Search engine optimization involves a wide range of strategies that fall into two main categories. Off-page SEO (or things that happen off your site that often can’t be controlled) and on-page SEO.
More often than not, when someone talks about improving their SEO they mean on-page SEO. Let’s talk more about the meaning of on-page SEO and why it’s such an important part of modern web marketing.
What is on-page SEO?
So what is on-page optimization in SEO? On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing web pages to earn organic traffic and improve a website’s rankings in the SERP (search engine results pages). This includes optimizing a page’s HTML, internal links, and meta data (meta title, meta description, and keyword density) along with posting high-quality, relevant content and images. When you add all these aspects of a webpage together, you are left with an improved webpage, thanks to on-page SEO.
Similarly, there are ranking factors for search engines that lie outside of the site owner’s control, this is called off-page SEO. Things like backlinks from other sites, social media, brand mentions, and shares can all have a direct or non-direct effect on a site’s rankings in the SERP.
Either way this is the main area of focus for search engines, which means it should be the main focus of any SEO marketing strategy.
Why is on-page SEO important?
On-page SEO helps search engines analyze your website and the content connected to it so that it can identify if a searcher’s query is relevant to your site. Google is constantly updating their algorithm so that it can better understand a searcher’s intent and deliver search results that meet that user’s needs. As Google’s algorithm develops, so should your website.
It is essential that your website and its content, including what is visible to users (i.e. media, content, images) and what is visible to search engines (i.e. meta data, HTML), are optimized to the latest practices used by companies like Google and Bing. This way search engines can understand your site and how to rank it.
Whether you have a big or small business, it is important to optimize a website’s on-page SEO. SEO represents one of the most common digital marketing strategies, and it remains super popular because of its reliable return-on-investment. In fact on-page SEO offers the best ROI out of nearly any digital marketing strategy with its relatively low-cost and long-term benefits that can help websites grow and bring in passive traffic for years.
As much as half of all website traffic comes from search engines like Google or Bing, this means that close to 40% of online revenue comes from search traffic as well. Here’s something else to think about: The top 1st result on Google gets more than 32% of keyword traffic, and the first page of search results grab as much as 91.5% of traffic.
This is why on-page SEO is important. Without it your site could be seriously missing out on opportunities to rank for search queries specific to your business. Without an SEO strategy then your site might get pushed down search results by competitors. This is a big part of why many companies hire an SEO agency, because the world of search marketing has grown to represent approximately $79 billion.
What are the most important on-page SEO elements?
Aside from the on-page SEO strategies mentioned before, there are other important elements that are crucial to the success of a site. Optimizing these are key to maintaining an on-page strategy. The three main ways to do this are through meta data, content writing, and internal linking.
Your meta data will be in the HTML code of each page and specifically includes your page’s title-tag and meta description which are used in search engine results to list your pages. When you use a search engine to look up a query, the meta title and meta description are all located in the link that page. Having your meta data optimized with good keywords and detailed content will help users and search engines know what your page has to offer.
Well written content associates the words on your site to the keywords in your meta data. Quality writing with proper keyword placement will both reassure the search engine’s queries and match the needs of users. Content marketing is also important for other areas of marketing.
Google has outlined guidance for website and businesses to create content that is EAT friendly for Google results. That means content that is Expert, Authoritative, and Trustworthy. EAT is not a specific ranking signal for on-page SEO, but content is. Make sure your content is high-quality and well focused on the intent of and meaning of your target keywords. Google’s Webmaster Guidelines give guidance on what content should be like:
- Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
- Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Don’t deceive your users.
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
Internal Linking and Site Structure
Website structure is essential for a search engine to be able to properly crawl your site. Having easy-to-use navigation bars, footers, and anchor links will allow engines to link a user to a page relevant to their query. If you have a site that is confusing to navigate, it might only result in the search engine struggling to identify your site’s pages.
Here too, Google’s Webmaster Guidelines emphasizes that a site should have a “clear conceptual page hierarchy” and that important links should be easily Crawlable for Googlebot indexing.
What on-page SEO strategies can you use to improve your rankings?
Making your site as search friendly as possible is essential to increasing your page rankings in the SERP. To better understand on-page SEO best practices, you’ll want to know what the most important on-page SEO elements are. Then you’ll want to fix them.
A good rule of thumb for SEO is to focus on your visitors and consider their specific needs. User intent and user needs should be the primary motivation for beginning your SEO. And in fact, Google has begun to push user experience and SEO as increasingly important parts of its ranking algorithm.
This refers to the main goal a user has when they type in a query into a search engine. The goal with understanding user content is being able to optimize your keywords to match the content which that page includes. For example, if someone searches for “Golden Retrievers,” are they looking to adopt one or just wanting to learn about them?
This is where being specific in your meta data is important.
Think about user intent when beginning your keyword research and when starting to implement your on-page SEO adjustments. Having a professional SEO team or agency can help with valuable keyword research and integration to help you get the best results here.
As you build out your meta data and site content, you should make sure that your strategy is just as much about getting customers what they need as it is about improving SEO.
Mobile SEO is particularly important, especially today. When designing a website, you want to make sure your site looks good on all platforms – like phones and desktops – and is not strictly designed for one or the other. This will then reflect in your search engine results, meaning if a user searches for a query on their phone, your mobile-friendly website will show up higher than those that are less mobile-friendly.
Mobile friendliness is a complex and expansive topic. Because there are so many things that define mobile friendliness it’s too difficult to get into here. But you’ll do best by making sure your mobile site is user-friendly, easy to navigate, easy to use, fast, and contains content that matches largely with your main site.
Securing your site
Site security (like with an HTTPs protocol) is at this point a no-brainer. However, many sites still function without the proper security needed for a website. Since 2014, Google’s ranking algorithm has include security as a signal in order to push the web towards more secure sites and has since become one of its most important elements.
Things like site structure, intuitive navigation, site-speed, and design also all act as signals for SEO. These are on-page elements that web developers would do well to pay attention to for improving their site. Think about ways to improving your web design to help users better experience the main content of each page.
This article was originally posted on RaddInteractive.