Tag Archive | "OnPage"

On-Page SEO for 2019 – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

Whew! We made it through another year, and it seems like we’re past due for taking a close look at the health of our on-page SEO practices. What better way to hit the ground running than with a checklist? In today’s Whiteboard Friday, the fabulous Britney Muller shares her best tips for doing effective on-page SEO in 2019.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going over all things on-page SEO, and I’ve divided it into three different sections:

  1. How are crawlers and Googlebot crawling through your site and your web pages?
  2. What is the UX of your on-page content?
  3. What is the value in the content of your on-page content?

So let’s just jump right in, shall we?


☑ Meta robots tag allows crawling

Making sure your meta robots tag allows crawling is essential. If that’s blocking Googlebot from crawling, your page will never be in search. You want to make sure that’s all panned out.

☑ Robots.txt doesn’t disallow crawling

You want to make sure that let’s say this page that you’re trying to get to rank in search engines, that you’re not disallowing this URL from your robots.txt.

☑ URL is included in sitemap

Similarly you want to make sure that the URL is in your site map.

☑ Schema markup

You also want to add any schema markup, any relevant schema markup that you can. This is essentially spoon-feeding search engines what your page is about and what your content is about.

☑ Internal links pointing to your page with natural anchor text

So let’s say I am trying to rank for chakra stones. Maybe I’m on a yoga website and I want to make sure that I have other internal pages linking to chakra stones with the anchor text “chakra crystals” or “chakra stones” and making sure that I’m showing Google that this is indeed an internally linked page and it’s important and we want to give it some weight.


You want to make sure that that is secure and that Google is taking that into consideration as well.

User experience

☑ Meets Web Content Accessibility Guidelines

Does it meet Web Content Accessibility Guidelines? Definitely look into that and make sure you check all the boxes.

☑ Responsive mobile design with same content and links

Is it responsive for mobile? Super important with the mobile-first indexing.

☑ Clear CTA

Is there one clear call to action? A lot of pages miss this. So, for this page, maybe I would have a big “Buy Chakra Crystals Here” button or link. That would be a clear CTA. It’s important to have.

☑ Multimedia: Evaluate SERP and add desired media

Are you providing other desired media types? Are there images and video and different forms of content on your page?

☑ Page speed: utilize CDNs, compress images, use reliable hosting

Are you checking the page speed? Are you using CDNs? Are you compressing your images? You want to check all of that.

☑ Integrate social sharing buttons

It’s the easiest thing. Make sure that people can easily share your content.

Content and value

This is where it gets really fun and strategic too.

☑ Unique, high-quality content

Are you providing high-quality content? So if you go to Google and you search “chakra stones” and you take a look at all of those results, are you including all of that good content into your page? Then are you making it even better? Because that should be the goal.

☑ Optimize for intent: Evaluate SERP and PPC, note which SERP features show up

You want to also optimize for intent. So you want to evaluate that SERP. If that search result page is showing tons of images or maybe videos, you should be incorporating that into your page as well, because clearly that’s what people are looking for.

You also want to evaluate the PPC. They have done so much testing on what converts and what doesn’t. So it’s silly not to take that into consideration when optimizing your page.

☑ Title tags and meta descriptions

What are those titles? What are those descriptions? What’s working? Title tags and meta description are still so important. This is the first impression to many of your visitors in Google. Are you enticing a click? Are you making that an enticing call to action to your site?

☑ Header tags

H1, H2, and H3 header tags are still super important. You want to make sure that the title of your page is the H1 and so forth. But just to check on all of that would be good.

☑ Optimize images: compress, title file names, add alt text

Images are the biggest source of bloat of on-page site speed. So you want to make sure that your images are compressed and optimized and keeping your page fast and easily accessible to your users.

☑ Review for freshness

You want to review for freshness. We want to make sure that this is up-to-date content. Maybe take a look at popular content the last year or two of your site and update that stuff. This should be a continual wash and repeat. You want to continue to update the content on your site.

☑ Include commonly asked questions

It’s such an easy thing to do, but it’s commonly overlooked. AnswerThePublic does a great job of surfacing questions. Moz Keyword Explorer has a really great filter that provides some of the most commonly asked questions for a keyword term. I highly suggest you check that out and start to incorporate some of that.

Find common questions now

These help to target featured snippets. So if you’re incorporating some of that, not only do you get the extra traffic, but you find these opportunities of getting featured snippets, which is great. You’re expanding your real estate in search. Awesome. PAA boxes are also a great way to find commonly asked questions for a particular keyword.

☑ Add summaries

Summaries are also hidden gems. We see Google seeking out summaries for content all of the time. They are providing summaries in featured snippets and in different SERP features to help sort of distill information for users. So if you can do that, not only will you make your content more easily scannable, but you’re also making it more accessible for search, which is great.

☑ TF-IDF (term frequency-inverse document frequency)

TF-IDF stands for “term frequency-inverse document frequency.” It sounds a little intimidating. It’s actually pretty simple. What’s the number of times that “chakra stones” is mentioned in this particular page divided by the number of times it’s mentioned anywhere? This is basically just a calculation to determine relevance for the term “chakra stones.” Really cool and commonly used by Google. So if you can do this on your on-page, it will just help you in the long term.

☑ LSI (latent semantic indexing) for relevance

Similarly LSI or LSA, it sometimes referred to, is latent semantic indexing, and it’s also for relevance. This helps determine, okay, if I’m talking about chakra stones, it may also incorporate those other topics that are commonly related to this topic. Relevant.

☑ Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test

What is the readability of this page? The easier it is to read the better, but you just want to keep an eye on that in general.

Bonus tip!

One final tip that Kameron Jenkins put on Twitter, that I love so much, and Kameron is a world-class writer —she’s one of the best I’ve ever had the privilege of working with — mentioned this on-page SEO trick. Find the top three ranking URLs for your target keyword.

So if I were to put in “chakra stones” in Google and pull the top three URLs, put them into Moz Keyword Explorer and I see what they’re ranking for, I see what those three URLs are specifically ranking for, and I look at what they’re commonly ranking for in the middle here. Then I use those keywords to optimize my page even better. It’s genius. It’s very similar to some of the relevant stuff we were talking about over here.

Discover new keyword ideas

So definitely try some of this stuff out. I hope this helps. I really look forward to any of your comments or questions down below in the comments section.

Thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I look forward to seeing you all again soon, so thanks. Have a good one.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How We Got a 32% Organic Traffic Boost from 4 On-Page SEO Changes [Case Study]

Posted by WallStreetOasis.com

My name is Patrick Curtis, and I’m the founder and CEO of Wall Street Oasis, an online community focused on careers in finance founded in 2006 with over 2 million visits per month.

User-generated content and long-tail organic traffic is what has built our business and community over the last 12+ years. But what happens if you wake up one day and realize that your growth has suddenly stopped? This is what happened to us back in November 2012.

