On-Page SEO is anything you do on your website or blog that improves the ability of search engines and your audience to choose your site based on their wants and desires.
Both search engines and customers look for content that's authoritative and actionable. If you have on-page SEO factors in your content, you'll find it much easier to connect with your audience and give them what they're looking for. This supercharges your traffic and you'll wonder what took you so long to add this to your content publishing checklist!
10 Basic On-Page SEO Tips
- Title Tags – If you have a title for a page or a blog post it is tagged with the H1 header tag. This tag signifies that this is an important word that is a title and the title is usually a search term. Don't waste this valuable title tag on your name (some people do this) because people who search your name already know you.
- Headings & Subheadings – Within any one blog post you may also have H2, H3, H4 and so on tags for other headings and subheadings. For epic or long form content you may have other H1 tags besides the title of the post too. The use of these tags can make a lot of difference to the search engines. Your reader benefits too because it enables her to skim through your content and know whether it's what she's looking for or not.
- URLs – Optimise your URLs to include keywords make them neat and tidy. The entire title doesn’t have to be the URL. Instead, the first three keywords that you use should comprise your URL for your post.
- Optimised Images – Images that have the right file names, the alt description information filled in, and a caption can also help tremendously with on-page SEO because naming the images right will make them show up in the search. Naming your images also means members of your audience who use page readers will also be able to enjoy your content more.
- Body Text – Understand that body text is also important because your main keyword should show up within the first 100 characters of body text after any heading is used. This helps confirm the content in the body is aligned with the headline. This means your reader doesn't feel short-changed when she starts consuming your content.
- Responsive Design – If your site doesn’t work on all types of browsers it’s not responsive. Don’t have separate sites, ensure that your site, emails, and everything you send to your audience work on any device.
- Outbound Links – Using high-quality outbound links also signals to the search engines (and your audience) that your information is quality information that is accurate. This means you have to stop linking to fake news, and anything that's not backed up with facts, research and evidence! I know this may mean not linking to David Avocado videos anymore, but your website will thank you for it!
- Internal Linking – If you want the search engines to understand your site better you should include relevant posts by creating internal links. Content becomes stronger when you create links to resources within your blog posts.
- Site Speed – Make sure your site loads fast. If it doesn’t load fast find someone who can help figure out why. There is a lot of technical information about fast-loading sites that can be difficult to understand that has to do with compressing images, how many images you add, the types of images etc. Sure there are other factors when it comes to page speed, but images are the biggest cause of slow loading sites.
- Keyword Synonyms – Remember to use keyword synonyms within your content too so that you don’t overuse one keyword and sound like a stuck record. Even if you want a page to rank for a specific keyword, that’s in your title, headings, subheadings, and in the body text but you don’t want that one keyword phrase to comprise more than 2 percent of the overall content. If it doesn't sound right when you read it aloud don't use the word.
Bonus On-Page SEO Tip
- Long-Form Content – Include long-form (or epic) content that can behave as cornerstone content for your audience. When you do that it’s also important to use more H1 tags than just the title since the content is so long.
On-page SEO makes it easier to tell others about your content and makes it overall more user-friendly than if you didn’t do anything at all on your site. In fact, if I had my way and run the world, you wouldn't do this for the search engines – you would only do this for your audience. Ultimately, On-Page SEO benefits your audience in many, many different ways but it takes a little practice to get it right…
The Balancing Act Between Writing For Your Audience And Writing For Search Engines
When you start learning about on-page SEO for your blog posts it’s very easy to get confused and start focusing solely on search engines. This would be a huge mistake that will destroy your website and your confidence simultaneously! A mistake that makes your content miss the mark by miles. On-Page SEO needs to be done so that your audience can find you, but it shouldn’t be added instead of providing excellent, valuable, and usable content that your audience connects with. This means you have to look deeper into your content after you've done your basic on-page SEO and take it to the next level.
