How to Do On-Page SEO for Better Rankings

A Step-By-Step Guide On How to Do On-Page SEO for Better Rankings

Give me ten minutes of your time, and I’ll show you step-by-step everything you need to know in terms of on-page SEO that’s designed to get your site ranking in the search results.

None of what I’m about to show you is super technical.

These are the core on-page optimizations you should start off doing if you’re looking for a quick way to get your pages optimized – the 80/20 of it all.

These optimizations alone will you set you up better than 90% of your competition. Giving you the best opportunity to rank on the first page – often times without links if your website already has some authority and the competition is low.

The Highlights of What You’re About to Read:

  • You’re going to learn step-by-step how to do on-page optimizations for a single page – which you can then mimic for every current and new page you create on your site or your clients sites.
  • This is not an on-page audit or full website optimization guide.
  • These are the core on-page optimizations – nothing fancy, just SEO that gets the job done.
  • I’ll be showing you real examples of a page that I’ve optimized and the results using the optimizations in this guide.
  • How to quickly identify core keywords and LSI keywords you need to be optimizing for.
  • Reverse engineering tips to make sure you’re serving the right search intent, and not over-optimizing so you don’t waste time trying to rank for something that’s not even possible.
  • Understand the thought process behind each optimization. Learn the, “why” and not just the, “how”.

Before we begin I just want to reiterate that this on-page SEO guide won’t be going into technical stuff like page speed, keyword velocity/deficits, TF-IDF, etc…

This is meant for SEO’s looking for a quick way to optimize their page, without spending hours on analysis and money on expensive software.

This type of on-page SEO is perfect for:

  • Beginner/intermediate SEO’s looking to learn the foundation of on-page optimizations.
  • SEO’s who like to move fast and don’t have time for techy mumbo jumbo (even though it does help rank better).
  • SEO’s who don’t have the money to use premium tools like Ahrefs, PageOptimizer Pro, or Cora.

You can still rank without using software, people do it all the time (myself included), they just help eliminate a lot of the guesswork. 

With that out of the way… time for some fun!

The Two Layers of On-Page SEO

Before getting into the actual “how to” of the on-page optimizations let’s quickly go over the two layers of on-page SEO and how they mesh together.

The First Layer Is Page Strategy & Purpose

This is where we need to research and do the following:

  • Figure out what primary search query (i.e. keyword) your page should be targeting and would make sense to rank for.
  • Come up with secondary and LSI keywords. Then add them into an excel sheet for referencing during our optimization implementations.
  • Understand what the user intent is behind our keywords. Are we selling? Teaching? Providing a resource?
  • Reverse engineer what pages are showing up on the first page for our main keywords to help better understand user intent and what’s currently working in terms of optimizations.

These initial steps are crucial as they act as our guidelines when the time comes to do our on-page optimizations.

We’ll be going over each of these items in detail below.

The Second Layer Is The On-Page Elements

This is where we put the strategy we come up with in the first layer into practice.

The actual on-page optimizations.

The core on-page elements include:

  • Meta title
  • Meta description
  • URL
  • Page Structure
  • Heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.)
  • Keywords used in the content of the page
  • Images
  • Internal links
  • External links

I’ll be showing you how to optimize each of these elements so your pages will be in tippity top SEO shape.

A Real Example

To make things easier to follow along, I’ll be referencing a page from another site that I recently put together and optimized using the on-page strategy we’re about to go over.

The page almost instantly jumped to the first page for a bunch of 1000+ search volume keywords, and is now bringing in a nice chunk of organic traffic without ever building links to it.

ranked first page without links

I realize that sounds super salesy, like I’m about to sell you an online course – but when you have a site that already has a few years of authority built, and the competition isn’t that strong, things like this are possible.

But not without proper on-page optimizations…

The Test Subject

The example we’ll be using is from a side-hobby website that I started a few years ago called, streamplaygraphics.com.

It probably deserves a bit more love than I give it, but what can you do, clients come first ;).

The niche of this site is: premium graphics for gamers who stream on sites like Twitch.tv.

If you don’t know what Twitch is, it’s a site where gamers broadcast their gameplay live to thousands of viewers online.

