This is the Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO in 2023
Search engines run on dynamic rules. Your site ranking on different search engines decides how successful your site is over the internet.
On-Page SEO ensures you do everything in your power to help score an excellent position in the SERPs.
Understanding these ever-changing parameters and metrics and manually applying them is a big game to play by yourself. But SEOs making your content appear high on SERPs has been in perpetuity.
Brief on SEO
In simplest terms, search engine optimization (SEO) means enhancing your site itself to build its availability in SERPs when people search for information related to the content on your website on various search engines.
The SEOs are further divided into Off-Page SEO and On-Page SEO.
The sweet spot for balance with On-Page SEO and Off-Page SEO is 70:30 ratio, but it’s not the case of one size fits all, says Dr. Pete Meyers from Moz.
The Off-Page or Off-Site SEOs comprise the actions that are not in your hands and taken outside your website, impacting your site rankings within SERPs.
Optimizing for off-page SEO ranking factors involves improving search engine and user awareness towards a site’s popularity, relevance, and E-A-T. The actions include other pages internally linking to your site and backing up your content quality.
As the word itself describes, On-Page SEO is SEO you can achieve on your page or site itself. It refers to factors that you can control to improve the ranking and visibility of your site on SERPs.
You can decide the target keywords and phrases, the topic, and the goal of the pages. Ultimately, you own the ability to determine what audience you want to target for the page.
Significance of On-Page SEO
Following the digitization of the market, millions of searches are made every year with the intent to gain knowledge about products and services.
Search has become the primary source of digital traffic for brands, concluding that every site needs greater visibility and higher ranking in SERPs in the competitive market to keep building and maintaining prospective customers.
However, as said before, the search engine algorithms keep evolving, providing users with more direct answers, keeping them on the results page instead of driving them to other websites. At this point, if your site comes on the first page of SERP, you garner attention automatically, as almost all users only check the first page results.
On-Page SEO helps you structure and create your content in such a tactical way that your content quickly becomes the top-ranking page.
Part of On-Page SEO is following the best practices that directly affect the ranking factors. These are the factors that have an instant effect on your page’s ranking. However, there are factors involved indirectly that affect the ranking of your page gradually over time.
Google in the Game
The total data on the web today represents all the data from past, present, and about the future. The vastness of research done by the human race has also increased the data available to us through the internet.
Google sorts through all this data and organizes them using its ranking systems into its search indices, enabling search speed to be within seconds.
Google is itself a brand and invests a lot to realize what its users want and like. It also removes the chances of SEO tools from manipulating their algorithms, so its users get serviced with the best knowledge they expect.
Google saves your time when it answers your queries within the SERPs. That makes it crucial to get promoted in the search results. Google algorithms affect everything, and if you are not ranking in the top 10 results, your website is as good as invisible on the web.
Google search ranking factors include user’s page experience, safe browsing, the HTTPS ranking boost, device-friendliness, page loading speed, and Google’s core web vitals.
Google’s Quality Rating Guideline-
Google’s Ranking Team ensures that the user gets only such content as results that satisfy their queries to the fullest. Google’s quality rating guidelines help it identify, analyze, and organize all the information on the web for a better user experience.
Here are the factors that can make your page appear as a first-page result:
- Site’s Purpose: The first factor in assessing the quality of a site is understanding what it wants to accomplish. The intent of the information that your site provides helps Google grasp the right audience. A few purposes of websites that Google lists are:
- To provide information on personal or general topics
- For sharing media like photos and videos,
- For businesses to sell products or services
- To discuss and communicate
- To allow users to share and download files
Google also defines medical, financial, or legal information and eCommerce sites as YMYL sites. Following Google guidelines are vital for such sites.
2. Site’s Format: The site’s construction is second in the list of guidelines. The page formatting allows the visitors to easily reach the information they were looking for while searching for their problem. Google divides all content into the the following categories:
- The Main Content section is the body of the page with information regarding the page’s purpose. It includes blogs, product information, images, and videos. This page can get your site a high ranking simply by stating all the information satisfactorily.
