If you have a website, chances are there is something on it that can be changed to help drive traffic. No site is without its flaws. On-page SEO, sometimes known as on-site SEO, is the act of ensuring that each page on your website has the best chance of ranking. Done properly, on-page SEO helps Google understand each page on your site.
There is a lot to consider when putting together an online marketing strategy, some of the factors are beyond your control. With on-page SEO, many of these tasks are relatively easy to audit and implement.
While each task may seem small, in aggregate they add up to bring more visitors to your site. You don’t have to be a developer to carry out these tasks, although for a few you might need one.
For best practices in on-page SEO you need to focus on a few things:
- Understand the differences between on-page and off-page SEO
- Determine which pages to optimize on your site
- Understand what the on-page elements are and how they factor into SEO
- Learn how content can factor into on-page SEO
Find What You’re Looking For
What Is the Difference Between On-page SEO and Off-page
SEO has two core facets, on-page SEO and off-page. Both are instrumental in ranking your site. However, one is easier to control and take on.
On-page SEO is the act of working on your website. Often, logging into the backend and adjusting HTML elements manually so that they appear in a manner that’s more favorable to Google or another search engine. You have direct control over this.
Off-page work is the act of building partnerships and having other websites link to your site. You don’t always have as much control over this. You can ask for links and specific anchor text, but you may not always get it.
Where To Start With On-page SEO
Ideally, you want every page on your site optimized. But if you have a large site, you might not be sure where to start. To start your on-page SEO strategy, Target pages that hold rankings between positions four and beyond, look at the bottom of the first page.
These pages are on the cusp of ranking and, with a little help, they could be pushed to the top. You can identify these pages in either Google Search Console or a keyword research tool of your choice.
Element of a Webpage and How To Optimize Them
A webpage is made up of several distinct elements that can be optimized to help a search engine understand what the page is about. Each of these elements should relate to the other to create a unified page on a single topic.
You wouldn’t want to go to a page where the content is about dogs but the pictures are cats. Not only would that confuse you but it would create ill will toward the site. While search engines wouldn’t have the same frustration, they might not know how to display the page in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
A single webpage has several opportunities to be optimized:
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Alt tags
All of these elements exist on the page and can be modified to help drive traffic to the site.
Title tags are metadata that’s the title of the page. This is what often appears in the SERPs after you search for a query. You want to ensure that your keyword appears in the title tag. You should also ensure that your title tag is compelling enough that people click on it.
Title tags have a fixed length. This number can vary, people use their phones and not all screens are created equal. While Google doesn’t make any acknowledgment of title tag length, 70 characters are about the maximum that you’d want your title to be.
Your H1 usually appears at the top of the page, think of it as a headline in a newspaper. Often, this H1 is the same as the title tag, however, it’s an opportunity to add a little more flair or a secondary keyword. Whereas the title tag is confined to around 70 characters, your H1 can be longer. There should be only one H1 on a page. If you add more, you run the risk of confusing
Subheadings should be H2s. Anything under that could be an H3. The list of headings goes on, but realistically you won’t need to use more than an H2 or H3.
A meta description is a short blurb that shows up on the SERP after you search for something. While a meta description isn’t a ranking factor, meaning that search engines won’t look at this data, it can help your click-through rate (CTR). If this blurb is compelling enough, people will click on it and visit your site.
Often, Google creates its own meta description. Don’t let that deter you from writing compelling copy. Even if your meta description is used only a fraction of the time, it’s worth the effort if it drives users to your site. Meta descriptions do have a max length of 160 characters, so work inside of that. If it’s longer it gets cut off.
Image Alt Tags
In this day and age, you need images or other media in your content to gain users’ attention. While having images is great, adding an alt tag, or description of what the photo is, helps search engines understand what the content of the image is. These alt tags are also especially helpful in making your site accessible to those users who might have visual impairments.
There may be a tendency to stuff these alt tags with a string of keywords in hope of ranking for those topics. That may work in the short-term, if it even works at all, but those users aren’t going to stay on your site and, ultimately, this hurts your rankings.
Internal links are links on your site that direct users and search engines to another part of your site. These serve multiple purposes, keeping users on your site, and helping search engines understand what the pages are about. If the anchor text to another page is “shoes,” then that, along with a wealth of other information, will help the search engine understand that the content of that page is about shoes. As you create new content, ensure that you’re linking to older content so that it isn’t forgotten about.
The caveat here is don’t overdo it. Having hundreds of links with the anchor text “best shoes” all pointing to a page on shows is going to raise a red flag. That kind of linking strategy isn’t natural and is overoptimized. Create links where it makes sense and vary up the anchor text.
URLs are another item that isn’t a ranking factor. But make your URLs readable, relevant, and short. You want them to be search engine-friendly (SEF) so that both users and search engines understand what the page is about. A URL with lots of extraneous characters won’t give your users any clues to what the page is about.
Why Page Speed Is Important In SEO
Recently, page speed has become more important. Google now acknowledges page speed as a ranking factor. In some cases, this may be considered technical SEO. However, there are a few quick fixes that can help with page speed and fall under on-page SEO. These are especially applicable if your site is on WordPress or Shopify. Test your site with a page speed tool online and see how fast it is. These also give recommendations on what to speed up.
A few quick wins are plug-ins for speed and compress images.
Plug-ins Affect Your Page Speed
There are several plug-ins or apps for websites built on WordPress or Shopify that speed up your site quickly. These plug-ins either leverage lazy loading for images or browser caching. Typically, these are quick to install and can achieve solid speed improvements. However, when adding anything to your site, you run the risk of incompatibility and potentially creating technical issues.
Compress Images So They Speed Up Your Page Loading Time
Images are a huge load time for users. Especially considering many users visit sites from their phones. There are several plug-ins that can help you compress images. However, be mindful of image size when uploading images. High-resolution images are great, but not if they’re causing your users to grow impatient and leave your site.
Use Content To Improve Your On-page SEO
Content is another element that’s its own beast and might exist outside of true on-site work. However, like page speed, there are a few elements that you can tweak to meet best practices and give your site the best chance of success, such as adding an author.
What Is Google E-A-T
Google has added a focus to Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-A-T). Part of this involves having experts author your content. This is especially necessary if your site is in the money or living spaces like health care or loans. These industries require a high standard for content. Having an expert write or review the content and add their name to each article is a great start. Putting a name on an article isn’t going to make it rank. However, it’s a great start to show your site is factoring in E-A-T and your content is the most authoritative on the subject.
What To Do Next
On-page SEO is a powerful component of SEO. It’s also relatively easy to evaluate and implement. As new content is added to your site, consider all aspects of on-page SEO and determine if each page is optimized fully.
If you have existing content on your site, go through page by page and see where you can tighten up on-page work.
Double-check those title tags and H1s, especially if you see a page with keywords at the bottom of page 1. Only a few tweaks can push that page to the top spot and get you more visitors.