SEO consultants still have varying techniques for how they do on page SEO. With the advent of Panda and the push towards a more natural and inbound marketing experience, old school SEO tactics aren't as effective and can be dangerous. Obviously keyword stuffing has been taboo for a while, but now many SEOs are staying away from any meta data, h1 or other traditional onpage SEO tactics. Instead, they advocate 100% natural content with little or no mind of keywords or SEO. "Just write awesome content and it will be found and shared" they say. Well, while over-opitimization on your website can be an issue, but I'm here to tell you that onpage SEO is alive a well. I'll write about onpage basics and how I set up a page in another post, but for now I'm actually going to jump a head a bit and cover some things you hear less about. These things can make a difference in how your site is indexed by Google and how the linkjuice is passed around your site – helping your pages rank. I'm going to keep it all as simple and strait forward as possible. One last note before we begin…..there is nothing wrong with creating high quality, natural content with no mind to keywords or SEO and in fact, I do this regularly. As SEOs however, we need to cover and be on top of what works when we need it.
H2 Tag Optimization For Framing Your Search Engine Position
I'm going to talk about site structure and silos in another point in this post, but the concept here is similar. It used to be that SEOs used h2 tags (amongst others) to drop keywords in (maybe LSI or phrase match) to try and get more bang for their buck. While this is still relevant, you do need to be mindful of over-optimization. What I now do and I have found from experience which seems to help the page and the entire site rank is I create an ongoing theme for the site via my h2 tags. If you look at your h2 tags as an opportunity to drop in words and titles that are most relevant to your entire website, your business, and your industry, you are setting up a theme or structure that tells Google over and over where you belong. It's almost branding to Google directly. For example, the h2 title to this paragraph doesn't have any keywords I've targeted at all. I made it up as an appropriate description of the paragraph, but was mindful to use words that are relevant to my industry and site. This is natural and relevant and yet, intentional.
Category Silo Structure On Your Website To Prevent Theme Bleeding
This can get confusing quickly, so I'll try to keep it simple. Basically you want to set up your website, pages, and posts so that structurally, there are 'buckets' that groups of pages or posts fall into. Themes if you will. It's easier to understand when you think of WordPress categories and posting similar posts into the same category. What you are looking to do is to keep the interlinking within each silo up until the 'end' of that silo, at which point you point it to the beginning of another silo or prominent page on your site. Here's a visual example:
Image courtesy of Dan Raine from his Silo Plugin
In this way you are keeping as much of the link juice within a particular category or silo and thus developing a theme for the search engines to follow, notice, and index you. Another way of saying it would be how and where you publish into a silo on your site tells Google how and where to index your new page. The search engines are complex. Helping them by assigning content to organized structures within your site that they understand makes their job easier and your traffic grow.
Stop Link Bleeding Through Mindful Interlinking On Your Website
Ok, so this one is fairly simple, but widely misunderstood – especially by many novice SEOs. At one point PageRank sculpting was everywhere and people understood it as mainly using nofollow links on your website to direct the flow of link juice so it would accumulate where desired, thus forming increased PageRank. Well, Google wised up quickly and addressed this both to us at large and via their algorithm, effectively making this practice obsolete. Because of this, many people hear the term PageRank sculpting and think it's bad or you cannot do it anymore, but they are wrong. Maybe it's a you say potate-o, I say potaato kinda thing, but PageRank sculpting or the elimination of link bleeding can make a major difference in your rankings. Here's what I mean:
First and foremost your interlinking and hyperlinks on any page should be set up for proper user experience. Next, you are looking at silo structure and site architecture – what makes sense and is logical. Next, if you are mindful of interlinking for SEO, you will be looking at how you may pass link juice on a page to anther page – possibly using internal anchor text hyperlinks to tell users and spiders what page is what. Ok, good, now you’re done, right? No, now you need to go back and cut. In the same way that people used to try to use nofollow links to preserve link juice (this doesn't work btw and is a gross misunderstanding of how Google passes link juice and PageRank), you need to eliminate unnecessary links or pages that are draining your juice.
Include "Searches Related To Your Keyword" In The Body Of Your Post
Targeting and incorporating longtail keywords into your posts and pages is a great way to increase targeted traffic without needing to compete much. I have a post on proper longtail keyword SEO brewing in my mind, but for now, let's talk about the longtail keywords that Google gives you and that you can use directly in your content. When I Google "how to target longtail keywords", aside from the search results, at the bottom of the page I get "searches related to how to target longtail keywords" and then a list of the following searches:
- what is a long tail keyword
- how to find long tail keywords
- seo long tail keywords
- what are long tail keywords phrases
- how to use long tail keywords
- long tail keyword research
- long tail search strategy
- long tail keyword search
Not only has Google given me 8 longtail keywords that I can use in a my post about longtail keywords, but they have given me what they consider to be the most relevant search terms related to what I am searching for. This means they are telling you what is relevant and how create a them for your post that they will understand. Now how you include theses terms in your post is up to you. They can be naturally in the text, you could use them in h2,h3, or h4 tags, or even some as hyperlinks to external or internal pages. Regardless, you are framing relevancy to Google that they have told you they recognize. The only caution I would add is to be mindful of overuse of specific keyword combinations. Get creative, it will pay dividends.
Each of these points I've written about is a solid way to increase your onsite optimization for the search engines. While different in approach, they all represent practical means to naturally benefit your site. The architecture and silo structures are quite powerful, but usually require advanced planing and site adjustments. H2 and longtail keyword optimization, using the points discussed above are easier to implement and can be used in your next post. Eliminating link bleeding is something you can do in stages. Don't bring out the chainsaw right away!