Blog
8 March 2021

On-Page SEO: How To Drive Traffic To Your Website

So far in the DigiF9 blog series we have covered a few key areas on the benefit a website can bring to your organisation, a quick setup guide, security guide and threw a user guide in there for good measure! This week we are going to talk about On-Page SEO, the second in our three-part series on the topic of SEO (as they say, good things come in threes).

Maybe you’ve never heard of SEO before, maybe you’ve heard the buzzword but never really understood what it means. In this blog we will define exactly what it is and discuss various ways to improve your website’s ‘SEO Score’.

At DigiF9 we want to help all our customers take their website to the next level, by offering a fully transparent, competitively priced, and fully optimised product to our customers, to help them truly transform their operations. Interested? Get in touch at sales@digif9.co.uk today for a personalised quote, fully bespoke to your requirements.

Introduction

As we discussed in the previous article encompassing Technical SEO – SEO is how search engines understand, categorise and score websites. Improving your SEO score allows your organisation’s website to be returned on more search terms, as well as appearing higher in these search results, which can be a major factor in boosting your market presence. To put it short, improving your website’s SEO score can be the gamechanger your company needs, to take business to the next level.

Whilst Technical SEO focusses more on the code behind the scenes of your website, On-Page or On-Site SEO as it is also known, does exactly what it says on the tin – it focusses on the content on your website.

Optimising Your Content

Sounds simple right?

Improving the content on your website may seem like a natural step for any organisation, ensuring that it is kept up to date, is accurate and provides the most detailed overview of the company operations. Whilst this is true, On-Page SEO focusses on a few key areas within the content, and through this guide you will see how easy it is for a website that has fantastic content to the human eye, can still suffer with a poor SEO score for On-Page SEO, due to not focussing on how the search engine crawler will interpret it.

As with all areas of SEO, there are a wide variety of areas to focus on within On-Page SEO, that are beyond the scope of this blog. Instead, we will focus on the most pertinent areas to help get your website optimised. Remember SEO is not an overnight success story, the same way with any reputation in life – you need to spend time building it up and following the right steps to do this and be wary of embarrassment that can threaten to undo the hard work. For WordPress users, see our detailed guide on securing WordPress, to help ensure that your website is not compromised, potentially affecting your hard-earned reputation!

Within this article we will focus on the following five areas;

  1. Quick Win Solutions
  2. Title & Description Tags
  3. Written Content
  4. Keywords
  5. Click Through Rate (CTR)

Quick Win Solutions

Its not about the endpoint it’s about the journey… rubbish, give me the solution.

Step 1: Define The Target Keyword Early

Search engine crawlers whilst seeming fancy and technical in nature, have been designed by humans, meaning that they share one major trait – issues with attention span. Whilst some people may argue that they are particularly patient, lets face it, when reading content, we want to get to the bottom of it early on, particularly when trying to identify if content matches your search requirement. If you have to read through the entire site content to decipher what exactly that organisation does, you will be particularly frustrated if it doesn’t meet your requirements.

One of the best pieces of advice I was given in my career was to BLUF (which I quickly found out didn’t mean make things up as I go along). Instead, this stands for Bottom Line Up Front – essentially define early on the point you are trying to make to your target audience to capture their attention early on. Search engine crawlers put more weight on terms that appear early in your page. For blogs, about us sections or product portfolios, this is a critical point to hit home on. Lets take a blog for example, On-Page SEO by DigiF9. The main keyword/phrase for the article here is clearly On-Page SEO. Not only is this contained within the page title, but within the content itself in the first 100 words. Straight away search engines understand the topic of focus and what the keywords are about.

Step 2: Make Use Of Header Tags (H1, H2)

Within a document you can have a number of different content features for visibility purposes such as Headings, Subheadings, Citations, Quotes, Links and so on. These fields are just as important with websites, and lets focus on the first tag, Headers.

The H1 tag essentially is a mini title tag, which is used by a search engine to understand what the page is about. For users of a Content Management System (CMS), such as WordPress, these systems will automatically add the H1 tag to a blog post title. However, this is not always the case, and so you should confirm that your title is contained within a H1 tag, which contains the keyword you expect users to be searching for to see your content.

Now that those H1s are taken care of, get straight on to H2 tags – aka your subheadings. Whilst subheadings are not essential in every page or even in every blog, they are a great way to break up long slices of text, as well as reaffirm to search engine crawlers exactly what the purpose of the content is. Make sure that each of your subheadings are contained within a H2 tag and feature a keyword that you expect users to be searching for related to your content, to help optimise and boost your site’s SEO score.

