If you want to drive massive organic traffic to your website, then you need some effective SEO practices. While many methods and techniques have come and gone over the years, the thing that remains critical from the beginning is on-page SEO.
On-page SEO has a great power to bring countless new visitors right to your website.
On-page optimization is completely up to you: You get to set the topic or goal of each page. You get to decide on the target audience for that specific page. And you get to select the target keywords and phrases you want to focus on.
So for those who are looking to master On-Page SEO, here is the complete guide. These important aspects will help you to boost your rankings and improve your search traffic.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO refers to all measures that can be taken directly within the website to improve its rank in the SERPs. It consists of both contents and under the hood code.
To get an idea of how the website holds up, ask yourself these questions.
The answers to these questions will help you find what areas of on-page SEO will need to be prioritized for the fastest results.
In addition to On-Page SEO, you need relevant, high-quality content, optimized headlines, HTML tags (title, meta, and header), and images.
Why Is On-Page SEO Important?
On-page SEO is the first and foremost thing to do because it tells Google all about your website and how you give value to customers and visitors. Moreover, On-page is important to gain visibility in the search results.
It is a basic pillar for successful SEO. Without optimizing your content, which talks about the website, there will be fewer chances of your site getting authority leading to you missing out on traffic.
On-Page Optimization Considerations
On-page includes all the important aspects that are in your own hand. If you created a user-friendly site, your web pages would start ranking. Having a good on-page strategy helps you in increasing the off-page result.
Consider a bowl filled with a soup with lots of seasonings. Now the soup inside the bowl is your backlinks or off-page activities. The seasonings like herbs, veggies, and oregano inside the soup are your webpages, and your bowl represents the on-page of your website.
If you have a crappy bowl (on-page of your website), then no matter how much soup you fill inside with lots of seasonings. If the bowl is not strong enough to hold the liquid, it won’t be enough to keep your seasonings (webpages) afloat.
How To Do On-Page Optimization?
Every part of the on-page optimization is completely up to you, so you must do it correctly. Let’s discuss the on-page SEO technique to get better rankings.
Publishing high-quality content
A site with great content can do great with or without SEO. But bad content will not survive with or without SEO. The content is the king of on-page SEO. It informs both search engines and visitors what your website and business are all about.
Choose Relevant Keywords
The first step to writing quality content is by selecting apt keywords and topics. Do keyword research to determine your target audience and what it will take to rank for those keywords. You can use tools like Google trends, Ahrefs, and UberSuggest.
- Find new topic ideas.
- Find phrases that are popular and easy to rank.
- Understand what people are interested in
Hit The Search Intent
Google is smart enough to understand what kind of results people want to see. So the question is, how do you find what searchers want?
Well, it isn’t rocket science. For example, it is obvious who searches “buy room heater” into Google wants to see the products page.
But there is no reason to rely on guesses here.
Google shows the most appropriate result in the top spot. You can use this fact to your advantage by checking gut instinct against what currently ranks for your target keyword. This method is useful for less obvious queries where “search intent” isn’t so clear.
Next to consider is how your content falls into the buyer’s journey and visitor’s search intent. These will impact what content types you will create and how you will use your keywords:
Stages in the buyer's journey
Suggested content/website pages
Write page content
Now, time to write content or clean it up if you are auditing your on-page. To keep Google happy, keep your content unique. Here are the best practices to write high-quality content.
- Include short tail and long-tail keywords in a natural manner
- Add relevant and engaging visual content.
- Try to solve the audience’s problem.
- Optimize for conversions with CTAs
- Paragraphs should be three to four sentences long. Long paragraphs will lose users’ attention.
Use LSI Keywords
LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. LSI keywords are terms which are similar or related to a webpage’s target keyword. The purpose of these keywords is to help search engines better understand the content of page.
When finding LSI keywords, Google is right place to start. In simple terms, it is the group of related searches at the bottom of search results pages.
“The longer your content is, the better your rankings are.” There is a correlation between content length and ranking. The average length of a #1 ranking post is approx 2000 words.
It is not the number of words that bring high rankings, but the fact that the long post covers the topic in the most comprehensive way. Focus on serving the best answer instead of the word count.
