On-Page SEO for Small Business Owners (Updated 2016)
As a business owner, you know how powerful SEO is in today’s overcrowded marketplace.
With greater visibility in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs), you can generate more traffic, increase the number of on-page inquiries on your site and grow your business at a faster rate.
But with so many people competing for a coveted spot on the front page of Google, few business owners are enjoying the benefits that come from ranking on page one.
According to Hubspot, 65% of business owners say generating traffic and inquiries is their number one challenge.
And with so much to implement and such little time to do it, it’s not hard to understand why.
What about you?
Are you part of that statistic?
If you are, it might be because you’re overlooking a critical part of the SEO game:
Today, I want to show you how to optimize your posts/pages for SEO so you can rank for keywords that your customers search for everyday, generate more traffic and increase the number of high-quality inquiries on your site.
Let’s get started.
What is On-Page SEO?
SEO comes down to two key areas of focus:
- Off-page SEO
- On-page SEO
In other words, anything that’s done away from your site to raise the ranking of a post/page in Google’s SERPs.
But what about on-page SEO?
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more relevant traffic in search engines.
As you know, Google wants to create the best possible experience for their users.
And it’s exactly why content marketing is such an integral part of SEO today.
With original, high-quality content you can solve your market’s pain points while boosting your site’s trustworthiness and reputation.
The thing is…
It doesn’t matter how valuable your content is, if your posts/pages aren’t optimized correctly, Google won’t know any different.
And it’s up to you to do it.
On-Page SEO: Best Practices
The following is a list of the most important aspects you need to focus on when optimizing your posts/pages.
Each aspect is powerful in its own right, but when combined with the rest, your ranking will climb and your traffic will skyrocket.
- SEO Title
The SEO title is the title of the post/page in the SERPs:
According to Moz, placing your target keyword at the front of your title tag improves rankings.
Because it increases your click-through rate and helps Google quickly identify the purpose of the post/page.
Google truncates the SEO title at 60 characters. Therefore, you need to write a title that not only entices readers to click through but remains within the character limit.
Wordstream front loads their keyword (“How to increase blog traffic”) while leveraging their brand and staying within the confines of the character limit:
Don’t confuse your H1 title with your SEO title. The former is what you name your post/page if you’re using WordPress:
The latter is what is displayed in the SERPs:
This is easily written using a plugin like SEO Yoast (which we’ll return to later).
- URL (Universal Resource Locator)
The URL is the address of your post/page.
To rank well, your URL needs to be relevant, compelling and accurate because it describes to Google what the post/page is about.
There’s varying opinions as to the right way to structure your URL. Some influencers use dates to correlate with freshness factors (i.e. how up-to-date the content is).
Others authorities only include their keyword. To get a better understanding of which to follow, look at influencers in your marketplace.
You probably already know that posts/pages with images reduce your bounce rate and increase on-site time.
And that’s a major signifier to Google that you’re creating a good experience for its users.
If you’re writing long-form content, include images to increase engagement.
BlogPros analyzed 100 high-ranking blogs and found the most popular articles had one picture for about every 350 words.
It’s not enough, though, to include images. To maximize optimization, you need to name them properly, too.
So, remember to include your target keyword in the image file name AND the alt tag:
According to Retailing Today, 81% of shoppers conduct online research before making big purchases.
It’s no surprise then that 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing in their marketing strategies.
Writing original, high-quality does more than build trust with you prospects—it improves ranking, too.
SERPIQ found that content length correlated with SERP position:
The longer your content, the easier it is to build organic links back to your content, invite more shares and include synonyms or LSI keywords (more on that shortly).
When writing long-form content, focus on writing evergreen content that’s useful and unique for Google’s users and addresses your market’s pain points.
Carve out time to do this and over time, your rankings will go through the roof.
- H2 Tags
As mentioned above, writing longer content improves your chances of ranking higher in the SERPs.
But it isn’t enough to just write long-form content; you need to write it in a way that’s engaging for the reader.
And how do you do that?
By including H2 tags.
Also known as subheadings, H2 tags breaks up your content, making it easier to read.
But that’s not all…
Using H2 tags is a great opportunity to include keywords your prospects are typing into Google.
Writer James Clear does this really well.
When writing his content, he includes popular search queries as H2 tags:
Combining this with thorough, in-depth content, James ranks for his target keyword: “habit guide”:
Another influencer who uses H2 tags well is Brian Dean from Backlinko
Brian keeps his readers engaged by including benefits in his H2 tags:
Use H2 tags well enough and you’ll begin picking up keywords you weren’t even aware of.
Traffic from mobile is increasing every day.
