On-page SEO is still a factor in B2B marketing – in any marketing, really. The landscape has changed, though, since search engines came into existence.
Today’s SEO practices have evolved beyond what they were originally, and it’s become a much more uphill battle.
Here’s our ultimate guide to on-page SEO, with everything you need to get your pages as high in the SERPs as possible – and what to do when that proves difficult.
The Ultimate On-Page SEO Guide
Before we get into the meat of it, it’s worth noting that SEO is a lot harder nowadays.
You can see it for yourself. Pick a nice, juicy keyword that directly relates to your business, and Google it. For added insight, grab the free MozBar Chrome extension so you can see each result’s domain authority (hey, there’s a good SEO tip already).
Look at the DA that the top results have. Now compare it to your own DA – and look who the top results are. If you’re in marketing, it’s probably HubSpot, Backlinko, or one of the other heavy hitters.
Dethroning them is hard, but not impossible. It takes a lot of work, and a lot of upkeep as well, because Google releases a ludicrous amount of algorithm updates – multiple every day. Most of them are tiny and likely have little to no impact on your ranking.
Some of them can torpedo your SEO, though, so you need to consistently keep on top of your rank and make sure you’re putting in the work to maintain it.
What to Do When SEO Isn’t Working
If you’re having trouble nudging the heavy hitters aside and taking a top spot in the SERPs, or if your inbound leads aren’t coming in quick enough even when you do, it’s time to shake things up.
Consider investing in outbound digital marketing. Yes, really – the term outbound gets a lot of negative press, but think about it. You probably already use outbound to some extent. If you use Google Ads, or paid ads on social media, those are both outbound marketing examples that are commonplace.
If a strong influx of leads is what you’re after, check out Clickback’s Email Lead Generation software. It enables you to take a large list of cold B2B contacts and turn them into warm, opted-in leads – and gives you valuable insight into how people interact with your website, so you can optimize.
Get a live 1:1 demo of the software here.
Getting Started with On-Page SEO
Okay, let’s get stuck in. There’s a lot you need to do to optimize your pages for ranking in Google.
The first, possibly most important one is picking the right keyword. If you’re writing a blog post – particularly if it’s a long one – you’re going to hit all kinds of keywords organically just by writing. However, you want to pick one to as your main, or “focus”, keyword.
This is the search term you’re really trying to rank for. When picking a keyword, you should do a bit of legwork before you jump right into writing.
Research your keyword. A good way to do it is actually search it, and see what comes up. The top results will clue you in on the kind of content you should be writing (more on that later), and will give you an indication of how hard it might be to get a top spot for that query, especially if you’re using MozBar.
You can also use a tool like SEMrush to check what sort of monthly search volume that keyword gets. If it’s a great keyword but nobody searches for it, it might not be worth going to all this effort for.
If your keyword idea is too hard to rank for, make it longer-tail. That means instead of “sports shoes”, you’d go for “red men’s sports shoes” – longer-tail keywords are more specific and more niche, meaning the people who do search for it are looking for exactly what you’re talking about.
Also ensure that your actual material is up to date. Whatever your topic is, make sure you’re citing the most up-to-date statistics and information.
Using Your Keyword
Armed with a good, solid keyword, it’s time to start writing.
Use your keyword in your actual page title/header, as far towards the start as you can get it without sounding unnatural. While we’re talking about your title, make sure it’s formatted as an H1, and has the H1 HTML tag. Use H2 formatting for subheadings.
In addition, make sure you use your keyword somewhere within the first 100 words of your post.
Another important topic is keyword frequency. How often should you sprinkle your keyword in your post?
The answer is use it as frequently as is possible while sounding natural. That last bit is crucial. If you use it too much, Google will look at that and assume you’re keyword stuffing.
Keyword stuffing is an old-school SEO tactic that, simply put, doesn’t work anymore. Before Google’s algorithm was as smart as it is today, you could just ram your keyword into a page as many times as you liked, and increase your ranking that way.
Now, it’s a bad idea – you’ll get penalized for it and your rank will plummet. Don’t do it.
Linking and URLs
First of all, when you’re picking the URL your page will live at, there are two rules: keep it short and include your keyword. If your URL slug is just your keyword, that’s fine. In fact, that’s common practice.
