Your Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO


by Aleksandra Stefanovic | Jan 06, 2023

No matter which industry you’re in, if you have a website for your business, you’ve heard about search engine optimization. The SEO world is vast and ever-changing, so it can feel very overwhelming and daunting when you’re getting started. So, let’s take it step-by-step – today, we’ll tackle on-page SEO.

How can you optimize your website to make it more appealing to users, boost engagement and improve your ranking? We’ll tell you all about the factors you need to consider and give you tips for optimizing various on-page elements to get better results. Shall we?

What Is On-Page SEO?

Let’s start at the very beginning. On-page SEO refers to the process of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank higher and earn more traffic in search engines. On-page SEO involves optimizing the content and HTML source code of a webpage to make it more relevant, user-friendly, and accessible to search engines.

The goal of on-page SEO is to improve the visibility and ranking of a webpage in search engine results pages (SERPs) by making it more relevant and valuable to both users and search engines. This is achieved by optimizing various on-page elements such as title tags, meta descriptions, headings, content, and images and videos.

By optimizing these elements, you can improve the relevancy and authority of your website and increase the chances of ranking higher for your target keywords. On-page SEO is a crucial component of search engine optimization (SEO) and is often considered alongside off-page SEO, which refers to factors such as backlinks and social media signals that can affect a website’s ranking in search engines.

The Importance of On-Page SEO

On-site SEO is an essential factor in improving a webpage’s search engine ranking, but why? It helps search engine crawlers understand the content of a webpage and how it is relevant to a user’s query. Optimizing your on-page elements can improve your website’s relevancy in SERPs and ensure that it appears for the right searches.

Other than that, on-page SEO helps enhance the user experience on your website. Optimizing your pages for relevant keywords makes it easier for users to find the information they’re looking for and navigate your website. This increases the likelihood that they will stay on your site longer and interact with other pages, boosting engagement and conversion rates.

In addition, on-page SEO is vital for your website’s overall authority and credibility. You can establish your website as a trusted and authoritative source of information in your industry by providing high-quality, relevant content and properly optimizing your web pages. This can help increase your website’s ranking in SERPs and improve its performance over time.

So, as you can tell, on-page SEO is essential to your digital marketing and search engine optimization strategy. You can reap many benefits by making tweaks to your website that will improve its performance and accessibility.

On-Page SEO Elements

Title Tags

title tag

Title tags are an important on-page SEO element that appears in the search engine results pages as the clickable headline for a given result. The title tag is typically the first thing users see when they encounter your website in the SERPs, and it is often the primary factor they use to determine whether or not to click through to your site.

Here are a few best practices for optimizing title tags and making a good first impression:

  • Include your target keywords: Title tags should include the main keywords or phrases that you want the page to rank for. These should be placed toward the beginning of the title tag, as search engines give more weight to the first words in the title.
  • Make it descriptive and relevant: The title tag should accurately and concisely describe the content of the page. It should also be relevant to the user’s search query to encourage clicks from the SERPs.
  • Keep it short and sweet: Title tags should be no more than 60 characters long, as search engines may truncate longer titles in the SERPs.
  • Use branding: If appropriate, you can also include your brand name in the title tag to help build recognition and establish trust with users.

Meta Description

meta description

The meta description is a brief summary of the content on a webpage and appears in the SERPs under the title tag. Meta descriptions are not a direct ranking factor but can influence click-through rate (CTR) and help your website stand out in the SERPs. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Keep it concise: Meta descriptions should be no longer than 160 characters, including spaces. This allows them to display fully in the SERPs without being truncated.
  • Include your target keywords: Make sure to include your target keywords in the meta description, but be sure to use them naturally and in moderation.
  • Make it compelling: The meta description should be written in a way that entices users to click on your result. Use actionable language and make it clear what the user can expect to find on your website.
  • Make it relevant: The meta description should accurately reflect the content on your webpage. Avoid using misleading or irrelevant meta descriptions, as this can lead to a high bounce rate and negatively impact your rankings.

Headings

Headings

Headings (a.k.a. HTML headings or heading tags) are used to structure the content on a webpage and indicate the hierarchy of the information. There are six levels of headings, from H1 (the most important) to H6 (the least important). You should use headings properly to make the most of them; here’s how.

