2011 was an epic year for Google with some of the major changes being well publicised. As we move to a more social web you need to know that the on page SEO work that you do is still relevant and that you are not wasting any of your businesses precious time and resources. So what on page factors should you still pay attention to? Should you still carry out the SEO work that you have been grinding out week after week? Are the same things still important?
Yes links are still important, yes your Title Tags and Meta Description are still important - but as Google (in particular) rolls out more and more changes to the algorithm you need to think less about the search engines and more about the user. Take a step back from traditional SEO and look at how it can be combined with other strategies for creating the best web pages with the best possible chance to rank.
Remember - Google wants to please their users, so don't waste too much time chasing the algorithm and create pages that deserve to rank.
On Page SEO for 2012
It is important to remember that in recent years no singular tactic can fire up the search results (although there is still a case for links). A great web/SEO strategy pulls together a number of disciplines - if you want to succeed you need to diversify and pay attention to the smallest of details.
Great pages are the foundation of any great strategy, build from great content upwards (and outwards!)
1. Search Friendly URLs
Although probably still a tiny part of the algorithm, search friendly URLs should still form part of your greater strategy. Apart from the obvious search benefit of having keywords in your URLs they can still help as providing anchor text when people use the URL to link to the page. For user experience they will always give the user an idea that they are on the right page.
Ask yourself: If I were a user does that URL hint at what may be on the page that I click through to? If it is a yes, then it is probably fairly search friendly.
2. Heading Tags
Again the heading tags have been used for years as on important part of on page SEO and although there has been some good evidence this year that the correlation between rankings and heading tags is minimal that is no excuse to ignore them. Not only do the heading tags allow the SEO to flow through your page they help users scan to confirm that they are on the right page for their query.
Ask yourself: Do your heading tags help guide you through the page as well as having some keyword rich content? You need to satisfy both.
3. Optimised Copy
Although there is a good case for 'not optimising being the new optimising' you should never ignore the benefits of optimised copy. As the search engines become more sophisticated you should steer clear of any kind of blatant optimisation and tricks of yesteryear.
- use Google itself to find synonyms
- dig further into your keyword research and don't be afraid to think out of the box
- make use of some of the cool tools that are available for making your web pages better (some great ones that I use include ubersuggest, soovle, mergewords, Virante LDA tool)
- use internal anchor text copy in your site - but don't go crazy
Ask yourself: Does this feel optimised? If it does you may need to take another look or different approach.
As with most points on the list the part that images play in the on page strategy for 2012 is both SEO and user experienced based. There has been some strong evidence to suggest that the images and associated Alt Text play a role in the ranking of web pages (and this is enough to include them on the list). Do not, however, include images just for the sake SEO, well chosen images can enhance a web page, make it more socially shareable and help the user understand what a web page is about.
Ask yourself: Do the images make sense? Do they add to the page?
5. Stay Away From Old Keyword Strategies
Make sure your keywords are at the top, middle and bottom of the document. Make sure that your keywords are featured fully at least seven times. The perfect keyword density is 6.35454653465365%. Write for the search engines first and the user second. via Search Marketing and Viral Marketing SEO God Guru
Erm, no, no, no and no. Write what feels right to you (but do with a strategy in mind and a sound knowledge of keywords that drive traffic).
Ask yourself: Would this page be Page 1, Number 1 in 2001 for a chosen keyword? If so, you may need to think again for 2012!
6. User Led Copy
Make sure that you know who your visitors are and what it is they need and want. Most websites attract more than one kind of user so make sure that you are speaking to all your potentials. Your website is some of the most valuable marketing collateral that you own so make sure that you give it the attention that deserves - it has the ability to speak to more than one type of visitor or consumer so invest the time and effort to do so.
Ask yourself: Do I know who my target audience are and what they like? If not you may need to do some more research.
Videos have been turning up in the search results for years as part of Universal Search and yet so many businesses fail to see the benefit. Featuring videos on your web pages allows you to communicate via another technique and you have the added benefit of diversifying your search visibility through optimised video.
Ask yourself: Does this add to the page? Is it useful? Is it optimised?
8. Going The Extra Mile
The search engines have to serve results that are relevant and useful to their users otherwise they could lose them. Are you going the extra mile to please, excite and delight your visitors? Does your web page deserve to rank for competitive keywords? Will it be useful to those that click on it or is it just to attract traffic? Going the extra mile sets you apart from the competition. Can you look at your pages and can honestly say that they are some of the best out their in your niche? If so you are your way to doing well in the search results...now you just have to tie that in with all you other marketing efforts.
Ask yourself: Have I presented the page in a diverse way? Will these pages talk to a number of people? Would users benefit from graphs, more photos, data - what do they need?
On Page SEO in 2012 is about creating useful, sharable, rich web pages that deserve rankings based on their quality (not on how many spammy .edu links you can buy). We need to combine old school SEO with usability, marketing and psychology to create the pages and sites that will do well next year and into the future. Users and search engines have moved on and so what we call SEO should too.
The search engines are shifting to a more social web based on trust and authority - are you ready for it?