If you’ve been online for long enough, whether you were an Internet Marketer back then or not, you may remember that back in the 90′s a website owner could get his website ranked by simply stuffing a bunch of keywords on the pages. Which is why it was common to find a website and see hundreds, even thousands, of keywords down at the bottom. Sometimes they would use the same font color as the background, so the keywords couldn’t even be seen. And it worked! Websites got ranked and the owners of those websites made a lot of money.
Back then, on-page optimization was crucial and it mainly consisted of trickery and spammy methods
But, times have changed!
It didn’t take long for the search engines to start changing things, making on-page factors less important. I mean, if you think about it, no good search engine is going to allow the webmaster to control the rankings THAT easily. Something had to change and it had to be on-page ranking factors.
Fast forward 15-20 years and on-page optimization is MUCH different. You can no longer get a site/page ranked simply by doing “this” and “that” to the page. Sure, for very long-tail phrases that have little to no competition it is still possible to get a site ranked with on-page factors alone, but 95% of the time that traffic is going to be so low that you’re not going to benefit from it much, if at all.
The fact is, these days, if you want to get a site ranked, your site is going to have to obtain multiple, legitimate backlinks. BUT, there are still a few on-page factors that do influence a website’s ranking, even in 2012.
1. Title Tag – This the only on-page factor that is still CRUCIAL for a ranking. Yes, you can get a site or page ranked for a specific keywords/phrase without having that keyword/phrase in the title tag, but having it in there helps a BUNCH! You need to at least have a variation of the keywords/phrase you’re targeting for each page of each of your sites in the title tag of each page.
2. Internal Link Structure – Especially for big sites, a good internal link structure is very important! For smaller sites with only a handful of pages it really doesn’t matter, but if you have a content rich site full of hundreds or thousands of articles, a good internal link structure can hurt or help your site in a major way! Here’s a video I recently created for Jonathan Leger, as his affiliate manager:
3. Credibility Pages – How many popular, authoritative websites have you come across that do not offer a way for their visitors to contact them? How many of them do not have some sort of a legal and/or privacy page? Pages like this, or “credibility pages” as I call them, in my opinion, have an influence on rankings these days. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t seen or conducted any case studies to prove this, but I have see first hands sites without these pages never rank in the SE’s, while lesser sites that do have them rank highly. To me it makes perfect sense. A credible site is simply going to have these pages.
4. Word Count – Now more than ever you want to have alot of content on your pages. That could be in the form of text, videos or something else, depending on the intent of your website. If it’s content, make sure each page contains at least 400 words, but the more the better! Google has made it clear that these days they like to see pages loaded with content. So the more content you have, the better the chance of that content ranking in Google.
5. User Engagement & Social Media – If you have two sites of seemingly equal value, one has a facebook app integrated and users are commenting with facebook, liking the page and sharing it and the other has no social media integration, no comments or any other form of user interaction, which one do you think is going to rank better? Social media and user engagement are two ranking signals that are becoming more and more important these days.
6. Images and Videos – Many SEO’s are claiming that simply adding images and video to content does help improve rankings these days. Whether it’s true or not, images are valuable as visual aids and videos are obviously valuable information providers, so it would make sense.
7. Bold, Italic & Headings – Using bold and italics to highlight certain keywords/phrases and headings (ie. h1, h2, h3 etc.) to highlight headings and subheadings does help emphasis certain text, which could contain your keyword, so they can be useful, BUT they can also harm your rankings if you overdo them or if the keyword saturation of your page is already very high and/or if you overdo it by using them over and over and over in throughout your entire page. Headings, I believe, are less destructive, as they are much more common and make more sense to use more frequently. But bold and italics should be used sparingly.
8. Ads – Some things influence rankings, but only one way … backwards! For years you could get away with having as many ads on your site as you want. These days if your site is saturated with ads, it’s going to drop it’s rankings fast if it had any and if it didn’t, it won’t likely be obtaining any in the near future.
9. Paid Links – Again, this is something that will only hurt you and I learned the hard way. One of my most popular sites was hit hard for selling links. Now I still sell them, but I append a nofollow attribute to each link, which is perfectly fine with Google and in line with their TOS. The downfall is that I must now charge less for the ads, but I still made nice profits, so it’s worth it.
10. Affiliate Links – Google and Bing do not like affiliate links! Your affiliate links need to be cloaked in some way! A simple 301 redirect is sufficient and it’s what I use. I add a 301 redirect and I also add the rel=”nofollow” attribute for good measure.
Here’s a recent video I make on how to setup a redirect and nofollow it, for JLAffiliates.com
And then there are META tags, which are almost worthless these days.
Back when keyword stuffing worked, leveraging META description and keyword tags were a big part of it.The search engines looked at those things and used to to determine what to rank the site/page for. These days both are almost completely ignored by Google and Bing. They will sometimes pull the site description from the META description that you add, but not always and if it’s missing they’ll just pull some other text. So the META description can still be fairly useful, just in a very minor way, but the META keyword tag, I would argue, is completely worthless these days.
With all of that being said, although there obviously are several things that you can do in regards to on-page optimization, the “power” of on-page optimization is much less these days when compared to 20, 10 or even just a few years ago. Off page factors are becoming more and more important. But that doesn’t mean we should be ignoring the on-page factors listed above! Take a look into each of these things, make corrections and you could easily see a nice increase in your site’s rankings.