In this case study, I’ll highlight two of our main SEO problems as a large forum with over 200,000 URLs, then describe two solutions that finally helped us regain our growth trajectory — almost five years later.

Two main problems

1. Algorithm change impacts

Ever since November 2012, Google’s algo changes have seemed to hurt many online forums like ours. Even though our traffic didn’t decline, our growth dropped to the single-digit percentages. No matter what we tried, we couldn’t break through our “plateau of pain” (I call it that because it was a painful ~5 years trying).

Plateau of pain: no double-digit growth from late 2012 onward

2. Quality of user-generated content

Related to the first problem, 99% of our content is user-generated (UGC) which means the quality is mixed (to put it kindly). Like most forum-based sites, some of our members create incredible pieces of content, but a meaningful percentage of our content is also admittedly thin and/or low-quality.

How could we deal with over 200,000 pieces of content efficiently and try to optimize them without going bankrupt? How could we “clean the cruft” when there was just so much of it?

Fighting back: Two solutions (and one statistical analysis to show how it worked)

1. “Merge and Purge” project

Our goal was to consolidate weaker “children” URLs into stronger “master” URLs to utilize some of the valuable content Google was ignoring and to make the user experience better.

For example, instead of having ~20 discussions on a specific topic (each with an average of around two to three comments) across twelve years, we would consolidate many of those discussions into the strongest two or three URLs (each with around 20–30 comments), leading to a much better user experience with less need to search and jump around the site.

Changes included taking the original post and comments from a “child” URL and merging them into the “master” URL, unpublishing the child URL, removing the child from sitemap, and adding a 301 redirect to the master.

Below is an example of how it looked when we merged a child into our popular Why Investment Banking discussion. We highlighted the original child post as a Related Topic with a blue border and included the original post date to help avoid confusion:

Highlighting a related topic child post

This was a massive project that involved some complex Excel sorting, but after 18 months and about $ 50,000 invested (27,418 children merged into 8,515 masters to date), the user experience, site architecture, and organization is much better.

Initial analysis suggests that the percentage gain from merging weak children URLs into stronger masters has given us a boost of ~10–15% in organic search traffic.

2. The Content Optimization Team

The goal of this initiative was to take the top landing pages that already existed on Wall Street Oasis and make sure that they were both higher quality and optimized for SEO. What does that mean, exactly, and how did we execute it?

We needed a dedicated team that had some baseline industry knowledge. To that end, we formed a team of five interns from the community, due to the fact that they were familiar with the common topics.

We looked at the top ~200 URLs over the previous 90 days (by organic landing page traffic) and listed them out in a spreadsheet:

Spreadsheet of organic traffic to URLs

We held five main hypotheses of what we believed would boost organic traffic before we started this project:

  1. Longer content with subtitles: Increasing the length of the content and adding relevant H2 and H3 subtitles to give the reader more detailed and useful information in an organized fashion.
  2. Changing the H1 so that it matched more high-volume keywords using Moz’s Keyword Explorer.
  3. Changing the URL so that it also was a better match to high-volume and relevant keywords.
  4. Adding a relevant image or graphic to help break up large “walls of text” and enrich the content.
  5. Adding a relevant video similar to the graphic, but also to help increase time on page and enrich the content around the topic.

We tracked all five of these changes across all 200 URLs (see image above). After a statistical analysis, we learned that four of them helped our organic search traffic and one actually hurt.

Summary of results from our statistical analysis

  • Increasing the length of the articles and adding relevant subtitles (H2s, H3s, and H4s) to help organize the content gives an average boost to organic traffic of 14%
  • Improving the title or H1 of the URLs yields a 9% increase on average
  • Changing the URL decreased traffic on average by 38% (this was a smaller sample size — we stopped doing this early on for obvious reasons)
  • Including a relevant video increases the organic traffic by 4% on average, while putting an image up increases it by 5% on average.

Overall, the boost to organic traffic — should we continue to make these four changes (and avoid changing the URL) — is 32% on average.

Key takeaway:

Over half of that gain (~18%) comes from changes that require a minimal investment of time. For teams trying to optimize on-page SEO across a large number of pages, we recommend focusing on the top landing pages first and easy wins before deciding if further investment is warranted.

We hope this case study of our on-page SEO efforts was interesting, and I’m happy to answer any questions you have in the comments!

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On-Page SEO in 2016: The 8 Principles for Success – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

On-page SEO is no longer a simple matter of checking things off a list. There’s more complexity to this process in 2016 than ever before, and the idea of “optimization” both includes and builds upon traditional page elements. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explores the eight principles you’ll need for on-page SEO success going forward.

On-Page SEO in 2016: The 8 Principles for Success

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about on-page SEO, keyword targeting but beyond keyword targeting into all the realms of the things that we need to optimize on an individual URL in order to have the best chance of success in the search engines in 2016.

So what does that involve? Well look, we could spend a tremendous amount of time on any one of these, but I’m going to share eight principles that are behind all of the tactical work that you would put into optimizing that page for that keyword term, phrase, or set of phrases. Most likely, in 2016, it is a set of phrases that you’re targeting rather than just a single keyword term.

Piece of the whiteboard: illustration of a SERPs page

1. Fulfill the searcher’s goal and satisfy their intent

What we are trying to do is fulfill the searcher’s goal and satisfy their intent. So there’s an intent behind every search query. I’m seeking some information. I’m seeking to accomplish a task. Oftentimes, that initial intent is different from the final goal that someone might have.

I’ll give you an example. When someone searches for types of wedding formal wear, we might infer from that query that, right now, their specific intent behind this search is they want to see different kinds of potential formalwear that they could wear to a wedding, maybe as a guest or as a bride or a groom. But their ultimate goal is probably going to be to decide on one of those specific things and then potentially purchase that item or take something from their wardrobe and add it in there.

But this means that we need to try and serve both intents. It’s actually going to be really tough if we’re an ecommerce player to say, “Hey, you know what, I want a rank for types of wedding formal wear, and I want to rank for it with a page that tells people to buy this particular tuxedo.”

That’s tough for a bunch of reasons. You don’t know whether that formalwear is going to be necessarily black tie in the United States, which is tuxedo. You don’t know whether that person is a male or a female when they’re performing the search. A woman, well, they might buy a tuxedo but probably not, at least statistically speaking, they’re probably not going to. They’re probably going to buy a dress. You might have much more success with a piece of content like 20 suits and tuxes men look great in at a wedding. Especially if I’m targeting men or if this is types of men’s wedding formalwear, that’s probably going to be the piece of content that has a great chance of serving the searcher’s intent and fulfilling their goals, especially if we then take that content and link off to the places where you can buy or accessorize all those different pieces. So we’re trying to do both of these items in number one.

Piece of the whiteboard: A negatively-trending graph with User Satisfaction on the Y axis and Page Load Time on the X axis.

