This article is part of a series put together by the Total Mortgage marketing team that provides loan officers and other sales professionals with a crash course in marketing and self-promotion. To read other articles in this series, click here.
When we talk about on-page optimization, we’re talking about factors that can influence how a page on your site will perform in a search result.
Everyone wants their site to come up at the top of the search engine results page (SERP), so there’s some serious competition. To increase your chances of claiming the coveted first position, you’ll want to make sure your page is optimized.
Fortunately for you, this blog will give you the ins and outs of on-page optimization.
Structuring Your Content
When a user comes to your site, you want your content to be structured in a way that makes it easy to understand. That means using a variety of headers and other organizational tools.
Tittle tags help search engines figure out what your page is about. They consist of the text that is placed in between the title tags in your HTML document. To anyone who isn’t a developer, you’ll think of title tags as what the results that up in blue in search engines.
Here are some quick tips for title tags:
- Include your keywords: The first place someone will look is at your title tag. Make sure your targeted keywords are in the title tag, preferably at the beginning. Don’t go overboard trying to jam as many keywords as you can in your title tag. Not only will “keyword stuffing” get you penalized by search engines, but it doesn’t read well.
- Optimize the length: You want your title tag to be between 50-60 characters.
- Descriptive: For obvious reasons, you want your title tag to clearly reflect what your post is about.
After your title, the headers will be the next thing that a user sees. It’s important that the headers guide them to the information that they’re seeking. Internet users don’t have a lot of patience and aren’t interested in reading unnecessary words.
Often times, they’ll get to a site and scroll down, only reading the headers. If they don’t find what they’re looking for, they quickly bounce back to the SERP. Just like your title tag, it’s crucial for you to include keywords in your headers. We’ll talk later on about the different options you have with keyword use.
You might think that a simple header would do, but you’d be wrong. Dialing down into sub-headers makes it that much easier for users to follow the flow of your content. It’s not always necessary, but you have to think about what will funnel the readers attention down to the granular sections of your page.
Anything that helps the reader navigate your page will help on-site optimization. It might take a few posts to get a good grasp of when to include a sub-header, but stick with it. Feedback from friends or colleagues is invaluable.
Bullets vs. Paragraphs
Bullet points are nice and neat and are therefore easier to read than wordy paragraphs. That doesn’t mean you should go overboard, but if the time comes, don’t feel like it’s poor taste to use them. Readability is key when it comes to getting likes and shares, and will help keep your readers coming back for more.
One way to make intimidating paragraphs more approachable is to break them up. Since most readers scan through blogs, as opposed to reading them start to finish, you’re better off with smaller paragraphs.
Think about it. If you have a large block of text, the reader certainly isn’t going to jump in at the middle of the paragraph and start reading, and it’s entirely possible that they’ll skip over the whole thing. But if you break that paragraph into three smaller paragraphs, the chances greatly increase that they will read any one of them.
If you’re trying to craft masterful blogs, you’re going to want to include images and videos. There is a lot of data that shows users are more likely to stick around and engage with your site if you have images and videos.
With text, bots can crawl your site and easily figure out what your post is about, but bots rely on your help in order to figure out what images and videos are about. That’s where the file name and alt-text come in.
Search engines love when you feed them clues about your page. Often times, the file name of an image will be some random combination of numbers and letters. That’s not a very good clue. If you help search engines out by using descriptive file names, it will have a positive effect on your on-page optimization.
Alternative text (alt-text) is another place for you to drop a hint to search engines. As the name suggest, they are a text alternative for browsers in the event that they can’t be properly rendered. The same guidelines that apply to file name apply here. You want a clear description of your image.
The meta-description is the text that appears underneath the title tag in the SERP. Its main goal is to get users to click the link and enter their site. The best way to do that is by combining informative text with a strong call to action. The user won’t know if they want to enter your site until they have an idea of what’s on that page.
