Search has redefined the buyer's journey. Buyers no longer follow a linear path from awareness to consideration to purchase. Buyers turn to their phones to get immediate answers. On-Page SEO helps your brand be there, gain search visibility by helping humans & Google bots match your content to search queries.
In this complete guide, you'll learn:
- What is on-page SEO.
- How to optimize your content.
- How to write titles and descriptions.
- How to meet search intent.
- How to create SEO-friendly URLs.
Let's get started.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO optimizes web page content to rank higher and earn more relevant organic traffic from search engines.
Important on-page SEO factors include:
- SEO Content.
- Title Tags.
- Meta Descriptions.
- Internal Links.
- URL structure.
On-Page vs Off-Page SEO
On-page SEO is different from off-page SEO. Off-page SEO optimizes for signals that happen outside your website (e.g., backlinks). On-page are factors you can control.
On-page SEO allows you to turn your keyword research into content your audience will love.
Why is On-page SEO important?
On-page SEO helps search engines understand your website and its content and identify whether it is relevant to a searcher's query.
If you optimize your site to the latest Google and Bing algorithms, it will be better understood and improve your ranking.
Google continually updates their algorithm to better understand a searcher's intent and deliver improved search results. As Google's algorithm evolves, so should your website.
On-page SEO = Being Found
On-page SEO is a HUGE source of traffic.
Over 65% of all website traffic comes from search engines. 40% of revenue comes from organic traffic.
Remember: the top result on Google gets more than 34% of keyword traffic, and the first page of Google search results grab as much as 91.5% of traffic.
On-Page SEO Elements
On-page SEO optimization includes both the:
- Visible content your readers see
(content, images, media)
- Invisible content that is read by search engines
(HTML code, meta tags, Schema, rich snippets etc.)
To rank in 2021, focus on improving:
- User experience.
- Bounce Rate and Dwell Time.
- Search Intent.
- Page loading speed.
Initial SEO Tool Setup
First, you'll need to set up:
1. Google Analytics (GA)
Every website needs a Google Analytics account installed to monitor and fine-tune your SEO efforts. With Google Analytics, you'll collect visitor data from your website and that data gives insight into how your prospects use your site. This information helps you to improve your SEO.
2. Google Search Console (GSC)
While Google Analytics gives you a picture of how visitors are using your site, Google Search Console shows you how search engines see your website. Every website should also install this tool.
3. Bing Webmaster Tools (Optional)
Bing Webmaster Tools helps improve your page rankings on Bing search results by understanding what people are searching for.
How to create SEO content
Page content is the heart of on-page SEO and is your first SEO priority. It tells both readers and Google what your website and business do. High-quality content engages, informs, supports, and delights your audience.
Targeted content connects with people by giving them value. Whether it's educational, entertaining, or inspiring, the content needs to speak to their needs-not your brand's wants. Content that actively solves your audience's problems.
Google is looking for the most relevant search results to display. Google has moved beyond keyword density, and in 2021 you need to publish unique, compelling content to rank #1.
Focus on making searchers happy by creating content that is:
For that, you'll need a primary or target keyword. If you haven't already, read our keyword research guide to discover how to determine yours.
Create Relevant Content
In Google’s guide to how search works, we learn search helps people ‘find the most relevant, useful results.’
Relevance isn't just exact keyword match. Relevance means matching your content with search intent. Consider how your page content falls into the buyer's journey and the searchers' intent. Understand what your user is looking for when searching a particular query and accessing your page. Failure to give searchers what they want, and your chances of a high ranking drop to zero.
The best way to analyze search-intent is to look at the top-ranking results:
- Are they image or video-heavy?
- Is the content long-form?
- The average word length.
- What the searcher's intent for the target keywords?
- How can you better answer their question?
- What can you add that is more valuable than what currently exists?
It's crucial to give searchers what they want. Do this by analyzing the 3 Cs of search intent:
- Content Style.
- Content Type.
- Content Format.
Your page should exactly match what a Google searcher wants. You can't design content without understanding search intent. Otherwise, Google will bury your page in the search results.
Explore the 3 Cs of Search Intent:
1) Content Style
Are the top-ranking results, news, blogs, videos, images, or tools?
For "unboxing iPhone 12", all the results are video. Google has spent billions to identify search intent, and people want a video for this keyword. If your content style isn't video, then it will fail to rank if you are selling iPhone 12.
2) Content Type
Your content type pages often are:
- Landing page
The search results for "buy A-Line Dress" are either local SEO store locations or eCommerce category pages. To rank for this specific keyword, it won't happen with a blog post. Searchers want to buy, not learn.
3) Content Format
Check the format of the top rating pages for your specific keywords. Some standard types include:
- "How-to" guides.
