On-page SEO, also known as “on-site SEO,” is a crucial aspect of optimizing web pages to improve their visibility and relevance for both search engines and users. It involves implementing various practices to enhance specific elements of a web page, such as title tags, content, internal links, and URLs. By focusing on on-page SEO, website owners can improve their overall performance and increase the potential for higher rankings in search engine results.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO, also referred to as “on-site SEO,” involves optimizing web page content to enhance its visibility and relevance for both search engines and users. Key on-page SEO practices encompass optimizing title tags, content, internal links, and URLs. These techniques contribute to improving the overall performance and ranking potential of web pages in search engine results.
Why On-Page is Important?
On-page SEO is vital as it optimizes web page content for search engines and users. It enhances search engine visibility, improves user experience, boosts organic traffic, and increases conversion rates. Proper on-page optimization, including keyword usage and content structure, leads to higher rankings in search results and a competitive advantage in the online landscape. It ensures that web pages are easily understood by search engines and provides a seamless experience for users, resulting in improved visibility, relevance, and overall performance.
On-Page vs Off-Page SEO
- Focuses on optimizing specific web pages directly.
- Involves improving page content, meta tags, URL structure, keyword usage, and internal linking.
- Enhances user experience, page relevance, and search engine visibility.
- Examples include optimizing title tags, headers, and image alt tags, and improving page load speed.
- Helps search engines understand and rank individual web pages.
- Involves optimization efforts beyond the target web page.
- Focuses on building backlinks, increasing brand mentions, and enhancing external signals of page quality and authority.
- Enhances the website’s overall authority, credibility, and reputation in the eyes of search engines.
- Strategies include link building, social media promotion, guest blogging, influencer outreach, and online PR.
- Helps search engines assess the popularity and authority of the website.
Both On-Page and Off-Page SEO are essential for a comprehensive optimization strategy. On-Page SEO ensures individual web pages are optimized for relevance and user experience, while Off-Page SEO builds the website’s reputation and authority in the online landscape. Combining these approaches helps improve search engine rankings, increase organic traffic, and drive overall online success.
The interconnectedness of these efforts is evident in the visually appealing overlapping circles. Quality content (on-page) is crucial for acquiring backlinks (off-page), and optimizing images (on-page) directly contributes to improved page speed (technical). Each aspect supports and influences one another, emphasizing the importance of a holistic approach to SEO.
On-Page SEO Checklist
In the remainder of this post, you’ll acquire unparalleled knowledge on mastering on-page SEO. However, I must warn you, it’s an extensive process. So, here’s a quick overview of your on-page SEO checklist to give you a bird’s eye view:
- Keyword research
- Content quality
- Keyword placement
- Meta description
- Content freshness
1. Keyword Research
To begin with, prioritize conducting thorough keyword research. Without knowing your target keyword, none of the subsequent steps in this post can be effectively executed. You can find detailed guidance on keyword research here, but here are a few essential tips:
- Focus on optimizing your blog posts for targeted keywords to enhance on-page SEO.
- Utilize keyword research tools to identify keywords with a decent search volume and low competition.
- Opt for targeting one primary keyword or a keyword theme for each page. For instance, this post targets keywords like “on-page SEO,” “on-page SEO checklist,” and “what is on-page SEO.” By combining them in a single post, potential competition among separate posts is avoided in the search engine results page (SERP).
- It is crucial to ensure that the content of your page aligns with the intent of the keyword you are targeting. Even if you follow all the steps mentioned below, if the content fails to meet the user’s search intent, your chances of ranking well will be diminished. Content relevance and alignment with the target keyword’s intent are paramount for achieving higher rankings.
2. Content Quality
According to Google, thin content refers to inauthentic and low-value content such as auto-generated copy, thin affiliate pages, scraped content, and doorway pages.
However, it’s important to note that even if your page doesn’t meet the specific criteria mentioned above, it doesn’t guarantee that your content isn’t thin. The key factor here is the concept of “value.” To ensure your page ranks for its targeted keyword, it should possess the following attributes:
- Trustworthiness: The information provided should be accurate and fulfill the promises made in the headline.
