To explain it in simple words on-page optimization refers to the process of optimising one’s website for search engines as well as for the human visitors.
Why do I mention search engines?
Search engines assess web pages in a different way than human visitors. Naturally search engines cannot see the design of a page or what you have to offer provides real value to your visitors. So a search engine can only judge a web page from a technical point of view.
With this mind here is my take of what are the most 10 top important on-site SEO factors.
In no particular order.
Keywords in the URLs, meta description, alt tags and header tags.
Let’s clarify straight away that I am not talking about keywords stuffing, but the process of building a solid content and website structure around given topic. Becoming an authority in a given (niche) topic is what every business should be aiming for in an overcrowded online world.
Short and keyword rich URLs.
Avoid what we call in the SEO world ‘ugly’ URLs like royalsofia.com/p=555 or very long URLs like royalsofia.com/oh-my-god-omi-is-such-a-nice-guy-and-i-like-hanging-with-him. There is this notion that keyword rich URLs are not as important anymore as they were once, but I can still see Google bolding keywords in URLs so for now stick to the system. Not to mention that remembering http://omisido.com/author/omisido/ is so much easier than http://omisido.com/?author=1.
Each page must have unique Page Title and Meta description.
Page Title (with h1) is probably one of the most important on-page elements.Your goal here should be to start each Page Title with your primary keyword. The closer the chosen keyword is to the beginning of the sentence the more weight it will have with search engines.
Keywords in the Page Title help your page rank better in the search engines.
SEO experts recommend that you should plan on 55 to 60 characters if you don’t want any words to be cut off. Bare in mind that the number of capital letters matters when it comes to characters count. Ok, sometimes you have to go beyond the 60 characters limit. Do you need a new a new SEO? Don’t overthink it. I can tell you from ranking experience that some words that get cut off still provide value for brands.
As I mention brands there is always this confusion whether to use the company name in page titles or not. If you ask me ‘Yes’ is my answer. Always. Using precious title character? Nah. This is a short term vision. Branding is my answer. And if you are too worried just stick your brand name in the end.
Outbound links analysis and creation
Probably one of the easiest SEO on – site tasks – outbound links. First, you help Google understand your page’s topic trough relevancy and second people may link back to you.
Optimised Header Tag for SEO
As I mentioned earlier h1 (usually called Header Tag) is one of the most important on – page SEO elements. I usually explain the importance of h1 to clients by comparing it to page titles of newspapers. When potential clients land on your web page the Header Tag is the first thing that gives them an idea of the content that is to follow. It is clear immediately that by optimising your Header Tags you are benefiting from search engines understanding your page better as well as visitors getting glued to your content.
Duplicate content removal
The words ‘duplicate content penalty’ strike fear in the heart of every marketer. Getting rid of duplicate content is a prime task of every on-page optimisation campaign. This task should include removing duplicate Title Tags and Meta Descriptions.
Boost your SEO by using Structured Markup
Nowadays no SEO on-site campaign can be completed without structured data markup. If you read my post “The Complete Guide to Rich Snippets and Structured Data for SEO” you will get a comprehensive understanding of the subject but in simple words if Google understands your website then you gonna rank better.
Analyse your backlink profile.
Monitoring your inbound links is a great way to understand who is taking an interest in your website and products you have to offer. While most SEO’s are focusing on great content links pointing at your website naturally are still the best way to increase your rankings. The better is your backlink profile, the better will be your domain authority. As we all know better domain authority always lead to better performance in the search engine results pages (SERPs). Sounds simple really, but it is not. Note: Check your inbound links regularly. If it looks like someone is trying to sabotage you, let Google know ASAP. And I mean As Soon As Possible.
Not everybody is talking about the importance of internal linking when it comes to SEO, but on the scale from one to ten your internal linking profile should probably get eight. The explanation is very simple: if your internal links are broken, if the bot crawling your website sees a lot of 404’s and 500 response codes it will not be able to index your pages. Your website should provide clear paths for spiders and for that matter human visitors to navigate your website and understand your content and website structure.
Proper internal linking is the only way to distribute page authority and ranking authority throughout your website. So do it wisely.
Let me give you some of the points I usually give to my clients:
- First and most important – provide value for the visitor. Only use links that are natural to the reader.
- Second use ‘follow’ links. I know some SEO’s recommend using ‘nofollow’ links in order to increase the link juice to a single page. This is a strategy of the past. In my opinion, when it comes to internal linking the link value should follow to and from internal pages and the idea of stopping it at one point is never good.
- Last but not least try and find another relevant internal page rather than linking back to the Home page. Most home pages have lots of internal and external links pointing at them anyway so try and boost the PageRank of your internal pages.
Semantic search – the future of SEO
This article wouldn’t be written by me if I didn’t talk about Semantic search. The point I am making here is probably new to most of you, but including semantically related keywords in your content (also Page titles, meta descriptions and Header tags) is something that you should start considering seriously. LSI keywords is something Google consider seriously nowadays when determining a page’s relevancy and probably quality. I’m just gonna mention The Google PageRank here and give you a simple trick.
Write long articles (in my opinion and from my experience I call an article long when it have more than 1000 words but do not overthink this number) and there is a big chance that you will naturally include some LSI keywords in your content. But just to make sure you have them search for your main keyword in Google, then scroll down to the “Searches Related to…” area, copy and paste some of the words found there into your article. To learn more about Semantic Search either read Google Semantic Search by David Amerland or visit The Google Semantic Search Community where David Amerland himself with the help of Teodora Petkova will bring your knowledge up to speed in no time.
Despite the numerous Google updates in recent years, the on-site SEO optimisation hasn’t changed much. It is still important and it still needs to be done. Yes, by all means ‘Content is King’ but even kings need to live in properly build castles and this is exactly what on-site SEO gives you. A properly build home for your content to live so it can attract and create more business for your company.
P.S. Elements that did not make it into my top 10 list but are still very important when it comes to on-site SEO optimisation: Meta Descriptions, Server Speed, XML sitemap, custom 404 Page, Social Media Integration, CDN (Content Delivery Network), Mobile responsiveness, Site speed.