- Step-by-step tutorials.
- Opinion pieces.
- List posts (Listicle).
The search results for "How to change a tire" use a step-by-step guide.
The best chance to rank well is to follow the content format of websites already ranking high for your keyword. For instance, trying to rank a "comparison" page when searchers want a "how-to" guide will be a struggle. It would be better to ensure the content on your page associated with the keywords you want to rank well for match the searcher's intent.
Write Thorough Content
Cover Topics, not Keywords.
Thorough content means covering all the topics searchers expect and want to see. Substantive, useful, and unique content compels searchers to stay on your pages, builds familiarity and trust.
Thorough or long-form content is over 1500 words (around 2,250 Chinese characters) and provides a comprehensive answer to any question a searcher has on a given topic. It gives the reader value and tends to rank well in Google. Another important factor to remember is providing solid content enhances your brand's ability to dominate a given subject.
While three Cs analysis gives a high-level overview of intent, explore the top-ranking pages to understand what questions your content should answer.
Focus on Long-Form Content
In 2012, SerpIQ ran a study charting the top 10 results in search queries by content length.
The results showed that each of the top 10 results' average content length was more than 2,000 words. The 1st spot had 2,416 words, and the 10th result had 2,032 words.
A backlinko study discovered that the average Google first page result contains 1,447 words.
The more comprehensive your post is, the more target main keyword variations and sub-topics you'll cover, helping to build keyword relevance. Long-form content has higher engagement as it answers the user's question or solves their problem.
Why do long posts work?
It's not the number of words that brings high rankings. It is the lengthy post shows Google you're providing in-depth, authoritative information that comprehensively covers the topic. Also, it gets more social shares, which signals to Google that your page is well-received and worth ranking highly.
Longer dwell time is a confirmed ranking factor - the longer your reader spends on your webpage before going back to the search results page, the better the response in ranking.
Finally, in 2012, Google released a new algorithm update, Panda, which penalized low-quality, thin content sites.
How to write Long-Form Content?
- Look at the average word count of the pages that rank for your primary keyword to give you a rough idea of the ideal content length. (e.g., if the top posts have 2,000+ words, your 800-word article probably won't rank)
- Seek Evergreen content which doesn't go out of date. It a topic that's always relevant regardless of the current season or news cycle. Check keyword stability with Google Trends.
- When writing your SEO content, make it more comprehensive than your competitors. Ensure you've included everything your reader might want to know about the topic.
- Use Google's People Also Ask questions or AnswerThePublic to help you determine what queries to answer.
- Identify your primary audience for the page and address their concerns and pain points.
- Be original, use unique and up-to-date data, strong design, provide new angles, tips, or strategies.
- Remember that a high number of words alone won't improve your rankings. Focus on the content quality, not just quantity.
- Quality content that is well-set out will hold the reader's attention. Avoid walls of text as they are difficult to read. Keep your paragraphs short (5 lines max) and use images to break up the page.
- While you're writing, be sure to keep your audience in mind. The tone of your piece should match what your readers would want to hear. Use simple words that everyone can understand.
- Use headings (H2-H6) to break up long copy, add structure to your content, and make it easier for readers (and the bots) to scan content for useful information.
Content that's vague and lacks detail won't rank if competitors' pages are more comprehensive and useful.
Create Fresh, Unique Content
It's imperative to give searchers what they want, but you also want to create something new. 61% of people are more likely to buy from companies that offer custom content. So, share your brand's point of view to build customer relationships.
Ask yourself, "What unique value can I offer to make my page better than what currently ranks for my keyword?"
Add your unique voice and viewpoint. Build your content marketing around your specific target audience. Focus on authoring articles, creating helpful guides, and designing graphics useful to your potential customers. Your content shouldn't be only about your brand.
Avoid Duplicate Content
Google guidelines state avoid duplicate content. Duplicate content is similar or exact copies of content on your or other websites.
However, unique content is beyond duplicate - it's separating yourself from the crowd by giving:
- A fresh perspective.
- A new strategy.
- New case study.
- Deeper guide.
- A better list.
- A personal experience.
- "how-to" videos.
- Actionable content.
Your customers are your best content ideas source. Ask your sales and service teams what questions customers commonly ask. Questions with complex answers can serve as topics for your blog posts or long-form articles.
Unique content takes more time and effort, but it'll increase your SEO and engagement.
Create Valuable, High-Quality Content
Publishing unique content is a good start, but it needs to be valuable to get noticed. Content is the cornerstone of your SEO and helps achieve your marketing goal.
Quality content is original, purposeful, and optimized to drive people to read, engage and share. Google's algorithm recognizes high-quality, relevant content and rewards it with higher rankings.
