To help your web pages gain visibility in search we have put together some of our expert tips for on-page SEO. Implementing good on-page SEO is essential to help search engines understand and recognise what your content is about so they can rank it appropriately.
One of the first things to recognise is that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is made up of 3 important factors:
- Site crawlability
- Valuable content creation
- Relevant and credible link building
It’s important to start by addressing any technical issues that may affect site crawlability. These issues can be established by running an SEO site audit and correcting any problems that are highlighted.
After building a good solid base that is fully optimised, you can then begin creating valuable content and backlinks. It wouldn’t make sense to start by building links to a site with on page SEO issues.
So, how do you optimise your web page for crawlability?
Crawlability means having your web page set-up so search engines can crawl elements of the page (such as meta tags and keywords) to understand what the page is about and where it should show in the search results.
Before starting any on site SEO it is essential to carry out some in-depth keyword research.
To start optimising for on-page SEO, you need to know what primary keyword you want to use for your webpage. Keywords are good indicators for search engines to understand what your content is about. Keywords need to be relevant to the main topic you are writing about and is regularly searched for by your target audience.
You can use tools such as Google Keyword Planner to help with keyword research. Although this is typically used for Google Ads, it’s also useful to discover what people are searching for and the ranking competition. It also shows you related key search terms that you can utilise in your content to increase your online visibility.
Deciding on the primary keyword
Once you’ve exhausted all keyword and key term options, you should have an idea what best primary keyword to use for your page – make sure that no other pages on your site are using the same primary keyword term as this can confuse Google and cause problems when it comes to choosing which page to display on the search engine results. This is also known as keyword cannibalisation.
Once you’ve decided on your primary keyword – choose between three to five other related keywords that will help with searcher intent and help your page to be found for similar popular search terms.
Now you have your keywords in mind you can begin your on page SEO as each of the following elements will utilise keywords within them. Your keyword should also be used in the first paragraph of your copy, as well as throughout your content without over-stuffing.
One of the most important parts of on-page SEO is optimising the meta tags on your web page. Utilising your keywords in the following tags will help Google understand what your page is about.
The title tag is the main title displayed in search engine results. This is one of the vital areas to get right. It will need to include your keyword, ideally at the beginning of the title, and needs to be unique to each page.
The guide length for the title tag is 50-65 characters. Too many characters and you risk them not showing fully in search, particularly on mobile.
Meta description tag
Meta descriptions aren’t as important in terms of affecting search engine rankings, but they are useful to get users to click through to your page. A well-written meta description will encourage a user to click through to find out more. It should be an overall explanation of what the page is about and how it can benefit the reader.
- Avoid duplicating meta descriptions, again they should be unique to the page.
- You don’t need to add keywords here, try some synonyms or latent semantic indexing (LSI) of your keywords.
- Meta descriptions should be somewhere between 100-155 characters.
Image Alt tag and file names
An alt tag helps to explain to search engines what the image represents. It is essentially the name of an image. All images that are on your website will need to be optimised with an alt tag.
You should aim to use your keywords in your image alt tags, this helps Google understand what the page is about, and it will also help the image to appear in Google image search results, generating more traffic.
For example alt=”(brand name) Floral Print jersey dress, red”
You’ll also need to optimise the image file name using keywords (which creates the image URL), it should look something like red-dress.png – with no use of other characters such as %, &, *, @.
An H1 Tag is also known as a header tag. For on-page SEO to be effective, there should only ever be one H1 tag per web page. The H1 is essentially the title of the page and should clearly describe what the page is about. For any other headings, use H2, H3, H4 and H5 to help structure and format the page with sub-headings.
For Google to understand the intent of your page, use your keyword in the H1 and use any other headers to highlight the other key term phrases related to your post.
Create an optimised URL
Now that you have written quality content, you can look at creating your URL (Universal Resource Locator).
For good on-page optimisation, URLs should be simple and provide information on the content of the page by using keywords. We find it is better to create shorter URLs and tend to remove ‘stop’ words such as ‘and’ ‘in’ and ‘the’ to do this.
It’s important to note that it’s best practice to not use underscores in your URL, only use hyphens. And you shouldn’t change any existing URL’s on older posts as this can create broken links. You can set-up a 301 redirect from an old URL to the new one, but too many of these can get confusing and potentially cause canonical loops.
There are other on-page SEO factors you need to consider for your website to perform well.
