Here’s something you should have known by now –
There are a number of aspects of a given web page that influence search engine rankings. And by optimizing these aspects (namely, on-page SEO), you will get higher rankings on search engines.
Some of these factors which comprise on-page optimization include:
- writing great content which fills a need, and making it linkable
- having a catchy page title with your top keyword in it
- creating a URL which accurately reflects the hierarchy of your website
- using your image alt text to help search engines understand your content better
These are considered the fundamental factors of on-page SEO optimization, but they are by no means the only things you can do to improve your website’s rankings with search engines.
In this post, I will talk about three on-page optimizations, proven by case studies and SEO experiments, which will create an immediate impact on how well your site gets ranked on search engines – in particularly, Google.
1. Better click-through-rate, better search rankings
SEO is never a pure-science subject in my opinion. However, it has been possible to guesstimate what Google wants, by considering patents it has submitted in recent years, and by experimenting with various factors for their effect on rankings.
One of the known on-page factors, proven by Rand Fishkin’s study, is your page click-through-rate on Google search results (I call it Search CTR). Search CTR is a percentage that identifies how often people view your page on search engine, and then actually click on it to see more.
According to Rand’s experiment, when Google sees that the CTR for a given page is higher than normal, it assigns it a higher ranking.
From this, it stands to reason that one great way to boost your site rankings would be to improve your CTR on the search results page. Some ways you can go about that include the following approaches:
Optimize your page title for more clicks
There are some very specific things you can do to optimize your title, for example, including the current month or year in your title.
You can also experiment with Google Adwords or Facebook Advertising to see which version of your title works best and appeals most to your target audience. For instance, titles using the phrase “step-by-step” or “how-to” usually have greater appeal than the mere mention of how to do something in my experience.
Shorter, more concise titles also lead to better CTR and higher rankings, according to a study conducted by Etsy, and those which performed the best were titles that included only the target search keyword phrase.
Include schema markup on your site
Schema markup gives meaning to your data. It helps search engines to understand your data better and display your data differently on their search results. Hence, more users’ attention and (hopefully) clicks.
Put ‘breadcrumbs’ in your blog
Breadcrumbs help users navigate back to the main topic, and to locate themselves in whatever blog they’re reading, and have been explicitly stressed by Google as important to the overall user experience.
2. Broken links and 404-errors
Broken links and 404 errors signal Google two things –
- Your site is poorly maintained.
- Google users are more likely to bump into broken pages.
In result, Google assumes your website is simply not being maintained to a high standard, and users would be better served by another site which has high quality content.
In an actual case history of a site clean-up published in Blizzard Press, a comprehensive site improvement was undertaken. The clean-up initiative repaired more than 1,000 broken images, setup more than 100 301-redirects, corrected dozens of broken internal links, and tracked more than 280 keyword phrases for effectiveness.
As a result of the corrections made, the client’s website climbed more than 1,700 places in the search rankings.
Not only was this an astonishing climb for the website, but it all happened within the space of one week!
This should serve as proof positive that timely correction of navigation issues can have an immediate and profound effect on the ranking of your website.
404 errors and broken links are easily fixed, so such problems should be avoided.
In the case of a wrong URL, simply correct the address. If the target page no longer exists, a 301-redirect can be used to point to a page with similar content. To determine whether or not your site has such errors embedded in its pages, a site-crawling tool such as Screaming Frog SEO Spider or SEM Rush can be used.
3. Get mobile-optimized
In April of 2015, Google rolled out an update which boosted the rankings of mobile-friendly websites. This gave preference to sites having high-quality content for mobile devices, without the need to zoom, scroll, or otherwise re-position their screens for readability. This was of course in deference to the fact that the usage of mobile devices and smartphones were being used so much for web browsing.
Within 18 months, Google was prepared to roll out another update, this one making their primary indexing and evaluation centered on the mobile website’s characteristics rather than the desktop version of the same website. While not ignoring the desktop website, focus was then centered squarely on the kind of user experience provided to owners of mobile devices instead.
It is not at all surprising therefore, that a number of case studies have confirmed the fact that optimized mobile site presentation now has a direct correlation to being ranked higher in search engine results. When my site’s (WHSR) new mobile-friendly site design went live on December last year, search traffic surged for more than 20% (in particular, our host review index page – which took us more than three weeks to create such a big mobile-friendly table).
