Before We Start With On Page SEO Techniques
Prior to setting off with our on page SEO techniques, we need to set up a platform on which to base all of our search engine optimization on and that platform itself needs to be optimized to keep the search engine crawlers happy.
If you have read my post “SEO Tips And Tricks For Ranking High”, you will already know what I mean but if you haven’t, I urge you to do so. In that post I go through the groundwork needed to get to this “on page SEO” stage. I briefly cover topics such as picking a niche to work in, selecting a domain name for your website that reflects this niche, choosing a host for your website and what type of theme and plugins to install on your website. All of this with maximum optimization in mind.
Once these preliminary tasks are completed, we have a solid foundation on which to start writing some rich, optimized content to publish on our website that will attract as many visitors as possible for relatively very little outlay or even no further financial investment after the small cost of purchasing your domain name and hosting, should that be necessary.
Research Keywords For Your Topic
As I will explain in another post that will delve deeper into niche research, when you are picking the main subject of your website you should also make a healthy list of subtopics that you could see yourself writing helpful and informative articles on, each of 1,500 words minimum.
To start writing about one of these subtopics in an optimized manner, you will need a main keyword relating to your subtopic to focus your article on. To give yourself the best chance of appearing on page 1 of the search results, you need to find keywords with as high a search volume as possible versus as low competition as possible.
You can research these keywords for free using a combination of these two tools:
You will need a Google account to use both of these tools but don’t worry if you don’t have one, it’s free and easy to set up. In Google Ads you will be asked for details of a payment card because Google will be hoping that you will publish some ads. Again, don’t worry. You can use the tool without buying any ads or parting with any money.
You will also have to open a free Moz account in order to use the MozBar. There is no need to upgrade to the Pro version, which they will undoubtedly encourage you to do.
Why two tools?
There is no single keyword research tool that will give you all of the information you need and is also free to use. Although there are several other free tools that are still okay for finding keyword suggestions, these are the only two free tools that will provide you with all of the necessary statistics with which to make an informed decision when selecting your keywords.
The Google Ads Keyword Planner is the one to start with. If you begin by entering the name of your subtopic into the “Discover New Keywords” search box, Google will return hundreds or even thousands of suggested keywords based on your seed keyword.
Next to each keyword will be several columns of statistical information which is of importance only if you are planning to run some Google Ads, save for one.
The information that we need for our organic SEO purposes is the first column, “Average Monthly Searches”. You will notice that the amount of searches is not given as exact numbers but in ranges. At this stage, the only ranges that we are interested in are the “10 – 100” and the “100 – 1K”.
There is no sense in picking keywords in the “0 – 10” searches range as there is no point in going to thee of writing a long, interesting article if there is nobody searching for your focus keyword for them to find it and to read it.
Until you have established your brand, the competition from keywords in the range “1K – 10K” and higher will be too great. You will not have much chance of making page 1 of the SERPS with such high competition from the big companies and established brands.
Pay no heed to the competition ratings in column two as these only relate to the competition when publishing Google Ads. This is why, in our quest to find our keywords for organic research for free, that we also need the MozBar.
Using The MozBar To Assess Competition
When you have the MozBar extension activated on your chrome browser there will be a black toolbar in the browser just under the URL address bar. Also, whenever you enter a search term the results page will come up with the usual list of up to ten organically found web pages, only now they will each have a black information bar underneath.
This bar contains results for PA (Page Authority), DA (Domain Authority) and the number of incoming links from other sites coming into that page. We are only really concerned with PA. PA is given as a score out of 100, with 0 being the lowest and 100 being the highest. It reflects a page’s ability to rank in the search engines. In other words, how well optimized it is.
The score is not a percentage as the scale is logarithmic rather than arithmetic, which means that it is easier to improve on a low score than it is on a high score. Therefore, to stand any chance of your page based on the same search term ranking on page 1, we should be looking generally for average PA scores less than 30, the lower the better. Having said that, I have done well on keywords that bring up average PA scores of up to 35.
Domain Authority is similar to Page Authority except for the fact that it is a score of how well a complete website could rank rather than a single page. It has absolutely no bearing on the search results and we can largely ignore it. We only need to take DA into account if we are having trouble deciding on two or more similar keywords with similar PA scores and search results appearances (see next section below). In this case, the lower DA score could be a decider.
Adjacent to the PA score is a figure relating to the number of links and root domains coming in from other sources referring to that page. The search engines view links coming into a page or website as a sign of authority, so the fewer links the competition has, the better. Again, as for DA, this information should be used to discern between similar keywords when choosing which one to use.
