On-page SEO can help improve your website’s organic search traffic.
And with Google implementing several search engine algorithm updates over the years, it’s more important than ever to audit where your on-page SEO stands and how you can best optimize it.
Simply put, on-page SEO (which stands for “Search Engine Optimization”) is the process of optimizing web pages to help them rank better in search engine result pages, otherwise referred to as SERPs. Search engines include Google, Bing and so on. “On-page” itself refers to both the content and the HTML source code of a web page that can be optimized. (“Off-page,” on the other hand, refers to links and other external signals that are not part of your website.)
About 68 percent of online experiences begin with a search engine, while 0.63% of Google searchers click on results from the second page. So, it’s important to invest in strong SEO.
The following are 13 on-page SEO tips that you can use today to start boosting your website’s organic search traffic.
Update older blog posts
Search engines want to find fresh, relevant content that satisfies a user’s search query. If you’re letting your blog posts age without ever going back and updating them, you’re missing out on a big opportunity.
First, the bulk of your content is already created, so the updating process should not be as intensive as the creation process was.
In addition, blogs that rank in the fifth to 10th positions on Google Search are prime candidates to give some updating attention to. They’re already ranking in a meaningful way, so a fresh update could be all that’s needed to see a boost.
But truly, any evergreen content that appears relevant for your target audience should eventually be updated on a regular basis.
Consider search intent
Satisfying search intent is the top priority of search engines. Search intent is the reason why the user is typing a search query in the first place.
For example, when a user searches for “best wireless ear buds,” search engines like Google know that the search intent is not to buy but to learn. This user is seeking expert advice on the best wireless ear buds on the market right now. Results will largely be list posts discussing and ranking wireless ear buds. On the other hand, if a user searches for “buy Bose QC Earbuds II,” search engines understand that the user intends to buy this specific pair of wireless earbuds. So, search results will largely be ecommerce websites and product pages.
In order to rank higher on SERPs, make sure that your content matches the search intent of your target keywords. The closer your content can align with perceived search intent, the better for your on-page SEO.
Create and publish long-form content
In general, long-form content refers to articles of about 2,000 words or more. But it’s not just about being a long article. Long-form content needs to be detailed, informative and go in-depth on a particular topic.
In other words, it must be engaging.
Need help creating engaging content? Check out our 10 tips.
Write compelling, eye-catching headlines
Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter how great your content is if it doesn’t come with an attention-grabbing, compelling headline. Lackluster headlines get ignored by consumers.
Headlines are the gateway to your content, whether it’s a blog or something else. Potential readers will decide in a split second whether to read more based on your headline.
Beyond that, about 6 out of 10 readers will share content on social media just because of the headline without actually reading anything more.
Beyond general headlines, keep in mind that “title tags” are the headlines that specifically show on search engine results page. When possible, try to include the most relevant target keyword as early as you can in title tags. Numbers in your title tags also can help.
Leverage LSI keywords
LSI keywords (standing for “Latent Semantic Indexing”) are the synonyms and closely related terms for your target keywords. These LSI keywords are used by search engines (such as Google) to evaluate a web pages quality and relevance.
By using this type of keyword in your content, you’re helping search engines better understand what your website is about.
One way to find LSI keywords is to search your target keyword on Google and then scroll down to the bottom of the page, where other searches related to your query are listed.
For example, the search query “SEO tips” generates an LSI keyword list that includes “SEO tips for beginners,” “top 10 SEO tips” and “simple SEO tips for better rankings.”
You also can use a free tool, such as LSIGraph, to help discover the best LSI keywords for your industry.
Format your headings and content properly
It’s important to properly format your web pages for search engines to best understand your content.
To do so, you’ll be using heading tags (known as H1) and subheading tags (H2, H3 and so on). As far as the bulk of your content, don’t just publish plain text on your website. Consider the following as appropriate:
- Splitting the text into small paragraphs that are three to four lines maximum.
