This week, we’ll be pooling all of our best On-Page SEO advice, the actual tricks that work best for us, on how to get your pages to appear in the top-most search results.
Are you doing the best you can in terms of SEO? From link-building to keyword research, when it comes to SEO there are many facets to consider, and our hope is to eventually cover them all, focussing on one key aspect at a time, and beginning this week by examining on-page SEO.
We publish 6 articles on design, marketing, and other topics every week and we needed to streamline our SEO process for our content to effectively reach our user and relevant readers.
In this tutorial we’re going to focus on one of the most fundamental areas of SEO:
Search Engine Optimization, which we all know as the abbreviation “SEO” is the process we use to optimize our digital assets, whether they be blog posts, landing pages or YouTube videos, to help them rank better on search engines.
On-page SEO refers to the technical steps you make to optimize your pages and posts so they rank better for the keywords you have chosen.
And just to be clear, keywords are not the only things that affect page SEO. You may recall an earlier video where we covered how visual elements affect your blog content too.
So let’s move ahead and run you through our checklist so that you start SEO optimizing your own sites!
The first step is preparation. In order to show you the on-page SEO workflow that we use, we’ll be using an actual article that we’ve published on our Elementor Blog. We won’t be going into keyword research, because we feel that it’s too important, and deserves a whole separate masterclass dedicated to it. We did, however, write and informative article about keyword research via Ahrefs which can aid you in your first, keyword-researching steps.
Researching Search Intent
Which is the information that answers questions like:
- What are people searching for?
- Why are they searching for it?
- What kind of answers are they looking for?
- What format do they find most convenient when reading their answer?
Even before we sat down to write this article, we made sure we would be giving people the information they were looking for, in the way they wanted to get it.
We had already noticed a buzz in the community when people asked for recommendations for an Instagram plugin for WordPress.
And a simple Google search for the basic keyword string “Instagram Plugin WordPress” revealed that it’s these articles here, all in a listicle format, that Google is ranking highest among the results.
Knowing this is a crucial first step to efficiently get the information to the readers. It not only helps my own article rank higher on Google searches, but it prevents me from making mistakes that will affect the efficiency of the post. Imagine the difference in ranking and exposure if I were to write, say a how-to article instead of a listicle.
Adding Social Buttons
While we are here we want to make sure that we include the right Social sharing buttons, which are important for on-page SEO. The obvious reason for this is that it increases the likelihood of visitors sharing your content, further generating social media traffic, which will improve your on-page SEO. Another reason is that search engines use social signals as ranking factors. Beyond that, users seeing your content shared on social media may link to it on their own sites, adding further to your traffic and ranking.
Optimizing Page Speed
Performance and page load speed are both crucial for on-page SEO. First of all, Google analyzes these because it sees them as ranking factors, and second of all, they affect the user experience. 47% of visitors expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. If your page loads as slow as that, chances are that half the people clicking your link bounce right back before they even give it a chance.
We have an excellent article about how you could speed up your WordPress site, but here are some of the factors that affect page loading speed.
Having lots of plugins, especially heavy and badly coded ones could affect your loading speed. If you’re using Elementor, however, you’re lucky. Elementor is designed so that you don’t need plugins for things like forms and popups, and this cuts down on a lot of the superfluous weight that affects loading time. Remember: Fewer plugins equals faster loading time.
Hosting has a huge impact on your site’s speed. We recommend choosing a reliable host like Kinsta, WPEngine or Siteground, according to your budget.
Another speed factor that will affect your post’s overall speed is your choice of theme. I recommend using Elementor’s Hello Theme. There’s a reason that it’s currently ranked as the 3rd most popular theme, even though it was released just over a month ago. It allows you to lay anything on it without adding conflicting or redundant data, and, when using it with Elementor, you get the full advantages of the theme builder, which is an added bonus.
Speaking of speed and performance, let’s talk about images. Images should be as lean as possible. Make sure they are less than 1 MB by using tools like tinyPNG, Optimole, Smush and Kraken to shrink image size without losing quality. If you’ve already seen our masterclass on How to Create Epic Blog Posts, you’ll know that images can play a major role in a layout.
Well, they also have a part to play in on-page SEO. As a rule of thumb, always give your images a relevant filename, alt tag, and title, and if possible even a caption. Lazy Load is another trick we like. Using this option means that images only load when they are needed, when the user scrolls down to them, reducing your load time and improving your post’s SEO as a result. We use the WP Rocket plugin to set our posts to Lazy-Load.
WP rocket does a lot more in terms of caching your page and making it load faster. Caching is something you definitely need to boost your on-page SEO. If you want to learn more about this tool and why we use it so much, you might want to look up the review of this plugin. We’ll be including inks and info about that and more in the info in the show’s notes.
