SOURCE: Search Engine Jour­nal

Suc­ceed­ing in organ­ic search today requires opti­miz­ing for a com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors that search engines con­sid­er impor­tant – tech­ni­cal, on-page and off-page.

Over the years, we’ve seen increased focus toward off-page tech­niques – such as link build­ing – and oth­er tech­ni­cal ele­ments.

But the real­i­ty is, off-page SEO won’t do much good if you don’t pay atten­tion to the fun­da­men­tals – on-page SEO.

Smart SEO prac­ti­tion­ers know that on-page opti­miza­tion should be con­stant­ly pri­or­i­tized.

And because the search land­scape is ever evolv­ing, it’s impor­tant to make sure your on-page SEO knowl­edge is up to date.

In this post, we will cov­er what on-page SEO is, why it mat­ters, and 10 of the most impor­tant on-page SEO con­sid­er­a­tions today.

What Is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO (also known as on-site SEO) refers to the prac­tice of opti­miz­ing web pages to improve a website’s search engine rank­ings and earn organ­ic traf­fic.

In addi­tion to pub­lish­ing rel­e­vant, high-qual­i­ty con­tent, on-page SEO includes opti­miz­ing your head­lines, HTML tags (title, meta, and head­er), and images. It also means mak­ing sure you web­site has a high lev­el of exper­tise, author­i­ta­tive­ness, and trust­wor­thi­ness.

It takes into account var­i­ous aspects of the web­page that, when added togeth­er, will improve your website’s vis­i­bil­i­ty in the search results.

Why On-Page SEO Is Important

On-page SEO is impor­tant because it helps search engines under­stand your web­site and its con­tent, as well as iden­ti­fy whether it is rel­e­vant to a searcher’s query.

As search engines become more sophis­ti­cat­ed, there is a greater focus toward rel­e­vance and seman­tics in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google, with its pletho­ra of com­plex algo­rithms, is now much bet­ter at:

  • Under­stand­ing what users are actu­al­ly search­ing for when they type a query.
  • Deliv­er­ing search results that meet user intent (infor­ma­tion­al, shop­ping, nav­i­ga­tion­al).

Adapt­ing to this devel­op­ment is essen­tial, and you can do it by ensur­ing that your web­site and its con­tent – both what is vis­i­ble to users on your web­pages (i.e., text, images, video, or audio) and ele­ments that are only vis­i­ble to search engines (i.e., HTML tags, struc­tured data) – are well-opti­mized accord­ing to the lat­est best prac­tices.

Addi­tion­al­ly, you can’t sim­ply ignore on-page SEO because you have more con­trol when opti­miz­ing for on-site ele­ments – as opposed to off-page SEO that con­sists of exter­nal sig­nals (i.e., back­links).

If you put effort into on-page strate­gies, you’ll see a boost in traf­fic and a rise in your search pres­ence.

This guide will walk you through the most impor­tant ele­ments of on-page SEO.

Pay­ing close atten­tion to these 10 areas will help improve your con­tent and author­i­ty – and increase your rank­ings, traf­fic, and con­ver­sions.

1. E-A-T

E-A-T, which stands for Exper­tise, Author­i­ta­tive­ness, and Trust­wor­thi­ness, is the frame­work that Google raters use to assess con­tent cre­ators, web­pages, and web­sites as a whole.

Google has always put a pre­mi­um on high-qual­i­ty con­tent. It wants to make sure that sites pro­duc­ing high-qual­i­ty con­tent are reward­ed with bet­ter rank­ings and sites that cre­ate low-qual­i­ty con­tent get less vis­i­bil­i­ty.

There is a clear rela­tion­ship between what Google con­sid­ers high-qual­i­ty con­tent and what appears in the search results.

Call it cor­re­la­tion or cau­sa­tion – what­ev­er it is, E-A-T is some­how play­ing a role in Google’s organ­ic search results. Which means E-A-T must be a con­sid­er­a­tion in your SEO strat­e­gy.

2. Title Tag

The title tag, an HTML tag that exists in the head sec­tion of each web­page, pro­vides an ini­tial cue or con­text as to what the top­i­cal sub­ject mat­ter is of the respec­tive page it is on.

It is fea­tured promi­nent­ly in the search engine results pages (typ­i­cal­ly used as the click­able link) as well as in the brows­er win­dow.

The title tag by itself has lit­tle impact on organ­ic rank­ings, this why it’s some­times over­looked.

That said, miss­ing, dupli­cate, and poor­ly writ­ten title tags can all neg­a­tive­ly impact your SEO results, so make sure you’re opti­miz­ing for this ele­ment.

