Google Search ranking factors have changed over time.
Keyword density, meta keywords, exact-match domain dominated on-page SEO at one time.
Now there are Google’s RankBrain (which uses A.I. technology) and different Google animals (to catch bad SEO practices by Google’s law) to filter and deliver search results.
There are a number of known on-page optimization that will boost your Google rankings. To name a few:
- Write great, link-worthy content;
- Use image alt text, H1, H2, and H3 headings; and
- Design your site structure to help search engines understand your content better.
These are fundamental on-page SEO. But they are by no means the only things you can do to improve your website’s search rankings.
For those who want better search rankings thru on-page optimization, here are three things you should check.
1. Better organic CTR, better search rankings
Over the years, there are countless rumors on how Google might change their algorithm and add weight to user experience and social signals as ranking factors.
Some of these rumors were proven by experiments and case studies.
For example, the impact of organic CTR on search rankings is now confirmed by Moz founder Rand Fishkin’s experiment.
Here’s what happened: Rand called upon an open experiment on Twitter and asked people to test the influence of organic CTR (click-through rate) in Google.
More than 200 Moz fans took action immediately and responded to Rand’s calling.
Not long after Rand’s study, Larry Kim’s report on Moz came out. He found that if you win the expected organic CTR in your niche by 6 – 20% averagely, you are more likely to appear on Google’s first page.
Therefore, one easy way to rally your site rankings is to improve your site CTR on the search result page.
But how? Here are three effective ways to improve CTR of web pages.
Use power words to attract clicks
The more you hit people emotionally with your titles, the more clicks you will get.
Based on CoSchedule’s studies, Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) between 30 and 40 is the sweet spot for high numbers of clicks and shares.
One easy hack to write emotional headlines is include relevant, power words to it.
Wonderful, scarce, secrets, hurry, genuine, mainstream, simplified, compromise, just arrived, suddenly, popular, exclusive, simplistic, liberal, daring, etc.
Another trick is to keep a good mixture of common word, uncommon word and power word in your title.
- Common Words: a, about, after, this, why etc.
- Uncommon Words: actually, right, nearly etc.
- Power Words: daring, genuine, wonderful etc.
Write short on-page SEO titles
Shorter, more concise titles also lead to better CTR and higher rankings, according to a study conducted by Etsy, and those which performed the best were titles that included only the target search keyword phrase.
Write list and how-to titles
How-to and numbers title always work.
Take this experiment from Daren’s headlines guide:
- “9 reasons you will click this article first”
- “Nine reasons you won’t even notice this one”
I bet your eye is drawn to the number “9”. And this works for the majority of us.
2. Speed up your site
We did a total revamp on Web Hosting Secret Revealed (WHSR) in January 2017. We cleaned up our code, developed a mobile-friendly theme, and switched to PHP 7. Site speed improved by at least 30% and organic traffic surged by more than 30%.
Moral of the story? Speed kills. If your site is not loading quickly enough, Google is killing your rankings slowly.
A study shows that the average page load speed of #1 position is around 1980 milliseconds. Want top rankings on Google? Then you will need to hit that benchmark.
Take action: How to speed up your site
Here are a few things you can do to speed your site right away.
- Make use of Google PageSpeed tools to determine what’s slowing your site;
- Combine CSS and scripts to make fewer HTTP requests;
- Optimize site images for faster page load time; and
- Move your site to a faster host (shameless plug: WHSR is hosted on InMotion Hosting VPS, you can read my review here).
For more tips, Nick shared some very good tips on how to improve your site speed in this post, read it thoroughly.
3. Structured Data for the Win
John Mueller said that Google does not use Structured Data in their search algorithm.
But does the statement completely rule out its potential? The answer is no. There is a passive relation of Structured Data with ranking.
A study in Search Engine Land states that you can get up an increase of 30% in CTR using Structured Markup. Circle back to my point #1 (better CTR = better search ranking), we can now conclude that: Structured Data = Higher Organic CTR = Higher Ranking
There are, in fact, more on-site advantages of using Structured Data:
- It makes not only the content but also the structure of your website understandable to search engines.
- It makes linking to other properties easy. For example, Google can fetch social media profiles from the structured data to show on Google’s Knowledge Graph.
- It helps to show rich snippet in Google search results. So your website will appear better.
Three easy ways to structure and give meaning to your data.
- JSON-LD: Recommended by Google, JSON-LD Structured markup is embedded in <script> tag and does not intertwine with user-visible content.
- Microdata: Structured markup is nested in HTML tags as attributes and usually used in the body of web pages.
- RDFa: Structured markup is nested in HTML5 tags as attributes and used in both head and body of web pages.
Search engines, Google especially, are forever changing. The only way to stay on top of things is to continue to test, study, and adapt to changes.
About the author: Jerry Low