Most people believe that on-page SEO is nothing more than sprinkling a few keywords here and there. That is untrue. Although keyword placement is still vital, it is no longer as critical as it once was.
While on-page optimization is no longer as simple as it once was, it is still the most straightforward aspect of SEO. It’s one of the few things you have complete control over and doesn’t necessitate a lot of technical knowledge. You can do it well if you know how to make simple website adjustments, write (or know someone who can), and are prepared to do some study.
Let’s get this party started.
Chapter 1: The fundamentals of on-page SEO
First, let’s make sure we know what on-page SEO is and why it’s important.
What is on-page SEO, and how does it work?
On-page SEO (also known as on-site SEO) is the process of optimizing web pages in order to improve search engine rankings. It comprises visible content and HTML source code optimizations.
What is the significance of on-page SEO?
Google looks at the content of your page to see if it’s a good match for the search query. Searching for keywords is a part of this procedure.
However, there’s a lot more to on-page SEO than inserting keywords in your content.
Google’s algorithms scan for other relevant information on the page in order to find the best relevant search result for a query. If your page is about dogs but you don’t mention distinct breeds, Google is aware that there are likely more relevant results available.
Relevance is such an important aspect of on-page SEO that you’re unlikely to rank unless you master it.
Chapter 2: How to Make SEO-Friendly Content?
Before you even consider ‘technical’ improvements such as keyword placement, you must first generate content that Google wants to rank. You’ll need a major target keyword in mind for this. If this isn’t the case, check out our keyword research guide.
Otherwise, these are the four skills you’ll need:
- Make yourself useful.
- Make an effort to be comprehensive.
- Stand out from the crowd.
- Be specific.
Make yourself useful:
On-page SEO, which entails matching your content with search intent, is perhaps the most important aspect. If you don’t provide searchers with what they want, you’ll have a hard time ranking.
Because no one knows search intent like Google, the best place to start is by looking at the top-ranking results for the three Cs of search intent:
- Type of content
- Format of the content
- The aspect of the content
This notion was briefly discussed in our keyword research guide. But, again, matching your content with your goal is essential, so we’ll go a little farther here.
Type of content
Blog entries, products, categories, landing pages, and videos are the most common content kinds. The top-ranking sites for “black maxi dress,” for example, are all e-Commerce category pages from well-known retailers.
It’s doubtful that you’ll be able to rank for this keyword using a blog article. The majority of searchers are in the purchase phase rather than the learning mode.
However, for certain terms, the picture isn’t that clear.
You’ll find a mix of e-commerce pages and blog articles in the top-ranking results for “plants.”
Use your best judgement if this occurs. Despite the fact that the results are split about 50/50 between blog articles and ecommerce pages, the top three are ecommerce pages. Because the majority of searchers want to purchase rather than study, an ecommerce website would have the highest chance of ranking for this term.
Format of the content
The most common content formats for blog entries include how-tos, listicles, news stories, opinion pieces, and reviews.
Aside from those from apple.com, every result for “force restart iPad” is a how-to tutorial.
You should do the same to have the best chance of ranking for either of these keywords. Trying to rank a listicle when people are looking for a how-to guide will be difficult.
The SERP, like content type, isn’t always as clear-cut as it appears in the instances above.
Take a peek at the top-ranked sites for “how to acquire more youtube followers.” The number of blog entries in how-to and listicle forms is very evenly distributed.
Because “how to” is in the target term in this situation, it’s definitely the best option. It’s worth mentioning, though, that there isn’t a definite solution. Everyone has a distinct perspective on things, so you could go either way. For our post about how to gain more YouTube subscribers, we went with the listicle style since it seemed like a better fit for the advice we intended to give.
The aspect of the content
The main’selling point’ of the material is referred to as the content angle. Those looking for “how to make latte” at home, for example, appear to want to know how to do it without specific equipment.
Make an effort to be comprehensive
It’s a good start to have material that generally fits with search intent, but it’s seldom enough. It must deliver on its promise in order to get a spot on Google’s first On Page SEO. That involves include everything that searchers expect and want to see.
You probably already have a general notion of what searchers would want to view if you’ve established the three Cs of search intent. If you’re writing about how to acquire Bitcoin, for example, and the top-ranking sites are for novices, it’s probably not a good idea to go into great depth on the blockchain.
The three Cs, on the other hand, merely provide a high-level perspective of intent. Digging further into relevant top-ranking On Page SEO can help you better understand what your content should address.