3. Meta Description

Since the ear­ly days of SEO, meta descrip­tions have been an impor­tant opti­miza­tion point.

Meta descrip­tions, meta tags that pro­vide a descrip­tion of what the page is about, are often dis­played in the SERPs under­neath the title of the page.

While Google main­tains that meta descrip­tions don’t help with rank­ings, there is anec­do­tal evi­dence that indi­rect attrib­ut­es of bet­ter descrip­tions do help.

Opti­miz­ing meta descrip­tion cor­rect­ly can help improve:

  • Click-through rate (CTR).
  • Per­cep­tion of the qual­i­ty of the result.
  • Per­cep­tion of what your web­site offers all change.

4. Headlines

Want your web­site con­tent to per­form well on search? Then start writ­ing com­pelling head­lines.

Com­ing up with a title for a blog post might seem too basic, but a great head­line can mean the dif­fer­ence between a click and an impres­sion – that’s why it’s impor­tant to cre­ate them strate­gi­cal­ly.

Your head­lines need to spark inter­est for it to stand out on the SERPs – entic­ing users to click through and con­tin­ue read­ing the rest of the con­tent.

5. Header Tags

Head­er tags are HTML ele­ments (H1-H6) used to iden­ti­fy head­ings and sub­head­ings with­in your con­tent from oth­er types of text (e.g., para­graph text).

Head­er tags aren’t as crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant for your site rank­ings as they used to be, but these tags still serve an impor­tant func­tion – for your users and your SEO.

They can indi­rect­ly impact your rank­ings by:

  • Mak­ing your con­tent eas­i­er and more enjoy­able for vis­i­tors to read.
  • Pro­vid­ing key­word-rich con­text about your con­tent for the search engines.

6. SEO Writing

SEO writ­ing means writ­ing con­tent with both search engines and users in mind.

There is a strat­e­gy behind writ­ing sol­id SEO con­tent – and it is more than just key­word research and fill in the blanks.

Sim­ply pro­duc­ing con­tent for the sake of it won’t do. Remem­ber that you’re writ­ing con­tent for peo­ple – there­fore that con­tent must be high-qual­i­ty, sub­stan­tial, and rel­e­vant.

7. Keyword Cannibalization

True or false? The more pages you have tar­get­ing a key­word, the bet­ter you’ll rank for that key­word.

False!

Tar­get­ing a spe­cif­ic term across mul­ti­ple pages can cause “key­word can­ni­bal­iza­tion” which has some poten­tial­ly dis­as­trous con­se­quences for your SEO.

When you have mul­ti­ple pages rank­ing for the same key­word, you’re actu­al­ly com­pet­ing with your­self.

It’s impor­tant to iden­ti­fy whether key­word can­ni­bal­iza­tion exists on your web­site and resolve it right away.

Keyword Cannibalization

8. Content Audit

Most con­tent cre­ators are focused on cre­at­ing new con­tent that they for­get to audit their exist­ing con­tent. And this is a mis­take.

Audit­ing your exist­ing con­tent is cru­cial because it helps you:

  • Eval­u­ate whether your exist­ing con­tent is achiev­ing its goals and gain­ing ROI.
  • Iden­ti­fy whether the infor­ma­tion in your con­tent is still accu­rate or has become stale (or even out­dat­ed).
  • Deter­mine what types of con­tent are work­ing for you.

Con­tent audits can great­ly help your SEO strat­e­gy and they should be done on a reg­u­lar basis.

9. Image Optimization

Adding images is a good way to make your web­pages more appeal­ing. But not all images are cre­at­ed equal – some can even slow down your web­site.

Opti­miz­ing images prop­er­ly will help you make the most of a valu­able SEO asset.

Image opti­miza­tion has many advan­tages, such as:

  • Addi­tion­al rank­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties (show up on Google Image Search).
  • Bet­ter user expe­ri­ence.
  • Faster page load times.

Images shouldn’t be an after­thought. Make sure to incor­po­rate images that sup­port your con­tent and use descrip­tive titles and alt text.

10. User Engagement

Enhanc­ing your website’s on-page SEO ele­ments is only half the bat­tle.

The oth­er half lies in mak­ing sure that users will not bounce – but instead, they’ll con­tin­ue view­ing your con­tent, inter­act­ing with it, and keep com­ing back for more.

Retain­ing engaged users is a great chal­lenge in itself, but it’s cer­tain­ly doable. To increase user engage­ment, focus on aspects such as site speed, user expe­ri­ence, and con­tent opti­miza­tion, among oth­ers.