  • Use headings to break up the content on your page: Headings can help divide the content into sections and make it easier for users to scan and understand, improving the user experience on your site.
  • Write descriptive headings: Headings should be descriptive and accurately reflect the content that follows. This helps users understand the content and can also help search engines understand the page’s relevance.
  • Create a hierarchy of headings: Use H1 for the page’s main heading and H2 for subheadings. You can use H3, H4, H5, and H6 for sub-subheadings, but be sure to use them appropriately and in moderation.
  • Include target keywords: Headings are an important factor in on-page optimization, so it is a good idea to include your target keywords in them. However, be sure to use them naturally and in moderation, as overuse of keywords can be seen as spammy by search engines.

Content

The content on a webpage is a key element of on-page SEO and is important for both search engines and users. The purpose of well-crafted content is to provide users with value – information, insight, knowledge, and answers to their questions.

When creating your content marketing plan, you need to have your target audience or buyer persona in mind. What are they interested in? Which problems do they have, and how can you help? Depending on the needs of your audience, you can decide what type of content to make and which topics to cover. By adapting content to your audience, you can increase engagement, boost sales, and, ultimately, get a better ranking.

Start by researching relevant keywords and topics within your niche and seeing what your competitors are doing. You can use tools such as Semrush, Ahrefs, or AnswerthePublic to conduct keyword research. Then create your own strategy for churning out impressive, sharable content and get started.

Here are a few factors to consider when optimizing the content on a webpage:

  • Relevance: The content needs to be relevant to the topic of the page and the target keywords you are trying to rank for.
  • Quality: The content should be high-quality and provide value to the user. It should be well-written, informative, and accurate.
  • Length: The length of the content can impact its ranking in search engines. Generally, longer content tends to rank better, but you need to strike a balance between length and quality.
  • Keyword usage: The content should include your target keywords, but be sure to use them organically and in moderation. Stuffing keywords into the content in an unnatural way can hurt the quality of the content and may result in a penalty from search engines.
  • Originality: Never copy somebody else’s content or duplicate your own content on multiple pages. Not only is this bad for SEO, but using other people’s content can get you in trouble due to plagiarism.

The saying ‘’Content is king’’ definitely rings true, so making sure that your content is top-notch will never be in vain. The importance of content in digital marketing is never declining, so it’s worth the effort.

Images and Videos

Images and videos

Images and videos improve the user experience on your website and make it more engaging and visually appealing. Optimizing images and videos can also help make your website more accessible to users with disabilities and users who are accessing your site on a mobile device or with a slow internet connection.

When you optimize images and videos with descriptive file names, alt tags, and captions, you can help search engines understand the content of the media and how it relates to your target keywords. This can improve the chances of ranking higher in search engine results and attracting more relevant traffic to your site.

Optimizing images and videos involves several key elements:

  • File names: Use descriptive and keyword-rich file names for your images and videos to help search engines understand the content of the media.
  • Alt tags: Alt tags (or “alt descriptions”) are used to describe the content of an image to search engines and users who cannot view it. Including your target keywords in the alt tags for images and videos helps improve their relevance and accessibility.
  • Captions: Adding captions to your images and videos can help improve the user experience and make your website more accessible to users with disabilities. It is also a good idea to include your target keywords in the captions.

By optimizing your site’s images, and videos, you can improve your rankings in search engine results. However, be sure to use keywords naturally and in moderation, as overuse of keywords can be seen as spammy by search engines.

URL Structure

URL structure

URL structure helps search engines understand your content and determine its relevance to specific search queries. A well-structured URL is also more user-friendly and can improve the UX of your website. To write a good URL structure for your pages, keep these things in mind:

  • Use descriptive and relevant keywords: The URL should include the target keywords for the page and should be descriptive of the content on the page.
  • Keep it short: A shorter and more concise URL is easier to read and understand for both users and search engines.
  • Separate words with hyphens: Search engines may interpret words separated by underscores as a single word, so it’s best to use hyphens to separate words in your URLs.
  • Avoid special characters: Special characters such as &, #, and ? can cause problems with some search engines, so it’s best to avoid using them in your URLs.