2. Speed, speed, & more speed

This is very simplistic, but the idea is really easy here. We know that user satisfaction is a signal that Google interprets in some ways directly and in many, many ways indirectly. We also know that abandonment rates are very high, even higher on mobile for longer-loading pages. We know that pages that have fast load times earn more links and amplification. We know that pages that earn more links earn more engagement on them. We know that all of these things including speed itself is positively correlated with rankings, and we know that Google has made page load speed a small, albeit small, but a ranking signal inside their algorithm directly. So critically important.

Piece of the whiteboard: an illustration of a SERP with questions about why it's ranking or not.

3. Create trust & engagement through UI, UX, and branding

Related to number two is number three, which is creating trust and engagement through UI, UX, and branding. Speed is certainly a big part of the user experience. This is also critical because these two both touch on being mobile friendly, having that multi-device friendliness so that it’s capable on any device. UI, UX, and branding though go into some different areas. So if I have my website, I’m really looking for a few different aspects of it from the SEO point of view.

This is frustrating because it touches on a lot of things that historically have been outside the control of search engine optimization professionals. Thankfully, as SEO becomes more multidisciplinary inside a marketing team, hopefully we have more ability to influence these things, stuff like:

  • Have people actually heard of your domain?
  • Do they know you, like you, and trust you?
  • Do you have UI and visual elements that make them perceive you as being trustworthy, even if this is the first time they’ve ever heard of you? That can be things like the images on the page. It can be the navigation. It can be the color scheme. It can be the UI library that you might be using or how you’ve done the visual layout of things. All of those pieces go into that “Do you look trustworthy?” That’s certainly a consideration that a lot of folks have when they’re looking at searches.
  • Are you intuitive to access? I mean intuitive both from a navigation standpoint and from the consumption of the content on the page as well.
  • Hopefully, you have some external validation signals to indicate that the content you have and the brand that you are is trustworthy. Those can be things like testimonials. They can also mean things like references or citations for the data or information that you’re providing or links out, all that kind of stuff.

Piece of the whiteboard: an illustration of a SERPs page with a sentence describing pogo sticking.

4. Avoid elements that dissuade visitors

You want to avoid elements that distract searchers or dissuade them from visiting you either at this time or in the future. The most common ones of these that we like to talk about a lot are ones that interfere with the content consumption experience. That’s things like overlays. “Do you want to stay married? If so, download our guide.” Then you have to say, “Yes, of course I want to stay married,” or “No, I’m a terrible person and I will not click on your popup,” and then another popup will come up.

Those types of overlays obviously have negative impacts, and you can see them in your user and usage data, your engagement data. You can determine how much of a sacrifice you’re willing to make in exchange for, “Well, we did get some email addresses out of this, or we got some conversion rate and so we’re willing to make that sacrifice,” versus “No, we’re not willing to make these sacrifices.” You have to choose what types of engagement-dissuading apparatuses you’re willing to put on your site.

But be aware, pogo sticking is a ranking signal. It’s something that they judge indirectly for sure and directly potentially as well. Pogo sticking meaning a searcher clicked on your listing in the results, they went to your site, and then they clicked the “Back” button and chose someone else from the results. Google interprets that and Bing interprets that very poorly for you.

A list of on-page elements described in detail in section 5.

5. Keyword targeting

Keyword targeting, classic on-page ranking signal, still true today. I know that many of us still see or are starting to see a lot more entrants into the search results that don’t do very particular keyword targeting, at least don’t do it the way we’ve historically perceived it, where it’s very keyword-driven. But it’s still incredibly smart to do this if and when you can. You just need to balance it out with all these other aspects.

Title element

Places that I would start. In fact, this is basically in order of importance. Title element, I would place the keyword term or phrase, the most important term or phrase that you’re targeting in the title element in the headline of the page. That can be the H1 tag, but it doesn’t need to be it. It could be just the bold, big headline at the top. That should match the page title generally speaking or be very close, because what you don’t want is you don’t want a searcher who clicked on one title element and then landed on a page that had a different headline and they perceived that mismatch, and so they clicked the “Back” button. That’s dangerous.

Page content, external anchor links, alt attributes, and URL

You want it obviously in the page content. If you can, when you can control it, you want it in external anchor links to the page. So if, for example, I have my home page about weddings and I am interviewed for something, I might put in my bio something about the wedding styles website that I own and control, and I would link back to that in that external anchor text. I want it potentially in the alt attribute of any images or photos or visuals that I’ve got on the page. I want it in the URL. Again, if I can control it and the URL is less important, so we’re going in decreasing order of importance here.

Image file name

I want it in the image name. Especially if I’m trying to rank in Google image search, image name, the file name of the actual image does matter and is important.

Internal links

Finally, I want it in internal links to the degree that it’s intelligent and balanced and doesn’t look spammy.

Do all these items, you’ve got your keyword targeting down. But this is not like the past, where just nailing keyword targeting is going to take my rankings to where they need to be. I’ve got to do all these other seven things too, including number six, related topics targeting.

An illustration of related topics targeting on a SERP.

6. Related topics targeting

So related topics is basically this concept that Google has a huge graph of lexical combinations and semantic analysis. They can essentially say, “Hey, when we see wedding formalwear, we often also see these terms and phrases, terms like tuxedo, tux, wedding dress, bowtie, vest.” In the United Kingdom, almost certainly we would see waistcoat, which is what we call a vest here in the United States, or a wedding suit, which is what is traditionally worn in weddings in the U.K. versus a tuxedo here in the United States.

Now, given that Google sees these terms and phrases very commonly associated with this one, they’ve essentially started to build up this graph between these, and so these topics they would say are very important to this search term. If someone’s looking for wedding formalwear, it’s unusual for them to find a page that has high relevance for users that doesn’t also include these types of words and phrases.

Therefore, as a search marketer, as a content creator, we need to think about: What are those terms and phrases that are related here, and how do I make sure to include them in my content? If I don’t, my ranking opportunity may decrease compared to my competitors who’ve intelligently used those terms and phrases.

A piece of the whiteboard: check boxes next to all the on-page elements necessary.

7. Snippet optimization

With a page, we’re not just trying to drive the ranking. We’re also trying to drive the click. So ranking number four and earning a 6% click-through rate, that might not be great, especially if the average is more like 11%. Then we’re earning half the average for our ranking position. That seems a little funny. Those percentages are not precise, but you get the idea.

We want to have the best-optimized snippet that we possibly can in the SERP. So you can see here I’ve got this, “what to wear to a formal wedding,” “a guide from randsfashion.com” and it’s mobile-friendly. It’s published on May 10, 2016. Then it has this nice meta description, the snippet there. This is essentially my advertisement to searchers saying, “Please click on my link. I want your click.”

On-page elements

Bunch of elements that go into this: the title, obviously, the meta description. The URL format, this randsfashion.com, very simple on home pages, gets much more complex when we have pages that are internal because Google starts to assign categories if you have messy URL parameters or inconsistent categories, tagging systems that can get nasty.

