In search engine optimization, the trends and search engine algorithms change more frequently than you might imagine. So often that Google changes its search algorithm on average 500 to 600 times a year, making it difficult at times to maximize our SEO efforts. However, no matter what the algorithm changes are, there are two things you can be certain of: “Content is king”, and the key elements of on-page SEO will likely stay the same (if they’re white hat that is!)
Scratch that, great content is King! SEO Content needs to be original, high quality and unique. Therefore, the very first and one of the most important elements of on-page SEO is content! Without quality content, it won’t matter what SEO basics and tactics you use, or the search result position of your content, people won’t stay long enough to read it, if it’s not providing value.
Therefore, having a good content strategy and being able to produce good content should be your primary focus first, as your website’s content are the building blocks of your web pages. Whereas, the internet is full of content, and it continues to grow at a fast pace. Research shows that 2 million articles are posted every day (blog posts alone), and as of 2022, there are a staggering 1.88 billion websites in existence.
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Elements of on-page SEO: Search engine basics
There are a few basic principles of search engine optimization (SEO) that you need to understand if you want to improve your website’s ranking in the search engines. These principles are known as on-page SEO factors and they include things like keywords, title tags, meta descriptions, and other elements that can help your website show up higher in the search results pages.
The job of a search engine is to collect information from sources on the internet, by crawling, indexing and ranking their content. Search engines look to provide the highest quality of information to their users. This is done by utilizing on-page SEO as well as off-page SEO elements.
In this article we set out to provide information regarding the on-site SEO elements that will help your content rank better and drive additional website traffic to it.
To start off with, let’s take a quick look at what on-page SEO is, and why it is important.
What is on-page SEO?
On-page SEO or on-site SEO is the various search engine optimization techniques used to optimize web pages in order to increase the page’s visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, and Baidu. Moreover, along with visibility it also increases the web page ranking.
On-page SEO consists of different tactics, including both White hat SEO and black hat SEO methods. Black Hat SEO methods should be avoided at all costs as they can result in penalties for your website and getting it blacklisted from search engines.
In this article, we focus on white hat SEO tactics only. These on-page SEO elements include the best SEO techniques include publishing content that is relevant and high-quality, as well as including and optimizing for relevant and related keywords throughout your content in places like headlines, HTML tags ( page title, meta, and header), images, and meta-descriptions. These on-page elements are each an SEO ranking factor that will help your website tell search engines what the blog post is about.
Now that we know what on-page search engine optimization is, let’s look at why it is important.
Why is on-page SEO important
On-page SEO or on-site SEO is important because it can help you rank higher in the search engine results pages (SERP) for the keywords that you’re targeting. This is particularly important if you want customers to find your website and see the products or services that you offer.
Let’s have a look at some data that drives home the importance of on-page SEO.
67.60% of all clicks go to the first five organic results on a search page. Just 3.73% of the total population accounts for the following five people. These are staggering numbers, but they demonstrate just how important it is to rank well. So if you want to increase website traffic, you have to be near the top of search engine results.
Another important statistic to consider is that high-ranking sites tend to have a much better click-through rate (CTR). This is true for mobile searches as well. Whereas, the first mobile search result on Google has an organic CTR of 26.9%.
Now consider how organic SEO might affect your bottom line when 92.4% of mobile phone users search for something nearby on their mobile phones and visit that business the same day. In addition, your organic ranking is influenced by on-page optimization.
Let’s now jump into the first on-page SEO factor to drive website traffic!
On-page SEO elements and content marketing:
Therefore, if you don’t focus on good content marketing, that matches the search intent of users, you will never get noticed, by Google or your audience.
So the first thing you need to ask yourself is, ‘Is my content providing value? Is it unique and matching search intent for the particular query?
If you answered yes to these, then you are already well on your way with your SEO marketing efforts and this blog post will be beneficial to you!
Content optimization is more than just conducting keyword research, cramming the keyword phrase into your content and waiting for search engines to rank a website. To fully optimize content you will need to utilize SEO elements that help boost the visibility of your website by telling search engine crawlers precisely what your content is for.
To drive more website traffic, and particularly more organic traffic, you will need to focus on three distinct SEO elements, including technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO. However, on-page SEO is where you should start as you have the most control over it.
Thus, in this article, we discuss 12 elements of on-page SEO that will help your digital marketing needs to drive more traffic and help your website increase its search engine ranking.
