7 Things You Can Do Now To Boost On-Page SEO
On-page SEO is a big factor in your website’s ability to rank well on search engine results pages (SERPS). Of course, you want to rank as high as possible to increase traffic to your site.
That’s why a solid on-page SEO optimization strategy is so important.
What Is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO includes a multitude of optimizations all aimed at improving your website’s page content for two big reasons:
- to rank higher in search engines
- and provide value to the people who visit your site
That’s an important thing remember: if you want to make the search engines happy, your website has to have value to actual humans.
It’s not a one-or-the-other situation.
You can follow every SEO best practice out there but if your content isn’t of quality all the keywords and internal links aren’t going to do much good.
Even though keywords certainly still play a role in ranking, long gone are the days where you can stuff a page full of keywords and expect to show up in the SERPS. There are just so many other factors at play.
Now, back to on-page SEO. In addition to producing good content, your on-page SEO efforts will include things such as:
- optimized copy
- user-friendly content
- internal linking
- title tags
- page load speed
- user experience
Plus some additional items farther down in our on-page SEO guide.
Don’t Confuse On-Page SEO With Off-page SEO
It’s easy to do and it happens often, but on-page SEO is not to be confused with off-page SEO. Although both are important ingredients in the recipe for a successful website, they have a very fundamental difference:
- On-page SEO ➡ optimizations made on the pages of your website
- Off-page SEO ➡ optimizations for your website that occur on other websites (things like backlinks)
We will be focusing on on-page SEO in this article, but that doesn’t mean off-page SEO best practices should go entirely ignored. You are on an SEO journey and on-page SEO is just one the roads you’ll need to familiarize yourself with.
FURTHER READING: 4 Ways to Upgrade Your SEO
7 On-Page SEO Best Practices
Some on-page SEO optimizations can be made easily to content like blog posts and images, page titles, and so on. Other optimizations like improving page load time can take a little more work and, usually, the helping hand of a qualified web design company.
But, let’s start with seven actionable items that you can do yourself right now. Let’s get started.
1. Use The Right Heading Tags
Heading tags are small bits of HTML code that are added to page copy that help search engines and humans better understand the page’s structure. In fact, this on-page SEO tip has more to do with improving the user experience than satisfying Google directly.
Best Practice: Include your target keyword in the H1 tag as well as an H2 tag
Because people will leave your webpage faster than they came to it if they can’t find what they are looking for, heading tags are a great way to help people scanning the page for specific information find it more quickly.
There are six heading tags:
H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6
Depending on where the section of content belongs in the page structure, one of the above tags would be wrapped around it. H1 through H3 are the most frequently used, whereas H4 through H6 frequently go unused. Each denotes the hierarchy of the heading they are wrapped around.
For example, page titles should be wrapped in H1 tags and following sections would be given an H2 tag. Any sub-sections below H2 content would then use H3 tags, and so on.
If you glance at this blog post you’ll see:
- the title On-Page SEO Best Practices For 2020 is our H1
- the section On-Page SEO To-Do List is an H2
- and the sub-section you’re reading now, Use The Right Heading Tags, is an H3
- The section immediately below, How To Add Heading Tags To Your Pages, is an H4
How To Add Heading Tags To Your Pages
To use these tags, you simply need to wrap the appropriate tag in angle brackets around the text you want to use it with. Make sure the closing tag has a right-slash in it, like this:
<H1>This Is The Page Title Wrapped In H1 Header Tags Using HTML</H1>
The process is exactly the same regardless of which heading number you use whether it be H1, H2, or any of the others.
The header tags, when used correctly will not be visible to the viewer like they are in the example above. Instead, the user’s browser will read the tags and display the text in the appropriate font size.
Headings are typically larger than the body text and sometimes emboldened. Again, just look at any heading on this page to see an example.
If you use a CMS such as WordPress, they make adding heading tags even easier. When you add your page or blog post title in WordPress, it will automatically add the H1 tag.
Tags H2 and beyond need to be added manually.
Just open your blog post, highlight the heading, and choose the heading size from the drop-down list.
2. Add Your Keyword Organically Into The First Paragraph of Blog Posts
Better yet, try to use it in the first sentence! This helps Google and your readers quickly establish what your post is about.
Think about it from a users perspective:
If you did a Google search for the keyword “eCommerce platforms” and clicked through to an article that didn’t even mention eCommerce platforms until the middle of the post, you probably wouldn’t stick around very long to see what the rest was about.
And that’s in addition to the added clout the Google algorithm will give you for producing content with a clear topic.
It’s a win-win!
