What is On-Page SEO?
On Page SEO is a method of optimising web pages to improve search engine rankings, attract organic traffic and engage visitors.
Common on-page SEO practices include optimising content, title tags, images, internal links, external links and URLs.
It is a common understanding that SEO is a strategy to appease and please search engines, but the truth is intelligent SEO seeks to optimise for both human eyes and search engine bots.
It is becoming increasingly important that web pages communicate expertise, authority and trustworthiness and this should also be considered a factor of on-page optimisation.
On-page SEO shouldn’t be confused with off-page SEO, which is all about optimising for signals that happen on third-party websites, for example backlinks.
On-Page SEO – Keywords and Content
Keyword research is a foundational element of on-page SEO (search engine optimisation).
The starting point is to compile a list of keywords you would like your website to rank for.
To build the list, research your target audience and search engine returns. Using Google Keyword Planner, you should ask basic questions such as;
- What search terms do people type into Google when looking for your products or service?
- What is the competition like for these keywords?
- How high is the search volume?
- What do these potential customers hope to find?
- What is the intent behind the search query?
From this information, you can determine which keywords will be most effective in attracting relevant traffic with positive intent.
Next, create content around these keywords that will engage potential and existing customers.
High quality, rich content is incredibly important as it translates into high engagement. Thin, recycled, commonplace content is of little interest and worth, so it stands to reason that where low quality content exists, visitors will bounce away. They will go elsewhere to be informed.
Engagement is a huge factor in determining natural search rankings. Dwell time, page views, links to your content and social shares are indicators of the quality of content on your website. This is why high quality content is so important. It is the rich stuff that sets you apart as an expert and authority in your subject.
This is SEO gold dust…
On-Page SEO – Internal Links
Search engines use internal links to understand the structure of websites; the relevance of pages, the relationship between pages and the hierarchy of pages, giving the most important pages greater link value.
Using a solid internal link strategy is an important tool in SEO and can help improve your search rankings and visibility.
Adding quality external links to trustworthy, informative websites will add to the credibility of your pages.
External (outbound) links may seem a bit counter intuitive. Let’s face it – you don’t want customers clicking on links that take them away from your site.
However, linking to quality, trustworthy content aligns you to authority sites and goes some way to adding credibility to your content.
External links also help search engines such as Google to understand your content.
SEO friendly URLs are web addresses designed to be helpful to users and searchers.
URLs optimised for SEO tend to be keyword-rich, short and free of clutter.
Along with the title tag, hyperlink anchor text and the content itself, search engines use URLs to understand what page content is all about.
A well constructed URL should be unambiguous and free of any extraneous dross.
You can see from this example how much easier the shorter and cleaner URL is to understand – and not only for our human brains but for search engines too!
Meta tags are short pieces of HTML code that describe content and instruct search engines on how to crawl your page.
Meta tags appear only in the code and are not visible to website visitors. Hiding words from search engines can be a really bad idea and can invite penalties, but meta tags are a legitimate way of doing this.
Meta tags are the first point of contact for all search engines so it’s important that they are set up and used correctly.
Some meta tags are more important than others and some tags are simply legacies of a bygone era and are now redundant.
Meta tags with the greatest importance are:
- Title Tag: Web page title.
- Meta Description: This summarises your web page and typically appears in search results.
- Canonical Tag: Used to indicate hierarchy where you have a single page URL that has the similar content with other URLs.
- Alt Tag (Alternative text): Image description
- Robots Meta Tag: Indexing instructions for web crawlers.
- Social Media Tags: Promotes integration with social media platforms
- Responsive Design Tag: Controls layouts on mobile browsers.
Schema markup is a kind of micro-data. When added to a page, Schema markup creates a detailed description (known as a rich snippet), which may appear in search results.
The larger search engines – including Google, and Bing– collaborated to create Schema.org in 2011.
How a search engine interprets the context of a query will determine the quality of a search result. This is where Schema markup is particularly useful. Schema can provide context to an otherwise ambiguous webpage.
Though there’s no evidence that Schema markup has a direct impact on organic search rankings, it can make your webpages appear more prominently in SERPs (search engine results page).
Semantic SEO is the practice of writing content around topics, not just individual keywords.
There was a time when search engines evaluated a page’s subject based entirely on keywords. For example, if a page had the keywords ‘search engine optimisation‘ dropped into the narrative of a page, over and over again, search engines interpreted that as an indication that the page was on the topic of search engine optimisation.
Things changed when in 2013, Google rolled out its Hummingbird Algorithm. This algorithm changed how Google looked at and interpreted web pages.
Instead of looking only at keywords, it read and understood a page’s overall topic by looking at the words around the keywords and across the page.
Yes, it’s true; Google still looks for keywords but it doesn’t rely on them. It now looks for the topic as well as the keyword.
Topical relevance has become much more important than keyword matching.
Through this algorithm change, quality of content has become much more important than any other ranking factor.
If you have any questions on any of the above, please get in touch.