Running a company typically entails also having a website. For that website to be noticed by people and keep their attention, it must rank high and be properly optimized. One aspect of having an attractive and functional website that will convert visitors is on-page SEO. But what is it and how do you tackle it as a complete beginner? Here is a useful guide that will help you on your way.
On-page SEO, also known as on-site SEO, is when different front- and back-end website components are optimized in order for it to rank higher in the search engine results pages and bring in traffic. When it comes to on-page SEO, there are content elements, HTML elements, and site architecture elements.
That being said, on-page SEO is not the only factor in how a website is ranked. There are other basics of search engine optimization. Off-page SEO and technical SEO also play a role. Off-page SEO includes processes like content marketing, external linking, and social sharing. Technical, on the other hand, covers everything that is not included in on- and off-page practices, such as site speed, mobile responsiveness, and structured data. Although, it is important to mention that some elements overlap.
However, this article will cover on-page SEO, why it’s so important, and how to adjust various elements to make the most of it.
If you’re wondering why on-page SEO is important, it’s because it tells search engines everything they need to know about your website and informs visitors and customers about what they can expect. It’s used to optimize the website for both search engine bots and humans.
Just making your website and making it public is not enough. You also have to optimize it for search engines like Google if you want it to rank and draw in visitors.
The reason why on-page SEO is called that way is that the adjustments you make to your website when optimizing it can be seen by those that visit it. On the other hand, off-page and technical SEO isn’t always visible.
As previously mentioned, on-page SEO includes content elements, HTML elements, and site architecture elements. This is basically how they will be grouped below.
Content elements refer to high-quality content that is included on your website. This is the heart of your website that tells both visitors and search engines what your site is all about. For this, you need to do keyword research and choose the best relevant topics and keywords. You can use many tools for this or turn to a professional SEO agency that will do this for you. Moreover, you want to add some engaging visual content, solve a problem for your audience, and write for the buyer personas you’ve researched and found that are interested in your business. Don’t forget to include short and long-tail keywords. The content you put out will allow you to communicate your value to Google and potential customers.
When it comes to HTML elements, you cannot overlook page titles (aka title tags) and headers. For one, titles tell search engines and visitors what a certain page is about. To rank high for your intent, you want to include the focus keyword in the title but as naturally as possible. Other tips to implement include keeping it under 60 characters, not using all caps, not stuffing it with keywords, and including your brand name. Then, there are also body tags or headers that refer to <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, and so on HTML elements. These organize your content and help search engines see which parts of the content you’ve produced are the most relevant and important.
Another thing to pay attention to is meta descriptions. These are short descriptions that are shown under titles on the SERPs. While this is not a ranking factor per se, it can inspire visitors to actually click on your page. For a good meta description, you want it to be shorter than 160 characters, include your keyword phrase, and avoid alphanumeric characters like &, +, or –. You also want to make it an entire sentence or two that will compel people to click on the title.
Just like it’s important to use images, it’s also vital to use alt-text. This means adding a description to your images, as Google shows many image-based results as well, which is why some people might find your site through photos. The description should have fewer than 125 characters, be specific and descriptive, contextually relevant, and not overstuffed with keywords.
Structured markup is also called structured data. While this is considered technical SEO, optimizing it will provide your website’s visitors with a better on-page experience. It entails marking up the source code of your website so that Google and other search engines can find and understand its elements better. It is crucial for knowledge panels, featured snippets, and similar features that show up when people search for something.
The next element that you also need to cover is site architecture. These make up your site pages and the entire website. How you structure everything can help search engines crawl your content. One site architecture element is the page URL. This is something that should be easy to remember and digest for visitors and Google. They are important for ensuring your hierarchy is consistent as it will make creating subpages, blog posts, and all sorts of internal pages much easier. Steer clear of unnecessary words here, use only a few keywords, and try to use HTTPS:// if you can, as it will rank you higher.
Internal linking is also essential for on-page SEO seeing as how you’re using it to send visitors to other pages on your site, which means that they will be sticking around longer and showing search engines that your website is valuable. The longer people are on your website, the more time there is for Google, for example, to crawl and index it. This process entails hyperlinking to other pages on your website, whether it’s a blog post that explains something in more detail or a product page where potential customers can find the item they require.
Your website also has to be fast-loading, no matter if it’s viewed on a desktop or mobile device. Speed is an imperative part of search engine optimization, which majorly contributes to ranking high. User experience is what Google cares about the most, so if a person leaves your website in no time, it’s a sign that something is wrong with it. By improving your website loading speed, not only will visitors stick around longer, but it might also lead to conversions and a higher ROI. There are various online tools that you can rely on to improve your speed.
Site speed and mobile responsiveness are part of technical SEO, but just like structured markup, they will boost the on-page experience. With that in mind, websites that are optimized for mobile are favored by Google, even when searching on a desktop. You want a layout that is easy to read and navigate on a mobile device. You can even consider designing your website mobile-first. If you’re not sure where to start, you can always rely on professionals for this.
In case you’re completely new to SEO and specifically on-page SEO, you might need some tips on how to best use these elements to your advantage.
As heading tags help search engines understand your website, you want to use them regularly. For starters, you need <h1> for the page title, but use it only once per page. You can crawl your website with specialized tools and see which pages are missing the <h1> tag. On the other hand, tags <h2> to <h6> are used for subheadings. This way, the content will be easier to skim and digest.
There was already talk of how to create a title tag. However, keep in mind that keeping them short while still being descriptive is the best approach. You also want to match search intent and show searchers that you offer what they’re looking for. You want to include relevant keywords and maybe even a year to add a touch of freshness. That being said, it’s vital that you don’t resort to clickbait.
Internal links have already been covered. In addition to these that direct visitors to other pages on your website, you can also link to external resources. There is no proof to suggest that this is a bad SEO strategy, so why not make the most of it and link to other websites and provide your users with more value?
You should start using rich snippets. Normal snippets display the title tag, meta description, and URL of your page. On the other hand, a rich snippet uses structured data to provide searchers with more eye-catching results. There are different types so you can choose from reviews, recipes, music, video, product markups, top stories, organizations, and more. By deciding on a type, you will be able to add different things like rating, length, dates, and so on.
As you can see, there is so much to do if you want to handle your own on-page SEO. While it can be done, it can also be overwhelming for a beginner. If you ever get stuck, don’t hesitate to call in the pros.