The page I created (the one we’ll be referencing in this guide) was on the topic of providing info on the accepted sizes for these graphics streamers use on their Twitch channels.

Things like, “Twitch panel size”, “Twitch profile pic size” etc.

Throughout this optimization guide I’ll be showing you what I did for this page at each step of the process to help you better understand how you can implement this for your own site.

And hopefully get results similar to this:

Look out for the, “Here’s What I Did” headings after each main section, where I’ll explain my thought process when I was optimizing the page.

As you follow along, try keeping your own scenario in your head so you can easily translate everything into optimizing your own page.

Cool? Cool.

Let’s get rolling on the first step of on-page optimizations.

Page Strategy & Purpose

In order to give our on-page optimizations some direction, we first need to figure out what the strategy and purpose is behind the page we want to optimize.

Starting with identifying our main keywords.

Already have your main keywords?
Click here to skip to the LSI section.

Keywords

If you’re at the point where you’re wanting to do on-page SEO for a page, then you’ve likely already done some form of keyword research.

Even if you haven’t, you can typically figure out what the main keyword(s) are going to be for the current page you’re optimizing based on what it’s about.

You’re optimizing a service or product page? Well your main keywords are going to be around that specific service/product you’re wanting to sell.

Optimizing a blog post? What questions does it answer? What search queries are people typing into Google that relate to the post?

 

Seed Keyword

Getting at least one keyword in mind for the page you’re optimizing is usually enough to get you on the right track. We’ll call this the seed keyword.

Examples:

The seed keyword for this guide you’re reading right now is, “how to do on-page SEO”.

The initial seed keyword for the test subject we’re using was, “Twitch panel size”.

Why initial? You’ll find out shortly what happened.

Do This:

Figure out what the main (i.e. seed) keyword is for the page you are optimizing.

More Keywords

To truly maximize your pages organic traffic potential, we need to figure out what other keywords people are typing into search engines that are similar to your seed keyword.

We want more keywords for two main reasons:

  1. By having more than one keyword available for optimizations, we can prevent the risk of us getting an over-optimization penalty on our page.
  2. We can capture more traffic, since not everyone who’s searching for the same thing uses the same keywords.

So once you have a seed keyword, we can do the following to get more keyword ideas for your page:

*Recording Keywords

Real quick, before we start finding more keywords, we’ll want somewhere to write these keywords down.

If you have your own method for keeping note of stuff then go for it. Doesn’t need to be anything fancy. I use an Excel sheet and list them all out in there. Nice and simple.

Alright – let’s find some more keywords…

Google Suggest

Ever notice sometimes when you’re typing something into Google a bar with other search queries pops up below the search box?

These are other popular searches that people have been typing into Google that are similar to the keyword you currently typed (exactly what we’re looking for).

Sometimes the search box doesn’t always expand into other popular search queries, so if you scroll down to the bottom of the first page, you can find the same keyword suggestions.

What we wanna do here is pick out the most relevant keywords that showed up, add them to our excel sheet (or whatever you’re using to record keywords), then take those new keywords and repeat the same process we did for our first seed keyword.

We’ll now be shown new suggestions of similar keywords that we can potentially use if they are relevant enough to the page we are optimizing.

Do This:

1. Type main keyword into Google to see a list of similar searched queries.
2. Record any relevant keyword suggestions.
3. Repeat steps 1-2 for the new keywords you discover.

Depending on how many additional keywords you got out of the Google suggest method, you can decide if you want to find more, or move on to the next step (coming up with LSI keywords).

Ready for LSI keywords?
Click here to skip to it.

If you want more keywords, then here are a few extra methods:

Ubersuggest

Ubersuggest is a cool little tool (that’s free) that can spit out a bunch of different keyword ideas based on a seed keyword you enter in.

1. Head over to https://neilpatel.com/ubersuggest/

2. Enter your keyword & search location and click Search.

3. On the next page, click the Keyword Ideas link on the left sidebar menu.

You’ll now have a list of other keywords you can pick and choose from for the page you’re optimizing.

 

Competitors Keywords

This is my favourite method for finding additional keywords.

If you have Ahrefs or any other popular SEO tool like, SEMrush or Majestic, then you can use their data to get valuable insights on your competition.