Publication date

Publication date matters quite a bit, especially for searches that have a fresh component. So if people are searching for types of wedding formalwear, well, you might not need to worry too much. But what if lots of people who search for this search for types of wedding formalwear 2016? Well, now you really need that fresh publication date. In fact, if Google sees lots of people search for that, they might actually take it as an intent signal that types of wedding formalwear alone deserves that date in there and that they should be ranking fresher content higher up because lots of people are looking for more recent, modern stuff.

Use of schema

Whenever there’s an opportunity, for example, if you’re in the recipe space, there are schema markups specifically for recipes. If you’re in the news space, there are opportunities for news. If you do video, Google doesn’t really obey it very much, except with YouTube, but there are video opportunities for schema markup. There are all sorts of other kinds depending on what you’re in, certainly local and maps and a bunch of other ones.

Domain name

That is something to consider. In fact, when you’re registering a domain name and building out a site, you should be thinking about how people want to click on it, the brandability, the snippet optimization, all that.

Content format

Content format is particularly important because Google, especially when there’s a more question-based search query, they’ve started showing those longer meta descriptions. So if you can encapsulate what you know is essentially the critical piece of content that answers the user’s question, chances are you might be able to get that larger space, vertical space in the SERP, and that might mean that you can draw more clicks in as well.

This works really well with lists. It works nicely with forums and discussions, threads. It works nicely with elements where you have a bunch of specific how-to, step-by-step process, those types of things. Same story with instant answer possibilities that you want to appear at the top of that Google SERP with an instant answer if you can. We know that that actually doesn’t take away click-through rate. It actually drives more of it. In fact, the real estate there means that you often get more clicks than organic position one, which is pretty great. Of course, all the different kinds of SERP feature opportunities like we talked about — images, maps, local, news, what have you.

Piece of the whiteboard: A positively trending graph with quality of content on the Y axis and difficulty of ranking on the X axis.

8. Unique value + amplification

This is the final piece of things that we’re thinking about as we do on-page optimization in 2016. That is I need to be thinking about: What bar do I need to reach in order to have a chance to rank, rank well, and rank consistently?

This is tough. So if the difficulty of ranking is very easy, the bar that I need to cross is probably somewhere between classic, good, unique content, like this content is good, it’s unique, and it exists. That’s all it needs. That’s a very, very low bar. Even for easy rankings, I would not suggest making that your bar.

I’d put it somewhere between there and twice as good as anyone else in the competition, but essentially targeting the same types of things. You’re doing the same kind of content. You just feel like you’re better than anything else in the top 10. That might be a reasonable enough bar for an easy ranking.

If it gets moderate, if it gets tough, I need to go up to uniquely valuable. Uniquely valuable, by that, we’ve had a whole Whiteboard Friday on it, which we can refer to, but uniquely valuable being this idea that I provide a value that no one else in the search results provides. So it’s not simply that I’m doing a better job. I’m also doing a unique job of providing information or data or visuals, whatever it is that is more and different value than anybody else.

Then finally, what we’ve called 10x content. If you have an insane difficulty of ranking, that might be the minimum bar that you need to hit, and we’ll link over the 10x video as well.

Basically, the questions that I’m asking when I’m talking about providing unique value and being worthy of amplification, which is something that our content needs to consider too, is: What makes this better than what already ranks? Do you have a great answer to that question? If you don’t, you should probably get one before you try targeting those keywords and producing that content.

Why will this be difficult or impossible for others to replicate? What’s the barrier to entry that your content provides, that all the other content providers can’t just look and go, “Oh, well I see that Rand’s done a very nice job ranking there. I’ll just take that and do it. That should be easy.” You need a barrier to entry. What value does this page provide that no other page in the SERPs provides? That goes to our unique value question.

The last one, who. Who will help amplify this piece of content and why? If you don’t have a great answer to who and why, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to get that amplification. If you can’t get the amplification, it’s going to be really, really hard to rank, because as much as on-page optimization does matte — and all of these eight principles matter for rankings — SEO in 2016 is not merely about on-page but about off-page as well, just as it’s been the last decade, 15 years. So, as we’re creating content, we need to think about that amplification process too.

All right everyone, look forward to your thoughts, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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How to Feed a Hummingbird: Improve Your On-Page SEO with Related Topics in Moz Pro

Posted by jon.white

[Estimated read time: 7 minutes]

SEO is changing. We can no longer rely on keyword targeting alone to optimize our content. Whether we should focus on topics or keywords is a debate in progress. But figuring out which topics can influence the SERP is, at best, a manual process; at worst, it’s a timesuck that can take hours out of your day.


Today we’ve launched a new feature in Moz Pro that can help you make sense of how search engines understand topics and phrases.

You can use this data to build deeper content, improve your topical authority, find keyword ideas, and generally better understand the SERP. It uses machine learning and topic modeling to mine related topics from the SERPs.

We see this as another step on the journey to help marketers better understand the complex world of SEO in 2016. As of this moment, Moz Pro is one of the only places you can get this kind of data.

Want the quick run-down? Tori explains it all in this brief 1:39 minute video, complete with snazzy music.

Can’t wait to dive in? Already an avid Moz Pro user? Head to the Keyword Rankings section of any campaign and get started. And if you’re not a Moz Pro subscriber, you can satisfy your curiosity with a free trial, too:

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Pandas, Hummingbirds, and the relationship between keywords and pages

We’ve all noticed that SEO has become a lot more complex in the last few years. When Google started to figure out the meaning of words and phrases, simple keyword usage alone no longer guaranteed us results. Then Hummingbird spread its wings, and now in some cases, pages in the SERP don’t contain the keyword at all. Utter chaos, right?

Panda made sure we put effort and research into our content. And while it’s still a good idea to ensure your target keywords appear in key parts of your page, the simple on-page optimization of the past can no longer move the rankings needle on its own.

Related Topics is a new feature in Moz Pro that helps you understand how phrases and topics influence the SERP, allowing you to broaden your content and build out pages instead of devoting yourself to time-consuming (and let’s be real, sort of boring) research. As of today, Moz Pro is one of the few places you can get this kind of data.

That all sounds well and good. But how do we get insight into how Google understands the relationship between topics? Well, it turns out they give us a handy clue: the SERP itself.

Related Topics examines all of the pages that rank in the top 20 for a given keyword. Using machine learning and topic modeling, it figures out which unique sets of terms and phrases those pages include. It then removes the topics that your page already talks about and presents the resulting list, along with the ranking URLs. Armed with this mighty list, you can now understand which topics have influence in the SERP and decide whether to integrate these into your own pages and content. It lives within the Page Optimization feature in Moz Pro, which you can now get to by clicking the “Optimize” next to any keyword in the ranking table.

While it’s impossible to say for sure that including topics in your page will result in a higher ranking (that ol’ correlation versus causation thing), we do know that pages that rank well are already including these topics in their content. If you’re looking to diversify and broaden your page’s subject coverage to try and win more authority, Related Topics is the place to start. Bonus points: it’s also quite likely that including coverage of these topics will improve the user’s experience of your content.

