Did you know 67% of clicks go to the first five results on a search page? This is scary stuff when you consider that even if you put in a ton of effort to rank on the first page of search engine results, that will only leave you with scraps of traffic unless you can squeeze in among the top results. 🙁
Another alarming observation is while most entrepreneurs understand the importance of backlinks and other off-site SEO tactics, few spend as much time optimizing their own page. Therefore more effort should go into SEO.
With Google’s focus on helping its users, on-site optimization is probably the deciding factor in how high a website can rank.
So, how can you take that extra step towards the top of the rankings? Well, unsurprisingly, it usually comes down to who can do the most essential steps the best. So, let’s explore the most important aspects of on-site optimization and how to do them correctly.
Set Up the Headings
When it comes to SEO, headings are usually an afterthought. Most people think they can set up and use practices that they picked up as they went. And that’s not a good approach if you want to maximize the SEO potential of your pages.
Luckily, figuring out how to use H tags doesn’t have to be complicated. Google has made it a point to make the process simple and intuitive, as long as webmasters take the time to understand the purpose of the headings and how to use them to make the lives of website visitors easier.
First and foremost, you should make sure your H1 tags define what your page is about. They should be concise, describe the essence of the page, and be easy to understand at a glance.
At the same time, H2, H3, H4, and any other headings you use should also define the sections that they represent. This is important for readability purposes and shows the search engine how your content’s hierarchy is structured.
Good Headings Structure
In the end, you should focus on providing the best reading experience for your visitors, and Headings are an integral part of that process. And when you have a good Heading structure, that will contribute to higher rankings as well.
By inserting relevant keywords into your H1, H2, and other tags, you will show Google what your content is about and will increase the likelihood of you ranking higher for those keywords.
Follow the E-A-T Guidelines
Google has been working to make its user experience better for as long as it has been in business. The very foundation of how the search engine operates relies on users trusting the results they see and feel safe, so the past couple of decades have been a constant battle between Google and SEO gurus trying to outsmart it for higher rankings.
One of Google’s more recent steps was introducing the E-A-T guidelines that defined what content the search engine prefers and rewards. E-A-T stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, the three pillars Google believes should define the content on every page.
The E-A-T principles might not apply in every situation. Still, for businesses trying to build authority and educate their audiences through content, it is always a top consideration. Luckily, the good practices you should be using for your content anyway pretty much cover what E-A-T requires as well.
For instance, you don’t need to have a degree in your writing field in terms of expertise. But the content itself should be knowledgeable, explore the topic thoroughly, and touch on all of the essential points.
And while you won’t become an authority in a day, by consistently posting informative content on a subject and having a wide variety of topics on your site, you will become a website that Google considers a good source of information in that area.
Finally, in terms of trustworthiness, being transparent is what matters most. By listing the authors of your content, sharing your sources, and linking to reputable sites, you can establish a trust level that will impact how your site performs.
Create Engaging Meta Descriptions
According to Google, meta descriptions are not considered a ranking factor. But even if that’s true, that doesn’t make them any less important for how your site performs and how effective your SEO efforts are.
Many sites don’t even have a process for writing their meta descriptions, leaving the beginning sentences of their content as the default option. But when you’re trying to maximize clicks, this approach is simply not an option.
Compelling meta descriptions can make a huge difference in how your site is perceived, how appealing your content looks, and how many people decide to see what you have to say.
Together with the title, they must provide all of the information about what users can expect if they click, which means that besides the ranking position, it’s the most critical aspect you should think about.
Informative and Engaging
In fact, if you take the time to create an informative and engaging meta description, you might be able to outcompete higher results with poor descriptions, so it’s definitely worth the effort if you want to make the most of the SEO results you can achieve.
But what goes into a good meta description? Well, the first aspect to consider its relevance. When searching online, people are usually looking for solutions, so the results they are most likely to click should hint at what they can expect in a way that matches up with the initial query.
When your meta description complements your title, that can make for a powerful and appealing message that people will want to click on, even if it’s not among the top three results.
Utilize Featured Snippets and Structured Markup
Structured markup, also known as schema markup, is a way to make your results page information more visible. It’s a collaboration between all of the biggest search engines to provide users with a better experience and help them make a more informed decision about what to click.
If you’ve ever noticed little review stars or even the publishing date next to an article, that is structured markup in action.
Structured markup doesn’t just look good, but it also leads to better SEO performance, providing up to 30% more clicks in the same position.
Whether it’s displaying the navigation of your site, the main points of your article, or even embedding a video at the top of the results page, there are countless possibilities for how you could use the technology to your advantage.
Think about how you could enhance each page using structured markup or featured snippets, considering what information would be more helpful to your users while also providing you with a better chance of getting a click.
Sometimes, structured markup can even help you get a top spot simply because you have it and others don’t, so including it on your pages is something that’s almost always a good idea.
Even though on-page optimization may not be fascinating, it’s still a fundamental part of ranking higher and receiving more targeted traffic to your site.
The factors above play a vital role in how high a website can rank, and while they may seem tricky at first, they can become straightforward once you become accustomed to using them on every page you create.