On-page SEO has changed a lot over the years. The days of being able to throw up a piece of worthless content and stuff it with the phrases that you want to rank are gone.
Google is much better at figuring out which content is useful to readers and they are doing their best to reward you for it.
These changes have caused a massive reduction in spammers. It’s also cleaned up the results pages, with fewer results seeming like they don’t deserve to be there.
This cleansing leaves room for legitimate businesses like yours that can publish useful and entertaining content that people want to read. Google is trying to rank pages that answer the searcher’s questions and don’t trick them into clicking hidden ads.
By decreasing the power that certain on-page factors have, Google has been able to remove the ability for spammers to brute force their way to the first page. Instead, they are valuing long content that answers the searcher’s questions. They track this by measuring bounce rate and time on page.
These signals are all used by Google to figure out how the searcher reacted to your page in comparison to similar content in your industry. These messages give them an idea of the value of your website.
That’s why you need to ignore the old on-page tactics and focus on creating content for humans rather than robots. Humans are who will be reading the pages; humans are the ones who will buy your products and people are the ones who will create backlinks and social signals that will help you to rank.
Spammer learned that in old versions of the algorithm it was reliant on counting the keywords on the page. This number was used to tell the system the topic of the page.
However, with the adoption of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI), there is no need to be stuffing keywords onto the page.
In fact, you can even rank for keywords that don’t appear anywhere on the page. Google is excellent at figuring out the intent of the phrases that searchers are using and giving them the results that they want to see.
Writing without thinking about SEO is always good advice, but even when you write without worrying about keywords, it’s possible to overuse them.
It’s important that you stay under 1% keyword density, but many SEO’s would argue that staying below 0.2% is best.
Regardless of your KW density, you’ll also want to avoid only using keywords in your H1-H6 tags. It’s not natural. They should appear in the content as well as in your header tags, where it’s natural.
Doorway or gateway pages used to be commonly used by national and international companies. They would often be done on a per city basis and would be used to rank for different keywords, but sent all the visitors to a different page that wasn’t representative of the keyword.
For example; a company providing lawn services might rank a hundred different doorway pages with keywords like ‘lawn service NYC’ and ‘lawn service LA.’ All of these pages would lead people through to a single page which showed the companies offerings.
Google considers this to be a spam tactic and punishes companies for using it. Instead, they want to avoid duplicate pages. They would prefer you to create a single page and try to rank that for keywords instead of using doorway pages.
Bait and switch
The old bait and switch! SEO’s who couldn’t manage to rank competitive product pages would often create a page that they could use for content marketing.
However, once they’d acquired a bunch of links, they would change the substance of the page to something commercial.
This change would then cause that page to rank but was deceptive. Those links were never created to endorse this new page.
Programs create spun articles by replacing words with other phrases that have a similar meaning. Businesses would use these spun articles to continue publishing ‘fresh’ content and to rank for slightly different keywords.
These new posts provided zero extra value and only degraded the quality of the web. Google has made efforts to track duplicate content and punish the websites involved.
Cloaked content is used to show one page to the search engine crawlers and another to readers. This cloaked content might not seem too bad in theory, but in practice, you had websites ranking for terms that the page wasn’t about.
For example; you could show the search engine crawlers a page about building houses, and you would rank for related keywords. But when readers clicked the link they would be taken to a page about buying gold.
It created a horrible user experience.
On-page in 2017 and beyond is all about providing the best possible experience for the user. It’s still important for us to take into account what the crawlers want and how they process the content, but the readers must come first.
Your content is there to educate readers and eventually to sell them on your product or service. The only way to do that is to focus on providing them value until they are ready to buy.