How do I build the perfectly optimized page?

This is a challenging question for many in the SEO and web marketing fields. There are hundreds of “best practices” lists for where to place keywords and how to do “on-page optimization,” but as search engines have evolved and as other sources of traffic — social networks, referring links, email, blogs, etc. — have become more important and interconnected, the very nature of what’s “optimal” is up for debate.

My perspective is certainly not gospel, but it’s informed by years of experience, testing, failure, and learning alongside a lot of metrics from Moz’s phenomenal data science team. I don’t think there’s one absolute right way to optimize a page, but I do think I can share a lot about the architecture of how to target content and increase the likelihood that it will:

  • A) Have the best opportunity to rank highly in Google and Bing
  • B) Earn traffic from social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.
  • C) Be worthy of links and shares from across the web
  • D) Build your brand’s perception, trust, and potential to convert visitors

With the help of some graphics from CreativeMarket (which I highly recommend), I created a number of visualizations to explain how I think about modern on-page optimization and keyword targeting. Let’s start with a graphical overview of what makes a page optimized:

elements-optimized-sml
larger version

 

In the old days of SEO, “on-page optimization” referred merely to keyword placement. Search engines liked to see keywords in certain locations of the HTML code to help indicate a page’s relevance for that query. But today, this simple approach won’t cut it for two key reasons:

  1. The relevancy and keyword-based algorithms that Google and Bing use to evaluate and rank pages are massively more complex.
  2. Gaining a slight benefit in a keyword placement-based algorithmic element may harm overall rankings because of how it impacts people’s experience with your site (and thus, their propensity