What does it take to rank a website? If you listen to many of the SEO gurus, you’re told to build more backlinks, forum postings, get social mentions, and so on. Before you start doing any of those, you need to understand that on-page SEO has an edge over other optimization.
In other words, if you’re not doing on-page SEO right, it wouldn’t matter how many backlinks you’ve built nor how fast your webpage loads. Your website simply won’t rank despite the effort you’ve poured into off-page SEO.
So, what is on-page SEO?
As the term implies, on-page SEO refers to SEO optimization that you can perform on the website without the involvement of a 3rd party. For example, you can perform keyword optimization, set up the title tags, and ensure that web page URLs follow the best practice.
These optimizations that happen within the website will gradually improve the search ranking if done right.
On-page SEO is starkly different from off-page SEO. The latter refers to optimization done externally but serves the same purpose of improving a website’s ranking on search engines. For example, guest blogging, link building, and blog commenting are off-page SEO techniques that are performed on other websites or platforms.
In this guide, we’ll show you what are the most important on-page SEO factors and how to optimize them on your website.
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Google uses over 200 ranking factors in its SEO algorithm and that includes on-page ranking signals. Almost everything you do or didn’t do on your website may influence its position on the search result.
However, there are certain ranking factors that have more weightage than others. If you’re to start optimizing your webpage’s on-page ranking factors, you’ll want to start with these.
It’s been decades since Google launched its search engine, but the fact is, content is still king in today’s SEO. Your content strategy, which should start with keyword research and follow with crafting a great piece of content, is the foundation for SEO success.
Building great content is harder than it seems. It’s not just about writing tens of thousands of words or impressing readers with nuances and vocabulary. When it comes to on-page SEO, you need to write content that appeals to both readers and the search engine.
For Google to rank your content, it needs to be able to crawl onto it. By crawling, we’re talking about Google sending its bot to index or discover your content and update the search ranking. Besides Google’s crawler, a good piece of content is also commonly shared on social media or linked to from another website.
If your content is blocking Google’s crawler, or is password-protected, then it has a negative implication in terms of SEO. No amount of on-page optimization will work because the content is technically barred from the public.
The title tag is a HTML tag that describes the topic of the content. It is also one of the most important on-page ranking factors. On the search result, the title tag is displayed along with the URL and description of the webpage.
The URL is more than a sting of text that brings up a particular webpage. It tells Google what the content is all about and its relevance to users' queries. If the URL contains meaningless characters, it can negatively influence the search ranking.
For example, the URL https://imdb.com/title/tt0648569/ points to an IMDB page containing information on The Dark Knight. While it does indicate that the page belongs to the Title category, the movie’s title is not reflected in the URL. Instead, it contains a series of alphanumeric characters that doesn’t help in SEO.
Here’s a better example of an SEO-optimized URL - https://www.heroesofdigital.com/seo/how-to-improve-seo/
Our blog URL indicates which category does it belong to and the keyword that reflects the webpage’s content.
Now that you’re aware of which ranking factors to focus on, you’ll want to ensure they are optimized accordingly on your website. This extensive on-page SEO checklist is created to make the process less overwhelming.
You’ll want to give readers and the search idea a good idea of what the content is all about right from the beginning. Therefore, it’s important to use the target keyword at least once within the first 100 words.
For example, our guide on Facebook targeting option has the primary keyword in the first paragraph.
While it’s important to include the keyword at the beginning of the content, it’s equally important to be natural when doing so.
It’s never a good idea to start with an unrelated introduction and only mention the target keyword further down in the article. Placing the keyword at the top relates to its importance to Google.
Once you’re included the keyword at the beginning of the content, you’ll want to do so a few more times in the content. That’s because an article that revolves around a subject tend to have a few occurrences of the specific keyword.
The question is how many times does the keyword need to be repeated.
Rather than sticking to a fixed number, you’ll want to do so naturally so that it doesn’t feel out of place. In this 4,500+ words article, we repeated the keyword ‘Technical SEO’ 13 times at appropriate places.
Avoid falling into the trap of keyword stuffing when you’re using keywords in the content.
Header tags are HTML tags that help to present the content in a structured manner. Not only it helps users to read the content with ease, it also helps search engines to understand the context of the article.
