A Practical Guide to carry out On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO

Table of Contents

On-page optimization as the name suggests is the practice of optimizing individual web pages to rank higher and get relevant traffic from the search engine. In simple terms, it refers to everything you can do on your website to help search engines understand your site and improve the chances that your website will rank higher for your target keywords.

On-page optimization includes both content and HTML code optimization. You have direct control with on-page optimization, and just making a small tweak can make a big impact on organic traffic. The primary on-page relevancy factors are Keyword Research which also includes mapping the right keywords to the page, Unique and Quality content, Content Optimization & Layout including meta descriptions, website URL and URL structure, image alt text, internal links, and Google SERP snippet.

All of these elements are something you can control as an end-user to rank your webpage and website on Google. But before you do anything with your website, the first thing you need to do is understand what keywords you want to rank for.

Keyword Research

To understand what keywords to rank for, you need to do keyword research. Keyword research is the most important activity in SEO and is simply a practice where you choose the focus keywords and secondary keywords around which your content will be based. Keyword research helps you understand the two basic factors i.e., volume and competition before you choose a keyword to rank for. Hence, the primary components to look at during keyword research are

  • Search Volume
  • Competition
  • Relevancy

Once you have the focus and secondary keywords data, then you can go about inserting these keywords in the title tag, meta descriptions, headers, and so on and optimize your content as a part of the On-page SEO.

The focus keyword should be repeated throughout a webpage but making sure that it is included with a specific context.

For instance,

  • First at the top of the page, that is the URL has to contain the focus keyword in the address.
  • The page title follows using the context of the information and adding the focus keyword repeats.
  • Again, the main navigation and secondary navigation also called the breadcrumb navigation provide the context of the page’s location within the entire website and the focus keyword shall be naturally included here.
  • The h1 headline shall again contain the focus phrase and can also happen to simply be the best title for the content of the page.
  • The subsequent subheadings (h2-h6 tags) provide additional opportunities to include your second set of keywords.
  • The image utilizes alt text wherein relevant keywords shall be placed.

The context of all these keywords makes the content very strong and sends a clear relevancy signal to both search engines and as well as the readers.

Unique and Quality Content

Google believes that every page on the website should have original unique content that gives value to the visitors. Thus, it wants the search results to also give value to visitors by serving unique quality content on its pages. To create original content, stay away from scripted ideas and marketing commercials, rather focus on realness and in-the-moment content ideas.

Let your content speak about your thoughts and struggles with different concepts whether it’s business, products, or services in a way that will be relevant to your target audience or potential customers. When it comes to industry-specific content, for instance, the financial industry, creating unique content can become challenging. In such cases, the use of related synonyms, and tweaking the sentences without changing the context or meaning, shall help.  

The length of the content is also a factor that may affect the ranking, thus make sure it falls somewhere between 600 – 1300 words. It’s best to maintain each paragraph length as short as 3-5 sentences which helps with the readability score. Also, try to add value and creative resources to your content using different mediums such as video, audio, and infographics, and let it not just be text-based content. Unique, valuable, and easy-to-consume content is acknowledged by the Google search engine algorithm, thereby boosting your SEO rankings. 

Content Layout on the web page

Page Title (Title Tag/ H1 tag)

Title tags are also referred to as a page titles or the H1 tag. The page title is not shown on the page, rather it is displayed on the browser tab and this is what makes it highly important for SEO. In addition to being displayed on the browser tab, it is also shown in the Google search results as the link to the page. The page title influences both the click-through rates (CTR) and people’s first impressions of your website.

Website URL

Just like there is an address to your home, the URL is the address to every page on your website. Not only does a URL provide context to a page, but is extremely important for SEO for a variety of reasons. The most important is the keyword usage in the URL. This is also important because people copy and paste these URLs into mobile messages, emails, social links, etc. So, it is important to keep these URLs short and readable.

Header Tags and body text

Header Tags are also called the headings and the subheadings of a web page. It enables a logical hierarchy of the content or information on a particular page. You start with the headline (H1 tag) and describe the purpose of the page followed by subheadings H2, H3, H4 till H6. The body text is broken into subcategories and is titled using H2-H6 tags which are used as a paragraph heading.

By establishing a hierarchy and breaking body text, you create an opportunity to naturally include your primary (focus keyword) and secondary keywords into the content. This will result in helping people easily and effectively locate the information that is most important to them and also help search engines understand the context of the web page. A few of the secondary keywords could also be included inside the paragraph of each sub-headline tag.

Keyword Placement in Image Alt Text
In WordPress, inserting the Alt Text for Images
Keyword placement in Image Alt Text
Alt text displayed in Source HTML for elements

The search engines get the information from the page i.e., the text on the page in the markup such as the headings provide instructions as to where the text is located, the importance and prominence of the text in addition to the arrangement of the overall page. HTML is a set of instructions for a browser to assemble the page and the search engines use that as well. Now, the search engine spiders cannot see images.

The alternative text (alt-text) tag describes the image further.  Also, there are many times when it isn’t strong and not all of the images will load. In that case, we need the alt text description to provide the context of the image and its purpose. Search Engines use this alt text description to gain additional context about the page, the content of the image, and its purpose.

Content Optimization

Internal Links

An internal link is a link from one page on your website to another page on your website. Internal Links are important from the relevancy perspective. You can find internal links in your main navigation (Menu). These links provide relevance and context to the information on your website.

Google SERP (Search Engine Result Page) Snippet

To optimize your website’s visibility in Google SERP, it is important to understand the different elements of Google SERP. Below the search bar, there are different options to filter the search results such as images, videos, news, maps, shopping, books, flights, and finance. Some companies optimize for one of these options, but the majority opt to optimize it for all the options. Often the first results on the SERP are the advertisements (Google Search Ads). Businesses pay Google to show up in this section of the SERP.

Google My Business comes next in the SERP structure, listing down all the relevant local businesses for the query typed in. The next section in the SERP is the organic results which are where companies try to claim the highest-ranking through their SEO strategies.

Being at the top of the search results is hugely important as half of the searchers click one of the first two results. Moreover, 90% of the searchers don’t get beyond the first page of the search results. In SERP, each of these search results is called a snippet. The snippet is made up of three elements, namely, a Meta Title tag (blue color text), a URL or slug (grey color text), and a Meta Description (black color text). The title tag is the most important element in the snippet and for SEO, as it is the first thing users see while they type a query and get the results. The title tag is the first place you should start when optimizing your website. 

The Meta Title can consist of up to 55 characters, so make sure to place your focus keywords in the Meta Title tag as it makes that particular web page relevant for that keyword query. Also, search engines like Google only display the first 50-55 characters of the meta title tag, so you have to stay within the character count limit.

The second element in the snippet is the URL and it is important as they help understand what the webpage is about. URL is the element that helps not only with CTR (Click-through rate) but with ranking as well. Keep your URL structure clean and include the keywords you want to rank in the URL.

The third element to optimize is the Meta Description which is a brief description (of up to 155 characters) that summarizes the content on that particular web page. It should be a well-written summary within 155 characters and should include the keyword you are trying to rank for i.e., your focus keyword. Note that the focus keywords you choose to include in the Meta title tag and Meta description should be based on the SEO Score of the keyword. 

Yoast SEO is a plugin in WordPress using which you can edit the snippets for every individual page. If you don’t update and optimize the snippet, you are leaving it to Google to add the meta title and meta description from the web page content that they deem relevant for the concerned query. Therefore, the Meta title tag and Meta description are powerful tools at your disposal and are highly important for On-page SEO to optimize the snippet for the keywords you want to be found for.