- Using bold, underline or italics text formatting to highlight important parts of the content.
- Including enough spacing in between paragraphs so that the text is easy to read.
- Using at least 14px font size for the body text.
- Leveraging CSS styling to create sections that stand out and break the text up into manageable (i.e. skimmable) parts.
User shorter, keyword-rich URLs
The shorter the URL, the better. Search engines do prefer them, but they’re also great from a user-experience perspective.
You also can leverage them by including your relevant target keywords in the URL. This can give users an idea of the type of content they can expect by clicking on your URL when they see it on social media, emails and so on. In a lot of ways, URLs have to stand in as their own anchor text when no anchor text is present.
Plus, keywords in URLs show up in search results, and how your URL appears can directly impact your search result click-through rate.
Optimize your page speed
The loading speed of your website isn’t just great for your visitors and their user experience, it’s also great for your on-page SEO.
Page speed is one of the signals used by Google’s algorithm to rank pages.
You can monitor your page speed with Google PageSpeed Insights if you want to know how your website is currently performing.
Some ways you can improve your page speed include:
- Enable browser caching
- Reduce server response time
- Reduce redirects
- Compress images
A fast loading speed contributes to mobile optimization as well. Check out these six reasons why mobile optimization matters for your small business.
Use canonical tags
In the simplest sense, a canonical tag allows you to tell search engines that specific similar URLs are actually the same.
This comes into play when you have similar content accessible under multiple URLs or websites and is common for ecommerce websites. The canonical tag helps ensure that your similar content can exist on multiple URLs without affecting your search rankings.
For example, you might have an online supplement store selling various protein powders. That means you have multiple URLs on your website with similar information about protein powders. The canonical tags prevent duplicate content issues from hurting your search rankings.
Optimize your images
Beyond the obvious (which is to ensure that your images aren’t so big that they slow down your website loading speed), there’s more to the images on your web pages that can help your on-page SEO.
By including a descriptive file name on each image, you’re helping search engines best understand the content of your images. You also should provide alt text for images. Alt text (otherwise known as alternative text) is text included in HTML code to describe an image on a web page. It also provides context for search engine crawlers as well as for those viewing a page with a screen reader.
In addition, you’ll want to make sure that all your images are either JPEG or PNG. JPEG is more compressed, but PNG is better if the image includes text.
Boost your internal linking
Internal linking helps reduce your website’s bounce rate by helping visitors stay engaged for longer. It also can help boost your organic search traffic through on-page SEO.
Ideally, strive to link from the top-ranking pages on your website to the pages that you’d like to rank for in search engines.
On the flip side, using external links (which link out to other websites) can also support your on-page SEO. Just make sure that you’re only linking to trusting, authoritative websites.
Strive for total mobile-friendliness
The more mobile-friendly your website is, the better your on-page SEO. In fact, mobile-friendly websites specifically got a boost in search rankings after a Google Search algorithm update in 2015. On the flip side, the search rankings for websites that are not mobile-friendly have dropped.
In 2020, about 274.7 million people in the U.S. accessed the internet through a mobile device. This means that about 83 percent of Americans are mobile internet users.
You can dive into even more reasons why your website should be optimized for mobile. Then, consider these 16 tips you simply can’t ignore when it comes to a mobile-friendly user experience.
Embrace schema markup
Schema markup is a powerful Google ranking signal, although it’s rarely used by most websites. It’s a code that you put on your website to help search engines return more informative search results for users. Otherwise referred to as a rich snippet, its more dynamic presence can help boost clicks on your search result.
In fact, schema markup can help such content as the following rank better:
- Local businesses
- TV episodes and ratings
- Movies (including reviews and showtimes)
- Book reviews
Beyond just schema markup (think meta titles and descriptions), check out our four tips to boost your click-through rate in Google Search.
The best on-page SEO requires consistency. Take the time to determine what you’re already doing well and what can be improved.
And don’t miss our 12 SEO marketing tips for beginners.