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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{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

Christopher@Blocomo March 3, 2011 at 8:34 am

Thank you for sharing this helpful article. Now I think I should improve the anchor text variations for my site’s internal links :)

Reply

Felicia @ No Deposit Poker March 7, 2011 at 11:08 pm

Hi Jason,
Thanks for further elaborating on page SEO, this sure is a lot! Saved your article to my computer. You sure know your stuff. The special tips you include let me understand it more easily.
Thanks for sharing!

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Shiva @ Money Making Ideas March 9, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Kaiser, this post is awesome. Contains so much of new information about SEO which I never knew specially about Dublin core ( I might try that out in my blog). Also like you said adding a dynamic part to a static website can help a lot in boosting ranking, maybe like adding a blog. Awesome post man, Keep up the great work

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cliff@website marketing services March 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Hi Kaiser,

Just found your blog looking to find out about internal on-page linking strategies. This is some of the best info I’ve found on this subject online. Thanks.

I really dig the “absolute relevance” portion of your article and have never heard about this strategy before (although I’m somewhat confused by the Dublin core section – need to read up a bit more methinks)

Thanks for the share man!

Cliff

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Codrut @ Squeeze Page Examples March 20, 2011 at 6:02 am

Very insightful post. Now, the first 5 basic on-page SEO tips are common and I guess they’re still relevant to Google, the others, I’d not emphasize them. The last 5 tips are still valid IMO.

Do you suggest we do-follow the links that go to these pages: Privacy Policy, Disclosure and Disclaimer ?

Reply

Kaiserthesage March 20, 2011 at 8:42 am

Hi Codrut,

Yeah, I do suggest to tag those pages (privacy policy, disclamer, etc…) to dofollow, since on-site PR sculpting isn’t that effective anymore. Plus it indicates to search crawlers that your site is not hiding anything.

Reply

black hat seo March 22, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Hi Jason,

I just heard about Dublin Core the other day and it looks like a powerful way to do SEO. Would you mind writing more about it as it is hard to find easy to understand info online. Also what do you think is the most effective SEO; I’m particularly interested in WP SEO.

Thanks in advance

Reply

Sherryl Perry May 4, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Thanks for the tips. I always forget the importance of Including internal link within the first sentence or paragraph. Having read it here, I think I’ll remember it. Excellent article. I’ll be back. :)

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Seo Company india May 28, 2011 at 2:35 am

But a Website Made on WordPress and we verify XHTML/HTML code errors through W3C Markup Validation then it show me an error in line when verify Google and yahoo Webmaster Accounts

Reply

SCW@santa rosa seo May 31, 2011 at 6:22 am

Thanks for another informative post.
The Dublin Core metadata set is interesting, but why the multiples appearances of:
“<meta lang=”US English” content=…"

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Jamie@Optimizare Site July 22, 2011 at 3:03 am

You forget to mention the microformats. These are very useful because the stars from SERps, for example, seems to have a good role in the CTR increase. Rand Fiskin from SeoMoz claims that the H1 is not so effective. He said that he doesn’t see any change in SERPs after H1 removal from a page on a long tail search performed in Google.

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pencastro@SkinPatchManufacturer July 25, 2011 at 9:28 am

Thanks for reminding Jason!

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DJ Trinity@New Songs 2011 August 20, 2011 at 1:32 am

Nice Post, But in my way

What is good On-Page SEO?

First your keyword must appear in the title.Then it must appear in the URL.You have to optimize your keyword and make sure that it has a nice keyword density of 3-5% in your article with relevant LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing). Then you should spread all H1,H2,H3 tags in your article.Your Keyword should appear in your first paragraph and in the last sentence of the page. You should have relevant usage of Bold and italics of your keyword.There should be one internal link to a page on your blog and you should have one image with an alt tag that has your keyword….

And That’s it.

Reply

stan September 2, 2011 at 9:57 am

Good tips, but never neglect off-page SEO as on-page will only take you so far.

Stan

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Noel Addison@Web Design Ventura September 14, 2011 at 2:57 am

On-page SEO is a very important aspect in improving your search rankings and these tips are very helpful in implementing a good SEO campaign on the web.

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projectors for computers September 22, 2011 at 10:51 am

Internal linkings are so important. I didn’t pay attention to them at first, but it has really help with the ranking since I started linking internally.

