Today I’ll let you in on a little secret. I used to be a massive nerd for the SEO tactics and strategies that push web pages up through the ranks of Google and other search engines. The thrill and journey of taking a website that had either low grade rankings or was brand new and getting on the Google leaderboard (Page 1) for my targeted keywords was a pure satisfaction that not many people can understand.
It adds gravity of the accomplishment when money starts to correlate with those rankings. As an affiliate operator I would be looking to rank pages that help promote my product offers and have web traffic on my pages where I am running display ads. This all adds up and makes it highly valuable to focus on SEO instead of paid advertising for clicks.
So now let me take you on a journey to the depths of Search Engine Optimisation.
These tell both search engine spiders and human visitors what your page is about. Your title tag should definitely include your main keyword.
This is what goes into your <title></title> HTML. Also known as your Title Meta. Most people use the popular WordPress Plug-In’s “SEO Framework” or “RankMath” to create individual titles for each page.
You want it to be readable to the user and you want to use the keywords sparingly
# Example: Apple Computers – Buy Them Here
Keep your title short, and to the point and each page should have a unique title.
This specific html element falls under the category of a “meta tag,” and gives specific infomation about what your page is about. You should use the meta description to convince people to click through your site. Here’s what a meta description looks like in the Google search results:
Meta tags – these html elements live in the <head> of a web page, and basically tell the search engines what you page is about. Meta tags can also entice people to choose your page, over another page in the SERPs.
These tags are used to structure the information on your page. The search engines definitely use this as a ranking metric. These are better known as “heading” tags, like <h1>, <h2> <h3> these are used to classify the topic h1 and sub topics h2 OnPage.
My preference is to use the plurals of the keyword example Hairdresser & Hairdressers
and use the one with higher search vol in the critical spots with the lower search vol in H2, image titles, content.
Here’s how to take advantage of H tags:
H1 – The role of the H1 tag has changed over the years. Previously, “best practices” would tell you to always put your main keyword in the H1 tag. But now, it depends on whether or not your are doing any link building. Let me explain. If you are NOT doing any link building (such as, you’re not using our RankBOSS service), then you should put your main keyword in the H1 tag.
If you are doing link building (a.k.a. using our service), you should Not put your main keyword in the h1 tag.
This will likely lead to an over-optimization penalty.
So, with that being said, the rest of this email will be under the assumption that you ARE building links. For the examples below, I’ll be using the “Apple Computers” keyword example.
–back to that H1 tag… since you are building links to this page, you want to keep your H1 tag generic. Use “branding” or “generic” keywords in the H1. For example:
<h1>Check Out Our Full Selection Below</h1> — notice there is no mention of “Apple” or “Computers.”
H2 Tags – These are for the main sub-headings within your content. This is where I’d recommend using your main keywords. For example:
<h2>Our Apple Computers On Sale</h2>
<h2>The Macbook Air</h2>
<h2>Macbook Pro Retina</h2>
H3 Tags – Sub-sub headings. Examples:
Other tags – You don’t really need them, but feel free to use them if you have an actual need for the structure. If nothing else, they look good!
Here’s how you might structure a page targeting the “Apple Computers” keyword.
IN DEPTH HEADER TAGS
Use Heading tags to organise the ideas in a page of content. The overall idea of the article can be expressed in an H1. Then major “sub-ideas” in H2. Ideas that are part of an individual H2 Topic can be expressed under an H3 heading, and if that idea goes more granular then that sub-topic can be titled with an H4 and so on
I always imagine it as a folder structure. Here’s how I visualise it:
The red box is H1
Yellow folders are H2
Blue folders are H3
Green folders are H4.
You can arrange these in a visual way, then make them linear as you put them down the page, planning your article.
- H1. How to write an article
- H2. Intro
- H2. Section 1 – Folder A
- H3. Folder A1
- H4. Folder A1a
- H4. Folder A1b
- H4. Folder A1c
- H3. Folder A2
- H3. Folder A3
- H2. Section 2 – Folder B
- H3. Folder B1
- H3. Folder B2
- H2. Conclusion
Adding some structure helps readers and Google bots read and understand the hierarchy of your articles. This makes the experience on the front end more enjoyable and easier to follow along with.
