On-page SEO (a.k.a “on-site SEO”) is the process of optimising web pages so that users and search engines can better understand your content. The goal is to create content that appears high up on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) for search terms relevant to your business. Having your site highly placed in relevant search results will typically translate into more clicks through to your site.
Standard on-page SEO practices include optimising title tags, content, internal links and URLs.
Why is On-Page SEO important?
On-page SEO aims to drive more organic (a.k.a. free!) traffic to your website. On-Page SEO has the following advantages for website owners:
Drive traffic to your website
On-page ranking factors are very important signals to Google’s algorithm. If you do not have the right content presented correctly, your site is unlikely to rank for key terms, and your traffic will be lower. By spending time researching and creating content, your natural search traffic should increase, driving sales.
For example, we came across a company that focused on charity mergers but only appeared on page six for this search on Google, as they only had a page for ‘Mergers and Partnerships’, which barely mentioned charities.
Search engine optimisation is one of the most cost-effective forms of online marketing. The cost of optimising your site is fixed (i.e. you will usually set a fixed monthly budget), unlike paid search, which is charged on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. Furthermore, unlike paid search, SEO generates long-term value for your business. Unlike ad spend, it will not stop driving traffic if you stop paying.
High positions drive most of the traffic
Investing in on-page SEO helps your site appear highly for relevant search terms. This is important as the first five organic results on a results page get 67.60% of all clicks. The following five positions account for only 3.73%. So, to get traffic, you need to be near the top for the SERPs.
Better click-through rate
High-ranking sites have much better click-through rates (CTR). The first Google mobile search result has an average organic CTR of 26.9%.
Elements of On-Page SEO
On-Page SEO is about creating keyword-rich, high-quality content structured to be considered relevant and valuable by both users and search engines. Content includes not only the body text of the page but also various HTML elements such as the page <title>, image alt-tags and structured data.
On-Page SEO starts by researching keywords and grouping these keywords into topic clusters. Once you have decided on your topics, you then create pages around these topics, placing the keywords naturally throughout the text. Areas to optimise are:
- Page content
- HTML elements, e.g. <title>, header tags etc
- Structured data
The initial step to creating high-quality content is choosing relevant keywords and topics. Keyword research identifies which keywords are best to target for each web page by analysing the queries your target audience is making on Google.
Keyword research is conducted by using tools such as Google keyword planner, Google Trends and Google Search Auto Complete. The goal is to uncover queries to target by establishing the popularity of these queries and their ranking difficulty.
The page content is the main text of a web page and tells search engines and users what your web page is about.
When writing web pages you should focus on crafting high-quality page content that benefits your visitors and tells Google that your website provides valuable information.
HTML elements refer to the elements in your source code. To see a page’s source code click View > Developer > View Source in the top menu of your browser.
HTML elements include:
- Page <title>
- Image Alt-text
- Structured mark-up
- Page URLs
On-Page Optimisation Process
A oraganised approach to On-Page SEO, has the following stages
1. Planning & generating seed keywords
Before researching keywords, you must understand your customers and their goals when searching.
Questions to answer include:
- What is my website about?
- What do I sell?
- What searches do I want to rank for?
- What keywords do I use for search ads?
- If someone were beginning to research my site’s topic, what words would they use to start?
Once you have decided on these things, brainstorm ‘seed’ keywords around your chosen product or service.
2. Finding Keywords
The best way to flesh your keyword list is using a keyword research tool. A good keyword tool will help you discover thousands of keyword ideas and provide essential metrics that will be useful when analysing and grouping your keywords.
For each seed keyword, use a tool to create a list of keywords and place these in a separate tab on a spreadsheet.
3. Analysing keywords
At this stage, you will have a big list of keywords in a spreadsheet, divided into topics. The next stage is to decide the keywords for which you want to create content.
First, analyse your keywords and remove irrelevant terms, e.g. competitor brand names. Then prioritising your keywords. This is a balancing act between many competing forces: relevance, volume, competition, click-through rate (CTR), and more.
4. Organising keywords into topics
A very important step in analysing keywords is to identify what kind of page you must create to maximise your chances of ranking. And if you can use that page to target relevant keywords all at once. Or perhaps make a few additional pages to target some keywords individually.
5. Analysing search intent
Deciding the sort of content that best answers the searcher’s question is vital when creating content. Options include informational blog articles and product or category pages.
6. Creating content
The web is full of low-quality content or content which is copied from other sources (known as duplicate content). To make your content stand out, it must be high quality. You must take time to create compelling content which adds real value to your site.
7. Monitoring performance
Your ranking for a keyword is an unpaid position in search engine results when that keyword is searched on Google or another search engine. Establishing your keyword ranking will allow you to understand your SEO performance and where your site needs more work.