Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) involves three key categories for an overall well-rounded SEO strategy: on-page, off-page (any action undertaken outside of your website to improve rankings) and technical SEO (improving the technical aspects of a website to meet Google's best practices).
Whilst all of these areas are arguably as important as the next, on-page SEO has the unique position of being front and centre to a customers attention. So, let's delve further into why on-page is such an integral part of your overall SEO strategy.
On-page SEO is the practice of optimising specific web pages to improve keyword rankings and promote traffic and search visibility in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This includes optimising pages written HTML content, internal and external linking structures, metadata (titles and descriptions) and most importantly ensuring that content is high quality and encompasses Google's E-A-T algorithm (expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness).
Once you have optimised these things, with the user experience (UX) in mind, you'll have yourself a webpage that Google will look upon favourably. Off-page SEO, instead, is all about working beyond the comfort of your website to improve search rankings. The most common element is building backlinks from high Domain Authority (DA) or Page Authority (PA) websites; both off-page and on-page SEO contribute to these authority scores. Other off-page factors include social media marketing, guest blogs, brand mentions and content marketing tactics.
On-page is the exciting part of SEO.
This is when the results of your optimisations are reflected more quickly in the SERP. It takes time for Google to crawl a website, and it can be quicker for some than others. On-page SEO is the first thing Google sees when it crawls your website, hence making it an important ranking factor when considering your SERP position.
On-page SEO helps search engines understand your content and what your website stands for as a whole. To promote SERP visibility, on-page optimisation is of the utmost importance. As Google's algorithm improves it means websites need to improve with it, this means that black hat tactics no longer have a place in SEO, simply because they'll do more harm than good.
When done properly on-page SEO helps search engines understand your content and then connect it to the most specific queries. This means your content will get pushed straight to the users front door, and they'll thank you for it.
Achieving a good on-page SEO score is now about following Google's best practices and the E-A-T algorithm. Everybody benefits from good on-page SEO: big business, small business, the user and Google. From a business perspective, utilising good on-page SEO can massively improve your website traffic, engagement and most importantly your inbound leads.
There are lots of important on-page SEO factors to consider when ensuring your website is meeting Google's standards. The most vital of these are content writing/structure, metadata optimisation and internal/external linking.
Metadata is included in your page’s HTML code and involves two key areas: meta title and meta description. The meta title is the title of your page (title-tag), and is the first thing google reads when crawling your site, it's also the first thing a user sees when finding your website in the SERP.
The meta description, likewise to the title, is also displayed in the SERP. It sits directly below the meta title to give the user an explanation of what they can expect to find on the webpage. Ensuring that both your meta title and description are optimised with specific/detailed content and target keywords is a vital element of your on-page SEO strategy.
In addition to being optimised for Google, it's important that your title and description is easy to understand for the user, this means it reads easily, makes sense and encourages the user to click. You can test how different titles and descriptions perform with your on-page content, measuring such things as your page bounce rate and exits can give you actionable data on areas that may need improving.
On-page content includes structuring, copywriting, keyword usage, header tags and image optimisation. In our experience, the bulk of on-page SEO issues stem from these areas, if your copy doesn't consider Google's E-A-T algorithm then there's a good chance you won't be ranking on the first page of Google.
Ensuring good copywriting and structure in your content is critical, this means your content needs to work in a hierarchical fashion. Such as using the right headings for the right paragraphs and writing concise and compelling body paragraphs that answer the question (expertise). You need to create useful information for the user; if your content isn't speaking to the question a user has asked, there's a good chance they aren't going to stick around and read it.
Tips for SEO copywriting and structuring:
Try not to use long-winded paragraphs, be concise with your answers.
Try to naturally incorporate your target keywords within content, ensuring that you aren't keyword stuffing.
Write for the readers first and Google second, this one is said a lot but it's really important.
Break up long sections by beginning a new subheading.
Headings and selecting the correct tags are crucial to establishing well-structured content. This means using a H1 tag for your main page topic or heading, and then using H2, H3 and even H4s further into your content.
For example, take Wikipedia. Their H1 is the first thing on the page (topic heading). They then briefly talk to this heading before moving down into their first H2, once they have accurately and concisely spoken to the history they can then break this section down into subheadings with a H3. Delving even further, if there is a subheading that needs to be talked to in relation to the H3, they can use a H4.
Having keyword-rich content is still essential, writing an entire blog on something without mentioning your target keyword won't improve your on-page SEO. At the end of the day, Google is still using an algorithm, they don't have a real person sitting behind a computer manually deciding where each blog should be ranked based on its relevance.
This means it's important to naturally include your target keywords where appropriate. We recommend keeping the following factors in mind when writing:
Try to use your main target keyword early in your content, preferably within the first 100 words.
Include your relevant target keywords in headings where appropriate.
Use your main target keyword in your meta title and/or description.
Use online tools to help determine your keyword density and get ideas for related semantic and long-tail keywords.
Most importantly, don't stuff your target keyword everywhere just for the sake of it, it won't work and Google will likely rank you lower for it.
Keep an eye on what keywords are targeted on each page, targeting the same keywords on multiple pages can lead to 'keyword cannibalisation'.
Linking content to other pages on your website is great for helping Google identify your site structure. It's also a vital element of your UX optimisation, having easily accessible links to other pages on your site will save a headache for the reader. If you have high authority ranking pages that already have lots of backlinks, leverage them in your new content.
By utilising your preexisting high PA content and linking it to your new content, you're sending Google signals that the page is related and should be crawled. Better yet, to give Google an idea of what the linked page is about, include the page topic/target keyword in the links anchor text.
Having external links is also a key consideration, external links help both the user and Google further understand your content. By sending users to a relevant high DA website, you are further explaining what your content is about, this benefits both your site and the external site.
Optimising your images for SEO should always be done, no excuses. Begin by making sure your image name is related to both the image and written content, separated by hyphens. Optimise your file size to the lowest you can whilst still maintaining quality, this will ensure your image loads quickly and doesn't contribute to any page speed loading issues (you can test your page load speed with this Google tool).
Next add image alt tags with related keywords where appropriate, again ensuring you don't stuff all of your images with the same keyword because it won't work.
Relating to site structure, URL structuring works hand in hand. Make sure that your specific category hierarchy is represented in your URLs. Your URLs should show a clear path for Google and the user to follow, that's associated entirely with what the page represents.
Structured data is still a very under-utilised on-page SEO tactic, it pushes your site that little bit further by helping Google better understand it. In its simplest form, structured data describes the data that's on your page to Google. By implementing structured data markup you make your website eligible for showing as a rich snippet result.
There is a range of structured data formats available for specific content types, some of the most common are:
Local Business Information
A rich snippet result listing is greatly strived for in the SEO world. These results can show in a range of different forms and help promote better CTRs. The below example is an Aggregated Google Rating that is shown when a review snippet is implemented on your page.
Remember, getting that perfect on-page SEO score is all about putting in the hard work. Nothing works overnight, following Google best practices and ensuring your content employs the above methods is your key to improved rankings and a greater search presence. Get in touch with the team at Zimple Digital to learn more.