On-page SEO is a huge factor that determines your website’s search engine ranking. Without any doubt, it is the most crucial first step in optimizing your website.
For better or for worse, anything you do on the web page or to the web page is considered on-page SEO. All the information provided to the visitors on your website, correlated to their search phrases or terms, and rated on authenticity, quality, and how much the users found your content useful, is all about on-page SEO in a broader sense. And, the interesting thing is that Google also wants the information that visitors want to find. Google uses Title tag, URL, content and image alt text from your web page to get the information. So, it is not just about what you write, but also about what you have written about your web page in the background. But perhaps I am getting ahead of myself. Either way, don’t worry, it will all make sense in a moment.
What are the key elements of on-page SEO and how you can increase your position on Google?
There are plenty of key elements, and it’s hard to say which one carries more weight with Google or the user browsing your website. From a users perspective, and that’s something you can relate to, obviously, URL structure makes an impact. Title tags, description tags and keyword tags play a strong role. Writing great and long (2000 words) posts could be considering copywriting, but if you consider repeating a certain keyword, breaking the paragraphs, adding images and URLs, then it is also on-page SEO.
Key elements like title tag, and description tag also play a role with improving the click-through rate on the Google’s search engine results page. That’s right! You can choose your call to actions right there on the results page! This is your chance to grab clicks even if you are on the fifth or sixth position. Don’t get me wrong, it depends a lot on other circumstances (competition, timing, topic) but it can make a difference.
On-page SEO is easy to understand but hard to execute
Here’s the thing with on-page SEO, it is very easy to understand but very hard to execute. What do I mean by that? Well imagine if you are 20kg (44 pounds) overweight, and someone tells you the following. In order to lose weight, you need to exercise 3-5 times per week, switch to a plant-based diet and significantly drop the calory intake through beverages like soft drinks. That right there would be very easy to understand, but if you are overweight, it would be very hard to execute. Just the habits that you already have would make it hard to make the switch.
So, learning new on-page SEO habits and sticking to them would be hard. Especially for someone who hasn’t paid any attention to them in past. First, you have to know all of them, and then you have to constantly repeat them every day. Or at least every time you post content, but not as rare as once per month…
Are there any tools that can assist me?
I don’t know about you, but I like to post my articles with WordPress. So there’s a plugin called Yoast that helps you track some parts of the on-page SEO. For example, it automatically tracks the number of the focus keyword. At the beginning, you set a keyword you want to focus on (rank for), and Yoast immediately tracks the number of times you mention it in the article and tells you if you should mention it more or fewer times. This is also known as keyword density. Although I won’t mention in below where I list all of them, I thought this mention will be sufficient that you need to watch it. You can’t expect to rank for a certain keyword in Google, if you mention in only once in the entire 2000-words article.
Another great feature is that it automatically counts the number of characters you put in the title and description and number of links (more on linking at the bottom of this article). This is important because you want the users on Google to get the entire message you want them to read. And also, you don’t want to leave any opportunities on the table. If you know any similar tools for website owners (Joomla, popular website builders, etc) please mention them in the comment section.
Why should you care about on-page SEO?
It probably crossed your mind at one point… why should you care about on-page SEO in the first place? Isn’t backlinking how you score a high position on Google? Surely, backlinking is perhaps the most important thing in getting a high position on Google. But, it is also the hardest. If you thought on-page SEO was hard, wait till you see what you have to do to get a solid backlink. Besides, even if you have a ton of solid backlinks, you still have to compete with your “neighbors” on the search engine results page.
Just look one more time at the screenshot I posted above. Even if you are the best, the first result, you have a very strong competitor in second and third place. If they have their on-page SEO game on, and you don’t, pretty soon, one of them is going to be in the first place.
Here are a few crucial on-page SEO tactics you can use to increase your position on Google.
I know I’ve been hammering about content up to this point (and I will again below), but there’s one step you should never avoid before deciding what content to create. And that’s research. You should conduct solid keyword research, competitor research and evaluate the opportunities that come out of that research. Finding a keyword that’s often searched with low competition is golden, and that’s what you should strive for.
This is very hard to do without tools like Keyword Finder or Long Tail Pro. You could help yourself with free tools like Google AdWords keyword planner but there are disadvantages to this tool and you still have manual labor involved. This is where you can break away, and it pays to invest in tools like this. Use them to find opportunities, rank for them and get the traffic! If you have a solid foundation, just posting great content around keywords that have low competition can bring thousands of people to your website. (Probably even more, but “thousands” is something I was able to achieve and track in a timespan of 2 weeks during Christmas time).
2. Content on your web page
Your content is the essence of your website. According to Google Panda updates, it is important to keep your content fresh, unique and informative. It is the content on the web page that makes it commendable of a search engine position. It is what the user came to see on a website, and is thus extremely important to the search engines. So, it is important to craft good content. Good content helps to rank a website on Google. If you want to keep Google happy, you should keep your content good.