- Utility: The content should offer the information that users are seeking when they search for that particular keyword.
- Actionability: Whenever possible, include instructions or links to additional resources that explain the “how” behind the “what.”
- Readability: Organize the information using clear headers, write in a human-readable style, and incorporate visual elements like images, bullets, and call-out quotes to enhance readability.
- Adequate Length: If the page is a blog post, aim for a minimum of 1,500 words. HubSpot suggests 2,100-2,400 words based on the average length of its top 50 blog posts, but notes that a third of those posts were under 1,500 words. For more insights on blog post length, refer to our detailed discussion on the topic.
- Avoid Fluff: Ensure that your content doesn’t use excessive words to convey minimal meaning.
By adhering to these principles, you can create valuable and substantial content that aligns with user intent, increasing the likelihood of achieving higher rankings.
3. Keyword Placement
When crafting high-quality content in a natural manner, your target keyword and related LSI keywords should naturally appear within the body of the text. However, there are specific locations where you should intentionally include your target keyword. These locations are as follows:
Page title: The title of the page as it appears on the page itself.
Title tag: The title of the page as it appears on the search engine results page (SERP).
First 100 words of the page: Ensure that the keyword is seamlessly incorporated within this initial content.
Headings: Ideally, include the keyword in at least two H2 headings on the page.
Meta description: This is the summary of your page that appears on the SERP, so include the keyword in a natural manner.
Image alt text: Provide a text alternative for images and include the keyword when relevant.
Image file name: Avoid generic names like “Screenshot-1” or “chart” and instead use descriptive file names that incorporate the keyword.
By intentionally placing your target keyword in these key areas, you can optimize your page for better search engine visibility and ensure a stronger connection between your content and the targeted keyword.
Images not only contribute to on-page optimization by engaging readers and influencing time on page, but they also have additional optimization opportunities. Here is your image optimization checklist:
Optimize for speed: Resize images to fit the maximum width of the page, reducing the need for server requests. Compress images to reduce file size without compromising quality. Consider utilizing a content delivery network (CDN) for larger sites with numerous images.
Add alt text: Provide meaningful alt text that describes the image and includes the targeted keyword. Alt text helps search engines understand the image content and assists visually impaired users with screen readers.
Convey value: Use images as visual aids to illustrate concepts on your page, such as graphs, screenshots, and original illustrations (learn how to use Canva here!). Avoid using irrelevant or decorative images that don’t contribute value.
Don’t replace text with images: When using images to convey information related to your targeted keyword, ensure the information is also presented in the body text of the page. Alt text is concise and should complement, not replace the textual content.
Optimize filenames: Upload images with filenames that include the targeted keyword. Replace spaces with dashes or underscores to ensure readability. Avoid using random characters like “%20” that may impact the image’s trustworthiness and ranking in image results.
By following these image optimization practices, you can enhance page performance, improve accessibility, and increase the relevance of your images to the targeted keyword.
On a website, there are two distinct titles for any given web page:
Title tag (Meta title/SEO title): This is the page title that appears in search results. An optimal title tag should be 60 characters or less and include the targeted keyword. To ensure visibility on smaller screens, it is advisable to place the keyword at the beginning of the title.
H1 tag: This title is visible to readers when they are on the page. Here, you have more flexibility to be creative and convey value, but it should still incorporate the keyword.
Your title tag and H1 tag can be the same or different, providing you with options. Regardless, a compelling headline is essential for on-page SEO as it significantly influences users’ decision to click through to your page. A strong headline:
Conveys value: Highlight what the reader gains from the content. For example, “7 Yoga Poses to Try Today” lacks appeal, while “7 Yoga Poses That Improve Sleep” provides a clear benefit.
Avoids overpromising: Ensure that the headline accurately reflects the content. Don’t label it as the “ultimate guide” if it doesn’t live up to that claim or change it to mimic top-ranking pages without matching the content.
Is descriptive: Opt for specific and descriptive titles that clarify the page’s purpose. Instead of using a generic “Services,” go for “Affordable Norfolk Landscaping Service Packages” to provide a clear understanding of what to expect.
