It’s still all about Penguin, isn’t it?
Yes, but that’s because I’d like to arm you with as much information as possible, so instead of battling Pandas and Penguins, you can cuddle with these cute animals; after all, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather make love than war.
As you may already know, Google Penguin is just getting started. Additionally, we’re in the midst of a new era of SEO where traditional SEO is becoming more seamlessly intertwined with social media.
And who knows how much more of Google Penguin we’ll see in coming days, weeks, or months.
We’ve covered the basics as far as recovering from Google Penguin is concerned. We know that these days, more than ever, the only legitimate way to attain rankings is to provide quality and relevant content to users, in order to obtain links naturally.
No more tricks, says the Penguin.
In this post, I’ll share with you six on-page optimization best practices that conform to Google Penguin’s guidelines. I’ll focus on key optimization considerations that will help you create a more reputable image for your site both in the eyes of your audience and of the search engines. Let’s get started.
Keyword density (keyword what?)
Not long ago, SEOs were concerned about keyword density, or the number of keyword occurrences as a ratio of the overall number of words on the page. The acceptable keyword density used to be somewhere between 2% and 4%, which meant that for every 100 words, a specific keyword (note that I use “keyword” interchangeably with “keyphrase”) should occur two to four times.
Today, however, keyword density is no longer a ranking factor (was it ever?). Search technology has tremendously evolved over the years to recognize the relevance of certain content to a topic.
SEOs now advocate the use of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI). Simply put, LSI refers to the use of relevant terms to the content’s target keywords. So if you’re gunning for the keyword “consumer electronics”, you can use that exact keyword within the first few sentences of the content and then use related terms such as “gadgets”, “electronics”, etc. throughout the rest of the content.
Tip: You can find LSI terms for any given keyword by using Google’s Keyword Tool. Alternatively, you can perform a search for your keyword in Google and then scroll to the bottom of the first page, where you’ll see some other suggested search terms. These suggested search terms are LSI terms for the keyword you queried.
While I still recommend using your target keywords exactly within the post title, meta description tags, and in the first and last paragraph of your text body copy, I highly recommend using as many varying LSI terms within the content’s body as you can muster.
However, if your target keyword is tricky to use in a grammatically-correct way, such as “Roofing L.A.”, then don’t force the issue; just settle on using each word within the keyphrase as closely together as possible.
Don’t forget internal linking
Internal linking is still an important aspect of on-page optimization. There are several key benefits to internal linking:
- Reduces bounce rate, as it promotes relevant internal content to your audience
- Helps search engines determine the importance and relevance of your pages within your domain
- Helps Google and other search engine spiders crawl and index your pages more easily and effectively
- Helps users easily find their way around your site, lending to a more positive overall user experience, and time-on-site metrics
- Allows you to control anchor text to each individual page, helping search engines understand what keywords you believe the destination page is relevant for
Generally, websites with good internal linking strategies rank better in search results.
Link to relevant information outside your site
Whenever possible, link to sites that offer relevant information to your content. You may have already noticed that I’ve done so in this very post.
This makes your link structure more natural and it provides value to your audience. Don’t worry about linking to your competitors occasionally, either. Linking to related websites helps Google understand what circle of relevance your website falls under. Plus, giving props to a competitor with a link shows a lot of confidence in your product, and can speak volumes about your business.
Keep it fresh and useful
Google Panda and Penguin take into account the freshness of content. That’s why setting up a blog for your site is so crucial these days. With a blog, you can post new and useful information as often as you want. This helps in many ways:
- Supplies new content to your existing audience, keeping your brand top-of-mind (and thus, makes your audience more likely to convert)
- Helps grow your audience by drawing in new readers
- Establishes niche authority/credibility
- Increases traffic via social channels (due to shares, mentions, tweets, etc.)
- Increases organic search traffic because it adds more content that can be turned up in the search results
- Gets you more opportunities to receive natural inbound links when other authors reference your existing content
Ideally, you should update your blog at least once per business day.
You also want to post information that is extremely useful and relevant to your audience. How-to posts and posts on trending topics are preferred by most readers. If you constantly post useful information you will give your audience plenty of reasons to visit your site regularly. Lame content that nobody cares about won’t help you at all; if it doesn’t provide some sort of value to your readers, don’t even bother posting it.
Remember how sites with duplicate content were killed early in 2011? Google’s stern stance against duplicate content still stands.
Sites with internal duplicate content are also at risk. If you’re not sure if your site has internal duplicate content, you can use Google’s Sitemaps (Google Webmaster Tool) to check for duplicate content.
Keep ads to a minimum
For many users, ads are simply annoying. But from a search engine perspective, peppering a site with ads can actually hurt your rankings.
But how much is too much?
Avoid setting up more than two ads, especially above the fold. Ideally, keep ads to a maximum of two per page. And if you are going to serve ads within your pages, serve only those that are extremely relevant and valuable to your users.
There you have it, quick and easy tips for proper on-page optimization. If you have questions or if you need help with your on-page optimization initiative, contact us and we’ll be happy to offer a free consultation.