“Relevant” is the crucial word here. It’s pointless to analyse and take inspiration from top-ranking ecommerce pages or articles on individual clubs if you’re targeting the keyword “best golf club sets” and plan to produce a post about the greatest sets. You want to look at pages that are comparable to yours.
Let’s have a look at how to accomplish this.
Look for subheadings that are often used
Most websites use subheadings to divide down a topic into subtopics. These can provide you a fast idea of what people are looking for, especially if you find the same or similar subheadings on many sites.
If we look at the subheadings for other on-page SEO recommendations, for example, we can see that each page has a definition.
Given that it appears on all relevant top-ranking sites, it’s plausible to assume that it’s information that searchers are interested in. Google is presumably aware that pages that address these topics result in better user satisfaction than those that do not, therefore it ranks them higher.
Subheadings can also provide insight into certain items, services, or recommendations you would want to add if you’re producing a listicle.
For example, the top-ranking pages for “best golf club sets” reference several of the same sets, according to the free on-page analysis in Ahrefs SEO toolbar.
Remember to take this strategy with a grain of salt. If your keyword is “best golf club sets,” and all of the top-ranking sites mention a set that you know is bad, don’t add it just because everyone else does.
Look for subtopics in the ranks of keywords
The typical top-ranking website ranks for roughly 1,000 other comparable terms in the top ten, according to our research of three million search queries.
Many of these keywords will be variations on the same search term. If we put the top-ranking website for ‘best golf club sets’ into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and look at the Organic Keywords report, we can see that it also ranks for keywords such as:
- Golf clubs of the highest quality
- A decent set of golf clubs is one of the finest golf club sets for 2020.
- Best golf sets (full) best golf sets (partial)
However, some keywords will indicate subtopics inside the larger theme
That same page, for example, is in the top ten for:
- Men’s golf club sets are the most cost-effective golf clubs.
- Top golf club manufacturers
- Set of golf clubs and bag
- Best golf clubs for amateurs
Searching for subtopics within the keywords of relevant top-ranking sites is a great approach to discover topics for your content.
Another option is to search for keyword intersections across several pages. To do so, use Ahrefs’ Content Gap tool to enter a few relevant page URLs, then play about with the amount of intersections until you have a useful set of results.
Manually examine the pages
The quickest approach to obtain a sense of what to cover is to look up frequent subheadings and keywords. However, you won’t be able to learn everything this way. Manually studying the pages to acquire a better understanding of the issue is the only way to go.
When we look at the top three pages of the finest golf club sets, we can see that the majority of the highlighted sets are under $300 starter sets. None of the “better” sets are listed because they cost tens of thousands of dollars. This informs us that the majority of people looking for this term are novices, therefore there’s no sense in evaluating high-end items because they won’t be beneficial to them.
This offers us insight into how we should organise our article for searchers, as well as the product features that are most important to them. For example, it appears that the bag’s durability is a selling feature for individuals looking to buy a set of clubs.
Take a look at the SERP features
Checking SERP elements like highlighted snippets and ‘People also ask’ (PAA) boxes might teach you anything in addition to studying competitor pages.
There is a PAA box, for example, even if there is no highlighted snippet for ‘best golf clubs.’ These questions also reveal information about other topics that searchers might be interested in.
The second-to-last question indicates that searchers are likely budget-conscious and seek a high-quality set of clubs at a reasonable price. This backs up what we suspected based on our manual analysis of the top-ranking pages. The majority of those seeking for clubs are almost probably beginners who aren’t looking for the very best.
When we search for “how to swing a golf club,” we find that the highlighted snippet is a YouTube video.
Even if you were to target this keyword with a blog article, the presence of a video in the snippet indicates that searchers are likely looking for visual help. As a result, videos or photos illustrating the swing should be included in your post.
Stand out from the crowd
It’s critical to give searchers what they want, but you must also provide something unique. If you don’t do this, your material will be the same as everyone else’s. Nobody wants to connect to another piece of material that is “me too.”
Everything we’ve spoken about thus far should have given you a solid foundation for your material, but there’s still room for some innovation.
If we look at the SERP for “SEO advice,” for example, the objective is apparent. People are looking for a list of ideas to help them enhance their rankings and increase traffic.
That’s exactly we did, as seen by the post’s second-place ranking.
While many of the suggestions on our list aren’t original, there are a few that you won’t discover elsewhere. One way to attract Google traffic is to embed videos in related blogs. If someone discovers a valuable tip on our page and chooses to share it with others, they have no choice but to share or link to it.