I use Ahrefs, so we’ll use that as the example.

1. Google search for your main keywords to find the top URLs that are ranking.

2. Copy and paste your competitors URLs into your tool of choice (In my case, Ahrefs).

3. Find where the tool lists the organic keywords that the page you’re looking up ranks for.

And voila, you now have a list of keywords that your competition is ranking for.

The ones they rank in the first 1-20 positions for are likely ones you’ll want to optimize for as well.

 

Search Console (optimizing existing page)

If you’re optimizing an existing page on your site that’s been indexed for a while, then you likely have some keyword data on it in your Google Search Console

If you don’t have your site added to Search Console yet then that’s a must-do. Like, right now.

Here’s how to find keyword data in GSC:

1. Select your site in your Search Console.

2. Click on Performance on the left sidebar.

3. Select the page you’re optimizing, under the Pages tab.

4. Then click back to the Queries tab.

You’ll now see a bunch of keywords that page is getting clicks and impressions for.

Pick out the most relevant keywords that aren’t performing as well as you’d like them to be, then record them.

Here’s What I Did
to find more keywords

As mentioned earlier, my seed keyword was, “Twitch panel size”.

So when I typed that into Google to find more keyword suggestions, there weren’t too many that popped up that were related to Twitch panels. Just a couple like, “Twitch info panel sizes” or “Twitch panel size 2018”.

What I did notice was people were also searching for sizes for other graphics related to their Twitch profiles.

Like, “Twitch banner size”, “Twitch offline banner size”, etc.

Since these keywords weren’t exactly on the same topic as Twitch panels (they’re different graphics), I needed to find out if I could include them into the current page I was optimizing, or if I would need to create a separate page for each of these “size” keywords that were based on different graphics.

To do this – and I’m kind of jumping ahead here – I needed to do a bit of reverse engineering.

I needed to see what kind of search results Google was showing for each of these different types of “size” keywords.

Are they showing pages that focus strictly on providing information on one specific graphic size, or are they showing pages that have all the different sizes on one single page?

After searching through all the different keywords, I found out that the pages ranking in the top spots on Google contained information on each graphics size, rather than just one.

Meaning I could now add these different “size” keywords to my list, and I’ll want to be optimizing around them.

Here’s how it looked:

LSI Keywords

On top of finding what other ways people are searching for your main keywords, we’ll want to make sure we’re including keywords that help increase our pages topical relevance.

If I were to say the word, Jaguars, what do you think of? For me, three things come to mind; the car, the animal, and the NFL team.

So if you’re creating a page on Jaguars, how are search engines supposed to know which of the three you’re talking about?

Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords.

LSI keywords aren’t just synonyms. They are words that are closely related to the main keyword.

Here are some LSI examples for all three Jaguar variations:

1. Jaguar (car) – vehicle, buy, used, insurance, price, maintenance.

2. Jaguar (animal) – fur, diet, cat, habitat, prey.

3. Jaguar (NFL team) – football, NFL, Super Bowl (sorry, Jaguars fans), Jacksonville, stadium.

By including these words in your content, it’s very obvious what your page is about.

This creates more topical relevance for your page, and gives search engines more confidence that your page deserves to be one of the top results.

Do This:

Identify as many LSI keywords as you can that are related to your main keywords.

Here’s What I Did
to find LSI keywords

Since the core of what people are looking for in regards to my keyword set are sizes of graphics, I needed to come up with different words that are related to that topic.

So I came up with the following LSI keywords:

1. Size – dimensions, width, height, pixels, ratio, scale, resolution.
2. Graphics – picture, pic, photo, image.

Once I had a decent amount of LSI keywords I added them to my list.

Reverse Engineer

One final thing we want to do before starting our on-page optimizations is do a little competitive research, so we can reverse engineer two things:

1. Search intent.

2. What’s already working.

Since this tutorial is focused on the 80/20 of on-page optimizations, don’t spend too much time on this step.

Doing competitive research you can quickly find yourself going down a rabbit hole – resulting in a lot of wasted time.

Reverse engineering your competition should be a quick thing. Get in, get the information you need, then get out and start optimizing your page based on the info you gathered.