Google Mobile-Friendly Update Study #1
One study conducted by Stone Temple was particularly telling, because it captured rankings information for thousands of websites before and after Google’s update. As might be expected, 46% of sites considered non-mobile friendly slipped down in the rankings, and more than 30% of those which were considered mobile-friendly rose in the rankings. The rise for mobile-friendly sites would have been much more dramatic, except for the fact that many of the sites tracked were already ranked #1 in their specific area of interest.
Google Mobile-Friendly Update Study #2
In a second case study involving retail company Offspring, a major re-design of their website was undertaken to provide users with a responsive website.
Previously the company had no mobile-friendly presentation, and it had become painfully obvious that Offspring was missing out on a huge sector of the consuming public.
After wading through all the expected trials and tribulations of such a massive project, the results were even more impressive than company officials had hoped for.
Within three months of the new mobile-friendly site launch, first-page visibility had increased almost 78%. In addition, the Google site usability score jumped from 60 to 100, the company had a 103% increase in mobile revenue, and there was a 15% increase in their mobile conversion rate.
It’s no exaggeration to say that getting mobile-optimized is not really an option anymore, it’s a requirement. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile traffic, you’re missing out on the largest segment of Internet traffic. To find out just how mobile-friendly your website is, use this handy tool: https://testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com/.
All you have to do is plug in your site URL, and Google will evaluate everything about your site. Then you’ll be provided with a percentage figure on its mobile friendliness, its mobile speed, and its desktop speed. You will also have the option to request a free report which details how those figures were arrived at, and some recommendations on what you can do to improve your scores.
“Broken links and 404-errors ” this help to learn what it is, why it is. We always face this problem but now I am clear about 404 error. Thanks
On Page SEO (or SEO in general) is so fickle! I miss the days where you just stuffed the meta tags (just kidding).
Do you have any tips for better using the image alt tag with SEO in mind? I usually just describe my image because I thought that was best, but perhaps you know more!
Ahhh.. the good old days. How I miss my days watching Google dance every once in a few months and creating 50 link pages to trade links. That said – I think the changes in Google (and SEO community in general) are mostly good for the users. Much harder days for SEO and website owners; but better for the end users worldwide.
Cool site and post btw in your link. Love it ;)
Jerry this is an excellent post.
I have seen that How To tip in action as well. Whenever I add that actual phrase I see better results not only in search, but also through clicks and comments and so many metrics. Like Google and people need to see the phrases to better get what the post is about.
In general, if your on page SEO game is tight and you write a bunch of practical, how-to style posts, step by step style posts that walk your readers through doing something you will see a sweet spike in traffic and ever increasing traffic, really. Both through your list and of course through Google too.
But you need to stick with the SEO optimizing approach to make it work. I was silly in this regard. I reached page 1 for 2 super competitive keywords last August then I ditched SEO when I did not rank for successes, less competitive keywords. Rookie mistake. Especially for a guy who’s blogged for 8 years. But lesson learned. The hard way of course. Because it is so much easier to attract targeted, pre-qualified traffic who specifically wants what you have to offer – via Google search or Bing search – versus trying to reach out to folks who really have no strong interest in your offering. This is why it is plain smart and business-savvy to focus on SEO. It is the strongest form of targeted their is. Even if you don’t rank well immediately – and this is often the case – you lay the foundation for better ranking in the future and you also appeal to folks from your list who needed a little more clarity on your part to make the buy or to hire you.
Now I optimize all my posts, many of my guest posts and of course I see a wee bit more Google traffic over the long haul. It really is all about being willing to follow the practical little details by using a plugin like Yoast and then following the tips you share above.
All the while, write helpful posts. 1,000 to 1,500 words. How to. Walk your readers through the problem, to the solution, 1 little, explicit step at a time. If you make broad strokes you will have a helluva time impressing Google but if you visualize each step and share graphically you are on your way to earning some super SEO juice and maybe even page 1 for a semi or competitive keyword.
Almost like a damn breaking, your SEO work reaches a tipping point where all your diligence results in Google traffic. For 1 or multiple posts. But you need to keep at it, to get it.
I’m in good-shape with the optimization for mobile but need to dive deeper into broken links, as I deleted a whole slew of links a while back when slimming down. Blog-wise. I need to handle these suckers in a better way. I also need to link in to old posts more frequently to keep eyeballs off of my dead dead deadskie links and more on my fresh and evergreen content, so I can help readers and my onpage SEO too. So much of this game is showing off what you have already created in the past. Especially when it is genuinely evergreen.
