Sometimes, we affiliates become so lost in the hunt for those juicy backlinks that we forget about on-page SEO. Even if you can pitch your way to something crazy, like a do-follow mention in a Forbes spread, your hard work will be lost if that beautiful link is pointing to a jumbled mess of un-optimized dribble.
Point? Keep that site perfect, or as close as you can, before you start your off-page SEO. Now, just saying to “keep it perfect” without elaborating would be most un-professorial of me, so let’s examine what that means a little more.
Ever heard of a little thing called “on-page SEO”? If you have, bear with me for a moment. If you haven’t, let me give you a super simple bird’s-eye view of it.
On-page SEO refers to the optimization of individual web pages as performed on the actual pages themselves. I know that sounds a bit confusing at first, but here’s what I mean:
Any SEO strategy that doesn’t alter the content of a web page, like building backlinks, is off-page SEO. The inverse is also true. When you change the actual content on your web page and/or how it’s structured, including images, headings, alt text, and much more, then you’re performing on-page SEO.
So, who cares, right? As long as I have solid backlinks, isn’t on-page SEO just an optional after touch? Wrong! Dead wrong, in fact. You think the Google algorithm’s 200+ ranking factors are all about external signals? How would they look as a search engine if garbage sites dominated the first page?
I wish I could tell you it’s just a step or two, but just like off-page methods, it’s an entire discipline. For the sake of simplicity, however, I can at least break down on-page methods into a 3-point guide. This will cover the meat and potatoes, but it’s your job to get out there and hustle up those trimmin’s!
Quality Content Reigns Over All For On Page SEO
I’m not under the impression that every affiliate marketer out there is a Pulitzer-prize-winning author. I also understand that many of us aren’t able to hire out for content writers, especially early on in our careers. Still, I promise you that you can create compelling and impactful content.
Forget about the logistics for a moment; we’ll get to linking, keywords, and the 4800 other points below. I just want you to think about the consumer’s perspective for a second. When did you last read an article that blew your mind?
We don’t want to read the same thing hundreds of times. We want to be surprised, impressed, educated and listened to. You want content that delivers an experience in itself.
And to do this, friends, we need power words.
Sumo has an excellent summary of more than 400 power words that affiliate marketers can use to increase their copy’s conversion power. I’ll just list a few here, but the important point is that you understand what they’re for: engaging the reader in a meaningful way.
Here are a few power words you can swap out those boring placeholders (like “good,” “bad,” etc.) with, per Sumo:
As mentioned, you don’t have to be a wordsmith per se, but you do have to have to engage the reader.
Here’s a simple process to help you if you’re new to this:
Determine how you want to engage. Are you asking a question or answering one? Are you introducing them to a product they’ve never seen before or reviewing a common one?
Once you know what your objective is, simply create an outline and keep the paragraphs short, snappy and personable. Let’s say you’re reviewing a digital info product that teaches people how to relieve their back pain naturally. You decide that your objective is to target and educate consumers who want to quit opioid pain meds.
Your outline should speak to that purpose. Describe the product, sure, but make sure you emphasize the comparative value of a natural remedy over the side-effect-heavy medications. Show them how their life would be better, don’t just tell them. Power words are how you bridge that gap.
Let’s sum it up for clarity. First, decide how you want to engage the reader. Then, create a content to outline to suit that purpose, and remember to allow for small, informative paragraphs. Use powerful words throughout, and most importantly, write every word with your customer’s experience in mind.
Now for the really fun stuff, as promised!
How to Link With the Best of Them For On Page SEO
Alright, so we’re keeping the user’s experience at the forefront when mapping our content strategy. When it comes to linking, I want you to think in the same way, but instead of the user, imagine search engine bots.
What I mean by that is, you want to take every possible step to ensure that your content is easy to link to, and that your internal linking structure makes sense. On-page SEO linking practices have to focus on these two attributes above all others:
- How easy it is for bots AND people to find, index and link to your content
- How easy it is to navigate to your other pages via the internal linking structure
For anyone not familiar with SEO, here’s the landscape: your website, which all affiliates should have, needs to have links to other pages/sites in the copy. It’s easy to be selfish, focusing much more on building backlinks than linking in our own content, but Google will give you the smack down if you do this!