Avoid Keyword Stuffing
Let’s say you want to write about black cats because you've discovered they're ultra lucky. You decide to write an article about the amazingness of black cats. They make the best pets ever and now you can share cute pics of Felix, your own black cat that you want your audience to love as much as you do. Your keyword is “lucky black cat” so you put that in the title, the headings, and within the first 100 words of body content.
The amount of times I've mentioned black cats in the paragraph above is too much. It doesn't read right, and it won't make your lovely reader share the content with her friends. The paragraph was too keyword dense.
Calculate Keyword Density
It’s easy to calculate the keyword density. The way you do it is to count the number of times you’ve used the keyword and count the number of words in the piece of content. Then divide the number of times you used the keyword by the number of words in the content you’re analysing. Multiple the answer by 100 to get the percentage. For example, if you used the keyword 10 times and you have a 600-word article that means you have a keyword density of 10 divided by 600 = .01666 x 100 = 1.67 keyword density. You don’t want more than 2 percent keyword density, so this is a good number.
Check Your Headlines
You want to use keywords in headlines. Ideally, you want the keyword to show up in the first three words. But, you want it to sound right too. Black Cats: As Lucky As You Think?
This is a good title because it lets you know that the article is for people considering getting a black cut. It evokes some curiosity and it's very clickable to the right audience. The keyword “black cat” is going to be part of the URL – example – yoursite.com/black-cat-lucky and not the full title.
When possible, to avoid going over two percent keyword density use other words outside of your title tags, headers, and subheadings. Choosing synonyms is a great choice because then you can talk about the topic, but not overstuff the keywords making the content look strange. You might want to use words like pet, dark-haired and other words that describe your lucky black cat.
Know Your Audience
Your content is for your audience, not for search engines. You want every piece of content you create to be interesting, useful, and effective for your audience. Therefore, write to your audience first.
Your audience is the most important part of your business. They are who you create products, services, and content for so that’s who the content needs to be created for too. When you put them first, the rest will become easier with experience.
Start Your On-Page SEO With A Good, Clickable Optimised Headline
The best way to create content is to start with a good, strong, clickable well-optimized headline. The headline can inform not only the reader what’s inside, but it can inform you about what you’re going to create so that you stay on track But, first you need to know how to write a fully optimized headline. Let’s go over it.
Studies show that you get more traffic when you use a number in a headline. Audiences like these as it indicates how long the post is and the value of the post. It can be a number to show how many ways, a number that shows a percentage, a number that shows how many influencers – you get the idea.
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There are some formulas that incredibly well for headlines. However, be aware that these formulas can wear off if they’re used too often without delivering results. How many times have you clicked through “breaking” news to find out it was from two years ago? When you know your subject simply add these to the title in some way.
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An amazing tool for Headlines is the Headline Optimizer. This WordPress plugin helps you split-test your headlines so you know which ones your audience loves the most!
Know the Keyword or Keyword Phrases You Have Chosen
Before you even start to write your headline know the keyword you want the content to be found for. Automatically put that keyword in your headline and move the word around so that you can figure out the best place for it. It has to read well or your readers won't click. Keep in mind keywords are best in the first few words of the headline but that isn’t a rule that can’t be broken. As you notice in the examples above, sometimes the keywords come last but are the focus of the impact of the sentence.
Keep it Shorter Than 69 Characters
You want the whole headline to show up in search results. But, if you use too many words in the URL or the title it might cut it off strangely. One way to check is to use a plugin if you use WordPress like Yoast SEO to help you create your meta description better. That way you can see what shows up and adjust as necessary before you press publish.
Choose Your Adjectives Wisely
Adding adjectives to your headlines can help get people thinking about your topic and being more curious. But it’s important to use them wisely and don’t overuse them either. Using headlines such as Surprising Ways to Create Clickable Headlines but nothing inside is surprising, then you’ve used the wrong adjective. Old School Ways to Create Clickable Headlines would work better, or 3 Ways to Create Headlines That You've Probably Forgotten.
Don’t Use Clickbait
We’re all familiar with clickbait. That means that the headline is disingenuous about what’s inside the post. It might even tell you the opposite of what’s in the content. It may even use the wrong names, the wrong information completely, yet people will click it because it seems interesting. But, if you train your audience that you’re not honest by using clickbait you’ll really regret it. Better to avoid using clickbait titles completely.
