What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO or on-site Search Engine Optimisation refers to the practice of optimising for search engine signals that happen on your website. For example, keyword optimisation on the web page, optimising meta content, etc.
In contrast, off-page SEO refers to optimising signals that happen off your website, e.g., backlinks coming from other websites to your web pages.
Let’s learn more about on-page SEO, why it’s important, and what some of the most important elements of on-page SEO are.
Why is On-Page SEO important?
Google has evolved and become significantly smarter over the past few years. Now, there are over 200 search engine ranking factors that Google uses to rank a web page for a search query.
However, traditional on-page SEO tactics still matter and can have a direct impact on search engine rankings.
According to Google, relevance is one of the most important search engine ranking factors. After all, Google wants to surface the most relevant results to search engine users so they can find the right information they are looking for.
In Google’s “How Search Works” report, Google states the following:
“The most basic signal that information is relevant is when content contains the same keywords as your search query. For example, with webpages, if those keywords appear on the page, or if they appear in the headings or body of the text, the information might be more relevant.”
As you can see, the old-school traditional on-page SEO tactics still matter. Having the right keywords phrases on your web page — in strategic places — can help you rank better.
And that’s the core of on-page Search Engine Optimisation.
How to Optimise for On-Page SEO
But sprinkling exact match keyword phrases is not the only aspect of on-page SEO. There are many other factors and techniques.
Here are some of the most important on-page SEO factors and how to use them to optimise a web page.
One part of on-page SEO optimisation is optimising the URL of the web page. The URL should:
- Have the primary keyword
- Be descriptive enough to accurately convey the topic of the page to search engines and readers, e.g., https://websitedesigners.london/what-is-on-page-seo/
- Not be too long
- Be free of special characters
Many have noticed significant changes in their search rankings after optimising meta titles. Meta titles help Google understand what a web page is about.
The meta title should include the primary keyword. It also must not exceed the maximum character count, i.e., usually around 55 characters. In addition, the meta title is also the one that search engine users see on the SERPs. Therefore, it should be interesting and engaging so it can drive more clicks and increase the organic click-through rate.
While meta descriptions are not as impactful as meta titles, they also provide an excellent opportunity to add more semantically related keywords. These semantically related keywords then help Google understand what your web page is about.
Meta descriptions should contain secondary and LSI keywords and must not exceed the maximum character count, i.e., around 155 characters.
H1 Heading Tag
The H1 heading tag is a very important on-page SEO element. Having the primary keyword in the H1 of the page is a common on-page SEO practice.
H2 and H3 Heading Tags
Similarly, you should include the important topical keyword phrases in other heading tags — H2, H3, and H4 heading tags, as appropriate.
It is a common practice to include long-tail keyword phrases that represent sub-topics in H2 and H3 headings tags.
Internal linking is arguably one of the most critical aspects of on-page Search Engine Optimisation. It helps Google crawl and discover different parts of your site.
Moreover, adding internal links to and from relevant content on your site helps Google establish the importance of your web page and how it connects with other pages on your website.
Loading Speed of the Website
How fast your web page loads is now a critical on-page search engine ranking factor. If your page takes too long to load (usually more than 2-3 seconds), it can directly affect its rankings on the SERPs.
Images and Alt Text
Google prefers if your page also has some multimedia elements (e.g., images or videos). Images usually help with engagement, which can have a positive impact on search rankings.
If you use images, make sure to add SEO-friendly and keyword-rich Alt text. As search engines cannot read images, they rely on Alt text to help understand what an image and, subsequently, an article is about.
There are many more on-page search engine ranking factors that Google may evaluate when ranking a web page. However, the ones above should cover most areas.
On-page SEO is a critical part of any SEO strategy. You really cannot expect to achieve higher search engine rankings and a lot of organic traffic without actively optimising your website for on-page search ranking factors.