On-Page SEO for Content Marketing Success
Since Target Marketing is in the process of moving to a new publishing platform, and I’ve been reviewing the new features and tools, I thought it might be a good time to review best practices for on-page SEO.
There is, of course, quite a lot more to getting the most marketing return out of the content you publish, but on-page optimization is almost always a key part of the equation. Here are a few areas to pay particular attention to.
If you search the intertubes, you’ll find all sorts of formulas and calculations for how often you should use your primary and secondary keywords. I won’t go so far as to tell you to ignore those rules of thumb, but will say that you’ll be better off if you focus instead on staying well short of the point where your copy sounds stilted or algorithm-generated.
More important than density is placement. Using your keywords strategically is likely to yield much better results. This means that in addition to using your keywords in your pages’ body copy, you should also place it in your pages’
- Page titles
- Headlines and subheads
- Page URLs
Beside being helpful for your optimization efforts, these all have the added benefit of helping your human audience understand how your content and your site is organized.
Just remember that your site should be organized from your prospects’ perspective, not your internal structure. (Nobody really cares about your org chart or how you group services together into service lines, etc. They care whether you can help them solve their business problem.)
The keyword meta tag isn’t critical the way it once was, but your description meta tag is not only an important part of how the search engines see you but they can make or break whether users click on your link when it shows up on a search engine results page. (SERP) That’s because the description is frequently what is displayed on the SERP along with the page title and link.
Be sure you take advantage of the available space, which has recently been increased from the old 160-character limit by most search engines. You have somewhere between 250 and 300 characters.
And don’t ignore the alt text fields for editorial graphics. Describe all photos, charts, graphs, and illustrations. This is too often overlooked by marketers optimizing their pages.
On-Page SEO Tools for CMSes
Depending on the CMS you’re using, there are tools to help you with your on-page optimization efforts. There’s no need to count characters on your fingers and toes, for example. Most CMSes have modules, extensions, or plugins that count characters for you as you type or paste copy into fields that the search engines limit. (Description, page title, etc.)
Who’s In Charge of Your SEO?
Keep in mind that the search engines sometimes make decisions for you, and will display description copy based on the page content and SEO focus, rather than what you’ve entered into your description meta field. There’s no appeal process that I know of, or any way to override the search engines’ choices. An annoyance to be sure, but overall it’s a good thing, as it helps to limit the black-hat tactics that were prevalent in the early days of search marketing and SEO.
Though not strictly a part of on-page optimization, ensuring that your site is mobile friendly and fast-loading are both important factors in how well you will rank. There are various tools available, including some excellent free tools from Google, that will help you fine tune your site on both of these scores, but at the very least you should begin by reviewing how quickly your site loads and how well your content displays on various devices – new and old, big and small, Mac or Windows or iOS or Android.
Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured?
A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms encourage audience engagement through solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either.
His work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components, and he has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events. His writing appears in various online and print publications.
Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")