Back in 2011 we would read articles claiming that SEO will soon be dead.
And here we are in 2019.
Is SEO dead?
No. And it’s unlikely to happen in the next few years.
But it’s definitely changed drastically over the last years. And it keeps changing and getting smarter. And we have to get smarter with it.
In this article, I'd like to discuss and share actionable on-page SEO optimization tips that are relevant in 2019. Read on to learn more.
First Impression Matters, As Always
I'm not going to reinvent the wheel by saying that meta-data inputs are super important. Your title, URL look, and description are always of primary importance because they are the first things your potential visitor sees in SERP. And the way your title resonates with potential visitor decides on whether the person will choose your title among others to click on.
Which means that you have to optimize your meta-data for better results. There are standard recommendations for title, URLs, and descriptions on how many symbols they should include and so on. But it's not actually about the number of symbols or words as it's about pixels. Your marketing agency should have this covered for you but I'd like to share two tools that will help you with your own meta-data optimization: SERP Simulator and CTR Tools.
In SERP Simulator, you just have to enter your planned title, description and URL and it will show you how they will look in SERP.
In addition to an almost similar simulator, CTR Tools also has a CTR analysis tool which shows you an estimated CTR for your URL and gives you optimization suggestions.
Using these tools, you can analyse meta data of your existing pages as well as work on your future posts. Now let's image the person actually clicks on your title and visits your page. Will you article satisfy them? Now this is what matters next.
Optimization For Search Intent
More and more people are starting to talk about on-page optimization according to search intent. It's funny, but Moz first described the notion of search intent back in 2007 in their article here. Twelve years have passed until it has become something of a trend.
The idea behind search intent optimization is very simple. Your keyword-optimized page should meet visitors' intent expectations. In other words, if one googles "how to cook pasta", your page should answer that question.
Sounds pretty simple, right?
Well, it might be challenging in some cases.
The thing is that there are keywords with obvious search intent (e.g. "buy shoes" has commercial intent and we can easily understand it). However, if we take, for example, "build links to your website" keyword, we are not sure about exact intent. It may be informational (a person is willing to see a guide or some tips) and it may be commercial (a person wants to buy link building services).
How are we supposed to figure that out?
According to Ahrefs, we have to check what Google currently shows for particular keywords. This means we have to insert "build links to your website" keyword to Google and analyze the search intent of pages it shows us.
Having analyzed Google top results, we see that the prevailing search intent is informative. It means that if we want to create and optimize an article for this topic, we'll have to work on something better that is already on top. And it's when TF*IDF comes into play.
TF*IDF and What it Means for SEO
TF*IDF is another popular SEO term these days. It stands for "term frequency - indirect document frequency" and according to SEMrush, it is "Google's way of determining the quality of a piece of content based on an established expectation of what an in-depth piece of content contains". In other words, if you google "how to cook pasta", Google will show you a page that will contain elements that are most likely to satisfy you. For example, it may be an article providing a step-by-step guide to cooking pasta, comparisons of different pasta recipes and some other helpful information.
Now the question is - when do we need TF*IDF analysis and how to do it?
SEMrush recommends conducting TF*IDF analysis when your page is already on top, but, let's say, can't move from 2nd to 1st position. This may also be the case for when your page is losing organic traffic. TF*IDF analysis helps you compare your content to other articles on top and see what you're missing. There are content gap and TF*IDF analysis tools but I'd like to share a simple strategy that you can do on your own and it will cost you nothing.
For example, we've already seen the list of top pages for keyword "build links to your website". Let's imagine my page on a similar topic is close to the top. First of all, I'll make a list of all top 10 pages and make notes on the word count of every page. Then, I'll have to go through every article and make notes on what topics they cover. In other words, I'll basically do an outline for every article. After that, I will see what all of these pages write about and will compare it to my page.
My goal here is to improve or write an even better version which can deserve a spot on top.
LSI Keywords - Shall We Do It?
If you've been looking for some on-page SEO tips before, you should have read about the importance of LSI keywords for your content. Brian Dean mentions them in his infamous guide to on page SEO. Basically, LSI keywords are synonyms to your main keyword that help Google better identify what your page is about. For example, if your page is about cooking pasta, your LSI keywords may include words like "ingredients", "cheese", "meat", "sauce", "macaroni", "spaghetti" etc. And what you have to do is to include all those LSI keywords into your article.
Now let's hold on for a minute.
Imagine you are writing an article on how to cook pasta. Can you imagine writing this article without mentioning the ingredients you should add like cheese or meat? Can you imagine writing such an article without describing a sauce for pasta? If you're writing an in-depth article, you will include all of those synonyms naturally. That's what Ahrefs say about LSI keywords and I cannot agree more. There is no need to do tons of additional research and push more keywords to your content just because you think ‘the more the merrier’. In fact, what is better is a natural well-researched article that meets your readers' expectations. And this should be your best SEO approach in 2019.
To conclude, I’d like to point out that some people believe SEO is about making your post relevant and visible to search engines. Yes, that’s right. But let’s look a bit further. What is the purpose of search engines? To provide people with the best content possible, to understand their behavior, desires and meet expectations. Now this is what you should be doing - writing for people first of all. Writing naturally. This is the best SEO approach you could use.