Unlock the secrets of On-Page SEO, and maximize your ranking potential with our SEO guide! Whether you're a beginner or an expert, we'll walk you through everything dealing with on-page SEO, including what it is, and give you fifteen examples of optimizing your content. We'll also go into some other on-page factors you should consider, like how you know you've optimized enough and the differences between on-page SEO and Off-Page SEO. But before getting into that, let's start with the basics of on-page SEO.
What Is On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO is using SEO tactics and techniques to optimize the content that appears on any webpage. What makes it "on-page" is that all optimizations specifically focus only on content on the page. So whether the optimizations are to the specific words used in a paragraph tag, the order of heading structures, the wording in heading structures, the file sizes of images, etc., they all focus on improving the quality and specificity of your content.
The goal of on page optimization is to improve the quality of your content for both users and search engines alike. Generally speaking, however, if you want to rank higher and keep people on your content for a more extended period of time, the main thing to keep in consideration is to create quality, compelling, and original content. Without these three, you will never stand a chance at ranking or building an audience, which is why on page SEO is so important.
Why Is On-Page SEO So Important?
On-Page SEO is important because you will need it to rank and grow your online presence. On page optimization lets you improve the search engine's ability to understand and analyze your content, and if you can do this, they will see your page as quality. Once the algorithms start viewing your content as a quality resource, as long as you create quality content consistently, you will begin to become an authority in your niche in the eyes of the search engines. But, before you can do that, you have to learn how to optimize your content using on-page SEO.
How To Optimize Your Content With On Page SEO ( 15 Examples)
We'll give you 15 examples of how you can use current best practices to optimize the content on your pages. If you refer back to this list and make use of the information given below, you will be able to rank much higher than you otherwise would be able to. Without wasting too much time, let's get into it the first step in any campaign - keyword research.
Do Proper Keyword Research
Keyword research lets you understand your competition, your audience, and the angle you should take much more clearly than anything else in SEO. You should aim to build a keyword master list no smaller than 100 keywords, and ideally around 200-500+.
In fact, when you set out to write any page, you should have the main keywords that the top 3-5 ranking pages organically rank for at your disposal so you can control who you will be aligned with more by search engines. Generally, this keyword list is very easy to put together using any standard SEO tool and can be as small as 15 total keywords and as large as 1000+ keywords, depending on the amount of traffic and competition.
Once you have your list of keywords, you'll be able to understand which keywords make more sense as your main keywords and which ones make more sense as secondary or lesser keywords. Using this distinction will make it easier to determine proper keyword placement as well.
We have lots of content about keywords, so check out our pillar page that will help you learn everything you need to know about keywords.
Use Proper Keyword Placement
Once you determine which keywords make more sense for you to target and have selected your main keyword for a particular page, you will want to ensure you use it properly. You'll want to use it in the places illustrated in the table below.
Optimize Your URLs
When it comes to URL optimization, it is essential to determine two things: what keyword you should use and what type of structure makes the most sense, flat structure or hierarchical.
Flat URL Structure
In a flat URL structure, there is little thought in terms of the website's URL structure. Everything exists on the same level, so no hierarchical understanding is required. It is straightforward to create and maintain, provides a less helpful user experience, and displays less quality and authority to search engines. It is also more challenging to understand. Not so difficult that it can damage ranking potential, but a hierarchical structure will always be more easily understood and traversed by both users and search engines.
Hierarchical URL Structure
With hierarchical URL structures, much more forethought is required to plan the website's structure. These types of URL structures require diligent research, planning, and creativity. These types of URL structures also ensure that you will have plenty of content to write about in the future, because you will need to think about as many different angles of your industry/niche as possible to ensure you are structuring each URL as efficiently and logically as possible.
Websites that use this structure - assuming everything else is equal - will have an advantage against their competitors using flat structures because it is much easier to understand for both users and, most importantly, search engines.
Optimize Your Title Tags
Title optimization is very important from an SEO standpoint and a digital marketing standpoint in general. Title tags and meta descriptions are essential for improving your CTR (click-through rate). If you have compelling and relevant text, you have a great chance of enticing potential users enough to click through to your content, where they may very well convert. You always want to have the main keyword you're targeting here, as the table in the previous section shows.
Use Meta Descriptions To Improve Your CTR
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, meta descriptions are a great way to improve your CTR. These aren't very important for SEO, and it has even been shown that pages can rank while leaving these blank. However, for the CTR improvements alone, it is worth taking the time to draft up a compelling description to advertise your content in search results.
Use Heading Tags To Properly Structure Content
Headings from H1-H6 are used to structure and organize the content on your pages. H1 tags should reflect the overall topic and context of the page. H2 tags should break up the website into different sections. H3 tags should break up certain sections under an H2 tag, so on and so forth.
Search engines use algorithms that pay close attention to the way you are structuring the content on your pages. In fact, in the Google patent Context Scoring Adjustments for Answer Passages, it talks about how for any given query, Google weighs the contextual relevance of each page trying to rank, and the pages with heading structures more relevant will rank higher.