Step 3: Manage Keyword Frequency

Another element that does exactly what it says on the tin – those of us in IT are quite simple beings after all. This point focusses on how many times that keyword appears in your content. When a search engine is crawling through your website content and trying to decipher what the purpose of it is, you want there to be no doubt about what the keyword or topic is. If you only repeat the keyword once in your text it will have far weaker strength and clout than a page containing multiple repetitions of the keyword. But remember, with great power comes great responsibility. Whilst there is a temptation to have a knee jerk reaction and stuff that keyword in as many times as possible you won’t be doing yourself any favours with your human target audience, nor the search engine crawler. Keyword stuffing as this is known, will harm your on-page SEO efforts. So organically bring the keyword back into focus throughout the page, roughly every 500-600 words, in order to achieve the most successful results.

Step 4: Use External Links

That’s a really interesting fact, but where did you get it from?

Statistics, quotes and images can be really eye catching and powerful types of content to include in your pages. But as with your high school / university essays you used to do well in advance of the due date (cough – the night before) you will score no bonus points for this with your target audience if these are not backed up with a credible source. This way you demonstrate to your users and search engine crawlers alike that you back up your content with links to the original source to demonstrate due diligence and authority on the subject. Otherwise you are just spitting out random facts with nothing to back it up and where will that get you? Well maybe elected as president of the USA but it won’t get your SEO score optimised.

Title & Description Tags

Right quick wins done now for the real hands on stuff!

Whilst Header (H1, H2) tags are a powerful part of your page, they cannot replace the big cheese – the page title. This defines your page and should be the first thing that both humans and crawlers alike see when they visit the page – big bold and triumphant, this is how you sell your company / content.

This part seems really simple, and it is. Whenever you produce content you spend a significant amount of time planning an eye-catching title. With websites it is the same process, where you want to incorporate long tail keywords into your heading.

Long Tail Keywords

So, what exactly are these? Essentially these represent search terms that have lower search volume and therefore competition levels.

Long Tail Keywords: https://backlinko.com/hub/seo/long-tail-keywords

Whilst it is tempting to focus on the single word phrases, the buzzwords if you like, anyone that has consumed marketing material or been to a conference will be all to familiar with this concept.

Big Data           Machine Learning           Artificial Intelligence     Automated        

And these are just the ones on my pain list. Every other vendor in the space is likely to be using these buzzwords or terms, making it difficult to rank higher in the search results. I’ll hold my hand up straight away as someone that has grown up in the tech revolution – when I don’t know something I copy and paste it into Google. So rather than searching for ‘Machine Learning’ I would search for ‘Using machine learning to process thousands of images’. A vendor producing content relevant to my query would be returned or the closest possible instance identified. So, if you are producing marketing content or a blog spend time identifying topics that your users will be searching for around that topic. Better yet, use powerful captivating language to make it clear that you are solving an issue – “Best”, “Comprehensive”, “Guide”, “Free”, “Fast” to name a few examples of how you can demonstrate early that your content is meeting a need and score higher for SEO.

Meta Description

Within search engine results you will see three key pieces of content;

  • Website Title
  • Website URL
  • Website Meta Description

Here we go, you’ve managed to be returned on the search results for a query and you just need to get a click on that URL to display the fantastic content you’ve poured hours into. But there’s one problem – your aesthetic graphic logo, your beautiful website, your detailed content isn’t front and centre for the world to see. Instead, you are relying on these three areas to get that click. All the websites in those search results display the same, so you are all on an equal footing – it’s show time.

We’ve discussed the power of the title, now its time to tag in the meta description. This snippet is the tiniest version of your elevator pitch – in a few words describe your page content to attract users to click on it. If you don’t write your own meta descriptions, the search engine will do it for you. And do you really want to waste such few words on computer generated text?

We recommend the following two sentence template for the meta description.  

  1. This is a [content description]
  2. Learn / Achieve / Buy / ACTION WORD how to get [benefit] from this [content description]

Step 1 defines the content in one sentence. Remember that BLUF process we discussed earlier. The second outlines what the user can do with that content, whether it is to learn or achieve something, or maybe buy book or view content. That action word quickly tells the user what they can do with that content and then you outline what benefit it will bring them. Easy as that.