One way to help them out is by using keywords. If you have the keyword they searched for in your title tag and meta-description, the odds are good that your page is relevant to their query. Also, when you type a keyword into Google, it appears in bold text if it’s in a meta-description. In the example below you can see the keyword I typed into google—quesadillas—is in bold. It makes it stand out more and draws the user into reading your meta-description, which makes it more likely that they will click through to your page.
Ideal Word Count
Search Engines Prefer Long Posts
Studies show that longer content outperforms shorter content by a substantial amount. What’s the magic number? Well, that depends on who you ask. Different studies have shown that the average word count of top ranked searches is 2,416, 1,890, 2,250-2,500, 2,000+.
They might disagree on the exact number, but they all share one thing in common: long-form content usually outperforms short content.
Why is this the case?
It’s a simple concept. You know a lot, so you write a lot. If there are two blogs on FHA Loans and one of them has 1,000 more words than the other, odds are, that blog is more informative. People think this way, and from what the data says, search engines do to.
Every Post is Different
The content of your page will also play a large factor in determining the ideal word count. Not every topic needs a 2,000+ word post about it. After all, the purpose of a post is to relay information to a curious reader, and if you can satisfy that need in under 1,000 words, then so be it. You want your posts to be readable and shareable, and excessive wording will most likely detract from both of those efforts.
Taking a look at some of the blog posts here at Total Mortgage, these findings ring true. For our mortgage rates blog, there is definitely a correlation between the length of the post and the number of views. There is always some degree of variation depending on market conditions and current events, but overall, longer content does better.
We’ve also noticed that nothing beats a good topic. It’s not something you can always count on, but if you strike gold, you might not have to write a novel to reel in a high amount of traffic. One of our top performing evergreen blogs is under 600 words, but that’s enough for it to rank #1 in google for our targeted keyword.
Which brings us to…
Keywords are words used to classify or organize digital content, or to facilitate an online search for information. They are what people type into search engines, and they’re incredibly important.
The general theory used to be that the more you mention a keyword in a post, the more likely it is that your article will rank for that keyword. Now, it’s true that the more you use a keyword the easier it is for search engines like Google to figure out what your page is about, but it’s hardly true that there is a direct correlation between the times used and search ranking.
Rand Fishkin, Founder of the highly respected inbound marketing company Moz, says that you should definitely include the keyword in your headlines and a couple times in the body of your post, but other than that, you really don’t have to stress repetition.
Readers want to be reassured that the page they’re on has the information they’re looking for, and seeing keywords in the headers will not only keep them from leaving, but get them to read the copy below it.
As for keyword density metrics, Rand says, stay away.
The long and short of it is that there is no ideal keyword density. You should strive to write posts that naturally have the keyword in it. After all, no one wants to read a clunky keyword stuffed post.
Semantically related keywords
Search engines are always refining and expanding their methods. One of the most important advancements they’ve made in recent years is the ability to recognize semantically related keywords. The best way to explain this is with an example. Say your keyword is “how to buy a house.” If you type that into google and scroll down to related searches, you’ll find semantically related keywords.
Google knows that someone searching for “how to buy a house” could very likely wind up wondering about any of these keywords. As stated earlier, you don’t want to keyword stuff. However, if you use various semantically related keywords throughout your post, the copy doesn’t get clunky and you’ve made it much clearer to Google what your post is about, which will help you rank in the SERP.
Selecting the right topics
No matter how well your page is optimized, if your topic selection is terrible, you’re not going to get viewers to read any of your posts. Fortunately, we created a blog post entirely devoted to Creating and Curating Content.
On-page optimization sets you up for success. If your posts aren’t fully optimized, you’re missing out on users, conversions, and new clients. It’s not unusual for someone who is new to all of these concepts to feel a little overwhelmed. One benefit that loan officers at Total Mortgage have is the ability to engage with a seasoned marketing department. We’ve been blogging for almost a decade, and know all the ins and outs of on-page SEO.
Whether you don’t want to deal with on-page optimization, or you would want us to show you the ropes—we’ve got you covered.
Filed Under: Marketing
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