The most fun you can have doing SEO is also the most important step to raking in the moola: on-page SEO.
In this post I’m going to show you my quick and dirty method for on-page SEO. I’ll explain some basic concepts like researching primary, secondary and supporting keywords + show how and where I use them to optimize web pages and build silos.
Fictitious scenario: I have an e-commerce website called PomadeEmporium.com selling various hair pomades. I can’t afford to run those pesky Google Ads, so I’m counting on “free” traffic from Google’s organic listings.
First, I Need a Small Bag of Seeds
Seed keywords are a list of words or terms that I’ll use to build out my invaluable on-page optimization Google Sheet. For this example I’ll be using the word “pomade” as my main seed keyword, because I like slick hairstyles.
I’ll be using the following free-ish tools and websites to expand my seed keyword:
- Google Trends
- Google SERP (search engine results page)
I use Google Trends to not only suss out the trend of my seed keyword to make sure I have a decent market, but I also look at related topics which will give me ideas for content in the future and related queries which I’ll dump in my Google Sheet for later.
I can see that since 2004 “pomade” has been trending upwards. This is good because it shows that there’s a market for my products.
In Google Trends there’s a box called Related Queries which I download and dump into a Google Sheet to look at later. Some keywords that catch my eye are:
I pop my main seed keyword into Google search to see what Google’s related search brings back (these pop up as you search or can be found at the bottom of the SERP).
This list gets added to my Google Sheet for fiddling later.
Next, I jump onto Wikipedia and look up the topic `”pomade”. What I’m doing here is looking for any related topics to pomade. Topics such as home brewers, pompadour, ducktail, quiff, greaser hairstyles, water-based pomade, oil-based pomade, gel-type pomade all catch my eye and get added to my Google sheet.
For this tutorial, I’ve decided to use Ahrefs.com to further expand my keywords because they have a great keyword research tool and I like the UI design.
In Ahrefs I search for “pomade” in their nifty keyword explorer tool and export the keyword ideas to my Google Sheet.
Probably my best trick when doing keyword research is to steal from my competitors. In Ahrefs’ keyword explorer I can see who my top competitors are under the SERP Overview.
I choose a competitor and then use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool to do some spying. I export my competitor’s organic keyword portfolio to my Google Sheet.
The Shiny Google Sheet
Right now I have a Google Sheet with tons of new keywords I grew from my one seed keyword, “pomade”. Now it’s time for some fiddling!
The first bit of fiddling I do in my Google Sheet is categorizing a handful of keywords into primary, secondary and supporting keyword groups.
PomadeEmporium.com has a pomade category that is broken down into subcategories (Google loves categorization!) I know from my keyword research that a subcategory of pomade is oil-based pomade. So, for this example, I’m going to use the keyword “oil-based pomade” as my primary keyword for my page. You should only ever have one primary keyword per page you’re trying to rank in search engines.
I want 2-4 secondary keywords to also rank my oil based pomade page for. I found these by looking at the related keywords in the Google search results for oil based pomade:
- Best oil based pomade
- Oil based pomade brands
- Oil based vs water based pomade
- Oil based pomade ingredients.
These secondary keywords will attract extra traffic to my oil-based pomade page.
Give Me Buckets of Intent, Baby!
People use search engines like Google to find out stuff they want:
- I want to know.
- I want to go.
- I want to do.
- I want to buy.
Google calls these wants micro-moments. It’s useful to understand the intent behind these moments so that we can group our keywords into buckets of intent:
- I want to know (discovery intent).
- I want to go (discovery or purchase intent).
- I want to do (discovery intent).
- I want to buy (commercial intent).
In my Google Sheet I add a column and name it “Intent”. I like to map the intent of each of my chosen keywords so that I can have a broad prediction of the value of each keyword.
Discovery intent is when a searcher is exploring or researching, but is not necessarily in a purchase mode. In digital marketing we say this type of searcher is in the awareness phase of the marketing funnel (don’t stress, this marketing jargon makes me want to vomit too!) An example of a discovery intent keyword is “oil based pomade brands”.
