This is a comprehensive overview about how on-page SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) works, as well as how best to optimise a page so that it’s fully SEO-friendly for Google’s search engine.
What is SEO?
SEO is the way you can improve your website’s ranking position on search engines through a range of techniques. There are three types of SEO; technical SEO, on-page SEO and off-page SEO, explained below.
What Is Technical SEO?
What is Off-Page SEO?
This is where you optimise your website rankings through elements such as link building, and other promotional methods that occur outside of the boundary of your website, but increase the quality of the site.
What is On-Page SEO?
This is how you optimise your website through a number of clever techniques that improve your search engine rankings and drive organic traffic to your site. Effectively, your site is able to communicate in the language required by search engines so that search engine crawlers understand your website content.
Why is On-Page SEO Important?
Before outlining exactly what makes up on-page SEO and how you can optimise it, it’s worth knowing why you’re going to all the trouble in the first place. On-page SEO is important for websites because it helps search engines understand your content and match it to the user. Over the years, search engines – Google, Bing, Yahoo, AOL and others – have become sophisticated in terms of search relevance through a variety of complex algorithms. You need to ensure your on-page SEO is speaking directly to these algorithms so that you’re ranking high on the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs).
What Are the On-Page SEO Factors?
To get a full understanding of how on-page SEO can benefit your website, it’s worth understanding all the factors that make up this system. Here’s a look at what on-page SEO involves.
These are the unseen tags that consist of valuable data about your web page. Search engines pick up these tags as a way to guide visitors to your site. Some of the tags include:
1. Title Tag
This is the HTML tag that outlines the title of the website, presenting as a clickable headline for any given result. In addition to being found on the SERP, the title tag can also be found in the browser window, and while they don’t make much difference to organic rankings, a poorly-written title tag can still impact your on-page SEO results.
2. Header Tag
These are the HTML tags that will identify headings and sub-headings within the website content, as a way to structure the content and improve on-page SEO.
3. Meta Description
This is another HTML tag, but the meta description will give you a brief summary of the website, sort of like the blurb on the back cover of a book. The meta description is generally found underneath the page title on the SERPs. If the description is limited or non-existent, then it’s likely the click-through rate will decline. Alternatively, the search engine might assign its own text which could be nonsensical or misleading.
4. Robots Meta Tag
This gives the search engine information about the pages on your website that need to be indexed, and what pages don’t need to be indexed.
5. Alt Text
Just like your web content, your online images need to be easily found and ranked by search engines, and this means including useful alt text. This is also the information that will load when an image doesn’t.
6. Canonical Tag
This allows the search engine to prioritise your web pages, particularly when you have some pages that are very similar.
What Are the On-Page SEO Techniques?
You now understand the various elements that make up SEO, but now you need to know how to maximise this so that you come out tops in the SERPs. Fortunately, there are many practical ways that you can easily and effectively enhance your on-page SEO.
1. Short, Sharp URLS
The URL must give the reader insight into exactly what the link is about, but you can’t make it too descriptive as long URLs are off-putting. Searchers are more likely to click on links most closely related to their search, which explains the need for more description, while longer URLs tend to get truncated, thereby reducing clarity. Although this is not the biggest determinant in terms of SEO rankings, whatever you can do to improve on-page SEO is worth it. Some advice for URL creation includes:
- Avoiding capital letters
- Ensure relevance to content
- Add target keywords
- Block bad URLs
- Avoid symbols and numbers
- Optimise the URL for mobile
2. Increase Page Load Speed
Faster internet speeds and more options mean that internet users are not going to wait more than a few seconds for a page to load. According to Google, 53% of users will abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load – so aim for 2 seconds. If there’s a delay, they’re simply going to move on to the next option, even if your site ranks higher.
3. Optimise Your Images
The internet is an incredibly visual medium, which is why quality images are important for enhancing the overall user experience, as well as on-page SEO. Make sure images are the correct file size and layout for the page, and that you use descriptive titles and alt text. If you effectively optimise your online images, you’re able to increase the page load speed as well as enhancing rankings because they will show up in an image search.
4. Quality Content
It’s worth getting in a professional to write your website content. This will ensure that your information is both easy to read, and written using SEO techniques for better ranking. There’s a very fine balance between writing content that people actually want to read, and content that ticks the SEO boxes – find that balance and you’re likely to generate organic clicks.
5. Keep it Simple
When writing for online readers, in addition to making the content SEO-relevant and gripping, you also have to make it accessible to the average reader. This means not speaking down, but also not using too much jargon or over-complicated wording. Shorter sentences and paragraphs, as well as well-defined headings and sub-headings, will allow the reader to easily access all the information.
6. Get the Tags Right
While the meta description and title tags are as impactful as years gone by, they do still contribute towards on-page SEO and need to be carefully considered.
- The title tags (which, as you will recall from earlier, outline the title of your web page) need to be concise yet descriptive, ideally no more than 60 characters in length.
- The meta description, which explains the topic, also needs to be descriptive and brief, but not quite as brief – at about 160 characters in length.
Don’t overstuff keywords into the title tags and meta description, and never duplicate information. Rather research synonyms or LSI (latent semantic indexing) to enhance your SEO.
7. Focus on Landing Pages
First impressions do actually last, and a user’s first impression of your website will determine their future engagement. You’ll need to analyse your website and identify the popular landing pages and content on your site, then work to improve the user experience by adding to this.
8. Increase Internal Linking
By linking content on your website with related information, your website will be easily indexed by search engines and found by more users. Just make sure the internal linking is done to relevant content.
9. Proofread All Content
In addition to concise and quality content, you must ensure ease of readability in terms of aesthetics as well. This means checking the font type, size, colour and contrast is all legible – black backgrounds can prove incredibly difficult in this regard – but also check there are absolutely no grammatical errors. It may seem minor, but these can have a major impact on user experience.
10. Make it Mobile Friendly
A large portion of internet users now search for websites primarily on their mobile devices. This is only going to increase going forwards, which means your website’s on-page SEO must be easily accessible on mobile devices.
11. Get the Schema Markup Right
Schema markup is the microdata – or semantic vocabulary – of your website’s content. It’s added to your web page’s HTML, allowing search engines to better read your content.
12. Do an Audit
Once you’ve done everything possible to enhance on-page SEO, you need to perform an SEO audit on the site. There are many tools available for SEO audits – such as Screaming Frog, Website Auditor and Ahrefs – that allow you to identify any irregularities which can be rectified. An audit will also identify content to determine its accuracy or if it’s now outdated. Remember that it’s important to keep monitoring on-page SEO using an accurate SEO rank tracker, constantly updating and innovating where you can.
If you’re looking for better ROI on your website, then getting the on-page SEO right is vital. If this isn’t something you’re able to tackle yourself, you’ll easily be able to locate and hire a reputable SEO agency that can enhance your website position using the afore-mentioned techniques.