Is interesting: Capture attention without resorting to excessive capitalization, hyperbole, or exclamation points. Utilize power words, such as “supercharge” instead of “improve.” For inspiration and guidance, refer to a list of 88 headline examples.
Crafting strong and captivating headlines helps improve click-through rates, engagement, and overall, on-page SEO effectiveness.
Headings serve to organize the information on your page into clear sections and subsections, indicating the hierarchy of content to both readers and Google for relevance to the targeted keyword. However, Google relies on HTML to identify headings, unlike our ability to discern them based on font size and weight.
There are six types of heading tags, which can be selected from a drop-down menu in popular CMS platforms like WordPress or applied manually in HTML code.
<H1> represents the page title and should be limited to one per page.
<H2> marks the main sections of your content. An optimized page may have two to 22 H2s, depending on the content volume. Ensure at least two contain the targeted keywords, which is easily achievable by including one in the post section and another in the conclusion.
<H3> is used to label points within each H2 section. Utilize these as needed, avoiding overuse, and without worrying about keyword inclusion.
<H4> to <H6> headings hold less SEO value and excessively dividing content can negatively impact readability. While occasionally using H4s is acceptable, it should be done sparingly.
Heading tags also allow Google to display your page for more specific queries related to its content, providing additional opportunities for first-page visibility. The key aspect to remember is ensuring descriptive headings, enabling readers to grasp the essence of the page by skimming through them.
By structuring your content with well-organized and descriptive headings, you enhance both user experience and search engine understanding, optimizing your chances of ranking higher in search results.
7. Meta Description
The meta description acts as the brief description of your page displayed beneath the title on the search engine results page (SERP). Think of it as an advertisement for your page, enticing searchers with the promise of providing answers to their queries and compelling them to click. Here’s your meta description checklist:
- Keep it within 155-160 characters.
- Include the targeted keyword and related keywords, if relevant.
- Make it actionable and highlight the benefit to the reader. For instance:
- “Discover a comprehensive list of power words and alternative versions to enhance your marketing materials.”
- “Supercharge your marketing efforts with over 350 memorable power words and phrases for emails, blogs, social media, and ads!”
Note that Google may not always utilize the exact meta description you provide. It dynamically generates descriptions based on the query and content, emphasizing the importance of having descriptive heading tags. Additionally, remember that the meta description may also appear in preview snippets, such as those seen on social media platforms.
Crafting an engaging and concise meta description adhering to these guidelines maximizes the chances of attracting clicks, enticing users to visit your page, and exploring its valuable content.
In most cases, content management systems (CMSs) automatically generate a URL for your page, which may either be based on the given title or a string of numbers. To optimize your URL, follow these steps:
- Incorporate the targeted keyword: Ensure that the keyword you are targeting is included in the URL.
- Use dashes instead of spaces: Replace spaces in the URL with dashes (-) to enhance readability and search engine friendliness.
- Keep it concise: Aim to keep the URL short and focused. In most cases, including the keyword itself will suffice.
By customizing your URL to include the targeted keyword, using dashes, and maintaining a concise structure, you can optimize the URL for search engines and improve its relevance to the content of your page.
On-page SEO involves two types of links: internal links and external links (also known as backlinks). Here are the fundamentals:
These links direct users from your page to other domains.
A recommended on-page SEO practice is to include links to relevant pages on high-domain authority websites. This helps build trust with Google.
Brian Dean, in his SEO techniques post, suggests linking out to at least three high-quality domains.
These links guide readers to other pages within your website.
Your optimized page should contain internal links, and other pages on your site should also link back to the page you’re optimizing.
For both types of links, use anchor text that is specific to the page being linked and includes the targeted keyword. This not only improves the user experience but also increases your chances of ranking higher when more links to your page utilize the keyword as the anchor text.
By strategically incorporating internal and external links with relevant anchor text, you can enhance navigation within your site, establish credibility, and improve your on-page SEO performance.
10. A *Few* Technical Optimizations
I understand that this is not a technical SEO checklist, but as mentioned earlier, the different types of SEO are interconnected. Here are some important aspects that should already be in place but might encounter issues, requiring troubleshooting if your page isn’t performing as expected:
Mobile-friendliness: Ensure your website is built with a responsive design to adapt to various screen sizes. Check for any elements, like embedded videos or tables, that may not display properly on mobile devices.
