In the past, you might have been able to get away with using "build it, and people will come" as the core of your content marketing and SEO strategy because there were fewer businesses with a strong digital presence to compete with.
Those days are long over.
More businesses are learning that success in today's marketplace is dependent on their online visibility. As a result, it's becoming harder for websites to carve a spot for themselves at the top of search engine result pages (SERPs).
Given the explosion of social media and the evolving search landscape, it's essential to optimize both your on-page and off-page SEO tactics if you want to earn more backlinks, strengthen your domain authority, and dramatically increase organic growth.
In this post, you'll learn what on-page and off-page SEO is about, as well as best practices you can implement to ramp-up the success of your digital marketing efforts and stay ahead of your competitors.
What is On-Page SEO?
Think of the information on your social media profiles—Twitter, for example. You control what's there, and you can tweak your bio, header, profile picture, and tweets to show people who you are and why they should follow or interact with you. That's on-page SEO.
Similarly, the actions that you take on your web pages to help them rank better are what’s referred to as on-page SEO. They're things that are entirely within your control, and you can wield them to impact the way search engine crawlers view your site.
On-page SEO has to do with everything from the keywords you use, how you structure content on your pages, and the technology you use to build your site.
The point is to help Google figure out what your page is about and if it is relevant and useful enough to be displayed due to a user's search query.
Effectively optimizing your on-page SEO can translate to higher rankings, improved user experience, valuable content that helps readers. All of which will drive more traffic your way.
On-Page SEO Tips
As a digital marketer or site owner, it's your job to make sure your website is not only visible but regarded as authoritative and trustworthy. Here are some of the most important and proven on-page SEO techniques that can help you achieve this goal:
Create Great Content
Writing SEO articles that users and search engines love goes beyond inserting keywords or producing content at will.
If your content doesn't share valuable information that readers will find useful, all other SEO efforts will be in vain. Google will not bother displaying it on the first few results pages, so no one will find it and visit your site.
Your blog posts should be well-researched and at least 1300-words long.
Long-form content performs better on search engines because they provide more details and, consequently, a better understanding of the subject.
Avoid writing fluff. Use benefit-rich headlines and subheadings to make your content more engaging and reduce bounce rates.
Your posts, as well as the images, videos, and visuals you use on your site, need to be updated regularly, so they remain fresh and relevant. If the statistics and content on your page have remained unchanged for months, or worse, years, that doesn't bode well for your rankings.
Using keyword stuffing is a surefire way to get penalized by search engines, which will cause your rankings to plummet.
You want to utilize the keywords you're trying to rank for by inserting them naturally throughout your page, so your content makes sense. This way, search engines can determine that your site is a relevant source of information for the selected keywords and serve up your content to users searching for those words.
Carry out keyword research to discover the words your competitors are ranking for. What keywords would you search for if you were looking for content based on your offerings? What would be the search intent behind those words or phrases?
Once you've compiled a list of the relevant long-tail and short keywords, create a content marketing plan, then craft new content or optimize existing ones to include these keywords.
Catchy Title Tags
Your title, heading, or <h1> tag is one of the most crucial on-page SEO factors. It gives search engines and visitors a quick glimpse of what your page is about. It's what users will see in the SERP, and if it's not captivating, they won't be motivated to click on your link and read the rest of your content.
Write engaging titles that your readers can't resist. Ideally, your title tag should include your main keyword and provide a clue as to what the subject matter of a page is about.
Try to keep your title to 65 characters or less. Use proper spellings, punctuations, and avoid using the same title for different pages. Google does not appreciate pages with duplicate, poorly written, or missing title tags. So if your website is guilty of any of these, your ranking potential will suffer.
Attractive Meta Descriptions
The snippet of text that shows up below the headline in social posts and below the URL on search engine result pages is called a meta description. Like your title tag, it tells potential visitors and search engines what a page is about.
You need to craft user-friendly meta descriptions that contain your target keywords, summarize your content, and explain what readers stand to gain from the post.
The clearer your description, the greater the chances of users clicking on your link. And the more traffic you drive, the higher your domain authority and ranking.
Brevity is your friend. Google will cut off your meta description if it's too long, so keep it under 160 characters and use an actionable voice.
Optimizing your meta description will entice visitors to click-through and make it easy for search engines to crawl and index your page properly.
Strategic Internal Links
To keep visitors on your site longer and provide a pleasant browsing experience, you have to link your pages in a way that's easy to follow. When you create new content, think of how it fits together with your existing content. For example, you can link to an old blog post on your site that discusses a related topic in-depth within a new post.
This allows search engines to easily and swiftly crawl your site and figure out how authoritative and useful it is as a resource for your niche. It'll also help promote your content and boost traffic to various pages.
Page Performance and Friendliness
Search engines like Google are partial to responsive websites with excellent user experience and will reward them with higher rankings.
