Why On-Page SEO Is Typically Overlooked
On-page optimization is a critical but often overlooked aspect of SEO. The problem with doing only on-page optimization is that there is a glass ceiling to it. Search engines rank websites according to their authority and relevance to the search terms as well as their authority on the web. On-page optimization creates relevance, while building inbound links generates authority.
Even though off-page optimization offers more SEO benefits, on-page optimization is really the first step to SEO improvement. Off-page SEO is about building inbound links from relevant websites. But how can search engines deem your pages relevant to your keywords if you have not even made it clear to them what your page is about?
On-page optimization is basically about two things:
- Picking the best keywords around which to base each of your pages
- Making it as clear as possible to search engines that your page is relevant to those keywords
On-Page Optimization: The Old Way
When I first got into SEO, many people took a fairly mechanical approach to on-page optimization because it was what worked back then.
Hundreds of tools littered the web that allowed you to measure the keyword density of a page. Some of them taught that more was better. As a result, webmasters would crank out keyword-stuffed text that was not interesting and was brutal to read.
Web copy on SEOed sites was dense, and it looked the part to end-users!
In 2003, Google responded to this rise in user-unfriendliness. Google got much better at looking at what it considered natural language usage patterns. At that point, old "optimization" strategies ended up getting pages filtered out of the search results for some of the keywords they were targeting.
Worse yet, when some people were making their copy more keyword dense, they would strip out important keyword variations, so the page wouldn’t rank as well for the related supporting keywords.
A Better Strategy: Long Tail Keywords
There are a few keywords with high search volume and traffic. At the same time, these are the more competitive keywords that are hard to rank for. Fortunately, there is a whole ocean of barely explored long tail keywords that have less traffic but for which you have a better chance of ranking.
Overlooking the Tail
When deciding which keywords to target, many webmasters focus on the big money/trophy keyword phrases. As mentioned previously, these are the hardest ones to rank for. Many of these trophy keywords actually seem more important than they are when you look at the revenues they drive. For every person searching on a keyword like ‘SEO,’ there are likely 10 or more people searching for less common keywords such as:
How do I rank better in Google?
- Improve Google placement
- Rank better in search engines
- Search engine ranking
These are often not the words that industry insiders use to describe their own business. But keywords are not about them – they are the words that their customers type into search engines.
Most search terms have many variations. If you are only focused on the most well known version, then you are up against the stiffest competition (as the most popular keywords are typically the most competitive) while you are leaving money on the tail (by neglecting other keywords).
Sources: Hubspot, 2012. Bay Area Inbound is a Hubspot Value-Added Reseller. Hubspot makes Integrated Inbound Marketing Software and is the #2 Fastest Growing Software Company in the World.
For more information on getting traffic to your site and generating the leads you need, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-543-7593. Bay Area Inbound is a full-service Inbound Marketing Agency in SF that specializes in Lead Generation.
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