Let’s kick this reverse engineering section off with some search intent.

1. Search Intent

One of the biggest mistakes I see people make when it comes to optimizing individual pages is not making sure their content is lined up with the intent behind the keywords they are targeting.

There Are Four Types of Search Intent:

  • Informational – People who have specific questions or want to know more about a topic.
  • Navigational – People looking for a specific brand/website.
  • Commercial – People looking to buy something, but aren’t quite ready.
  • Transactional – People who are looking to make a purchase right now.

For the most part, every keyword has one of the four types of search intent behind it. And Google has done a pretty good job at identifying what intent is behind their search queries

As a result, they tend to only rank pages that match this intent.

So we need to make sure our content lines up with the intent behind our main keywords.

To do this, we search in Google for our main keywords then see what types of results are showing up on the first page. Pretty simple.

Does the content on your page serve the same intent as the top results on Google?

Here’s a quick example:

Search for the keyword, “Hostels in Hanoi”.

Minus the map listings, you can see that the first page of organic results is full of booking sites and, “20 best hostels” type blog posts that list out a bunch of different Hostels in Hanoi.

Where are all the Hostel business sites?

Google realizes that the intent behind this keyword is that people are typically looking for a list of hostels, not just one, and favour these types of pages accordingly.

So if you owned a Hostel website in Hanoi, and were trying to rank your homepage for that keyword, no matter how well optimized your page was you would likely never reach the top 1-5 results since your page doesn’t line up with the search intent.

This is why we check the search intent to make sure our page matches up with what Google is already showing on the first page, so we don’t waste time trying to rank for something that’s likely not possible.

Do This:

1. Search for your main keywords in Google.
2. Analyze the results to see what the search intent is.
3. Make sure your page serves that same intent.

Here’s What I Did
after learning the search intent behind my keyword

Like I mentioned earlier in the keywords section, while I was searching for more keywords related to, “Twitch panel size” I realized a lot of the results that were showing up were queries about sizes for other Twitch related graphics.

And the websites that were ranked in the top positions were “size guides” for every type of graphic.

This told me that I needed to also create a complete size guide, that had sizes for each graphic, rather than creating a page solely based around a single graphic size (which was originally just the Twitch panel size).

So that’s what I did 🙂

2. What’s Already Working?

By analyzing the sites that are already ranking in the top results for your keywords, you can reverse engineer what they’re doing as far as on-page optimizations go, to better understand why search engines favour them.

Search for your top 1-3 keywords then analyze the main on-page elements of the top few URLs that show up on the first page of the search results (i.e. your competition).

You’re looking to see how sophisticated the competitive landscape is.

Are the optimizations aggressive? I.e. main keywords being utilized in every on-page element.

Or do you notice your competition isn’t using every opportunity to include their keywords in the on-page elements?

If you notice aggressive optimizations, you’ll probably have to play the same game.

If you notice the opposite, then your first thought might be, “Oh, awesome! This should be easy, all I need to do is make sure to add my keywords to more on-page elements than these guys”.

Maybe…

Something I’ve noticed over the years is that the level of optimizing (or under-optimizing) you need to do depends on how sophisticated the market is for those keywords.

Sometimes I’ve beat out the competition by simply “outdoing” them through better on-page optimizations.

While other times I’ve been unable to take over the top results who have poor optimization, while implementing better optimizations on my page.

Obviously other factors come into play (links, site age, etc.), these are simply patterns I’ve noticed.

That’s the cool – and equally frustrating part about SEO – you’re never exactly sure what’s going to work and what won’t.

There’s just too many variables.

Which is why this 80/20 approach to on-page SEO is the best way to start off optimizing your site, to not only get shit done faster, but to save your sanity.

Only after you’ve implemented this first round of optimizations you’ll want to get more into the more specific, technical optimizations if you’re not getting desirable results.

Anyways… the point is, use your competition as a guideline for how aggressive you need to be when doing on-page optimizations.

A rule of thumb I’ve used with success is, if the competition is aggressive with optimizations then we need to be as well. If they aren’t, then keep it modest to start.

Do This:

1. Search for your main keywords.
2. Gauge how optimized your competition is.
3. Replicate or do better, based on market sophistication.

