On-Page SEO Basics: All the Must-Know Facts

On-page SEO is potentially very powerful, completely under your control and extremely well-documented. This unique combination of key attributes has helped to make on-page SEO the focus of many website optimisation projects in recent years and is the primary reason it is likely to continue playing a prominent role in global SEO strategies for years to come. With this in mind, we decided to take an in-depth look at On-Page SEO today with the help of our resident experts. If you are currently trying to get to grips with this area of specialisation and looking for a quick-start guide to get you up and running, you’ve landed in the perfect place.

On-Page SEO 101

We are going to start with a brief definition, to make sure that we’re all on the same page, then run through the key goals you should be trying to achieve when tackling on-page SEO for the first time. Finally, we’ll relate these key goals to specific on-page SEO disciplines you will need to learn along the way.

What Is On-Page SEO?

On-Page search engine optimisation (SEO) is a branch of SEO devoted to the optimisation of content and HTML elements/code residing on web pages. In other words, every time you make a change to something on a web page, with the intention of improving that page’s position in search engine results pages (SERPs), you are actually performing on-page SEO. Whether you edit an image tag to make it more relevant to the topic of discussion, create a new title tag or add a paragraph of textual content that contains certain keywords and phrases, you are performing on-page SEO.

Key On-Page SEO Goals to Achieve

Whatever type of website you are trying to optimise, the following key goals should always be prioritised when performing on-page SEO:

  • Highly Relevant and Informative Content – It has been said many times by many different SEO experts and by numerous Google representatives over the years, but it is so important that it still bears additional repetition: highly relevant and informative content has the potential to boost SERPs rankings significantly. If you would like to rank highly for certain keywords and phrases, you must have relevant, informative and genuinely useful content on your website (content that relates specifically to these words and phrases). Having such content is no guarantee that you will top the results pages, but not having it is certainly enough to prevent you from doing so. Relevant content may include text, images and audio-visual elements: the more diverse your content, the better it will perform in most cases.
  • A Well-Researched Keyword Strategy – Before you can start to create first-class content for a website, you need to have a rock-solid keyword strategy in place. If you don’t know what search terms you are targeting, it won’t be possible to create content that Google recognises as relevant. You also need a solid keyword strategy in place before you tackle the next discipline on our list. Creating relevant tags and metadata will only be possible once you have identified the primary keywords and phrases you wish to target for various pages on your website.

Your keyword strategy should take into account the type of business the website has been created to market, the key products and services that business offers and the search terms your closest (and most visible) competitors have chosen to focus on. Many useful online tools can help you to formulate an effective keyword strategy, such as Google Keyword Planner.

  • Fully Optimised Tags and Metadata (They Still Matter!) – In the early days of SEO, an awful lot of time was dedicated to the exploration of tags and metadata, primarily to the ways in which they affect SERPs and how you can leverage this to your advantage. In fact, so much time was spent on this particular field and it was assigned such importance that it lost some credibility in certain SEO circles. While the magical powers ascribed to HTML tags and website metadata may have been somewhat exaggerated in the past, it is still fair to say that they play an important role in any successful on-page SEO campaign. If you want individual pages on a website to rank highly for specific key phrases, you need to ensure that not just textual content, but HTML tags and meta descriptions are optimised for the chosen phrases as well.
  • Optimal Page Structure and Layout – The use of well-crafted, well-thought-out and well-structured headings serves two important purposes when performing on-page SEO. Firstly, it helps to make content easier to read and easier to scan for visitors who are just looking for the key takeaways. Secondly, and equally importantly, it helps Google’s web crawlers understand how the content on each website’s individual web pages is organised. In addition to headings, you should also carefully consider the size and placement of any images and audio-visual inserts you plan to use on a web page, as this will also affect the readability of the content.
  • Mobile Responsiveness – Ever since Google first announced their mobile-first indexing strategy, the importance of decent mobile performance for all types of websites has been obvious. Creating a website that responds quickly and without errors to page requests from mobile device users should be a priority for any webmaster today because of this mobile-first indexing policy. As far as onsite or on-page SEO is concerned, mobile responsiveness can be improved through more efficient image compression, the optimisation of file loading and the rationalisation of on-page script and code.

If you focus your initial on-page SEO efforts on achieving these key goals, you will be well on your way to creating a highly-optimised website with individual pages that stand an excellent chance of ranking well for your target keywords and phrases. 

Core On-Page SEO Disciplines

On-page SEO can be broken down into various core disciplines, the most important of which are listed below:

  • User Experience (UX) – The way in which your website responds to user input and the overall experience it provides to each visitor will influence its SERPS rankings. UX also has a direct impact on bounce rates and the rate of return visitors to a website: the more enjoyable a website is to use and the more useful its content is, the more likely it is that visitors will stay long enough to see what is on offer and come back regularly for updates. Of the above-listed goals, those that fall within the UX field include relevant content, page structure/layout and mobile responsiveness.
  • Invisible Elements – HTML tags, the meta descriptions in certain tags and various properties of other on-page elements that users cannot see all help to provide context for the content on your website, in turn helping Google to rank each page more accurately for specific search terms. The tags and metadata goal we discussed earlier is achieved through the optimisation of invisible on-page elements such as these.
  • Internal Links – Internal links not only help visitors find useful information more easily but they also help Google to better understand your website structure, which is why they should never be overlooked. Some webmasters have forgotten the importance of internal links in recent years, believing that visitors can rely exclusively on menus and other navigational features to find the information they desire. However, the dual functionality of internal links makes them a must-include component of any on-page SEO strategy. The only goal that falls partially within this discipline is that of optimal page structure and layout. Internal links, in addition to other UX features, will need to be addressed when pursuing this goal.
  • Site Performance – Page loading times and general responsiveness are a key area of on-page SEO, not just because they will affect how Google ranks your pages but because they also play a big part in deciding whether visitors enjoy a positive experience on your website or not. In this respect, the UX goal falls very much within the site performance discipline of on-page SEO. The faster each page loads and the more responsive a website is in general, the better the user experience.

It is a good idea to allocate a generous amount of time to spend on each of the above-mentioned on-page SEO disciplines if you want to maximise the benefit derived from your future optimisation efforts.

If you are not able to invest enough time as you would like in on-page SEO due to existing professional and personal commitments, please do not hesitate to contact the team at High Jump Digital. We provide a full range of SEO services to businesses across the globe, including on-page SEO strategy analysis, creation, implementation, maintenance and updates. Whatever your geographical location or market sector, we can help you to make your website, and therefore your business, more visible, with powerful on-page search engine optimisation.

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