In its earlier times, SEO was all about incorporating as many keywords as possible into the content and making the pages loaded with backlinks. But these days, it has become a highly technical and sophisticated practice that encompasses different aspects, which are considered important by search engines, including on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
If you’re still feeling hesitant about whether you should invest time and effort in building a strong on-page SEO strategy, take a look at the “How Search Works” report from Google. It says that Google still uses the traditional method of looking for a particular keyword on the web pages to decide on their relevance.
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Making SEO Work – What it takes and How to Make it Happen?
Over the years, there has been an increased focus towards the technical SEO and off-page SEO but the reality is that they won’t be much effective if you don’t perfect the fundamentals – on-page SEO. In this guide, we’re going to let you learn each and every element of a robust on-page SEO strategy so that you can make it to the top of this ever-evolving search landscape.
In this guide, you will learn
- Importance of on-page SEO
- On-page SEO vs. off-page SEO
- What are on-page activities in SEO?
- Key components of on-page SEO
- A step-by-step guide on building a perfect on-page SEO strategy
- On-page SEO strategy checklist
- Parting Thoughts
Importance of on-page SEO
Put simply, on-page SEO helps search engines understand a website, as well as, its content and identify whether it’s relevant to the query of a searcher. These days, there’s an increasing focus towards the semantics and relevance in SERPs.
Google has now become much better at delivering search results that accurately meet user intent and understanding what a user is actually searching for when he/she type a query. And in order to rank higher in SERPs, you’ve to ensure that your website together with its content, structured data, HTML tags, etc are well-optimized in accordance with the latest SEO best practices. Once you’ve built a robust on-page SEO strategy and implemented it, you’d experience an increased search presence and a boost in your traffic.
On-page SEO vs. off-page SEO
Though both on-page SEO and off-page SEO play their own critical role in improving a website’s ranking, they’re just opposite of each other. Let’s have a look.
It refers to what you do on your website and its pages in order to increase the traffic. And when it comes to optimizing a website or creating fresh content, it’s the first thing done by every webmaster. Here, relevant keywords and/or key phrases, which a user might type, play a prominent role. The success of an effective on-page SEO depends on a diverse range of factors that we’ll discuss in detail shortly.
While in on-page SEO, you’ve full control, with off-page SEO you don’t. This is mainly because off-page SEO deals with various outside factors like backlinks, reviews, social media marketing, social bookmarking, among others. Here, the main focus remains on link building which is an ongoing process and needs obtaining new, high-quality links that are prioritized by search engines. A strategic link building process not only increases the traffic to a website but its position in Google as well.
It’s important to note that a website with perfect off-page SEO but poor on-page SEO won’t rank like a website which is fully optimized for both.
What are on-page activities in SEO?
Despite the major updates like Panda, Hummingbird, and Penguin released by Google for their search engine algorithm, on-page SEO hasn’t experienced any similar changes. When you’re planning to build an effective on-page SEO strategy, it’s absolutely important to focus on the following activities.
- Improving site speed
- Writing appropriate meta tags
- Creating content that’s valuable, useful, and practical
- Improving the crawlability of the web pages
- Introducing a mobile-friendly site
You should remember that the key purpose of any on-page SEO task is to benefit the user – from educating and inspiring them to offer proper guidance, as they navigate your website. As we’ve mentioned earlier, on-page SEO is the foundation of a website and thus, you must get it right, even before you plan to focus on getting authority links. Ideally, you should keep studying your Google analytics as it’ll educate you on what your target customers actually want from your site. You can take a look at this URL to get started with it.
Key components of on-page SEO
Though there’re lots of technical aspects of a web page that can be optimized with a strong on-page SEO strategy, they mainly include the following ones.
- Title tag
- URL structure
- Meta description tag
- User-friendly navigation
- Optimized images along with alt text
- High-quality content
- Keyword placements
- Optimized internal links
- Fast page loading speed
Keep on reading as we’re going to discuss each of them in detail and how to optimize them in the next section.