Let’s say you have a home & kitchen blog and your focus keyword for a new post is “how to clean kitchen chimney.”
The chances are that somebody who looks for a broad term expects a broad answer. You probably won’t hit the #1 ranking with an 800-word post called “5 Tips to Clean a Greasy Kitchen Chimney”.
On the other side, a product page in an online store doesn’t need thousands of words. The visitor is searching for the most important information about the product in a simple form.
Hence, cover the topic in a better possible way and think about the audience. If you do that, the word count will be just fine.
Readability of the text is an important factor that influences the overall UX of your website. Most internet users don’t read the text on a page word by word. They scan for the most important information.
- Structure the page logically and use appropriate headings
- Choose an ideal font and don’t experiment with the main body font and stick to Montserrat, Open Sans, Lato, Roboto, or commonly used font.
- Try to avoid long boring paragraphs. Enrich the content with different formatting styles like paragraph breaks, Bold & italics, bullet points, etc.
Don’t underestimate the power of grammar and stylistics. If you are not good in this area, use online tools that can help you check the grammar.
The most popular tool on the market is Grammarly. Its free version corrects all the grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. You can also use the free tool Hemingway Editor to check readability and stylistics.
Usually, content creators focus on creating new content that they forget to audit their old, existing content. Auditing existing content is important because it helps you evaluate whether the existing content is fulfilling user intent, achieving its goal, and gaining ROI.
Also, evaluate that your content is accurate or has become outdated. These audits help your SEO tactics and should be done regularly.
HTML tags are chunks of texts in HTML. These tags are invisible to users unless they look them up in the page’s source code. They provide data about the page to search engines and helps to understand what your content is about.
Thus it is natural to assume that HTML tags must be an important part of on-page search engine optimization.
This HTML tag exists in the head section of each webpage that gives an initial clue as to what the topical subject matter is of the respective page it is on. The title tag tells both visitors and search engines what they can find on that particular page.
To ensure your website pages rank for proper intent, include the focus keyword for each page in the title. Here are some page optimisation tips:
- Add a keyword to the beginning of the page title.
- Add the target keyword to the beginning of the title. It helps search engines understand from the beginning what keywords the page is targeting.
Short and descriptive Title
As per Google’s update, keep the title length under 70 characters. Keep it 30 to 60 characters long, so they don’t become too long and exceed Google’s character limits. And the mobile search results show up to 78 characters.
No keyword Stuffing
Don’t stuff the title with keywords. It kills your SEO and could lead to a search penalty. Modern search engines are smarter than ever designed to monitor for content that is unnaturally stuffed with keywords.
These are HTML elements (H1-H6) used to identify headings and subheadings within the content from other types of text.
They help organize your content and help search engines differentiate what part of your content is important and relevant, depending on search intent. Include important keywords in your headers but choose different ones that are in your title tags.
Add important keywords in <h1> and <h2> tags. These tags can indirectly impact your ranking by providing keyword research context about your search engines’ content.
It is the short description that appears under the title in search results. However, it isn’t an official ranking factor for Google; it can influence whether your page is clicked. Thus it is as essential when doing on-page SEO.
Optimizing meta description correctly can improve:
- Click-through rate (CTR)
- Perception of the quality of the result
- Perception of what your website provides all change
It can be copied over to social media when your content is shared, so that it can encourage click-throughs from there, too.
Best practices for good meta descriptions
- Meta descriptions length
Keep meta descriptions length up to 155-160 characters so that they are sufficiently descriptive. On the other side, mobile devices cut-off meta descriptions at 120 characters.
- Avoid auto-generated description
It is a best practice to avoid using auto-generated descriptions that sometimes don’t make sense.
- Avoid alphanumeric characters like -, &, or +.
- Incorporate your entire keyword or keyword phrase.
Image Alt Text
Image optimization does help a lot in driving traffic from image searches. Google images make up to 23% of the search engine market share, which means huge traffic potential. Therefore you need to add an alt text to every informative image on your website.
Search engines can’t read the image’s content, but they can read the alt text that describes the content of the image. Here are some tips to keep in mind when adding alt-text:
- Make it specific and descriptive.