Google's quality guidelines spell out precisely what they're looking for. Here are their exact words:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
Focus on building a niche by being a trusted source for a specific need that overlaps with what you're selling.
What is High-Quality Content?
Google's Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines break down high-quality content into:
- Informational content is accurate, comprehensive, original, and professionally presented.
- News content is in-depth, well-cited, accurate, and contains original reporting.
- Quality content takes a significant amount of time, effort, talent and skill to create.
- Demonstrate E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness). E-A-T is Google's new acronym and ensures the page is high-quality and created by reliable sources.
- Expert writers write expert content. "High-quality pages and websites need enough expertise to be authoritative and trustworthy on their topic."
- Websites Should Be 'Beneficial.'
Low-quality content doesn't rank with Google. Valuable content provides the richest experience for the user.
How to Create High-Quality Content?
- Get to know your readers: Share your unique perspective and insights.
- Answer their Questions: Google is ultimately an answering machine. Quality content answers your customers' questions and meets their needs.
- Keep the focus on customers, not selling. Build trust and credibility with your prospects. Create content that fosters relationships. Remember: Blog posts aren't sales pages.
- Be Helpful: Images, screenshots, videos and easy-to-follow steps make it simple to follow.
- Crisp writing: Strong copywriting will improve engagement.
- Written by experts: Your first-hand experiences are more insightful than a random freelance writer. It could make sense to include an author biography at the bottom of the page.
- Updated material: Brand new strategies, actions, and examples go a long way.
- Go deeper on a topic: go more in-depth on a subject than anyone else has.
- Answer Google's "Related Searches": Use any related topics that make sense for your article.
- Use Google Analytics Data: Identify which pages receive the most visits and time spent. Go to: Behaviour > Site > All Pages.
Create Clear Content
Even if your content aligns with search intent and is thorough, readers will still skip it if it's unclear. Clarity and readability are essential to rank.
Develop a content plan and outline for your post. A well-structured post is simpler for the reader to follow.
1) Make Your Content Scannable
Readers don't read online; they scan.
Eye-tracking studies by NNGroup prove this. Readers follow an 'F-shaped' pattern when looking at web pages, scanning down the page quickly.
Remember: No matter how good your content is, readers will only read 20% of your content.
So, make your content concise and easy to scan to ensure readers get all the essential information without reading the entire thing.
- Headings and subheading (H2, H3 tags)
- Short paragraphs. Aim for a maximum of 3 sentences.
- One Idea per Paragraph.
- Short sentences (under 25 words)
- Bulleted lists
- Items in bold
- Display a table of contents.
2) Avoid Wall-to-Wall Text.
Make it simple for readers to find what they're searching for.
Break up your article with paragraph breaks, subheadings, bullets to let readers follow (or skim) your copy easily.
3) Satisfy Search Intent Immediately
If you cover everything readers want to know but they can't find the topic, they'll hit the back button to find a result that's easier to understand.
Don't delay your main point as people are busy and short on time. Put the most vital details up front.
Remember to satisfy the searcher; each search query comes with:
- Active intent: explicitly mentioned in the query.
- Passive intent: implicit detail in the query. What would the user search for next? Why does the searcher want this information?
Let's give an example for the query: Hiking Trails in Taiwan. The searcher's active intent is a list of Hiking Trails. Passive intent is additional relevant, useful information such as:
Answer your readers' active intent immediately, or they'll bounce back to search results. 55% of users will read a blog post for 15 seconds or less. We want to avoid this pogo-sticking search pattern by putting a quick answer upfront. So, display a list of Hiking Trails.
After your list, provide depth of information with the follow-up details. You create value by meeting passive intent later in the article by expanding and giving detailed, additional information and questions.
In a nutshell:
- Use the inverted pyramid structure.
- Include active intent in page titles, main headlines, intro copy and sub headers.
- Put the most critical points at the top of the story, followed by additional details.
- Put the 'need to know' before the 'nice to know.'
4) Make it readable and proof spelling and grammar.
It's essential to write readable content that aligns with your target audience's needs. Remember, the average American adult reads at a 10th-grade level. Aim for an 8 on the Flesh-Kincaid readability test to ensure 80% of Americans can read it:
Free Online Readability Tests
To check the reading grade level:
- Write Clearly, a free bookmarklet gives a Flesh-Kincaid readability test score for websites. It also includes suggestions.
- Readability Analyzer scores your writing with a free Flesh-Kincaid readability score.
Writing Editing Tools:
- Hemingway Editor helps simplify your writing where it is too dense. Free version online.
- Grammarly is a spelling and grammar tool checker.
We haven't found any specialized tools for Chinese writing.
To improve readability:
- Avoid writing like a college-level research paper.