On-Page SEO Optimization
With our performance optimized, we can move on to the next part of our on-page SEO workflow.
We recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin, as we find very useful, and we’re going to quickly review some of the basics of editing and optimizing the snippet. The snippet is the part that is shown in the search results and it includes the Title, the Slugline, and the meta description.
1. The Title
Even though it’s not the easiest thing to do, we recommend testing 25 variations of your title, before settling on one you’ll use. This is known as the Upworthy method and it helps us to think outside the box. Ranking high is one thing, but the real skill is finding ways to stand out of the crowd. If everyone is using titles like ‘Secret Instagram Plugins’ or ‘Best Plugin Hacks’, you want something different. Analyze current search results. Think of a title that will really grab your users and make them want to click on your snippet first. Then try the titles and see which of those gets the best results.
2. The Slug Line
The slug line is the additional text that we add to the URL to help the search engine as well as human users. We definitely think that you shouldn’t use your full title, which can be a bit long. Just keep the slug line concise and coherent. For example, instead of using our full title, we could use: /best-instagram-plugins-wordpress/.
3. The Meta Description
The description should be captivating, and a good way to do that is to give the reader the main take-away of the article; include a clear call to action and keep it all short and sweet.
When it comes to the content itself, we suggest that you use the Hemmingway editor to get even more suggestions for improving your content.
Make sure your content includes some questions that relate to your topic, and don’t forget that search engines like content that uses synonyms. They also like Latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords. These form a system that search engines use to analyze the various words people use when discussing a certain topic. We use tools like Ahrefs to figure out what questions we should be asking and what LSI keywords to use.
We suggest reviewing your sub-headings to make sure they have a logical and coherent flow. This way you can be sure that visitors skimming your page will understand what you wanted to say, before committing to reading the entire page.
Links, both inbound and outbound, play an important role in SEO. With on-page SEO, they are important to three areas.
1. Outbound Links
We want to be sure that the external links we are using, and connected to reliable, trustworthy sources. You can see examples of this in our previous Masterclass article when we created a link to Robert MacKee’s website
2. Internal Links — Old Content
We need to make sure that there are links in our new content, to our older related material from our own site. Again, this is easily done in Elementor, since you select the text you want to link in the text editor and it automatically suggests the relevant content to link to.
3. Internal Links — New Content
We want to create the same form of linking, but this time, we want to make sure that the other content on our site, is linked back to our new content. A quick way to find relevant content on your site to link to your new content is by running a quick search on Google.
While you’re in Elementor you’ll want to make sure that your article is tablet and mobile responsive. If you’re asking yourselves what this has to do with on-page SEO, it’s because when your pages don’t look, load, or work the way you intend them to, it affects the user experience, which affects, among other things, your ranking on search engines. A simple way to test your post for a mobile device is by using the Responsive Mode in the Elementor editor panel.
On-Page SEO Pro Optimization
We wanted to give you a bit of a bonus with two extra PRO tips to get your on-page SEO to hop on up to the next level.
Featured snippets are the snippets of results that Google features at the top of their result list because Google feels that they will answer the users needs more efficiently. Featured snippets also show a much higher click-through rate (CTR) on triple X stats. Again, Ahrefs is a great tool that can help you figure out which of your articles have featured snippets.
The best way to get your own Featured Snippet is to keep your text clear and concise, especially in the first part of your page, or at least for the first paragraph. Think of your snippet as being the answer to a question, so it should be short — around 45 to 80 words.
Including an image next to this answer, is another good idea. Just be sure to follow the same image guidelines we mentioned earlier.
Rich snippets are regular Google search results, that are made richer when displayed with additional info or data, that Google gets from Structured Data in the page’s HTML. The kind of content that usually generates Rich Snippets, includes reviews, recipes, and events.
Google has tools for testing structured mark-up and rich snippets. if you’re already using Elementor, you can use the star rating widget, which comes with pre-built rich snippets and Google structured mark-up capability. You can also combine ACF and Elementor’s theme builder to create advanced pages that comply with rich snippets like recipe sites. There are also addons for those sorts of things, like this one.
Once you publish pages with rich snippets, you can monitor and see if they turn up in search results.
SEO is a fascinating, yet vast, and never-ending process. Nevertheless, even if you do nothing more than following the checklist we’ve shown you in this video, your websites WILL better meet search engine criteria and requirements, and as a result, they will rank significantly higher.
The more you follow these guidelines, your workflow becomes easier and quicker, and the process becomes more intuitive. We hope this advice makes a big difference in your websites’ SEO results.