Throughout your content, you should be linking to external reputable sites. If you cite a statistic, link to the page you got it from, and so on. The more links you have to external pages that are authoritative and relevant to the subject matter of your post, the more Google will take it that your article is well-researched and informative.
Arguably even more important are internal links on your site. This works in the opposite direction of external links – meaning if there’s a page whose SEO you want to improve, find your most authoritative, best-ranked pages and link from them to the page you want to boost.
Make your anchor keyword-rich. If you’re trying to rank for “men’s red sports shoes”, go to your best-ranked page and link to that page using that keyword as the anchor text. It provides more SEO juice when you do it that way, rather than using “click here” or something similar as your anchor.
Even More Tags
Don’t neglect meta tags. Make sure your title is tagged as such, and include a meta description for Google. Here’s a trick for that: write your own meta description, even if Google ends up overriding it.
When your meta description is unique and informative, and clearly describes what the post is, you’ll get better results. Plus, you can improve your CTR (clickthrough rate) that way. “This article is a deep dive into on-page SEO strategies”, for example, is concise and clearly tells the reader what they’re going to find.
Include your keyword in your meta description, also. Google will bold it on the SERP in the description below your page title. Every little bit helps.
If you’ve been writing content for awhile, it’s a good idea to go back and audit your site for missing meta descriptions. You never know what you might find.
Okay, that’s a lot of technical stuff (and there’s more to come), but your actual content is important too.
First of all, you need a title. We’ve already mentioned putting your keyword in it, as far forward as possible. There are a couple other things you can do to make your title even more SEO-friendly though.
Titles formulated as questions can arguably get a better CTR, so consider making your title a question. More than that, though, try to use modifiers to hit longer-tail keywords. Things like “guide”, “best”, “checklist”, “strategy”, “best practices” – the sort of thing people might tack onto their Google searches for your keyword.
That way you’re getting more oomph out of your title.
When it comes to body content, write something unique and valuable. That sounds kind of trite, but it’s actually Google’s biggest tip on ranking high. If your content is well-written and provides real value, people will engage with it – and that’s the biggest signal for Google to rank you higher.
Of course, this is easier said than done – just about everything’s been written about, particularly if you’re in a digital-marketing-heavy industry.
That’s okay – write your take on it. Don’t swipe content from other people, but do look at the top ranked pages for your keyword and take inspiration from the sort of content you find.
It’s also important to have strong copywriting skills. Make sure your writing is up to snuff!
Optimize for Engagement
Format your page nicely. If your user experience isn’t good, no matter how valuable your content, you won’t rank well. When your page is spaced out nicely and not just a giant wall of text, it’s a lot more reader-friendly.
Use images, GIFs, screenshots, step-by-step breakdowns – anything that increases people’s enjoyment and ability to consume your content.
And when you do use images, use descriptive alt text. Alt text is what appears in the image’s place if it fails to load – and Google crawls it when it reads your page. It contributes to your SEO – try and work your keyword into an image alt text somewhere on your page.
Google also takes actual engagement statistics into account. That means things like dwell time (how long people spend on your page) and bounce rate (the percentage of people who open your page and leave again immediately, without looking at another page).
So you want people to look at your page for a long time, and to check out more of your website before leaving. How do you do that?
For dwell time, write long, engaging posts. If you have a big, long post packed with value, that matches the searcher’s intent (i.e. what they’re looking for in the first place), you’ll get an increase in dwell time. This goes back to adding images, infographics, and that sort of content as well.
As for bounce rate, first of all optimize your page load time. For every second your page takes to load, more people will bounce, so you want it lightning-fast.
Encourage people to visit other articles and pages for more information around your topic. If you bring up something that you go into more detail about, link to that secondary article.
Make It Skimmable
In a perfect world, people would read every word you write – that’s not how it happens in reality. People often just skim an article to see if it’s what they’re looking for.
That means that they should be able to get the gist of your article without actually reading it. Headlines and bolded phrases that call out your key points go a long way towards this.
Another thing you could do is add a table of contents at the top of your article (like I did with this one). Not only does that help your readers get a sense of what’s in the article, especially if it’s long, but it also can help you get featured snippets in Google – which appear above all results, and are highly valuable for SEO.
SEO is a big topic, and you can spend an incredible amount of time and effort on it – sometimes without appreciable results, unfortunately. It’s still important, but if you find your lead volume dipping, you might be better off focusing on a more impactful method of generating new leads.