How can I use this data to get ahead?

1. Experiment with including different topics and content to build authority

Adding topically similar content to your page can help Google understand what that page is about, establishing yourself as an authority on those topics.

I’m a fan of Tim Ferris and his productivity hack blog, fourhourworkweek.com. Let’s take this article on speed reading. Looks like the page is optimized pretty well for the target keyword and has a decent link profile and PA. Now, let’s look at some other topics that have influence on the SERP.

Here I can see a couple of variations I might want to play around with, but a couple in particular catch my eye. I notice the topic “reading comprehension” seems influential (it’s included in 3 of the top 5 ranking pages), and it’s not syntactically related — this is a topic I might not have discovered manually by looking at variations of the target keyword. I also see “subvocalization” being influential. This is a term I might not be familiar with, but using Related Topics, I can drill into the actual URLs mentioning that topic, learn about it, and get some inspiration for how I could build out my content to include it.

This is a particularly interesting case, as “speed reading” has a somewhat reasonable search volume of 9,900 (from Keyword Planner). In contrast, “reading comprehension” has a search volume of 18,100. If I can integrate it well, I have an opportunity to broaden my audience.

2) Avoid thin content and go deeper

You’ve got to pacify the Panda. If you’re looking for ways to expand on thin content, go deeper or broader on an existing page, or convert shorter content to long-form, using Related Topics suggestions can give you inspiration for subject-matter expansion. Multiple studies have shown that deeper and more topically relevant content correlates with better ranking performance.

In the example below, I have a page about Product Management Events, if I wanted to make it broader I might do a deep dive on the subject of Product Design, or even talk about some of the branded topics that were discovered.

3) Save time on topical, competitive, and SERP research

This can be especially helpful when you’re wearing many hats, and tackling a new domain you’re not as familiar with. Using Related Topics — and especially researching the ranking pages they appear on — can give you a head start for topic-appropriate language to use, or inspiration for areas to research.

At Moz, we all think we’re experts on the housing market since we watched “The Big Short.” But challenge us to write about the more technical terms and we might struggle! Here’s another example using a US real estate blog recommended by our own in-house real estate guru Tim Ellis.

Let’s say we want to understand a bit more about the SERP for the keyword “real estate forecast,” and perform some industry research on terminology. Here are some topics that have influence:

I notice there are a few technical terms in here that I’m not familiar with, and if I want to learn more I can jump right into the ranking URLs that contain the topic and research them instead of trying to manually pull them out of the SERP.

4) Keyword Ideas

The list of topical suggestions also double as suggestions for other keywords to target, or as seed keywords for keyword research (we have some new keyword research tools coming very soon).

How does it actually work? (Tech jargon alert!)

Wondering how Related Topics knows just which content is on the page? Well, we use Moz’s proprietary Context API, which also powers other tools around here (such as Moz Content). Here are a few words from Dr. Matt Peters (Moz’s Chief Data Scientist) on how it works:

Moz’s topic modeling algorithm extracts relevant keyword phrases from English language web pages. We use natural language processing algorithms to analyze the page content and create a list of candidate topics. Then, a machine learning model assigns each candidate phrase a relevance score and ranks them from most-to-least relevant. The relevance score is a combination of traditional information retrieval techniques like term frequency–inverse document frequency (TF-IDF) and language modeling, syntactic and semantic signals such as part of speech tags, and graph-based features. The resulting lists of highly relevant topics and relevance scores are used in both Moz Pro and Moz Content.

As mentioned above, Related Topics takes the top 20 ranking pages on the SERP, extracts topics from them using the Context API, and then applies a series of filters and rules to show topics that we think are relevant. We exclude topics we find on any URLs that you rank with for the keyword. During feature development, we were faced with a choice: show topics that occur more frequently, but show less of them; or show more topics with varying ranges of frequency. We decided that our customers prefer having more data, and often we find gems near the bottom of the list. For this reason we went with the “more data” option. You might find the odd strange suggestion in there, but we think that’s outweighed by having more data to choose from.

See it in action!

Want to take it for a spin? If you’re already a Moz Pro subscriber (hey, pal!), head to your Keyword Rankings section in any Moz Pro campaign and hit the “Optimize Keyword” button.

Curious but not ready to commit? Check it out with a 30-day free trial:

Try it for 30 days!

As always, we want your feedback / comments / experiences in the comments below!

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How The 100 User Model Can Change Your Approach To On-Page SEO

User experience has become increasingly important as a ranking factor in search, but how can you measure something that’s seemingly so subjective? Columnist Eric Enge offers up his method.

The post How The 100 User Model Can Change Your Approach To On-Page SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

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A Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page Optimization

Posted by randfish

How do I build the perfectly optimized page?

This is a challenging question for many in the SEO and web marketing fields. There are hundreds of “best practices” lists for where to place keywords and how to do “on-page optimization,” but as search engines have evolved and as other sources of traffic — social networks, referring links, email, blogs, etc. — have become more important and interconnected, the very nature of what’s “optimal” is up for debate.

My perspective is certainly not gospel, but it’s informed by years of experience, testing, failure, and learning alongside a lot of metrics from Moz’s phenomenal data science team. I don’t think there’s one absolute right way to optimize a page, but I do think I can share a lot about the architecture of how to target content and increase the likelihood that it will:

  • A) Have the best opportunity to rank highly in Google and Bing
  • B) Earn traffic from social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
  • C) Be worthy of links and shares from across the web
  • D) Build your brand’s perception, trust, and potential to convert visitors

With the help of some graphics from CreativeMarket (which I highly recommend), I created a number of visualizations to explain how I think about modern on-page optimization and keyword targeting. Let’s start with a graphical overview of what makes a page optimized:

larger version

In the old days of SEO, “on-page optimization” referred merely to keyword placement. Search engines liked to see keywords in certain locations of the HTML code to help indicate a page’s relevance for that query. But today, this simple approach won’t cut it for two key reasons:

  1. The relevancy and keyword-based algorithms that Google and Bing use to evaluate and rank pages are massively more complex.
  2. Gaining a slight benefit in a keyword placement-based algorithmic element may harm overall rankings because of how it impacts people’s experience with your site (and thus, their propensity to stay on your pages, link to you, or share your content socially — all of which are also directly or indirectly considered in ranking algorithms).

Below is a pie-chart breakdown of how the 128 SEO professionals surveyed for Moz’s annual ranking factors project rated broad algorithmic elements’ impact in Google:

larger version

If <15% of the rankings equation is wrapped up in keyword targeting, no wonder smart SEOs in the modern era have evolved to think more holistically. Personally, I’m happy to sacrifice “perfect” keyword placement in the title element or a URL for better user experience, a higher chance of having my content shared on social networks, or a better click-through rate in the search results.