Here’s What I Did
after doing competitive research

Since this keyword set wasn’t competitive at all, there weren’t really any pages that were optimized around any of the specific Twitch graphic sizes.

Rather, there were a few pages that were optimized around the whole overarching topic of a Twitch graphic size guide.

So by seeing these results in Google, that influenced my decision to follow suite.

Instead of primarily optimizing for, “Twitch panel size” or “Twitch profile banner size” – those would instead turn into secondary keywords – even though they have more search volume than my new main keyword, “Twitch graphic sizes”.

By doing this I’m appealing to the search intent, and will likely improve my chances at ranking for my initial (now secondary) keywords if my on-page optimizations resemble my competition on the first page.

Implementing the On-Page Optimizations

Armed with our keywords and a solid understanding of our competitive landscape, we can now start optimizing our page.

To show you full-circle how to do these individual optimizations we’ll be using our test subject again for examples, as well as another niche/keyword to really help you get the best understanding of all this.

The test subject optimizations will be displayed in the, “Here’s What I Did” sections. And the other example keyword will have its own “Examples” section.


The new example keyword will be:

Bonsai trees for beginners.


You’re already aware of each on-page element that we’re going to optimize (listed in the beginning of this guide), so let’s start from the top:

The Outer Three

When I’m optimizing a page, I like to start with what I call, the outer three.

The Meta title, URL, and the Meta description.

These are the on-page elements that are displayed in search engines, outside of your actual page. They’re your salesmen – trying to get people to come in and visit your site.

Which is why it’s important to usually include a mix of SEO and copywriting here.

Let’s begin with numero uno.

 

1. Meta Title

Also referred to as your Page Title, this is one of your most important on-page elements in terms of ranking influence.

How to optimize:

  • Only include your main keyword once.
  • Keep your main keyword as close to the front as possible.
  • Include secondary keyword(s) if room for it.
  • Stay within the character cut off limit (use this tool)
  • Add your brand name at the end.*

*A few years ago a lot of websites would forgo including their brand name at the end of their page titles so they could squeeze in more keywords before getting truncated.

Nowadays, especially with Google favouring real brands, I’m seeing most sites at the top of page one having their brand name now included.

I’d recommend always including your site/brand name at the end of your titles.

For brands with longer names …it sucks, I know.

Examples:

Bad: Bonsai Trees for BeginnersBeginner Bonsai Tree Tips – Brand Name
Good: Bonsai Trees for Beginners – A Complete Care Guide – Brand Name

The reason the example above is bad is because it’s repeating the same keywords twice. Even if they’re in a slightly different order, you still run the risk of over optimizing.

Here’s What I Did
to optimize my meta title

If you’ve been following along, you’ll remember that I had to change my primary keyword from a specific twitch graphic size (Twitch panels), to something that was relevant to all the graphics that I’d now be covering on my page.

This ended up being, “Twitch graphic sizes”.

Since the brand name of the website (Streamplay Graphics) already has the word “graphic” in it – plus I wanted to follow my own rules of adding your brand name at the end of your page titles – I needed to add a different word other than, “graphic” for my main keyword.

Looking at my LSI keyword list that I came up with, I ended up choosing the keyword, “image” to replace, “graphic”.

This is an indirect lesson for people who have exact match or partial match domains (EMD/PMD) when optimizing your titles. You want to try not to repeat the same words if they’re keyword related.

The meta title ended up being: Twitch Image Sizes 2019 – Panels, Offline Banner – Streamplay Graphics

You can see I started off with my main keyword (with the LSI keyword replacement), and I added some secondary keywords to fill it out.

The reason I added “Panels, Offline Banner” is because those two are the most searched of the graphics I have in the article.

It’s not the most “natural” or legible looking meta title, but I wanted to test it out to see how it performed. So far so good.

2. URL

Another high influencing ranking factor is your URL.

How to optimize:

  • Include main keyword.
  • Keep it as short and simple as possible.
  • Avoid repeating keywords if using EMD/PMD or optimizing a child page with the keyword already in the parent page URL.

