On-page SEO is critical to any wider SEO effort. It represents most of the work you’ll do on your website to make it better optimized for both search engines and human eyes.
These days, simply publishing a website is far from enough. Whether you’re a business owner, an author, or anyone looking to promote themselves and their work online, one thing is certain: you’ll be facing stiff competition in your field.
Even the most obscure niche has countless websites vying for the attention of your target audience. And that’s why you need to ensure you’ve got sufficient SEO training to help your website rank above its peers — giving your business the competitive edge it needs in an increasingly online world.
With that in mind, we’ll take a look at the basics of on-page SEO right here, so you know where to start when you decide to up your SEO game.
Off-Page vs On-Page
Basically, every SEO-related task falls into one of two categories: off-page SEO and on-page SEO. As the name suggests, on-page stuff is everything you do on the actual pages; the changes and tweaks you’re making to your website to optimize it for search engines.
On the other hand, off-page SEO work is everything that’s not on your website — like your backlinking strategy, for example. And while we’ll focus on on-page SEO in this guide, know that both are equally important and necessary.
So, with that in mind — what are some of the key elements of on-page SEO that you need to consider?
High-Quality Original Content
It doesn’t matter what kind of website and/or business you’re running; there’s nothing more important for your SEO efforts than the content on your website. And that content — meaning articles, videos, and images — needs to be original, enticing, and above all, relevant to your target audience.
You need to plan what kind of content you’ll produce (or pay others to produce) for your website before you write a single word. Make sure that this high-quality content is something your target audience will want to read, with topics that answer their questions and help them with any problems or conundrums.
So — how do you decide which topics to cover?
The answer to this question lies in keyword research. When you conduct enough keyword research to understand what your target audience is searching for in the context of your business, you’ll also know which topics to cover with your blog and other content.
For instance, an electronics retailer may find that their target audience is searching for “best gaming monitors” — and consequently produce a “Best Gaming Monitors in 2022” article for its blog. Of course, all page content must also be an integral part of the buyer’s journey.
If your leads are in the awareness stage of their buyer’s journey, you need to focus on landing pages that will raise awareness of your products or services. On the other hand, you need case studies and buyer’s guides for visitors that are in the consideration stage — and product comparison videos and blogs for those who have reached the final decision stage.
All in all, your page content is not only an opportunity to optimize your website for search engines but also a chance to communicate your value to your website visitors and Google simultaneously.
As we’ve mentioned, content lies at the heart of the entire on-page SEO process; all other elements you’ll optimize on your pages must fall in line with the content you’re producing.
You’d be surprised to learn that title tags — in other words, your page titles — are among the most vital SEO-related HTML elements.
The reason for that is simple — the title tags are the “first impressions” of a page for both search engines and visitors. And if you want your website pages to rank well for their corresponding keywords, ensure you’ve included them in the title of each page.
Of course, it’s not enough to just shove keywords into your titles randomly. Not only is this aesthetically displeasing, but Google’s algorithm will also pick up on it; today’s natural language processing technology can easily recognize weird, misshapen titles that don’t properly showcase their topics.
With this in mind, here are a couple of best practices to follow while putting together your page titles.
- Make it shorter than 60 characters — anything more, and your titles may not display correctly on all devices.
- Avoid stuffing the title with too many keywords — it comes of as tacky and spammy, both to readers and search engines.
- Never go all-caps.
- Make sure the title is relevant to the rest of the page.
- Try to include your brand name whenever possible.
Meta descriptions are those short descriptions of pages that you see under their title in the SERPs (search engine result pages). And while Google may say that meta descriptions aren’t officially a ranking factor, most SEO experts agree that they’re probably evaluated in the algorithm.
And even if they’re not, meta descriptions are an important deciding factor for users who are browsing SERPs. With that in mind, they’ll definitely influence whether you get more or less traffic from Google.
So, how do you write a great meta description?
The key is keeping it short, preferably below 160 characters. Also, just like with your title, you should make sure your focus keyword is present in the meta description; but do it organically. Also, avoid alphanumerics like + and -.
The URLs of your pages should be, above all else, simple — that will make them easier to digest for both search engines and website visitors. And at the same time, they need to be descriptive enough to encourage a consistent site hierarchy; after all, your website has to be logically structured if you want it to be easily navigable.