The Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO

If you have a website or eCommerce store, you’ve probably heard the term SEO by now. Search Engine Optimization is a fundamental method for driving traffic to your content, using different strategies, so your site rises to the top of search engine results. It seems overwhelming, but implementing good SEO fundamentals is the best way to increase views, clicks, and ultimately conversions.

In this guide, we’ll provide an introduction to on-page SEO, define good SEO for beginners, and outline a few SEO basics that will give you the confidence to build or repair the most important parts of your on-page SEO.

What is On-Page SEO?

There are two types of SEO, On-Page, and Off-Page. On-Page SEO is anything that you can optimize on your website to improve its overall ranking on Google, Bing, Yahoo, and the like. These include things like your meta descriptions, title tags, alt text for images, headlines, and headers. Most are familiar with techniques like adding keywords and outbound links to content but don’t know that even the way your data is structured can affect on-page SEO. If you spend too much time focusing on off-page tasks like paid advertising without proper on-page optimization, your efforts will have far less impact.

Why is On-Page SEO important?

On-Page SEO helps search engines determine if your website has any data relevant to the information users are searching for. Often, that means optimizing your content for both. Descriptions, headers, headlines, and tags, are used to deliver previews that should reassure users your site has the info they want. Doing this while adding fresh informative text, with niche-related keywords and outbound links, encourages search engines to view your site as a knowledgeable resource.

Their algorithms are updated regularly to deliver better results. Keeping your site optimized to those standards will ensure your messaging translates across the World Wide Web.

How to optimize your content for On-Page SEO

Optimizing your content starts with creating a strategy focusing on 10-20 keywords or keyphrases related to your product or service. You’ll use those words as the foundation for your SEO fundamentals, naturally sprinkling them throughout your website. You can use tools like Keyword Planner, SEMrush, and Ahrefs, to choose phrases relevant to your specific niche.

Take time to research which keywords are most popular for quickly targeting those where you’re most likely to rank the highest. Here is where you should use your target keywords:

1. Make sure they’re in your page titles and meta descriptions.

2. Use them in headlines as H1 tags and H2 tags in headers will clearly outline your site’s intent.

3. Include your keywords in outbound links. Doing so will increase the benefits of your links while contributing to your SEO basics.

Garnishing the rest of your efforts by optimizing your URL and adding Alt-text to your images, will go a long way towards reaching your SERP goals.

Using your Target Keywords

Although not the main factor search engines consider when ranking returned results, keywords are the most important element of your On-Page SEO. Their use within the spaces considered most significantly when being ranked by Google and others, is the fuel that powers your SEO.

These words and phrases are the first signal search engines use to determine if you have information related to the user’s search. While focusing on 1-3 keywords per page is best, you should keep room in your plan for variations. Without oversaturating your content, the main goal should be to write sentences that your phrases can fit into naturally and not feel stuffed in or out of place. Randomly grouping keywords or surrounding them with irrelevant information is a common mistake made by anyone who hasn’t had a proper introduction to SEO.

Search engines also place value on where your words appear in each paragraph. They give more value to phrases written in the body of your text, than those incorporated in the intro or closing sentences. The same is true for each page, with keywords near the top of the page valued most.

Using H1 tags

A search engine’s job is to understand, index, and rank the internet’s content. Applying the correct tags on your website, makes this much easier. H1 tags should be used to identify your headline. They should always contain your target keywords. Search engines need tags to be easily readable, and consider this mandatory for good SEO basics. Your H1 tag is your site’s way of communicating “this is what my page is about”.

Using tags properly by creating a hierarchical structure that’s easy to follow will also improve user experience. This is also the first view users get when finding your website in the list of results. Therefore, it must clearly tell the reader what they will learn by clicking your link.

Here are some best practices for using H1 tags:

1. To maximize your SEO it’s optimal to use one H1 tag per page, usually in your page titles.

2. Match it to your title tags in cases where your page title works well for an H1, but is too long for the title tag.

3. Be sure to use title case, capitalizing all words with four or more letters.

4. Keep your H1 tags as short as possible, yet make them compelling to read.

Wrapping your text with H2-H6 tags

Getting comfortable applying H2 and other tags properly is crucial to learning the principles of SEO for beginners. They highlight essential pieces of information and define topics within the scope of your page. While H1 tags define the most important elements, H2 tags are used as subheadings, breaking up content and making it easier to read. H3, H4, H5, and H6 tags are used to break down that information into subtopics when more detail is necessary. Search engines crawl these sections to find anything relevant to a user’s search, ranking what gets indexed (H6 being least important). Implementing 3-5 groups of H2-H6 tags will build a hierarchical structure for your content, improving the reader’s experience while also extending your reach overall.