- Make it relevant to the broader page content.
- Keep it shorter than 125 characters.
Another benefit of using images is that they create engagement. The more engaged a user is more likely they will stick around, thus increasing your overall rank. However, the larger images will slow down your website, and having a slow page loading speed will decrease your Google rank. So, it is good to compress images.
Anchor text is the clickable text part of the link. It helps both Google and users to understand what the linked website is about.
If you link to other pages on your site using the right keywords, it may be a signal for Google to rank them higher for these keywords. Here are some tips when it comes to internal anchor texts:
- Try to avoid texts like “click here” or “this post,” if possible.
- Try to describe the linked page in a more particular way.
- Don’t use the same anchor text again and again. Try to keep some variety in the anchor texts.
Structured data is also known as schema markup. It is a type of code that makes it easier for search engines to crawl, organize, and display your content. In other words, it helps Google to understand what your page is about.
It is the key behind those featured snippets, knowledge panels, and other content features you see when searching for something on Google.
If you have ever seen search results with images, star ratings, or reviews, then you have seen the direct effect of Schema markup.
Three reasons why schema markup is vital for SEO:
- It offers Extensive Rich Snippets
- It increases SERP CTR
- It boosts your website SEO
The audience tends to be drawn to visuals, so anything that helps your page stand out should have a positive effect. You can do many more with Schema markup.
You can mark up specific mentions of places, things, objects, and more. For example, you have a web page selling a storybook. You can use schema markup to specify that it is an e-commerce product page and specify book price, ISBN, etc.
However, it isn’t a direct ranking factor. Many pages won’t benefit much more from schema code, so don’t add to every single one of your web pages.
First, look at the top-ranking pages for the main term you are targeting. If any of those pages have the markup, it will make sense to add it to your page.
Site Structure Elements
These are the elements that make up your website and site pages. A well-structured website can help Google to crawl the pages and page content easily.
Your page URL should be simple to digest for both search engines and readers. It should be short and descriptive since it looks better and makes more sense for the users.
Take a look at this URL:
Can you find out what the page is about just by looking at the URL? It is hard to find.
Now take a look at this one:
Now it makes sense and easy to understand that it is a blog post about ranking factors. It is the example of a descriptive URL that tells you what to expect from the page.
Tips for writing SEO-friendly URLs:
- Remove unnecessary and extra words.
- Use only one or two keywords.
- Use HTTPS if possible, as Google uses that as a positive ranking factor.
- Make use of categories.
- Group the pages into categories to help search engines and users find what they want faster. You can have subcategories as well, but it is not good practice to go over two levels. Example: Homepage>Electronics>Article
It is an excellent way to keep the reader on your site. This is the process of hyperlinking to other helpful pages on your site.
They increase user interaction, bring added value by offering relevant resources and enhances user experience. In the case of blogs, a perfect way to use internal links is to follow the cluster model. This helps to group relevant posts and give rank to the most important content pieces.
There are two main types of content in this model.
- Pillar content – It is a long-form post or page that widely covers the topic
- Cluster content – It supports blog posts explaining the subtopics in detail.
How Many Internal Links should you actually use?
Usually, it depends on the length of the text. You can add multiple internal links on the same page, but the point is to keep it natural and don’t go into extremes.
As long as the internal links are relevant and offer a good UX to the reader, you don’t have to worry about the numbers.
Around 60% of the searches in Google are now coming from smartphones. Thus, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you are already losing half of the potential traffic.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. You check your website with Google mobile-friendly tool and fix any potential problems. Also, test your website on a mobile-like real user and make sure that everything is displayed correctly, including your CTA buttons.
What happens if you open a web page and wait for more than 5 seconds? You may hit the back button and look for another result. Search engines collect these signals and consider them in their algorithm.
Your site must be able to load quickly, whether being viewed from a desktop or mobile device.
You can use PageSpeed Insights from Google to test the page speed. It provides speed scores and tips & hints to improve the site speed.
Don’t forget that Google is looking at the web via the mobile with the Mobile-first indexing. Thus pay attention to the page speed on mobile phones.
Note: It is impossible to score 100 on mobile devices, so don’t worry too much about it. Just stay out of the red zone.
