What is On-Page SEO?
Ten Things You Can Optimize to Improve Your On-Page SEO
On-page SEO is the art and science of optimizing individual web pages on your website. The goal is to boost your site rankings up the search engines results page on Google, and bring more relevant traffic to your site. Unlike off-page SEO, which focuses on external signals like backlinks, on-page SEO concentrates on enhancing the elements of your website that you can control. This includes optimizing your content, modifying the HTML source code, and creating overall improvements to the user experience. In essence, on-page SEO is all about making sure that the website speaks the same language as search engines, making it easier for them to understand and rank your content.
Here are ten different steps you can take to improve the on-page SEO of your site and bring in more organic, free traffic.
1. Improve the Quality of Your Content
Let’s face it: the digital realm is absolutely saturated with content in most niches.
That means it’s essential to produce high-quality, original material in order to stand out. The more original your insights or perspectives, the easier it is to create an audience with content they won’t find anywhere else.
If you’re not a strong writer, don’t worry. Because “quality” doesn’t have to mean amazing writing.
Is your content as relevant as possible to your audience? Does your content address the specific needs and questions of your target audience? Is it deep enough? Does it cover topics thoroughly, offering readers comprehensive insights that answer their queries and position you as an authority in your field?
These are easy ways to improve the quality of your content without reaching for the dictionary. (Although it always helps to make sure your grammar is correct.)
2. Update Your HTML Tags
HTML tags are the backbone of your webpage. They provide structure, making it easier for search engines to crawl and understand your content. And even if you’re not a developer, there are still small HTML tag updates you can do to improve your on-page SEO.
Title tags, for instance, are a direct ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. They give a snapshot of what the page is about, guiding both users and search engines. Meta descriptions, while not a direct ranking factor, can influence click-through rates, acting as a sales pitch for your content. Header tags break down your content, making it more digestible and accessible for readers while signaling to search engines the hierarchy of information.
If you’re using a website builder like Shopify or WordPress, you can add custom meta descriptions easily.
3. Optimize Your URL Structure
A well-structured URL is like a signpost. It guides users and search engines, providing clear indications about the content of the page. Descriptive URLs give a snapshot of the page’s content, ensuring users know what to expect before they click. Concise URLs are more memorable and user-friendly, while a structured approach using hyphens for separation ensures readability and clarity.
For example, if you’ve written a blog about shoes that will be in style this fall, your URL could be something like:
Or it could be:
The second option is better for both your readers and for search engines.
4. Build More Internal Linking
Internal links are the connectors of your website. They guide users from one page to another, helping them navigate your content and find relevant information. For search engines, internal links help distribute page authority throughout your site and provide a roadmap for crawling. A strategic approach to internal linking can enhance user experience, reduce bounce rates, and boost your site’s SEO performance.
If you already have a number of articles on your website, go through them and make a list of relevant places to link to other articles. A good rule is to have at least 3 internal links per post.
And remember, in your overall site structure the goal is often to move traffic from your SEO-optimized blogs to your conversion pages, so make sure that your blogs link to those as well.
5. Upgrade and Label Your Images
In today’s visually-driven digital landscape, images play a pivotal role in enhancing user experience. However, they need to be optimized for SEO to ensure they don’t hamper page load times.
There are a few ways to optimize your images, and your website builder may already do a few of these.
- Reduce the size (nobody needs a 5,000 px image on a blog, anyway)
- Compress the image (you can use image editing tools for this)
- Update the format (WebP is popular now because it can compress without sacrificing quality)
It’s also a good idea to use descriptive file names and ALT text to provide search engines with context about the image, aiding in indexing. Compression ensures that your site remains fast, offering users a seamless browsing experience.
6. Increase Your Mobile Responsiveness
The proliferation of mobile devices has shifted the focus from desktop-first to mobile-first design. In 2023, over 55% of all website traffic came from mobile phones.
Because making your site optimized for mobile isn’t optional now, it’s important that you provide users with a consistent experience, regardless of the device they’re using.
There are some low-hanging fruit to focus on here, like:
- Making sure your menu and buttons are large enough to see on mobile, and are easy to click
- Move CTA buttons higher up on your page
- Optimize for speed (over 50% of mobile users will abandon a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load
For search engines, mobile responsiveness is a ranking factor, making it crucial for SEO. In essence, mobile optimization ensures you meet the needs of your users while staying in search engines’ good graces.
7. Accelerate Your Page Speed
We’ve talked about speed a few times already, but that’s because it’s really important. In the digital age, speed is of the essence. Users expect pages to load quickly, and even a slight delay can lead to increased bounce rates.
We’ve already mentioned ways to optimize images on your site. You can also work on minimizing code, and leveraging browser caching to enhance page speed.
If you’re not sure how fast your page loads, use Google’s PageSpeed insights tool to measure load time.
Faster load times not only improve user experience but also positively impact SEO, as page speed is a known ranking factor for Google (and has been since at least 2010.) As more of your traffic shifts to mobile, speed only becomes more important.
8. Create Schema Markups
Schema markup is like a translator for search engines. It provides them with context, helping them understand the nuances of your content. This one can be a bit complicated. Think of a schema as a way to show extra data for your pages that might increase your click-through rate for readers.
Google has 32 different types of schemas, or structured data markups.
- Star ratings on eCommerce product pages
- Publication dates on articles
- Baking time on recipes
- Estimated salaries on job postings
- Dates and times on event pages
This data enhances your search results and can make your content stand out in the SERPs, potentially boosting click-through rates. While not a direct ranking factor, schema markup can enhance your site’s visibility and performance in search results.
9. Improve Your User Experience (UX)
A website is more than just content and images; it’s an experience. As long as there’s an actual human being on the other end, it’s important to make their surfing experience as good as it could be.
When you improve your UX, your time-on-page should increase, and your bounce rate should decrease. Users can find what they’re looking for more easily, and they’ll enjoy the process more.
As a result, they’ll engage with your content better and longer.
Google started considering UX as a ranking factor in May 2021 (what they call “page experience signals”), and sites that offer a better experience in terms of things like load time, interactivity, and security will rank higher. From site structure to page load times, every element plays a role in shaping the user experience.
10. Build Out Keyword Optimization
Keywords are the bridge between user queries and your content. They help search engines understand the context of your content, ensuring it’s displayed for relevant searches. Proper keyword placement, without overstuffing, ensures that your content remains readable for humans while being optimized for search engines. LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords, related terms that search engines use to understand content, can further enhance your on-page SEO.
Keyword research and optimization is an art in itself, but you can use free tools like Moz’s Keyword Explorer or Google’s Keyword Planner in your Ads account.
The Importance of On-Page SEO
As we’ve seen, on-page SEO continues to be a vital part of your overall SEO strategy. From its core principles to advanced strategies, mastering on-page SEO ensures that your website is optimized for both users and search engines. As the digital realm continues to evolve, the principles of on-page SEO remain a constant, guiding businesses toward online success.