But, for the purposes of this post, let’s put some of those caveats aside and dive into the best practices for each element of a page. It may be unwise to optimize all of these purely towards search engine-based best practices, but we can temper the advice with notes on usability and user experience for visitors, too. Below, I’ve attempted to go tag by tag, and element by element through the keyword targeting and on-page optimization canon to expand on the more basic advice in the “Elements of an Optimized Page” graphic above.

Uniquely valuable

An optimized page doesn’t just provide unique content, but unique value. What’s the difference?

  • Unique content simply means that those words, in that order, don’t appear anywhere else on the web.
  • Unique value refers to the usefulness and takeaways derived by visitors to the page. Many pages can be “valuable,” but few provide a truly unique kind of value — one that can’t be discovered on other pages targeting that keyword phrase.

Whenever I advise marketers on crafting pages, I ask them to put themselves in the minds of their potential visitors, and imagine a page that provides something so different and functional that it rises above everything else in its field. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

  • The Baby Name Wizard — a terrific page that provides clear value above and beyond its competition for searches around baby names.
  • How Much Does a Website Cost — Folyo surveyed their designers to create a distribution of prices that accurate, credible, and massively valuable to those seeking data on pricing.
  • Scale of the Universe — this interactive feature will take you from the tiniest parts of an atom all the way to universe-scale. No wonder it ranks for such abstract queries as “the size of things.”
  • The Best Instant Noodles of All Time — The Ramen Rater has tried literally thousands of packets of instant noodles and determined these ten to be the outstanding few. I’m actually excited to try them :-)
  • Top Social Networks by Users — Craig Smith puts together an update to this list every month or two, and has compiled this invaluable resource to help those of us wondering just how big all the networks are these days. I’ve personally used this for numerous posts and presentations — it’s an excellent example of creating unique value by aggregating data from varied sources (and it, deservedly, outranks stalwarts like Nielsen as a result).

Unique value is much more than unique content, and when you have a page that rises to the level that these do, social shares, links, and all the other positive associations, branding, and ranking signals are apt to follow.

Provides phenomenal UX

A user’s experience is made up of a vast array of elements, not unlike the search engines’ ranking algorithms. Satisfying all of these perfectly may not be possible, but reaching for a high level will not only provide value in rankings, but through second-order impacts like shares, links, and word-of-mouth.

At the most basic level, a great UX means the page/site is:

  • Easy to understand
  • Providing intuitive navigation and content consumption
  • Loading quickly, even on slower connections (like mobile)
  • Rendering properly in any browser size and on any device
  • Designed to be visually attractive/pleasing/compelling

Smashing Magazine has my favorite article on the subject: What is User Experience Design? Overview, Tools, and Resources.

Crawler/bot accessible

Search engines still crawl the web using automated bots, and probably will for at least the next decade or more. While there have been plenty of leaps in the sophistication level of these crawlers, the best practice is not to take chances and follow some important guidelines when building pages you want engines to crawl, index, and rank reliably:

  • Make sure the page is the only URL on which the content appears, and if it’s not, all other URLs canonicalize back to the original (using redirects or the rel=canonical protocol)
  • URLs should follow best practices around length, being static vs. dynamic, and being included in any appropriate RSS feeds or XML Sitemaps files
  • Don’t block bots! Robots.txt and meta robots can be used to intelligently limit what engines see, but be cautious not to make errors that prevent them from crawling and indexing your content.
  • If the page is temporarily down, use a status code 503 (not a 404), and if you’re redirecting a page to a new location, don’t go through multiple redirect chains if possible, and use 301s (permanent redirects), not other kinds of 30x status codes.

Geoff Kenyon’s Technical Site Audit Checklist is still one of the best resources for those seeking more in-depth information about crawler-based accessibility.


As I mentioned in the opening of this post, it may be the case that perfectly optimized keyword targeting conflicts with goals around usability, user experience, or the natural flow of how you write. That’s OK, and frequently, I’d suggest leaning in those more user-centric directions. However, when it’s possible to optimize keyword usage, you’ll need some ammunition. Here’s a look at the most important elements as we’ve observed them through time, testing, correlation, and listening to the engine’s recommendations, too.

7 important keyword targeting elements (and 1 not-so-important element)

#1: Page title

Using the primary keyword phrase at least once in the page’s title, and preferably as close to the start of the title tag/element as possible is highly recommended. Not only are titles key to how engines weigh relevance, they also dramatically impact a searcher’s propensity to click.

Above is an example comparing some title elements for the search query “lip balm.” The tag for allure.com is more compelling from the perspective of fulfilling the searcher’s intent (which is likely to compare multiple blams vs. find a specific one), but it also puts the keyword in prime, eye-catching real estate on the results page. We have seen evidence and heard the engines themselves discuss the value/importance of earning clicks and preventing “pogo-sticking” (the bouncing of a visitor back to a search page after clicking a result). Optimizing for both keyword prominence AND user intent/visibility is an excellent idea.

#2: Headline

While we’ve seen mixed results over the years with using the H1 tag specifically for keyword placement, it’s almost certainly the case that a searcher who’s just clicked on a results expects to see a matching headline on the page they visit. Failure to do so may increase the odds of pogo-sticking, and our most recent rank correlations suggest that a topically relevant H1 is associated with higher rankings.

I wouldn’t always require a match between the title and the H1 precisely, but they shouldn’t be so dissimilar as to drive anyone who’s clicked away from the result.

#3: Body text

It should come as no surprise that using your primary (and secondary, if relevant) keyword phrase(s) in the content of the page are important. Our research suggests that it’s not just about raw keyword use or repetition, though. Search engines are almost certainly using advanced topic modeling algorithms to assess relevance and perhaps quality, too.

This means it’s wise to make your content comprehensive, useful, and relevant as possible, not just filled with instance of a keyword. In fact, we’ve observed plenty of cases where the overuse of keywords resulted in a negative impact on rankings, so be judicious. If you asked a non-marketing friend to read the page, would they get the sense that a term or phrase was suspiciously prominent, sometimes needlessly so? If that’s the case, you’re probably overdoing it.

#4: URL

A good URL has a few key aspects, but one of those is keyword use. Not only does it help with search engine relevancy directly, but URLs often get used as anchor text around the web (mostly through copying and pasting). For example, if I link to this post using its URL, e.g. http://moz.com/blog/visual-guide-to-keyword-targeting-onpage-optimization, the phrases “keyword targeting” and “onpage optimization” appear right in the text.

For more best practices on URLs, check out our learn article on the topic.

#5: Images and image alt attributes

Having images on a keyword-targeted page is wise for many, many reasons, not least among them is that these can help directly and indirectly with rankings. Most directly, your image has an opportunity to show up in an image search result. Granted, Google’s new interface has dramatically lowered the traffic from image search, but I still find great value in having your brand name/site associated with production of useful graphics, photos, and visual elements.

For search engines, the image’s title, filename, surrounding text, and alt attribute all matter from a ranking perspective. In particular, those doing SEO should know that when an image is linked, the alt attribute is treated similarly to anchor text in a text link.