Examples:

Branded root domain (i.e. no keywords)
Bad: www.website.com/a-step-by-step-guide-on-bonsai-trees-for-beginners
Good: www.website.com/bonsai-trees-for-beginners

Keyword in root domain (PMD)
Bad: www.bonsaitreestore.com/bonsai-trees-for-beginners
Good: www.bonsaitreestore.com/tips-for-beginners

Keyword in parent page URL
Bad: www.website.com/bonsai-tree-tips/bonsai-trees-for-beginners
Good: www.website.com/bonsai-tree-tips/beginners

Here’s What I Did
to optimize my URL

As I just mentioned in the meta title section, I didn’t want to use “graphic” because the website name already has that word in it.

So for the URL, I followed suite and used the word “image” instead.

Which ended up looking like: www.streamplaygraphics.com/twitch-image-sizes

3. Meta Description

Meta descriptions by themselves aren’t considered a ranking factor, but since they can help influence users into clicking on your site, then indirectly they do help with rankings (with click-through-rate being a ranking factor).

So this is where flexing your copywriting skills comes into play.

How to optimize:

  • Include main keyword.
  • Fit in at least one or two secondary/LSI keywords.
  • Keep it within the character limit.
  • Add copy elements (persuasiveness, intrigue, etc.).

Examples:

Bad: This is an article about bonsai trees for beginners. If you are a beginner with a bonsai tree then you should read this.

Why is it bad?

Not very enticing to read. Repeats the main keywords without including any LSI/secondary keywords.

Good: This guide on bonsai trees for beginners has everything you need to take care of your bonsai. Perfect for newbies caring for their first tree. Just make sure to…

Why is it good?

Includes main keyword and LSI/secondary keywords. Good explanation about what the user can expect if they click on our page. Has a cliff hanger at the end*.

*If I see an opportunity to do so, sometimes I’ll add a little cliffhanger at the end of some meta descriptions (adding intrigue).

For the example above, adding, “Just make sure to…” will leave the user asking themselves, “Just make sure to WHAT?!?” and increase the chances of them clicking on our site.

Here’s What I Did
to optimize my meta description

For this page I actually left the meta description blank, leaving Google to decide what to show.

The reason behind this is because since I’m targeting a handful of different keywords, Google will find the section on my page that’s relevant to what someone searched for, then pull the useful info in there and add it as my description.

This allows my page to serve dynamic meta descriptions, rather than trying to cover all keywords into one meta title.

Here are some examples:

Notice how different search queries have different meta descriptions?

The Body

Once the outer three elements are optimized, we can work on optimizing the actual inner content that makes up the page on your website.

If you need a refresher, we’re going to cover:

Page Structure, Heading tags, Keyword usage, Images, and Internal/External links.

Let’s start from the top and make our way down.

Page Structure

The structure of your page plays an important role in the overall rankability of your page. More than most people think.

We’ll talk about why in a sec.

But first, let’s make it clear what page structure is.

By page structure, I’m referring to all of the elements that make up the page.

Things like:

  • Word count
  • Bullet points (unordered/ordered lists)
  • How many headings you have
  • Image count
  • Tables
  • Etc…

For every different type of keyword you search for on Google, there’s a certain page structure that users expect to see.

What do I mean by this?

Say you’re searching for a specific dinner recipe… you’d probably expect the website results on the first page to have a succinct write up about the recipe with instructions on how to cook everything, the ingredients needed – typically in bullets (i.e. ordered list), and a few images of how the meal should look.

If you were trying to rank a page for this specific dinner recipe, but instead of following this page structure, you had a long-form blog post with a bunch of unnecessary information that didn’t include any of the structure elements mentioned above, you’d probably never crack the top 10 results.

This goes back to search intent, and making sure we’re providing the results people expect to see.

The good thing is, Google is already showing you how you should create your page structure.

Just look at the top URLs that are ranking for your keywords and see what they are doing. It almost always comes back to reverse engineering!

Here’s What I Did
to optimize my page structure

The first thing I noticed when doing the initial reverse engineering of my keywords was that the top page that was ranking had a table formatted into their content with a list of all the different graphics sizes.

This table is also showing up in a featured snippet in Google for a majority of the different keywords I’m targeting.

