Why is on-page SEO so important, and which areas should you focus on and optimize to improve search rankings in underperforming content?
The SEO landscape is constantly changing, and so is on-page SEO. As a result, we now have to think beyond just the title and meta description to optimize our pages for major search engines.
There are several different elements and aspects that you can focus on. Ideally, you’ll have a comprehensive on-page SEO strategy that encompasses the best practices and innovative optimizations that will drive long-term success.
But if you’re challenged by time, budget, or other limiting factors, you may need to prioritize your efforts and demonstrate quick wins to justify further investment.
In this column, you’ll find tips on which on-page SEO factorsto start tweaking for better rankings, and context to help you understand why you’re making these changes in the first place.
Related: Want to Rank #1? 6 Tips to Create SEO-Friendly Content
What Are The Top Elements Of On-Page SEO?
There are two primary types of on-page SEO elements:
Your content elements include your website’s written, visual, and video content.
The content you write and the content you embed into your website should focus on providing value for your audience.
If your content doesn’t have a clear focus, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to provide your audience with the information they need.
Your content needs to be making good use of your keyword research, too.
If you’re not focusing on keywords relevant to your audience, how can you possibly create relevant page content that meets their needs?
An HTML element is anything part of your web page defined in HTML, the default code behind the scenes. This includes items like the title, meta description, and image alt-text.
It also includes the HTML elements that are rendering the page.
HTML elements play a crucial role in telling Google what your page is about and how it should rank in its search results.
If you’re not using these elements correctly, then they could be negatively impacting your rankings.
Related: 4 elements that help create compelling SEO content
5 On-Page SEO Elements To Tweak For Better Google Rankings
There are many ways to optimize your website for search engines, but some basic elements should be present on every page.
Here are five on-page SEO elements to test and optimize if you find your pages are underperforming – and as best practice for new webpages, as well.
1. Written Content
Of course, the first place you’ll want to turn your attention to is your page’s written content. If your primary purpose of writing content is to convert your audience into paying customers, you’ll want to ensure that each page focuses on providing value to your audience.
Make sure that the content you write is making good use of your keyword research. If you don’t have a clear focus for your content, then your audience will be hard-pressed to engage with it.
Use HTML subheadings to give your content structure and call out topical relevance signals to both readers and search engines.
And although we know that E-A-T is particularly important in YMYL topics, all web content can benefit from being made to demonstrate more expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.
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2. Title Tags
The title tag is the “title” of your page and is the main element that search engines use to determine what your page is about. The title tag should be focused on the exact keyword that your page is targeting, as Google has confirmed it is a “tiny” ranking factor.
If you target the keyword [Boston Baltimore pets], your title tag will need to include that phrase. This will help your page appear higher in the search results and make it easier for your audience to find it.
See this Complete Title Tag Optimization Guide to learn more.
3. Page URL
URLs play an essential role in both SEO and user experience. Every webpage generates a unique URL, and you should be taking the time to make sure that yours contain the right keywords.
Try including your target keyword in the URL in a way that makes sense to your audience.
If they are looking for a product, you may want to include the product’s name in the URL. If you are targeting the keyword phrase “Boston Baltimore pets”, for example, then the URL could look something like:
Including a keyword in the URL is an easy way to help Google determine the content of your page and how it should rank.
You also want to ensure that your page URLs are short, sweet, and to the point. Long, complicated URLs are difficult for search engines to understand and a challenge for searchers.
Your URLs should be easy to decipher and remember or recognize – making it easier for your audience to type into the search bar should they need to return to a specific page.
See The Ultimate Guide for an SEO-Friendly URL Structure to learn more.
4. Image Alt Text
While more content creators are beginning to understand just how vital the visual elements are to a website, too many still neglect an important on-page SEO element: their video and image alt text.
Alt text is a description of the image or video that is displayed behind the visual element. They don’t typically appear on a well-functioning website because it’s used as an alternative way for the viewers to see what was intended.
If you don’t include your target keywords in your alt text, the search engines won’t index your visual elements, which can prove detrimental when your audience decides to do a video or image search instead of a standard Google search.
Alt-text also ensures that your content is accessible to everyone who views it.
That’s because the alt text is the easiest way to tell someone using a screen reader that there is audio or video associated with a page.
These tools can be beneficial for making certain types of content accessible to users with visual or hearing impairments.
Related: What Exactly is WCAG 2.0 and What Does It Mean for Your Website?
5. Both Internal And External Links
Internal links are links that point to other content within your website. They help Google understand the context of a page and how it relates to other pages on your site.
Check out these internal linking best practices that can help support your SEO strategy.
External links, on the other hand, point to content outside of your website. They can help you build reader trust by linking to reputable sources and offering more information on complex or lesser-understood topics.
Conduct Regular Audits To Ensure Your On-Page SEO Is Up To Par
Ensuring your on-page SEO is up to par is a continuous process and should always be a part of your SEO strategy.
If you have the manpower and resources to conduct regular audits on your site, you should be conducting them at least once a month. See 9 Page-Level Factors To Assess As Part Of Your SEO Audit for a checklist to help guide your efforts.
With the right support, you can ensure that your on-page SEO is top-notch and that your site generates high-quality leads and conversions.
Related: What Google’s SEO Algorithm Means to Your Website.
Article by Matt Bertram, Head of Digital Strategy @ EWR Digital. He is also the Co-Host of the top-rated SEO Podcast, “The Unknown Secrets of Internet Marketing.”