On-Page SEO Checklist
Here is a checklist you can use to make sure that you are doing everything possible to rank higher in search engines.
- Perform keyword research.
- Front Load your keyword in your title tag.
- Write for eighth-grade reading level.
- Make sure that your content is original, useful, and well researched.
- Use Your Keyword in the first 150 words.
- Add the primary keyword to create a 2-3% keyword density.
- Use the main keyword in H1, H2, or H3 tags.
- Add relevant internal links using targeted anchor texts.
- Add relevant links to high-quality sites.
- Optimize your images(the alt text is the most important factor for images).
- Assign relevant tags and categories.
- Include your keyword in your URL.
- Use short SEO-friendly URLs.
- Add an optimized meta title.
- Add an optimized meta description.
- Add structured data markup.
- Add social sharing links.
- Proofread your content.
- Optimize for conversions.
- Make sure the website is mobile-friendly.
Monitor Your Results
To keep improving the on-page optimization of the site, you should monitor the results.
- Track keyword rankings
The best way to see your on-page search engine optimization activities’ impact is to track the rankings for the important keywords. You can check your average position in Google Search Console.
- Analyze your traffic
Another common way to measure the impact of on-page is to use Google Analytics. If you target the right metrics, you can see how the audience responds to your content.
You can compare how much time visitors spent on each page before and after optimization. Moreover, you’ll see what internal links they clicked on and how they behaved on your site.
This data will be a great help for your further on-page optimization efforts.
- Organic Traffic
Driving more organic traffic is one of the goals of SEO. So to see the overall progress of your site, track the traffic that comes from search engines.
- Bounce Rate
It represents the percentage of visitors who leave without engaging with your web page in any way. It can vary from page to page. The article’s higher bounce rate means visitors were satisfied with your content and didn’t need to browse further. On the other hand, engagement with a landing page of an online store is what you want to achieve, so a higher rate is bad.
Here is an overview of benchmark bounce rates by website types:
To analyze the data:
- Compare the bounce rate of several pages. To make the relevant analysis compare similar pages (blog posts, product pages, etc.).
- Compare the bounce rate of one page before and after the optimization.
Pages per session
It tells you how effective the website content is at keeping visitors on your site. It shows the average number of pages your users visited in one session.
Usually, the higher pages per session are better. You can increase pages per session by appropriate inter linking (e.g., related posts or product links).
However, there can be many reasons for bad results. For example, the page loads slowly or doesn’t match search intent, or no relevant links that would send the reader to another page.
Put Your SEO to Work
Once you are ready with SEO plans, implement these changes on your site. This will take time to complete, so try to work on 8-10 pages per week.
SEO is not a one-and-done deal. It is an investment that needs maintenance and ongoing attention to see any sustainable results. SEO is something you should continually improve upon.
You should treat this on-page SEO guide as a living breathing document, which will help you to achieve top rankings for your website.
SEO is all about fulfilling search intent and giving the audience what they want. If you don’t pull that off, no amount of optimization will help you rank. Also, it is important to keep the “big G” happy.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Keyword Cannibalization?
Keyword cannibalization is when more than one page or post on your website unintentionally targets for the same keyword. Thus it becomes difficult for Goggle to decipher which page should rank for a particular keyword.
As a result, each page or post ends with diminished authority, a low click-through rate, and sometimes neither page will rank for the target keyword.
2. Are breadcrumbs good for SEO?
Yes, breadcrumbs are an important element of SEO friendly website as they make navigation easier. They encourage the audience to visit more pages of the site before they exit and reduce the bounce rate.
3. Is On-page More Important than Off-page SEO?
To achieve maximum exposure in the search engines and keep the audience happy, you need both on-page and off-page SEO. On-page search engine optimization ensures that your website can be ready by both potential visitors and search engine robots.
4. What Is Keyword Stuffing?
It is when a webpage is filled with the same target term in the hope of ranking higher for that term in search engines.
- Adding words that are out of context
- Inserting blocks of the same keyword
- Repeating phrases or words unnecessarily
- Using keywords that are not relevant to the page topic.
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In this example, the term is used more than the suggested amount of times.