Optimise Pages For Multiple Keywords:
When it comes to OnPage optimisation, certain places are more valuable to have your keywords in than others. Based on my tests, in order of impact, from most valuable keyword real-estate to least valuable:
- SEO Title Tag (i.e.: <TITLE></TITLE>)
- H1 (i.e.: Page title)
- H2, H3, H4…
- Alt text
We can use this knowledge to our advantage, if we have multiple keywords that we want to target on a single page, which in our profession is standard operating procedure.
Let’s say we have the following keywords we want to target on the homepage in order of importance:
- dog training
- dog obedience
- puppy school
- potty training for dogs
- dog walking training
We’ll start with our URL, making a branded domain, with an inner page targeting however many keywords we can fit in the URL without looking spammy. The following URL covers our two most important keywords.
Now for the SEO title tag. Again, let’s try to get as many keywords as possible in there, remembering the rules from the above.
SEO Title Tag: Dog Training and Obedience School | Pet Pros
Next comes our Page Title. Definitely get our top keywords in there, and lets also try to get some of the words that we haven’t included so far. Additionally, we’ll use a synonym “Canines” to get some semantic advantage.
Page Title: Dog Training School for both Puppies and Adult Canines Whatever we can’t fit, whether it be to length issues or it just not making sense for our sales copy, we can fit on
H2’s and H3’s. H2: Potty Training
H2: Walking your Dog Lastly, in the event that we have a long list of keywords, make sure to put them in the content somewhere.
Pro tip: Let’s say you’re trying to rank for the keywords “____ review” and “____ reviews”. You’ll need to include both ‘review’ and ‘reviews’ somewhere on your page. If these are important keywords, then definitely drop them in the URL, SEO Title Tag, or Page Title.
There is varied opinion about the exact number to aim for. My thoughts are between 1-1.8% for your main keyword. There is no magical number that is and represents the secret sauce every niche and keyword has competitive values that differ from others.
- Pro Tip: Individual words of a keyword phrase matter too
- Many people come to me and ask if they’re over-optimised. They only have “dog training” on their page 4
- times, but “dog” is used 40 times and “training” is used 30 times. This has Panda-penalty written all over it.
- Pro Tip: Keep keyword phrases down to only 2-3 occurrences:
- once in a <header tag> and 1-2 times in the body of the content on the page.
- Pro Tip: Keep individual words down to less than 15. What to do instead? Use synonyms.
- (The above recommendations are for a 500-word article.)
I also suggest writing naturally and for humans not Google robots.
Synonyms are the most under-utilised tool in the OnPage arsenal.
Use synonyms to establish semantic relevance for a page without risking over-optimisation.
In the dog training example, we can use the following words instead of “dog” and “training”:
- Since our page is going after “dog training”, we can use “canine” and “instruction” with no worry.
- We don’t care if we’re over optimised for these keywords because hardly anyone is searching for “canine instruction.”
- But ninja tactic is to use these words to establish a high degree of relevance for the page.
Content Word Count:
People debate over how many words per page is optimal. No one has the exact number, because this matters on a per-niche and per-keyword basis.
For example, pages in the health niche (competitive), typically require more words to rank than others.
However, based on my testing experience and recent studies, the minimum amount of words you want on a page is:
- Regular page: 500+ words
- Product page: 500+ words & Bullet points that highlight features
- Competitive term: 1,500+ words
- To be safe, I’d recommend writing any page you want to rank with 1000 words or more helping your cause.
- This can not be achieved every time, some clients may have highly graphical pages.
- Stuffing pages for the sake of it won’t look right, think of the UX stick to the rules above.
- There are limits on how many words you want on a page and it depends on the niche.
- Imagine you are working on a local landscape clients website.
- You have 3,000 words on the keyword target page, but every other competing ranked page has 700 words.
- You my friend, are in overkill mode. Google likes content that is concise & to the point.
