What is On-Page Search Engine Optimization?

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank them higher in search engines and bring you more traffic. On-page refers to both the content and layout of a web page. Both are important and can be optimized. (Compare this to “Off-page SEO,” which refers to links to your website and other external signals.)

 

Why is On-page SEO important?

Google and other search engines want to deliver the best user experience (UX) to everyone who visits your website. They want people to find useful information on a web page that’s well designed and easy to navigate. If your web pages meet those standards, you win.

 

But it’s easier said than done.

 

Because this is not last year’s SEO. The rules change almost daily. And on-page SEO is just like making fine wine: it’s an art and a science, one that requires painstaking care to get the details right.

More than 15 key factors

Did you know?

There are more than 15 “on-page factors” that Google takes into account when ranking your web pages.
They include the following:

User Experience (UX).

On-page optimization begins with the user in mind. Because search engines don’t buy your product or service. Only people do! That’s why we build and optimize websites for people to use and enjoy.

When visitors to your website find what they want, quickly and easily, they stay longer, link to your site, and share it with others. An optimized website design is key to all this. And Google can reward you with higher search rankings.

As far as user experience goes, you can take a cue from high-traffic sites like Google, Apple, and Amazon. Visitors to these sites find what they want quickly. They reward those businesses with their time and money. They return for repeat visits. And they tell their friends. All of which you want.

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Website Speed.

Speed thrills. Research shows that 47% of your visitor expect your website to load in less than 2 seconds. Just over 50% online shoppers in the U.S. won’t buy from you if your site is slow to load. And 75% of visitors will leave your website, never to return, if it takes longer than 4 seconds to load.

All of which makes sense. Who likes to wait for anything? Nobody. And when websites like Google and Amazon load FAST and deliver INSTANT gratification, visitors to your website will expect the same from you. That’s not fair. But that’s reality.

We’ve found that loading speed is a critical on-page factor in your SEO rankings, almost as important as your content and keywords.

Meta Tags.

Some people think meta tags are so 1997. And it’s true, the meta descriptions and title tag on your web page are not as critical as in years past. But you must pay attention and format them correctly nonetheless.

 

There are two meta tags that matter in on-page search engine optimization:

1)Meta description

This is like the headline for your website. They’re the first words people see in Google and other search engine results pages (SERPs). And a recent survey showed that just over 43% of people will click on a website in Google, simply based on the meta description.


This may be news to some, but to us, it’s Marketing 101. Just as a headline must get attention or your print ad is dead, your website’s description in search engines must get attention or your traffic is dead.


To illustrate, here’s what the meta description for Starbucks looks like in Google search results: To be effective, your meta description should get the attention of and spark the interest in the people you want to visit your website. It should be descriptive and concise, no longer than 160 characters.


Pro tip: Don’t even think of stuffing keywords in your meta description. Not only can it get you penalized by Google, it wrecks the readability of your message and will turn away your website visitors.

2) Title Tag

As the name implies, this is the title of your web page or document.
It appears in any tab in the top of the web browser. Your title tag should be short, clear and relevant to the content on each page. Otherwise, visitors will sense a disconnect and may bounce off your website.


For example, when you visit the Menu page on the Starbucks website, here’s how the title appears:


The maximum length of your title tag is 60 characters. Beyond that, Google will cut off the title and your on-page SEO efforts are wasted.

Mobile Friendly (Responsive) Web Page Design.
Google started penalizing “mobile unfriendly websites” in 2015. And they’re cracking down even more as we speak. That means your web pages must look great on a mobile phone, or else your website will simply disappear from the search results.

When the Google Panda update happened, many businesses didn’t take it seriously. And they paid a big price. Ebay lost 80% of its most important rankings, for example, because their site was not mobile friendly.

Everything we see points to Google giving more and more weight to websites designed with mobile users in mind. The reasons are simple — mobile usage is only going up. According to one study, 90% of American adults own a mobile phone. Plus, the number of mobile users worldwide will surpass the 5 Billion mark this year.

Statistics like these are just a few reasons why you must include mobile responsiveness as a key on page SEO factor. Good news: Google has set very clear standards to consider when designing web pages for mobile users. All you have to do is follow their instructions.
Outbound Links.
Our research shows that web pages with outbound links to related sites are a signal that helps Google figure out the topic of your web page – and send you more traffic that converts. Take the time to research and include outbound links to relevant sites on all your web pages. .

Social Shares.


Your web page should make social sharing easy. Because when visitors share your content on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and other social networks, it tells search engines that your website is being talked about. In return, you can earn higher search rankings.

Latent Search Index (LSI) Keywords.


These are synonyms that tell Google how to determine the relevancy of your web page. Example: a web page on “small business legal help” can include LSI keywords like “small business legal checklist.”

Content That Attracts Traffic

Marketing research we’ve seen shows nearly 75% of consumers would rather research a business by viewing content, like articles and videos, instead of watching advertisements.

 

In case you didn’t know, consumers now wield more power than ever. They are visiting your website – and those of your competitors – before ever sending you an email or calling your company. And just like bad breath, nobody will tell you if the content on your website is turning people away.

 

That’s why it’s critical to listen and learn from your website visitors. So you can give them what they want. You don’t have to guess at what articles, blog posts, videos, and other content to create! People will tell you by the questions they ask.

 

To attract high quality traffic, your content should meet the following criteria:

 

Is it useful, valuable and worth sharing?

Does it provide a solution?

Is it unique to your website, written or created in your voice?

Is it comprehensive and well researched?

Is it engaging enough to catch and hold interest?

Is it created in a personal, one-to-one voice that resonates with your audience?

Can it be shared easily on social media?

Is it optimized for keywords that matter to your business?

 

You’ve no doubt heard that “content is king.” But content by itself is like a king without a country.

 

Yes, content marketing is the keystone of any high traffic website. But on page optimization is the keystone of your content marketing. Because if Google can’t find your content, none of it matters.

 

Not only do you have to create and publish content that drives traffic to your website and grows your business. You must make it easy and attractive for Google to find and rank.

 

Get your content right and good things will happen for you, like more social media shares, links, branding, and higher search rankings in Google.

 

Again, that’s a partial list of on-page SEO factors. We’ve identified more than 15 of them.

 

Today, on-page SEO is not an option. You must get this right if you want to rank higher in searches.

 

If you don’t follow the guidelines, you’re saying, in effect, “Screw you, Google. I don’t care that you notified me a dozen times about mobile capabilities, speed optimization, and all that stuff that make a user feel they’re in the right place. I’m going to do this my way.”

 

That’s not a recipe for success, is it?

 

Here’s what’s important: On-page SEO cannot be automated. It cannot be trusted to software or to a $5/hour amateur. It takes a skilled professional to optimize a web page so that it delivers the best experience to another person.

 

It all starts with the right framework for your website. Just like the foundation of a house. You can build on sand, ignore Google’s guidelines for on-page SEO. Or you can build on rock: create a solid website structure that delivers the best user experience.

 

One last thing: Google evolves and changes the rules for on-page SEO almost daily. So, if you’re serious about getting more customers or clients from your website, you probably don’t have time to do all this yourself. You need a partner who is able to create a better version of yourself and your business, and fight all your battles for you.

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