What’s On-Page SEO, Anyway?

On-page search engine optimization (SEO) can be a confusing, in-depth concept with lots of different elements. Especially if you’re new to the digital marketing and SEO world! However, it’s something that every marketer needs to have a grasp on.

So, What Is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO, also known as on-site SEO, is the process of optimizing a website’s content and structure to help search engines and users. The goal is to help pages rank higher in search results and drive more organic traffic.

With everything online constantly changing, on-page SEO remains a cornerstone for achieving higher rankings and driving traffic. This means that understanding the key elements of on-page SEO is incredibly important for optimizing your website and enhancing its online visibility. Without further delay, let’s dive in.

What Are the Elements of On-Page SEO?

1. Titles and Descriptions

Meta Titles:

  • Definition: The meta title is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page.
  • Importance: It is the first thing users see on search engine results pages (SERPs) and plays a significant role in determining the click-through rate (CTR).
  • Best Practices:
    • Keep it under 60 characters to ensure it displays fully on SERPs.
    • Include the primary focus keyword naturally.
    • Make it compelling and relevant to the page content. Don’t use clickbait!

Meta Descriptions:

  • Definition: A meta description is a brief summary of a web page or blog post’s content.
  • Importance: It appears under the meta title in SERPs and influences the CTR.
  • Best Practices:
    • Keep it between 150-160 characters.
    • Incorporate the primary focus keyword.
    • Write a clear, concise, and enticing summary that encourages users to click.

2. Focus Keywords

  • Definition: Focus keywords are the main keywords you want a particular page to rank for.
  • Importance: Proper keyword usage signals to search engines what your content is about, helping it rank for relevant searches. This way, potential customers searching for your product or service can find your website.
  • Best Practices:
    • Conduct thorough keyword research using tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush.
    • Use long-tail keywords to target more specific search queries.
    • Integrate the focus keyword naturally in the title, headers, URL, and throughout the content. Don’t overstuff just for a better chance at ranking! It’s important for the keywords to flow naturally with the other text. Search engines like Google know when you’re trying to keyword stuff and it’ll actually hurt your rankings.

3. Header Tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.)

  • Definition: Header tags, also known as heading tags, are HTML tags that differentiate headings and subheadings on a webpage. They are used to indicate the structure and hierarchy of the text, and can help improve readability and SEO.
  • Importance: They improve readability, provide a hierarchy for the content, and help search engines understand the main topics covered on the page. Search engines are smart, but they get confused just like the rest of us! Creating sections and sub-sections in your posts and pages help engines like Google understand the way your content is laid out.
  • Best Practices:
    • Use only one H1 tag per page, which should include the focus keyword.
    • Use H2 and H3 tags to break down the content into sections and sub-sections.
    • Ensure header tags are descriptive and relevant to the content they introduce.

4. URL Structure

  • Definition: The URL structure refers to the format of your web page’s addresses (for example, https://www.example.com/page.html).
  • Importance: Clean URLs help search engines understand your page’s topic and improve user experience.
  • Best Practices:
    • Keep URLs short and descriptive.
    • Include the focus keyword in the URL.
    • Use hyphens to separate words for better readability.

5. Content Optimization

Quality Content:

  • Definition: Content that is valuable, informative, and relevant to your audience. Not just words on a page to have a higher volume of content.
  • Importance: High-quality content engages users, reduces bounce rates, and encourages longer site visits, which are positive signals to search engines. In turn, this will help your pages rank higher.
  • Best Practices:
    • Write content that answers users’ questions and provides value.
    • Make sure your content is original and avoid duplicate content on your site.
    • Keep content up-to-date and relevant.

Keyword Usage:

  • Use the focus keyword you’ve selected naturally throughout the page or blog post.
  • Include related keywords and synonyms to provide context and relevance.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing, which can lead to penalties from search engines.
  • Avoid using the same focus keyword on multiple pages or posts across your website. This confuses search engines and is called keyword cannibalization.

6. Internal Linking

  • Definition: Internal links are hyperlinks that direct users to other pages on the same website.
  • Importance: They help search engines crawl your site and understand the structure and hierarchy of your content. In turn, proper internal linking leads to your page ranking higher on search engines.
  • Best Practices:
    • Use descriptive anchor text that includes relevant keywords.
    • Link to related content to keep users engaged and reduce bounce rates.
    • Make sure there’s logical linking structure that guides users through your content. Don’t link to random pages just for the sake of having internal links on a page.

7. Image Optimization

  • Definition: Image optimization involves compressing the file size of images without compromising quality and using descriptive file names and alt text.
  • Importance: Optimized images improve page load speed and accessibility, contributing to a better user experience and higher search rankings. Not to mention, having your keyword included in the file names and alt text can help boost your rankings.
  • Best Practices:
    • Compress images to reduce file size and improve load times.
    • Use descriptive, keyword-rich file names.
    • Include alt text that describes the image and includes relevant keywords.

8. Mobile-Friendliness

  • Definition: A mobile-friendly website is designed to work well on all mobile devices.
  • Importance: With the majority of web traffic coming from mobile devices, a mobile-friendly site is nonnegotiable for user experience and search rankings.
  • Best Practices:
    • Use responsive design to ensure your site adapts to different screen sizes.
    • Test your site on various mobile devices to ensure functionality and usability.
    • Optimize load times for mobile users.
    • Talk to a local web development agency to make sure your website is properly optimized for mobile use.

9. Page Load Speed

  • Definition: Page load speed refers to the time it takes for a web page to fully load. You can check your page speed insights here.
  • Importance: Faster loading times enhance user experience and are a ranking factor for search engines. Users click off of websites in less than 3 seconds if said website isn’t loading fast enough. Don’t lose website traffic!
  • Best Practices:
    • Optimize images and reduce file sizes.
    • Minimize HTTP requests and use asynchronous loading for CSS and JavaScript files.
    • Utilize browser caching and content delivery networks (CDNs).
    • Talk to a web developer if you’re unfamiliar with the technical side of SEO.

So, is your on-page SEO working for you? Getting a website and SEO audit performed can help you determine what parts of your on-page SEO is performing well and what improvements need to be made for online visibility.

Mastering on-page SEO involves a comprehensive approach that covers various elements, from meta tags to page load speeds. By implementing these best practices, you can improve your website’s online visibility, drive organic traffic, and enhance the overall user experience. Stay updated with the latest SEO trends and continuously optimize your content to maintain a competitive edge in search engine rankings.

If all else fails, give a shout to your local St. Louis SEO experts at Beanstalk Web Solutions and let’s take a look at your website.