URL Structure (Permalinks):
Whenever possible, keep short and simple URL slugs, and have your keyword in the URL of the page. For example:
This part is pretty dependant on your site and your CMS, but optimally you want your URLs as short as possible with as much keyword stuffing as possible.
go with /%postname%
the shorter the URLs, the better – This also remove the trailing slash from every post and page. Make sure to set your custom URLs in your posts and pages though and don’t just use the title of the post/page or you’ll end up with massively long URLs.
Types of breadcrumbs. I like to use location based.
Location Based Breadcrumbs
show the user where the current page is located relevant to the whole structure of the site.
example: See All Departments > Electronics > Auto Electronics >
Path Based Breadcrumbs
visualise the user’s path which brought him to the current page. These breadcrumbs are dynamic and are usually based on the search results. With this type of breadcrumbs one and the same page can be accessed through several paths:
Consulting > Services > Implementation > Service A
Consulting > Services > Optimisation > Service A
Consulting > Services > Upgrade > Service A
Attribute Based Breadcrumbs
list the attributes of the current page
Best Uses of Breadcrumbs
- Only use breadcrumbs when they help a user: for large, multi-level websites. These are for user first of all; if they also help SEO – that’s an additional benefit. Don’t add breadcrumbs just for the sake of adding good internal anchor text.
- Do not link the current page to itself (the last step in the breadcrumbs should be un-linked);
- Do not replace main navigation with breadcrumbs (breadcrumbs visualise your website structure horizontally while the main navigation shows its vertical structure listing its other categories and content types);
- Use breadcrumbs consistently (this makes the user browsing your website feel safer and allows him to faster familiarise himself with how the site is structured)
- Do not use breadcrumbs in the page <title> tag (this makes the title too long and untargeted)
Here is a cheatsheet for building well structured web pages that will help your affiliate products get some traction with Google.
Elevate your SEO game by implementing the following advanced techniques that not only sidestep spammy practices but also leverage Google’s sophisticated semantic synonym recognition to enhance your page’s relevance to a specific topic.
- Mastering URL Structure:
- Incorporate your primary keyword once within the URL.
- Prioritize brevity while ensuring keyword representation.
- Recent experiments indicate that shorter URL slugs deliver superior results.
- Opt for concise, impactful URL structures both for homepage and inner pages.
- Effective: http://www.goodboyk9.com/dog-training
- Less Effective: http://www.goodboyk9.com/dog-training-guide-for-new-owners-of-puppies
- Strategic Title Tag Placement:
- Embed your keyword in the title tag, positioning it towards the beginning.
- Optimize for conciseness and relevance.
- Recent studies highlight the superiority of shorter title tags.
- Delay the use of “click bait” words until achieving higher rankings (#1-#5).
- Optimal: Dog Training Guide for Beginners | Obedience Tips
- Suboptimal: Dog Training – How to train your dog – Dog Training Tips
- Maximizing Meta Description Impact:
- Leverage the meta description to enhance click-through rate (CTR).
- While Google doesn’t directly rank meta descriptions, they indirectly affect rankings by influencing CTR.
- Craft persuasive descriptions that entice clicks from search engine results.
- Employ curiosity-invoking strategies to engage users and prompt clicks.
- Experiment with capitalization and trigger words to stimulate interest.
- Aim for a meta description length of no more than 156 characters.
- Compelling: These sneaky Dog Training Tips will work on ANY dog. You’ll DEFINITELY want to check out our FREE …
- Bonus Tip: Enhance intrigue by adding a “…” (dot dot dot) to incite curiosity and drive clicks.
As you wield these advanced techniques, remember that your affiliate marketing journey is an evolving process. By harnessing the power of precise URL structuring, impactful title tags, and enticing meta descriptions, you equip yourself with the tools to amplify your affiliate efforts and rise above the competition.
Fast sites rank better. But even more important, your visitors will not stay on slow sites for very long waiting for the page to load. There are many things you can do to increase your site’s speed.