Written Content

A picture says a 1000 words. But you still need some words…

We’ve dealt with the headings, the tags the descriptions, you now have to optimise the written content on your page, both from a human and machine readable perspective. At DigiF9 we recommend the following three areas of focus for content;

  1. Solve A Challenge
  2. Provide A USP(unique selling point)
  3. Research & Update Keywords

Solve A Challenge

Apologies in advance for another buzzword but this one was drilled into me early on in my career – make it actionable. Informational content is all well and good as an overview or for someone just browsing. But whether you are selling products or services, or producing content for users to consume, you need it to be actionable to have any success. What this means is clear steps that the user can take using your content or product. Think back to the point about Long Tail Keywords and using powerful language in your title. Define the problem that your company is going to solve for your users. Then straight away you are solving a challenge and demonstrating value. Particularly for websites using blogs, whitepapers, and other marketing material, identify key challenges in the industry and how you can help provide a solution to them to impress both humans and crawlers alike.

Provide A USP

Whilst it is impossible to be the only company writing about a subject or operating in a particular vertical (as the second you start publishing it with success, people will follow). You don’t want to be regurgitating the same content that users have already seen / can get elsewhere.

When starting your company as an entrepreneur you no doubt discussed the topic of a Unique Selling Point (USP), the differentiator for your company in the market. Well, this is all well and good in your head, but this needs to be conveyed when you communicate to your target audience, and your website is a powerful way of achieving this.

So how can you demonstrate your USP with your content?

Simple, bring something new to the table. With written content such as blogs this could include areas such as;

  • A new method or process
  • A case study where your company demonstrated value
  • A clear step by step process to follow
  • A strong, powerful design and user experience

For ecommerce platforms you are likely to be in a competitive market with other platforms, so explain why yours is the best. Free next day shipping, special promotions, a huge product selection. The point is true whatever the use case – find that USP and demonstrate it throughout your website content.

Keywords

Describe yourself in 3 words… Go.

There is no overnight success when it comes to SEO, at least not completely. One of the most important areas to focus on is what keywords and search terms you expect users to be searching for to retrieve your content. After updating your pages or producing content you should search for these key words and phrases to measure your success here, and potentially update the keywords titles and other elements to assist crawlers with categorising your site.

This leads onto a further area of focus known as Search Intent. Essentially this defines the purpose of a user when they are using a search engine. There is so much more to search queries than just a buzzword, the most successful companies understand what their target market are searching for and satisfy those queries. After all humans and crawlers alike are busy creatures – they want to get to their target result in the most efficient and successful way possible, so make it easy for them to do just that. For on-page SEO, the ultimate goal is to find keywords or phrases that have high search volumes but low competition levels.

Keyword Research

Once you’ve understood what your target audience is searching for and identified what the purpose of the search is, i.e. they are looking for a list, a blog, etc. you can then take the next step in your keyword research and identify the keywords to include in your content to help you optimise your on-page SEO.

Wikipedia

Wikipedia contains some interesting suggestions of topics that you may not have considered for keywords, so how do you find keywords on Wikipedia:

  • Search your topic > look at the article on that topic > go to the contents page and look at the headings. You may find some great keywords here.
  • Look at related articles > use the same process as above to identify more keywords.

Google

Google is the largest search engine with the most users, so it is best to optimised for what people are searching for in Google:

  • Start typing your topic > look at suggested search queries > These can be used as keywords or long tail keywords in your content.
  • Search your term > Scroll to the bottom > Look at “searches related to” section > some of these may be great keywords.
  • Click on each of these “search relate to” topics > check their “related to” section for more keywords.

Other Search Engines (including YouTube)

YouTube is one of the largest search engines, do not ignore this:

  • Similar to how you used the search suggestion in Google, start typing your topic > look at suggested search queries.

Reddit

Reddit contains many threads on which show what your target audience is searching for:

  • Search your topic > go to the sub-reddit > look at the topics with most engagements/comments > use the keywords from the title.

Forums

Similar to Reddit, identify forums where your target audience is spending time and use keywords that address their concerns:

In Google try to find the forums using these search parameters:

  • “keyword forum”
  • “keyword” + “forum”
  • “keyword” + “forums”
  • “keyword” + “board”

Once you have identified the forums:

  • Search for your topic > the sections in the forums could be keywords.
  • Look at the most engaging threads, use title for keywords.

Which Keywords to Use?

Now that you have a large list of keywords, you need to decide which ones to use. There are a few things to bear in mind when selecting the perfect keyword.

