On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page

When it comes to on-page SEO, I’m sure you’ve heard enough about meta tags and keyword density for one lifetime.

If you’re looking for some practical strategies that you can use on your site today, then you’ll love this infographic.

It’s a simple checklist that will bring in more search engine traffic from every piece of content that you publish:

Bonus: Download a free checklist that will show you how to quickly leverage these strategies. Includes 2 bonus on-page SEO techniques not found in this post.

On-Page SEO Infographic

View a larger version of this infographic

Embed this infographic on your site:

Here’s my take on the on-page SEO insights from the infographic:

1. Leverage SEO-Friendly Permalink URLs

You want your page’s URL to be short and keyword rich. Avoid ugly URLs, like backlinko.com/p=123 or long URLs like: backlinko.com/on-page-seo-is-so-amazing-omg-its-the-best.

Google has stated that the first 3-5 words in a URL are given more weight.

Brian’s Take:

Brian DeanI think that this metric is getting less and less important as Google gets better at figuring out relevancy using off-page signals like co-citations. But they still bold keywords in a URL in the SERPS:

SEO URLsThat makes me think that a keyword-rich URL
still carries some weight. Also, I’ve been experimenting with including JUST my target keyword as the URL lately. Seems to make a small but significant difference.

2. Goal=Start Title With Keyword

Your title tag is the most important on-page SEO factor. A Moz.com study found that pages that started their title with a keyword ranked higher than pages with the keyword in the middle or at the end:

Title Tags

Basically this chart shows that the closer the keyword is to the beginning of the title tag, the more weight it has with search engines.

Brian’s Take:

Brian DeanYou don’t always need to start your title with your target keyword. But if there’s a keyword that you’re gunning for, make sure to put it in the beginning.

3. Dazzle with Multimedia

Text can only take your content so far. Engaging images, videos and diagrams can reduce bounce rate and increase time on site: two user interaction-based Google ranking factors.

Brian’s Take:

Brian DeanYou probably notice that I use a lot of images, diagrams, and screenshots here at Backlinko. That’s because I firmly believe that it makes my content better. Adding cool multimedia helps you boost those user-interaction signals that Google has been paying more attention to. And it increases the perceived value of your content: which means that people are more likely to link to it.

4. Use Outbound Links

This is an easy, white hat SEO strategy to get more traffic. Outbound links to related pages is a relevancy signal that helps Google zero-in on your page’s topic. An industry study found that adding outbound links to authority sites boosted the page’s rank in Google.

Brian’s Take:

Brian DeanThis might be the on-page SEO mistake that I see people make most often. I usually link out 2-4x per 1000 words. That’s a good rule of thumb for most sites. But keep in mind that the sites you link out to reflect on you. So make sure to link out to authority sites whenever possible.

5. Drop Keyword in First 100 Words

Your keyword should appear in the first 100-150 words of the article. Putting the keyword early in the content complements the title tag by emphasizing the page’s topic.

Brian’s Take:

Brian DeanThis is something that you probably do naturally. But a lot of writers love to start their posts off with a long, meandering intro…and use their keyword for the first time in middle of the post. It’s better to  drop your keyword somewhere in the first 100 words or so. That helps make sure Google understands what your page is all about.

6. Wrap Your Title in an H1 Tag

The H1 tag is your “headline tag”. Most CMS’s (like WordPress) automatically add the H1 tag to your post title. But some themes override this setting. Check your site’s code to make sure your title gets the H1 love it deserves.

Brian’s Take:

Brian DeanI used to just assume that WordPress hooked me up with H1 tags…until I actually looked at my site’s code. Then I realized that some WordPress themes sometimes lazily use H1 tags to increase text size. As an example, my email opt-in area at the end of posts used to use an H1 tag in the title:

H1 Tag

It’s worth checking out your site’s code to make sure you only have one H1 tg per page, unless (as Backlinko reader Emile pointed out), your site is using HTML5. In that case it’s OK to have multiple H1 tags on the same page.

7. Nail Loading Speed

Google has stated on the record that page loading speed is an important SEO ranking signal. You can boost your site speed by using a CDN, compressing images, and switching to faster hosting. Make sure it doesn’t take more than 4 seconds for your page to load: MunchWeb found that 75% of users wouldn’t re-visit a site that took longer than 4 seconds to load.

Brian’s Take:

Brian DeanCDNs and cache plugins are nice, but the #1 thing you can do to make your site faster is to move to a more expensive host. Hostgator and Bluehost are decent for the money you’re paying. But they don’t hook you up with serious speed.

