Have you tried to implement SEO in the past but found it overwhelming or, worse, ineffective? If so, you’ll love this post filled with tactical strategies to improve your page rankings using on-page SEO.
What is on-page SEO?
On-page SEO is all about the taxonomy and structure of your web pages. By optimizing the individual pages of your website, you increase your chances of ranking higher for those pages and improving the overall organic traffic to your site.
Unlike many off-page or technical ranking factors, you have complete control over the quality of your on-page SEO, which makes it a great place to start when you’re feeling overwhelmed by organic search.
On-page vs. off-page ranking factors
|On-page SEO Ranking Factors||Off-Page & Technical Ranking Factors|
|Readable, linkable content||Site speed|
|Proper header structure||Security|
|Optimized images||Number & quality of backlinks|
|Integrated keyword strategy||Mobile responsiveness|
|Title tag & meta description||Social shares & brand mentions|
On-page SEO best practices
At its core, on-page SEO is really about the quality of your content. The better and more engaging your content, the more rankable it is. Remember that Google’s main goal is to respond to user queries with the best, most relevant websites. That means that in order to ‘answer’ a query, your content needs to be both relevant and linkable.
So…what exactly does ‘relevant and linkable’ mean? I’m so glad you asked!
Relevant content is timely, accurate, and comprehensive. It fully answers the user’s query and goes above and beyond to provide useful and purposeful information. Dwell time and bounce rate are two tangible measures of relevance and engagement.
Linkable content is shareable and authoritative. Users want others to benefit from and delight in the information you’re providing. Your content builds trust, offers solutions, and positions you as a source of knowledge within your vertical. Click through rate, bounce/exit rates, backlinks, and social shares are all tangible ways to measure your content’s linkability.
What about keywords?
Keyword phrases play an important role in your ability to optimize for on-page SEO. You need to know what people are actually searching for and make sure those phrases are represented in your content. Before you begin writing any page, follow these steps for identifying keyword phrases that will be important to the page:
- Google your topic and pay attention to the autocomplete recommendations. This helps you identify the most commonly used phrases, colloquialisms, and other potential phrases worth noting. For example, here’s what surfaced for me when writing this blog post.
- Use a keyword tool like Ubersuggest, SEMRush, or Ahrefs to research each phrase you identified in step one. Pay attention to the estimated volume of the keyword, the CPC (cost per click), and the ranking difficulty of the phrase.
- Finally, jot down 6-10 keyword phrases you want to use. Choose a mix of high volume, low volume, and ‘attainable’ (less competitive) phrases. Pick one to use as your primary phrase, and jot down the others to sprinkle throughout your page.
An on-page SEO checklist
Here’s a checklist you can apply to each page of web copy you produce and in order to optimize your content for on-page SEO:
- Title tags
- Meta description
- Shortened URL
- Image alt text
- Header structure
Let’s walk through each one in a bit more detail:
Title tags & meta description (AKA your metadata)
Your metadata is the information that displays on a search engine results page, and it’s important for on-page optimization. Use your primary or target keyword in your title tag and make your meta description actionable, with a clear description of what a user will find when they click on your page.
Your URL is another important place to use your target keyword. Keep your URL short and readable. A human should be able to scan the URL and understand what your page is about. Use categories where it makes sense and organize your content accordingly.
For example, if you’re an e-commerce seller with a lot of products, use a URL structure like this:
Instead of something like this: www.domain.com/category-3421/item3486943
Image alt text
Image alt text is a written description of your images. This text is hidden to visual readers but anyone using a screen reader will encounter it. Your alt text also provides additional context to search engine crawlers. Try to use a keyword phrase in your image description, and of course, describe the image for those who are visually impaired.
Check your page on mobile and across browsers to ensure it reads well and is easy to navigate. Break up chunks of text with visuals, and play with different formats (like videos, images, graphs, and lists).
Link to other pages on your website. Use anchor links throughout the text, and consider adding a section with links to the bottom of your page that encourages users to stay on your site. Similarly, don’t be afraid to link to relevant, high-authority pages offsite. Just make sure to set these links to open in a new window so you don’t direct traffic away from your own website.
Proper header structure is important because bots and crawlers read this information and use it to tag your page, much like a table of contents. Use your target keyword in a Header 1 (or H1), and wrap your content in Header 2 and Header 3 tags (H2 and H3). Use your keywords in each header section wherever you can, but don’t stuff them. It’s not about the number of times you use a phrase, but how and where you place them naturally in your text.
With a bit of forethought and application to these on-page best practices, you can make remarkable strides toward increasing your organic traffic. But even better, by creating high quality and engaging content for your audience, you’ll also earn the trust of your prospective customers while strengthening your online presence.At its core, on-page SEO is really about the quality of your content. The better and more engaging your content, the more rankable it is. Click To Tweet
About the Author
Heather Dileepan is an SEO strategist, website copywriter, and contributing copy strategist at brandiD. As a lifelong nerd and literary aficionado, she loves to help business owners craft their perfect message and use the power of words to connect authentically with prospects.