On-page SEO is one of the most important aspects of your site’s optimization. The common misconception is that on-page SEO only involves placing relevant keywords within your content. That’s certainly an aspect of it but there’s much more too. So how do you do good on-page SEO? Before we dive in, let’s understand what it is.
The Importance of On-Page SEO
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO refers to the optimization of everything that is on the page. These are the visible elements you can control. Specifically, your content elements, HTML elements and site architecture elements.
Why Do You Need it?
It’s really in the name but on-page SEO optimizes your website for search engines.It helps search engines like Google find your site amongst the possible thousands in your niche.In addition, on-page SEO optimizes your content for your visitors as well. In other words, it’s optimization for search engine bots as well as humans.
The great thing about on-page SEO is that every aspect of it is in your control. So good on-page SEO is totally in your hands.
On-Page SEO Elements
For effective on-page SEO, these are the major aspects you should focus on:
- Alt Tags
- Meta Description
- Internal Linking
- Mobile Friendliness
Your content is the foundation of your on-page SEO. It’s perhaps the most obvious way that search engines and your visitors learn about you. Creating high quality content makes the rest of your SEO strategy a lot easier.
Choose topics that are relevant and understand the audience you are writing for. One of the best ways to optimize your content is through keyword research. Find the keywords and phrases your audience searches for and place them in your content.
Include keywords in the body of your content as well as in your titles and headings. Make sure your content is readable. Avoid large paragraphs, use short sentences, and include images.
Ensure your content is well researched and always proofread and edit your work before you publish. High quality content engages your audience and is likely to rank well on search engines.
Each page of your website is titled for search engines through <title> tags. It represents the content that a visitor would find on a particular page.Here are some of the best practices to follow when creating your title:
- Effective title tags should include the focus keyword of that page.
- Ensure your title is relevant to the content of that page.
- Do not crowd your title with keywords. Search engines look specifically for keyword stuffing so repeatedly using a keyword in your title is not a good idea.
- Google search results show a maximum of 70 characters for search result titles. Considering this, ensure your titles are under 70 characters.
Headers divide your content and is a great way to organize your text. Search engines look for the relevance of your headers as well so it’s important to include your keywords.Your headers are enclosed in the tags <H1>, <H2>, <H3> and so on.Again, don’t crowd your headers with keywords and ensure they are relevant to the content they describe.
URLs are the links to your page. To rank better it’s crucial that your URLs are organized. It’s a good idea to include keywords in your URL and to avoid meaningless strings of numbers and letters. Your URL should concisely describe the page it leads to.
Alt tags describe the media on your pages for search engines. Your visitors can see images but search engines rely on a description to understand the media you include. For example, if you have an image of a coffee mug, your alt text might say “large white coffee mug”.It’s important to include alt text for all the media you add to your page and the more description in your alt text, the better.
Meta descriptions are short snippets of text that appear with search results. A meta description briefly describes the content of a page. While it doesn’t directly affect your ranking and SEO, it certainly influences the likelihood that someone clicks on your page.
Keep your description under 160 characters so it’s displayed in its entirety. Include your keywords, avoid symbols, and keep it to one or two concise but engaging sentences.
Placing links in your content to other pages on your site is an important part of on-page SEO. Internal linking keeps your visitors on your site for longer and this allows search engines to rank your site better.
Don’t force links into your content. It’s a good idea to have about two to three per page. This aspect of on-page SEO is often ignored but it’s just as important as every other factor of on-page SEO.
Page speed is prominent ranking factor for search engines like Google. In fact, on average 53% of users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. Optimizing your page speed is a priority.Compressing images, choosing a good hosting provider, and optimizing your code are some of the best ways to improve the speed and performance of your website.
Almost55% of website traffic is generated from mobile devices.Moreover, Google uses mobile friendliness as a ranking factor. So, it’s crucial that your site works the way you want it to on a mobile device. If your site isn’t compatible with mobiles or if its performance is slow, your website is not going to be ranking very well. Mobile compatibility is a requirement.
On-Page SEO Checklist
For the best on-page SEO strategy make sure you follow of these steps:
Use Your Keyword in Your Title Tag
Place your target keyword at the beginning of your title tags for each page of your site. Your title is often the most important first impression for potential visitors as well as search engines. If you have your focus keyword right at the beginning of your title tag, search engines can instantly identify the topic of your content.
Ensure Your Title Is in the Right Header Tag
Make sure your title is in <H1> tags. When search engines crawl your site, they go through the HTML source code of your site. In order to identify the title of a particular page to list in search results, the algorithm looks for the <H1> tag. If your title is not placed in these tags, search engine algorithms are likely to miss it.
