📝 What is On-Page SEO?
Understanding the importance of on-page SEO
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Search engine optimization (SEO) was once limited to blogs. Today, on-page SEO covers everything from your blogs and product descriptions to your image captions and HTML source code. The focus is on the website and not off-site SEO, such as backlinks, brand name mentions, and other outside factors that affect your website's ranking.
Related Article: SEO for Bloggers
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO is only a single component of SEO, but don't let that notion devalue it. Unlike off-site SEO, you have complete control of on-page ranking factors. When all the pieces fit together, you should see positive results across the board.
On-Page Ranking Factors
There are many elements for success with organic searches that don't require magic or million-dollar marketing budgets. With the right focus, you can get where you need to rank on the first results page. Here are the on-page SEO factors you need to consider as you update and maintain your site.
E.A.T. stands for expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, and it's the foundation for how Google rates websites. The highest-ranking pages on the internet have premium content that applies to your industry, informative, and well-written. All on-page SEO strategies need to consider these qualities when implementing the remaining factors to secure high-ranking webpages.
Meta is short for metadata, a tag that search engines use to identify and rank pages. Keywords and character counts are essential parts of these components. There are several tags vital to Google and other search engine crawlers.
Here are the most important.
1. Title Tag
The title tag is a title that's displayed when your page comes up in search results. It's the most important meta tag for reaching organic audiences. Keep the title tag between 30 and 60 characters. Most Google results will show the first 50 to 60.
2. Meta Description Tag
These show up in the snippet with the title and page URL. Although they don't count directly in the ranking factors, it may reduce your site's bounce rate when done right. Keep the description under 160 characters with spaces to fit in the space Google allows. The meta description can get highlighted in a search engine results page (SERP) so make sure they're keyword rich but don't stuff. Learning how to write a great meta description is truly an art, and often overlooked by many bloggers.
Related Article: How to Write a Meta Description
3. Heading Tags
These are the HTML tags you use when creating headings and subheadings to break up content and make it more readable. The standard options are H1 to H6, with emphasis on the H1 as a starting point. Search engine crawlers read the headings and can sort through content easier that have a well-organized structure.
For website users, they have similar uses. Headers allow readers to navigate and digest the content better. To keep readers interested, break the page up with several headings and keep each section under 300 words.
4. Image Alt Attributes
Images matter, too. The alt attributes describe your pictures to help search engines index them. A caption alone isn't enough, and the web crawler can't see the image to identify it.
5. Nofollow Attributes
Not all links are follow-worthy. For authoritative sources, such as .gov or .edu, keep them as follows. It gives credibility to you and the owner at the other end of the link. Make sure to balance the number of follow and nofollow links. Additionally, don't use too many internal or external sources. Search engines consider this another form of stuffing and can reduce its ranking.
Headlines are connected to the heading tags, but this on-page SEO factor is more content-based. Yes, still utilize the H1 through H6 to identify the headings, but carefully choose the words included. Not to be lost in the technical SEO, make sure to make your headlines exciting and engaging. However, don't use misleading headers. Deceptive practices to get more traffic can lead to ranking penalties from Google.
On-Page SEO Content
Content is king, always. You want well-written, error-free content on each page. Use keywords and phrases, but don't stuff. Overuse can have the opposite response from Google and cause you to lose ranking.
Make sure your website pages and blogs are unique. You can create series and utilize related pages. Still, if the search engine brings up too many similar webpages, it could also lead to a lower ranking.
Additionally, don't just write it, post it, and forget about it. Audit your content at least once a year. Determine if it's still relevant, check your metrics, and update it to keep the page working for you.
Similar to on-page SEO content, watch your keywords throughout your pages. If you use the same phrases for multiple pages and blogs, you'll be competing in ranking against yourself. Variety is the key to the best SEO practices.
SEO Images & Captions
You need to consider more than the alt attributes for images. Every picture you upload to your website should be high quality to display on all devices and screen sizes. The pictures should also be relevant to the content and have a keyword-optimized caption.
Keeping Your Code Clean
No one likes broken links, and that includes search engines. When your code isn't working right, and users can't navigate properly and keep running into errors, they will leave and go to another website. Run an audit on every page's code a few times a year to prevent your bounce rate from spiking.
This factor is also referred to as technical SEO. It requires checking all the metadata is working correctly, images, and other visible content. Another area that can be of concern is the external links within your content. Broken follow URLs can lower your website's ranking.
When you're checking the relevance and if you need to update blogs and other pages, make sure all the links are working. Broken follows may require you to re-write some content to make it crawlable for search engines and improve your position with Google.
Check Your Site's Speed
As you most likely know from experience, if a page isn't loading fast enough, you're going to try another site. Optimizing your website for speed is essential to reducing your bounce rate, which is how quickly visitors leave your page after finding it. The longer users stay, the higher you'll rank.
Related: How to Increase Blog Page Speed
Ensure the Website is Easy to Navigate
Although this might not sound like it's related to on-page SEO, visitors won't stay if your website's not easy to use. You want a well-organized website that clearly shows the basic information for people to search. It should be mobile-friendly and easy to read and navigate on all devices.
Most users want to get right to a specific area of your website, whether it's a blog, video, or product type. They don't want to spend time searching for what they need. In fact, unless your site is the only location for what they need, the users will go to a website that's easier to navigate.
Search engine optimization isn't simple and requires a lot of work. However, the benefits of following all the guidelines, crossing your t's, and dotting i's are well worth it. Once you understand what is on-page SEO and take the steps, it will drive organic traffic to your website. Plus, it can keep the users on your site longer and increase return visitors' chances.
This was super helpful! What would you say about SEO using substack? Just focus on the on-page SEO since substack controls the backend of things?