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8 Simple Steps for On-Page Optimization

On-page optimization isn’t dead

It just evolved with everything else on the web

That's right, on-page optimization has evolved just like everything else on the web. It's no longer enough to optimize a page with accurate title, description, keywords, image tags, header tags and such. It's still important to do the basics but it's just not enough.

In this post, I will discuss some advanced on-page optimization techniques that can help your page convert.

Why Use On-page Optimization?

Everything on your website needs to address conversions. Regardless of whether you sell products or use your website for lead generation, every visitor should see a Call to Action. If you don’t give them an opportunity to take that action: YOU FAIL.

Persuading website visitors to purchase a product, sign up for a newsletter or take a survey can be specific themes for a single page. But you should consider a holistic approach to optimization where branding of the entire the website is taken into consideration as well.

Step 1: The Basics of On-Page Optimization

I use a simple framework, like a template where I outline the basics that I need to address before writing any content. My template includes the following:

  • clearly show relevance to search query

    • add keyword to page title
    • flow the headlines
    • add relevant images and tags
  • page structure and content flow

    • less is more
    • clear and concise
    • clean classic design always wins
  • state your call to action

    • why are they here
    • make it easy
    • make it clear
  • everything works toward branding

    • why should visitors trust you
    • are you familiar with their needs
    • why choose your business over another

You can't skip these basics. They're not fancy, but they are crucial if you want better conversions and lower bounce rates.

Step 2: Beat Expectations

It is unlikely that your visitors have never seen a website in your niche before, so their expectations are already set. Your website needs to communicate your organization's message to your visitors in a way that is clear, concise and engaging. Important points to cover when addressing user expectations are:

  • what is your value proposition

    • are you a local business
    • do you have lower prices
    • are your products or services better
  • great website design

    • customer expectations are high
    • design is relatively inexpensive
    • a CMS makes it easier
  • allow user generated content

    • blog post comments
    • product reviews
    • surveys

Step 3: Integrate Everything

Usually, you edit text on your HTML pages to define your message. But you should consider integrating all the other entities in the page to avoid a segmented approach to your marketing effort.

  • images tags and video descriptions
  • Adobe Flash, PDF and Postscript
  • Microsoft Word and Powerpoint
  • OpenOffice documents

Here’s a list of what Google will index.

Then, consider how your content will appear for:

  • international readers
  • on mobile devices

Step 4: Embrace Change

Remember, the web is constantly changing. To stay up on new features and changes to search engine algorithms, you should read leading SEO websites and Google Webmaster Central blog each day. Here are a few recent additions to how and what Google's search engine indexes:

  • paginated content: rel="prev" / rel="next"
  • social media signals
  • RDF and microformats at least author information

Each of the above points is worth a blog post of their own.

Step 5: Use Data to Guide Improvements

Gathering data and building reports is important to understand how visitors perceive your site over time. This insight can help you make changes that will improve conversions. Some conversion data that you can measure and track include:

  • social media followers

    • measure rate of acquisition for each new campaign
  • signups and other lead generation

    • test and measure newsletter and other signups
  • surveys and user feedback

    • surveys and feedback provide timely, relevant data

Step 6: Consider Changes to Layout and Design

Making changes to your page layout or website design is sometimes difficult to do. It's easy to become content with a design that seems to be working. But it is important to regularly review the design and consider changes that will make pages convert better and make the website flow better. Here are some things to think about when reviewing your website for layout and design changes:

  • site navigation

    • pyramid shaped navigation structures work best
    • try to limit the number of levels for improved crawl depth and crawl frequency
    • use categories and sections that define the product
  • improve access to feature pages

    • if you promote features or specials, make sure they're easy to find from every page
    • track how many clicks users make to access the feature page
    • record bounce rate and time on page for feature pages
  • focus a positive message to your website visitors

    • attract visitors by being positive, honest and engaging
    • "sentiment" is a signal that search engines try to measure
    • awards and memberships should be easy to find and understand

Step 7: Fix the Errors

Search engines now provide great tools for analyzing accessibility to your pages and even advice on how to fix most errors. If bots can't access your web pages, they can't crawl and index either. So fix these problems to ensure you're at least in the game:

  • http response codes

    • code 403 status "access denied" – most important of all errors to fix as it stops crawler activity
    • code 404 status "not found" – indicates that you have inbound links that are not resolving and therefore losing page rank benefit
    • soft 404s – page not found, but your server redirects to a page other than "404 not found" page
  • duplicate url

    • multiple url's cause page rank dilution
    • examples:  domain.com, www.domain.com, www.domain.com/, www.domain.com/index.php – these url's point to the same page but are different
    • signals quality concern to crawlers
  • sitemap errors

    • most important tool for assisting discovery
    • errors usually indicate lack of access
    • can remove errant lines and resubmit sitemap

Step 8: Clean up the About Pages

To help give your website visitors a sense of your commitment to them as customers, it's a great idea to refresh your About page and organize your policies so they're in one place and are current.

  • link to all policies from one block

    • have links to shipping, privacy and supplier policy from the same block or widget
    • makes it easy for visitors to learn about your business
    • gives sense of comfort and assures visitors you are committed to them as customers
  • provide relevance to search queries

    • you definitely want to own any search for your business name or personal name
    • keywords on the about pages need the same sensitivity as on other pages
    • try to add over 500 words of relevant, meaningful content – remember image <alt> tags are content too
  • link from the about page

    • often a high page rank
    • use internal linking to flow page rank to other pages
    • provides a nice click path for visitors too

Now that you have some idea of what the new thinking is in on-page optimization, it's time to DO IT. That's right – the toughest part of any journey is starting. Once you have your ideas written down, doing the work and completing the rest of the tasks will be easy.

Feel free to contact SMB Internet Marketing if you need more information

One Response to 8 Simple Steps for On-Page Optimization

  • robert says:

    I am not sure where you are getting your information, but great topic.
    I must spend a while studying much more or working out
    more. Thanks for fantastic info I used to be searching for this
    information for my mission.

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