  1. Search Volume – A keyword which has a low search volume will not drive much traffic to your website even if it ranks in the top 10 web results for that query. There are different baseline for different topic so don’t be disheartened until you’ve identified the baseline for your niche. What is good a good search volume for one niche may not be for another and vice versa.
  2. SERP(search engine results pages) – These are the videos, snippets and ads that appear above the number 1 ranked organic search result. If there are a lot of SERPs for a keyword, you should avoid this because even if you manage to rank first, there will be a lower CTR (more on this later).
  3. Difficulty – For a new website/company it is hard to rank for some keywords, especially single letter keywords. It is best for smaller/newer companies to focus on long tail keywords (about 4-5 word phrases).
  4. CPC (Cost per Click) – How much money are people spending on this keyword? Once you know this value, it may make sense for you to try and rank for a keyword with low search volume because the CPC is high.
  5. Trends – Choose a keyword which is either stable in terms of search trends or on the rise. If you choose a keyword that is on the decline, you will be forced to change it as the volume of traffic it drives will decrease with time.

Click Through Rate (CTR)

You’ve been hovering for hours, please just click the button…

This next area of focus is all about CTR, representing the user journey on your website. Not only is it important to search engine crawlers when they come to score your content for SEO, but is equally as important for yourself – it helps you understand the user journey when they land on your website. You can identify which sections users spend more time on, what sections are providing the most success and what areas need more focus and TLC.

So how do I improve my click rate? Again, whilst there is no secret sauce here as every target audience and market is different, here are five ways to get started on doing just that;

  1. Use A Question Within A Title
    A point that feeds back into some of the earlier themes we discussed – providing useful or valuable content. The most powerful pages, blogs and content defines a question that your target market has, “How do I do…” and then proceeds to answer just that, explaining what your company does differently. Not only does this improve your SEO score, but it will attract users to click on your content and read through to identify this answer, boosting your CTR and in turn you guessed it – boosting that SEO score.
  2. Make Use Of Meta Descriptions
    Again another point we touched on earlier, your meta description is what users will see in the search engine results, the mini elevator pitch if you like to try and get them to click on your site and view the content. Not only does this improve your SEO score by itself, but similar to thought provoking questions, it improves the chances of boosting your CTR.
  3. Make Use Of Reviews
    Another confession here from me, I am particularly paranoid when it comes to the internet. I see a fantastic product or service and think this is exactly what I want and it’s a really affordable price. If anything. the price is too good… Then the paranoia sets in. A quick Google search for reviews of this company yields little success. And then you guessed it, I take my business elsewhere. Reputations are key in every aspect of life, and websites that feature honest independent reviews (such as Google Reviews and TrustPilot) have greater success with humans and crawlers, as they provide that credibility and trustworthiness.
  4. Make Use Of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
    Observant users will have noticed more and more websites featuring an FAQ section. This provides significant benefits to a website, as it allows you to add in more of those leading questions, but by providing answers you are helping to build the reputation of your site as a subject matter expert. You can also reduce the amount of time users spend asking your team these same questions as an extra bonus point!
  5. Define The Current Year
    This is particularly for blogs, guides and similar content that has a shelf life. Lets say you have written a fantastic guide on a piece of software. That is all well and good but this cant stay static – software moves on with new updates, features and changes, so your blog will not be valid forever unless it is updated. Including the current year in the title and description not only allows crawlers to identify that this is up to date content, but also human users which helps to boost that CTR.

Conclusion

On-Page SEO, as with SEO as a whole, is clearly a significant and vast area, and as we discussed earlier will not be a complete quick win for any organisation. You should view this as a long-term project to continue to build your reputation, trustworthiness and authority, just as you would in real life. Google places a lot of emphasis on EAT (expertise, authority and trust), so you must focus on showcasing your expertise and become an authority in your subject area which will lead to trust amongst your industry peers and clients.

Do not expect to see immediate results from your SEO effort, this must be sustained throughout the life of your website. Usually, you would expect to see a return on investment 6-12 months after you have started investing in your SEO efforts.

There are a number of key areas to get started with in the article, both from an immediate actions’ perspective and for ongoing maintenance and review.

At DigiF9 we offer a portfolio of services in website and application development, as well as digital presence and branding. We provide completely bespoke, tailored solutions to all our customers, where we immerse ourselves within your environment to be part of your team. We are completely transparent with our customers, providing you with clear and realistic timelines, and keeping you updated every step of the way. Interested? Contact sales@digif9.co.uk for a personalised quote and let us help you transform your digital presence!