Google likes fast-loading web pages, so do people that visit your website. If your page is loads slowly, then you there’s a risk of people clicking off your webpage before it’s even loaded, and you will be penalised by Google.
To limit the page load time and help with on-page optimisation, check the size of the images uploaded on your web page, images that are high quality and haven’t been optimised will take longer to load. If you’re having issues with page speed, contact your SEO agency or speak to a developer. You can check your webpage speed with Google’s PageSpeed insights.
For effective on-page optimisation, your website will need to be mobile responsive. Google prefers and favours web pages that are fully optimised for mobile.
In 2015, Google announced that it was going to penalise sites that aren’t mobile-friendly, which mean sites that are mobile responsive will be displayed higher up in the search rankings. You can check that your website is fully optimised by adjusting the size of the window on your screen or use a responsive design tool.
Back in 2014, Google penalised website without an SSL certificate and those with HTTPS encryption would be given priority.
An SSL certificate is a small bit of code that goes on your web server. It provides security for online communications and enables an encrypted connection. Once you have an SSL certificate, it will benefit the whole of your website and not one singular page.
Once your page is fully optimised and published, you will need to check how it is performing. You can check the bounce rate, the amount of traffic coming in via your popular keywords, and the number of conversions your website makes to measure successes. Tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console will help you do this, and they are both free to use.
Next, we move on to producing quality content
When writing your content for the webpage, for full on-page optimisation, you’ll need to consider keywords, quality and length.
You need to consider content length for on-page SEO. Usually, the longer the blog post the better. But don’t sacrifice quality for length. The bounce rate is usually a good indication if the website is good quality and relevant or not, if the bounce rate is low then the quality and relevancy of the page’s content is good.
The copy length is always dependant on the topic and form of content, if you are using an infographic, video or podcast to go with your post then you can get away with 300-500 words. However, fully researched blog posts need to be longer to be beneficial to the reader and long enough for Google to know what the page is about. We would recommend anything from 700+ words.
Keep it original
Google doesn’t like duplicate content and will penalise you for it. For on-page optimisation, the content you write has to be 100% original and backed up with links to relevant articles or sources. This includes copying content already on your website or on an external site.
There are duplicate content checkers available to ensure that none of your content can be found elsewhere.
For content to perform well it needs to be good quality, but what does good quality mean? To create high-quality content, you need to thoroughly research the topic you want to write about and simplify the language used so that readers of all backgrounds can read and understand the content you have written.
Over the past few years, Google has emphasised ranking high-quality content, they define good content as E-A-T (Experienced, Authoritative and Trustworthy). Focusing on these elements will help to improve on-page SEO.
You also need to consider the formatting of your content, sticking to shorter paragraphs and sentences makes it easier to read and digest and gives the reader breaks to rest their eyes.
Use keywords throughout to improve on-page SEO
It’s important to use keywords throughout the web page, but you also shouldn’t stuff the page with keywords as this can make the reading experience confusing, and some of the keywords will look and feel out of place.
Your content should flow, and if the content is relevant to the keywords you are using, then they will appear naturally throughout the content in an authentic and unnoticeable way.
Finally, we need to increase relevancy with Link Building
Now that you have content ready, you’ll want to provide links referring back to this web page. Not only this, but you’ll need to consider how you want to link this page internally.
Include relevant links using anchor text
Once you’ve written your content if you feel you can provide extra value by using outbound links to any relevant article or tools that can help your readers then include them, so long as they are websites with high authority.
Links to external websites will help show that you have researched your content and can back up the claims with further reading. Using anchor text will help to determine what the link is about. You should use anchor links for both internal and external links.
Improve on-page optimisation with internal linking
Internal linking helps to provide further information to the reader but can also show Google the keywords that are vital to your business as well as highlighting the hierarchy of the site and important pages which will have the most links to them. You should always include any relevant services pages or blogs to help improve the internal linking system on your website. The web pages you link to will help not only the user to continue their journey on your website, but it will also help Google to determine what your page is about and how it’s relevant to your other pages.
Relevant and credible link building from external sites
The process of acquiring links to your own website will help to build your site authority and the more high-quality websites that link to your content the better. This can be achieved by writing articles for industry relevant authority websites, outreaching to relevant sites to link to your site content, or by building directory citations. The more people are willing to link to you, the greater Google assumes the quality of the content on that page and website as a whole.