Internal Linking

internal linking

Internal linking is the process of linking to other pages within the same website. Internal linking helps search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your website and can also help users navigate your site. Here are a few helpful guidelines:

  • Use descriptive and keyword-rich anchor text: The anchor text is the clickable text in a link. Use descriptive and relevant anchor text to help search engines and users understand the content of the linked page. Try to include your target keyword in the anchor text where possible.
  • Link to relevant pages: Only link to relevant and useful pages to the user. Avoid linking to low-quality or irrelevant pages.
  • Use a logical link structure: Use a logical link structure to help search engines understand your website’s hierarchy and make the navigation of your website easier.
  • Use a mix of anchor text: Don’t use the same anchor text for multiple internal links. Use a mix of descriptive anchor text and branded anchor text to make your links more natural and diverse.

Using the same anchor text for different links confuses search engines and does you a disfavor.

Website Speed

Search engines, like Google, use website speed as a metric to determine if a website should be ranked higher in SERPs. A website that loads quickly and efficiently will receive higher rankings than one that takes ages to load. This is because a slow-loading website may lead to a poor user experience and a higher bounce rate, which are both bad for SEO. So, you need to invest some time into page speed optimization and make sure your website is running smoothly.

Mobile Responsive Web Design

Having a mobile responsive website means that the website will look good and work well on all devices, including phones and tablets. A website that isn’t mobile responsive may look bad and be difficult to use on mobile devices, which can lead to a poor user experience. This is harmful to SEO because it can cause people to leave your website without taking action, leading to a high bounce rate. Therefore, mobile optimization is a step you should absolutely not skip.

Structured Markup

Structured markup is a way of annotating HTML content with additional tags and attributes that provide more context and meaning to search engines. Structured data can help search engines better understand the content of your website and provide a more relevant experience for users. It’s also used to show rich snippets in search engine results pages which can draw more attention from users and help you stand out from your competitors.

On-Page SEO Checklist

Now, let’s take a look at the SEO best practices checklist that will help you optimize your pages and address any issues that you may have on your site.

Do a Crawl of Your Website

First and foremost, it’s a good idea to start by crawling your website. This will give you an overview of the indexed pages and help you identify and fix any issues harming your SEO and UX. These are some of the things you can do by crawling your website:

Find and fix broken links to improve the user experience.

  • Identify and fix duplicate content that can cause you issues with SEO.
  • Analyze your website’s structure and organization, which can be useful for improving the user experience and SEO.
  • Check for security vulnerabilities, such as unsecured forms or pages with outdated software.

There are many tools available that can help you crawl your website, such as Screaming Frog, DeepCrawl, and Sitebulb. These tools typically allow you to enter the URL of your website and then crawl the site to find and analyze various elements, such as links, images, and duplicated content.

Do an SEO Audit

An SEO audit is the process of reviewing and evaluating the technical, on-page, and off-page elements of a website to identify any issues that may be impacting its visibility in search engine results. The goal of an SEO audit is to improve the ranking of your website by identifying and fixing any issues that may be holding it back.

During an SEO audit, you might review the following elements:

Technical elements: the presence of broken links, the website’s loading speed, etc.
On-page elements: title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, etc.
Off-page elements: the number and quality of external links pointing to the website.

Of course, you can use an SEO audit tool to get all this information and see if there are any issues that need to be resolved; you don’t need to do it manually.

Create a Site Architecture

Site architecture is how the pages of a website are organized and linked together. A good site architecture provides a better user experience and improves the visibility of the website. Here are some steps you can follow to create a site architecture for your website:

  • Identify the main topics or categories that your website will cover. These will be the top-level pages in your site hierarchy.
  • Break each main topic or category into subtopics or subcategories, which will be the second-level pages.
  • Organize your pages into a logical hierarchy, with the top-level pages at the top and the subtopics or subcategories nested underneath them.
  • Use descriptive and relevant page titles and URLs to clarify what each page is about.
  • Use internal linking to connect related pages within your website and to help search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your site.
  • Consider using a sitemap to provide an overview of your site hierarchy and help search engines index your pages.
  • Test your site architecture by navigating through your website and checking for any issues with the navigation or the user experience.

It’s important to regularly review and update your site architecture to ensure that it is effective and helps improve your website’s user experience and search engine visibility.

Update Title Tags, Meta Descriptions and URLs

Next up, take a look at your title tags, meta descriptions, and URLs. Do they need any updates? You might need to add keywords to them, make them more compelling, make them more concise, or fix spelling errors. Keep all these things in mind when writing new titles, meta descriptions and URLs in the future.