So I made sure to include a table in my page, replicating what they are doing. Which is likely what helped me rank this page on the first page so quickly.

If I find time, I might try to take over their featured snippet spot with my own table.

As of writing this, both of our pages don’t have any links pointing to it, so I think they’re controlling the snippet based off their website authority, and the fact that they were the first site to rank for these keywords with a table.

If I end up doing the test I’ll keep you updated. Either through another article on this site, or a quick case study on Twitter or my Email list.

Keep up to date by following me on Twitter here.

Heading / Title Tags

These are your <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc. tags.

The <h1> tag is used for your main title, with <h2>’s and beyond being used to create topics and subtopics based on your main title.

How to optimize:

  • Include your main keyword in the <h1> title.
  • Only have one <h1> title per page.
  • Include secondary/LSI keywords in <h2> <h3> etc.
  • Don’t always need to include a keyword in your non <h1> headings.
  • Organize your heading tags so that <h2>’s follow after the <h1>, and <h3>’s follow after the <h2>’s, and so on.

Examples:

Bad:

<h1>Bonsai Trees for Beginners</h1>*
<h2>Bonsai Tree Fertilizer Guide for Beginners</h2>
<h3>When to Apply Bonsai Tree Fertilizer</h3>
<h3>How to Use</h3>
<h2>Beginner Bonsai Tree Mistakes to Avoid</h2>

These headings are on the over-optimized side of things. If you found yourself not ranking as high as you’d like, I would be looking at these headings as part of the problem.

How is it over optimized? Too many uses of our main keywords.

*A note for the H1 heading; If you already have your exact keywords, word-for-word, in the meta title and URL, then you might not want to also have your H1 title as just the exact keyword (to avoid over optimizations).

Instead split up the keywords in your title, like the “Good” example below.

Good:

<h1>A Beginners Guide to Bonsai Trees</h1>
<h2>Bonsai Fertilizer User Guide</h2>
<h3>When to Apply Fertilizer</h3>
<h3>How to Use</h3>
<h2>Beginner Mistakes to Avoid</h2>

These headings still manage to get in parts of our keyword, without always including the full keyword word-for-word.

For most sites, this type of optimization is the best way to start out for your headings.

During your competitive research you’ll have uncovered whether being aggressive with your keywords in the headings is the play or not.

Here’s What I Did
to optimize my heading tags

Since I wasn’t able to add my exact keyword to my meta title and URL (because the website name included part of the keyword already), I definitely made sure to have it within my H1 title.

For the H2 tags, that’s where I included each of the individual graphic size keywords I wanted to rank for. Like, “panel size”, “offline banner size” etc.

I used exact matches for the H2 keywords, and even included, in brackets, some different ways people would search these graphics so I could see if it would help capture those searches as well.

For example: <h2>Twitch Offline Banner Size (Video Player Banner)</h2>

According to my Search Console data, it’s working.

Keywords Used in Body Content

You’ve likely heard of phrases like keyword density, velocity, blahblahblah. For this on-page guide we’re not too concerned about a perfect percentage of keywords.

Remember, 80/20.

If anything, we’ll want to under-optimize our keyword usage.

This is accomplished by utilizing synonyms and our LSI keywords that we discovered in our initial steps.

How to optimize:

  • Have content written naturally, without worrying about keywords.
  • Go in after, and find ways to add/remove keywords/synonyms/LSI’s (keeping readability as the highest priority).
  • Keep exact keyword phrases to a minimum of 1-3.
  • Use synonyms and LSI keywords as often as possible.

Since every keyword and niche is different, the above is a good general starting point for keyword usage in your content.

The intel you gathered from your competitive research will give you a better idea of how passive or aggressive you need to be.

Here’s What I Did
to optimize keywords in my content

For keyword optimizations within my content, I simply followed my own guidelines listed above.

Since there isn’t a whole lot of content on the page I wanted to make sure to not repeat any exact keywords more than once, and was able to fit in each variation of those keywords in some shape or form to help capture more search terms.

I added a “File Types” section which included words like, JPEG, PNG, and GIF. These act as LSI keywords since they are related to graphics/images and gave my page more topical relevance.