The main criteria for picking a viable keyword for ranking on page 1 are the PA score of 30 or under plus a low occurrence of the exact keyword appearing in the search results.
Does The Exact Keyword Appear In The Results?
For each search result, note the number of times the exact keyword appears in the title (blue type), meta description (the description of the page that appears under the title in black type), and the slug (situated above the title in black type, the part of the page link URL that appears after the domain name and TLD).
If there are no more than one or two appearances of the exact keyword in no more than one or two of the search results, then you have a chance of ranking high for that keyword. If there are multiple occurrences of the exact keyword, then the competition is probably too much for your page to rank high, so you should probably discard that particular keyword and research another one.
Finding And Using Long Tail Keywords
You will probably notice during your research that any viable keyword phrases that you find will be of four or five words or longer. This is because the big brands have monopolized all of the short keywords.
The big brands are only interested in the broad search keywords such as “smartphone”, “buy laptop” or “best diet” that get hundreds of thousands, even millions of searches per month.
Large companies and organizations cannot be bothered with the longer, more specific keywords that only get less than one hundred to a thousand searches per month. That’s good because these longer, more specific keywords, known as long tail keywords, are ideal for bloggers like us to write creative content around, content aimed at specific, niche audiences and providing them with the information they were seeking and more.
Free But Time Consuming
It’s great to have a completely free avenue to go down to research your keywords and gather all of the information you need about them. If you are starting up on a very tight budget it may be the only way to go until you have some commissions rolling in. It is, however, a very laborious and time-consuming way of finding suitable keywords for our projects. I have found it to be so and I am sure you will too.
This is why I started looking at the paid keyword research tools as a way of speeding up my keyword research. The first one I actually used with any success was Jaaxy, mainly because the use of it was free with another package I subscribed to.
I found Jaaxy very useful for searching out long tail keywords, certainly much faster than the free method! After a few months, though, during my research, I signed up for a 7-day free trial of Long Tail Pro that was on offer at the time . During my free trial I discovered Long Tail Pro to be a much more refined tool than Jaaxy, one that over-delivers on useful SEO information. I didn’t want to pay for two tools, so I resigned from the package that included Jaaxy and signed up for Long Tail Pro on a generous Black Friday deal.
At one time, Long Tail Pro was out of reach to the fledgling blogger and affiliate marketer on a tight budget because you could only sign-up for a yearly membership, you had to pay for a whole year’s use in one go. Now it is more accessible as a few months back they have introduced the option of pay monthly membership.
Unfortunately, LTP is not currently offering a free 7-day trial but they are offering free tuition to walk you through the whole keyword research process and they guarantee that you will have three usable keywords at the end of he course. Plus, if you sign-up there is a 10-day money back guarantee if you are not satisfied.
Long Tail Pro Will Save You Hours Of Research
I am telling you all of this to add some weight to what I am going to say now. If you can scrape the cash together, if you can spare yourself just one major expense for the start of your journey to affiliate marketing success, save yourself a lot of long hours of sifting through the Google Keyword Planner and then the MozBar and buy yourself a subscription to Long Tail Pro now! As long as you use it properly to find your killer keywords it will eventually pay for itself.
Use Your Keywords Strategically For Maximum SEO
To keep the major search engines happy, a keyword should make grammatical sense, both within itself and in the context of the content you are writing, otherwise you will lose ranking points. However, you can use punctuation to have the keyword make sense. For instance, the keyword “smartphones which is best” can be written as something like “We review the latest smartphones. Which is best for you?”, although this makes it more complicated to use your focus keyword in all of the page locations necessary for maximum SEO.
Where To Locate Your Focus Keyword
There are several places on your page or post where your exact focus keyword needs to be placed:
- In the title of your page or post.
- In the first major heading of the content.
- In the first paragraph of the content.
- If you are writing a long post 3,000 to 5,000 words or more, you can use the keyword one or two more times throughout the text if it occurs naturally but this is not a “must do”. Certainly, do not overuse the keyword. Keyword stuffing, as it is called, is penalized by the search engines. The Yoast SEO plugin, as discussed in SEO Tips And Tricks For Ranking High, can guide you with regards to keyword density.
- In the “Alt Text” script of one of your images used in the post.
- In the “Media > Edit” section of the WordPress dashboard, each image has edit boxes where you can change the title, write a caption and write the “Alt Text”, a brief, written description of the image.
- In the slug of the page URL.
- In the Meta Description.
- When using the Yoast SEO plugin, there are boxes at the bottom of the post to edit both the URL slug and the Meta Description.