Other content kinds make this a little more difficult, but it’s still feasible.
It may appear hard to create a unique product or category page, for example, but you can always use things like:
- Filters that work better
- Product photography that is more appealing
- Product descriptions that are unique Reviews
Nobody will read your material if it is confusing, no matter how well it fits with search intent or how detailed it is. The page below, for instance, fits user intent for the term “all grain brewing,” yet it’s a wall of small text that no one wants to read.
To write clear content that people will want to read, use these easy guidelines:
- To aid skimmers, use bullets.
- For hierarchy, use descriptive subheadings (H2-H6).
- Break up the text with pictures.
- Use basic, easy-to-understand language.
- To prevent “walls of text,” use short phrases and paragraphs.
- Assist readers prevent eye strain, choose a big font.
To make things more engaging and conversational, write as you speak.
It’s all about making finding what you’re searching for as simple as possible for searchers. If you don’t have everything people want to know on your website and they can’t locate it, they’ll leave and go to a page that is clearer and simpler to understand.
Chapter 3: How to Make Your Content More Effective?
The difficult aspect is coming up with material that Google and searchers want to view. Now all you have to do is improve the ‘technical’ aspects of your website, such as meta tags and URLs. This is the frosting on the cake, and it helps Google and searchers understand that your page is the greatest result.
Here’s a brief checklist to get you started.
Include your keyword in the title of your document
H1 tags are commonly used to wrap page titles. That’s presumably why including your keyword in the title has been SEO advice for a long time.
The relevance of headers in 2020 has already been affirmed by Google’s John Mueller.
“And when it comes to text on a page, a heading is a really strong signal telling us this part of the page is about this topic.”
Most SEO specialists are accustomed to using the keyword in the title. You’ve undoubtedly seen them previously in the titles of our posts.
Just keep in mind that using the precise term in your title, rather than a close version, may not always make sense. The headline of this piece, for example, is “How to Outsource SEO (Simple Framework),” yet the main target term is “seo outsourcing.”
It’s also crucial to make your titles natural-sounding, so utilise conjunctions and stop words as needed.
Use URLs that are brief and descriptive
Short and descriptive URLs make it easier for searchers to figure out what a website is about before they click.
Take a look at these two URLs as an example:
Both pages are about the same issue, but the URLs don’t make that clear. Only the second URL explains what the page is about, resulting in a SERP result that is arguably clearer and more clickable.
The URL slug (the section following the domain and subfolders) is usually easy to modify in most CMSs, and changing it to your target term is typically the simplest method to optimise. This is something we do for almost all of our blog entries.
Just remember that if and when it makes sense, you should use the target term. A variant may be preferable in some circumstances. Our goal keyword for this post, for example, is “how lengthy should a blog post be.” However, because this felt too long and uncomfortable, we settled on “blog post length.”
Make your title tag more effective
Because it appears in the search results, having an engaging title tag is crucial.
The simplest method to make one is to use it as the title of your page or article. This is how we write almost all of our blog articles. The title and title tag of the post above, for example, are identical.
However, there are occasions when changing things up a little makes sense, such as when your title is excessively lengthy. Long title tags are truncated by Google in search results, much like URLs.
Create an engaging meta description for your website
The meta description of a page is frequently used by Google as the descriptive snippet in the SERP.
Although meta descriptions aren’t a ranking element, they are nevertheless significant since a compelling description can result in more clicks and traffic.
To quickly create an engaging description, use these guidelines:
- Extend the scope of your title tag. Include any USPs that you didn’t have room for in the title.
- Match the aim of the search. Increase your focus on what people are looking for.
- Make use of energetic voice. Directly address the searcher.
- Be succinct. It should be no more than 120 characters long.
- Make sure to include your keyword. Words and phrases that are closely connected to the query are bolded by Google.
Spending too much time creating meta descriptions is a waste of effort, as they are rather inconsequential in the big scheme of things.
Make your pictures more efficient
Images may help you rank in Google image searches, bringing you more visitors. In fact, over 4,000 blog visitors have come from image searches in the last 28 days.
Image names should be relevant
According to Google, filenames include information about the image’s subject matter, therefore dog.jpg is preferable to IMG 859045.jpg.
Unfortunately, most cameras and smartphones give photographs and images generic names. Computers are no exception. If you’re capturing screenshots for a blog post, you’ll probably call them Screenshot 2021-01-12.png.
