On-page SEO: Achieving Mastery

on SEO August 28th, 2019

On-Page SEO

Over 547,000 new websites and 4.4 million new blog posts are created every day.

Against numbers like these, the odds of getting your company’s website on the front page of Google can seem impossible.

But don’t worry — there is a way!

And it starts with making sure your website is optimized with current on-page SEO best practices.

On-page SEO techniques have changed a lot over the last few years, as Google’s ever-evolving algorithm continues to learn how to give web-searchers the results they want.

An example of recent algorithm evolution is how many pages now rank for competitive keywords that don’t even appear in their meta description or title tag! This flies in the face of decades-old SEO wisdom, which has long held that a page won’t rank for a competitive keyword unless it’s located in the title tag and meta description.

With so many SEO techniques in flux, how are you to know which ones still work?

That’s where I come in. I’ve been tracking the ups and downs of Google’s algorithm changes for over 10 years and have written this article to help you fine-tune your on-page SEO.

What Is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO brings a wide variety of SEO strategies together to work on a page in order to drive search engine traffic to that page. Unlike off-page SEO, which deals with links and other external elements, on-page SEO is specific to the content and HTML of a single page.

The central goal of on-page SEO in 2019 is improving your page’s relevancy. This is because Google’s algorithms are constantly learning new ways to gauge whether or not your content is relevant to searchers’ queries.

While human readers are able to understand relevancy based solely on content, search engine crawlers need a little extra help to properly understand what your page is saying.

This is where on-page SEO comes in.

By following the SEO techniques shared in this article, you can make sure that you are sending Google the signals necessary for it to acknowledge your page’s relevancy.

On-Page SEO Checklist

Need a quick and easy-to-digest list of the SEO techniques shared in this article? Check out Fannit’s official on-page SEO checklist to jumpstart your SEO knowledge!

Okay, now onto the deep stuff.

SEO On-Page Vs. Off-Page

On-page SEO refers to the elements of your website that you have direct control over. Think:

  • Keywords
  • Alt text
  • URL structure
  • Internal linking

Off-page SEO, on the other hand, refers to ranking elements that aren’t under your direct control. This includes factors like domain authority, backlinks, and popularity signals.

Which one is more important?

Of course, both on-page and off-page are crucial to the success of your website. That said, most SEOs agree that on-page accounts for 70% of your ranking success, while off-page factors account for 30%.

This is good news! Because it means that you have direct control over the most influential ranking factors. By optimizing your website with the latest SEO on-page techniques, you can drastically improve your company’s chances of ranking on the first page of Google.

On-Page SEO Factors

On-page SEO includes a wide range of easy-to-implement factors. Five of the most powerful areas of on-page SEO are:

  1. Meta tags & headings
  2. URL length
  3. Keyword targeting
  4. Internal linking
  5. Image optimization

Updating existing content to meet current on-page SEO strategies may take some time, but it is worth the investment.

A well-maintained website ensures that Google interprets your content accurately, understands your relevancy, and gets your pages in front of your ideal audience.

Let’s take a look at these five SEO factors in more detail!

Meta Tag & Heading Best Practices

Meta tags and headings are important for two reasons:

  1. Search engines use tags and headings to determine what your content is about and to gauge relevancy. The more relevant you are, the better your rankings.
  2. Tags and headings improve the readability of your content, improving the user experience and keeping people on your site longer. The longer people stay on your site, the higher Google will rank you.

There are many different kinds of meta tags and headings. But for the purpose of this guide, I’ve picked out the three that are most influential for your site’s on-page SEO.

Title tags

An argument could be made that your title tag is the most important SEO element on your page.

This is because the title tag is the first thing that searchers and search engines see when discovering your page in the search results. It’s also what shows up as anchor text when people share your page on social media.

To unleash the power of your website’s title tags, make sure that your titles:

  • Are clear and descriptive.
  • Include your targeted keyword phrase.
  • Are not longer than 55 characters.

Meta descriptions

Meta descriptions are the snippet that appears under your title tag in the search results. Their prominent location makes meta descriptions nearly as important as title tags.

Why?

Because a well-written meta description will entice searchers to click your link. And the more people that click and stay on-site, the higher Google will rank you.

If you want your meta descriptions to be driving traffic to your site, here are some best practices to follow:

  • Keep meta description length between 50-160 characters.
  • Write compelling ad copy that sells your page to searchers.
  • Don’t use duplicate meta descriptions for multiple pages.
  • Include a CTA if possible, or end on a cliffhanger (e.g. “We interviewed 30 SEO experts, they universally concluded that…”).

Heading tags

Heading tags are powerful because they help search engines “read” your content, as well as help your human audience skim your page.

I know — we’d like to believe that people actually take the time to read every single word we write. But the reality is that a whopping 81% of online readers only skim the content they read!

If you aren’t making your content easy to skim (e.g. adding heading tags, short paragraphs, and bullet points) then a massive amount of your traffic is bouncing off your site after the first large paragraph.