- Use standard terms (not complicated industry jargon).
- Use objective language. It's easy to comprehend, easy to access, and easy to remember.
- Read it aloud. Use Microsoft Word or Google Docs text-to-speech features to read your document back to you. Your ears can hear errors your eyes don't see.
6) Audit Your Existing Content
An SEO content audit evaluates existing content on your site and identifies low-performing pages.
Content that grows via organic search suffers from traffic decay. Over time these posts lose traffic.
Google factors "freshness" into its rankings, and there could be technical or algorithmic changes for the decrease in traffic. Your competition creates a simply better resource.
An SEO content audit will recommend:
- Prune content from your site.
- Refresh on-page content and meta-data.
- Combine content from your site.
- Grow by building links and creating a content hub.
To improve your SEO content performance, contact us to learn about our content audit service.
1) Use your Primary Keyword in the first 150 Words.
It's believed Google puts more weight on the first 100-150 words of your content. Use your keyword in your first few sentences as it signals that the page is relevant.
2) Use your Primary Keyword in your Article Headline
Wrap your page titles in an H1 tag has always been conventional SEO wisdom. Headings are useful for communicating what the content is about. Keywords in titles will not necessarily make you rank better, but it will give Google some clarity about the page's keyword and topic.
3) Optimize Images
Over 21% of all US web searches now happen on Google images. Images are returned for 23% of all search queries on Google. Optimizing images is essential and can send more traffic your way.
According to HTTP Archive images make up for more than 75% of data loaded on web pages. This frequently makes images the main culprits for slow page loads. Slow page loads encourage people to use the back button to find a faster website.
5-step checklist for image optimization:
1) Use keyword-rich file names
Filenames can give Google clues about the subject matter of the image. For example, galaxy-s20.jpg is better than IMG023A.jpg. However, we'd recommend avoiding Chinese filenames - as it can create issues with some servers due to its multi-byte encoding.
- Be descriptive: galaxy-s20-black.jpg vs. galaxy.jpg
- Be concise: galaxy-s20.jpg vs. my-awesome- black-galaxy-s20.jpg
- Avoid keywords stuffing: galaxy-s20.jpg vs. black-galaxy-s20-cell-mobile-phone.jpg
- Use dashes between words. galaxy-s20.jpg vs. galaxy_s20.jpg (this is Google's official recommendation)
2) Use descriptive alt text for images.
Your alt image text should be a brief, useful description of the image and include appropriate keywords. Screen readers use this to help those visually impaired recognize the picture. Google uses alt text to understand the image and its relation to the surrounding text.
Google's SEO image guidelines state: Use descriptive alt text. We'd recommend:
- Be descriptive. Use relevant keywords where appropriate.
- Be accurate. Describe the actual image.
- Be succinct. Keep it short to avoid annoying those with screen readers.
- Avoid keyword stuffing. It's a negative user experience, and your site could be "seen as spam."
- Avoid stating that it's an image. Avoid including "Image of…" or "Picture of…" in descriptions.
Alt Checking Tools
3) Compress Image File Size
4) Resize Images
Resize your images to the size required on your website. If you take a photo with your phone, the dimensions are usually huge (5000px-wide image). The browser still downloads the full-sized image even though mobile screens are often only 360px in width. That's slow.
A better approach is to scale your images down before uploading them, as it will dramatically reduce the size.
A more advanced technique with clever code and plugins can serve varied sizes based on your screen's width. The srcset attribute allows you to show multiple versions of your image to different screen resolutions. It's like responsive web design - but for images.
5) Use Lazy-Load Images
Lazy-loading is a technique that delays the loading of content until we need them. It helps improve page loading performance as the page can load without waiting for all the images. As you scroll down this page, the images will only load if required as you scroll. You can also implement with video and other content.
The benefits of lazy loading include:
- Reduces initial load time - Lazy-loading reduces page weight, allowing for a faster page load time.
- Bandwidth conservation - Lazy-loading conserves bandwidth by delivering content only if it's required.
<img loading=lazy> has simplied the process for Chrome-based browsers.
For more information on how to lazy-load your images, follow Google's Lazy Loading Guide.
6) Avoid Stock Images
When people visit your website, they're seeking information about your company, products, and services.
So, your website content, including photography, needs to be authentic. Avoid fake stock images. Use real photos of your team.
For best results, choose images that reflect or illustrate your topic.
Finally, one SEO study compared original to duplicate images and found:
"Using unique images on your website does have a positive impact on organic web rankings as well as image rankings."
So, use original images to reinforce your brand's authenticity. Visitors and search engines alike will appreciate it.