#6: Internal and external links

A good page should be accessible through no more than four clicks from any other page on a site (three for smaller sites), and it should, likewise, provide useful links to relevant information on any topics that are discussed.

Some SEOs have, in the past, questioned whether linking externally, especially to sites/pages that might compete for a visitor’s time/attention or a search engine’s rankings is wise. I believe the nail in that coffin was delivered by Marshall Simmonds in his Whiteboard Friday Interview noting the value the NYTimes saw from their implementation of external links. Since then, search engine representatives have subtly hinted on multiple occasions that there are elements in the algorithm which reward external links to quality sites/pages.

#7: Meta description

A page’s meta description isn’t used directly in search engine ranking algorithms (according to representatives from Google and Bing), but that doesn’t mean they’re not critical. The meta description tag, if it employs the keyword query, usually shows up in the search results, and is part of what searchers consider when deciding whether to click.

As you can see from the snippet above, when keywords appear in the meta description, they also get bolded, which can help with visibility. The primary goal of a meta description should be to earn the searcher’s click. Think of them like ad copy, and work to make searchers care about your page.

#8: Meta keywords

Notably absent from this list is the Meta Keywords tag, which Google does not use in rankings, and we, along with many others (including SearchEngineLand) recommend against employing on your pages.


The reason it’s so important to balance these keyword-targeting demands with other attributes of on-page optimization is illustrated below:

larger version

As you can see, while on-page features like keyword use in titles, keywords, and body text (even when measured via a more sophisticated and higher correlating model than just raw usage like our data science team did in the ranking factors) have reasonable correlations given the complexity of Google’s rankings, other elements are found much more often in higher- vs. lower-ranking pages.

If social shares, brand mentions, links, and domain authority all potentially trump keyword-based factors as differentiators, marketers need to make sure we’re hitting the basics of on-page, but never extending in such a way that interferes with our ability to succeed in these other avenues.

Built to be shared through social networks

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Reddit, and dozens more social networks that are niche-focused can help earn signals that help rankings directly and/or indirectly (often through exposure to folks who might link to them).

A well-optimized page should help to make social sharing as easy and seamless as possible, including:

  • Using obvious social sharing buttons that are targeted to the page’s audience. Don’t just list every network on the web — be empathetic and predictive of what your visitors are likely to employ.
  • Craft URLs that are short and descriptive so that copying/pasting (for those who prefer) is painless, and whenever/wherever those links appear they provide a good UX for those seeing them. This is particularly important across more niche social sites, forums, and Facebook/Google+ (which use full URLs if the length is short rather than the condensed versions that Twitter uses).
  • Make content that has inherent viral value. Think about a social influencer and ask yourself, “would I share this page if I came across it?” Find ways to make that answer yes. One of the best is to build pages that will make social sharers themselves look good to their audiences (either because the page helps promote them directly/indirectly or because the unique value is so compelling, their followers/fans will be indebted to them for finding it).
  • If possible and relevant, employ features like Twitter Cards and Facebook’s OpenGraph markup to get the additional benefits on those networks.

Given how the reach of social networks have grown, how well social shares correlate positively to higher search rankings, and how those correlations have risen over time, there’s a lot of value in making sure your pages have an opportunity to perform socially.

Multi-device ready

Although it was called out in the UX section, this principle is worthy of its own headline due to the increasing diversity of devices, browsers, and screen sizes. Mobile use isn’t just critical for users “on the go.” Many are using mobile or tablets to browse at home, at work, and as a replacement for laptop/desktop. And they’re not just consuming — they’re sharing! Social sharing in particular is a huge part of mobile & tablet functions, which means that if you’re not optimized for all devices, you’re missing critical opportunities for amplification to a broader audience.

Inclusive of authorship, metadata, schema, and rich snippets

There are a vast array of options that provide additional markup that engines may employ in their listings. Rather than try to list all of them, I’ll link to resources with more information on each:

Moz’s marketing scientist, Dr. Pete, recently put together a slide deck showing 90+ unique forms of search results, many of which leverage rich forms of markup (though only a few of these are in the control of the marketer/creator).

My recommendation is to apply those that both match the opportunities provided by the engines and the techniques that will give value to your potential visitors. Be cautious of going overboard — there’s a bit of rich snippet spam that serves only to leave a bad taste in searchers’ mouths and may hurt your reputation or rankings with the engines themselves, too.

Choosing how to optimize

One important takeaway from this post should be that modern on-page SEO is about juggling competing priorities. In general, my recommended ordering of those priorities is as follows:

  1. Create a page that is uniquely valuable to your targeted searchers.
  2. If at all possible, make the page likely to earn links and shares naturally (without needing to build links or prod people).
  3. Balance keyword targeting with usability and user experience, but never ignore the critical elements like page titles, headlines, and body content at the least.

There’s no such thing as a “perfectly optimized” page, but I took a stab at drawing up the mythical beast anyway:


Over time, what’s “perfect” might change, and new services, platforms, and areas of optimizational opportunity could arise. But for the past few years (notwithstanding some newer tactics like Google’s rel=author), the model described in this post has held relatively stable. The “O” in SEO is getting broader, and I think that’s a wonderful thing for marketers of all stripes. Targeting an algorithm instead of people is far worse than hitting both birds with the same handful of optimization stones.

p.s.: If you have feedback or suggestions on items to include, please feel free to suggest them in the comments.

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On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page (Infographic)

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Getting On-Page SEO Right in 2012 and Beyond – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Many of you are already familiar with our On-Page Reports. Keyword targeted On-Page SEO is still important, but as algorithms change, so must your On-Page optimization strategy.

This week, Rand looks at the future of On-Page and how to move beyond the keywords to drive traffic and delivery for a better experience.

Video Transcription

"Howdy, SEOmoz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're talking about getting on-page SEO right in 2012, the modern era and beyond. Old school SEO, on-page SEO is still very much in the forefront of people's minds.

In fact, if you're an SEOmoz Pro subscriber, you're actually seeing a lot of the kind of classic, old school stuff that's easily measurable, the keyword targeted optimization inside your on-page SEO reports, and that stuff is important. It still matters. I'll talk about that. But there's a lot of new stuff that we need to be thinking about as SEOs in terms of what true on-page optimization means in the modern era.

So let's start by taking a little history lesson here. Old on-page SEO had some sort of classic best practices, like, "Oh, these things correlate best to pages that perform well in Google," which doesn't necessarily mean that that's causal. But it does mean that lots of people who are succeeding are doing these things right, and so maybe we should follow in their footsteps.

This is classic is stuff. It's keyword usage, keyword phrase usage. It's title tag one to two times and at the start of the title element. It's the keyword used maybe a few times exactly in the body content and partially in the body content. That can vary by how much, and it probably has nothing to do with density, but we do want to get it in there. We probably want to get it into the top paragraph so that people who are reading find it relevant.

