In this Affilorama blog post we're taking a dramatic step away from almost everything you think you know about on-page SEO. If you've come here from AffiloBlueprint, then you will already have an inkling of what I'm talking about - the synergy between what your site delivers, and what your visitors want. For the purposes of this lesson, I'll be referring to this as "on-page SEO synergy" (or something similar)
Take a moment to think about on-page SEO, as you know it right now. What sort of things come to mind?
- Meta descriptions
- Title tags
- Header tags
- Alt tags
- Keyword density
- Relevant URLs
I'm guessing you thought about terms like that - am I right?
I'm also going to guess that you probably didn't think of on-page SEO in terms of:
- The way your content fulfills the needs and wants of your visitors
- How accessible your content is
- The holistic experience of your website for both search engine spiders AND human visitors
On-page SEO is dead - long live on-page SEO!
Once upon a time the key to good on-page SEO was simply getting the "technical" aspects of your site correct. This meant making sure you had the right keywords in the right places, that you had image alt tags, and that you had your keyword in your page URL etc.
However, in the age of on-page synergy, this "technical" stuff is nowhere near as important as it once was. Now I'm not saying that you need to burn the books of old-school SEO. In fact, you should still be trying to optimize your site with great technical SEO. The only difference in 2013 and beyond is that you need to pay more attention to the person coming to your site, and how they are interacting with your content.
So SEO isn't "dead" as some people seem wont to claim. In fact, it's just evolved to become more organic and more user-focused.
What is on-page SEO synergy?
The easiest way to understand on-page SEO synergy is to take a look at this little Venn diagram:
On the left, you have the wants and needs of your visitor. I will talk a little bit more about how you can accurately identify these wants and needs, but for now pretend that our visitor (one Mr. Abe Fillorama) is having some trouble with his German Shepherd dog; every time the postman comes the dog runs out the door and bites him. We can safely say that the dog has a biting problem.
So Mr A. Fillorama loads up Google and searches for "ways to stop German Shepherd biting". The first result he clicks is a website that explains in a clear and concise manner why his German Shepherd is biting the postman, and then teaches a number of different ways to stop this from happening. Abe is so impressed by what that site's content is providing, that he goes on to sign up to its opt in list and eventually purchase a total German Shepherd training manual.
What's more, this great site also incorporates the best elements of technical on-page SEO
- The pages load quickly, even on Abe's old computer
- There are clear header tags that feature targeted keywords but also assist with content navigation
- The one image that didn't load properly had an alt tag, so Abe knew what it was meant to show
That's what on-page SEO synergy is all about! It is the art of ensuring that your content matches the needs and wants of your visitors, just as shown on that Venn diagram. And the technical side of SEO? That helps to demonstrate that your content is matched and synergized. Furthermore, great technical on-page SEO also boosts your chances of having your "matched" content appear in the search engines.
Here's what happens with a website that might have impeccable technical SEO, but which isn't in synergy with the visitors' wants and needs:
That great SEO of the "older genus" has enabled this site to rank well. However, the content isn't actually matched to the visitor profile. And as you might have guessed, this has left a gaping hole in terms of visitor satisfaction!
Moral of the story: No amount of optimization can take the place of fresh, unique, and original content that actually does what it says on the box.
Mandatory metaphorical example: Imagine you've just purchased a Ferrari. It looks and feels just like a Ferrari should. However, you get in and turn the key only to discover an engine from a Ford Pinto has been transplanted in there. So it all looks good from the outside, but the "heart and soul" of the car isn't there - that's going to leave you completely unsatisfied. It's much the same with on-page SEO; a site might look absolutely spot-on from the outside, but if the content (the heart and soul of any site) isn't up to much, then you're gonna feel cold about it.
Determining your visitors's wants and needs
At the heart of good on-page SEO synergy is working out exactly what your visitors actually want from your site. Now this might sound daunting, but it's actually not too difficult when you think about it. If you match your content to the keywords being used to come to your pages, then you are 90% of the way there.
For example, someone searching for "ways to stop German Shepherd biting" is obviously after different ways (methods, tips, or tricks) to stop a German Shepherd from biting. They're not interested in stopping a Labrador from biting, nor do they want to know about how to stop a German Shepherd from doing cartwheels through a burning hoop. What your visitors are searching for is probably what they want - or else they wouldn't be searching for it!
Where traditional on-page SEO has skirted this issue for so long is the clever use of keywords, title tags (read: keywords) and alt tags (read: more keywords) to effectively trick Google into thinking the page actually delivers content about those keywords. This meant that you could throw up keyword-optimized content with great on-page SEO, and it didn't even have to teach anything useful - provided the keywords were there Google couldn't tell the difference.
But these days Google is becoming smarter, faster, better, and stronger at telling whether content is actually useful (and not just filler wrapped in attractive packaging). There are human editors who do site reviews, and social signals provide a real way of telling how engaging a particular piece of content is.
In fact, the more Likes, Tweets, and Pluses your articles, reviews, and blog posts are getting, the greater your chances of demonstrating to Google that your content is really relevant to visitors. This is ideal for good on-page SEO synergy.
On-page SEO synergy guidelines
Rather than bore you to death with any further technical analysis of on-page SEO synergy, check out this list of "synergized" SEO techniques you need to practice:
- Match your content to the keyword
- Deliver on the promises you make in your article or page headline. If your page is "ten dog training tips" then you better damn well feature those ten different tips.
- Avoid useless filler content - it's better to have a 500 word article that actually has some useful information, than having a 5000 word article that doesn't actually teach anything
- Ditch spun content and cheap ($1/100 word) outsourced articles. If you don't want to write content yourself then either pay for premium content or get good at making videos
- Use title tags (h1 etc) to break up the content on your page to make it easier to read
- Ensure your pages load as quickly as possible. Use the AffiloTools page performance tool to find areas you can improve on.
- Image alt tags still have value; but use them to describe your images (as opposed to keyword stuffing)
- Place your best information above the page fold, so that visitors see it as quickly as possible
- Link regularly to other relevant articles on your site - strong internal linking will help your search engine rankings and decrease your bounce rate
- Create rich media pages that feature embedded video, photo, and text elements
- Remember to include social share buttons on your site, so that people can Like, Tweet, or + your pages.
So if you only take one thing away from this blog post, please let this be it:
"The key to proper on-page SEO is to make sure your content is in synergy with your visitors' wants and needs. If you can deliver on your promises, then you are already light years ahead of the competition."
Old-school SEO techniques still have their value, but it's more in terms of ensuring that your content gets seen and is easy to navigate.
Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions or comments just let me know!