First, check your site’s speed. Go here: http://tools.pingdom.com, or http://GTmetrix.com. Get a baseline of where you’re at, so you’ll know how much you’ve improved. You really want to see your site loading at least 80% better than other sites (as measured by Pingdom), and a total loading time of less than 2 seconds. You can work hard to make your site even faster than < 2 seconds.
If your site is slow, Pingdom will give you suggestions on how you can improve it. If you’re on WordPress, you’re in luck! There are some dead simple steps you can take to get some massive speed improvement within three minutes.
How to drastically improve your (WordPress) site speed in 3 minutes or less:
First, do basic site clean up, ie empty the trash, delete duplicate or unused images from the media library. Install a good caching plugin like W3 Total Cache. Install a great compression plugin (I use G-Zip Ninja Compression, which is free and works great). Literally install and activate, nothing more to do for this.
1. Install the W3 Cache Plugin & Activate it.
2. Once it’s been activated, in the WordPress dashboard, go to: Performance > General Settings
3. Enable “page cache” and “minify” Save it.
4. Now check to make sure your site is working properly. “Minify” can sometimes mess up a site. If it DID, deactivate “minify” and the problem should be solved instantly.
5. Check your page speed again to see your improvement, and how quickly your site is loading.
Pingdom Tools or GT Metrix will show what is causing the latency and is good to run before and after to gage results.
If your site has a lot of images, they could be really slowing your site down. Here are some things to consider:
Make sure your image file sizes are compressed (not necessarily the size of the image, but the file size. This will make your site load fast.
Alternatively install a great image optimiser (ideally, images should be optimised before uploading to the library but let’s face it, not many of us do that). I use Tiny PNG plugin, free for up to 500 compressions per month, and it works awesome. Install, activate, leave the default settings as they are. Register as a user and insert the API code that is emailed to you into the plugin settings.
Hover over the media library in the dashboard, select “bulk optimise” and let it do its thing. I’ve brought sites down from 22 seconds to under 3 seconds with just these 3 free plugins that take maybe 5 minutes to install and run.
Something to remember: using smaller images (the size of the image, not the file) will help with load times as well. Huge images are just SLOW.
If you have a lot of images, check out the “lazy load” plugin (http://wordpress.org/plugins/bj-lazy-load). This plugin will delay the loading of an image until a visitor scrolls toward that image. So, say you’ve got a nice, long post, filled with images. By using the lazy load plugin, the page will load quickly, displaying only the images at the beginning of the post. As the visitor scroll down the page, those images further down the page will load. This means that the page can load quickly, and will load images a few at a time, instead of trying for all at once.
Adding alt text to images is often overlooked but we know better and can use these to take advantage of the extra room to describe our website images.
Important – Alt text keywords DO contribute to overall page word count and keyword density.
For example, if you had the word “dog” in your content 10 times, and “dog” was in two alt tags as well, then your total count is 12 times.
Use alt text as if you were describing the image to a blind person. Don’t keyword stuff but you can include long tail or synonyms into the description.
Avoid having images that have “_” or “|” and instead look at using “-“ to seperate words.
What are alt tags actually for? Alt tags were designed for screen readers that help visual-impaired folks read webpages.
When the screen reader comes to an image, it reads the alt tag to describe what that image is.
Essentially, Google wants us to simply describe the picture.
If it’s a picture of a girl smiling, then label the alt tag “picture of girl smiling.”
Using the alt tags as intended is another reason I mostly choose not to optimise them. Think about your SEO strategy if you do optimise alt tags or not.
Geo Tag Images:
In local search we want to provide our clients with the best local relevance that we can. Using geo tags to add location points into the exif data of images will help us do this.
There is a significant amount of traffic that comes from google images search, and google maps images just look at the GMB insights of your clients. Don’t be surprised and instead act on this as a source of traffic others may not be exploiting. In some cases 5% or less traffic will result from images so in that scenario you can de-optimise the alt text so you only worry about keyword density OnPage and not on two fronts.
The bad news is geo tagging will be stripped when you compress images, a choice needs to be made to have more geo tagged images or faster loading websites.
Tip: add geo tagged images to Google my business and maps and leave compressed images for the website.