We want to put the keyword in the URL if possible. We know that the URL gets put on other web pages and linked to us, which means we get some anchor text out of that. We could be putting the keyword in the H tag, H1 tag, Hx tag. We were kind of confused. We don't really know whether this actually matters.

That could be one of those very low correlation elements at least in terms of ranking. So we're not really sure whether that's important. But we do know we want to put it in the headline so that when somebody gets to a page they see, "Oh yeah, look. There's the keyword I was looking for in this article or this blog post or this e-commerce product page or this category, whatever it is, is about the thing that I want."

Keyword in the ALT attribute. We have an image, and that image has an ALT attribute and the keyword is inside. The ALT is in the code of the image tag itself, and we want the keyword in there. That looked like it had a surprising correlation with pages that do well.

We want keyword in links pointing to the page internally on our own site, those internal anchor texts phrases. People would jump through all sorts of hoops to try and get that done. Yeah, we want to throw in some related terms and phrases, kind of fitting that topic modeling stuff.

Great. Good. This stuff is not unimportant anymore. It's not like this has lost all its value. But it's definitely not the only thing that we need to be thinking about in 2012. I mean on-page optimization has grown and expanded just like all of SEO has. This is the kind of stuff that I'm talking about for the modern day on-page optimizers.

So first thing and most important is that SEO isn't that new anymore, and search isn't that new anymore. Just ranking for something used to produce a lot of value in terms of getting visits and getting brand awareness and maybe getting direct conversions in a lot of cases. But unless we do this, that we overlap the searcher intent, what users want, and the page content purpose, we're missing out on that.

People abandon search results much more quickly than they used to. Rankings doesn't necessarily lead to the traffic. We see click-through rates sometimes on position two, three, or four being higher than on position one because something is more interesting about the listing. You see abandoned rates seem to be taken into account, maybe not directly, maybe indirectly by Google and by Bing.

So something else is going on. And this, if we can solve this equation, solve this Venn diagram, I promise wonderful things will happen with your SEO. It's something that we didn't always think about in the past that we need to, and that is: What is this user looking for? That's the red circle here.

The user wants something when they do a search. Let's say I search for creative watches. I'll show you guys my watch. It's very cool. Right?
Creative watch designs, can you see that? It's my ZIIIRO watch. It's super cool. You should search for it. It's ZIIIRO. I'm going to drop this down here.

That ZIIIRO watch is very creative. They do terrible SEO on their site. I apologize for that, but regardless. So if I'm looking for creative watch designs and what the page delivers to me is watch brands that I've already heard of, that aren't particularly creative, and they're not unique or useful to me, maybe some people have that. Maybe the overlap is going to be in here for some folks. But you've got to pick.

You've got to make this bigger. Please get as many of the people who want the thing that they're typing into the search engine and what the page provides, make that overlap. If you can make that one circle in this Venn diagram, you win. You win at SEO. This is incredibly important.

All right. Make listings in the search results themselves outstanding. This means Sschema.org. This means rel=author. This means video XML sitemaps. This means all the kinds of new markup that are available to put in a search results. So I want my rel=author so that I can appear in a little picture here next to the search results because I know that having my profile picture there increases click-through rate.

I've seen it before in tests with SEOmoz stuff where we rank one and two for something. Or we'll rank number one and we'll rank number two with a rel=author listing, and we get more traffic on that one. Oh, my gosh, clearly we know that that's getting a higher click-through rate.

We want the keyword phrase in the title, but we need that title to be useful and interesting and sharable. It should be fascinating. That headline needs to sell something beyond just, "Yes, we have the keyword you typed in on the page." It has to compel and entice you. The headline and the meta description and the URL, they're an advertisement.

If you think of this the way you think of your AdWords copy or your ad copy for an advertisement that appears in print or appears in digital media somehow, that's what you're seeking. You're trying to draw someone's attention in and make them interested in clicking this. So just having the keyword targeting to try and rank well is no longer the only thing we're worried about.

Very important today, too, I wrote about this on my blog, the dot.com or the brand name of the website appearing in the URL is something that people look at very, very heavily. They bias their clicks by what appears in the URL because they're starting to recognize domain names as brands and prefer some domains over others. So you better be building up a brand name strategy.

If it's online-watches-that-rock.info as opposed to rockingwatches.com, I could imagine rockingwatches is a brand and I never head of it. Maybe it's interesting. I'll go check it out. But online-watches-that, no, I'm out. That brand is pulling me in even if I don't quite recognize it yet. So these outstanding search results are now a part of your on-page optimization.

Pages that load fast, it's almost weird. We were in this era of broadband, and it's like, "Oh yeah, things are getting so fast." But that's actually stopped. So broadband rates have expanded, especially outside the U.S. In particularly Scandinavian countries, in some parts of Europe, in some parts of Eastern Europe, some parts of Asia, Taiwan, they're getting much faster broadband than the U.S. is.

The U.S.'s broadband unfortunately due to some monopolies here and some government lobbying and all that sort of mess, our broadband rates are actually not expanding as fast. So having pages that load fast, that aren't hugely intensive, that take four or five seconds or less is really important. Having responsive design where this title and menu element and the images get shrunk down so that all that side bar content or maybe the heavy advertising and stuff makes it's way into a smaller page on a mobile device or on an iPad, or an Android tablet, or those kinds of things is extremely important.

You can see conversion rates and click-through rates, sorry, time on site and crawl rate, all these things that influence not just how search engines interact and how you rank, but also whether your index and how you perform with users. So incredibly important.

And then two last things, pages nowadays have to be socially sharable. That means if you have any content that's sort of targeted at things like Pinterest, you better have that great image that can fit in there. If you know that your posts are going on Facebook, you better have a graphic that fits the proportions, that shows up well when the URL is shared on Facebook, shared on Google+.

You want to have that special markup that makes you appear in Twitter's results like Twitpic does and Lockers is doing. SlideShare is doing this. They're all adding those tags so that content can appear directly in the body of tweets, which is really, really smart, because they know that their content's being shared there.

It also means that you have to worry about the title and the meta description tag which makes its way now into Google+ and into Facebook as the description on the side next to the URL. That socially sharing thing is something we never had to worry about in classic SEO.

But the last point is, oh yeah, all this stuff that mattered in the past
,the old on-page SEO, still matters today. A lot of it still matters today for that classic SEO kind of ranking things and a lot for usability types of stuff and even for branding. You want that keyword in the URL so that matches to the description there. You want the keyword in the title, and you want it probably at least in the headline so that when someone reaches the page . . .

All of these worlds, these worlds of usability and user experience and social and SEO, are all coming together. It's not just classic SEO anymore. It's not just social media marketing anymore. It's not just content marketing. If these practices don't work together, we don't really get optimized the way we want to.

So on-page SEO, in 2012, is a big, big broad thing. I hope these tips will help you not just to rank, but to perform.

All right everyone, thanks for joining me. We'll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care."

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