Place Your Subheadings in the Right Tags
Your subheadings should be in <H2> tags. If your need further subheadings, use <H3> tags and so on. For search engines, this clearly structures your site. For your readers, it ensures your content is organized so it’s much easier to read. Organized content always ranks better.
Use Your Keyword in Your URL
Including your focus keyword in your URL is a factor that influences your ranking. For each page on your site, ensure that you include the focus keyword in the URL. It’s not the biggest factor but it’s a great practice to consistently follow especially as you expand your site and create more content.
Keep Your URL Short
Shorter URLs are always better than longer ones. For starters, short URLs are easier to understand for your visitors. They are clear and concise and tell a reader exactly where they are.Your visitors are also more likely to remember shorter URLs as opposed to longer ones.
From the perspective of search engines, shorter URLs make crawling through your site much easier.
Use Your Keyword in Meta Descriptions
Your meta descriptions are very important for ranking, especially for Google. Your meta description should give an overview of the page and should include your focus keyword to really boost ranking. Google displays only the first 160 characters of your meta descriptions so make sure you stick to that limit.
Ensure Your Content is Easy to Navigate
You want your visitors to have a great experience on your website. If that happens, they spend more time on your site, they’re more likely to share it and you rank higher on search engines. One of the best ways to do this is to ensure your site is easy to navigate.
Make sure every component of your site is clear. Here are some of the most important aspects to consider:
- Use clear headings and subheading throughout your content.
- Include images and other visuals to keep your audience engaged.
- Break down your text into smaller paragraphs that are easy to read.
- Use lists or bullet points to concisely convey information.
Content Reading Level
There was a time when Google ranked content based on their reading level in three categories: Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. The algorithm no longer uses this as a factor how it is still an aspect worth considering for your on-page SEO.
The reading level of your content is important for your readers. If your target audience are beginners in your niche the reading level of your content should match that.
Use Your Keyword in Your Introductions
When search engine algorithms crawl your site, they should find your focus keywords as quickly as possible. Apart from your title where you should certainly include keywords, it’s important to sprinkle keywords through your content.
Place your focus keywords in your introductions for each page of your site. It’s a good idea to have your keywords within the first 100 words. This helps search engine crawlers quickly find the keywords to rank your site.
Search engines are a lot smarter than they used to be. While it’s important to include the exact keywords your audience is searching for, your pages can also rank for their synonyms.Therefore, creating synonym rich content is vital.
Include your keywords in your content but also include their synonyms. This will guide more traffic to your site, it helps you rank better, and it helps you avoid keyword stuffing.
External links help establish your credibility for search engines. Your external links should lead to trustworthy and authoritative sources of information. For example, you might include citations or quote case studies.
Internal links help connect pages on your site to other relevant pages within your site. This is great for readers who might be inclined to explore more. They’re more likely to stay on your site for longer.
For search engine crawlers, internal links help create relevant connections within your site. Crawlers have more access points within your website and so they’re more likely to find pages to rank.
Optimize Your Images
Images are great for your visitors. They help liven your content and it can make large portions of text much easier to read if they’re broken up with relevant images. But images are also useful for search engines.
Crawlers may not be able to literally see the images you include but adding alt text helps describe them.The default alt text for most images is usually a meaningless garble or letters and numbers. Make sure you change this to text that describes each image. This helps crawlers better map out your site and improves your chances of ranking where you want to.
The security of your site also influences its potential ranking. Sites with HTTPS encryption are given priority so ensure that your website is secured.If your website is vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks, you risk losing control. Search engines like Google will not rank a site where that is a likelihood.
This is a major factor in your on-page SEO. Dwell time refers to the amount of time a visitor spends on your site. Search engines use this metric as an indicator of quality.
This is broadly how your content is tagged with respect to dwell time:
- If most visitors instantly leave your site, your content is tagged “poor”
- If visitors spend a few minutes, your content is tagged “average”
- If your visitors spend a longer duration of time, your content is tagged “excellent”
The best way to improve dwell time is to improve the quality and presentation of your content. If your audience finds your content appealing, they will spend more time on your site.
Bounce rate refers to the volume of people who visit a page on your site and leave without exploring further. It’s usually represented as a percentage and although it is not an official factor for search engine ranking, it still has a significant influence.
Here’s how you could calculate your bounce rate percentage:
(Quantity of Non-Interactive Visitors / Total Quantity of Visitors) x 100
Ideally, you want your bounce rate to be as low as possible. You can improve your bounce rate by adding internal links and improving the quality of your content.
Create Unique Content
Do not plagiarize content. If your content exists on another website as well, search engines are not going to rank you. Your content needs to add value to your niche in a new way. If someone out there has already said it, why should you?