I’ve literally dropped loading times from 6 seconds to less than 2 seconds by switching from a $5 shared hosting plan to a top-notch host (I use WP Engine here at Backlinko). From a conversion and SEO standpoint, the ROI of premium hosting can’t be beat.

8. Add Modifiers To Your Title

Adding modifiers like “2013″, “best”, “guide”,  and “review” can help you rank for long tail versions of your target keyword.

Brian’s Take:

Brian DeanThis is a great trick to wrangle in those long tail searchers that use 5-9 words per search (Also known as those keywords you see in your Google Analytics that make you say: “WTF?!”.).

Notice that in this post I made the title nice and long: “On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page”.

These modifiers aren’t targeting any particular long tail keyword. But I’m sure that title will bring in a few more visitors per week than if it was simply “On Page SEO”.

9. Use Social Sharing Buttons

Social signals are becoming a larger part of search engine algorithms. A study by BrightEdge found that prominent social sharing buttons can increase social sharing by 700%.

Brian’s Take:

Brian DeanSocial signals aren’t a large part of the Google algorithm yet. But they definitely give you a slight boost. And getting your content shared on social media means more eyeballs on your content: increasing the likelihood that someone will eventually link to you.

10. Post Long Content

The SEO adage “length is strength” was supported by a SERPIQ.com industry study which found that longer content ranked significantly higher in Google. Aim for at least 1500 words when targeting competitive keywords.

Brian’s Take:

Brian DeanAs a rule, I make sure all of my articles have at least 1000-words of meaty, useful content. Longer content helps you rank better for your target keyword and brings in more long tail traffic…a win-win!

11. Slash Bounce Rate

A bounce — when a visitor quickly leaves your site — might be used by search engines to gauge a page’s quality. Google can use the Google toolbar, Chrome browser, and Google Analytics data to determine a page’s bounce rate.

Brian’s Take:

Brian DeanBounce rate isn’t the end-all-be-all of user experience metrics…but I think it matters. One of the easiest and most effective ways to decrease your bounce rate and time on site is to add internal links to the beginning of your content.

I think when people first get to a page they’re more “click happy” then when they’re deeper in an article. That’s why internal links at the beginning of your articles tend to get clicked more often…slashing bounce rate significantly.

12. Sprinkle LSI Keywords

LSI keywords are synonyms that Google uses to determine a page’s relevancy (and possibly quality).

Brian’s Take:

Brian DeanI don’t go nuts about LSI because I typically write long content. Long content makes it likely that you’ll naturally include LSI keywords in your content. If you want to make 100% sure that you’re using LSI keywords, search for your keyword in Google and scroll down to the “Searches Related to…” area at the bottom:

LSI KeywordsAnd toss one or two of them into your post.

Here are a few more important on-page SEO factors that I didn’t have room to include in the infographic:

Quality Content: I know that you’re sick and tired of hearing about “quality content”. And while search engines have no direct way of determining quality, they have plenty of indirect methods, especially user-experience metrics like:

  • Repeat visitors
  • Chrome bookmarks
  • Time on site
  • Dwell time (more on that next)

In other words, great content definitely won’t hurt you. So there’s no reason NOT to publish awesome stuff.

Dwell Time: As Backlinko reader Anthony points out in this post, bounce rate may not be all it’s hyped up to be.

According to Anthony, bounce rate has ZERO effect on SEO because Google isn’t able to accurately determine bounce rate.

That may be true…

But they definitely pay attention to “short clicks” vs. “long clicks”, also known as dwell time. Dwell time simply measures how long a searcher stays on your page before hitting the back button.

If they hit their back button immediately after landing on your page, it’s a sign of a low quality page.

You can increase your average dwell time by writing long, engaging content that keeps people reading.

That way — even if they bounce back to the search results — you at least have a “long click”. That long click shows Google that you gave them something of value while they were there.

Internal Links: Internal linking is SO money. If you want to see a great example of how to internal link on your site, check out Wikipedia.

They add keyword-rich internal links to every entry:

Wikipedia Internal LinkingObviously, they can get away with 50+ internal links per page because they’re Wikipedia. I recommend a simpler (and safer) approach: link to 3-6 of your older posts whenever you publish a new one.

H2 and H3 Tags: I don’t think H2 and H3 tags are a big deal. But you should include your target keyword at least once in an H2 or H3 subheading. This also has the added bonus of making your content easier to read.