Images

When optimizing your images, there’s one main thing you need to be cautious of:

Any keywords you add to your file names or alt tags will count towards your pages overall keyword count.

So make sure that when you’re evaluating your keyword usage you’re taking image file names and alt tags into account.

How to optimize:

  • Use keywords in file name (to help rank the image in Google images).
  • Don’t stuff alt tags with keywords. Instead use alt tags how they are meant be utilized – for describing what the image is. So if it’s an image showing someone watering a bonsai tree, don’t just make your alt tag “bonsai tree” – do something like, “man demonstrating how to water a bonsai tree”

For the most part, optimizing your images helps you rank in Google images more than it helps the actual page you have the image on.

If you’re in a niche where ranking your images is almost as valuable as ranking in the normal search results, then I’d be more aggressive with the optimizations.

Here’s an example of what proper image optimizations can do:

Here’s What I Did
to optimize my images

Since the page I was optimizing was providing information, most of the images I included were screenshots demonstrating live examples.

I used the file names as opportunities to add alternative keywords that I wasn’t able to add to the main content.

And alt tags were used to describe what each screenshot was demonstrating, while also including LSI and alternative keywords.

Internal & External Links

If you’re optimizing a product or category page, you’ll likely not always need to include internal or external links.

But when it comes to optimizing something like an authority article, then you’ll definitely want to be utilizing them.

How to optimize External Links:

  • Link out to sites that are the authority in your niche (but aren’t in direct competition with)
  • The number of external links will depend on how long your content is, and how many times you need to cite/reference your information. At least 1-2 is what I aim for.
  • Make sure the external link opens up to a new tab when clicked so they don’t bounce from your site.
  • Do following or no following your external links is situational. More often than not, I keep them as do follow. It just feels right.

How to optimize Internal Links:

  • If you’re optimizing a parent page, that has child pages, make sure to add internal links to the children and vice versa.
  • Look through your sites other pages and find opportunities to add internal links to the current page you are optimizing.
  • Aim to not use the exact same anchor text more than once pointing to the page you are optimizing.
  • Be less cautious using keywords in your anchor text than you normally are when doing actual link building.

IMPORTANT: I see this happen a lot when auditing new client websites, so I’ll bring it up here…

Whenever linking externally on the page you are optimizing, make sure to not use any of the exact keywords you want that page to rank for as the anchor text.

We want those anchor texts coming in (giggity ) to our page, not out.

Here’s What I Did
to optimize my internal and external links

External: Since my page was relatively light in content, having an external link probably isn’t that necessary – especially since none of my top competitors have any on their page.

But I did it anyways, to test it out.

The ultimate “authority” site in this niche is the Twitch.tv website itself. But one of their pages already ranks in the #2 spot on Google for my main keyword, so I didn’t want to link to that one.

I found another article they had that’s still relevant to the topic of channel graphics so I linked to that one instead.

Why would I still link to the Twitch.tv site even though one of their pages ranks in one of the top spots?

By linking to a different page, I believe it won’t provide any extra boost to their current ranking page. Plus my theory is that by linking to Twitch.tv it acts kind of like an anchoring effect for my page, giving it more trust and credibility, which in term helps it rank higher.

Internal: For my internal links on the actual page itself I linked out to some of my category pages in hopes of getting them to rank better (the main reason I create these pieces of supporting content in the first place).

And for internal links coming from other pages on the site I simply edited other related articles to include links pointing to this page, using various relevant keywords.

Wrapping It Up

Ok maybe this was longer than 10 minutes…

Adding the, “Here’s What I Did” sections definitely added more content than I originally intended, but I imagine that’s where you got the most value, since you could get a little sneak peak of the thought process behind the optimizations (let me know if you agree in the comments).

You should now have a pretty good understanding of how to go about doing on-page optimizations. At least the initial stuff that doesn’t require software like POP or Cora.

Remember, this was the 80/20 guide. The stuff that will get your page up and running as fast as possible so you can start seeing results and making adjustments.

What kind of adjustments? I guess that calls for another type of article, doesn’t it?

Till then, let me know what you thought of everything!

If you have any questions, different opinions, or need some help optimizing a page you’re working on, then please leave a comment below.

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