On-page SEO involves creating the type of content that searchers are looking for, and “optimizing” it to help search engines better understand what it is about. Most people think it’s just about keyword placement. Although part of it, it is far from the most important aspect.
Let’s explore the basics of optimizing a page to rank in search engines.
Match search intent
Fail to create the kind of content that searchers are looking for and your chances of ranking will be reduced to nothing. In the industry, this is known as aligning your content with search intent .
Since Google understands better than anyone what searchers are looking for, the best way to judge search intent is to look for commonalities between pages that currently rank best for the target keyword.
For example, the results for “SEO tips” are all list-style blog posts. But the results for “speakers” are all online store website categories.
This shows us that people looking for “speakers” are in buy mode and people looking for “SEO tips” are in learning mode. If we want to position ourselves, we need to keep this in mind and create the kind of content that aligns with search intent.
Choose a descriptive URL slug
In the chapter on setting up a website for SEO success, we talked about using a logical, descriptive URL structure. For each page or post you publish, you also need to define a descriptive slug — the part at the end of the URL.
The best way to do this depends on the subfolders before the URL slug.
Let’s say your target keyword is “men’s black jeans”.
If your URL doesn’t have subfolders or generic subfolders like /blog/, set the slug with your target keyword.
If there are ‘contextual’ subfolders like /masculine/ or /jeans/, it’s best to exclude the repeated keyword.
Write a catchy title tag
Title tags are the clickable blue links that are shown in search results.
It’s one of the few weapons you need to entice searchers to click through to your page, so it’s important to make it as engaging as possible.
The easiest way to do this is to align it with the search intent.
For example, if you look at the top results titles for “best bluetooth speaker”, there are a couple of commonalities:
- All contain the year. This indicates that the update is important to researchers.
- There is a lot of talk about portability . This indicates an important attribute.
Using this knowledge to our advantage, this seems like a very good title tag to use:
optimize the images
Images can rank on Google Images and send traffic to your website. We have received thousands of visits from Google Images in the last 3 months alone.
How to optimize images?
Follow these 3 steps:
- Name them well . The file names help Google understand the image, so gato.png is better than IMG_948493.png.
- Use descriptive alt text. The alt text (which stands for alternative text) is a code that describes an image in words. It is not visible on the page unless the user uses a page reader or the image fails to load. Most website platforms have an input field for the alt text when uploading an image.
- Compress them . Install a plugin like Shortpixel to compress your images on the fly and improve page speed.
Links from other websites act as “votes” and show Google that people endorse your content.
They are arguably the most important positioning factor, but getting good leads isn’t always easy.
Most link building tactics revolve around creating link-worthy content and then reaching website owners and publishers with a compelling reason to add the link to one of your pages. But there are other ways to get links..
Let’s look at some link building tactics.
A guest writer writes a blog post for another website. Here is a guest post that Ryan Stewart wrote for the Ahrefs blog in 2018.
If you look at the author’s biography, you’ll see links to Ryan’s social media and website.
Most websites allow guest authors to add their links here.
One of the easiest ways to find potential blogging opportunities is with Content Explorer, our searchable database of over seven billion pages. Here’s how:
- Search for a relevant topic
- Choose “in title” from the list
- Check the “websites” tab
Here, you’ll see the websites that get the most traffic to pages about your topic:
As these websites have written about this topic before, they are likely to be open to a guest post on a similar topic. Just send them an email asking.
The Skyscraper Technique is when you build links by creating better content than what people are already linking to.
This is the basic procedure:
- Find relevant content with lots of backlinks
- create something better
- Ask people with links to original content to link to yours
Content Explorer is by far the fastest way to find ‘skyscraper’ opportunities. Just search for a topic and filter pages with many referring domains (link sites).
Look for something you can improve and post something even better. You can then enter the URL in Website Explorer, find all the backlinks in the Backlinks , and reach those people.
Chase competing links
Understanding how competitors are attracting backlinks is the best way to create a link building strategy. If you can find patterns in your link profile, you’ll know which link building tactics are likely to be the most effective for your website.
To do this, search for the target keyword in Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and scroll down to the SERP Overview. Look for a page that is similar to yours and has many referring domains (website links).
If you do it for “SEO basics”, you will see lots of pages with backlinks.
If we click on the backlink report for one of the pages, we can look for trends among your backlinks.
In this case, it looks like there are some links to guides for blogging.
We could easily do a search in Content Explorer to find more guides to blogging and then contact their authors and suggest this post as a supplement to the guide.