You’ve probably heard the phrase “Content is king.” Bill Gates said it in a 1996 essay, and it’s been true ever since. So it’s likely that you’ve got content. Lots of content! But is anyone seeing it? Is it helping to drive growth for your business?
An effective growth marketing strategy means more than throwing together a blog where you write about topics that you’re familiar with or that you find interesting. To create content that truly connects with your audience – and that drives conversions – you need to think about on-page SEO analysis.
What is on-page SEO?
SEO is commonly split up into three types: on-page, technical, and off-page. On-page SEO is anything that your visitors see when they come to your website: product pages, location pages, resources, blog articles, and so on. Technical SEO is what happens behind the scenes of your website: HTML markup, site architecture, site speed, and so on. Off-page SEO includes things like link building, guest blogs, and social media.
Here we’ll only be talking about on-page SEO: your website’s content. Thorough and knowledgeable on-page content is an essential piece of the SEO puzzle because it signals to search engines that your content answers searchers’ questions – a key to ranking highly.
Ranking factors for on-page content include:
- Keyword optimization
- Content quality, length, and organization
- Internal and external hyperlinking
- Meta information (URL, title tag, and meta description)
- Images and image alt text
These are all the elements you’ll need to analyze and optimize in order to improve your position in the SERPs (search engine results pages). Seem like a lot? There are tools that can help.
On-page SEO analysis tools
On-page SEO analysis is much more than sitting around guessing what Google wants. Done right, it will show you the gaps in your on-page strategy so you can optimize your content – and help drive organic traffic and revenue. But you’ll need the right tools. Here are three of our favorites.
You’d probably expect that Google has some of the best data on the web, and you’d be right. Get real-time reporting on visitors, traffic sources, conversion rate, and more across devices so you can analyze what’s working and what isn’t. You can also use Google Search Console to drill down into organic search traffic to see what keywords your pages are ranking for.
Semrush is an excellent SEO tool for building a keyword strategy. Use Keyword Overview to get a quick summary of metrics, dive deeper with Keyword Magic to build your list, and use the Keyword Difficulty metric to find low-competition keywords that will give you an edge. You can also use it to perform competitive analysis and do topic research.
Yoast is an SEO analysis plug-in for WordPress, making it a convenient option for the many businesses whose websites or blogs are built on that platform. Yoast will rate your pages’ SEO optimization and the Page Analysis feature will give specific feedback on where you can improve. It indicates areas for improvement with red dots – once optimized the dots turn green. Yoast’s user-friendliness makes it incredibly popular.
Remember that you don’t just need the tools, but also the expertise to use them. You’ll want to know what your competitors are doing so you can differentiate yourself – or go after them directly. These are all areas that an expert agency like Tuff can help.
How to do an on-page SEO analysis
You’ve got the tools and you’re ready to perform your on-page analysis! Here’s how we do it at Tuff.
Perform keyword research
On-page content that will crush it in the SERPs always starts with finding the right keywords. Use your SEO tool of choice to perform keyword research around the topic you want to write about. Ask yourself:
- Are the keywords relevant to your topic?
- Are these terms regularly searched by your target audience?
- Can you realistically rank for these keywords?
Decide on your primary keyword
Keyword research will likely give you a list of hundreds, if not thousands, of keywords. Your SEO tool may prioritize them for you, but it will still be up to you to choose your primary keyword. So which keyword will be able to rule them all? Your primary keyword should:
- Be highly relevant and laser-focused on your topic
- Have low competition or relate to an area where your business is very strong
- Not already be used as a keyword in another piece of content (this is called cannibalization, and it confuses the search engines)
Choose related keywords
To create a piece of content that will catch the attention of the search engines, you need to round out your primary keyword with related keywords and topics. Related keywords will help you capture more search intent and can be used to target your PPC campaigns, too. Choose three to five related keywords that are:
- Based on your target keyword and semantically related searches
- Related to the intent of your searchers and their stage in the buyer journey
- Long-tail (three or more words) or other variations on standard keywords
Look for audience questions
The ultimate goal of content marketing is always to answer the questions that your audience is asking. Audience questions, or PAAs (for “people also ask”), help you do that. PAAs are related questions that appear on Google SERPs. Being featured in the answer box is a big deal in SEO, but using these questions can also help you:
- Rank for the question or long-tail keyword
- Create FAQ sections within your content
- Guide your content to ensure it’s useful to your audience
Create a content plan
Now that you have your primary keyword, related keywords, and FAQs or PAAs, you’re ready to create a content plan that will help you conquer the SERPs and drive conversions. But the content you’ll create depends on several factors:
- What stage of the buyer journey is your searcher in when they search for that keyword?
- Will they be looking for an informational blog, a conversion-focused landing page, a branded product page, or something else?
- Can you use it to create content that fills in gaps in your content strategy?
- Can you create content around this keyword that outranks your competitors?
Best practices for on-page content
You’re almost there. But before you hit “publish,” make sure your content follows best practices. (Yes, Google will know if it does!)
- Always create high-quality, original content to avoid plagiarism and duplicate content penalties.
- Structure your content in a way that is informative but easy to read (bulleted list, no large blocks of text). Put the most useful information front and center, then expand upon it.
- Use your primary keyword in the title, title tag, meta description, at least one of the subheadings, first and last paragraph, and about two to three times per 500 words – but not more. “Keyword stuffing” will be penalized.
- Use related keywords at least one within the copy and be sure they sound natural.
- Answer audience questions either directly with an FAQ section or H2, or naturally within your content.
- Use at least one image and ensure it is SEO optimized with an image alt tag, title, and file name that uses the primary keyword.
- Include your primary keyword in the URL structure.
- Track your keyword performance and re-analyze and optimize as needed.
There’s a lot to think about when it comes to on-page SEO analysis. At Tuff, we have the tools and expertise you need to create and execute a holistic content strategy that drives traffic and grows your business.
Ellen is the founder at Tuff and one of the team’s core growth marketers. She is a versatile marketer with expertise in multiple channels – from ppc to seo to email to others – responsible for the experiments and testing. She is happiest when she’s on the ski hill or outside pointing her mountain bike downhill.