4) Use short descriptive URLs
Searchers will most likely click the search result that best matches their search query. Using descriptive URLs helps cement your page as that result. Now, Google has started to show keyword parts of the URL rather than the actual URL.
For example, look at these two URLs:
Both pages are on the same topic, but it isn't apparent from the URLs. Only the first URL tells you what the page is about, which helps the user understand.
5 steps to create SEO Friendly URLs
- Use short URLs: As Google truncates long ones.
- Try to include your primary keyword. /seo
- Use hyphens to separate words. /seo-guide
- Avoid non-crawlable parameters. Anything after the '? in a URL is often not readable.
- Don't use spaces. It's hard to read as it comes out percent-encoded (%20). /seo%20guide
Should I use Chinese Characters in my URLs?
Browsers and search engines can now support the use of Chinese characters in URLs. The URL must contain keywords relevant to the content and be readable.
However, Chinese uses multi-byte encoding, which makes URLs much longer. In the past, this has led to problems on some servers.
Plus, some Chinese characters have issues with encoding which leads to unreadable characters. Often displayed as percent-encoded, they're not human-readable. You can see this when sharing on Facebook - multi-byte URLs come out truncated and look weird:
This percent-encoded URL is difficult to type, read, or pronounce. Users may think its untrustworthy, resulting in fewer clicks.
Finally, if you're targeting China, then Baidu is the default search engine. Baidu-Spider has issues with crawling Chinese characters in URLs.
So - we'd recommend skipping them.
5) Link to Relevant External Resources
Many beginners worry about linking to other websites as they fear it would take away their visitors. External links to related authoritative pages help Google figure out your page's topic.
One 2016 study showed a clear positive impact on rankings by linking to authoritative sites. So, we recommend doing it as we have done on this page.
1) Title Tag Optimization
On average, 5x as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you've written your headline, you've spent eighty cents out of your dollar.
Your <title> tag is the most critical part of your page as it outlines what your page is all about.
It's the first thing searchers read on Google, so an enticing, relevant title that answers the query will get people to click through. Click-through rate (CTR) is a confirmed ranking signal for Google.
Your title summarizes your blog post and should contain your brand or company name:
- Primary Keyword - Secondary Keyword - Brand Name
- Product Name | Product Category | Brand Name
- Title | Company Name
10 Tips to create an SEO-optimized Title Tag:
- Give every page a unique title to help Google understand that your content is unique and valuable and drive higher click-through rates.
- Use one primary keyword in the title, and preferably at the beginning. People may scan only the first two words of a headline - so put the product name first to denote unique value.
- Keep your titles short and descriptive. If your title's too long, search engines may cut it off by adding an ellipsis ("..."). Google's display titles max out at 600 pixels in width. For English, that's around 60 characters in length. For Chinese, under 30 characters.
- Write for your customers. Avoid titles that are just a keyword list as they are bad for users and don't encourage click-through.
- Accurately summarize the page's content. Avoid clickbait as your bounce rate will soar, leading to poor engagement and an inevitable loss of trust in your content.
- Use a Title Modifier (best, guide, checklist, fast, review, free) to provide value upfront and encourage user clicks. Or a Call to Action (CTA) - download, buy etc.
- Use Question Titles. According to this backlinko study, titles with questions had a 14.1% higher click-through rate (CTR) than non-question titles. Questions can improve CTR when someone is searching; they're essentially asking for an answer to their problem. Think: "Who, What, When, Where, Why, How."
- Use Brackets In Your Title Tag: A HubSpot industry study found that brackets in headlines increased clicks by nearly 40%. (eg., "17 Amazing Back Stretches [Video]")
- List Posts begin with a number: (e.g., "7 Ways to Improve Your SEO")
- Use Emotive Language: include power words power words to trigger an emotional response (e.g., "How to Grow an Insanely Loyal YouTube Following")
Free Headline Analyzer Tools
If you need help with crafting headlines in English, check out:
Sharethrough Headline Analyzer: It gives an engagement and impression score. Plus, it provides suggestions on headline lengths, context words, alert words, and passive language.
Co-schedule Headline Analyzer: This gives a score, suggests the right words, and optimizes the character length. However, it requires newsletter signup to see results.
We've yet to find one for Chinese.
2) Meta Description Optimization
The meta description is a short snippet summarizing your web page's content.
Search Engines often show the meta description in search results, which can influence click-through rates. It's also often used when sharing an article by social media.
Meta descriptions aren't a direct ranking factor, but they can encourage more clicks, leading to more traffic. Write them like ad copy - craft a readable, compelling description that a searcher will want to tap. A good meta description should give clarity; be directly relevant and unique to the page it describes.