Ideally, you’ll want the title of your blog article to be wrapped with an H1 tag. If you’re writing the article on WordPress, it is automatically wrapped with the H1 tag. Else, you’ll need to ensure the title has an H1 tag on the HTML code as follows.
H2 tags are usually used for subheadings, which helps to break the article into a few smaller parts. Imagine if this checklist is written without any subheadings. You’ll have a tough time keeping up with thousands of words on a single page.
Besides, subheaders also help users to skim through the article and zoom into the parts that caught their interest. It improvises page experience and does have an indirect influence on SEO.
Alt-text is an HTML attribute that gives context to an image. Search engines couldn’t understand visuals as a human does. Therefore, it depends on the alt text to figure out what an image is and index it accordingly.
When you add an image into the content, there’s a field to fill in the alt-text. Never leave it empty as it’s a missed opportunity to improve the on-page SEO.
Ideally, you’ll want to describe the image briefly with the target keyword. For example, here’s an alt-text with the keyword ‘natural home remedy for dust mites’ for an image of a vacuum cleaner.
Avoid keyword stuffing and have unique alt-text for every one of the images in an article.
As you keep publishing blog posts, there’s a chance that a few articles could be targeting the same keyword, or in SEO terms, keyword cannibalization.
When keyword cannibalization happens, none of the articles will rank well on the search engine. Each of the pages suffers from diminished authority as Google struggle to figure out which is more relevant to the search term.
Most of the time, keyword cannibalization occurs unintentionally. For example, you’ve created an article on ‘baby feeding tips’ months ago. Then, you published another blog post titled ‘useful baby feeding tips’.
There are bound to be overlapped keywords and content in both articles, which ends up confusing Google and readers alike.
To prevent keyword cannibalization, you need to have a list of all the published articles. Check through the articles and ensure no two or more articles are targeting the same keyword.
If there are instances of keyword cannibalization, you’ll need to merge the article into one and delete the others. Then, use a 301 redirect to point the redundant URLs to the updated article.
Don’t be afraid of linking out to authority sites because you’re afraid of losing traffic. Contrarily, doing so can improve on-page SEO.
Outbound links are impactful when you’re citing statistics, research or quotes from external sources.
When you link to relevant authority sites, you’re enhancing user experience by directing them to useful resources. It also adds credibility to your own content.
We’ve stressed that it’s important to optimize each URL of your web pages if you want to do well on Google search.
As far as the URL is concerned, you’ll want to keep it short and keyword-optimized. For example, ‘seo-content-marketing’ is sufficient for a blog article titled ‘How To Do SEO Content Marketing The Right Way’.
The target keyword of the article is ‘seo content marketing’ and that’s all that needs to be included in the URL.
When you’re writing the title tag, ensure that you’re including the target keyword in it. Not only that, it’s best to place the target keyword as close as possible to the beginning of the title.
Here’s how we create the title tag for our blog post with the target keyword ‘off page seo’.
Unlike the title tag, Google does not depend on the meta description to understand a webpage’s content. It also may not display what’s written on the meta description on the search results. However, the meta description is used when Google couldn’t find relevant text within the article.
Google specifically recommends that you fill up the meta description on your own because you know the content best.
Similar to how you’re optimizing title tags, you’ll want to include the target keyword in the meta description. The meta description should appeal to the readers and gives a brief idea of what to expect in the arctic.
Also, avoid duplicating snippets of the article for the meta description. Be unique and write original meta descriptions.
Google rewards unique content and frowns upon publishers that plagiarize from others. In 2011, it released the Panda update, which punishes websites that commit SEO bad practices, including duplicate content.
Therefore, it’s not advisable to copy a competitor's website and publish it with just a handful of changes. It is still considered non-unique.
To be safe, you’ll want to check your content with tools like Copyscape, to ensure that it is unique. This is particularly true if you’re having someone writing the articles.
If you’re creating mediocre content, you’ll find it extremely hard to rank on Google. Google prioritizes high-quality content that properly addresses users queries.
For example, a guide on ‘how to fix leaking pipes’ isn’t particularly helpful if it doesn’t contain accompanying illustrations. By using images, you help the readers understand what you’re trying to convey in the content.
A piece of article littered with bad grammar and subpar writing isn’t going to fare well in SEO. You’ll need to produce content that shows professionalism, flair and be helpful to the audience. Hiring an experienced copywriter or brushing up your writing skills help.
