On page SEO is one of the most important processes you can use, not only for achieving better rankings but also for running successful Internet marketing campaigns.
Every SEO campaign has your website in focus and if it’s not properly optimized for both search engines and users, your chances of success are minimized.
Before getting into the details on which SEO techniques to use to improve your on-site SEO, let’s start with some basic terminology.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization or SEO in short, is a term that encapsulates everything you need to do to improve your website’s ranking position in the various search engines.
This includes configuration settings you can apply to your website (that’s on page SEO) and techniques you can use outside the boundaries of the website (that’s off page SEO).
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing each and every web page of your site in order to rank higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS). On-Page SEO has to do with both technical SEO (titles, descriptions, urls etc) and the content of your web pages.
Your ultimate goal with on-page SEO, is to speak the ‘search engines language’ and help crawlers understand the meaning and context of your pages.
What is Off-Page SEO?
Off-page SEO is about link building and other signals you can give to search engines to convince them about the quality and usefulness of your website. Read what is off-page SEO for the exact details.
Is on-page SEO more important than off-page SEO?
To achieve maximum exposure in the search engines and keep your users happy you need both off-page SEO and on-page SEO.
In my opinion on page SEO is more important (at least for new websites), and I will explain below why.
1) ‘Speak’ the search engines language: It makes more sense to start with on-page SEO and get it right rather than trying to convince search engines to give you better ranking with off page SEO.
Search engines are computer programs (software) and they understand a particular language. With SEO and especially on page SEO, you ‘speak’ their language and your goal is to help them understand what you website is about.
In other words the more signals you can give them, the greater are your chances of achieving better rankings.
2) On Page SEO is about the user as well: Never forget that your primary goal is to keep your users happy.
Off Page SEO may bring traffic to the website but if it is not setup correctly or if it is not user friendly, the results will be disappointing.
3) Many websites get it wrong: It’s amazing but it is true that the majority of websites today are not optimized for search engines.
Despite the plethora of information about SEO, many website owners believe that it does not worth to try SEO and they quit before starting.
For those cases on-page SEO has a lot to offer both in terms of usability and also in terms of traffic.
4) On Page SEO is sometimes all you need: If you are running a website for a small business and you need to get local customers searching for various terms on Google then on page SEO is all you might need to do.
5) Off page SEO comes after on page SEO: In order to start thinking on how you can promote your website you need to ensure that it is optimized and in good condition. So, the first step is to work with on-site SEO and then go off-site.
5 on page SEO techniques for better rankings
Now that the theory about SEO and importance of on-page SEO is justified, let’s move on to the practical part.
There are many on page SEO techniques and not only 5, but for the purpose of this post, I will explain the absolute settings you have to apply on your website today.
I strongly suggest that you also read the following articles (links will open in a new window):
- 10 SEO Tips for startups and small business owners
- Top 10 SEO Copywriting tips for getting high rankings
- 10 SEO Mistakes that weaken your rankings
1. Content comes first
A website with brilliant content can do great with or without SEO, a website with bad content will not survive with or without SEO, a website with good content can become even better with SEO!
So, what is considered good content?
Original Content (articles, text, images, videos, presentations, infographics, comments etc.) – No copies or rewrites of existing articles.
Content published on your website first – Even if it’s your own content, if you have already published it on another website then it’s not good for your site.
Content that includes text as well – Try to have text to accompany your non-text content. For example, if you post videos on your website try to add a text description as well. If you add images try to describe in words what the image is all about.
Content that is useful – Don’t publish content for the sake of publishing. Before hitting the publish button make sure that what goes live adds value to your website.
Content that is well researched – Users don’t want to read quickly prepared posts and neither do search engines.
If you are writing about a certain topic or answering a question make sure that what you write is justified and covers both sites of a story.
Long articles are proven to rank better than short articles.
Posting frequency – 2 things are important when it comes to posting frequency. First is to have fresh content on your website and second to establish a publishing strategy and stick to it.
2. Page titles, description and formatting
This is SEO 101 but very important for on-page SEO. When search engines are ‘reading’ your pages, among the things, they check the page title, the description of the page, the headings and content (text, videos and images).
They do so because they need to understand what the page is all about and then based on other factors (off page SEO, domain authority, competition etc.), they will rank your page (for various keywords) in a position in their index.
Page titles – Each page must have a unique title that will help both search engines and users understand what the page is about. A page with title “On Page SEO Tips” is better than a page with title “index.html”.
Descriptions – The page description is what the searcher will see in the search engine results page. It has to be descriptive, up to 150 characters and unique for each page.
It’s your opportunity to advertise your page and convince the searcher to click your link and visit your website rather than selecting one of the other links.
Read SEO Tips for Beginners, for examples and guidance on how to write good titles and descriptions.
Formatting – A page needs to be properly formatted. Think of it like a report which needs to have a heading (h1) and sub headings (h2).
Important parts of the report are highlighted with bold, underline or italics.
Do not just throw text on the page but make sure that it is readable.