A Step-by-Step Guide On Building a Perfect On-Page SEO Strategy
A strong on-page SEO strategy can do wonders in increasing your rankings, web traffic, and conversions. Pay close attention to this guide as it’ll let you learn how to optimize the ranking factors we mentioned in the earlier section, based on the best techniques.
It’s an HTML tag you can find in the head section of every web page, offering an initial context or cue on the subject of the pages. It’s clearly featured in the SERPs (typically as a clickable link) and in the browser window. Remember that poorly written, duplicate, and missing title tags can impact your SEO results negatively, so you must optimize this element.
When writing the title tag, focus on making it short, descriptive, and clear. Ideally, it should be between 50 and 60 characters. If it goes beyond 60 characters, only the first 60 will be displayed by Google. The “Title Tag Preview Tool” from Moz can be used to see how your title tags will be displayed in the search engine.
Catchy headlines are one of the backbones of a solid on-page SEO strategy and help your web content perform well on search. A compelling headline can easily improve the SEO quotient of a piece of content and that’s why it’s crucial to craft it strategically.
Whatever headlines you write, make sure they entice visitors to click through and keep reading the rest of the piece.
When it comes to on-page SEO, your URL or Universal Resource Locator carries much more information than just the unique locations of your web pages. It offers informative signals which help search engines understand a page’s content, its target market, and its purpose.
Here’re the things that you should follow to optimize your URL structure.
- Incorporate your target keyword/phrase exactly in the URL whenever possible.
- Add a 301 redirect whenever you change a URL in order to maintain your ranking.
- Use a canonical URL to resolve duplicate content issues when you’ve two similar pages.
- Stay away from using capital letters that greatly confuse search engines.
- Keep your top content in the top folders to let search engines understand the importance of a particular page on your site. For instance, http://abc.com/target-keyword carries more authority than http://abc.com/category/subcategory/target-keyword.
- Never use underscores when it comes to separating words in a URL. Instead, use hyphens.
- Make your URL 100% readable to help search engines understand your content in a better way.
Meta description tag
The meta description is the element of an on-page SEO strategy that’s used by search engines to understand the topic you’re writing about and the ideal audience that they should direct to that page. Always, keep it short (within 160 characters) and descriptive.
You should stay away from stuffing keywords in the meta description. Instead, use LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) or synonyms of the main keyword to do on-page SEO in your meta description. To get ideas of related keywords, you can check the area beneath your search engine results. Those variations can also be used in the description.
Though some webmasters focus on search engine optimization solely, the truth is that SEO and website navigation go hand in hand. Remember that your potential clients or customers don’t want to spend a considerable amount of time exploring your site for the information they’re looking for.
Here’re the things that you can do to accomplish this goal.
- Incorporate mega menus if you’ve got a huge amount of content or complex offerings that need lots of supporting content.
- Link your web pages together within silos to help individual pages stand out in a search and present them in an organized manner.
- Incorporate image carousels if you’ve lots of information to present.
- Keep the navigation bar text-based to make things easier for users, as well as, help search engines crawl and index the site pages.
Optimized images along with alt text
Any on-page SEO strategy should include image optimization as it greatly helps to drive traffic from image searches. If you want to make your blog posts more targeted and focused, be sure to incorporate keywords in the “alt text” and the “image title”. Alt text (alternative text) should be descriptive of the image content and specific. The key purpose of this written copy is to describe the images to users who cannot see them and to allow search engines to crawl and rank the website in a better manner. Have a look at the below image to understand what an alt text is.
So, make sure you add a meaningful name and an alt text to every image you upload.
Content is an integral part of any on-page SEO strategy and requires full attention. Since its first release in 2011, the Panda algorithm update has been helping Google to provide users with high-quality results when they search for a keyword phrase. In fact, it has significantly improved the quality of the results rank top in Google. It has also increased the need for the right content to a great extent.
