A Complete (Yet Simple) Guide To On-Page SEO
We all know that Google is the biggest search engine in the world.
But how do you make sure your website is always at the top of their search results?
Keeping up with Google’s algorithm is becoming more and more complex, so it is important to stay up-to-date with the latest SEO techniques.
Google is super intelligent, but it still has a hard time understanding new content sometimes.
As a result, your rankings may suffer without the correct SEO implementation. On-page SEO can help solve this problem.
By using the proper on-page SEO techniques, you can improve your search engine rankings for relevant keywords.
This brings more organic traffic to your site, which means more business for you!
This chapter will explain the exact on-page SEO strategies that helped me improve my own website traffic.
By following these simple steps, you too can start ranking higher in Google and getting more visitors to your site!
Table of Contents
What is On-page SEO?
On-page SEO involves optimising websites pages or posts for the purpose of traffic and search visibility improvement.
When doing on-page SEO, we take care of things that happen within the website—for example, headings, title tags, content, and internal links.
Technical SEO vs On-page SEO
On-page SEO is all about optimising the content of your website.
This includes keywords, headlines, image optimisation, and user experience aspects such as navigation and load time.
Technical SEO refers to making sure your site has a clean code, a schema, good speed, and has a great overall structure so that search engines can access it better and rank you higher in their results pages.
These are all techniques implemented on your actual websites instead of off-page SEO, which involves steps taken outside of your website, such as link building.
Is On-page SEO Essential?
If you wish to get more traffic from search engines, you need to fully understand how to do on-page SEO correctly.
Back a few years ago, you could easily rank by stuffing your content with keywords.
However, things have changed now, and keyword stuffing has stopped working.
Although most people know this, they still don’t understand how to create excellent copy for their site that attracts visitors while not annoying them with useless keywords or irrelevant information.
On-page SEO is essential since Google’s search algorithm is becoming more and more sophisticated.
Today’s problem with on-page SEO is that it can be hard to know what factors are important and which ones don’t matter so much.
This leads people to try too many things at once, hurting the overall user experience of their site, which is bad since Google prioritises user experience.
The Importance of Optimised URLs
URL optimisation is essential to better help Google understand what your content is about. But how do you do it?
- Insert your main keyword in your URL. This enables users and search engines to get a better idea of what your content is about.
- Put your keyword on the left-hand side of the URL.
- Keep the URL short as it will facilitate users and search engines in reading it.
- Hyphenate the URL to make it more readable. So if you are writing an article about “best walking shoes”, have your URL as www.abc.com/best-walking-shoes.
- To prevent lots of duplicate URLs for the same page, consider excluding session IDs from your URLs.
Title tags and Meta Descriptions
Meta tags contain key information for web pages such as page titles, keywords, and descriptions that are used to help search engines understand the type of content on a page.
Title tags show up in search engine results as headlines for your website or blog post, while meta descriptions appear just below the title tag, providing more information on what the web page is about.
Title tags and meta descriptions are both vital to search engines.
A good title tag and meta description will help your website gain more clicks from people searching for content like yours.
Enticing users to click on your result helps improving your website’s CTR (click-through rate), signalling to Google that users enjoy reading your content.
This will, in turn, boost your rankings.
Optimising your meta tags
Meta tags are crucial, and here is what you should do to optimise them:
- Have your primary keyword at the beginning of the title.
- The title should be between 55 or 60 characters. This is so the full title appears in search results. If you have built a WordPress site, you can use a plugin such as RankMath to know when you have exceeded the recommended character length.
- Don’t have the whole text in upper case, but do capitalise each first character of every word to draw attention.
- Ensure every page has a unique title so that you avoid keyword cannibalisation (Competing with yourself over the same keyword).
- Write great titles that entice users to click.
- Place your main keyword in your meta description.
- Make sure the meta description is no more than 155 characters.
- Write a short description of what the article is about. The description should make users want to click on your content.
Structured data is an excellent method to enhance your websites’ SEO by making it easier for Google to read and understand parts of your page.
When creating a product review, structured data is essential since it will help Google understand data such as recipes, reviews, pricing, etc. Structured data is included in a web page’s HTML.
Types of Structured Data
There are many types of structured data, which include:
- Star ratings
- Local business info
- Job postings
Sometimes structured data shows up on Google search results.
This is called “rich snippet”, and it stands out in search results, meaning users will be more likely to click on it.
Tools to Use to Produce Structured Data
There are some very powerful keyword research tools out there, but some of them, for example, Ahrefs, can analyse and understand what type of data you need to show up in search results as a rich snippet.
You can create structured data by using Google’s own structured data markup tool.
Once created, you can add the data to your site.
You can use crawlers like Screaming Frog to reveal the structured data of your competitor’s site and see everything they are doing.
The Power of Headers
Headers are essential for SEO because they immediately communicate the most important information about your page/post.
In addition, headers offer a quick glimpse of what the article is all about.
This reduces the amount of scrolling time readers have to spend on your article, which can help with lowering bounce rates and increasing the number of visitors.
