.
The Meta Description is there as well, do you see how I started both with my keyword. Absolutely not necessary in the description. Think of it as a change to put your keyword in something else, but its really your sales letter in the search engine results. In 141 characters you have to get people to click your link, aren’t you glad your a persuasive writer?
And that is it for meta tags, nothing to it.
In Content On Page SEO Techniques
My big ole infographic is pretty cool huh?
I will not repeat all the things listed on there when it comes to your in content items that should be a part of your content. I will however let you know what the other nine are. (The graphic would have qualified for “supergraphic” if we had kept adding stuff to it).
Here is what’s not there:
- Use the H1, H2 and H3 tags in your content and make sure they contain your keywords. This helps focus the content but also makes it a lot easier to read from a visitors perspective. Most themes already have your title in an H1 tag so you just have to get the other two in.
- Keep your keyword density in between acceptable levels. As a general industry guideline, as the infographic displays, your going to want to stick between .5% and 2%. But, that really is depending on your competition. If you seem to be stuck in the search engines around spot 11 say and you want to be in the top ten take a look at the keyword density of the top ranking sites. If its way lower than your, go in an reduce the amount of instances your keyword is on your site. If its higher, go in and increase yours, that little trick could just bump you up a few spots.
- Get your keyword in the first 50-100 words of your content. Tell the reader why they are there, and more importantly, why they should stay.
- Use the ALT tag in your images, really easy to do, put up an image and name the file your keyword. Then when you upload it to your site make sure you type in the alt tag. (If you forget, as long as you have the file name as your keyword, WordPress will take care of it)
- Use bold, underline, and italic on your keyword at least once.
- Put your keywords in the last 50-100 words of your document.
- Page speed is important, if you don’t know how to optimize your site with W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache find someone who does. Your load speed is an important on page SEO factor.
- DON’T USE THE KEYWORD META TAG, shut it off, you don’t want it, you don’t need it. Bing executives actually publicly said they use it as a signal the webmaster is a spammer.
- Insure you use the social feature in WordPress SEO (or another one you may prefer)
- Add your Twitter Card meta tag
- Add your Open Graph meta tag
- Add your Google+ author link
- Add your Dublin core meta tag (I’m doing another post on what the heck these are and how to do it in about 15 minutes in a better way than WordPress SEO, but for now use its features)
Alright that’s more than nine lol.
In Conclusion – Tie’ing A Pretty Bow Around On Page Optimization
You can essentially search the internet far and wide to find information on how to be optimize your website for the search engines. Just to write this post I looked at hundreds of pages and even had to call upon a search engine marketer I know who has over 3000 sites to pull data from.
And the sad part is that where ever you go your going to get some commonly known truth’s. And a whole lot of bull poop.
On page SEO techniques and SEO tips designed around support you, the WordPress user, are far and wide. Hopefully I have finally given you a straight answer to your on questions.
And remember the three fundamentals I taught you today 1) SEO is not dead, 2) If you build it, they will not come unless you promote, promote, promote, and 3) On page SEO is the single most important thing you can to do increase your rankings in the search engines.
Top Photo By arztsamui, published on 27 July 2011
PHPBUILT’s Idiot-Proof Guide to Authority Site Building
A Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page Optimization – Moz
Infographic created by: Dead Dog Design