Create fresh content that adds value to your niche in new ways.This will help you rank better and it’s also going to help you reach a greater audience.
Create Longer Content
The longer your content, the better. According to a recent study, the average first page Google search result contains 1447 words. But there is no formula to the word count. There isn’t a number that will guarantee success.That being said, longer content usually suggests greater detail, depth and therefore quality.
Ensure Your Content Adds Value
Writing a long article is pointless unless it adds value to your niche. Your wordcount could be well over 10,000 but if it’s 10,000 words that are uninteresting and repetitive, you aren’t going to rank very high.
The depth of your content is just as important as the length of your content. Create content that really delves into the topic you have chosen. Avoid superficial information, the more detailed, the more valuable your content is for search engine crawlers.
Review and Edit Your Content
Format, review and edit your content. Break down your text into readable paragraphs. Use short sentences. Aim to create about 1000 words of content per page. Use headings and subheadings. Proofread all your content and look for spelling and grammatical errors. All of this makes your content easier to read for your visitors and easier to rank for search engines.
On-Page SEO Tools
On-page SEO doesn’t have to be a manual process. There are several great tools out there that can make your on-page SEO process a simple, streamlined process.
The Yoast SEO plugin is one of the world’s most popular SEO tools with over 5 million active installations.The plugin includes a free and premium version. Some of their features include automated optimizations such as canonical URLs and meta tags, advanced XML sitemaps and much more.
Yoast SEO also helps you optimize your content as you write it. The plugin analyses your content for search engine and human readability. Yoast supports several languages and can show you Google previews even on mobile devices.
Ahrefs Webmaster Tools
Ahrefs Webmaster Tools is a fantastic SEO tool that is completely free. The tool scans your site for common SEO issues and suggests optimizations based on its analysis. Furthermore,
Webmaster Tools helps with great keyword research allowing you to find the keywords your site ranks for. Webmaster Tools also provides useful metrics such as search volume, keyword difficulty and traffic value to further improve your optimizations.
MetaTags.io helps you preview the meta tags for your website. The tool lets you preview title tags, URLs, descriptions and more. With this tool you can tweak your content and preview how it would look on Google, Facebook, and more.
This is great tool to help you optimize the images for your website. ShortPixel helps you optimize and resize images so that your site loads faster. The tool allows you to optimize several images at once, preserves the quality of your images,and includes backup options.
5 Expert On-Page SEO Tips
1. Observe Your Competitors
You’ve probably got more than a few competitors and overcoming that competition can often be challenging. However, your competition can be extremely useful as well.If your competitors are successful chances are, their on-page SEO is successful too.
You can improve your website by observing their strategies. Go through their sites and check out each of their pages. Take note of how they incorporate their keywords, format their content, use images, and organize their layout.Adopting some of your competitors’ approaches to on-page SEO can improve your performance as well.
2. Enable Comments
Comments is an undervalued feature. Especially with the social media, many assume that comments on your website are unnecessary. This isn’t true. Comments indicate that your content has been read by others and is also a great way to engage with your audience.
Comments are likely to encourage visitors to spend more time reading your content which in turn boosts your ranking for search engines. Ensure you moderate the comments, only approve relevant comments, and always reply to the comments that are displayed with your content.
3. Be Consistent
Produce high quality content consistently. The best way to do this is to build a schedule and be disciplined about it. This allows you to maintain engagement with your audience on a regular basis and will improve your chances of consistent traffic to your site. This in turn improves your ranking for search engines.
Consistency with your domain name is also important. Don’t change your domain nameunless you really need to. Your domain name age is a big factor when it comes to SEO and ranking.
4. Use Social Signals
Google doesn’t consider social signals in its ranking algorithm but that’s no reason to ignore it as a part of your SEO strategy. Websites that include social sharing buttons perform better than the ones that don’t.
Shares and likes influence search engine ranking, indirectly but significantly. Include share buttons with your content for major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Even mentioning or linking social media influencers in your content can have a positive effect for your on-page SEO.
5. Monitor Your Efforts
Monitoring and analyzing your efforts is important for your long-term success.Google Analytics is a great tool to use and it’s completely free.
Track the keywords you have chosen to use with your content and observe their performance over time. This is a good way to determine whether you’re focusing on the right words and phrases in your content.
Record your traffic and observe how changes in your SEO strategy affect traffic volumes to your site. This can also tell you the pages that appeal to your visitors and the topics that receive the most engagement.
Good on-page SEO involves optimizing several factors from your content to compatibility. It may take a while but it’s worth the effort if you want to start ranking better.But remember, on-page SEO is not a process you complete once and forget about.
It should become a consistent part of your content creation. With consistent on-page SEO you will see drastic improvements in your ranking and performance.