3. Give Internal Links Descriptive Anchor Text
Any time there is a link from one page on your website to another page on your website it’s called an internal link. Anchor text is the text that appears as the clickable link. The anchor text should be descriptive and related to the page it is linking to.
Here’s an example of good anchor text:
Read about 3 Media Web’s digital growth services here.
Notice how the anchor text clearly explains that the link takes you to a page about digital growth? That’s much more useful and easy for Google to understand than if we had put the link at the end of the sentence, using the word “here” as the anchor text.
Best Practice: Use a synonym of the keyword for the page you are linking in the descriptive anchor text.
4. Use High Authority External Links
First, always try to add external links to your blog posts that have related content. This tells Google what the topic of your webpage.
Plus, it also tells Google that your page is a good place for people to find high-quality information they are looking for.
That’s why not any outbound link will cut it either. Use outbound links that go to high-authority sites whenever possible. You can use tools like Ahrefs Website Authority Tool to find out if a site is high-authority or not.
“Website authority” is an SEO concept that refers to the “strength” of a given domain.—Ahrefs
It’s as simple as this: Google will trust a website less if it is full of links to spam pages, whereas it will trust a website more if it links to high-quality content.
This finding is nothing new either.
Moz mentioned it way back in 2011 and the marketing research firm, Reboot Online did an actual study on it in 2016.
The 2016 study from Reboot involved them creating 10 websites. Of those 10 new websites, five of them had no external links at all, and the other five featured external links to high-authority sites.
Guess which five of those websites ranked higher?
The five with quality external links.
Now get this…
Staying true to their name, Reboot Online rebooted their experiment four years later, testing it out again in April of 2020.
The results were the same. The five sites they added external links to rank higher than all five of the sites with no external links.
“The results are clear. Outgoing relevant links to authoritative sites are considered in the algorithms and do have a positive impact on rankings.” Reboot Online—-Link Flow Cycle Powers The Web
5. Structure Your URLs For Better SEO
When it comes to structuring your site’s URLs, the shorter the better. That being said, they should also be descriptive of what your page is about—so be sure to work your keyword into the URL.
Let’s look at an example:
Here’s a URL to a page on our website:
Even without clicking on it, it is quickly understood that the page will be about backlinks as they are related to SEO.
This way, if someone happens to see just the URL, they wouldn’t be surprised to find the title is 7 Smart Ways to Get Quality SEO Backlinks or that it’s a post about acquiring backlinks for better SEO. It’s right there in the URL.
6. Beef Up Your Meta Descriptions
Go through all your past blog posts and pages to your site and review their meta descriptions. These important snippets of information tell Google and users exactly what the page is about.
Perhaps even more importantly, however…
Even though Google is entitled to use their own snippets on their SERPS, they strongly advise you to write your own meta descriptions for every page on your site.
Because you know your content best.
And that’s coming straight from Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, himself…
7. Images Play A Role In On-Page SEO Too
Every image you put on your website, whether it be in a blog post or on the homepage, should have a descriptive filename as well as a descriptive alt text.
Yoast confirms Google places high value on alt text. It helps Google see what the images are about in addition to relating it to the text that surrounds it.
It’s not just about Google though.
Visually impaired users rely on alt text to know what the images are about too. Keep in mind that screen readers read alt tags to visually impaired users. They don’t need to be full sentences but should be descriptive in a succinct way.
Here are some best practices:
- Use a mix of the keyword and keyword variations in your filename
- Use dashes between words not underscores. Like this: your-company-logo.jpg
- Read our list of six ways to optimize your images for on-page SEO
- Use short, descriptive text that explains what the photo is.
- Use a mix of keywords and keyword variations in the alt text, but don’t spam
This is what Google has to say about alt text:
“When choosing alt text, focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content of the page. Avoid filling alt attributes with keywords (keyword stuffing) as it results in a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam.”
Now, one last thing about images while we’re on the subject: compress them before you upload them so they are under 100 kb. WordPress users can use a plugin like Smush.
Smaller file sizes will improve your page load speed and provide a better user experience.
Outsource Your On-Page SEO Strategy
Now you have seven changes you can make to start the process of improving your website’s on-page SEO. These are great starting points for those just starting out with SEO best practices.
If you’re having difficulty with any of the items above or want to work with digital growth experts to improve your website and SEO, know that you’re not alone. Many businesses choose to outsource their SEO to digital growth experts and agencies.
Here at 3 Media Web, we’ve helped companies of all sizes level up their websites and digital marketing strategies. Contact 3 Media Web to chat with one of our experts.