- The Supplementary Content is the information that aids the user to know you and your site better, increasing their interest in your page. This includes the navigation options in the header, footer, or sidebar, social media links, comments, feedbacks and FAQs, related articles or products, and other widgets on the page.
- Monetising through Promotions- Is the content present on the page for the sole purpose of making money through views? The number of ads does not affect the ranking of a website, but it would go down if they interrupt the main content, aren’t clearly marked as advertisements, or distract from its purpose. It is crucial to follow these codes for ads to get a high-quality ranking.
3. The Level of E-A-T: It is the next important factor in the guidelines. E-A-T stands for the expertise of the creator, the authoritativeness of the creator over the content and the website, and the trustworthiness of the creator, the content, and the website. Pages that have forums are considered high E-A-T pages since their discussing parties are usually persons with qualifications in the subject matter.
- Expertise is the level of expertise of the content creator in the subject of the page. For example, advice or content related to medical information should come from medical professionals only since they are qualified experts in the field. However, someone sharing experiences of how they went through a particular disease, for instance, is deemed to be an expert under “personal life experience” or “everyday expertise.” Expertise verification can be made simpler by keeping authorship information consistent and linking it to its social media.
- The Authority on the subject matter is already a character of an organization. For example, automobile companies have authority over their manufacturing specifications; and doctors have authority over medical topics. A higher ranking is given to recognized pages.
- Trustworthiness is the scale for a page verifying that it can be trusted to be a reliable source of quality information regarding a subject. It can positively influence the ranking directed by the reviews or ratings on other pages. It can also negatively impact the ranking if a site is linked with known untrusted sites or blocklisted pages.
4. Quality: The quality of the main content is a significant criterion for ranking. Any web page requires considerable time and expertise to create high-quality main content within an acceptable limit. Articles with information should be factually correct and supported by experts wherever needed. The main content also includes page features and functionality defining the page’s goal clearly and comprehensively. The range of content amount primarily depends on the topic and the page’s purpose.
5. Website Information: For most websites, E-A-T assessing involves knowing the responsible owner of the content. Pages that clearly inform viewers about the website tend to quickly gain trust and make the viewer feel comfortable using their website. The website type also influences the amount of information needed from them. Understandably, users demand higher trust levels by the YMYL websites, high-quality stores, and financial transactions websites; hence information about who is responsible for site content is also essential. The non-YMYL websites may provide less information, depending on the purpose of the website.
6. Positive Reputation: Reputation is also an important criterion to define the E-A-T of the page. A page with a neutral reputation is more likely to get a better ranking than a proven negative reputation. Information sources are available that can help with reputation research. And it is important to remember to research not just about reputation but also about the factors that can influence it reasonably. Mostly, the good reputation is gained by positive feedbacks by the users and other such acknowledgements.
- In the case of YMYL sites, reputation inquiries are thorough. The YMYL reputation should be based on evidence from experts or professionals in the field and reviews from users.
- For non-YMYL sites, less formal expertise works as well. For these topics, evidence of reputation is popularity, user engagement, and user reviews.
Elements of On-Page SEO
On-Page SEO comprises various elements that aid it analyze your content for efficiency. All the On-Page SEO elements come under three categories:
- Content elements
1.1 Page Content
- HTML elements
2.1 Page Titles
2.3 Meta Descriptions
2.4 Image Alt-text
2.5 Structured Markup
- Site architecture elements
3.1 Page URLs
3.2 Internal Linking
3.3 Mobile Responsiveness
3.4 Site Loading Time or Speed
These refer to the elements within your page’s content. It focuses on crafting high-quality page content that allows Google bots to crawl easily through it for better website understanding.
1.1 Page Content: Content defines the website and attracts the relevant traffic to it. High-quality content will be unique and original. While the originality of the content may vary with the website’s type, the page content is always the backbone of any website or web page. However, practically, only one piece of content can rank first for each search query. A well-structured web page allows search engines to understand your page’s content, enabling it to recommend your content as a query result.
