In this actionable On-page SEO guide, our Guest Contributor and SEO expert Nikola Roza shows you how to optimize your pages so they rank highly in the SERPS for your target keywords. He also includes an On-Page SEO FAQ – Things you need to know to succeed!
Here’s a quick question for you.
Did you know that Elise Dopson was able to:
- Boost impressions count by 57%;
- Increase search traffic by 54%;
- Get an average ranking position boost of 10 places
Just by improving meta titles and meta descriptions on most pages and posts on her site.
And did you know that Spencer Haws, creator of Link Whisper and founder of Niche Pursuits, was able to explode 48 pages of his site to the first page of Google in just three months … simply by adding a few internal links per post.
That’s the awesome power of on-page SEO done right.
And in this actionable on-page SEO guide for beginners I’ll show you how to optimize your pages so they stand a chance of ranking in the SERPS for your target keywords.
Prepare yourself to be blown away.
Ready? Let’s go!
Why is On-Page SEO So Important?
If you wish to rank your site in Google and Bing, then on-page SEO is a must.
Here are 3 quick reasons why:
#1- Google Search is Keyword-Based
When Google-bot visits a page, it scans your content for keywords so it can understand what your page is about.
And on-page SEO is nothing more than using keywords deliberately and in strategic places throughout your article.
#2- On-Page SEO Helps You Rank Higher, Faster
Some long tail keywords are such easy pickings that you can rank with on-page alone. They exist, but are rare and you certainly won’t be able to build your whole business around them.
However, doing excellent on-page also helps you rank for the more competitive (and more lucrative) keyphrases.
Like I said, it won’t be enough but by using the tips from this guide you can make sure each page you publish climbs up the SERP ladders as much as it can on its own.
And once it settles on certain position you know it’s time to funnel authority through external and internal backlinks.
#3- On-Page SEO is a Must
Simply put, if you don’t do any on-page SEO- you will not rank.
You will not rank even if by some chance your site is very authoritative.
That’s because Google ranks pages based on relevancy+authority.
And a non-optimized page is relevant to nothing in particular, and irrelevant to everything.
Here, a site like TechRadar is ranking for “Best Cheap Web Hosting Deals For Bloggers”
They have a Domain Authority of 92, yet that didn’t stop them from optimizing their title and content for the term.
If they have to do it, so do you.
Making Your Pages SEO Friendly- Pay Attention To These On-Page SEO Factors
#1- SEO Title (Title Tag)
SEO title, what is it?
It’s the blue link you see in the SERPS, the one you click on when you want to explore the page.
SEO title is the single most important element of on-page optimization.
It serves as a page overview for Google and according to one of their top representatives, title tags help a lot with rankings.
Want some proof?
Search for a keyword, for example “guest blogging”.
See how literally every page has “guest blogging” somewhere in the title?
That’s no accident and these SEO veterans do it because it works.
Pro tip: Front-load your keyword where possible. Google puts more weight on keywords that appear at the beginning of a title tag.
Like Backlinko and Adam Enfroy do in the image above.
URL is another place for Google to get a summary of your page. You can achieve that easily simply by placing your target keyword in the URL.
A good example of SEO friendly URL is this SEMRush reviews article. Pedro used his target keyword and it definitely helps him rank higher.
Pro tip: Short URL often better CTR’s but short URLs are not always feasible.
For example when you target a long tail keyword like “What is the best restaurant in London ” you will want to include the whole keyword inside the URL, despite it being pretty long.
This will help you boost the relevance of your page and you will rank faster. If you just included “best restaurant London ” then that URL woudldn help your SEO as much.
Meta description are not used for ranking purposes, but they do help Google understand your page better.
According to Martin Splitt, meta descriptions give a summary/overview of your page to Google bot.
My tip: Always include your target keyword inside a meta description
It’ll boost the relevancy of your page, it might help you rank higher and above all, Google bolds the exact match keyword in thes SERPS . This can boost CTR like crazy.
You need to include your target keyword in h1 tag.
Because of these 2 reasons:.
First, it helps with SEO. Keyword in h1 tag is a small, but direct Google ranking factor.
Second, it’s excellent for the users. When a visitor lands on a page on an unfamiliar website they have only one thing on their mind “will this page be able to help me or not”?
And when they see your headline that has an exact (or closely related) keyword they typed in the Search bar, they breathe a sigh of relief and start reading.
No one likes wasting precious time!
Good example is this email marketing checklist. It includes the target keyword (email marketing checklist) and informs the users that yes, they have the right page so they might as well start consuming that content.
Subheadlines (h2-h6) are not so important for SEO, but they are crucial for keeping people on the page.
If your page is one big wall of text, you can guess what most users will do? Right?
Which is exactly what you don’t want to happen. Quick bounces (also called pogo sticking) send a bad signal to Google. Your page is trash and should be demoted in search.
And also, how will you get those visitors on your list if they don’t stick around?
Pro tip #1-Use your main keyword once in one subheadline, and then use related keywords in other subheadings.
Don’t try to force a keyword where it doesn’t fit, and definitely don’t keyword stuff. That can only hurt you.
Pro tip #2- Be descriptive with your subheadlines. Don’t be afraid to make them longer if you have to.
Most people skim content nowadays and the perfect subheadline structure tells the story without them needing to read one word of the content body.
Keywords in Content
Gone are the days of keyword stuffing. Gone are the days or keyword density. Google in 2020 and beyond is much smarter and you don’t need to repeat your keyword X number of time to ensure rankings.
Search doesn’t work like that anymore.
However, you do need to sprinkle your main keyphrase 3-4 times throughout your content. Once in the beginning , once in the middle part and once in the concluding paragraph. That’s plenty.
It’s usually really easy to do because it’s only natural that you mention your keyword here and there.