In order to get better search rankings, you’ve to maintain the following aspects.
- Stay away from creating content of shorter length (say of 300 or 500 words) unless the same page includes an infographic. As content length affects rankings, you should try to write in-depth posts of 2000 words or more.
- Simply forget about creating generic content that doesn’t provide any value.
- Focus on producing fresh content as that’s preferred by Google. It’s important to understand that some search keywords or terms need fresh insight or content naturally. For instance, if you’re searching for a statistic for 2020, it’d be completely useless to get the same generated in 2018 or 2019.
- Use Google Trendsto learn about the things which are happening right now in order to produce fresh content.
In addition to these, it’s also important to understand that the freshness of your web page is assessed by Google based on the date it’s discovered. So, over time, the freshness goes away and the old content is replaced by new content with a fresh inception date.
We understand that speed matters when it comes to producing fresh content on a constant basis. So, we’d suggest you make use of content writing tools like HubSpot’s Blog Ideas Generatorto get headline ideas.
nTopic is another useful tool that would let you check the relevance of a keyword or topic that you’re planning to write a post on.
Ideally, you should place your keywords on the page’s URL, meta descriptions, title, subheadings (if possible), and within the first hundred words of your content. Placing the keywords within the first hundred words helps search engines understand what the page is all about.
Though it’s often advised to use the keywords two to three times in every hundred words, you must stay away from keyword stuffing to manipulate the site’s ranking in SERPs. Instead, place them as seamless and natural as possible in the content.
Internal links not only simplifies the navigation of your site or help the readers spend more time on it, but they also help search engines to understand it and index the pages – all of which lead to a higher ranking.
Internal links that are relevant to the actual post demonstrate search engines that you’re offering additional information beyond what’s being displayed in your content. If possible, incorporate a keyword as your anchor text when interlinking but be sure not to overdo it.
Fast page loading speed
In the context of anon-page SEO strategy, page load time is nearly as essential as an effective keyword phrase. So, if you want to rank higher in SERPs, you’ve to optimize your site speed. Research, done by Akamai, reveals that just a single second’s delay in page response time can result in a 7% reduction in your conversions, an 11% reduction in page views, and a 16% reduction in customer satisfaction.
To check the current page load time, you can use the “Pingdom Website Speed Test” tool.
If you don’t see optimal results, using search engine CDNs (content delivery networks) would be a good idea.
Back in 2015, Google made mobile users happy by setting up standards that force site owners to take mobile users into account. And this trend will only go up as mobile usage is steadily increasing. The key reason behind incorporating responsiveness in your on-page SEO strategy is that your website is accessed from mobile devices to a great extent.
To check whether your site is mobile-friendly, you can use the Webmaster Tool offered by Google.
If you find that your web page isn’t mobile-friendly, you can try the following actions out.
- Using a mobile-friendly website template
- Having simple site designs
- Making your website universally compatible
- Optimizing image size
- Using standard fonts
And if these don’t provide you with desired results, get some professional help to make your site mobile-friendly. It might need some investment but that would be worthy and a calculated move in order to boost your website ranking.
On-page SEO strategy checklist
Here’s a checklist that can be used to ensure you’re implementing a full-proof on-page SEO strategy.
- Short, to the point title tag
- Strategically written, compelling headline
- Fully optimized URL structure
- Descriptive meta description within 160 characters
- User-friendly site navigation
- Image optimization with keywords
- Fresh, high-value content
- Naturally flowing keywords
- Interlinking of posts
- Optimized page loading speed
- Mobile-friendly website
Parting Thoughts – on-page SEO strategy
In today’s extremely competitive business landscape, websites need to be excessively focused on building a robust on-page SEO strategy in order to rank better on search engines. If you cannot implement all the above strategies at one go, do it one by one. Just remember that you’ve to commit yourself to this process, not only to the results which you’re after.