If you ask any credible SEO specialist, “What are the main factors to successfully rank a website on Google?, they will mention at least three things. The website needs to be coded properly, deliver optimized content, and links.
Social signals are important as well, but don’t have as much of a direct impact as the other three factors. For example, of the three, links back to your site can drive up to 80% of SEO results.
However, SEO results won’t occur if your site isn’t optimized correctly. For many businesses that struggle to improve organic search performance, the issue is usually hidden in plain sight: incorrect HTML markup, poor internal linking, slow page loads and more.
Improve On-page SEO
Improve on-page SEO with the following tips:
1. Optimize content length for SEO
“High-quality content is the number 1 user experience area to focus on across websites to earn traffic from Google in 2017.” Google likes web pages that are informative. Officially, John Mueller of Google said there is no minimum word count when it comes to gauging content quality.
As a rule of thumb a word count of at least 500 words per page is good if you want to rank well in search engines. This gives you enough copy to integrate 5 to 10 keywords, and still keep the content readable.
However, long-form keyword optimized content that aims for 1,200 words or more will give you a competitive advantage. Long-form content invites readers to spend more time on the page, which can also reduce your bounce rate (i.e., the amount of visitors who navigate off of the site after viewing only one page, typically expressed as a percentage). It will also increase on-page keyword relevancy and density since the target and semantic keywords will naturally flow in the web copy.
A study conducted by Moz shows a direct correlation between the length of content and the number of backlinks pointing to it. This is further evidence that long-form content is great for SEO.
2. Check site accessibility and navigation
How easily can visitors navigate your site and find what they’re looking for? Site navigation and link structure should be friendly for visitors and search engines. If a search engine crawler visits your site and gets lost, sections of your website won’t be accessed or indexed; this results in little to no visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
To ensure this doesn’t happen, review your website index status in the Google Search Console. You can also run a server log analysis (i.e., a web log analyzer) to see exactly when and where search engine robots (e.g., Googlebot) crawls your site. Check to see if any sections of the site are not indexed.
Common accessibility issues include:
The XML sitemap is not configured properly. For example, there may be some web pages or sections of the website missing from the XML file.
Site pagination isn’t structured well. This causes search engine robots go in loops around sections of the site before leaving.
Internal linking is minimized in a way that causes sections of the website to be isolated. Thus, the authority of the website isn’t passed along to other pages in the site. Additionally, the search engine crawler has difficulty finding those areas of the website.
3. Boost SEO with schema markup
Schema markup is code (semantic vocabulary) you put on your website to help search engines return more informative results for users. When you add schema markup to your HTML to improves the way your page displays in SERPs by enhancing the rich snippets displayed beneath the page title. It is continuously an essential factor for SEO.
Have you ever seen review ratings, recipes or events in Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages) that go beyond normal search listings, but also contain additional information? Those are known as rich snippets and they are available thanks to schema markup.
Google is building the largest warehouse of knowledge in human history – a Knowledge Graph. Schema markup can enhance search visibility via rich snippets in featured snippets and Knowledge Graph results. A competitor that implements schema markup as a part of their SEO strategy can get ahead pretty quickly.
Check your website to see if you currently use schema markup. Use Google’s Schema Testing tool to ensure the code is implemented correctly.
4. Optimize HTML markup for SEO
Believe it or not, many website owners still take shortcuts when it comes to HTML markup. As a result, they lose SEO competitiveness.
For example, Header tags (H1, H2, H3… etc) are designed to show search engines the hierarchy of your content. Content in these tags is given higher weight than content in other locations of your web page.
Meanwhile, images should be named with corresponding ‘alt text.’ Google reads a filename and relies on it heavily when it indexes your site and presents images in search (an overlooked yet valuable source of traffic).
5. Optimize your site for mobile devices
We live in the mobile age. More searches are conducted on mobile devices than ever before.
Google recognizes this and recommends mobile optimization to provide the best user experience for mobile devices. Use this free Google tool to find out if your site is mobile-friendly.
On-page SEO is a powerful tool
Pay close attention to on-page SEO. If your website is not optimized then SEO performance will suffer. It is often the bottleneck that prevents a site from gaining authority and implementing a strong SEO campaign.
This article has been edited.
Nathan Elly is the branch manager for Digital Next Australia. He has a strong passion for SEO and football. When he isn’t optimizing, you can find him scoring goals on the football pitch. Connect with @digitalnexthq on Twitter.