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interior design September 22, 2011 at 10:54 am

I didn’t know multiple keywords targeted on each page could generate more results. I have been afraid it would “dilute” the impact of a keyword if I have too many different ones for the same page.

Reply

seo company September 27, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Nice post Kaiserthesage, i read more about on page SEO, your first six points are common with all information i get but hare you describe about site maps, Robots.txt , no follow and XHTML/HTML codes are new for me.
thanks for this meaningful information sharing.

Reply

Brady Lewis October 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm

I love this post. It’s very thorough and even after reading TONS of info on SEO, there’s some stuff here I have not heard before. There’s a few things that I will be implementing immediately. Thanks!

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Akash Kumar October 29, 2011 at 2:45 pm

Yet another nice post Jason. But what I feel about on-page SEO is that as long as the page is search engine friendly I mean easily crawlable the only thing you need to worry about is the title tag. Anchor text is equally important for linking structure.

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Jason Cook@Online Marketing in Charlotte November 16, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Very nice summary, Jason. Lots of great stuff there. I’m especially glad to see that you made a point to talk about understanding/using psychology on the landing page. I think it is often overlooked in the on-page SEO conversation, but conversion optimization is absolutely critical. To me, it is a key element of on-page SEO. What good is all of that traffic if you don’t convert it, right?

Thanks,
Jason Cook

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Cesar Noel Q. December 11, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Nice post. bookmarked for future reference

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Greg Holbert December 28, 2011 at 9:09 am

Thanks Jason,

Great information on an often-overlooked aspect of SEO. It all starts with the firm foundation! Keep up the great info and thanks for all the tips!

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Ray Cassidy January 13, 2012 at 9:07 am

Hi Kaiser that’s one of the few seo related explanations of Dublin Core metadata I’ve seen so far! How much of a factor do you see the DC format becoming in the months/ years ahead as Google continues with its program of changes. Is this general meta site wide, or is it as for other meta, page specific? I’m assuming for maximum effect it will be page specific?

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Nigel Kay @Ottawa SEO March 14, 2012 at 6:50 am

Wow Kaiser You killed it on this article! Great tips on writing Meta Description for users as CTR affects Organic positions. I also like the limit external links, but have at least one to a Authority site to build trust. I didn’t know about he Dublin Core or Video Sitemap… I will definitely check them out. Thanks man!

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Aliyaaah April 20, 2012 at 2:48 am

Excellent points! I really appreciated all your points on strategizing search engine optimization to ensure greater traffic for my site. I will definitely follow your ideas and points. Thank you so much!

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Brian Dennis May 7, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Amazing tips on On-page SEO! Wow man, It totally hooked me.. I’m also using Multiple keywords targeted on each page of my site for the better result on Search Engines.

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sourabh May 19, 2012 at 3:08 am

Hello Kaiserthesage,

I got this blog from Twitter and when I read your tips on On-Page SEO. I understand why more than 2300 tweets of this blog. Thanks for this really useful blog post on On-Page SEO.

Is the Search Engine Gives importance to Dublin Core metadata and what are the more benefits of this Dublin Core metadata.

Kindly reply
Thanks
https://twitter.com/#!/kmadhav

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Alina Clark July 12, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Indeed the images added to the content help with indexing and getting the interest of your target audience. Thank you for your insight, Jason.

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Denise August 9, 2012 at 8:12 pm

This is a very comprehensive list of on-page factors. I really need to get on this with my blog. For now, I’m learning slowly. Thanks for the info Jason.

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Kim@DubLi Network Business Center September 28, 2012 at 3:33 am

Awesome website you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any
user discussion forums that cover the same topics discussed here?
I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get advice from other knowledgeable individuals that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thanks!

Reply

Alex Kur October 5, 2012 at 7:35 am

HI Kaiserthesage,

I have applied for my site, I am awaiting the results from google.. really helpful suggestions, thanks !

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P ONeill@Digital Marketing Blog September 2, 2013 at 10:02 am

Read (and loved) this article a long time ago. It’s amazing how quickly SEO develops. For example; Jason, would you still use meta keywords as a ranking tactic and keyword density as an optimisation metric?

I dont think I’ve used either for over a year at least :)

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