Crawlability: Your page must be indexed to rank in search results. If you notice unexpectedly low traffic, verify that the page hasn’t been accidentally unindexed. Check your CMS settings to ensure indexing is enabled. Utilize Search Console to troubleshoot and resolve indexing issues if necessary.
Social share buttons: Implement social share buttons at the site level, typically through a plugin, to facilitate content amplification. However, ensure the chosen plugin doesn’t negatively impact your site’s speed and performance.
Page speed: Page speed is a crucial ranking factor, and it’s not only oversized images that can slow down your page. Utilize tools like Page Speed Insights or GT Metrix to evaluate the speed of individual pages. These tools provide insights and recommendations to improve performance if your score is low.
By addressing these key factors and resolving any potential glitches, you can enhance mobile experience, ensure proper indexing, encourage content sharing, and optimize page speed, ultimately improving your overall SEO performance.
11. Content Freshness
The significance of content freshness may vary based on the query, but it’s important to periodically update the pages you want to rank in order to maintain their value. For a preview of updates, you can make, consider the following:
- Update or add new information to keep the content relevant and up to date.
- Add links to new content and fix any broken links to enhance the page’s credibility and user experience.
- Replace outdated images, especially graphs, and platform screenshots, with more current visuals.
- Verify that the intent of the targeted keyword hasn’t changed to ensure your content remains aligned with user expectations.
Free On-Page SEO Checkers
Achieving a top-ranking page on Google requires dedicated effort. Thankfully, there are on-page SEO checkers available to assist you. Here are some options:
SEO tools: Utilize free trials from platforms like Ahrefs and Semrush to conduct comprehensive audits, analyzing on-page, off-page, and technical SEO factors. These tools are most effective for SEO specialists familiar with interpreting the results.
WordPress plugins: Specifically, Yoast offers features that provide scores and suggestions for improving content readability and keyword targeting. Keep in mind that these suggestions should be considered in context.
Website graders: Beginner-friendly tools like LOCALiQ’s Free Website Grader generate reports that explain the results and prioritize actionable steps for improvement.
By leveraging these resources, you can effectively assess and optimize your on-page SEO efforts, ensuring your content remains fresh, relevant, and well-optimized for improved search engine rankings.
Get More Website Traffic With On-Point On-Page SEO
Boost your website traffic with effective on-page SEO strategies. The below-the-surface effort may seem overwhelming, but the results are worth it. Here’s a recap of how to master on-page SEO:
- Conduct thorough keyword research and focus on one keyword or theme per page.
- Create accurate, well-organized, actionable, and comprehensive content around the targeted keyword.
- Incorporate the keyword in the page title, headings, images, meta description, URL, and within the first 100 words.
- Optimize images by compressing and resizing them, using keyword-rich alt text and file names.
- Craft a compelling title that emphasizes value, prominently featuring the keyword.
- Utilize headings to establish an information hierarchy, ensuring at least two H2 headings include the keyword.
- Write a benefit-driven meta description that includes the targeted keyword.
- Include 1-3 external links to reputable websites and internal links within your content.
- Keep URLs concise, descriptive, and separated by dashes, while including the targeted keyword.
- Verify mobile compatibility, optimize page speed, and ensure proper indexation.
- Regularly update and refresh page elements to maintain content freshness.
- By implementing these strategies consistently, you’ll enhance your on-page SEO, attract more organic traffic, and achieve better visibility for your website.
On-page SEO plays a vital role in optimizing web page content for search engines and users alike. By implementing effective on-page optimization practices, such as keyword placement, content quality, and image optimization, website owners can enhance search engine visibility, improve user experience, increase organic traffic, and boost conversion rates. The proper optimization of on-page elements contributes to higher search engine rankings and provides a competitive advantage in the online landscape. By incorporating on-page SEO techniques into their digital strategies, website owners can ensure that their web pages are easily understood by search engines and provide a seamless experience for users, ultimately leading to improved visibility, relevance, and overall performance.