Understanding On-Page SEO: Factors That Influence Your Search Rankings

As a website owner, it is important to understand the on-page SEO and how it impacts your search engine rankings. The goal of on-page SEO is to help visitors find what they are looking for faster and more efficiently. This article will cover tips you can use to optimize your webpages for better rankings in search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo! and others.

What is on-page search engine optimization?

On-page search engine optimization is the process of improving your website content and user experiences to help you rank higher in search results. The on-page SEO factors that affect how Google ranks pages include keywords, on-site links, page structure, and header tags. 

In comparison to "off-page" optimization, which generally includes things like link building, on-page optimizations are often quick fixes that can gain search traffic for your business because you have more control over your website.

Here are a few factors to get started on your on-page SEO strategy:

Keywords first

Keywords are the most important on-page factor for search engine optimization. A keyword is a word or phrase that you want to appear in search results when someone looks up your content on Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. For example, we might want this blog post about on-page SEO to have keywords like "on-page SEO" but we also need to know just how to utilize the words for the most effect on both user interaction and search. So with that in mind, you will see keywords as the overarching theme throughout this post as it affects almost all other aspects of on-page optimizations. A good rule of thumb for growing websites is to tackle one keyword per page and try to avoid keyword cannibalization that may confuse search engines as to which page to present to users.

Keyword research tools

Here a few of our favorite keyword research tools to help get you started.

  1.  Google Keyword Planner - This is a great tool for determining what keywords have the most search volume in your area of interest 
  2. Semrush keyword magic tool - This tool is good for finding keywords with a high search volume and analyzing how competitive they are. 
  3. Googles autocomplete results  - This is a good place to start for some keyword inspiration and even better, it is free. 
  4. Keywords Everywhere - This extension displays right on the search engine results page with keyword statistics

Let's talk about search intent for just a second

Search intent means how a searcher uses the search engine and what google has now deemed relevant content to answer their queries.

For simplicity's sake, we will say that there are three main types of search intent: informational, navigational, and transactional. Informational searches tend to be high-level questions such as 'how do I kill off weeds in my backyard?' or general topics like "how do cats sleep?" Navigational searches usually involve looking for specific places or specific websites. Transactional searches typically have an explicit task in mind such as a purchase.

Understanding the intent of searches will often dictate the types of pages you need for on-page optimizations on & even more critically the types of content that will be needed to rank - EG Google want to display a video for "how to....." searches, so, your text content may never rank high enough no matter how much you try because they have decided to show videos for all the top results.

Now onto a few places to start your page optimizations.....

Title Tags

Title tags are another important on-page factor for search engine optimization. A title tag is a phrase that appears in the blue and underlined text at the top of the search result and in your browser tab when you visit any webpage. It should concisely tell someone what to expect from the page without being too long or complicated. Placing your primary keyword in the first portions of your title tag is a great way to help search engines understand what the page is about & when incorporated with a compelling offer it can increase click-thru rates for searchers.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are a summary of what the page is on. The snippet should be brief, concise, and contain your primary keywords at least once. It's essential that you include this meta description because it might help search engines understand what they're looking for. Still, more importantly, today, they can help compel users to visit your website.

"We found that pages with a meta description got approximately 6% more clicks vs. pages with a missing meta description." backlinko.com

Image optimizations

With Googles upcoming page speed algorithm update, user experience and page speed optimizations are being given a higher priority and your website's images are often the heaviest resources.

You can optimize images by reducing their file size, image resolution, decreasing the bit depth or color-depth, and using compression. Ensuring your website uses a source set that serves the proper image size based on the user's device can drastically improve performance since mobile devices require smaller images when compared to the desktop counterparts.

Additional image considerations of the site are file naming and alt tags. Images should be named using keywords (yes, more keywords) or descriptive phrases, and the alt tag should contain a description of what is in the image to assist with screen readers and image-based searches.

Header tags

Header tags on your website are the perfect opportunity to add keyword-rich text content on top of your title. It's important you make the most of this space by keeping it short and sweet to catch searchers' attention and captivate them enough to keep scrolling.

Your H1 tag is a critical piece of your on-page SEO tactics, as it will generally be one of the first things to appear on the page. You must make this tag keyword rich and descriptive of what content is being showcased. Similar to your title tag.

Page Content - is it relevant, is it unique, is it useful

Almost everything above is content in one form or another, but we have to just discuss your webpage content in its entirety because the search engines only goal in life is to answer the users with useful content to anything they search so your content needs to answer what people are asking - and it needs to do it better than your competition.

Organizing your content into pages that are easy to navigate, easy to understand, and directly answer searches is one of the most important things you can do to rank well on search engines so finding a content strategy upfront can be one of the best ways to consistently climb in your rankings.

Content is still king here and it opens up the door to additional tactics in on-page such as internal linking and schema markup (below)

Internal linking

Now that you have some content, linking internally on your site is another way to help search engines understand the content on your pages and wonders for improving user experience as curious minds can visit supporting pages.

Internal linking can be as simple as using keywords in the anchor text, or it may require more creativity if you have lots of posts with similar titles that need a link from one page to another. Finding a strategy for clustering your content into logical groups can not only help user experience, but as your site grows larger, it can also help web crawlers understand your site structure.

Schema markup

While more on the technical side of SEO, schema markup ties directly to content, so it is worth mentioning here.

Schema (or Structured Data) is a way for search engines to understand better what your content means and its context. Numerous types of markups can help indicate the content of a page more clearly to search engines, and they can also provide rich snippets of information on the search engine results pages.

Some examples are:

Creative works, organizations, local businesses, people, events.

For a complete list visit Schema.org

To summarize, on-page SEO is one of the most important factors in how well your site ranks. The more things you can do to optimize it by using keywords, including relevant information for search engines and users, and using valid HTML tags - the better off your site.

Photo by Igor Miske on Unsplash

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