The speed and mobile-friendly nature of your site can make or break your marketing efforts. Studies show that 60% of web searches are done on mobile devices, and many users will abandon a site that takes more than 3 seconds to load.
The longer your site takes to load, the more visitors and potential customers your business will lose. They'll bounce off your page in frustration, and once search engines get a whiff of this, your ranking will also drop.
Ensure that your pages load quickly and render properly irrespective of the browser or device it's viewed on.
What is Off-Page SEO?
Earlier, I mentioned how your Twitter account and the actions you alone can take on it are a form of on-page SEO. On the other hand, things like retweets, likes, mentions, and quotes replies that people leave on your posts are outside of your control: off-the-page.
They're based on what other people think of you and your profile. The more engagement you get on your posts, the more popular, authoritative, and visible your profile will become.
Off-page SEO works the same way. They're SEO hacks that can help your website rank higher in search results but doesn't involve actions taken directly on your site or content.
Instead, it uses factors outside of your site to demonstrate the importance, value, and authority of your website to search engines. It includes everything from link building to social media amplification and reviews.
Off-Page SEO Tips
Although off-page SEO elements are beyond your control, there are things you can do to positively impact them, boost brand awareness, increase engagement, grow your sales, and produce better marketing results all around.
The quality and number of links pointing to your site are among the leading SEO factors that Google considers when ranking websites. Each backlink you get is a vote of confidence that tells search engines that other people find your content trustworthy and useful.
Having a solid link-building strategy is non-negotiable if you want to drive traffic, make your rankings go up, and help your site be recognized as an authority in your niche. Try to get a few high-quality backlinks every week from websites with high domain authority.
Don't just sit around and wait for people to link to you. Reach out to target websites using broken or outdated links on a specific subject and suggest replacing those links with your fresher, more comprehensive content.
Collaborate with influencers, bloggers, and other websites in your niche to build an affiliate network and link to each other's pages. Write guest posts for authoritative sites and link back to your website in the main content or author bio. Check your competitors' backlinks, reach out to sites that have linked to them, and pitch your website.
Boost Domain Authority
Search engines measure how authoritative and relevant your site is based on several factors and score you on a scale of 0 to 100. That score determines your domain strength or authority.
Some of the factors considered include:
- Amount of traffic your website generates
- Age of your domain name (the older, the better)
- Visitors' experience on your site
- Number of broken links on your pages
- History of your domain name
- Number of backlinks and internal links your site has
- The relevance of your content
Websites with higher domain authority will rank higher in search results, while those on the lower end will rank at the bottom. To avoid being lumped in the latter category, conduct a SERP analysis on your website to see where you rank.
Then ensure your content is relevant and engaging. Improve your user experience. Make your website responsive. Collect quality backlinks and implement other SEO best practices to maximize your domain strength and climb higher in the SERPs.
Social Media Promotion
A strong social media presence creates an avenue for you to distribute your content, drive traffic to your website, increase brand mentions, and ultimately boost brand visibility, reputation, and authority. All of which will impact your SEO positively.
If you haven't already, find out what social media platforms your target audience likes to hang out on, then create a complete profile and get active.
Add social share buttons to your site, build an audience, share content with your network, and interact with your community. Start conversations, make connections with thought leaders, and influencers to help spread the word about your brand.
Making social media promotion a part of your SEO strategy can take your website from 0 to 100 in a matter of months and improve your bottom line.
Leverage Local SEO
Earning positive customer reviews on sites like Yelp, Facebook, Trustpilot, and Google My Business can work wonders for your local SEO. This will then signal to search engines that your business is relevant in a particular niche or location, and you're keeping your customers engaged.
Another way to boost local SEO and bump up your domain authority and rankings is to ensure your brand and website are listed in relevant internet directories like Bing Places, Google My Business, Yelp, SuperPages, YP.com, etc.
Track down citations or mentions of your business in online directories. Make sure it's listed in the right category and that the information shared is accurate and contains your company name, phone number, address, and website URL.
Start tracking and optimizing your SEO performance
Search engine algorithms are getting smarter and more powerful by the day, so you won't be able to get away with trying to trick them for long.
The best way to guarantee SEO success is to improve both your on-page and off-page SEO factors.
Achieving high rankings and domain strength doesn’t involve magic. It starts with creating engaging, informative, and useful content for users so that search engines will love and recommend it to them.
Be consistent in refining your SEO strategy. Track your performance to see the areas where you're making strides and fix what's not working so you can earn that coveted spot at the top of result pages.
About the Author
Mark Quadros is a SaaS content marketer that helps brands create and distribute rad content. On a similar note, Mark loves content and contributes to several authoritative blogs like HubSpot, CoSchedule, Foundr, etc. Connect with him via LinkedIn or Twitter.
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