Thanks for the helpful share Jerry.
Signing off from Thailand.
Hey Ryan – How’s life in Chiang Mai?
I forgot to mention Xenu’s Link Sleuth in my post. The tool is a little old but a gold if you are using Windows OS. XLS helps find on-site broken links in one simple click – Just input your site URL and the app will take care of the rest. It’s free and extremely easy to use; give it a try – http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html#Download
I’ve had good clickthroughs on my store by creating catchy descriptions but I’m also finding Google using it’s own automated description for some queries. Schema and breascrumbs also make your site look good in the serps and I’ve implemented them.
There are some mobile optimization tips I’ll try and I will be adding along with AMP. If sites are loosing rankings for not doing it I best hurry.
Do take note that I am suggesting to go mobile-friendly BUT NOT Google AMP. We worked on AMP (developing it from scratch in house) at WHSR few months ago and I wasn’t happy with the results I saw. WHSR is now reverted back to without-AMP and I am still pondering on this issue.
To dig deeper, I suggest reading Aaron Wall’s article http://www.seobook.com/disappearing-clicks
Wow Jerry this is pretty cool! I’m actually a blogger myself and have been dishing out content myself and I really enjoyed reading your tip on breadcrumbs.
My own content tend to have a:
1. Intro (greyed out with breadcrumb)
2. Sections and subtopics of the post.
3. Conclusion or solution (maybe)
For me, the breadcrumb just acts as a tool to make the intro neater and stand out a bit more.
I never actually knew it could be used for navigational purposes! Cheers for teaching me something new Jerry, keep up the awesome work!
Good stuff you poured out here buddy.
For mobile traffic, what about the AMP Project backed by Google? Any research and data on how this improves mobile exposure?
Hey buddy, how are you doing there? Unfortunately I have not read any research on AMP vs mobile exposure. On a side note – I am not convinced that Google AMP benefits everyone ( especially individual bloggers), and I’ll let SEO expert Aaron Wall to further elaborate my points – http://www.seobook.com/disappearing-clicks
Google AMP really makes your pages load faster, but it’s not a ranking signal. If you run ads on your blog, I wouldn’t recommend installing AMP.
I am always looking for tips that will help me improve my onpage SEO. While I don’t focus 100% on SEO as I got burnt in the past by the Panda update.
I do think it’s important to spend time optimizing your blog posts. After all it really doesn’t take a lot of time and it’s very easy to do.
I use SEO Yoast for my blog. I thought I was doing everything possible, however, after reading your blog post, I see that there’s so much more I could be doing.
I don’t currently know that much about Schema markup. I guess I will need to take the time to read up more on it today. As for broken links, I use a plugin.
Although the Screamin Frog seems pretty cool. I am going to check that out as well. I agree with you having a mobile friendly site is huge nowadays. Whenever I look at my Google Analytics, most of my traffic is comes from mobile devices.
Thanks for sharing these tips, I am going to spend time implementing them and see if I can improve the rankings for some of my long tail keywords.
Have a great day :)
Hey Susan, Thank you for sharing your story with me. I appreciate that! Good luck with your site!
It was a good read! I would like to add one more thing in tit which is image optimization. Add AIt tag to all images of your website.
Excellent post. I like the idea of mobile optimized website. Most of the traffic and users are using mobile phones to access the websites. It is always better to have proper mobile optimized to cater those users.
I will add into your post that I think Heading tags and Meta tags plays an important role in On page SEO and If these are properly added, rankings can be improved easily.
Some good tips here for SEO improvement. Thank you!
The last point is the most important one, “mobile optimization” has been on Google’s priority list. I have seen one of my sites go down as it was not optimized and then recover after mobile optimization. Never gave much importance for Google Image search, but I guess its time to look into it from now.
Thanks for all this ideas. I am using in my web to improve my PR
Page Meta titles should always be the primary focus when it comes to SEO as that’s the key when you are getting your site pages indexed. Of course, mobile optimization has got a lot of attention and rightly so with so many varieties of handheld brands and devices. Nice read and a good way of orderly presentation. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks.
Helpful info and good idea with the breadcrumbs. I need to think about how to make that work best on my site. I like the idea though.
Appreciate your resourceful post. I have a question – what do you think to the use of SEO plugin? Is that a must?
Thanks for the amazing post.
These tips can improve your ranking in an amazing way!
