On Page SEO: What Is It and Why Your Law Firm Needs It
A brief exploration of digital marketing and all it entails will put you in touch with the idea of search engine optimization. You might know a little about SEO but haven’t sunk your teeth into a campaign.
There’s a lot to it. A good campaign requires a critical eye, some effort, and a working knowledge of search engine algorithms. SEO is divided into two primary categories: off-page and on page SEO.
We’re going to take a look at the latter idea in this article, exploring the fundamentals of on-page SEO and how it works to benefit your business. We hope you get more in-depth knowledge and appreciation for the real value of a great digital marketing campaign.
So, what is on page SEO?.
Understanding the Basics
Before we dig in, let’s talk a little bit about how search engine optimization works and where on-page SEO fits.
You already know that optimization’s primary goal is to rank in search results. High rankings in the search engine results pages give your business exposure, attract new clients, and generate traffic that spreads through your site and benefits all of your respective pages.
To get those rankings, we have to mold our sites to the preferences of search engine algorithms. The algorithm is an ever-changing formula that categorizes websites and pages based on their relevance.
A page’s relevance is based upon its relation to the keyword search and its overall usefulness. It’s not as if Google has employees running through every site on the web to catalog relevance, though.
How Google Indexes Sites
Google has a pretty big job. They index trillions of sites on the web, updating and revisiting sites as time goes on.
They do this with the use of artificial intelligence we call “crawlers” or “bots.” In reality, these are just 1s and 0s that sift through the net and collect information. For the average person, though, it’s easier to imagine them like little bugs that surf through the net and examine websites.
Bots move through links to get from page to page. They work through pages, collecting all of the pertinent information that helps Google rank. Your optimization is judged regularly by bots, and your rankings are liable to rise and fall based on changes to your site.
Crawlers are also making a note of your reputation outside of your page. Things like domain authority, quality of backlinks, and brand mentions get factored in. Those are off-page factors, though, and we won’t discuss them today.
We’re going to take a look at the important things that bots examine when they peek in at your site. You could write a novel on all of the minutia that affects your rankings, but we’ll explore the fundamental aspects of on-page SEO.
On Page SEO Factors
Our exploration of on-page factors will infuse methods that you have to take to optimize for those factors.
The first step to throwing your hat in the ring is understanding the importance of keywords.
Keyword Research and Optimization
Google’s whole process centers around keyword phrases. That means that our process starts there, too.
When we search for something on Google, we enter a few words into the search box. That phrase is the keyword phrase. The results that come up tend to be accurate answers to the question that our keyword poses.
After we click “search,” our keywords are blasted through Google’s massive index and algorithm in a matter of microseconds, and we end up on the other side with the index’s most relevant sites. It’s important to understand that our search phrases aren’t that unique.
You’re searching that exact thing, and it’s a safe bet that someone else is, too. In fact, there are probably thousands of people searching for the same things as you, and that’s where your optimization starts.
Keyword research examines massive search trends and picks out the most popular phrases. Further, we look at the competition that those phrases have in the rankings.
A search for “great mountain bikes” will bring up results from the biggest companies, for example. The broader the keyword phrase, the more chance of extreme competition. Small businesses and firms will have a hard time out-ranking the biggest names in the industry.
That’s why good keyword research identifies popular terms with little-to-no competition. Fortunately for everyone, there are many tools that sift through keywords and examine trends for you. In other words, you don’t have to pick through oceans of data just to find a keyword that works.
Optimizing for Keywords
The bulk of the optimization process is an effort to optimize for particular keywords. We’re going to explore those methods next, but it’s important to note that a good keyword is a seed you plant that brings results.
The better the seed, the better the results. Chosen keywords dictate the nature of your content. They’re also spread throughout your content and placed intentionally in areas that will enhance your perceived relevance.
Even though Google’s AI can read context clues and interpret massive amounts of information at once, it still uses some basic indicators to classify sites. Keywords are still important.
Google still uses keyword frequency and placement as the simplest indicator that something is relevant to a keyword search.
Content Creation and Optimization
Everyone is always raving about the importance of content. Few people discuss how to choose the content that you create, though.
Influencers and popular internet personalities have found success by displaying personality or offering some entertaining way of conducting themselves. That works for many individuals, but the method for finding success is much different for businesses.