You should rename them as a result. Here’s how to do it:
- Be as specific as possible. puppy.jpg > black-puppy.jpg
- Keep it short and sweet. my-super-cute-black-puppy-named-jeff.jpg > black-puppy.jpg
- Keywords should not be crammed into the text. black-puppy.jpg, black-puppy-dog-pup-pooch.jpg, black-puppy-dog-pup-pooch.jpg, black-puppy-dog-pup-pooch
Use alt text that is descriptive
The HTML property alt text (alternative text) is used on img> tags to describe the picture. It isn’t visible on the page itself, but it looks like this:
img src=”https://yourdomain.com/puppy.jpg” alt=”puppy”> img src=”https://yourdomain.com/puppy.jpg”> img src=”https://yourdomain.com/pu
The primary goal of alt text is to make websites more accessible to those who use screen readers. These convert audio from website content, including pictures. If an image fails to load, browsers display alt text instead of the picture.
‘Focus on generating meaningful, information-rich material that employs keywords correctly and is in context of the page’s content,’ Google advises when writing alt text. ‘Avoid overloading alt properties with terms (keyword stuffing) as it leads to a bad user experience,’ they add.
With that in mind, here’s our best alt text advice:
- Be as specific as possible. When it’s acceptable, use relevant keywords.
- Be succinct. Keep things brief to prevent annoyance for screen reader users.
- Be precise. Describe what you see in the picture.
- Keyword stuffing should be avoided. It has the potential to make your website appear spammy.
- It’s best not to say it’s a picture. Don’t use the terms “image of…” or “picture of…” in your descriptions. Screen readers and Google can figure it out for themselves.
Images should be compressed
Image compression reduces file sizes, resulting in quicker loading times. This is significant since page performance affects rankings on both desktop and mobile devices.
There are several programmes for compressing pictures, however we prefer ShortPixel. It comes with a web interface that allows you to compress up to 50 photos at once for free, as well as a WordPress plugin that compresses images as you submit them.
Include both internal and external hyperlinks
Visitors can explore your website and get additional information by linking to pertinent internal and external sites. However, others argue that connecting to other websites is detrimental to SEO.
This is a fabrication. There’s no proof that connecting to other websites hurts your search engine rankings.
Google’s John Mueller, for example, says:
“Linking to other websites is a great way to provide value to your users. Often times, links help users to find out more, to check out your sources and to better understand how your content is relevant to the questions that they have.”
While he didn’t address the SEO consequences of outbound links, he did mention that they benefit users. We also know that Google’s search engine is meant to help consumers “discover the most relevant, helpful results,” according to Google’s search engine guide.
Of course, this does not imply that you should link to everything just for the sake of linking. Simply provide links to relevant internal and external resources, such as sources, product suggestions, and related blog articles. Throughout this tutorial, you’ll notice that we connect to a variety of internal and external resources.
Chapter 4: On-page optimizations that are more advanced
Everything we’ve discussed so far is sufficient for page optimization, but there are a few more things you can do. Here are a few ‘advanced’ improvements to consider if you’re already ranking well and want to push things even higher, or just want to go all out with your on-page SEO.
Featured bits should be prioritised
Featured snippets are a sort of SERP feature that appear at the top of the results page. They respond to the searcher’s query with a brief extract from one of the top-ranking sites.
Because the answer to the snippet comes from a page in the search results, ‘winning’ the snippet might effectively shortcut your route to the top position.
It’s frequently easier said than done, but the essential steps are as follows:
- Be in the top ten. The snippet is generally pulled from one of these pages by Google.
- Check to see if Google has previously displayed a highlighted snippet. This will help you figure out how to ‘answer’ the inquiry.
- Fill in the blanks on your page with the answer. If it isn’t on your page, Google won’t be able to extract it.
- Use the appropriate format. What do Google and searchers expect to see: a graph, a list, or a table?
Let’s assume we wanted to explore if there were any chances for highlighted snippets for our piece on evergreen content. We can see that we’re already ranking in the top 10 for ‘evergreen content’ if we input the URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and filter the Organic keywords report top 10 rankings.
Link magnets should be embedded
Google continues to value links as a ranking element. While link building is an off-page SEO strategy, adding linkable snippets on your page can help you attract more links.
What is a linkable snippet, and how do you know what it is?
Examine why people are linking to pages that are similar but not identical.
For example, one of our blogs’ major goal term is “long tail keywords.” We find a few comparable postings with a lot of backlinks when we input that term into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.