1. Title Tags
Title tags are one of the most crucial components of on-page SEO. Title tags communicate to search engine crawlers and page visitors, the important elements of the content. A good rule of thumb is to use a relevant keyword as your target keyword in your title. Moreover, the keyword phrase should be as close to the beginning of the start of the title tag as possible. Whereas the closer it is to the beginning, the more weight search engines will give them in terms of relevance.
Another thing to consider is the length of the title tag. Best practices suggest a title length between 50 and 60 characters. Any title longer than that may end up getting truncated in search results.
Additionally, it is important to vary your title tags as well. Just as you want to avoid duplicate content, you want to avoid duplicate title tags. This will help users understand the differences between the pages. As well as send signals to Google crawlers, that your content is different and unique.
2. Page URLs
URLs is one of the first things that people notice and considered a high impact element. Therefore, URLs are also an essential component that needs optimization to improve ranking. Additionally, when search engines crawl it, it is towards the top of the hierarchy of elements. Once again include target keywords in URLs.
When creating URLs, aim to keep them concise. Lengthy and vague URLs will confuse people, and add no value to them or your on-page SEO process. They should focus on your target keyword and being descriptive. By reading the URL, page visitors should easily figure out exactly what the topic of the page is.
When working to determine what your page URL will be, make sure to consider the slug and permalink structure of it. By using best practices while optimizing your permalinks, you can send positive signals to Google about what the intent of your page is about.
3. Meta descriptions
There is some disagreement on if meta descriptions have that big of impact on ranking. However, Clear Door SEO is a strong believer, with data to back it up, that optimizing meta descriptions is a key component to on-page SEO. Writing a clear, succinct and compelling meta description that contains your keywords will provide you with an increased SEO rating. Moreover, if Google searches can easily understand your meta description, and they determine it can answer their questions, your link will get more interactions. More interactions and click-through, will ultimately translate into more traffic.
Make sure to optimize your meta descriptions with your target keywords. Once again be mindful of the length of the description as it may get cut off and shortened. Best practices state that it should be between 70 to 160 characters.
4. H1 Tags or Heading 1 Tags
H1 tags, or Heading 1 tags, are HTML tags that indicate the primary heading of the page. H1s are a major ranking factor in SEO and are typically the most visually notable content on your webpage. For example, blog titles are typically a H1 tag. The heading 1 tag should be descriptive and describe exactly what the webpage or article will be about.
For length, we recommend keeping it between 20 to 70 characters. Anything longer than that, it will lower the user experience as well as dilute the SEO influence it has. Additionally, while setting up your H1 tags ensure that there is only one heading 1 tag per page.
You can check source code to see how many you have, or website builders like WordPress will visually show you which heading tags you are using. Using multiple H1 tags won’t necessarily confuse search engines, however it could end up hurting your SEO rankings.
We have consistently mentioned using keyword research, and without a doubt, it is one of the most essential components to search engine optimization. However, if the keywords are not used correctly, they will have limited power in increasing your rankings.
The first thing to do is conduct keyword research and develop the best SEO strategy to accomplish your business’s online goal. Keywords should be used in the first paragraph and through the post in general – including the body, subheadings and image alt text and attributes. There is no hard fast rule about the number of times a keyword should be used in a piece of content. It usually depends on the number of words used in a certain blog or webpage.
The best thing to do is include the keywords organically in the piece and avoid stuffing them to meet a certain ‘quota’. Remember, develop content for your audience and not for search engines.
Keyword Research Tip:
First you should use a keyword research tool to find the best opportunities for your website, while keeping in mind your domain authority. At the beginning of your content strategy you should go after keywords with low competition as it will help you get easy wins and start to drive organic traffic to your website.
Another great way to target relevant keywords for your content, is by using Google Search Console and Google Analytics, to see where you are already getting traffic from. For example, by looking on search console, you will be able to use the performance report to see which blogs are receiving the most clicks and impressions.
Next you can go into the particular page and see all the queries that page is ranking for. The list of queries, if relevant, can then be used in the six other SEO on-page elements we highlight in this blog.
6. Optimizing images
Blog posts that contain images and graphics that are relevant to the content, outperform content without images when it comes to search engine results. When deciding to include images or not, and which image to include, there are many different things to consider.