If you’re assuming that what you’ve written and rank today will continue to do well in years to come, you’re wrong. Google is always on the lookout for fresh, updated content, particularly in fast-changing niches. You need to revisit existing content and update them with new strategies or examples to stay relevant on the search engine.
Readers would prefer reading content by an expert within the niche rather than an article produced by rehashing existing content. If you’re unable to write for your website, you need to hire a copywriter who understands the industry and offers original insights into the content.
It’s pointless to produce lengthy content if it doesn’t answer the user’s query properly. You need to put yourself into the users’ shoes and figure out the information they are after when they’re searching for a particular keyword.
For example, if a user searches for ‘air purifier for home’, Google is likely to return articles that list the best air purifiers or webpages selling the product. If you’re writing an article on ‘how air purifiers work’ and attempt to rank for the keyword, your effort will be in vain.
The reason is simple. The user intent for the keyword ‘air purifier for home’ is to compare and purchase. When they’re searching for the keyword, they are not interested in learning the mechanism of how an air purifier functions.
Schema markup or structured data is a form of HTML tags that help search engines better understand the content of a webpage. It is particularly useful to describe products, services or an e-commerce store.
When you use Schema markup on your web pages, Google could provide more details to users and hence, boost CTR.
Here’s an event website that uses structured data for its upcoming event. Google then displays some of the events on the search result, which attracts users to click on the links.
Using schema markup may also boost the chances of landing a spot at the Rich Snippet section, which enjoys a large portion of the search traffic.
If you’re using WordPress, you can download plugins to populate the structured data. Else, it takes some technical knowledge to manually insert them onto the webpage’s HTML code.
If you’ve built a website without SEO in mind, there’s a possibility that you’ve left many of the meta descriptions blank.
Revisit the existing pages and find out if any of those are without any meta description. Write an engaging meta description based on the target keyword.
Humans are drawn to topics that stir their emotions. Therefore, you’ll want to be creative with the title tags by adding some emotionally charged words.
For example, the title ‘How To Build A Website’ may target the right keyword, but does little to appeal to the reader. Instead, a title like ‘Everything You Need To Know To Build A Website’ relates more to the users.
Use words like ‘today’, ‘proven’, ‘free’ and ‘easy’ to convey emotion. Address the users by using ‘you’ to make the title sounds more personal. Be mindful of not going overboard with the power words as it could backfire.
If you’re publishing content that changes with time, you’ll want to include the current year in the title and meta description. It gives an impression that your content is updated with the latest information.
This on-page SEO strategy is effective for listicles, reviews, and how-to guides. Users who are searching for information are more likely to click on pages that have the current year.
Here’s an example of how the current year is used in a title tag.
We’ve mentioned that you need to include alt-text in the content images, but there’s much more to image optimization.
If you’re using high-resolution images, the webpage may load slowly and negatively impact SEO. In such cases, you’ll need to compress the images to speed up page loading time.
It’s also important to ensure that you’re sticking with commonly supported formats, which are PNG, JPEG and WebP.
This is perhaps one of the lesser-known on-page SEO factors, but using custom images has a positive effect on search ranking.
There’s a study designed to observe the impact of using stock images and unique images on websites. The result clearly shows that content using unique images fare better than those with stock images.
Internal links are links that connect from one page to another on your website. It’s one of the most impactful on-page SEO techniques that can be easily executed.
By having a well-established network of internal links, you help Google understand the structure of your website and how each page is interconnected to each other.
Generally, you’ll want to link from pillar articles to shorter, supporting articles. Doing so enables users to access more detailed information when they visit your website. You can also link to web pages that are related to what you’re currently writing for a new blog post.
According to Google, you lose 32% of potential visitors if your webpage takes more than 3 seconds to load, particularly on mobile.
Therefore, page speed optimization is crucial as it provides an edge amongst competitors with equally good content. There are, however, many factors that could slow down a webpage, including:
You’ll need to run an audit and find out how your web pages fare in terms of loading time. Then, zoom in on the problematic areas that are slowing the webpage and apply a fix.
Google does not specifically state the requirements for a web page to appear on the featured snippets section. However, there’s a great chance of landing on the coveted spot if some of these conditions are met.