Ideal Meta Description Length:
Google may cut the text based on the pixel width of the letters or Chinese characters (chrs):
- 960px on desktop
- 680px on mobile
Safe Character Length
Use Google SERP Simulator to preview and calculate ideal pixel widths for mobile and desktop: This brilliant free tool helps you work out title tag and meta description lengths.
6 Meta Description Optimization Tips:
1) Write A Unique Meta Description for Every Page
As with title tags, make sure your site's meta description tags are 100% original for every page. Social media giants like Facebook use it, and so a strong meta description boosts clicks. If the title and meta description doesn't match - it makes your offer confusing.
2) Outline Your Value Proposition
For every meta description you write, consider what the user thinks: "What's in it for me? Why should I visit this page?" If you're not answering those questions, rework the content until you can. Your meta description must outline your value proposition.
3) Include Your Keyword in the Description
Keyword-rich descriptions can help as Google bolds every instance of the search enquiry key term. This bold text helps draw searchers, so aim to closely match your descriptions to search terms.
4) Don't Keyword Stuff
Write for the user first. Make them inviting rather than awkward.
5) Use a Call-to-action (CTA) or Offer
Meta descriptions are your sales text and are essentially ads. Use a CTA or offer to boost your click-through rate and stand out from your competition.
- Get X / Gain X / Grab X (Grab a 10% discount today)
- Download Now
- Free (FREE 14-DAY TRIAL)
6) Use Google Search Console (GSC) Search Query Data to Generate Headlines
Check Google Search Console > Search Analytics > Queries to see the top queries that led people to your page. Use those queries into your meta description and see if those change improve your organic CTR.
What is a site structure?
Your site structure is how your website's pages are structured and linked together.
Your site navigation helps your visitors find the content they want quickly.
An optimized site structure helps search engines find and index all the pages on your website.
1) Use a Flat, Organized Site Structure
Your website structure organizes your pages and content to make them navigable for users and search engines.
Deep vs Flat Site Structures
Each of the 2 site structures has the same number of pages (25). Yet the user's experience will be vastly different based on content hierarchy.
Use a Flat Site Structure
A flat site structure helps search engines to find and index your site. It limits the number of clicks a user needs to view to see the content.
If possible, create a structure that's flat, not deep. In other words: your site's pages should all be only a few links away from one another so that content is more discoverable.
With deep site structures, it takes a user longer to find the content they are looking for. It also takes search crawlers longer to index.
Google's John Mueller stated that how many clicks it takes to get to a page from your home page affects ranking. Pages closer to the homepage will rank higher. So - that's why we recommend a flat site structure.
Avoid a Single Product Category
Many Taiwan B2B websites use a deep structure. They use a single main navigation item to contain all their main product categories. They hide all their products under a menu item such as "products" instead of product categories such as "computers" or "tablets".
This creates an extra level in the site hierarchy, and it is more difficult for searchers to find what they are after. To speed up and simplify searches, we usually recommend the main navigation consists of product categories. It helps users understand the type of website they have landed on and the breadth of products the company sells.
Remember: if you want a particular page to rank better than others, make sure it's easy to get to from the home page.
2) Add internal and external links.
Linking to relevant internal and external resources helps visitors navigate your website and find more information.
An external link is a hyperlink that leads the reader to a reputable page on a different website. In contrast, an internal link is a hyperlink that direct the visitor to a target page on your website. The text that links to other pages is called Anchor Text.
Anchor text sends signals to search engines regarding the content of the destination page. To improve your ranking, use keyword-rich words rather than generic "click here" anchor text.
When you link to another page on your site, you send link authority to that page. So, when you publish something new, try to link it from other relevant pages on your own site.
How to Find Anchor Text
You can find the right pages to link to by searching for:
site:yourdomain.com "keyword phrase"
On those pages, then create a link by connecting the keyword to the target page. For example, I have linked SEO on my Dr. Eye case study to this page.
Read Google link text recommendations to get a better grasp of the guidelines.
Finally, internal linking can improve dwell time, as people spend more time on your site. Dwell time is a known ranking factor.
3) Avoid Orphaned Pages
Before your content can rank, it needs links from another page or site on the web. Avoid orphaned pages, which exist on a website without any other page linking to them. Orphan Pages are bad for SEO as Google assumes that a page that isn't linked from its website has no importance.
How to Find Orphaned Pages
Run a Screaming Frog audit to find orphan pages. If your site has more than 500 URLS - you'll need to purchase a license to crawl the rest of the site.
4) Internal Link to Deep Pages
Internal links help connect your content and give Google an idea of your website's structure. Most of your backlinks are likely to point to your homepage. So, linking to your deep pages help promote them.
5) Generate a Sitemap
A sitemap provides a roadmap that leads Google to all your important pages, but does not influence the actual ranking of your pages. The sitemap is a simple XML file containing the URLs of all your pages.
