What is On-Page SEO? Plus SEO Best Practices

Introduction

On-page SEO is an essential SEO (search engine optimization) strategy for website optimization. On-page SEO optimizes several on-site elements to improve SEO visibility on the search engines. It is part of a complete SEO strategy to improve search rankings on the search engines like Google, Microsoft Bing and others.

For a complete SEO strategy for your website, other SEO strategies are also required. This includes off-page SEO, technical SEO and local SEO.

In this post, I discuss on-page SEO optimization and why it is important for your SEO strategy, along with some SEO best practices.

Why is SEO important?

Search engines are the most important source of new visitors to websites.

SEO optimization of website content is required to improve organic search rankings and visibility on the search engines. SEO helps to increase the quality and quantity of organic or free traffic that your website receives from the search engines.

Here are some statistics on SEO,

1. There are 3.5 billion searches on Google every day (Internet live stats).
2. 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to search for local information (Think with Google).
3. Google holds 92.05% of the global search engine market as of February 2021.(Statista).
4. The average click through rate for the first position on Google Search is 28.5% (Sistrix).

What is on-page SEO?

On-Page SEO (also called on-site SEO) is a method of optimizing web pages to improve organic search rankings and increase relevant traffic on the search engines.

On-page SEO optimization includes the optimization of html code and website content to achieve higher organic search visibility.

Why is on-page SEO important?

On-page SEO optimizes your on-site website content including page content, title tags, URLs, images and internal links to increase the relevance of your web page to search queries for specific keywords. On-page SEO therefore helps to improve your organic search performance on the Google search results pages and attracts more target traffic to your website.

Google describes the process they use to select the most relevant information for search queries in their document on How Search Works.

“ Every day, fifteen percent of searches are ones we haven’t seen before, so we use automated systems to get you the most relevant and reliable information we can find. To help you find what you’re looking for, these systems consider many factors, including the words in your query, the content of pages, the expertise of sources, and your language and location.

To determine if a web page provides relevant information for a search query, Google’s automated systems scan the page content for:

  • Words in the search query
  • Content of pages
  • Expertise of sources
  • Location and language

Google then rates the quality of the search results based on E-A-T or the expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness of the content.

By providing expert, valuable and trustworthy content on your website that is optimized with on-page SEO, your website can get higher organic search rankings and attract more of your target traffic from the search engines.

Best practices for on-page SEO optimization

On-page SEO optimization requires multiple steps to optimize your site content and make it easy for search engines to understand. Here are some SEO best practices for on-page SEO.

1. Research the right keywords

Keyword research is the process of finding and selecting search terms that people will use to find your products and services on the search engines.

Selecting the right keywords is very important for the success of on-page SEO. You need to research and select keywords that are relevant to your products and services and that target customers will use to find you on search engines.

You should select a focus keyword for each page based on the word or phrase that you want your page searched for on the search engines. This focus keyword should be selected based on search relevance, search volume and level of competition.

A keyword can be a word or a phrase. It’s best to select long-tail keywords or keywords composed of several terms like “black dress shoes”. This will be less competitive and more targeted than keywords with a single term like “shoes”.

There are several free tools available for keyword research including Google Keyword Planner available in Google Ads. Google Search Console and Google Analytics will give you information about the search terms people are using to find your products.

Using keyword planner for selecting keywords for on-page SEO

Figure: Google Keyword Planner used for keyword research

2. Create unique, descriptive title tags

The Title tag of a page should accurately describe what the page is about both to users and search engines.

The title element in the html code tells search engines what the page is about.

Title tag optimized for on-page SEO
Figure: Title tag in the html code

  • Create unique title tags for each page.
  • Do not use the same title tags across multiple pages. This can flag issues with duplicate content.
  • Make your title tag descriptive and short. If the title tag is too long, it will get cut off in the search results.
  • Use your main keyword towards the beginning of the title tag.
  • Do not stuff keywords in your title tag.
  • Lately, Google has been rewriting some title tags so don’t count on the title tag being always shown on the search results.

SEO search result showing the title and description
Figure: SEO listing in Google search results page

3. Create good Meta descriptions

The Meta description tag should provide a few sentences that summarize the content of the page.

The Meta description tag in the html code provides a summary of the page content.

meta description tag optimized for on-page SEO
Figure: Meta description tag in the html code

  • Write a compelling meta description that summarizes the page content. It should be only a few sentences.
  • Use your focus keyword in the meta description.
  • Write unique meta descriptions for each page.
  • Google rewrites meta descriptions 62.78% of the time (Ahrefs).
  • Google may substitute content from elsewhere in the page if it better matches the search query.
  • The meta description is not a SEO ranking factor. However, a compelling meta description can increase click through rate (CTR).

4. Use H1 and H2 heading tags in the content

Use heading tags in your page content to highlight important topics and make the content easy to scan,

  • Use a H1 heading tag for the main page title with the main focus keyword.
  • Use H2 tags for sub-headings. Include the main keyword in some of them.
  • Do not use too many headings.
  • Keep headings short.

