The rules of on-page SEO and optimization keep evolving. Long gone are the days when we could manipulate Search Engine Result pages (SERPS) with link-building. In 2017 we are saying goodbye to optimizing blog posts and web content around one keyword and moving toward answering searchers questions with relevant, related sentences and keywords.
According to MOZ contributor and SEO expert Rand Fishkin in his February 6, 2017 post about the new rules for on-page optimization, there are five mistakes being made by online marketers who are trying to optimize like its 2012.
Top 5 on-page SEO mistakes
- Repeating one keyword
Many online marketers have come to rely on on-page optimization tools like Yost that check for repetition of one keyword or rules like using one keyword phrase every 100 words. While we should be incorporating keywords into online text, Google’s new algorithms are searching for the way that users interact with your content, not how many times you repeat a word. If Google finds a high bounce-rate with your page where users are clicking on your link and then clicking right out because they aren’t getting the content they want, you will not maintain a good ranking on the SERP.
The bottom line is that you should still put the main keyword into the title, your meta-description and somewhere on the page but the content must be written for usability and quality in order to rank.
- Focusing on keyword rather than searcher goals
Meeting the needs or goals of the searcher is much more important than repeating a keyword. Answer the questions they have when they click on your link and you will find your page succeeding. Identify what users are searching and seeking around your keyword by doing keyword research. The MOZ keyword explorer allows you to enter your keyword and select the questions filter. The tool then shows you the questions that people want answered around that keyword. Your content should be written to answer those questions. Other tools that can help you identify questions are Ubersuggest and AdWords.
- Failing to insert related topics and keywords into your content
In 2017 it is absolutely essential that your content incorporate topics and keywords that are relevant and related to your main keyword. Google’s on-page quality analysis systems are looking for content that uses well thought out words and sentences that connect semantically, lexically and logically to the questions being asked by searchers. You can accomplish this by doing a search for your keyword and assessing what types of questions are being answered by the top five search engine results. Incorporate these relevant words and answers into your own content. Next, create a “featured snippet”; this is the answer that appears in the SERP before a user clicks through to the link. Your “featured snippet” sits at the top of your content in the form of a list, a short summary paragraph or even a single sentence. The snippet should provide a quick and meaningful answer to what the searcher is seeking while encouraging them to click on the link for more details.
- Over-valuing links
Five years ago, having several links with anchor text was a sure-fire way to increase your ranking; even over pages with more relevant content. Today, on-page SEO is far more important to search engine results because Google recognizes and rewards them for delivering the content their searchers want.
- Relying on domain authority
In 2012, a page could rank well simply because it was on a website with domain authority – defined by link equity and the size and popularity of the website. While domain authority still plays a role in search results, topical authority and expertise have grown in importance. To build topical authority you must associate your brand with the topic through online and offline campaigns including “on-page optimization”, “on-site optimization” and even "off-site brand building." You must publish relevant content that appeals to your target audience and allows you to stand out among your competitors. This content should allow you to earn links from other sites talking about the topic. Your goal is to make your brand synonymous with the topic and to get influencers following your content. Once this is accomplished your brand name will begin getting searched for by people seeking your product or service.
The bottom line is that if you are struggling with rankings, you may need to look at your entire site's brand focus, not just an individual page's keyword targeting.
Gain a competitive advantage
Google likes when your web page has coherent content that answers what searchers are looking for. You should strive for your content to meet these three goals: 1. on-topic and relevant, 2. includes critical answers to searchers' questions, and 3. has credible, accurate information. Once you have accomplished these goals your page can compete against much larger businesses with exponentially bigger online marketing budgets.
Many companies haven’t caught on to the new on-page SEO rules. When your company begins using these strategies, you will be giving your brand a competitive advantage.