Make the URL Pretty
Your title and your URL will be the same unless you manually fix it in self-hosted WordPress. The best thing to do is to use only the keywords in the URL instead of the whole long title. That way the URL looks attractive and gives some information to the search engines as well as your users as to the topic that will be discussed.
The headline and title are so important because without a good title or headline no one is going to open your emails, click through to read your articles or answer questions that you ask. A good headline leaves no mistakes about what’s inside or how far it goes to help the people with that topic.
The Art of Working Your Keywords & Phrases Into Content
Using keywords and keyword phrases properly within your content is really and art form. You want the content you create to contain the right keywords, but you also want the content to be easily consumed by your reader. You don’t want your audience tripping over words that are out of place, misspelled and even misused all in the name of using keywords in your content..
- Research Your Keywords – Before using any keywords it’s important to research them. Start with your seed words, then develop a list of keywords that you know will get results because of the information you’ve discovered.
- Write Like You Talk – Many people get very nervous about writing content because they think it’s hard. But, if you can talk about your topic out loud then you can write. The first pass of the content should include an outline that includes the keywords you’ve chosen, then just write about each subheading as if you’re talking to a friend.
- Edit and Add Keywords – Once you think you’re done writing, just letting it all flow out of you, take the time to go through and add the keywords you’ve decided to use for this participle piece of content. Add it to your title, headings, subheadings, ensure it’s within the first 100 characters after any heading, and in the last paragraph.
- Reread and Edit – Editing is very important. Editing twice is probably your best bet for ensuring that the keywords you use read correctly. Try reading it out loud the final edit to ensure that the words flow and make sense within the context you mean to use them in.
- Write About Something Important to Your Audience – The content you publish should be important, valuable, and useful to your audience. If it’s not relevant it doesn’t matter how great your headline is, or even how many people click through to read it. If it’s not something they need to know they’re not going to take action on it.
- Make Some of Your Content Long-Form Content – Long-form content, epic content, or cornerstone content is very important for on-page SEO purposes. The longer the content the more you can work the keywords you want to rank for and not sound like a lunatic. Long content has more room for H1 tags, subheadings, gorgeous images and more.
- Use tools to help you create better content. My favourite is the Headline Optimiser which enables you to split test multiple headlines. This means you'll always know what headline works for your audience – guesswork eliminated! I also love SEOPressor as this tool enables me to add in additional data to explain to the search engines precisely what a page or post is all about.
- Use Analytics Strategically – Your friend for making sure that your efforts are working are the analytics you have access to. Google Analytics and the analytics native in your email software, blogging platform, and so forth are all important to understand and view to ensure that you’re getting good results from your efforts.
- Promote Everything You Write – Part of SEO is self-promotion. Use social media to promote your content to your audience. It can take time for a search engine to crawl your website and start delivering the new content as a search result. By promoting everything you write you will encourage this process to happen sooner.
- Practice, Practice, Practice – It takes practice to get it right and the more you try the better you’ll get at it. One good way to learn to make good titles is to create a swipe file of effective titles that you have noticed that are optimized. Don’t copy but you can use the style for your own needs.
Creating SEO titles that include important keywords and key phrases take practice – they need to make sense. You need to learn how to form the titles and headlines in a way that shows what the reader will learn when they click through without tricking them or being so clever they don't understand or misleading them.
Remember To Optimise Your Images
Using images is an important part of ensuring that your audience reads and understands your content. An image or a video can help with understanding and make the content even more compelling, useful, and valuable to your audience. Optimising your images for your website is an important part of the process.
Include Images in Your Content – An image will make all the difference for your audience because it will get their attention. When you pick an image for content that image will often show up when people share the content which helps get more eyes on it.
Choose Relevant Images – It’s imperative that the images you choose add to your content or story and not detract from it. Think about who your audience is when choosing the images, especially if they show people. Speaking of that, images with people get more attention than images without people.