Your content should aim to address customer questions and needs. The way to pinpoint customer interests is through keyword research. When one search phrase is popular, you know that many people share the same interest, question, or concern.
So, the content you create should be made in response to a popular keyword and optimized for that keyword. For example, the keyword phrase “how to find a lawyer” should be met with content about, well, how to find a lawyer.
But just how are you supposed to optimize for a specific term? One option for this kind of visibility is to utilize search engine marketing, but organic optimization requires that you take a little more time.
Tailoring Your Content for a Keyword
There are several simple things to do every time you create a piece of content.
These are important to repeat time and time again because they work, and they establish your relevance. The first one is to use your keyword phrase somewhere in the first 100 to 150 words of your article.
The rules might differ a little when you change up your form of content, but blog content is one of the most effective ways to produce material that is well-optimized. So, use your keyword in your intro somewhere and try to keep it within the first 100 words on the page.
Google is more inclined to value words that appear right away, or at least early on in the text. You’re likely to mention your subject early in the text anyway, but just make sure that you mention it in terms of the specific keyword phrase you’re optimizing.
Be Mindful of Headers
It’s important to make sure your title is present in an H1 header. H1 headers are the largest headers available, and most content management systems will automatically place your title in one.
That said, make sure that your title is present in an H1 header on the page. You should try to include your keyword in this title, and try to land it near the front. You can also try to modify your title by adding little indicators to boost relevance.
For example, adding commonly used terms in searches. Terms like “guide,” “New,” “2020,” or a combination of those can help you rank more broadly. Further, you can add a term related to your business that will expand your ranking.
You could try something like “How to Find a Lawyer in Dallas (2020 Guide)”. These modifiers serve to make your content clearer and help to land you in searches that might not have your keyword but are still relevant.
It also helps to include your target keyword in one H2 header, too.
It should be natural to do so, considering that the keyword is the focus of your article. Articles are structured through headers as information changes throughout the page.
Headers are a great way of establishing sections and organizing ideas. A free-flowing wall of text is much harder to read and understand, and Google accounts for this.
You should also include your keyword a few times throughout the text. There are varied opinions on what percent of the text includes the keyword. Some people say three keywords per 500 words, some say less or more.
What matters is that you use the keyword enough to establish that your content is about that term. If you use the keyword once in the entire body of the article, it might be hard for Google to determine the purpose of your content.
On the other end, using the keyword too much could get you penalized. “Keywords stuffing” is the act of blasting your content with too many keywords to try and rank higher. It is a form of black hat SEO, which will get you penalized in the rankings.
Even if you have a post that lands around 3,000 words, you could get by only using your keyword 5 or 6 times.
Google’s primary goal is to produce useful results for their users. As a user, you don’t want to read an article made with optimization in mind.
You want to learn from a post that flows nicely, reads well, and provides you with the information that you were looking for in the first place. You want to get through your post without ever thinking about someone optimizing on the other side of the screen.
So, the most important thing is to create content that feels natural. Don’t force a keyword where one doesn’t belong. Just keep that keyword in mind and use it when the opportunity arises. The bulk of your work is to produce something that will be useful to your users.
Use Links in Your Content
Sites that link out to authority sites in their content rank higher. Establishing your site as a piece of a more extensive network of links helps to identify the purpose of your content.
If your article on finding a lawyer might be easier to identify if you link out to articles that explore the qualities of a good lawyer, for example. Link a couple of times per 500 words or so, and try to keep the hypertext natural.
Meta Descriptions and Alt Text
Meta descriptions are those little chunks of text underneath the hyperlink in search results. They describe the page, the business, or something about whatever site you’re going to click.
They help users see what they’re getting into, but they’re also another useful on-page optimizer. You can typically adjust your meta description in your content management system (like WordPress). Try to add a couple of uses of your keyword into the meta description if you can.
Another point to look at is the alternative text for any images you might have in your content. All images should have alternate text describing the photo for those who might not see it clearly.
Optimizing your alt text can help rank you in Google image searches, and it further establishes the relevance of the content you’re creating.
Want to Dig Deeper into SEO?
Hopefully, our exploration of on page SEO has given you a better idea of its value and how it works. You probably think that it seems like a lot of work, too.
You’re right. Optimization is something that takes time, effort, and skill. We’re here to help, though. Contact us if you want to see how much working with an agency can benefit your digital marketing campaign.