Let’s look at the Anchors report for one of these posts in Site Explorer. This graphic depicts the most commonly used terms and phrases when connecting to the page. We notice a lot of individuals linking in this situation because of statistics.
To improve ‘linkability,’ we should certainly add some statistics in our piece.
When we switch gears and look at the Anchors report for a top-ranking page for “SEO copywriting,” we find a lot of people connecting to it because of two distinct ideas.
With schema markup, you can get rich snippets
Rich snippets are search results that provide more information in addition to the title, description, and URL.
For these recipe sites, Google, for example, displays ratings, cooking time, and calories.
Google gets this information via schema markup, which is a sort of structured data on the website. The pages in this example use recipe markup, which is a form of schema markup.
Other forms of schema markup that can result in rich snippets include:
- Markup instructions
- Markup on products
- Review markup Software markup Frequently Asked Questions markup
Although rich snippets aren’t a ranking component, many people feel they can increase clicks—at least on some pages.
“There’s no generic ranking boost for SD usage. That’s the same as far as I remember. However, SD can make it easier to understand what the page is about, which can make it easier to show where it’s relevant (improves targeting, maybe ranking for the right terms). (not new, imo)”.
With popular plugins like Yoast or Rank Math, you can add schema markup to your articles and pages if you utilise WordPress. Just keep in mind that not all types of material are suitable for rich snippets or other search improvements.
Enhance the topical relevance
When a page ‘contains other relevant material than the keyword,’ Google considers it more relevant for the search query. If your website is about dogs, for example, including breeds would likely appear in a more relevant result when someone searches for “dogs.”
If you followed the advice in Chapter 2, you should already have a lot of relevant words, phrases, and concepts in your text. As you write, it will happen organically.
However, it’s easy to overlook details, especially when dealing with complicated issues.
For instance, one of the top-ranking results for ‘how to brew beer’ is this. It’s a good beginner’s tutorial, however it neglects to explain that you’ll need a syphon to move your beer from the fermenter to the bottles.
In this situation, if you’re not ranking as well as you’d like and aren’t sure why, it’s worth checking into what you could have overlooked on your On Page SEO.
Here are a few options for doing so.
1. Use the ‘Also discuss’ report
Keywords and phrases often cited by the top 100 ranking pages are displayed in the ‘Also talk about’ report in Keywords Explorer. Simply type in your desired term to receive a quick summary of what the top-ranking sites have to say.
For example, if we look for ‘how to make beer,’ we’ll get a lot of terms related to materials and equipment, such as:
- Malted barley
- Malt extract
- Wort chiller
- Mash tun
- Auto syphon
Given that most of these topics are important for prospective brewers to understand, they should be covered in a beginner’s brewing book. It could be worth upgrading if you haven’t included these items.
Just keep in mind that you should do this with caution. The presence of a term or phrase in the ‘also talk about’ report does not imply that you should include it in your content. Use the report to find out what you could have overlooked.
2. Analyze the TF-IDF data
Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency (TF-IDF) is an acronym for Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency. It’s a statistical metric for determining the relative significance of words in a manuscript. It accomplishes this by comparing the frequency with which the term appears in one text with a group of others.
You can occasionally find topics covered by rival sites that you overlooked by performing a TF-IDF analysis between yours and other related top-ranking pages.
Just keep in mind that the goal here isn’t to’sprinkle these keywords‘ across your material, but rather to find important ideas and thoughts that you may have overlooked. After that, you may make changes to make the page more relevant and thorough.
Also, most TF-IDF algorithms recommend repeating ‘essential’ terms and phrases on your website a certain amount of times. We do not suggest utilising them in this manner.
There’s no such thing as LSI keywords — anyone who’s telling you otherwise is mistaken, sorry.”
Popular LSI keyword tools have nothing to do with LSI, and it’s unclear how they come up with their keyword ideas. Although they might provide valuable advice in some situations, their recommendations are seldom outstanding in my experience.
Chapter 5: SEO tools for On Page SEO
Before we wind things up, let’s have a look at a few free tools that can assist with everything mentioned above.
SEO by Yoast
Posts and pages should have titles, meta descriptions, OG tags, and structured data.
Webmaster Tools by Ahrefs (Free)
Find any missing title tags, meta descriptions, alt text, or OG tags on your website.
Compress and optimise pictures with ShortPixel (free).
Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator is a tool for creating schema markup (Free)
Create a variety of structured data types using Google’s JSON-LD standard.