Hello Jerry, As you mention about breadcrumbs on these post, but i have seen some sites using breadcrumbs have hidden url format on search engines, sometimes it hides the whole url and only shows home url, which may put negative impact on user behaviors, So is this site error or something else?
Is it advisable (or possible) to use something like your htaccess file to redirect all 404s to your homepage? This would essentially get rid of any 404s. Anyone know if this could be done and if OK for SEO purposes?
Thanks for this detailed post on SEO tips. These tips are really helpful to increase the ranking in Search engine result page. Highly informative.
There is a lot to be kept in mind apart from your regular content writing. At times, it becomes difficult to manage them all. However, posts like this helps us to keep in touch with all SEO parameters too. Thanks for educating us and we shall look forward in implementing all of the above.
Well personally I have made a huge todo list for on page seo things for myself. Seems like I have to update it with few more things. I do work on schemas and og tags, but was not using breadcrumbs. Now will be working on how to have high CTR.
Thanks for the tips.
I’ve added breadcrumbs to my website, but only on desktop pages. They aren’t added to the mobile page, as they are too long (the Yoast SEO breadcrumbs add the entire page title at the end). Is this a problem?
Interesting question. Unfortunately I can’t be 100% sure on your question. It *can* or *cannot* be an issue as:
1) Google is now on mobile-first index – this means Google is using the mobile version of the web as their primary search engine index (ref- http://searchengineland.com/faq-google-mobile-first-index-262751).
2) Google also looks for clues starting with your site/pages URL (which explains why some sites get the breadcrumb links on Google SERP without the breadcrumb in their site designs).
Some recommended readings – in case you plan to further investigate this yourself –
Google is already indexing our breadcrumbs now, and we still haven’t added them to mobile. So looks good!
Thank you for this article. I was not aware that including breadcrumbs in the website can increase your chance to improve ranking of your site. Thanks for this information. I had disable breadcrumbs on my site. Enabling it now. Thanks once again
You should! At the very minimum – A breadcrumb increased the possibility of Google showing a site’s breadcrumb navigation in its search result; and more links on Google SERP = more chances of clicks and hence – more traffic.
Thanks for your comment and glad that my post helps.
I created 25 more ON Page Checklist. I consider these things too. I always check my 404 error pages as well. If someone follow these steps, for sure, he will get good SEO result.
So, on an average blog post, is thinking about “Schema” important? (not a “review” or “ratings” post) If so, can you direct us to a helpful post for the average blogger?
Hi thanks for the On-page SEO Tips.
Hey Jerry, thanks for your cool on page seo tips. My site is already mobile optimized and responsive. But i am very confused about AMP. Can you guide me something about AMP?
Making your website mobile ready is really important these days because a lot of people today use their mobile devices in accessing the internet for searching information about a products or services.
This article is very informative. There are many on-page tips that should be followed for complete on-page optimization but these are some of the most essentials and practicals steps one should follow.
Thanks for sharing this post,
Excellent article from you. Really informative and important article. On page SEO is the most important issue for better ranking. These three tips are really important factors of on page SEO. Thanks for sharing this post. Keep sharing!
Hi Thanks for your nice Article. On Page & Off Page both will help SEO to get good ranking in SERP.
In On Page SEO, this three things are more important and especially 404 Page Errors.
This is a nice blog about SEO tips this will be useful to improve page rank of he keywords
Many people forget to include meta descriptions for their pages. These descriptions are an important place to include relevant keywords for your content, as these are used within the search results when your page is listed.
A great article about On Page SEO. Will definitely try and apply those techniques in my blog articles, many thanks for sharing these tips with us.
I think on page seo is backbone for ranking a website. we can use core keywords in descriptions and tags. and that will help to boost a website on search engine. OFF Page seo has its own importance. but on page is very important for rank a website.
Excellent post! Really, it’s too much helpful for on-page optimization. Thanks for sharing!
Optimize your page title and meta description for a higher CTR.
People are using many techniques to increase click through rates. Does including special characters really help to increase the CTR ?
Thanks for this post,very helpful.
Amazing Article.Its really Informative Article. On Page is the most important part for boost the traffic and also important for ranking.These really important factor for on page seo. Thanks for sharing this post
Thanks for sharing this post. Really informative and important article. On
page optimization is the most important part for a ranking.These tips help me in on page seo.Thanks for sharing
this post. Keep sharing!
Thanks For This Instruction Really Help Full For Us
Thanks for sharing. Great article. Google recently focuses more on mobile so optimizing the page speed is a must, instead of optional.