Also, when I refer to the “internal linking structure,” I’m describing the way in which all of the pages on your website are linked. Commonly, there are category pages and individual posts, and each post links to both the category page that it’s under and the home page, with many exceptions.
Okay, briefing adjourned.
Let’s talk about “linkability.”
First and foremost, search engines and users alike prefer it when the URL for any given page on your site indicates which category the user is in. For example, http://www.awebsite.com/SEO/on-page-SEO.
From the above example, I can see that the post I’m reading about on-page SEO is in the SEO category. If you’re this person, you might consider a rework: http://www.yoursite/articleT4485. Gross!
Your URL isn’t the only thing that determines how easy it is for other site owners, users and bots to link to, find and rank your content, respectively. It may seem like I’m harping on an unrelated issue here, but honestly, relevance is huge when it comes to linkability.
If your content doesn’t appeal to people, it doesn’t matter what Google thinks – it won’t be ranked. Established site owners especially can’t just link out willy-nilly; they have to be very calculated with it to keep their own SEO strong. That being said, you need to bring them something relevant, attractive and valuable to link to.
Thankfully, if you simply follow the above tips relating to content quality, this component of linkability should be taken care of. Now on to the third and final tip:
Human beings care about relevance and value, sure, but crawler bots speak a different language. Some items, suffice it to say, literally can’t be linked to for technical reasons.
For example, if you are running an online LMS (learning management system) that requires a login, as a paid online course would, then the stuff behind that login won’t be linkable!
The same goes for certain types of images, videos and especially slide shows. If you’re considering adding these elements, which is always a good idea, it’s wise to first check that they are SEO friendly, i.e., linkable.
Site Loading Speed Is No Joke
Although loading speed is just one metric out of literally hundreds that Google measures for ranking purposes, it’s still worthy of a place in this list because, frankly, it’s the one factor that can absolutely tank your whole operation.
I’m referring to site loading speed here. Every page on your site should load quickly. Google is famously tight-lipped when it comes to specifics, as they should be, so I can’t tell you what the exact cut-off time is for scoring SEO brownie points, but three seconds is a great target to shoot for.
If you think I’m being an alarmist, check out what Moz has to say about the importance of site loading speed. Google is so strapped for time, given the billions of websites they have to crawl and index, that even their bots have a “time budget” when they are crawling around. The bots won’t just sit there if your site won’t load – they’ll zip away!
What’s more, a slow loading speed is directly correlated to higher bounce rates, which makes perfect sense. Have you ever impatiently clicked off of a page that wouldn’t load fast enough? We’re spoiled rotten when it comes to accessing information quickly – humans won’t wait around either.
“Fine, fine,” you say, “but how do I increase site speed?”
Well aren’t you just asking all the right questions today, and at the most convenient times!
Here are some steps you can take to increase site loading speed:
- Compress large files
- Minify your code (this removes unnecessary spacing and punctuation in the code)
- Enable browser caching
- Pluck out any scripts that slow rendering speed
- Cut down on redirects
These are just the tip of the iceberg. Another solid tip for affiliates just starting out with a blog is to disable comments early on. When you’ve got a larger following, of course, you want to open that comment section again and engage with your people!
We’re Just Getting Started…
Look, I don’t say this to be pessimistic, but just know that there is much, much more to the SEO picture than the above points – way more than one post could cover. One of the best ways to learn the ropes is to have a professional perform an SEO audit of your site.
No, it’s not exactly a thrilling read, but you certainly will learn a lot as you pore over the results of your site audit. Pages you should have deindexed, image formats, meta description best practices, keyword best practices, and much, much more.
That said, don’t be discouraged. The above points are the best place to start – especially the issue of content quality. I’ll put it this way: Any monkey with a computer can learn how to build an internal linking structure and format some files on a page. It’s the words in between that make it all stick for both man and machine, I assure you!