So it is essential to optimize the wording and the order of each heading properly. But, arguably most importantly, you must use titles correctly. Meaning having one H1 tag per page. Separate the page sections with H2s, and separate each sub-section under each H2 section with the proper H3, H4, H5, or H6 tag. Also, never skip heading levels.
Determining the proper heading structure in turn will help you write quality content.
Write Informative, Quality Content
Writing SEO content that truly is quality, helpful content is something Google has stressed for more than a decade, and for a good reason. The best thing you can do for your website is to take the time to write up a comprehensive, helpful resource that you yourself wouldn't mind using. Read the pages you're publishing and be honest with yourself. If it isn't something you would want to read, the odds are that others feel the same, and you need to dial in the tone of the content to make it easier to read.
It isn't just about making enjoyable content either. It is also about predicting the future. It's much easier than it sounds, though. When making any page, your goal should be to think of any possible question a user might have and provide an answer to it. Meaning if you want to rank, you can no longer have pages that are a paragraph long. You need to have quality content, and sometimes that means the page will be 800 words long. Sometimes the page will need to be 5,800 words long. It really depends on your competition, so always preface any content strategy with good competitive analysis.
Target Featured Snippets
We'll touch more on this later, but both the structure used for your content and Schema can help improve the chances that search engines will select your pages for featured snippets. Featured snippets are some of the most sought-after positions in search results. There is a position greater than the first position, and it is a featured snippet that technically is considered position 0. It shows above all organic search results. In the photo below we give an example of position zero.
Structure Content Correctly With Semantic HTML
Semantic HTML is a topic that not many people - including SEO professionals - are even aware of. Semantic HTML is a great way to provide search engines with additional information to help them understand your content more accurately. Using these HTML tags like "article," "main," "figure," "nav," "footer," etc., you can more clearly communicate with search engines the context and information on any given page.
You generally want to avoid creating websites or web pages by putting everything in a "div soup." Below is an image of the wrong and the right way to structure the HTML on your pages.
We'll create a page that goes over the complexities of each HTML tag so you know when and how to use each one. So sign up for our newsletter to be updated when that page is created.
Use Schema Markup To Maximize Relevancy
Schema is a form of semi-structured data that search engines use to understand web pages more. Search engines today are what are known as "semantic" search engines. They use large language models (LLMs) to understand the relationships between certain entities. Using Schema, you can communicate directly with search engines to ensure they more efficiently and more effectively understand the content and angle of your page.
In fact, using Schema can help in a variety of ways. Not only can it help you rank higher, but you can also indicate to search engines what parts of your content you want them to consider for use in featured snippets. Now, this doesn't in any way guarantee they will do what you are asking them to do. They may never use the content you are directing them to at all. It just helps you present them with what you think would be a good fit for a featured snippet so that you can hope they, in turn, will take the hint and use it as you are asking them to.
Most websites don't use Schema, so taking the time to add this to your website is a great way to demonstrate not only the relevancy of your page to search engines but also the quality. You can almost guarantee that any authoritative, high-ranking website is using Schema to get an extra edge over the competition and communicate in a more direct and clear way with search engines. We will also have comprehensive and informative pages detailing the ins and outs of Schema, so don't forget to join our newsletter to be notified when those resources are published on our website.
Use Relevant Internal Links
When building internal links, it is incredibly important that you only build internal links when it absolutely makes sense. Never build links just for the sake of building them. If it doesn't make sense and doesn't provide value to link from page A to page B, don't do it. You have much more to lose than you could ever hope to gain. To learn more about effective on-page link building strategies, see our link building strategies pillar page.
Google is advancing every day in its ability to understand the contextual relevance of all links, especially internal links. When an internal link is completely relevant and would provide value, it can help both pages. However, if an internal link is forced and clearly makes no sense, you run the risk of hurting your ranking potential because that, by nature, is considered spam.
For instance, if you are on two websites and one seemingly links to content for no reason, and the other only links out occasionally, but each time you click a link, it expands upon the topic and provides actual value, which website are you most likely to visit again?
For this same reason, it is also important to build quality backlinks pointing to your website as well. If you wouldn't use a website yourself, it is generally a safe bet that you shouldn't be accepting links from them either.
Use Relevant External Links
A relevant external link is a link that comes from a website that is in the same industry or niche as you. For example, it would make sense for a plumbing website to be building backlinks from plumbing directories, forums, podcasts, and trade show websites. However, it wouldn't make sense for that plumbing website to be building links from websites in the food industry, the automotive industry, or any other industry other than perhaps business, construction, and plumbing websites.
Your users are rarely going to notice if you have a poor-quality backlink profile, but search engines will be painfully aware. Of all the SEO blunders, this one is most likely to get you penalized, so never build a backlink unless you're sure it is relevant and high quality.