First, make sure to use your keywords in the image’s filename, the image’s title as well as the alt tags of the image. By optimizing all of these elements of the image you give yourself an additional opportunity to drive traffic to your site through relevant image searches
Second, ensure that you consider the file size before uploading and using it. If the file is too large, it could slow down the page’s load speed – another key to on-page optimization and SEO rankings. On the other hand, if you use too small of images, they could end up getting distorted and ruining your website design.
Finally, after all images have been selected and uploaded, you need to make sure that they are responsive and optimized when viewed from other devices than desktops (like mobile phones and tablets.)
7. Internal links
Each page should contain at least two-three Internal links. Internal links help your audience navigate throughout your various pages and website. Moreover, it will make search engine crawlers stay on your site longer.
The longer these crawlers stay on your website, the more likely your pages and content will get indexed. With links to two to three authoritative and reputable sites, you can boost your websites’ trust signals it is putting out, which is valuable to obtain for SEO.
Another valuable aspect of internal links are that webmasters get to choose the anchor text for each internal link.
To optimize your on-page SEO, you need to focus on optimizing your anchor text. Anchor text is the hyperlink text portion of your internal links. It’s important to optimize your anchor text so that it generates more clicks and leads to higher search engine rankings.
By utilizing anchor texts correctly, you are sending signals to search engine crawlers regarding the focus of specific pages. This will tell the crawlers what you want the specific page to be ranked for. Internal links and anchor text work in the same way that backlinks work. The only difference, you have complete control over them!
There are a few things you can do to maximize the click-through rate (CTR) of your anchor text:
- Use keyword-rich anchor text: Include as many keywords as possible in your anchor text so that people who search for those keywords will be directed straight to your page
- Use relevant and interesting phrases as your anchor texts: Capturing a user’s attention is key when it comes to a website’s conversion rate, so make sure that the phrases you choose are both informative and engaging
- Make sure not to use the same anchor text for different pages. This will send mixed signals to crawlers and will confuse them, as they will not know which page should be ranked for that particular anchor text.
8. External links
It is important to include internal and external links within your content to boost your overall SEO strategy. First off, they provide your readers with credible sources to continue their research on a specific topic. Moreover, external links will allow you to utilize statistics, quotes, and data from third party sources to further support your claims and make your knowledge base more robust and trustworthy.
Additionally, by using external links, you are helping search engines understand what your page is about. External links provide additional information and context about your article. Make sure you use rich anchor text for these links as it will provide even more context to crawlers about your topic.
9. Writing rich content
Writing rich, high-quality content is one of the most critical factors in on-page SEO. It’s essential that your website’s content be both interesting and engaging to attract visitors.
In order to rank well in search engine results pages (SERPs), you need to write high-quality, relevant content that will attract people to your website. You need to write in a clear, concise, and interesting manner so that your readers will want to keep reading. You also need to ensure that all your website’s content is original and has not been published elsewhere online.
Content should be updated regularly, and you should always aim to write content that is more in-depth and adds more value than your competitors. This means doing extensive research and including data and statistics that support your claims. Additionally, you should be using internal and external links to provide more relevant information to your readers and to search engines while they crawl your pages.
Finally, to ensure that your content does get ranked, make sure you write content for SEO. This means utilizing the SEO tips we have highlighted throughout this blog post. Moreover, you should be updating this content by using SEO tools like Surfer SEO, MarketMuse, and Google Search Console (GSC).
These tools will give you insights into the keywords you are ranking for (GSC gives you your best performing keywords) and they will also help you with semantic language that should be included in your content to give it the best chance of ranking (Surfer SEO and MarketMuse analyze the content already ranking, and help you discover terms and phrases that you should include in your article.)
After writing the best and most rich content possible for your readers, it may be a good idea to also optimize for featured snippets.
10. Featured snippets
Featured snippets are a great on-page SEO element to optimize for.
Whereas, featured snippets are short, concise, and informational pieces of content that target a specific query. The SERP snippet aims to answer a particular question and to be featured at the top of SERP results in the coveted ‘Position 0’. These snippets can come in multiple formats including:
Depending on the search query, a different type of snippet will be displayed. The snippet is chosen by Google as it deems that the particular format is the best way to present information to search engine users to help them answer their queries as quickly as possible. Therefore, when trying to win feature snippets, make sure to check the Google SERPs first, so you can match the particular format.
By targeting these, you can significantly increase your website’s visibility by being the first thing that a person sees on results pages. As an on-page SEO factor it can be one of the fastest ways to improve brand credibility and increase website traffic.
