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Unlock the secrets of crafting a successful website with our latest eBook "The Complete Guide to On-Page SEO". Discover how to add value to your readers, ace search engine algorithms, master on-page SEO basics, and increase your online engagement. This is your key to making a real impact online!

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The basics of on-page SEO

Getting people to find your website without making use of SEO is like asking them to hunt for treasure without a map. 

The best-case scenario is they’ll be digging for hours and hours in random spots, with the faintest of faint hopes that they’ll eventually find what they’re looking for. The worst-case scenario is they’ll give up altogether and look elsewhere - likely to a competitor.

But wouldn’t it be so much easier if you could just hand them a carefully crafted map with a big X to mark the spot? 

It would save your treasure seekers a lot of time and digging. 

On-page SEO is the treasure map that leads visitors to your website. By optimizing your content, you can lead potential customers right to your doorstep, allowing you to rank high on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and boost your business’s visibility and engagement.

But it can be difficult to fully wrap your head around everything that comes with search engine optimization; that’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you. We’ll take you through the key elements of on-page SEO, and give you some tips and tricks that will help boost the optimization of your website.

But first, let’s cover the basics of what on-page SEO actually is.

What is on-page SEO?

Search engines use a complex and ever-changing algorithm in order to effectively rank web pages. They will look for different factors - such as behavioral, social, timely, and interactive - that show that the website is trustworthy, provides valuable information, is authoritative in the space, and is relevant to what the user is looking for. 

Most search engine’s algorithm will rank a website based on these three factors:

1. On-page SEO

The process of optimizing the content on your web page in order to boost your search engine rankings and user experience. It is the changes that you make to your website that are visible to the user and to search engines.

2. Off-page SEO

The direct opposite of on-page SEO. Off-page SEO looks at the external factors of your website such as external linking, social sharing, and brand mentions across the web.

3. Technical SEO

This refers to the – you guessed it - more technical parts that aren’t covered by on-page or off-page. This includes things such as user behavior, user-action driven, and RankBrain - which is a search engine system put in place to better understand the user intent of a search query.

Why is on-page SEO important?

Building a profitable website isn’t as easy as putting some words and a few images down and clicking “Publish”. You have to delicately weave certain user and search engine specific elements throughout in order to be effectively ranked on search engines. And that’s where on-page SEO comes in.

A page that is rich with well-integrated SEO will show the search engine that it holds value to any potential visitors and customers. And the more trustworthy and valuable a page is, the higher the search engine will want to rank it on its search pages.

But having a high SERP ranking isn’t the main goal – it’s essentially the means to an end. If your main goal is facilitating organic traffic and growth, then on-page SEO is one of the most effective and important tools in your arsenal to accomplish this.

The key elements of on-page SEO

To make the most of on-page SEO and successfully put it to use, you first need to know what you’re improving and why.

We’ve put together a list of key on-page elements that need to be taken into consideration when working on optimizing your website. The on-page elements below will effectively give you the blueprint for SEO success.

1. Content

What is it?

When it comes to SEO, content is king. 

Content is essentially anything that you post on your website or page. This can be in the form of blog posts, videos, copy, images, graphs, information tables, even your products – essentially anything that can provide value to your audience.

Why is it important?

The content of your website is ultimately the reason why the site exists, why users want to visit, and why search engines want to share you in search results. Your content should be trustworthy, authoritative, and optimized for SEO – but it needs to be much more than that.

People can spot SEO-littered, unoriginal content from a mile away – and so can a search engine’s algorithm. 

So instead of churning out content that merely ticks the cold, hard boxes that you think the search engines want to see ticked, you should be concentrating on providing interesting information that people actually want to consume and engage with. Ideally your content should capture your audience's attention by helping them accomplish whatever task or goals they may need to accomplish - both quickly and easily. 

Pro tip!

Try to understand what stage of awareness your audience will be in and where they are in the buyer’s journey. This will help you to sculpt your content to fit exactly what your audience needs. Find out more about building a content strategy roadmap here.

2. Keywords

What is it?

No SEO guide would be complete without mentioning the importance of keywords.