The main benefit of an XML sitemap is the improved crawl of larger or more complex sites. For Google, this means over 500 pages.
A sitemap isn't a replacement for creating a solid internal link structure. Google says, "Using a sitemap doesn't guarantee that all the items in your sitemap will be crawled and indexed."
How to Generate A Sitemap
You can use a standalone tool to generate one. Head to xml-sitemaps.com to add a free 500 maximum pages sitemap. Once you download the sitemap file, you'll need to upload it to your website's root folder.
For Joomla, install the free OSMap component.
For WordPress, install and activate the free Yoast plugin.
6) Block Search Engines from crawling all pages.
A robots.txt file directs search engines to which parts of the site they can crawl and index. For example, if you're using a CMS, WP or Joomla, you'll use a robot.txt file to block the admin section from being crawled. By blocking the admin section, it helps to avoid overloading your site with requests.
Does my site have a robots.txt file?
Just type your full URL + robots.txt:https://www.iamrobert.com/robots.txt
It should something look like this:
Use Google Search Console to test your robots.txt.
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO is the website's foundation. Great technical SEO ensures your website meets the code requirements of Google with the goal of improved organic rankings.
Why Is Technical SEO Important?
You can have an awesome site with awesome content. But if your technical SEO is messed up, then you're not going to rank. For new websites, get your site's code up to scratch initially.
That's why we're going to go through the most common SEO Technical issues and the easiest ways to fix them.
The topics include:
Ensure All Your Pages Are Indexed
Search engines need to find, crawl, render, and index the pages on your site.
Firstly, find pages with errors that cause search engine spiders to have trouble crawling.
Use Google Search Console Coverage Report to Find Problems
- Sign-Up for the Free Google Search Console.
- Go to: Index > Coverage
- Fix any errors.
Google maintains a list of error status codes. The coverage report groups page by:
- Error (Red): the page isn't indexed.
- Valid with warnings (Orange): the page is indexed but has problems.
- Valid (Green): the page is indexed.
- Excluded (Grey): The page is not indexed. It could be intentional as Google is following the rules set up on your site. You might have deliberately blocked it through noindex directive, robots.txt, or canonical tags that prevent the pages from getting indexed.
Are all your critical pages indexed? Awesome, let's move on.
Improve your page loading speed
Page speed is a crucial on-site SEO factor and a confirmed ranking factor. Google wants to serve content that loads instantly for searchers. Google not only penalizes sites that load slowly-but your users will leave. They bounce, stop visiting, and don't convert.
Test Your Page Speed
Google uses the mobile version when assessing your website. So, pay attention to mobile phone page speed.
PageSpeed Insights (PSI) is a tool that tests your web page performance. Enter any full URL to analyze it:
It then gives an overall score out of 100 for the website you've tested, based on several performance optimization best practices:
Along with this result, you'll also see several recommendations from Google on how to improve your performance and score as well:
According to Google, users are 24% less likely to leave the page before any content shows if you pass the page experience scores.
Interpreting PSI Scores
Remember, this is a general analysis tool. Many site owners become obsessed with achieving a perfect PSI score. Unfortunately, they tend to overlook the most critical part: the recommendations that Google makes.
Despite Google giving PSI score factors, Google doesn't use the PSI Score to rank sites. Instead, it uses the length of time the site takes to load in the real world. You can get an overview of your loading speed in Google Analytics (Behavior > Site Speed), but don't get hung up on the physical score alone.
Find problem spots so that you can optimize them and decrease both your actual and perceived loading times.
Alternative Page Speed Tests
Currently, the PSI speed test location is in the US, and location affects page speed load. So, if your target market is Taiwan, use lighthouse metrics to test from Asia.
How to improve your PSI score:
1) Choose a quality web host
Hosting is the most critical page speed factor, so choose a reliable provider. Reducing Server response time isn't something you can perform by yourself.
You shouldn't expect awesome performance from $5USD/month hosting providers.
Factors to Consider when assessing a host:
- Speed: Check amount of Guaranteed RAM, SSD Drives
- Uptime: Sign up for UptimeRobot that checks your site every 5 minutes to verify if your website is up or down.
- Server location: If local SEO is primary, move your hosting closer to your target audience.
If you're thinking about switching hosts, look at this site which measures real-world users' speed navigating the web.
2) Eliminate Third-party Scripts
- Analytics (Google Analytics, Facebook Pixel)
- Social Sharing (AddThis, ShareThis)
- A/B Testing Tools (Optimizely)
- Serving Ads (Google AdSense)
- Heatmaps (Hotjar)
- Embedding videos (YouTube, Vimeo)
- Chat Widgets (Intercom, LiveChat)
On our website, rather than adding AddThis for social sharing - we've used just social hyperlinks, saving about 0.5s.