Process > Geo tag images then upload to GMB > Then compress and upload to the website.
Opinions differ about the specifics that there should be a specific ratio of HTML code (namely images) versus raw text, in order to make the search engines happy.
Based on my tests, I have never concluded on a magic number of how many images should be present per a given word count. But I do indeed recommend a simple rule of thumb that I’ve garnered from extensive conversion rate optimisation and split test experiments:
Never have a wall of text on the page.
There should never been a segment of your page where all the reader can see is simply a top-to-bottom block of text, with no graphics or structured markup (e.g.: table or list). Following this rule will keep you within safe bounds regarding both:
- 1) Keeping the search engines happy
- 2) Keeping your visitors interested in your page
the Google XML Sitemaps plugin on WordPress sites.
To keep it simple create a sitemap, if you can go advanced then split the sitemaps into into categories, priorities & frequency aren’t a must but make sure you use change dates.
Make sure once you’ve setup this plugin, that you submit your /sitemap.xml to Google’s Webmaster Tools – This is the main sitemap, and Google will then index each sub-sitemap on it’s own, you don’t need to submit each sitemap this plugin makes.
You’ll find the settings for this plugin here:
Crawl Rate Optimisation:
Googlebot is on your site for a couple of seconds at max at a time. Remove any unnecessary files that don’t need to be on your site – You want the pages you want ranked to be crawled, and having files like backups & unused PDFs just hurts your crawl rate.
Each website has a crawl budget per month and its important that if a client makes a lot of updates and changes that the crawl budget be spent wisely. This means fetch and render only when you need too.
Don’t Use The Default Robots.txt
Here’s the WordPress Robots.txt file that I use to keep these pages hidden.
You can also add in any link checking bots you want to block via this pastebin.
You’ll have to manually upload a robots.txt file with this code in to overwrite the default WordPress one.
Turn On Pingbacks
Don’t allow people to post pingbacks to your site, but notifying other blogs when you link to them helps get traffic and visibility.
Go here: /wp-admin/options-discussion.php for WordPress.
And check the “Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article” box.
An essential way to establish relevance for a page is to link out to an authority page in you niche.
What’s an authority page? Think WebMD.com, CNN.com, etc. Something with Domain Authority 70 or higher.
The ranking benefit of linking to authority sites is in the user reading enhancements. You are providing more value.
Pro tip: Don’t use Wikipedia for your authority links. This is what every other SEO on the planet is doing. Remember, Google doesn’t like SEOs, so don’t look like one.
For every page that you’re trying to rank, throw up an authority link somewhere past the fold. Putting it anywhere above the fold increases the chance that the reader will actually click on it and bounce from your page.
There’s considerable debate about whether or not to make the link dofollow or nofollow. The nofollow team wants to keep all their link juice on their site and refrain of leaking it off the page.
Since it hasn’t been empirically proven which one works better, I opt to keep it dofollow since the disadvantage of having no authority link on the page wouldn’t be worth it. If you’re worried about ranking another page, simply link to an authority page (DA 70+) that doesn’t rank higher than you already, or isn’t on the first page.
Pro tip: Create your authority links to open in a new window. This keeps your bounce rate low; in case the reader decides to click on the authority link. Example: <a href=”http://www.cnn.com/dog-training” target=”_blank”></a>
Using a Macro vs Micro OnPage Focus:
Macro – This refers to what you’re doing at the site level, such as your site structure, levels, links etc. This is the overview of your site from a crawlers perspective, as well as the perspective of the user.
Good Macro on-page revolves around making good decisions for both UX and SEO. You can use data to back up a lot of your decision making here, and it’s often THE MOST overlooked aspect of on-page with some of the bigger sites.
When we’re working with eCommerce clients, this is often what we’re spending hours and hours on in the first few months.
When auditing the macro level you need a human eye to find areas that are weak, and need improvement.
Micro – This refers to what you’re doing on the page level, this is what most on-page tutorials, articles etc talks about. Using the right markup, longer content – you know the drill. This is often where most people get things right, however there’s a tendency to focus on the wrong things.