11. Expertise, authority, trust (E-A-T)
Writing content for SEO is all about creating content that provides in-depth knowledge from an expert, is authoritative on the subject, and can be trusted by the reader.
In order to improve your chances of ranking high on search engine results pages (SERPs), you need to make sure that your content meets three key criteria: Expertise, authority, and trust (E-A-T).
Expertise refers to the level of expertise that you have when writing about the topic at hand. If your content is written from a beginner’s perspective, for example, then it will likely not be as credible or useful to the reader as something that is written by an expert. This is because when a content writer develops an article about a topic they do not have experience in, they typically reproduce whatever they find on the top 10 SERPs. Meaning, that there is a lot of duplicate content which provides little to no new insights.
In terms of authority, the writer or website should have a known background in the topic. Readers should be able to look at their profiles and agree that they are a reliable source of information for the topic. Moreover, from a website point of view, Google’s crawlers will look at your content and evaluate if it is closely related to each other or not.
This means that if you typically write about digital marketing, but all of a sudden write a blog post on trekking in Nepal, you probably won’t be considered an authority on the topic – meaning your post will not rank. Authority is generated by experience as well as writing content that falls under your website’s niche or cluster topics.
Finally, the trust component of this is built into the expertise and authority aspects. Whereas, can the reader trust what you are saying and writing about? Are you a reliable source for the specific topic?
Writing content with E-A-T in mind is an essential element of on-page SEO to boost rankings across your site, as well as increase organic search traffic.
12. Website Design
When it comes to on-page SEO elements, another essential factor to monitor is the website and web page design. Whereas. not only does a good design make your site look good, it also increases the usability of the page for page visitors. Although some of these optimization elements are also a part of technical SEO, they are also critical to mention here as they are user-facing and can be the difference between increasing your page dwell time or having a high bounce rate.
There are three main components to consider when it comes to SEO and website design: Above and below the fold content, site speed, and a responsive design. Let’s go into each topic a little deeper.
1. Above the fold:
Above the fold content refers to the part of a website that is visible without having to scroll down. This includes everything from the main menu items to the main body of the content on the page. If the above the fold is not well designed and does not capture the interest of the reader immediately, they are more likely to exit the site. Therefore, website designers should maximize the real estate above the fold to incorporate elements that are important for SEO purposes (titles, keywords, images, etc.) as well as for conversions (call to actions).
2. Site speed:
Site speed also affects how easily a visitor can find what they’re looking for on your website. If your pages load slowly, chances are they’ll give up and go somewhere else instead. And, as we know, visitors who leave your site are more likely not to return in the future – so you need to make sure that your pages load quickly and smoothly no matter what!
Remember, when a web page takes more than 2 seconds to load, 9.6% of the visitors bounce from the page. Additionally, if the page takes 7 seconds to load 32% of the visitors bounce from the page. Therefore, by increasing the page speed and monitoring what on-page elements you are including (images, videos, special fonts, iframes, etc.) you can reduce the load time of your page, and significantly help your on-page search engine optimization efforts.
3. Responsive website design
Responsive website design plays a role in SEO performance as more and more people are turning to mobile devices to browse the internet. A responsive website automatically adjusts its layout based on the device or browser that’s viewing it, which means that users will always find what they’re looking for regardless of their device or browser type. This is important as users will quickly bounce from a site if the layout is horrible and they can easily consume the content.
Takeaways: Key elements of on-page SEO
On-page SEO is one of many elements of search engine optimization that will help your website rank better. For example, the overall structure of your website including the design of it, its responsiveness to different devices, the fonts and images being used, as well as off-page SEO elements (including link building!) play a significant role in an effective SEO strategy.
Another important aspect of including these key elements of SEO is that they will have a huge, and more than likely immediate payoff for small businesses focusing on local SEO. Whereas, the majority of small businesses are not focusing on SEO at all, resulting in a massive opportunity for businesses that focus on optimizing their website for local SEO.
If you are still looking for more information regarding on-page optimization, or would like Clear Door SEO to take a look at your content, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We will provide you with a free SEO audit to help you understand the current performance of your website so you can tackle some of these on-page SEO factors we mentioned in the blog!
Additionally, if you would like to take a more hands-off approach with these elements of on-page SEO have a look at Clear Door SEO’s on-page SEO services as we can streamline the on-page SEO process for your online business. Moreover, if you would like a more complete SEO package, we can also help you with off-page elements as well.