This makes heading tags a pivotal aspect of on-page SEO. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Your pages and posts should contain multiple levels of heading tags.
  • The most important tag is your H1. Never have more than one H1 tag though. Make it the first heading in your content and then order your headings in a descending hierarchy.
  • Use multiple H2’s and H3’s. Organize them in a logical order and don’t skip steps in the heading hierarchy. For example, H1, H2, H3, H3, H2, H2, H3.
  • Include your targeted keywords and longtail keyword variations in your headings.

SEO On-Page Techniques For URL Length

As with all the on-page techniques we’re going to list today, the motivation for optimizing your URLs is to demonstrate to Google and searchers that your page is relevant and authoritative.

How does a simple URL do this?

Let’s compare two URLs.

  1. https://www.example.com/company-blog/archives/389481
  2. https://www.example.com/what-is-on-page-seo

Can you tell me which URL you would be most likely to click on if your search query was “what is on-page SEO”?

Of course, option #2 is the obvious choice.

It’s short, direct, and you know that what you’re clicking is most-likely relevant to your query.

Here are some steps you can take to create compelling URLs of your own:

  • Keep them short. The vast majority of top-ranking pages online contain no more than 17 characters in their URL strings (the part of the URL that comes after the .com/).
  • Use clear, concise language that accurately communicates what your page is about.
  • Include the targeted keyword, if possible.

Keyword Targeting

The state of keywords in 2019 is definitely far different from the wild-west days of 2011. These days (post-Panda), stuffing keywords into your content in unnatural ways is more likely to get you dropped from Google’s index than give you a rankings boost.

But while keywords aren’t as important as they used to be, they still play an important role in on-page SEO.

Strategic keyword placement communicates relevance and continuity to your audience and Google.

If a searcher sees their query reflected in your URL, page title, headings, and within the content, they will feel confident that they made the right choice by clicking your link. And if Google sees strategic usage of a keyword and it’s variations, it will interpret your site as relevant.

And you know what that means!

Relevancy = higher rankings.

Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your on-page SEO strategy uses keywords correctly:

  • Include your primary keyword phrase in your page title, meta description, H1 tag, the first paragraph of copy, and your first H2 tag.
  • Don’t worry about jamming exact keywords into your content. Google understands synonyms and stop words, so write in a normal way and simply include keyword variations where it seems natural.
  • Don’t over-optimize your content for keywords. Using the same keyword in every heading and paragraph will look like spam to search engines. Mix up the keywords you use and include headings in your content that are keyword-free.

Internal Linking For On-Page SEO

Internal linking occurs when you link from one page/post of your site to another.

Doing this helps move traffic through your website or down sales funnels. It also helps search engine crawlers understand how the pages/posts on your site relate to each other.

For maximum link-building results, take the following actions:

  • Use anchor text. Avoid using image links to direct traffic from one page to another.
  • When possible, include targeted keywords in your anchor text. When you link to another page on your site, the anchor text is like a door to an unknown room — it tells Google what the page on the other side of the link is about. So, when selecting anchor text, you should include a keyword that is pertinent to the content on the linked-to page.
  • Link deep. Avoid including links to top-level pages like your home or contact pages. These should be easy for your audience to find via the primary menu. Instead, link deep to other pages or blog posts that are down within the hierarchy of your website.
  • Only use relevant links. Remember, the driving motivation of on-page SEO is to show Google that your page is relevant and deserving of higher ranking. One way to sabotage the whole enterprise is by linking to content that is unrelated to your topic.

Image Optimization

When it comes to image optimization for on-page SEO, there are two areas to tend to.

  1. Image loading-speed optimization
  2. Image alt tag & file name optimization

Let’s look at the first.

Image loading-speed optimization

Loading speed plays a crucial role in your site’s SEO. To ensure that your images aren’t dragging your rankings down, scale them down to the smallest possible size.

Once scaled, use an image compression tool, like TinyJPG to reduce your image’s file size.

Image alt tag & file name optimization

If your image fails to load, then its alt text will be shown to the visitor instead. And if someone downloads your image, the file name is what they will get.

Consequently, you should do your best to describe your images as accurately as possible in their alt text and file names.

As for keywords, using your targeted keyword in an image doesn’t make much of a difference if your goal is improving regular search results.

This changes drastically if you hope to get your images ranking in Google Image Search. Image Search can bring a serious amount of traffic to your site, but only if you include relevant keywords in your image’s file name and alt tag.

On-Page SEO Services

If you understand the value of on-page SEO but lack the time or technical experience necessary to implement it, then you should consider partnering with an SEO service.

Here at Fannit, our dedicated research division is constantly working to improve the internet marketing industry’s understanding of on-page SEO.

We have been helping small and large businesses execute their on-page SEO strategies since 2008 and would be honored to put our expertise to work for your website.

To hear more about our on-page SEO services, contact us today!