Keyword Use and Tracking

Defining your target keywords is an important part of SEO because it helps you focus your efforts on the terms that are most relevant to your business and most likely to drive traffic to your website. Once you’ve defined your target keywords, it’s important to learn how to use them properly – here are the main tips:

  • Include keywords throughout your pages naturally (headers, titles, content)
  • Include keywords in URLs
  • Track designated keywords for each page
  • Don’t keyword stuff

After a while, it’s time to start tracking your keywords. This can help you understand how well your website is ranking for specific terms in search engine results and how your ranking is changing over time. You can use one of the many available tools to track your ranking, including Google Search Console and Ahrefs.

Define Value Propositions

Other than trying to rank highly in SERPs, there is another goal of your website – what is it? What value are you offering your visitors; why should they choose your services or products? So, define a clear value proposition for each of your pages. Once you establish your promises and offers, it will be easier to create content and design that reflects that.

Identify Your Target Audience

You have to know who you are trying to sell your product or service to. This is called your target audience. You need to learn what they want and need so you can give it to them. Here’s how to find your target audience:

  • Determine the purpose of your campaign or business: What do you want to achieve with your campaign or business? What problems are you trying to solve or needs are you trying to meet? This will help you narrow down the characteristics of your target audience.
  • Identify your audience’s demographics: Consider factors such as age, gender, income level, education level, and geographic location.
  • Determine their interests and behaviors: What are the interests and hobbies of your target audience? What websites do they visit, what social media platforms do they use, and what products or services do they typically purchase?
  • Consider the psychographics of your audience: What are the values, attitudes, and beliefs of your target audience? How do they make decisions, and what motivates them?
  • Create a buyer persona: Based on the information you have gathered, create a fictional representation of your ideal customer. This can help you better understand and visualize your target audience.

Review and Edit Page Content

Take a look at the content on your pages. Is there anything that can be improved in order to be more compelling and gripping?

We also recommend reviewing your content and checking it for spelling and grammar mistakes. If your text has these types of errors, the users won’t be able to take your business seriously.

When optimizing the content, try to make sure you have minimum 500 words per page. Other than that, be sure to incorporate your keywords and make sure the content is up-to-date and accurate.
Incorporate and Optimize Visual Content – Images and Videos
Writing killer copy and sharable blog posts is crucial, but you can take your content one step further and enhance the UX of your website. By incorporating visual content, you’re making it easier for users to follow and understand your content, and you’re making your pages more dynamic, engaging, and attention-grabbing.

To make sure the visual content is also working for you on the SEO front, you need to optimize it for search engines, as we’ve explained above.

Add Internal and External Links

As we’ve mentioned, internal links help search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your website. By linking to other pages on your site, you can help search engines understand how the pages are related and what the main topics of your site are. You’ll also improve navigation, as links can help users find related content and explore more of your site.

On the other hand, external links provide additional context and information about the topic you are discussing. Also, by linking to authoritative and reputable sources, you can signal to search engines that your content is of high quality.

So, when optimizing your website, you have to include links. Just make sure to use relevant and appropriate anchor text to help search engines and users understand the context of the links.

Don’t Forget the CTA

A call-to-action (CTA) is a message or button that encourages the user to take a specific action, such as filling out a form, making a purchase, or downloading a resource. CTAs are an important element of a website because they help guide users toward the desired action and can ultimately lead to conversions.

There are a few key considerations for incorporating a CTA on a website:

  • Be clear and specific: The CTA should clearly communicate the action you want the user to take. Use actionable language and avoid vague or ambiguous phrases.
  • Make it prominent: Place the CTA in a prominent location on the page, such as above the fold or in a highly visible area.
  • Make it relevant: The CTA should be relevant to the user and the content on the page. For example, if the page is about a product, the CTA should be related to purchasing or learning more about the product.
  • Use contrast: Use color and design elements to make the CTA stand out from the rest of the page, to draw the user’s attention to the CTA.
  • Test and optimize: Use A/B testing to determine the most effective CTA for your website. Try different variations of the CTA and analyze the results to see which one performs the best.

Start Creating Your On-Page Strategy

So, now that you have an overview of the most important on-page SEO elements and the best practices, you’re ready to embark on your optimization journey. Take all these things into consideration and use them in a way that suits your website needs. If you’re still feeling overwhelmed by the SEO world, you can always count on a digital marketing agency to help you optimize your website. Good luck!

 

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