10 Hard-hitting On-page SEO Strategies to Improve Search Rankings

by Jason Acidre on February 27, 2011 · 40 comments · Search


On-page optimization is basically the process of improving a webpage/website’s content as well as other site’s back-end elements in order to boost its keyword rankings on search engine result pages. Most effective SEO strategies heavily rely on this part of the site’s optimization process, given that 50% of all the SEO factors that help in improving search rankings come from this side of the campaign.

Having a solidly optimized page lessens the need of immense link building, in which the relevance of the page itselOn-page SEOf can do almost all the work for your campaign. Higher scores are more likely to be given by search crawlers to pages that contain trustworthy and of high quality information, which makes it easier for web pages to attain much higher search engine positions – even with just a few external links.

Recap of the Basics of On-Page SEO

To start off, I’ll give a short recap of some of the basic On-page SEO techniques that will not be discussed here and most on-site factors that can affect the page/site’s search rankings.

  • Optimized Meta tags, in which you include your targeted keyword(s) on the title page, meta description and meta keywords.
  • Optimizing HTML Tags, where you highlight your keywords within the document through Header tags (H1, H2, H3…).
  • Structuring a clean navigation for all the important pages and categories of the site in a hierarchy style.
  • Keyword positioning, wherein the important keyword(s) is used as the first word on the title, placed on the first 5 words of the meta description and also placed on the first 50 words of the body copy.
  • Keyword density on the body copy of at least 0.6 – 2% for the targeted keyword.
  • Internal links within the page that use keywords (targeted and/or related) as anchor texts to direct on other internal pages of the site.
  • Staging internal links from other pages of the site to direct to the optimized destination page using targeted keywords as anchor text.
  • Use of pretty permalinks/page URLs.
  • Keywords used as anchor text for sitewide links (footer, sidebar, navigation links).
  • URL canonicalization.
  • Site’s speed/loading time and HTML page size.
  • Optimizing Image Alt text, or basically using your content’s images as links.
  • Use of XML Sitemap
  • Inclusion of Video Sitemap to fully optimize videos posted on the site.
  • Optimizing Robots.txt through page blocks and in directing crawlers to the XML sitemap.
  • Usage of Rel=”nofollow” attribute for advertisements and affiliate links.
  • Limiting the external or outgoing links within the page.
  • Using or including the targeted keyword in the domain’s name.
  • Inclusion of the keyword in the URL and keeping the length of the URL short.
  • Ease of the reading level of the page’s content (through format, coherence and wording, sentence as well as paragraph structure).
  • Ratio of nofollow and dofollow attributed links on the page (both external and internal)
  • Making sure that each link – may it be external or internal – which are placed on the page should direct to an active page (check for dead, broken and forbidden links).
  • Optimizing a 404 page template to direct visitors to the site’s homepage instead when page access errors occur.
  • Tracking XHTML/HTML code errors through W3C Markup Validation.

Getting Back to My List of On-page Optimization Tips

Use of Dublin Core as additional Meta Tags

Dublin Core is basically a set of metadata (pretty much similar to Meta tags), which is also placed on the header of your site’s HTML source code. Generally, this set of tags – that uses a different element from the normal Meta tags – makes it much easier for search crawlers to retrieve and get the most out of the information they need to know about your site.

To keep this short, adding Dublin Core metadata will enable your site to have two different forms of Meta tags, which can enhance your rankings as your site is getting more of search crawlers’ attention. It’s also given that this metadata interoperability is constantly advancing to accommodate the upcoming demands for quality search and/or perhaps with the Semantic web – the future of search.

Below is a sample code of my homepage’s Dublin Core metadata:

<head>

<link rel=”schema.DC” href=”http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/” />

<link rel=”schema.DCTERMS” href=”http://purl.org/dc/terms/” />

<meta lang=”US English” content=”Advanced SEO Strategies | Kaiserthesage” />

<meta content=”Jason Acidre” />

<meta lang=”US English” content=”seo strategies, advanced seo” />

<meta lang=”US English” content=”A search strategist’s journal of insights, principles and strategies on search engine optimization, link development and online marketing.” />

<meta content=”Kaiserthesage” />

<meta scheme=”DCTERMS.W3CDTF” content=”2011″ />

<meta scheme=”DCTERMS.URI” content=”US English” />

</head>

You can copy and paste that on your site’s HTML code, but be sure to change the information given as this was specifically designed for my site’s homepage. You can learn more about Dublin Core by visiting their Official Website at DublinCore.org

Absolute relevance

Have you ever wonder why Wikipedia, dictionary and lyrics sites rank highly on search result pages, even if your site have outnumbered the page in terms of backlinks? Besides the fact that they are authority sites and well trusted by search engines, their pages are also absolutely relevant to each targeted search term.

To keep it simple, you can make your page or a portion of it patterned as to what Wikipedia pages have done when it comes to providing valuable information. Giving definition or by simply describing your pages’ targeted keywords within the content or making a space on your web page where you can include the keyword(s)’ definition will help in attaining higher SERP rankings.

If you’re not competing with a Wikipedia page, then implementing this content strategy will certainly amplify the trust that search crawlers see as they assess the information from your page, which in turn can improve your site’s relevancy scores as well as the page’s rankings.

Anchor text variations for internal links

Internal links are links within a page that connect or direct to other pages of the site. Staging your site’s internal links strategically is as vital as your link building campaign, since both are considered as votes for your site/page’s search rankings when targeted keywords are used appropriately as anchor texts.

