What You Will Learn
- Tips that actually move the needle
- What to focus on
- Why to focus on it
When regular people can’t sleep they drink cocoa.
Or read a book.
I run search queries (I know, I’m weird).
And in my sleep-deprived state, I noticed something…
Most of the guides covering on-page SEO list hundreds of factors you can use to improve your rankings.
But the reality is that I’ve tested most of these and even if they are factors, they really don’t do much for your rankings at the end of the day.
Sure, you can spend ages writing amazing alt tags but that never really pushed my rankings up.
So in today’s Podcast I wanted to keep things short and sweet and share 7 on page tactics that actually moved our rankings up significantly in the past few years.
Does On-Page SEO Matter?
Yes, it does.
On-page appears to be more important than it has been for years.
It actually kind of feels like SEO from the early 2000s.
Links are still hugely important but you can also make some serious ranking gains with on-page tactics alone.
Just bear in mind that on-page SEO isn’t a magic bullet.
BUT if your site has some authority, you can rank for low and medium competition terms on page alone and THAT’s gangster because for the cost of only content, you get free ongoing traffic.
But…on-page tool x said y
On page tools are all the rage these days and for a good reason.
They moved on page SEO from being a one size fits all checklist you would follow to tweaks being tailored to the query you are trying to rank for based on the top ranking pages.
But the method is not flawless…
Correlation is not causation and I often see under optimized queries mess the recommendations.
I then come in with more keyword optimized content than everyone else and play bowling with their top rankings.
So these are good… but they’re certainly not an excuse to turn your brain off.
In terms of what tools we use, these days, we use Surfer SEO (and love it) for all the content we publish but we go deeper than their recommendations.
Website Auditor is a very useful free option if you can’t afford Surfer SEO.
There’s also Appsumo running a B grade surfer content editor clone if you’re on a budget.
Tip #1 – Match search intent
This is THE most important tip of the bunch – mimic the format you find on most pages ranking on top of Google.
Just look at the pages Google already ranks for a query and create a better version of them.
Add stats, research, case studies, or whatever increases the production value and “one ups” what ranks already.
It’s irrelevant if you don’t like this approach, or you think it crushes creativity – we can tell you it flat out works.
A lot of our “creative” approaches have been crushed in the past 2 years, regardless of links because we didn’t match the format Google wanted.
We then turned them into crappy list posts like everything else ranking and tadam! We’re back in top 3!
Tip #2 – Use exact keywords
There was a time when I believed that adding exact keywords to pages was outdated.
After all, Google understands synonyms, singular vs. plural, etc.
Until I tried it.
On almost every page where I increased the exact keyword occurrences, my rankings went up… a lot.
I know the whitest of white hats will call me an heretic and run back to John Muller to have me excommunicated.
But let me ask you a question then…
Do you want some casino affiliate programs with your casino affiliate programs?
The exact match keyword density on this page is 1.26%.
If you look at the term “casino affiliate”, it’s 2.37%.
Now to be fair, on other pages, I have managed to hit over optimization and lose rankings too so this absolute exists too.
But still, most pages probably could use more exact keywords.
Even more than many onpage tools suggest.
Tip #3 – Don’t Ignore Featured Snippets
People typically assume that you have to be pretty high up on page one of Google to grab the featured snippet.
You just need to rank somewhere from #1 to #5 for that keyword phrase.
So you no longer have to worry about that DR90 site sitting in #1 – the one that’s going to take a bazillion links to unseat.
Instead, you can just grab the featured snippet and rank above it using on page tweaks only.
The really easy/lazy way to do this is to add a bunch of H2/H3s to your page, each one featuring the exact match keyword you want to rank for.
Just make sure to match whatever style of content (bullet points, table, etc.) Google already uses for the featured snippet.
Or you can build custom featured snippet bait boxes like Hubspot does
Google loves the pre made snippet boxes provided the HTML is clean inside them (avoid lots of Divs)
Tip #4 – Update Old Content
I remember 4 years ago, nobody really knew that trick but we used to rank #1 for the term “Venus factor review” which used to be the biggest weight loss product on Clickbank.
And when our rankings slipped a bit, I just added 1 full stop to the page, so literally “.” and updated it and reindexed it.
And my rankings would shoot back up to #1 within a few hours.
It’s not as easy as this these days but still. Adding just a few sentences to a post then changing the publish date in WordPress (no need for extra plugins)
Then submitting the URL to index in webmasters console often does the trick.
One of my favorite “easy” ways to update pages and posts is to add an FAQ question at the bottom and just pick one of those “people also ask” questions from the serp and make a 3 sentence answer.
When your rankings slip, pick another question and keep doing it when you need a bump.
Tip #5 – Hubs and Internal linking
Each page on your site has a certain amount of PageRank.
The more links you add from that page to another page reduces how much PageRank is passed to each page.
So…limit your linking.
Contextual links are also more valuable than links within your navigation – so don’t go fucking around with fancy menus and footers.
Basically, if you want to push one of your pages up the SERPs, then add links to that page from other relevant pages on your site but don’t keep your internal links tidy. If you link too much the pagerank is diluted and those links are less powerful.
A quick hack for finding what pages to build links from is to use Google’s site command:
They’ll show you the best pages on your site to build an internal link from.
Or you can automate your internal linking with Link Whisper – which has come a long way since its first release.
You still need to manually check the links this tool creates because not all of them are as relevant as they should be.
Tip #6 – Test Your Title Tags
Despite what I shared earlier, it’s not enough to simply cram an exact match keyword into your Title tag.
Instead, you need to add what we call a compound version of multiple keywords.
So, let’s say you wanted to rank for “best Olympic barbell”.
But people might also search for “best 20kg Olympic barbell” or “best garage Olympic barbell”
The best way to get ahead of these searches is to combine the variations within your Title tag:
“The Best 20KG Olympic Barbell For Your Garage Gym”.
That way you’re covering all your bases.
On top of that you want to maximize your click through rate as per Google’s senate hearing, we know these are ranking factors.
My recommendations to increase your click through rate is to include at least one of these in your titles:
- bracketed items
- current year
- ALL CAPPED WORDS
Tip #7 – How To Track Results
Add a note in Google Analytics to indicate what tip you tried, on what page, and on what date.
Then track your organic traffic over the next 6 – 8 weeks to see what happens.
I like this approach because sometimes you may be moving up for a given keyword but still lose traffic overall. This prevents getting caught by this.
Wait…I didn’t talk about H1/H2 tags, Meta Descriptions, and IMG Alt tags?
Or page speed.
As I said at the beginning of these show notes – the tips I share here are the ones that move the needle.
We show you what works.
Now, I know that was a whole shitload of information to absorb in one round of show notes.
So don’t forget to watch/listen above where we discuss (borderline argue about) these tips in lots more detail.