In 2015, Google officially announced that mobile searches outperform desktop.
And that number is expected to increase in 2017.
If your site isn’t optimized for mobile and other smart devices, you’re not just losing traffic; you’re losing customers, too.
Google says 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing.
While many website templates come with a responsive design, older websites may require updating.
Google Mobile-Friendly Test will tell you how mobile friendly your site it.
If your site needs updating, hire a developer or consider buying a responsive template.
- Outbound Links
Have you ever noticed how much influencers link to other influencers?
Not only does this build reciprocal link-building relationships (influencers are more likely to link to you if you link to them consistently over time); it improves your site’s trustworthiness.
With backlinking becoming a bigger part of SEO every day, it’s important you create content that references third-party data and link to the appropriate sources to demonstrate that you’re a trustworthy site.
- Inbound Links
Many business owners are concerned with driving as much organic traffic to their home/landing/services pages as possible.
But Google is much more concerned with giving users what they want by referring them to relevant pages.
This is exactly why content marketing and internal linking are focal points in today’s SEO.
Neil Patel includes a mixture of internal and external links in his content:
Linking internally increases reader engagement (and increases on-site time) and passes valuable “link juice” to other pages you want to rank for, (providing they’re relevant and contribute to the reader experience).
- Site Speed
According to Think with Google,
The average U.S. retail mobile site loaded in 6.9 seconds in July 2016, but, according to the most recent data, 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. And 79% of shoppers who are dissatisfied with site performance say they’re less likely to purchase from the same site again.
If your site takes too long to load, your visitors will click “back” and your bounce rate will increase, signaling to Google your site isn’t providing a good reader experience.
To check your loading time, go to GTMetrix:
Enter your domain and it will perform a diagnostic, offering feedback for improvement.
A good rule of thumb is anything in the 26 to 40 percent range.
- Latent Semantic Index (LSI) Keywords
LSI keywords are like synonyms for your keyword and help Google know user intent.
ShopWPThemes offers a nice analogy to explain LSI keywords.
Think of the keyword, “Apple.”
On the one hand, it describes a fruit.
On the other, it describes one of the biggest companies in the world.
An article about apple the fruit might include the following words:
- Johnny Appleseed
An article about Apple the company would likely include words like:
- iPhone 6
- Steve Jobs
Previously, Google wouldn’t know which keyword to focus on.
Today, Google can differentiate between keywords based on intent and context.
This is why writing long-form content is a great way to boost rankings:
The longer your content, the more likely you are to naturally include LSI keywords in your content.
To learn more about finding LSI keywords, read this article on keyword research.
The meta-description is the snippet of text you see underneath the SEO title and URL in the SERPs:
Many business owners overlook their meta-description, and instead, leave it for Google to populate itself.
It’s important to understand that it’s up to you to persuade the user to click through.
The more persuasive your copy, the more click-throughs you will receive and the more Google will pick up on the quality of your content (providing you keep readers on your site).
With only 160 characters to play with, you need to be creative with how you invite users to click through.
Writing in clear language and giving a clear call-to-action can often differentiate you from everyone else.
Mr Switch, who ranks number one for “electrician, Sydney,” asks a question relevant to the search query and tell the user exactly want they want them to do:
Now that we’ve covered the most important elements for on-page SEO, let’s discuss how to score some easy wins for the post/page you’re trying to rank.
How to Optimize a Post/Page
If you’re on WordPress, there are many plugins available to help you optimize your content.
With it, you can optimize every post/page you create, ensuring you get a maximum return on your time and effort.
SEO Yoast allows you to configure the key on-page SEO elements, including:
- SEO Title
Here’s how to install it.
Step 2. Login to your WordPress dashboard and go to “Plugins” > “Add new” > “Upload Plugin”:
Step 3. Once you’ve installed SEO Yoast, go to “Posts” > “Add new” and you should see the Help Center below the text area:
When you write your post, you’ll be able to fill in each section, which SEO Yoast will grade based on how optimized it is for on-page SEO.
Here’s an example from one of my recent posts:
SEO Yoast will walk you through how you can best optimize your post/page and you can rest in the knowledge you’ve done all you can to optimize it.
Google has undergone several major algorithm updates in recent years.
But one thing remains unchanged:
Google’s priority to create the best possible experience for its users.
By writing long-form content and optimizing your posts/pages for the SERPs, you position yourself as the go-to authority in your field and build a company that your competitors wouldn’t dare try to outrank.
Carve out the time to optimize your posts/pages for on-page SEO and I promise you—it will be time well spent.
How do you do your on-site SEO? Leave a comment below.