Keywords are the terms or phrases that a user will type into a search engine to find information about a specific topic. From a content point of view, they likely summarize what the content you’ve created is all about.

They can be singular words, multiple words conjoined, or even full questions and sentences – which are commonly known as long-tail keywords.

Why is it important?

Using a specific set of keywords in your content means that when people search for something that involves these keywords, your content will be more likely to appear higher up the list.

But in order for keywords to be used effectively, they need to occur naturally in your content. For example, if you’re needing to fit in a long-tail keyword such as “intricate free design templates”, you can’t simply shoehorn it in a number of times to boost your SEO results.

For example:

Our intricate free design templates are made with you in mind.

Will provide better results than something like:

We provide intricate free design templates. Our intricate free design templates give you the freedom other intricate free design templates can’t give you. This is why our intricate free design templates are made with you in mind.

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to keywords is finding the right ones. You can literally find thousands - if not millions - of terms within a few minutes. However, therein lies the real challenge when it comes to keywords and on-page SEO - deciding which keywords are right for your website, your on-page SEO, and your content.

That’s why services such as Quattr can do the work for you. One of Quattr’s many abilities is finding SEO-rich phrases to target to boost your engagement and search engine results. You can see a live comparison with your competitors as well as identify gaps in the market missed by other businesses. 

Pro tip!

Search engines value terms that show up earlier on your page more than anything that appears later on in your content. So make sure you naturally use your primary keyword in your title, meta description, and in the first 100 words of your content if possible.

3. Title Tag

What is it?

Every website has a piece of HTML code that is known as the “title tag”. It will look something like this:

On-page SEO - title tag

As you can see, if you saw this title on a search page you would know exactly what you’ll see if you click on the link. 

Why is it important?

Your title tag is the first thing that will tell search engines and your audience what the page is about. If it’s not immediately obvious what the searcher will see when they click on the link, then they’ll most likely move on to a competing website with a clearer title. 

And the same goes for search engine algorithms – they don’t want to feature an unclear and potentially misleading title on their search pages. So they’ll always favor something that is clear and concise.

Pro tip!

Search pages only allow a certain amount of space to showcase your title. So to make sure that your titles aren’t being modified or potentially cut off, ensure that they are no longer than 50-60 characters. It’s better to have a succinct title that people can actually read rather than a longer, more informative title that is cut off halfway through. 

Read our full guide on title tag optimization here.

4. Heading Tags

What is it?

Heading tags are used to help create segmentation and order within a piece of content. So where title tags will tell you what to expect from the search engine page, heading tags will show you exactly what is on the page once you’ve clicked. 

This is done by using the HTML elements <H1>, <H2>, <H3>, etc. To give an example, here’s how you could use heading tags to structure the content of a clothing retailer’s page:

<H1> Men’s clothes

<H2> Brands

 <H3> Gucci

 <H3> Gap

  <H3> J.Crew

Why is it important?

Heading tags improve the user experience of your page. They are a way of organizing content so that it is easily accessible and scannable for readers (as well as search engines). At a quick glance, your reader will know exactly what content is on your page, and how it is structured. They help build a rich document structure so that your page content can build authority by having several heading sections all covering different aspects of a given topic. 

Pro tip!

Make sure to use your most valuable keywords in your H1 and H2 headers, but don’t use the same keyword that you’ve used in your title tag. This allows you to more efficiently spread out your relevant keyword usage. Use smaller heading tags like H3s and H4s to further expand on specific, in-depth topics that roll up to a broader H2 header.

Learn more about heading tags & how to use them here.

Bonus pro tip: These days, H1 tags are on the same level of importance as title tags. Make sure each page has a descriptive, unique-to-that-page H1 that accurately provides context about the topic of that page. It’s even more impactful when an H1 can feature a target keyword as we mentioned above.

5. Meta Descriptions

What is it?

Meta descriptions are the short pieces of text that appear beneath title tags on search result pages. When you type something into a search engine, your search results will show when a keyword also appears in this piece of text. 

Why is it important?

Meta descriptions aren’t a direct factor when it comes to your SEO ranking, but that doesn’t mean they’re not important. 