Besides the formatting practices explained above, you also need to use a good size font (at least 12px) and split the text into small paragraphs (max 4-5 lines).
Images – Images are important for presentation purposes but they should not increase the loading time of the website. Best practices for using images:
- Use original images. If you need to use an existing image from the web you need to reference the source.
- Optimise the size of the images – the smaller the size (in bytes) of the image the better.
- Use an ALT tag to describe the image – This helps search engines understand what the image is about.
- Use descriptive filenames – Don’t just name your image ‘image1.jpg’ but try to use descriptive filenames, for example ‘man-doing-push-ups.jpg’.
- Use a Content Delivery Network – If you have a lot of images in a single page you can use a CDN service that will make your page load faster. In simple terms, your images will be hosted and served by a number of servers and this speeds up the loading process.
3. URL Structure
The URL structure is an important part of on-page SEO. Whenever I talk about URL structure, I prefer to split it into 4 major parts:
Permanent links – A permanent link is the unique URL of each page. Good URLs should be less than 255 characters and use hyphens to ‘-‘separate the different parts.
For example a good URL is: https://www.reliablesoft.net/diy-seo-tutorial-for-beginners/
A bad URL is:
Categories – Group your pages into categories to help users and search engines find what they want faster.
It’s like having a warehouse with lots of uncategorised items versus a warehouse with all the items assigned to a dedicated category.
You can have sub-categories as well but my advice is not to go over one level. For example a good category structure is:
Reliablesoft > Social Media > Facebook
Reliablesoft > Social Media > Facebook > Tips
Breadcrumb – A breadcrumb is also important for all your pages because it allows users to navigate your website in a structured way since they always know where they are and how deep below the home page.
User Sitemap – One of your options in your menu (either top or bottom) should be the User Sitemap.
This is an html file that represents the structure of your website. Visit my sitemap as an example.
4. Internal linking
Linking to pages within your website is very important for SEO because:
It’s like building your own web: If you watch this nice tutorial by Google on how search works, you will see that the first step a search engine spider will do is follow the links they find.
So when they arrive at your page, if you don’t have any other links within the text they will read your page and go but if you have links pointing to other pages within your website they will take those into account as well.
It’s a way to let search engines know about your other pages: As explained above when search engines find a page with links, they will go and read those pages too, so you can use this technique to tell search engines about pages of your website they have not yet discovered.
It’s a way to tell search engines which are your most important pages: Every website has some pages that are more important than others. Internal linking is one of the ways to pinpoint the most important pages by sending them more internal links.
It’s a way to increase the users spend on your site – A user that is reading your post is more likely to click on a link to read more about a certain subject and thus increase both the time spend on your website and the number of pages per visit.
- Don’t use keywords only for your internal links
- Add internal links when they are useful for your reader
- No more than 15 internal links per page (this is my opinion and not based on any research or studies)
- When possible, add the links in the main body of your webpage (not in the footer or sidebar)
5. Speed and Mobile
Last but not least, 2 SEO techniques that are becoming more and more important are Speed and Mobile friendliness.
Speed: Google is investing a huge amount of money to make the web faster. In every Google I/O someone will talk about the importance of speed and their desire to include the fastest websites in their index.
In order to ‘force’ web site owners to take speed into account they have officially added speed as one of the ranking factors.
So, we know for sure that website speed does matter when it comes to SEO and ranking.
As a webmaster your job is to make sure that your website loads as fast as possible by taking into account Google’s recommendations.
Mobile Friendliness: Almost 60% of the searches in Google are now coming from mobile devices (Updated December 2016).
This means that if your website is not mobile friendly, you are already losing half of the potential traffic. What should you do?
On-Page SEO Checklist
If you have read the article up to this point, the main tips are summarized in the checklist below: (You can also download in PDF format for printing – On page SEO Checklist)
On-Page SEO Checklist
- Content is original – copyscape checked?
- Content is first published on your website?
- Content has enough descriptive text?
- Content is well researched with references?
- Do you have a clear publishing strategy?
Pages Titles, description and formatting
- Page titles are unique for each page?
- Descriptions are unique and up to 150 characters?
- Text is properly formatted using H1, H2, Bold, Italics?
- Text is split into small paragraphs?
- Font size is easy to read on small screens (tablets) as well?
- Image size is optimized using smushit?
- All images have alt tags defined?
- Image filename is descriptive?
- Permanent links use ‘-‘ as separator ?
- Website pages/posts are grouped into categories?
- There is breadcrumb on all posts/pages?
- There is an HTML User Sitemap?
- Pages have internal links?
- There is a ‘Related posts’ section at the end of each page?
- Internal links use both keyword and non-keyword anchor text?
Speed and Mobile Friendliness
- Website scores more than 90% when checked by Google pagespeed insights?
- Website is mobile friendly and passes the Google mobile friendly test?
For website owners that are new to SEO or simply do not have the time to deal with web site optimization, you can always hire a trusted SEO firm to do the work for you.
Have a look at our great range of SEO packages, suitable for every online business, customized to your own needs and requirements and at competitive prices.