Commercial intent keywords are search queries that show when someone is ready to make a purchase and may need help deciding what to buy and how to buy it. The sickening jargon for this is the consideration phase of the funnel. An example of this type of keyword intent is “Goon Grease oil-based pomade price”.
Navigational intent keywords are simply keywords that get the searcher to the site they already know about. Example: “Lockhart’s pomade company”.
Where do Keywords Live?
Now that I have mapped out my primary and secondary keywords I can add them to my oil based pomade target page and start getting that sweet organic traffic!
But, where exactly do these keyword nuggets go on the page?
The most important signal that search engines look for is the primary keyword of a page in the page or meta title. It’s found in the head of an HTML document. Here’s an example a title:
Oil Based Pomade: Get Slick with Our Grease – PomadeEmporium.com
Notice I added my primary keyword to the title. Google uses the page title in their search results and is the blue clickable link that sends peeps to your site.
Google and even some SEO professionals say that the page or meta description isn’t a ranking signal, but I’ve tested this enough to know that’s bull’s bollocks! A page description should reinforce the page title and tell the searcher what to expect after they click the search result.
Add your primary keyword once to your page description. Here’s mine:
Get your slick on with our wide range of oil-based pomades for the sexiest pomps, slick-backs and rockabilly quiffs on the whole Goddamn planet! FREE shipping nationwide
An often underused ranking signal for on-page SEO is heading tags. These are the headings and subheadings on a page, your keywords feel snug and safe here.
Should contain your primary keyword and only be used once per page. I usually keep this the same as the page title so that searchers see the same heading that they click on when landing on my page.
Should contain your secondary keywords. Can be used numerous times on a page as subheadings to structure content.
Your primary and secondary keywords should be sprinkled within the body text of your page. Keep it natural and only repeat them a maximum of 3 times each.
Image ALT Text
Try to include your primary or secondary keywords in your image ALT text if possible. It’s a challenge to sneak in your keywords in image ALT texts because they’re there to describe an image. Be creative!
What About Those Supporting Keywords?
In the beginning of this article I mentioned supporting keywords. Where do they go? We don’t use supporting keywords on the page we’re optimizing, but we do use them to optimize the page.
Supporting keywords are the questions people ask about our main topic and are used to write blog posts. These blog posts are then linked to our main page. This technique is great for spreading topical relevance across our site.
I’ve chosen 3 supporting keywords to write blog posts on:
- How to remove oil based pomade?
- Is oil based pomade good for dandruff?
- Can I sleep with pomade in my hair?
Each of these questions can be linked to my main oil based pomade target page through links in the body copy.
The reason for using silos is: links (both internal and incoming).
Links are the foundation of Google’s ranking algorithm, they are what set Google apart from other search engines and made them the best. Google uses links from other websites as votes for ranking. If other high quality websites link to you, then your site must be an authority on a specific topic so Google will push your page up in its rankings.
Likewise, if you have pages within your site interlinking to a specific page more often, then that page is probably important and Google will push it up in its rankings.
But, who would link to a product category page? It’s just a list of products. We use blog posts that answer people’s questions as our “link magnet”. The blog posts are the type of content people won’t mind linking to if it’s useful. We then silo that external link authority to our target page by interlinking from topically relevant articles. Yeah, my brain hurts too. Here’s a scribble:
That’s my quick and dirty method for on-page SEO. It’s not perfect, nothing in SEO ever is because we’re dealing with the continuous flux of Google’s algorithm updates and evil world domination plans. But, if you implement this your web page will stand a pretty solid chance of moving up the ranks.
Fine Tuning with PageOptimizer Pro
If you want to boost your on-page SEO further, I like using PageOptimizer Pro (aff link) to fine tune my on-page optimizations. It’s a nifty tool that correlates the on-page ranking signals of your page with that of your competitors to achieve competitive parity. It looks at fancy things like co-occurrence, NLP and Google entities; the stuff Bill Slawski talks about to confuse us on Twitter. I have found that fine tuning my pages using POP works.
That’s it! I’m off to listen to Sleaford Mods.