Tips for Creating Quality Page Content-
Tip 1- Incorporate short and long-tail keywords,
Tip 2- Add relevant infographics,
Tip 3- Be focused on the user’s needs,
Tip 4- Provide a solution to the user’s problem,
Tip 5- Develop engaging and exciting content that people would want to share with others,
Tip 6- Optimize for conversions with call-to-action (CTAs) to offers and product pages.
2. HTML Elements
HTML elements are the elements in your source code of the page.
2.1 Page Titles: Also known as title tags, they are the essential SEO elements.
<title>The Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO</title>
Titles acquaint both visitors and the search engines with the content of the page.
Tips for Developing a Page Title
Tip #1- Keep it under 70 characters.
Tip #2- Add the targeted keyword, but don’t stuff the title with the keywords.
Tip #3- Keep it relevant to the page content.
Tip #4- Don’t use all caps.
Tip #5- Include your brand in the title if possible.
Headers are also known as body tags, with HTML elements like <h1>, <h2>, and so on.
<h2>What is On-Page SEO?</h2>
<h1> defines the heading or title of the page, and all other tags are subtopics for the title. These tags organize the content for the user and search engines for relevancy and ease of access.
Tips for Developing Headers-
Tip #1- Incorporate new keywords in the headers.
Tip #2- Ranks and use the keywords based on their importance in the headers.
2.3 Meta Descriptions
These are abstracts of the whole page that appear under your web page title in the search results. It guides the user to click or not on your page.
Tips for Writing Good Meta Descriptions-
Tip #1- Keep it between 120 to 220 characters.
Tip #2- Use keyword phrases for enhancement of the understanding.
Tip #3- Use a couple of intriguing and compelling sentences.
Tip #4- Keep it short and simple.
2.4 Image Alt-Text
Today’s results are accompanied or simplified with infographics, and that’s precisely what image alt-texts help with. It lets search engines know what the images, and ultimately your website is about. It also allows users to find your site through pictures alone.
Tips While Adding Image Alt-Text-
Tip #1- Keep it under 125 characters.
Tip #2- Make it self-explanatory.
Tip #3- Keep it relevant to the main content.
Tip #4- Use keywords sparingly.
2.5 Structured Markup
Structured data or structured markup is the process of marking your website’s HTML to make it smoother for search engines to identify and understand the structural elements of your site. They add value to your content, helping search engines to function better and add snippets on SERPs. It also makes the user experience better.
3. Site Architecture Elements
Site architecture elements give a format to your website and web pages. This structure of your website helps search engines easily crawl the page content.
3.1 Page URLs
The URL for any page should be simple. URLs consist of a domain, a sub-domain, a directory, and a specific path to the page.
Tips to Create SEO-friendly URLs-
Tip #1- Use the least number of words,
Tip #2- Use only one or two keywords,
Tip #3- Use HTTPS if possible.
3.2 Internal Linking
This is hyperlinking to other helpful pages and sources of data on your website. Internal linking is also essential because they send users to other pages on your website, keeping them on your page longer and thus signalling Google that your site is helpful by increasing your site’s average time. Also, the more time visitors spend on your site, the longer Google gets to search your site, assimilating more data about your site into its index. It enhances the probability of your website being ranked higher on SERPs.
3.3 Mobile Responsiveness
Search engines prioritize mobile-friendly websites nowadays. The chosen site design and content format should be clear and easily navigable by the user on every device, including desktops.
3.4 Site Loading Speed
Every search engine cares about how smooth the experience of their users is. One UX factor is the loading speed of your website. There must be minimum loading time whether the device is a desktop or mobile. Site Speed also affects the conversions and Returns on Investment (ROI), eventually affecting your chances of ranking on search engines.