Subheaders are also very important because they help with the classification of content.
Place your main keyword in at least one H2 header and one H3 header, then sprinkle long-tail keywords throughout the rest of the headers and subheaders.
Content Is Key
The way you write and what you write about has a significant impact on the way people find your content.
Proper content and copywriting are necessary for an effective SEO campaign.
You should implement some basic techniques to write effective content:
- Introductions are important. Be concise and highlight both the problem and the solution to entice readers to stay.
- Make your content easier to read by having shorter paragraphs and sentences.
- Divide sections by implementing subheaders.
- Sprinkle the main keyword throughout the content.
- Write content based on search intent.
- Write by keeping the reader in mind.
- Make content engaging.
Position of Primary Keyword
As a rule of thumb, you should place your keyword within the first 100 words of your article. This will enable Google to understand what your main topic is.
However, don’t just try to stuff the keyword if it does not make sense to have it there!
Having the main keyword at the top also helps reduce bounce rate since the user will be able to quickly see that they are on the right page and will be reading what they came for.
Keyword Density Matters
Keyword density is the percentage of words in a document related to a specific keyword. Optimal keywords density is 0.5% – 2%.
This means there should be at least one occurrence of the target keyword every 200-400 words.
While there’s no official or perfect keyword density when it comes to SEO, you need to make sure your keywords are always placed in a natural manner.
Furthermore, it is always best to analyse the content at the top of the search results for your target keyword and have a keyword density in line with it.
It is also important that your content includes long-tail keywords, synonyms, and related words that will help Google better understand the context of your content.
Taking Search Intent Into Account
Google gives priority to content that provides users with a solution to their problem, and that is why your content should always satisfy search intent.
There are four different types of search intent:
- Informational: Users are browsing the internet to find specific information.
- Navigational: Users are searching for a particular page.
- Commercial: Users who are interested in a product are doing some research before buying it.
- Transactional: Users who are looking to purchase something at that right moment.
You can figure out what a keyword’s intent is by analysing page 1 of the search engine.
If a title includes words such as “ways” or “how”, those articles aim at informational search intent. Words like “top” and “best” are used for commercial intent.
When writing informational content, you should always make sure it is relevant. Write in-depth content and answer common questions a user may have.
If you are writing content focused on commercial intent, do your research to give users the information they need to buy a specific product. You may include price, reviews, photos, and so on.
With transactional content, optimise it using structured data so that products will also be displayed in the Google Shopping carousel.
Write Readable Text
Having readable text is crucial if you want users to keep on reading your content.
A user who leaves too early will signal Google that your content is not good enough for the reader, and this will subsequently hurt your rankings.
Here are some things you can do to make your text readable:
- Split your content into chunks that make it easier to read.
- Utilise headers and subheaders.
- Keep paragraphs short.
- Include bullet points where needed.
- Add videos and images.
Always keep in mind that most people read content using their mobile phones, so your content should be easy to skim.
Take a look at my guide on How To Write A Killer Blog Post for more guidance.
When it comes to on-page SEO, internal links are essential as they will assist Google in understanding the relationship between the content on your website.
Internal linking also improves the user experience because they help readers find relevant content to what they are already reading. This, in turn, improves the bounce rate.
If you have some content that is already ranking well, make sure you interlink it with the piece of content you are currently writing.
Use your primary keyword or key phrase as the anchor text, but do not use that same anchor text too often across many pages.
Google may see this practice as keyword stuffing and penalise you for that.
Although internal links don’t improve a site’s authority, they help you spread its existing authority throughout all the content.
Image optimisation is also essential when it comes to on-page SEO.
First of all, you should name the file in a way that includes your keyword. Also, ensure the file is of optimal size so that your website does not get slowed down by huge images.
A slow website can negatively impact your SEO efforts.
You can use tools like ImageOptim or WP Smush to easily optimise your images.
Another important thing is filling in the image alt tags and occasionally insert your keywords.
Recap: What Techniques Should You Use for On-page SEO?
This chapter has covered all the basic steps you should take to implement on-page SEO effectively. Let’s quickly look at them again:
- Have your primary keyword in the URL and ensure the URL is short enough to make it easier to read
- Optimise title tags and meta descriptions
- Include structured data
- Add optimised headers and subheaders
- Write engaging content
- Place your primary keyword within the first 100 words of your content
- Take keyword density into account
- Write to solve people’s problems
- Ensure text is readable
- Include internal and outbound links
- Implement image optimisation
It is important to remember that on-page SEO and optimisation are not dead.
They still have a significant role in the success of your website as well as ranking for keywords you want to be associated with online.
It’s never too late to take some time to review what elements of on-page SEO need attention or updating, so make sure all pages are well optimised before they start seeing traffic drops!
More lessons in this guide
Lesson Six: Local SEO & GMB
Lesson Seven: Tracking Results
Resources And Conclusion
About Scott Latham
For over 15 years, I have been building and implementing WordPress web design and SEO, having worked with some of the largest companies across a range of industries to see their business growth to the next level.
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