Image Optimization: I’ve found that traffic from image search to be pretty poor (high bounce rate, low conversions etc.). That being said, I’ll take any visitor I can get. That’s why I always optimize each image around a keyword.

Make sure the file name includes your target keyword (for example, on_page_SEO.jpg) and that you include your target keyword in the image Alt Text:

Image_SEO

Another reason to optimize your images for SEO: it gives search engines yet another clue of what your page is about…which helps it rank in organic search.

If Google sees images with alt text “blue widgets”, “green widgets” etc., it helps it figure out that your page is about widgets.

Here’s How to Use These Techniques For Your Site

I made a free on-page SEO checklist for you that will help you put these strategies into action for your site.

It outlines — step-by-step — exactly how to use the techniques that I talked about in this post…including 2 strategies that I didn’t include in the infographic.

Here’s where you can download the checklist:

download the on-page-seo checklist pdf

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{ 365 comments }
  • Dom

    Again Brian, as always, you have overdelivered.
    I don’t even bother looking at Semoz now:)

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for your kind words, Dom. It means a lot :-).

      Reply
  • Luke

    Great infographic and it’s awesome to see your insight. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for your comment (and the tweet) Luke!

      Reply
  • Marko Bukovac

    Yet another great post Dean. Keep up the good work. :)

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks, Marko! I’ll definitely keep bringing the noise :-D

      Reply
  • Dom

    Brian
    would you have an embed code for this infographic. I would like to share it with my visitors.
    Thanks
    Dom

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      That’d be awesome, Dom. I just added an embed code to the bottom of the post. :-)

      Reply
  • Mikk

    Nice post again. Love it

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Glad to hear it, Mikk. Hit me up if you have any questions.

      Reply
  • Rebecca

    Great infographic! Thanks for the mention :)

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      No problem, Rebecca. Thanks for your on-page insights :-)

      Reply
  • James Brockbank

    This is fantastic! It is so true that on page SEO is vital to get right and great to see such an in depth look at it!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      You’re so right: it’s super important. Let me know how the tips from the infographic work out for you, James.

      Reply
  • Edward Dennis

    Inner-linking. I know you mentioned this briefly on “Slash Bounce Rate”, but I think inner-linking (Silo architecture type of thing) deserves its own “heading”.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      You’re absolutely right, Edward. Inner linking deserves it’s own header (if not it’s own infographic!) I’ll definitely include that in the next version.

      Reply
  • Sameep Shah

    Nice! That idea for finding LSI keywords was spot on. I wish I’d known about it sooner.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      You’re right Sameep: it’s great info straight from Big G!.

      Reply
  • GadGet

    This is a good article, I just to know keyword must use in first 100 word. How to know LSI keyword by check at the bottom google search.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Glad you picked up some helpful tips from the infographic!

      Reply
  • Marie

    Great tips! I will definitely use them going forward. Thank you Brian!

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Sure thin, Marie. Let me know if you have any on-page SEO questions.

      Reply
  • Pat Brosnan

    Very interesting stuff Brian, I only knocked across you in the last couple of weeks. Keep up the good content

    Pat Brosnan

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for stopping by (and for your kind words) Pat!

      Reply
  • Dom

    Thanks, finally got this infographic embedded on my new website.
    Dom
    ps: congrats on endorsement by Neil Patel worth more than many links

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for sharing the infographic, Dom! You’re right: Neil’s testimonial should help me quite a bit.

      Reply
  • Raheel Mushtaq

    It’s not only about the on page seo but a perfectly optimized content you can say high quality content.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Good point, Raheel. You also need to have great stuff if you want your optimized content to rank.

      Reply
  • corey lewis

    Brian are you currently hireable for seo work?

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      I’m only available for consulting right now, Corey. Send me a message from my contact page if you’d like to chat.

      Reply
  • Godawan Impex

    Recently (before going through this article) i did some changes into my webpages, It re-enforced the site and managed to get good placement then before …..
    Whatever you have mentioned, still work strongly.
    Excellent work ……. All the best . keep spreading good stuff.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Thanks for sharing that: on-page can make a bigger difference than many people think.

      Reply
  • Travis Jamison

    Quality infographic Brian.

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Glad you liked it, Travis.

      Reply
  • Laboratory Blog

    Really nicely broken down with that graphic. Well done. ;)

    Reply
    • Brian Dean

      Awesome to hear that you liked the infographic.

      Reply

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Brian Dean founder of Backlinko

Brian Dean is the founder of Backlinko, the training hub for digital marketing professionals with over 60,000 monthly readers and a popular email newsletter. Continue reading