Improve Your On-Page SEO
Getting your page to rank high can be achieved if you avoid some of the most common SEO mistakes and use the strategies below:
1. Optimize Your Content
Keywords in your content ensure that your page comes up as a search result for the relevant queries. They are the words users enter in the search bar while looking for information. Ensure you check for the keywords’ relevancy, search intent, and competitiveness while searching for them.
2. Format Your Content
Structuring your content helps search engines crawl through your website efficiently and for the visitor to identify the valuable information they want. You can add HTML tags like H1, H2, and H3, and so on as the format of your content.
Classification of HTML tags-
o H1 tags: It is the main heading of your post. It includes a summary of your content along with keywords.
o H2 tags: These correspond to the subheadings of your content.
o H3 tags: H3 tags and forwards are the sub-sections under H2 tags.
3. Link Other Reputable Sources
Citing relevant external links gives search engines a better idea of what your website is about. You can also link other sites while using their data sources as a verification for your readers. External links also provide you with the opportunity to explain topics in detail on another blog related to brief topics or subheadings in one blog. You can also link examples and products in your blog, providing your viewers with a direct shortcut to what you’re discussing.
4. Provide Good User Experience
Search engines want to direct their viewers to websites that have easy access to any information the user might require, improving the chances of coming back to your site when they need more help. Providing a good user experience (UX) comforts the user by building trust and confidence for your site in their view. Users’ probability of clicking on your site again if your site comes up in their following search results is also increased.
To Provide Better UX-
o Improve page loading speed
o Improve accessibility so anyone can use your website
o Better navigation for a seamless experience
5. Add Relevant Internal Links
Internal links allow you to send your readers to other blogs on your site itself. You can link associated blogs to your main blog, providing your users with detailed information about various topics; this is called topic clustering. It allows search engines to index your website for keywords properly. When creating links, ensure the anchor text (text used to hyperlink another blog) is appropriate according to the link and explains briefly what the linked post is about.
6. Use Original Images
Using your images is more beneficial than using stock images. It explains better what you are trying to deliver. Add descriptive Alt-Image texts for better accessibility of your site and help search engines get more context about your page. Also, make sure your images don’t make your site load slowly.
On-Page SEO Tools-
Tools aid you from searching for the keywords to creating the content to auditing it and delivering your content to the users in the easiest way possible. Following are a few of the best On-Page SEO tools you can use to optimize your content:
- Yoast SEO: Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin with automated SEO improvements. You can manage your SEO with the free version or opt for the premium version with more tools and functions.
- Ahrefs Webmaster Tools: Improve your website’s traffic using Ahrefs Webmaster Tools. You can check your SEO health, backlinks, and search traffic for your website.
- Ahrefs SEO Toolbar: It is a free extension for Chrome and Firefox that provides valuable SEO data about your pages and websites. Using Ahrefs SEO Toolbar, you can also analyze and get reports of comparison in the structure of other top-ranking pages.
- MetaTags.io: You can edit and experiment with your content and preview your webpage in search results over search engines and social media using Meta Tags.
- ShortPixel: If you create your images to be used in your content, using ShortPixel will allow you to compress and optimize them, so they don’t make your website slow.
- Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator: You can create and test structured data in Google’s recommended JSON-LD format with other required item properties using Merkle’s Schema Markup Generator.
- Rich Results Test: You can test the content structure for its chances to appear in the SERPs using the Rich Results Test. It also provides suggestions and errors to help you improve your content.
SEO is dynamic as fluid and keeps changing with time. It is a vast ground, with several elements forming its backbone.
This blog will guide you through everything about On-Page SEO so you can keep your page updated to rank high in the search results of any search engine.
Hey Sean, thank you for putting this all up. Really helpful! Great article by the way.
This is very well put together. You cover a whole slew of topics here and all of the information is factually correct, at least based on my expertise as a fellow digital marketer. One recommendation for the last section: RankMath. It is an excellent WordPress plugin and handles much of what Yoast does, but more completely on the free-tier.