Practice Image Optimization
Images require a lot of optimizations from the file sizes, file names, alt tags, and even the captions you can use. You typically only want to use images if they help enrich and expand upon the content surrounding the image. Images should always be at most 200kb, but ideally, they are less than 50kb. They should be named with valuable keywords that can also describe the image, and the alt tags should reflect the same conventions.
Optimize Page Speed
There are many ways you can optimize page speed through various methods like minimizing custom code (JS, CSS, HTML, etc.), optimizing image file sizes, efficiently coding out the HTML structures of the pages, and ensuring all assets on the page are appropriately sized (videos, gifs, png/jpg, etc.).
If you are having issues with page speeds, you can always use various tools like the build Google Lighthouse or Google Page Speed Insights to get a clear picture of what is holding your page speeds back.
Maximize User Engagement
Maximizing user engagement requires many things going well, including keyword research, content creation, and analytics and adjustments once the content has been published. You can use various tools like Google Search Console and HotJar, for example, to track user behavior both off-page and on-page. These tools let you see how users interact with your website in search results and on the actual pages of your website with HotJar, for example.
The insights you can gain from these insights will help you determine which parts of your pages need to be adjusted or removed entirely. Eventually, you'll get a good feeling for what will get users engaging without having to keep readjusting your content, but it will take time.
You can also use tools like Google Analytics to check important metrics like bounce rate to see how well your content is dialed in, and how well it matches user search intent. We have a page dedicated to teaching you everything you need to know about bounce rate, so if you are interested in learning more about the topic, give it a quick read.
Generally, as long as you are writing great, entertaining content with your unique perspective and voice, you should have a better chance of keeping people engaged, especially if you learn to build an email list that looks forward to your weekly or monthly content.
What Are Some Other On-Page SEO Factors To Consider?
There are many other aspects of On-Page SEO that you will learn about as you grow in your SEO journey. A few of which we'll cover in the headings below.
Making sure to add features like breadcrumbs might not seem like a big deal, but they go a long way for both search engines and your users. Breadcrumbs will help both search engines and users alike to understand your content more easily, and most importantly, they'll help users stay on your website for a longer period of time.
One Focus Per Page
You only ever want to talk about one main topic on any given page of a website. Any more than one topic, and you'll begin to dilute the page's relevance regarding the keyword/keyword phrase you want to rank for.
You can talk about more than one topic, but only if all sub-topics talked about will help to expand the explanation and understanding of the main topic. You also want the bulk of the page to be focused on your main topic, and in general, you only want to briefly touch on sub-topics. Even more ideal would be to keep all relevant and related sub-topics down in the supplementary content section of the page.
Supplementary content can live all throughout the page, but in general, the bulk of this type of content should live below the main content section. Once you've completely covered your main topic, you can then expand upon it slightly with supplemental content.
Main Content & Supplementary Content
Main content sections are the central focus of the page and should be the bulk of the content on any web page. The central focus of any page should be an entity. Whether it is a product, an animal, a business, or a person, the entity doesn't matter.
In this main content section, while you can briefly touch on other topics/entities that help to expand upon the central focus of the page, you have to be careful to avoid giving too much real estate to these sub-topics. If you touch on a topic that isn't the main entity the page is focused on, you risk diluting the overall relevance to the main entity the page is targeting.
The supplementary content section is also where you can introduce entities and topics slightly different in scope than the main content section. You can go into slightly more detail here, and you can also expand upon a different aspect of the main entity.
For example, if you have a webpage dealing with foods dogs cannot eat, it makes sense to expand upon that context to wrap up with foods dogs should eat. You can, in turn, create another page whose main content section focuses on foods dogs can eat, and you can have these pages link internally to one another.
How Do You Know When Your On-Page Optimization Is Complete?
You can never really be finished optimizing a page, but in general, a good sign you can move on is after you have done everything you can to optimize all aspects of the page. The main reason you can't ever really finish optimizing a page is that a large part of SEO involves constant analysis and adjustment.
After creating a page, you'll have to keep track of how users and search engines interact with your pages. When you catch wind that part of a page isn't converting as much as expected, you will need to make adjustments. Once you're finished making the adjustments, you'll keep monitoring it until you have it dialed in where you like it.
Arguably, now you can stop optimizing, but the truth is that eventually, you will want to add to the content to keep it fresh. Whether you add a few sections, complete with images, or a video, is up to you, but it is important that you routinely update your pages throughout the year.
What Is The Difference Between On-Page & Off-Page SEO?
The main difference between on page SEO & off-page SEO is the fact that on page SEO focuses on the content that lives on the page, whereas off-page focuses on things that exist outside of your website.
Off page SEO deals more with getting other quality resources and websites to mention your website. Whether those resources and websites are popular industry-relevant podcasts, forums, blogs, YouTube channels, etc., that is your main focus with off-page SEO. The focus here is to get your name out there and get your website in front of as many people in the best places possible.