First, you’ll need to rank your content on the first page of Google because that’s where they are selected. Then, you need to ensure that Google has a rich snippets spot for the target keyword and find out how the current rich snippet is formatted.
For example, the search term ‘how to learn violin’ returns a snippet with a list of steps and an image.
If you intend to rank in the featured snippets, you need to create a blog article with a similar format but better than the existing one. Make sure that you’re fulfilling the search intent when you create the content.
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. It is the principle that drives Google’s search algorithm and how it ranks web pages.
Expertise is shown by the experience and depth of knowledge when you’re producing articles. Google can differentiate unique, noteworthy content that’s written from a position of expertise rather than one that’s regurgitated from existing ones.
Note that expertise doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to be a professional in a certain field. It could also indicate your personal experience in a particular topic.
Authoritativeness has more to do with backlinks. Your website is deemed to have a certain degree of authority there are relevant and established sites linking to it. This calls for a proper link building strategy.
Trustworthiness gives confidence to the readers that they are consuming content from a reliable source. As such, it’s important to have proper author bios that indicate the author’s experience, credentials, and qualifications.
With so many ranking factors to work on, it is hard to optimize your pages manually. SEO professionals turn to software and tools that simplify the process.
Here are some that help.
Ahrefs boasts one of the most powerful keyword research tools for on-page SEO. Known as Ahref Keyword Explorer, it allows you to discover keyword statistics like search volume, competitiveness and potential traffic. Not only that, you can also spy on what your competitors are ranking for by running a keyword analysis on their domains.
SEMrush is a professional SEO tool that offers a comprehensive on-page SEO checker. It analyses your website and produces an extensive report on keyword usage, semantic analysis, content length and other ranking factors. Semantic analysis helps you to identify what other keywords your competitor is ranking and finetune your content strategy.
If you’re tight on budget, Seranking is one of the more affordable premium SEO tools. Despite that, it boasts a powerful on-page SEO analysis tool that covers practically every ranking factor we’ve mentioned in this guide. Each of the factors is given a score that reflects whether it is well-optimized or requires attention.
Screaming Frog is no stranger amongst the SEO community. It is a powerful desktop crawler that scans through a website and returns useful metrics. For example, you can detect issues in title/description tags, headers and duplicate pages with the software.
To prevent duplicate content or plagiarism, you’ll want to subscribe to Copyscape. It’s a plagiarism checker that scans your content against millions of others on the internet. It can determine which part of your content that are an exact match with others.
GTMetrix helps you to find out how your web pages fare in terms of loading speed and performance. It’s similar to Google Pagespeed Insight, but with a more intuitive and well-presented reporting interface. You can use the performance indicators as a guide to tackle issues that are slowing down your webpage.
Moz On-Page Grader joins the list with its own version of the on-page checker, or rather the On-Page Grader. It analyzes your webpage against a specific keyword. The results include the performance breakdown of the page, including keyword optimization in title, description, header and alt-text.
With this on-page SEO checklist in hand, it’s tempting to start auditing and optimizing your website on your own. If you’re a business owner or involved in managing one, doing so is often not the best option.
It takes time and effort to implement the improvements and monitor if you’re getting the desired results. You’re unlikely to have the luxury of tinkering around with on-page SEO while juggling your business.
Therefore, it’s wiser to outsource to an agency like Heroes Of Digital, which specializes in SEO Singapore. Our team has been helping local businesses with their SEO implementations for more than 10 years.
We’re equipped with the latest, in-depth SEO knowledge and leave no stone unturned when conducting on-page SEO audits.
We’ll thoroughly analyze a website’s keyword strategies, optimization and ranking factors like title tag, meta description, headers, alt-text and more.
Our expertise and effort have resulted in our clients achieving better rankings, conversions and revenue. This is how we’ve maintained our credibility as one of the leading SEO firms in Singapore.
Furthermore, we’re known to offer competitive pricing for on-page services and packages. Talk to our team and learn how we can help you with on-page SEO optimization.
HEROES OF DIGITAL
We were born to save SMEs from ineffective digital marketing. Most digital marketing agencies in Singapore lack the proper digital marketing expertise, and transparency. They take SMEs for a ride, over-promise them on results. The end result is unhappy clients wasting a lot of money and resources. We are here to save them.