Create Content That Is Informative, Engaging And Valuable To Your Audience
Now that you have your keyword, you are in a position to write your post based on it. The longer you can keep someone who visits your page from the search results engaged on your website, the more ranking points it will earn from the engines. So to keep your visitors there as long as possible you need to write informative content that over-delivers on the keyword, providing much more than they were expecting but at the same time, keeping it relevant, engaging and to the point.
To help keep your visitors engaged and stay on your page longer, break up the text to make it easier to read. Write in short paragraphs, shorter than you would if you were writing on paper. Use bold text, underlining or italics to emphasize important points. Break up the paragraphs with eye-catching headings and relevant images and graphics.
Use an easy-to-read font and avoid using multiple fonts as this makes the text appear jumbled. Make your text a contrasting color to your background. Black text on a white background is the best choice, which is why I use these colors, but if you don’t like that just ensure that your chosen colors are contrasting otherwise your text will blend into the background and you will lose visitors who find it difficult to read your content.
To get an idea of how your post “reads”, take an objective look at the preview on a mobile device to see if any adjustments need to be made.
If you can, make the content “evergreen”, that is so that it will still be relevant if somebody reads it several years later. This may not always be possible as some keywords that you find will include the year.
How Long Should A Post Be?
There is some ambiguity at the moment as to how long a post should be for SEO purposes. Should it be the traditional 1,500 plus words, or should it be the new school of thought of 4,000 to 5,000 words or longer? Certainly, a post of 5,000 words, if written well, will keep a visitor on your website for longer but I find that my older posts of 1,500 to 2,000 words are still ranking quite well.
I would say to just make the post as long as what feels right to you. If the words are rolling off the keyboard and you find yourself writing 5,000 words or more, all well and good. If you write less, don’t try to stretch it out just for the sake of it. It is far better to write a short post of valuable content rather than write a longer one full of padding and waffle, even if that means going under the accepted minimum of 1,500 words. One or two short posts amongst many longer ones will not adversely affect SEO, in my experience.
Whatever the length of your post, always proofread it at least once before publishing it. Check that it makes sense and that all of the spelling, grammar and punctuation are correct. Read your text out loud to double-check that it all makes sense. People are put off by unprofessional-looking websites with many mistakes and will look elsewhere for their answers.
Use Internal Links Increase Engagement
Within the content of your post, try and add at least one internal link to more relevant, related information published on your website. For example, if you are writing about a certain type of diet, you could link to another page where you have a suitable recipe for that diet. I appreciate that if you are writing your very first post you cannot link to any other content but you can come back to it later when you do have something.
Using internal links does two things for SEO:
- The search engines like to see a website built like a spider’s web with content linked to other content. They particularly like to see a page of general, “pillar” content linked to several other pages of more specific “cluster” pages which link back to the pillar content using hyperlinks.
- Linking to your other content helps to keep your visitors on your site for longer and we already know that this is good for SEO.
Link To Another Authoritative Site
SEO is further enhanced by adding a link within your page (not an affiliate link) to another authoritative site which has complementary information to your content that can help your visitors further.
For example, if you have a website about exercise equipment and you have a post reviewing a multigym, you might like to link it to a branded site that shows exercises that can be performed on that particular machine.
The search engines will like this and you also have the chance that the other website might link back to you, potentially bringing you more visitors and also adding to your ranking score.
Use Hashtags For More SERP Appearances
Most WordPress themes allow you to add hashtags at the end of the post. The use of hashtags gives you a chance of being ranked for that hashtag and appearing on other results pages to the one for your focus keyword.
I usually use the similar keywords that didn’t quite beat my focus keyword in the selection process but sometimes I use keywords based on my post subheadings. It all depends on what I feel is best for which post.
Be sure to choose a WordPress theme that allows you to have a comments box at the end of your post and add a piece of content at the end of your post encouraging your visitors to use it.
From your WordPress dashboard make sure in the settings that comments are sent to you for approval before publishing as you are likely to receive some spam comments that would harm your SEO if published.
Try to reply promptly, certainly within 24 hours, which demonstrates to your visitors that you are a real person and that you are responsive.
You Won’t Tick All The Boxes
These, then, are the methods you can use to enhance your on-page SEO. The chances are that you will never write a post where you can apply all of these enhancements together but apply as many as you can and I am sure that, like me, you will have several posts ranking at no.1 on the major search engines.
The next post is the last one in this series of four. You can jump straight there by clicking on this link:
It features some vital off page SEO that I didn’t cover in “SEO Tips And Tricks For Ranking High” that is best put into action after you have published a few posts.
Don’t forget to use the comments box below if you have any SEO or affiliate marketing questions or comments. Alternatively, you can email me using the Contact Stephen form.
Until next time, bye for now.