6 Tricks to Optimize Your Site for Search Engines and Real People
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In his book Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars, Mitch Myerson introduces you to 22 innovators who have redefined the developing landscape of online marketing. Learn how to master proven strategies, avoid costly mistakes and grow your business. In this edited excerpt, contributing author and founder of Backlinko.com Brian Dean describes the six easy steps you need to take to create a site that's optimized for the search engines.
In the early days of SEO, “on-page SEO” was synonymous with keyword stuffing, hidden text, and robotic sounding copy. But like everything else in the SEO world, on-page SEO has undergone a renaissance. Today, the goal of on-page SEO is three-fold:
1. Strategically embed keywords into your pages so Google can easily understand the topic of that page.
2. Create a site design and user experience that encourages people who find your site to stick to your site like superglue.
3. Post awesome content that gets people to share your site on social media and, more importantly, link to it.
Now it’s time to show you how to create pages that are optimized for search without over-optimizing your site or turning readers off.
Step 1: One page, one keyword. If there’s an on-page SEO mistake I see over and over again, it’s trying to cram 10 keywords into a single page. I come across a lot of small-business websites that have title tags that look like this:
Boat Rental Miami | Florida Keys Boat Rental | Charter Fishing Trips Florida | Scuba Diving Miami
And when I look at their meta keyword tag (which Google doesn’t even use anymore), it’s the same story:
Fishing miami, florida boating, boats, charter boats, boat rental . . .
You get the idea. Think about it for a second: How can your page—especially your homepage—be about renting boats in Miami, charter fishing in Florida and scuba diving?
Obviously, it can’t. And because Google has no clue what your page is about, it doesn’t rank it for anything.
What’s the solution? One page, one keyword.
Remember that Google wants to show users highly relevant results. Which means they would much rather show someone searching for “Boat Rental Miami” an in-depth article about the best boat rental locations in Miami than a keyword-stuffed homepage “about” ten different things. So if you’re looking to rank for ten keywords, create ten top-notch pages around each one.
Step 2: Include your keyword in your title tag (once). Your title tag is like your page’s headline. It’s by far the strongest signal that you can send to Google about your page’s topic. Ideally, you should work your keyword into a title that’s also compelling for readers (that way, you’ll get clicks from people who are browsing the search results).
For example, if you wanted to rank for “Miami Boat Rental,” you could use compelling titles like:
- Miami Boat Rental: 5 Things You Need to Know Before You Go
- Why Miami Boat Rental Makes Sense for Your Next Company Event
- 7 Ways to Save Money on Miami Boat Rental This Summer
These describe what the pages are about to humans and include your target keyword without looking spammy.
Step 3: Mention your keyword in the beginning of your content. To make your page’s topic crystal clear for Google, you want to sprinkle your keyword into your content. Keep in mind that this isn’t keyword stuffing (which can get your site penalized). It simply means you want to mention your keyword a few times. And the most important of those mentions is at the very top of your page.
Think about it for a second: Let’s say you came across an article on CNN.com about a new presidential candidate named John Smith. The journalist behind the piece probably wouldn’t hesitate to mention words like “presidential,” “John Smith,” and “running.” It makes sense that the most critical information kicks off any web page. That’s why I recommend mentioning your keyword in the first 100 words of your page.
After that, it’s just a matter of sprinkling your keyword into your copy once or twice more. You can mention your keyword more than that if it makes sense for your content. But it won’t help you from an SEO point of view.
Step 4: Make your site loads lightning fast. Google has confirmed that it uses a site’s loading time as a ranking factor. Although a sluggish site won’t make or break your SEO campaign, it makes a difference. And considering how competitive most keywords are nowadays, every little bit helps.
You can evaluate your site’s current loading speed using two free tools:
1. Google PageSpeed Insights: Gives information that you can use to significantly improve your site’s speed with changes to your HTML and images.
2. WebPageTest: Actually loads your page with a virtual browser. Also provides insights that you can apply right away.
If you work with a web developer, I highly recommend working with them to boost your site’s loading speed. If not, there are several WordPress plugins—like WP Smush It! and W3 Total Cache—that can help.
Step 5: Create outbound links to trusted sites. Google and other search engines want to send people to hubs of helpful information, and that means sites that regularly link out to quality resources on other websites. When it makes sense, include a few outbound links to non-competing pages in your content.
Step 6: Create internal links to important pages. Internal links help users find more information on your site. But those internal links also help search engines get a better idea of which pages on your site are most important. The way search engines look at it, the more often you link to a page, the more important it must be. That means you want to a) identify pages that you’re looking to rank and b) send a few internal links their way.
For more information or to access exclusive audio interviews with superstars from this book visit OnlineMarketingSuperstars.com.