At the micro level you can improve rankings for a specific page and linked pages, opposed to macro level where you’ll often see sitewide ranking improvements.
When auditing the micro level you’ll often use tools to achieve this such as ScreamingFrog.
Broken Links and 404’s
Use browser extension (chrome) broken link checker to check your pages for broken links. 404’s and broken links are a negative ranking factor as the user experience is not enhanced but disadvantaged by the browsing problem.
Double check index with Screaming Frog
Finally, check your site for major errors by running a search using the Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool. It’s free, and an awesome, powerful tool. There’s TONS of things you can look for, but the most important will be making sure the status codes say either “200” or “301.” If you see anything else, then you or someone you know more knowledgeable should take a look at getting those fixed. They can cause really big problems.
Ninja Tip – Embed google properties on your client website, Google loves Google and embedding a Google property on a website is one way to tell Google the page/site exists. Think Youtube videos and Google Maps.
Check your plugins. If you have a plugin installed that you’re not using (even if it is deactivated), delete it. Plugins can slow your site way down.
For some recommended plugins (WordPress) see the resources at the bottom of this document.
Content Delivery Network
If you’re not afraid of something slightly more involved, then looking into a content delivery network (CDN), such as CloudFlare or MaxCDN. Using a CDN can give your site a big speed boost right away. Here’s how: a CDN distributes your content to multiple servers around the world. When someone visits your site, a server closer to their location can serve the page.
CDNs are not complicated; I really recommend you set one up. Seriously, the set up time will be like five minutes. If you’re running a media rich site, switching over to a CDN can cut your load time in half. HALF!
If you’re using WordPress, you absolutely should be using a service like WP Engine to host your site.
Why? An all-in-one managed WordPress host can speed up your site instantly. Caching and CDNs are built into the hosting service. It’s also completed managed for you, so you’ll never have to deal with another WordPress upgrade again.
Should your website have SSL – Secure socket layer
If your client website takes payment online or collects personal data of its users then the answer is yes.
Note: October 2017 Google will show all http websites as insecure in the search results to add to the update from March 2017 where they began to show the browser URL as “Not Secure” for http websites where the https websites were shown with a green “Secure”.
Another type of rich snippet is the review star. Having review stars on an affiliate product review page, for example, can be a significant factor in stealing clicks from the SERPs.
Example of review stars:
Getting review stars is extremely easy. I simply use the WP Structured Data Schema for WordPress. As of the time of this writing, review stars are only available for inner pages.
Warning: Google has been passing out manual penalties based on spammy structured data. As of now, most of the reports I’ve seen have been about manipulating location using schema, but I’m sure using fake ratings is a hot spot too.
I’m a big believer of testing and having test “sandbox” sites to test techniques on that mimics real world client sites. Creating a mirror site to test on, not an exact replica but very similar but more lightweight.
BONUS: How to Rank Images in Google (Step by Step)
Ranking images in Google is very similar to ranking a Youtube video.
In fact ranking images is actually easier because the competition is lower (not many people are intentionally aiming to rank photos).
Here are the steps to rank an image…
- 1) Alt text: The alt text of the image needs to match or be a partial match keyword to what you’re aiming to rank for.
- 2) Content: The content surrounding where your image is hosted needs to be closely related to your target keyword.
- 3) Authority: This is relevant to the competitiveness of the keyword you’re trying to rank.
- 4) Syndication: Taking your image and embedding it on a network of websites, social media sites, image sharing sites and other web pages helkps boost the relevance of your keywords and image topic. This has helped me drive thousands of extra eyeballs to my product offers and view my display ads on my niche blog.
Think of sites like Flickr, Pinterest, Diig, Google Images and many more that all help push the relevance of the image. Monitor your progress and don’t stop with 1 image. If you can blanket Google Images search results with your image target thats a big opportunity that you should not waste.
SEO is a powerful strategy to use for your affiliate niche blogs, ecommerce websites and dropship stores. It might sound technical and a bit spammy but it gets results and it takes less money to start than advertising. Don’t sleep on SEO.