Content is considered text, images, and video. So you should pick one you are great at, or combine all three! Since session duration is a ranking signal (time spent on a website) it is important to keep the user engaged. Or you can focus on resolving the user’s issue, and have a low session duration. One example is checking the weather forecast or simple questions like “is it going to rain today in Florence”. Obviously, those are easily resolved and you don’t need 2000 words, 4 images and 1 video.
3. What is considered a great on-page SEO content?
According to SEO experts, great content has two characteristics. It must supply a demand and must be linkable. Good content is one which does the best job of supplying the largest demand. And the second attribute is it should be linkable. There is no good or bad content on the web if it is not linkable or shareable. If viewers cannot link to it, Google will be unlikely to rank it, and as a result, the content will not drive traffic to any particular website. So valuable content is one of the most crucial factors for ranking a website on Google.
Earlier I mentioned that text, images and video qualify as content. Think outside the box! A powerpoint presentation qualifies as content. A great infographic, ebook in PDF, whitepaper in PDF, screenshare video, explainer video and many other also qualify as content. You can record an audio (like a podcast) or an interview and have it transcribed, that also counts as content. Interview someone important like I did with Joel Gascoigne from Buffer, and surely it will be shared! There is something very powerful in that tactic which I will reveal in another post.
4. Title Tags
Title Tags is also one of the most important on-page SEO factors. They tell Google what the page is all about. It is an HTML constituent that specifies the title of the web page. They are important for usability, search engine optimization and social sharing. Title tags will appear in three important places, search engine results pages, web browsers and social networks.
5. URL structure
The URL of the website holds a lot of importance in ranking your website. Its structure helps the search engines to understand the relevancy of a web page. The category hierarchy of a given website is reflected in the URLs. The information in the URL is used to determine the relevancy of the particular web page by the search engines. Based on the information provided on the URLs, they can be categorized as good or bad URLs.
A good URL is one which depicts the information about that particular page and Google can understand what the page is all about. It means the information provided by the URL is of the great value to the users. On the other hand, a bad URL does not reflect the information hierarchy of the website. This means the information provided by the URL is of little use to the search engines.
6. H tags (body tags H1, H2, H3, H4)
For example, the title above is written in an H4 tag. I call these the nuclear tags (hydrogen bomb – H-bomb), and also because I set them throughout the article to form a chain reaction. They separate the article nicely, making it easy to read, and help you rank better. Keywords inside an H1-4 tag are more important than the rest of the text. Also, some users like to skim the article before deciding if they want to read it or not. Some great storytellers and marketing experts advise that the titles written with H tags should follow their own story.
7. Image alt text
An image alt text is an HTML feature applied to image tags to provide a text alternative for search engines. It serves a good purpose for a web page. Google and other robots cannot read images but images play a good part in how people interpret a particular web page. Alt tags solve for this by providing text which is read by the search engine. When Googlebot and other crawlers inspect a page, images with properly formatted alt text contribute to how the page is indexed and where it ranks. They are also beneficial for users viewing a webpage on screen readers or browsers that cannot progress images.
I also go so far that when I upload a picture, I name the picture properly and describe it with keywords (not img376.jpg). I also make the effort that the images are relevant so that the keywords used to describe it are relevant to the keywords I want to rank for.
8. Make your content easy to share
It’s hard to talk about on-page SEO without mentioning backlinking at least once. So, is there an on-page SEO tactic that could help your off-page SEO? Sure is. Make your content easy to share! Create social share buttons, create twitter ready sentences, and give readers a reason to bookmark your page. Besides, if people share your content on Facebook, Twitter or other social media website, people can come directly from there! No more search engines! 🙂 Ah, you wish…
9. Linking (internal and external)
One of the last, but definitely not the least important tactics is linking. Google takes into account your internal and external linking. Are you linking to expired domains, spammy websites, or authority websites? Do you have similar or complementary content on your website, and are you linking to it? Which keywords are you using to link those pages? How often have you done this in the past? Here’s one question up for debate. Is Google tracking how often users click on those links, measuring if those URL’s you places are providing value?
10. Final on-page SEO advice: Responsive design, SSL, speed and other good things
Here’s the thing. It’s 2019 and users expect a certain level of quality. They expect the website to load quickly with a certain degree of security and without errors. It’s not really rocket science, and someone would dismiss this as an on-page SEO tactic. But tactic or no tactic, everything else being equal a fast, responsive website that loads on an SSL certificate will have better Google position compared to another website that doesn’t. I’ve already mentioned on this blog why it is important to have an SSL certificate installed, and what providers you can consider.
The above-mentioned techniques will help your web pages to work better, rank better and provide a better experience for the end user. They will help you to get your website crawled by search engine spiders and improve your rankings on Google. I hope you liked the article enough to bookmark it and return to it later when you need to check if there are any updates or when you need to refresh your memory.
I’ve been an online entrepreneur for more than a decade. Back in 2011, I sold my first small business. 500 Startups alumni. I love to read and write in every shape or form. Founder of WhoAPI and webmaster.ninja and website investor. I also blog on Duskic.com.