A Beginner's Guide to On-Page Optimization

A Beginner's Guide to On-Page Optimization

October 5th, 2012

On-page optimization is the easiest, most learnable aspect of search engine optimization. But like all "easy" things, we sometimes forget that you can still do them wrong. Easy doesn't always mean simple. Yet, many complex tasks can be made easy with a good process.

Below is a solid on-page optimization process that you can apply to any web page on your site. Working through this process checklist will make SEO easier but not necessarily simpler; you still have to do the dirty work.

When choosing your keywords, prioritize each core term based on a few factors:

  • Relevance: Not every core term is as relevant as the next. Some might be slightly tangential but still can produce sales, while others are a bulls-eye. The bulls-eye gets higher priority than the others.
  • Importance: Some core terms represent products or services that are more important than others. Start where the money is.
  • Audience targeting: Core terms don't always perform as well as they might appear. As much as is possible, determine how likely any core term will be at converting its audience.
  • Search volume: How often a term is search is an important factor, but it's not the only important factor. Be sure to only consider this in relation to the others.

Once you have decided which core term you want to go after, take a closer look at the core term/page relationship. You want to ensure that both are an absolutely solid match for each other.
What you want to be sure is that each core term is the best possible fit for any given page. You can do this by analyzing the existing content, looking to see if one fits more naturally than the other. Don't recreate the wheel if you don't have to; find the best fit and move forward.

Once you have decided on your key terms, it’s time to integrate the text into the page. Ideally the most knowledgeable person should write the initial draft of content for each page, even if they don't write well. Then it can be passed on to a copywriter (who has a solid grasp of SEO) to take the first shot at integrating the selected keywords into the page. This helps get the keywords worked in as naturally as possible.

But with any written document, the first draft is rarely the last. After the copywriter is finished, you want to analyze the page from a slightly more technical perspective, touching on several key points:

  • Keyword usage: Ensure the content has a natural flow while maintaining a proper keyword balance.
  • Headings: Use headings that are compelling and informative, not keyword laden.
  • Title tag: Create a compelling, keyword rich title for the page. Don't stuff them, but use proper sentence structure.
  • Description tag: Build a meta description that is compelling to the searcher and reinforces the keyword relevance of the page.
  • Voice: Use a consistent voice across the site. Optimized pages should not stray from the primary site voice.
  • Active words: Use words that do more than inform. Compel the visitor to take action.
  • Features & benefits: The content should not just focus on features, but the benefits that the reader will receive out of your product or service.
  • Skimmable: Make the document easy to skim read while giving the reader access to key selling points and links as they do so.
  • Calls to Action: Every optimized page should have some form of call to action. Work them both into the text as well as images.
  • Text Usability: Review the words of the content from the customer's standpoint. Make sure your text gives your visitor what they need to continue down the conversion path, fixing anything that might stop that process.

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