Accessibility technology, like screen reading apps, translate your header tags into audio clips helping the blind and visually impaired scan and navigate your page. The information in these tags is also shown in featured snippets, which search engines use to provide quick and concise results. When you understand the crucial way your headers impact various aspects of your website for everyone, it’s evident why wrapping your text in H2-H6 tags provides a SERP boost in the most popular algorithms.

Using external (Outbound) links

Outbound links point from your website to other domains. They’re often placed within your content to add further context and link readers to another resource providing additional or referenced information for that topic. A strong outbound link strategy will improve your Domain Authority score, the metric search engines use to determine the quality and trust of your site from 0-100. It also helps Google and others better understand your niche and overall relevance of the material you offer.

Inbound links or backlinks connect users from other websites. The bulk of these links should come from sites closely related to your niche, with better Domain Authority.

A major part of building solid SEO fundamentals is learning how to balance your links. Consistently adding new ones, while removing bad links that point to outdated content or pages that no longer exist. The best part about building links to and from your website is there’s no such thing as too many. Where oversaturation is usually an optimization concern, it’s the more the merrier when it comes to Outbound and Inbound links. Creating as many of these connections as possible will reinforce Domain Authority, and in turn, improve your search engine rank position.

Optimizing your URLs for SEO

URLs are another good way to tell a potential site visitor what your page is about. Properly optimizing your URL slugs (the last part of your URL) can help improve visibility and click-through rates wherever the links are shared.

Earlier in our introduction to SEO, we outlined some best practices for optimizing your page titles. Optimally, the URL slug will be formatted to match those page titles, maximizing the value of your efforts. If your page title is more than 3-5 words, your aim should be to keep the URL slug short and sweet. The next best option for achieving this is to choose a single relevant keyword or keyword phrase. Both methods will make your slug user-friendly and easily shareable.

Here are some best practices to optimize your URLs for SEO:

1. Remove any special characters, numbers, dates, or excessive information.

2. Avoid stop words like “a”, “are”, “is”, “the”, etc.

3. Make sure your slug is in lowercase with hyphens between words.

While optimizing your URL is worth thinking about, search engines don’t generally consider them to have a major impact on your ranking. So try not to spend too much time creating otherwise unuseful URLs just to include another keyword.

Optimizing your Title and Meta Description for On-Page SEO

Title tags and meta descriptions help search engines understand the page’s content. These sections are vital when learning how to do SEO for beginners. A page’s title tag and meta description are displayed whenever appearing in search engine results. Both should be uniquely written and include relevant keywords. Your aim should be to summarize the page without keyword stuffing or adding superfluous information.

Here are some best practices to optimize your title and meta description for on-page SEO:

1. Keep title tags between 50–70 characters.

2. Descriptions can be up to160.

3. Make sure your words are clear.

4. Remember to write for the people reading your content, not the robots.

Create a unique and rich Meta Description

Meta descriptions should fluidly integrate your page’s target keywords, in a natural, unforced way that entices users to click through the link. Google and other search engines often bold keywords from the user’s search in a snippet, which draws the attention of the reader. In addition to the 160 character limit, be sure you’re writing in an active voice with an actionable tone. When possible, try to include a call to action.

Meta descriptions are most effective when the customer’s mindset is taken into consideration, while also matching the page’s content. The most important rule to remember is that being unique is the best way to attract visitors. Avoid generic description generators and write a few sentences describing exactly what you want your readers to know.

Using Alt tags for Images

Alternative (Alt) Text is meant to convey the “what” and “why” of an image related to the content on a webpage. It also serves as another major factor in accessibility, being read aloud to users by screen reader software. Alt text is also indexed by search engines and gets displayed on the page if the image fails to load. You want to avoid placing Alt text on design items or other decorative elements on your website that don’t provide more context. These aren’t relevant to the information your reader needs, and are usually unnecessary or make no sense coming from screen readers.

Accessibility is a big deal to search engines. They also value websites that make indexing easier for image searches. As such, using Alt text for images is considered a key contributing factor to your SERP and should never be ignored.