How To Optimize Your Pages And Perform A Great SEO Audit
It is a common belief that search engines work with keyword density. Don’t they?
There are many factors involved for ranking on a search engine and keyword density is not really one of them.
For many of you the idea that keyword density isn’t a ranking factor may sound weird, but if you think for a moment how much there is behind the science of information retrieval you will easily understand that keywords density really doesn’t exist.
Demystifying The Keyword Density Lie
Search engines can perform a massive number of operations in a second and retrieve the information you are searching for among millions of pages.
It’s easy to understand that it is not possible to rely on how many times a keyword is present on a page to do this.
The truth is, search engines use a more complex analysis method like Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA) or LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing).
They are mathematical algorithms designed to discover the meaning of a document by analyzing the position and correlation of words and synonyms within a page.
I know it sounds complicated and it is, but I just want to introduce the topic to make you understand better what SEO means. In this article I will also show you how to work through this mess easily.
For example if we use a generic term like “Car” on a page and in the same page there’s another term like “wash” the page is probably related to a car washing service, but if we put a word like “Accident” then the page is probably news about a car accident.
In general, a single word or a combination of them is not enough to understand the entire meaning of the content; moreover it is not enough to understand what a page is related to.
The more words we have on a page, the more the meaning of the page can be misinterpreted.
No One Ever Mentions Latent Semantic Indexing, Should I Really Read This?
I will show you how to optimize a page step by step, in a simple way, if you want to dive more on LSI this is up to you.
Page optimization is not all about LSI but I wanted introduce you to the argument to open your mind and make you start with the right mindset, not go around thinking that everything you read is true.
In this article I don’t want to dive into LSI and SVD, PCA etc. They are great algorithms and theories but they’re not really any use when you are working there is software that take care about everything in our place for this .
However, knowing how things work makes you more aware and conscious of what you should really do to get results.
There have been many studies about it and if you want to uncover a bit more you should share to unlock the box below! You will find some interesting reading to help you understand how it really works.
So How Do Google And Search Engines Work? (So Grandma Can Understand)
Have you ever played Battle-Ship?
The principle is the same. To simplify the story, imagine that your text is a combination of ships on your board.
The more the combination of your ships fit the combination of the most valuable text in an argument then the more you win.
Let me explain better: search engines evaluate the geometric position of terms on a page and compare them with other geometric positions of other pages.
So Let’s See How To Optimize A Page Step By Step:
Keywords, Keyword Phrases And Keyword Relations
When you use keywords and keyword phrases, search engines try to find more related sentences with the same meaning to understand the topic in the page.
The more sentences you have that are related to those meanings the more your result will be about the specific topic.
They also try to find relations among more entities, people and places.
So when you write about anything you should try to use more synonyms and dive into the topic. That way you will make it more clear what you are talking about.
For example if you are talking about New York, search engines expect to find “Buildings”, “Manhattan”, “Times Square”, names of places or topics related to New York on the same page.
In this sense we can say that it’s like natural writing, but with some adjustments it works better.
Frequency, Distance And Position
We just said that Keyword density is not a real parameter because the calculation involved in ranking a page is so much more complex.
However, the right quantity of text related to a concept helps search engines understand what that page is talking about.
Moreover, if you put the relevant terms in relevant positions on a page it is easier for the S.E. to understand what the page is about.
If you use the same term too many times you will be penalized by spam filters.
I don’t want to bombard you with difficult reading, so you just need to understand that it tells the search engine how relevant sentences on a document are in comparison to other documents.
The closer the frequency of a term is to other documents about the same topic, the more that document will be considered related to that topic.
And finally Semantic distance: http://www.google.com/patents/US8060501
This means that you should place related contents closer to one another or grouped within the same HTML elements.
A great way to optimize contents is to use Primary and Secondary Keywords to improve the main Keyword concept.
With links we need to differentiate between internal and external links.
There are millions of discussions on Link building and it’s important to know that after Penguin, for the first time, links are not only a way to improve your ranking but also a way to penalize your pages.
Being aware of this you should understand that unnatural linking is what Google is trying to avoid.
This simply means that links matter and that they work.
You should try to keep your link profile as natural as possible, this means that you need to understand what natural means to Google.
In order to do that you must use tools that allow you to investigate the link profiles of your competitors and understand what is really working and also what not to replicate, because it could lead to future penalization.
In general my personal advice is not to use Exact Keyword Match Anchors when you receive links from another website.
Try to use long anchor text and synonyms or related terms.
Recently I have been participating in an SEO experiment with other SEO guys around the world building complete SEO websites, and what has most impressed me is the real value of internal linking.
I’m still convinced that internal linking is a really important factor to point search engines (Google in particular) in the right direction.
From my experience, if your internal linking is done well it will work more than anything else.
In a way there is no reason not to build internal linking with the Exact keyword (or phrase) match a couple of times, from highly valuable (topic related) pages, and often use synonyms.
The best advice is to pay attention to how many links are going out from your page and try to figure out how much link juice is passing to the linked page.
Also, when you have a lot of pages on your website you can investigate which one will perform better, which internal linking they are using and so which one works better for your topic.
Moreover I tend to nofollow outgoing links, this is supposed to keep the value for internal links.
Another good idea to pay attention to, is to produce a Silo structure on your website.
I think that the best way to explain it is to give you this image, gently stolen from a great article from Bruce Clay that explains everything in one view:
This is an example of a non-Silo Structured website:
All topics (and Keyword Phrases) are located randomly on the website.
When you create a Silo Structure you try to divide topics by related arguments and keywords, linking them internally more strictly than other topics and trying to make them more related to one another.
Entity And Schema.org
I think that in 2014 it’s quite common to use entity and Schema.org in your pages. Most recent WordPress Themes include Shema.org, as most of them are Mobile Friendly.
However, it’s best practice to keep an eye on it.
Make it simple
So if you need to optimize a page step by step you should pay attention to many factors, but more than ever you should keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, especially the ones that rank best.
For this reason you should use valuable tools that allow you to perform a good Analysis and keep track of what you are doing.
For my SEO projects I use SEO powersuite.
Spyglass helps you analyze competitor backlink profiles and compare it with your own.
This will help you to better understand how many links you need to rank better on search engines.
It also helps you to plan and control your link building activities.
Website Auditor is more related to on page optimization, giving you all the advice in a simple report on how to fix your pages, comparing all the mentioned above factors with the websites ranking on Google for a given keyword.
You should remember that a great page is first of all a good quality page, with great content and information.
You should open with an eye-catching title, a good introduction and keep the page organized into subsections where you develop all the subtopics in the best way possible.
Link to external resources, this is also important, and internal linking is fundamental.
The more readers that navigate your pages, the more Google will consider your website relevant so to optimize is the key.