5. Use short, descriptive URLS

Search engines use URLs to crawl and index a page. URLs are displayed on search results when the page is shown for a search query.

  • Page URLS should be short and descriptive to make them user friendly.
  • Use the main keyword in the page URL.
  • Use words in your URL. Avoid using random characters or generic terms in your URL.
  • Every page should have a unique URL so that it can be indexed and referenced.
  • Google recommends that all websites use https:// (Google)

Keep URLs user-friendly and descriptive like this:

https://example.com/how-to-use-google-business-profile-posts/

instead of

https://example.com/?p=123

If you have a WordPress site, you can set Permalink settings to show the post name.

6. Provide useful and interesting content on your website

Your website should provide information that your users will find useful and valuable. Remember that Google ranks content based on E-A-T or expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

  • Your site should provide unique, interesting content that is easy to read.
  • Use the main keyword in the first paragraph of your page content.
  • Use the main keyword and related words a few times naturally in the page content. You should not keyword-stuff the content.
  • Publish fresh content regularly through your website blog and share it on your social media accounts.
  • Expertise and authoritativeness are important indicators of content quality that are used by Google to evaluate your content. Your content should be written by authors who are experts in the field.
  • Cultivate trust by ensuring you have a secure https:// site, making contact information easy to find, and providing great customer service.
  • Unique content attracts other websites to link to and share your articles. This helps to gain backlinks from other websites that helps to improve your SEO rankings.

7. Use internal and external links

Your website should have strong internal and external links to improve on-page SEO rankings.

  • Build strong internal links by linking your blog posts to related website content on your own site.
  • Use external links to link to related content on other reputable web sites. If you are uncertain about the site you are linking to, use the “rel=nofollow” attribute to avoid passing on any of your link’s reputation.
  • Write descriptive anchor text to make it clear to users what the linked page is about. For example, “On-page SEO guide” is much more descriptive than “Click here”.
  • Keep the anchor text for links short and descriptive.
  • Make links easy to spot from regular text by formatting them.
  • Avoid stuffing your anchor text with keywords.

8. Optimize & Compress Images

Images are important to illustrate content. However, very large or slow-loading images affect SEO rankings negatively. Google now uses page speed and user experience as search ranking factors in their Page Experience Update.

  • All images should be compressed into smaller file sizes so that they load fast. You can use tools like Adobe Photoshop or WordPress plugins to compress images.
  • Use short, descriptive file names when naming your images.
  • Use standard image formats like JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and WebP formats.
  • Use the image alt attributes to provide a description of the image. Use the main keyword in the alt text if it applies to the image. The alt text will be displayed if the image cannot be displayed. This is important for screen readers and for accessibility.
  • Avoid stuffing alt text with keywords.

For example:
img src=”https://example.com/post.jpg” alt=”Select the type of Post for Google Business Profile”

For more tips on on-page SEO optimization, read the SEO starter guide by Google.

Measure & analyze site performance

It is important to measure your site performance to determine if you are meeting your site goals, and targeting the right locations and customers. Analyzing site performance also helps you understand if there are any issues that need to be fixed.

1. Use Google Search Console to analyze site performance

Set up Google Search Console & link it to your website. Google search console is a free tool provided by Google.

Google Search Console will help you to measure your website performance and fix any issues that can impact SEO. You can use Search Console reports to analyze your site performance including:

  • website performance and site traffic
  • web pages that are indexed
  • issues with title tags or meta description tags
  • crawl errors
  • top search queries
  • sitemaps
  • page experience and core web vitals – important for search rankings
  • alerts on any issues that Google finds on your site

2. Use Google Analytics to analyze website traffic

google analytics acquisition report
Figure: Google Analytics acquisition report

Set up Google Analytics and link it to your website.

Google Analytics is a free tool that helps you track and analyze your website traffic and see how visitors use your site. You can use Google Analytics Reports to improve your site content and SEO rankings.

Google Analytics gives you loads of information that are important for SEO including:

  • The number of visitors who come to your website.
  • Where your visitors come from.
  • Which sources of traffic send you the most visitors – direct traffic, search engines, social media or referral traffic from other websites.
  • Landing pages.
  • Exit pages.
  • Bounce rate.
  • Which search terms are being used by visitors on your site.

Conclusion

On-page SEO optimizes your website content to improve organic search rankings on the search engines and attract more of your target customers to your website. This helps to increase leads and conversions.

These SEO best practices can help you optimize your blog posts and site content for on-page SEO. Optimizing your title tags, articles, URLs, images and links can all help to improve SEO visibility.

On-page SEO is an important part of a complete SEO strategy which includes Off-Page SEO, technical SEO and local SEO strategies. If you need help with on-page SEO, we offer SEO services.

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  3. Gold Mango Design, 10 Local SEO Tips to Boost Local Search Rankings
  4. Gold Mango Design 11 Ways Blogging Improves the SEO Rankings of a Website
  5. What is SEO and Why is it Important?

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