Using variations for your keywords that will be used as internal links to point on the page you want optimize is essential, as it naturalizes the information being gathered by crawlers when they are being directed to the optimized page through your internal links, which can also help your site rank for other related or long tail keywords.

You can use different terms on your site’s other pages as links to describe the page you wish to optimize, for instance:

  • SEO strategies – homepage’s main keyword (placed within blog post #1’s content)
  • Effective SEO strategies – homepage’s support keyword 1 (placed within about page’s content)
  • Best SEO strategies – homepage’s support keyword 2 (placed on services page)
  • Organic SEO strategies – homepage’s support keyword 3 (placed on blog post #24)
  • Google SEO strategies – homepage’s support keyword 4 (placed on portfolio page)
  • Advanced SEO strategies – homepage’s support keyword 5 (placed on case studies page)

Well, that sample was actually a part of my campaign for this blog.

Special Tip: Including this type of internal link within the first sentence or paragraph of your content is very beneficial, as it gets crawled right away by search spiders and it also gives proper link attribution to its destination page when the content is scraped or copied by other sites (particularly if other sites are mentioning your blog entries for round ups, in which most use the first paragraph of the blog entry as its excerpt).

Use of Synonyms and related terms within the content

There’s nothing much to say about this strategy as it’s very self-explanatory. Search algorithms are consistently evolving and growing smarter almost every week. Don’t outsmart them; just be smart enough to provide valuable content to your targeted audience. Using this technique to make your content look as natural as it can be to both search engines and real users is the smartest way to correspond with the ever growing search industry.

External links on the page directing to high authority domains/sites

Linking out to sites that have high authority rank can increase the trust scores your site receives from search engines. It does affect your page’s search rankings, as search crawlers also consider this information as a factor in gauging a site’s trustworthiness. The more that search engines trust your site, is the more they give you higher rankings.

Presence of Privacy Policy, Disclosure and Disclaimer page

Crawlers do search for these pages once they are in your site, and obviously, it also has to do something with trust. Why do they love these pages so much? It’s quite simple, it’s because they want to satisfy users who are searching for real information over the web that can be trusted. And of course, search engines wouldn’t vouch for your site if you have something to hide or not to disclose with your visitors.

Multiple keywords targeted on each page of your site

One efficient way to drive more relevant traffic to your site is to target 3 or more related keywords on a single page of your site. If you can thoroughly optimize each page on your site in targeting more keywords, then your site will probably have 3 or more times the number of keywords that can generate organic traffic to your site (ex. 20 pages of your site can have 60 keywords bringing you free traffic).

Perhaps the easiest way of implementing this is through targeting long-tail titles and including each targeted keyword through the content. Example:

  • Title: Advanced On-page SEO Techniques
  • Keyword 1: On-page SEO
  • Keyword 2: On-page SEO Techniques
  • Keyword 3: Advanced On-page SEO
  • Keyword 4: On-page SEO Tips

In general, using and scattering those terms within the body and using all the necessary words (to form the phrases) on the page’s URL and Meta description will certainly boost its chances to rank for all the targeted search terms.

Using Sentiments to your advantage

Content’s sentiments are seen to play a big role to modern search warfare, particularly with online reputation management. As for search engines to successfully oppose Google Bombing – practice of making websites rank for negative keywords – they are starting to observe if the sentiments of a page’s context are really related to or complemented by the words used in describing the page externally (anchor texts of backlinks).

Source: How a Search Engine Might Fight Google Bombing – SEObytheSea

As we all know, the use of adult and foul languages in a site’s content can affect its rankings. However, the use of negative terminologies (such as spam, failure, fake, etc…) is sometimes unavoidable, in which others can take advantage of it by making you rank for negative keywords completely unrelated to your site by using terms seen in your content (such as “spam site”, “miserable failure”, “fake company”, etc…).

Your competitors can also be smart enough to use positive or unbranded terms (ex. website, company, client, etc…) found on your site and incorporate negative words to bomb it externally (ex. porn website, bad company, evil client, etc…).

Focusing your content’s approach with positive sentiments and preventing the use of offensive languages is the only best line of defense to protect your site from Google Bombers as well as in improving your pages’ rankings.

Inclusion of a regularly or frequently updated portion on the web page

It’s best to include a section that can be frequently updated if you’re optimizing a static web page. Adding a section on your static web page for blog or twitter updates (recent blog entries, comments, tweets, etc…) can increase your site’s search rankings as crawlers also give points to sites/pages that are consistently active in terms of its new changes each time they crawl and index the page.

Implementing basic psychology on your page’s Meta title and description

The title of the page and its description is probably the most crucial part of on-page SEO. Both factors have major impact for a web page’s search rankings, not just with keyword placements, but with organic click through rate as well, given that the more clicks your page gets from organic search results, the higher it climbs on SERP rankings as well, seeing as it is seen to be more relevant by search engines basing on users’ discretion.

The use of strong words that will entice users to take action upon seeing your page through search results is one of the best ways to fully optimize your page’s title and Meta description. Besides just placing your targeted keywords on it, it’s where you should also place the words that your target audience wants to hear. Inclusion of price, incentives, compelling excerpt or a follow up of what they can do next (ex. toll-free numbers) after seeing the page’s description can be mentioned here to increase the chances of having them click through it or to take direct action.

Jason Acidre

Jason Acidre is Co-Founder and CEO of Xight Interactive, marketing consultant for Affilorama and Traffic Travis, and also the sole author of this SEO blog. You can follow him on Twitter @jasonacidre and on Google+.

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