3) Enable File Compression
The smaller your files, the faster your page will load.
Compressing files is a simple way to reduce load times and enabling compression with Gzip or the newer Brotli is standard. It shrinks file sizes by an average of 50-70%, which reduces load times by up to 50%.
PSI shows an Enable text compression issue if compression is a problem:
Check Gzip / Brotli Compression
- Go to GiftOfSpeed to test.
- Enter Your URL + Hit Check.
- If its enabled - you have passed.
To enable text compression, follow this GTmetrix guide.
4) Enable Browser Caching
If PSI shows this warning, "Serve static assets with an efficient cache policy," fixing HTTP caching will speed up your page load time on repeat visits.
Your web browser then saves a local copy of these page resources in its cache. The benefit is it helps save bandwidth and is faster than downloading again from the site's server.
Your server can tell the browser how long it should temporarily store or cache the file. By setting this caching policy longer, it can speed up subsequent load times.
To resolve the issue:
- Add Cache-Control or Expires headers.
- Minimize usage of third-party scripts.
Follow this GTmetrix guide to enable Browser Caching.
5) More plugins = a slower site.
If you use a CMS like WordPress or Joomla, then avoid installing too many plugins.
Every plugin has a performance cost. Remove any fat. Delete or disable unused plugins.
A website's theme or template sometimes come with heavy 3rd party builders and huge plugins libraries, making the site run slower.
6) Use a Page Loader to appear Faster
If your site is still slow, here's an alternative.
One 2019 Swedish study showed that using loading animations could help improve perceived load time. On our site, we rotate our logo to let readers know that the site is coming. Another tip: avoid progress bar animations as they seem to increase perceived slowness.
Secure your website with SSL
Plus, the browsers show a warning when you visit a site that's not secure, leading to user mistrust:
How to setup HTTPS?
For our clients, we generally set up Let's Encrypt on our servers which is free:
If that's not an option, this website has further instructions with a handy Google Translate to help.
Use Mobile-Friendly Web Design
A mobile-friendly website is essential as over 50% of the Internet’s traffic comes from mobile devices. Plus, Google uses mobile-first indexing and ranks the search results based only on the mobile version of the page. Use Responsive Web Design (RWD) to ensure your site is mobile optimized.
Is your RWD site mobile friendly:
Use Google Search Console (GSC) Mobile Usability to check if your site has any user mobile viewing issues. GSC > Enhancements > Mobile Usability
If you haven't set up GSC, use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test.
Use schema markup for rich snippets
Schema markup is code that helps search engines understand your content better. Google displays Schema with rich snippets:
The rich snippets above include review stars, price, and availability, and are from the product schema.
This extra information a searcher sees before going to the website helps improve the user experience and CTR. One 2011 study shows a 30% increase in organic traffic by using structured markup. Although rich snippets are not a ranking factor, we know that a higher CTR is.
Structured data uses standardized JSON code to provide information about a page and classify its content. Readers don't see this as its inside hidden <script> tags.
Content types include:
- Local Business
Check out Google's search gallery for more options.
How to add Schema Markup to a Website
1) Find the right Schema type for your content.
Click the Get started button to learn about the code requirements.
2) Use JSON-LD code.
Google recommends using JSON-LD structured data. Google advises that the code must match the visible content within the web page. Don't create blank or empty pages that contain only structured data.
2) Follow the structured data rules and guidelines.
Visit Google's Search Structured Data documentation for a full list of guidelines and best practices to follow. For instance, the product schema requires a price.
3) Validate your code with the Structured Data Testing Tool
Check if you have your Schema set up correctly using Google's Structured Data Testing Tool.
If you're about to redesign your site, ask for JSON. Ensure that it's not something you need to worry about later for every page.
Test Your Site's Technical SEO
The best way to identify problems is through an SEO audit. An SEO audit allows you to find those errors that may be hindering your Google rankings.
1) UberSuggest Free Audit
With their SEO Analyzer, put your site URL in and get a report of possible errors and warnings that could be potentially hurting your SEO. The free version is limited to several suggestions.
Nibbler Site Tester
Nibbler helps identify your potential SEO issues. The free version checks up to 5 pages and gives steps to improve.
Automatic SEO audits identify basic issues and are useful for a general overview. But, if you want a more sophisticated understanding, you'll need to check things manually.
Let’s wrap up our On-Page Guide.
Follow the advice above, and your pages will be better-optimized than the competition. Just remember that content and satisfying search intent is the most critical part. While the "technical" side is also important, it’s more like the icing on the cake. The SEO issues that are most important will depend on where the site is ranked today.