Don’t Steal Images – This has nothing to do with SEO other than you don’t want to get your site taken down for stealing images. You cannot do a Google search for images and then use the image from there as your own. You must create the image yourself or buy it from a reputable source and then follow the rules about how you can use the image. Canva.com is free, and easy to use.
File Name – When you get an image you need to rename it to match the content you’re putting it with. Use the keywords that you’ve developed for that piece of content in the image title. It’ll help the image show up in searches which will then lead back to your content.
Alt Tags – Alt tags or alt text is where you put the image description. The image description is important. Don’t just put “lady with blue shirt” as the description. Instead, you can add your keywords. For example, if you’re creating content for the virtual assistant community about keeping files organized you can change the lady in a blue shirt to “virtual assistant organizes her files”.
Compress Images – You will need to make sure the image is the right size for the web and not for print. This means the image can be smaller than you would make it for printing and still look amazing. You may want to read more about compressing and image sizes at Washington University in St. Louis’s Arts & Sciences Computing web page. (https://computing.artsci.wustl.edu/help/web/resize-images-web)
Ensure Your Image is Responsive – You also want to make sure the images you use are responsive. If you are using a responsive website template like a responsive self-hosted WordPress theme read their instructions to ensure you’re doing it right.
Include Image Captions – A great way to improve the SEO for an image is to include a caption of some kind that will show up to the reader as well as the search engines. The caption can be the same or different from the description.
These tips will work for video as well as still images. The point you must think about is, what information can you add to any image to make it clearer who the information is for, what it’s about, and who should read it and why.
Use Formatting To Boost Your On-Page SEO Score
A very important aspect of your blog posts, website content, and any online content is how it is formatted. Proper formatting doesn’t just help visually, it also helps behind the scenes with search engine optimization. Let’s look at a few tips to help you use formatting to boost your on-page SEO scores.
- Know the Point of Your Message – It’s hard to write one word if you don’t know in advance what the message is. What do you want the reader to take away from reading the content? That’s the message and the point.
- Know Who the Message Is For – When you choose the words to create the message it’s important to know the audience who will be receiving the message so that you use the right words. Each type of audience likes a different way to hear the message, so you need to know who they are so that you can word everything correctly.
- Know the Keywords You Want to Use – Before you write one word you should already have completed the keyword research that informed you about the topic that you wanted to communicate to your audience.
- Develop an Optimized Title – Using the keyword information, plus the idea behind the message, craft an optimized title before you write anything. This title will help inform what you need to write about so that you complete the message promise of the title.
- Create an Outline for Your Post – Now that you have a title, know what you want to tell your audience, and the keywords you want to rank for in this piece of content now you should create an outline. An outline should consist of some bulleted points that consist of keywords. Each point becomes a subheading for the content.
- Use Paragraphs, Bolding, Italics – As you work through the content write about each bullet point in paragraphs using heading tags, bolding, italics, and other ways to emphasize the important points of the article. Plus, this style of writing makes it easier to read.
- Create Structure with Headings – Remember to use H1, H2, and so forth tags to signify the start of a new paragraph that goes with the title of the content. Creating chunky content will be easier on the eyes but also easier for the search engines to find the keywords and rank your content.
- Create Subheadings & Bullet Points – When you’re developing the structure of the post, you will want to also create subheadings (h2, h3, h4) tags as well as use bullet points and other features that make the content stand out, look good, and be easy to scan.
- Link to Your Other Relevant Content – A great way to increase the SEO value of any content on your site is to include a link to your other content that the reader of this content might find interesting too. This also informs the search engine that you are an authority on that subject.
- Link to Resources – Search engines value scholarly and authoritative information more than they do random information from just anyone. You can boost the authority of your information simply by linking to scholarly sources that prove your point.
Remember that anything in a list, headings, bolding, italics and so forth make everything easier to read. When it’s easier for your audience to read it’s also easier for the search engines to categorize it due to your use of keywords, bullet points, headings, subheadings and so forth. On-page SEO isn’t about search engines, it’s about your audience.