You can use meta descriptions to elaborate on your title in a short and concise manner. This helps you to further clarify to the reader and search engine exactly what the page is all about, and how clicking on the link will help solve the reader’s query. Meta descriptions are vital to helping make your results stand out amongst the competitors within search results, and can dramatically help improve your organic click-through rates.

Meta description optimization is key to unlock higher click-through rate (CTR). Learn more about it here.

Pro tip!

Similar to title tags, there is only a certain amount of space available for them on a results page. For meta descriptions to be fully readable they should be no longer than 150-160 characters. Which is plenty of space for you to get your point across. 

Bonus pro tip: Meta descriptions are another chance for you to make use of your keywords to boost your searchability. Keywords featured in a meta description are often bolded when contained in a user’s search. It’s another opportunity to catch a user’s eye as they scroll through the results.

6. Page URLs

What is it?

A page URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is the location of your website on the internet. It's the domain name that points to your website data and can be typed into a browser's address bar in order to load the associated page. 

Why is it important?

Your URL is yet another element that you can use to signal to both search engines and readers what your website or page is all about. At a glance, you should be able to fully comprehend what that URL contains with a tidy, organized structure across the entire website. 

Here’s an example of two different types of URL structure: 

On-page SEO - Good URL structure

The first URL clearly showcases exactly what the page contains, while the second URL is essentially gibberish. 

Pro tip!

URLs can begin with either https:// or http://. A link containing HTTPS signifies that the connection you’ve made to the website is encrypted and is using a secure version of the protocol. So any data that you pass on is kept safe. 

Most search engines' algorithms will show a preference for HTTPS over HTTP, so, if possible, use HTTPS. It’s one signal among many that your site is safe and trustworthy, in hopes of providing the best possible experience for users.

Learn how to create SEO-friendly URLs here.

7. Internal Linking

What is it?

Internal linking is when you embed hyperlinks in your content to other pages within your website. So for example, Quattr blogs use internal links in the copy like this:

On-page SEO - internal links

And when people click on the hyperlink, they’ll be taken to another page of your website where you explain what GAAP is – therefore providing value whilst also boosting engagement. 

Why is it important?

Utilizing internal links within your content helps search engines to find more content that is related to a page. This relevancy then helps the search engine to better narrow down what the focus of your page is – and the more that the search engine understands your page, the better it can showcase it. Typically, the more internal links a page has, the more important it is seen in the eyes of the search engines – therefore, it is seen as having more authority. All of this improves the likelihood of that particular page ranking better in search results.

Read our internal linking & navigation guide for SEO here.

Internal linking can turn a ‘flat’ website into a complex web of URLs all supporting each other to build a hierarchy of the most important URLs to the website. Which in turn can help the search engine crawl the site better. 

Pro tip!

Make sure the internal links you’re using are relevant and what you think your audience will find interesting. The more likely people are to click on your internal links, the more engagement your overall website will have. 

Having a high engagement rate is a great signal to search engines that your content is not only liked but also trustworthy.

8. Image alt text

What is it?

Image alt text is the copy that appears when an image on a web page fails to load. The text will essentially describe what the image is all about.

Why is it important?

Search engines don’t just deliver text-based results on their results pages, they deliver just as many image-based results. This means that people could be discovering your page through your images, rather than your copy. Depending on the space you compete in, image traffic has the potential to be a substantive percentage of traffic to your site.

It’s also important to note that alt text helps visually impaired users via screen-reading tools. So by providing detailed image alt text, you’ll be making your page more relevant and accessible.

Pro tip!

The best image alt text is descriptive, specific, and between 120 and 130 characters. You should try and add a keyword or two, but make sure they’re relevant and in context with the image.

Quattr analyzes your website as well as your competitors in real time. Our revolutionary AI can provide you with recommendations and insight across all forms of content, experience, and discoverability metrics that are tailored to you and your business, and are easily actionable. 

On-page SEO is the perfect tool for you to facilitate organic growth and improve your searchability. Find out more about how we can help you to fully optimize your website with natural and effective on-page SEO.

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