Pro tip #1- Be mindful of keyword frequency. That means how many times the exact keyword appears in content. In general, you want to make sure that your target keyword appears more times than any other keywords.
And your target keyword should match the one in SEO title, URL and meta description.
Pro tip #2- Keyword in the first 100 words. Similar to your headline, the first paragraph of the article needs to have your target keyword.
This helps Google understand that your page is about X topic. But also, it helps users quickly see they’re on the right page.
Also, use boldface to make your keyword pop at them.
LSI stands for “Latent Semantic Indexing” and to forget about the technology itself – it means using keywords and phrases related to your main keyword.
LSI terms help you boost your content’s relevancy, and finding them is easy. Just go to LSI Graph (free tool) and type in a seed term. That’ll show you all related long term phrases you can include in your content.
Note: I’m talking here about internal links within the content and not in the menu, sidebar or footer.
Internal links help your SEO in 2 ways.
First, they pass PageRank (link authority) from one page to another.
Second, they pass relevancy signals via their keyword rich anchor text
Internal linking pro tips:
- Always use keywords, Generic anchor text for internal links is wasted SEO potential;
- Link relevantly- That way the link is strongest and also most helpful to the user;
- Don’t have too many links on the page- That dilutes PageRank and they become ineffective at improving your rankings.
I’ll stop here because writing about internal links and strategies around them could fill a book’s worth of content, and I know you’re busy and want a simple SEO checklist you can use on your blog.
So, follow the tips above and you’re golden.
External or outbound links point from your site to other pages on the web
And yes, you should link out.
Because outbound links help with SEO (read the study to learn more). And because shady and spammy websites never link out, and Google knows it.
So it’s another easy way for you to stand out.
Image SEO is also part of on page SEO. And the beautiful part is that doing image SEO helps you rank both in Google Image Search (21.51% of total search market) and normal search.
Image SEO elements ot pay attention to are:
- Image filename– don’t let this be your filename 34242349349492334493-jpg. Instead use your main keyword and write-it-with-dashes and_not_with_underscores.
- Image alt attribute- use your target keyword once. Describe the image so visually imparied people can digest it.
- Image caption- Captions draw the eye and people read them even more than normal content. Use them in moderation, and whenever you can slip in a keyword or too.
- Image title attribute– Title attributes are little popups that appear when you hover over the image.
They’re unused potential as rarely a blogger bothers to add them. Even though they help with SEO.
So make sure you add title attributes to at least one image, and use your target keyword in it.
On-Page SEO FAQ- Things You Need to Know To Succeed
I admit it.
I plowed through Quora, forums and even Yahoo Answers. I spent an unreasonable amount of time looking to see the common questions people ask about On-page SEO.
The result of my hard work is below, accompanied by their corresponding answers 🙂
#1- What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual pages so they rank in the search engines, specifically Google, Bing and Yahoo.
On page encompasses both what’s literally on the page and visible, and the stuff hidden in the HTML code (meta data).
#2- Why Is On-Page SEO So Valuable? Why Do It?
I mentioned it earlier in this guide, and here it is again. You need to do on-page SEO in order to rank. In fact, you need to do it just to appear anywhere on the SERPS.
Keywords make you relevant for certain queries and proper keyword usage is the crux of on-page SEO.
#3- What is The Difference Between On-Page and Off-Page SEO?
On-page SEO is something you control. It’s what’s happening on your page and you influence it by modifying the article and underlying HTML.
Off-page is everything that happens outside of your website. Links, social shares, social bookmarks…
All things you can’t easily control. More on that below…
#4- On-Page SEO vs Off-Page SEO- Which One is More Important For Your Website?
I want to say on-page is more important. It’s because you can rank for very easy keywords with just on-page SEO.
But actually, the real answer is that they’re equally important. And when you learn to combine the two, you become very hard to beat in the SERPS.
#5- What are The Best On-Page SEO Techniques?
The best on-page SEO technique is to do everything from this post.
If you’re a newbie, then I’m sure you’re a bit overwhelmed. I understand that feeling oh so well.
But I also know that once you do it a few times you become a pro and optimizing pages for Google becomes child’s play.
#6- Can I Rank With On-Page SEO Alone?
In most cases you need at least some authority to rank. However, there are keywords that are so uncompetitive that you can rank for them simply by having the most relevant page on the internet.
That’s beyond the scope of this article, but to find such phrases, look into KGR keyword research.
#7- What is The Best On-Page SEO Tool?
The best on-page SEO analyzer is Surfer SEO, by far. The tool can break down any page and give you a massive amount of actionable data to work with.
However, two big problems with Surfer are:
#1- It’s a paid tool. Not too expensive, but still, every $ counts when you don’t have a lot of them. Trust me. I know!
#2- It’s also pretty advanced. I remember the first time I used Surfer, I was clueless and had to watch a few YouTube tutorials to figure it out.
The second best tool is Website Auditor by Link Assistant and SEO Powersuite.
This tool is simple to use, and also free.
#8- Can I Do On-Page SEO On Free Website Builder Platforms?
Yes you can, but you’re limited with what you can do. For example you can’t set your SEO title and meta description. And your URL will be your post’s headline plus some gibberish.
To give another example with this article on my test Tumblr site you can see that the keyword is “how to get a dofollow link from Moz.com”.
And the URL is: https://makeitshortseo.tumblr.com/post/176481408670/get-dofollow-link-from-moz
Very ugly, and also detrimental to SEO.
#9- What Are The Best Plugins to Do Excellent On-Page SEO?
#10- How To Do On-Page SEO Properly?
The answer to your question- effectively. Here’s what that means.
First, never do on-page SEO while writing. You’ll be slower than a snail. Instead write first; then edit. And THEN optimize for search engines.
Second, develop an On-Page SEO SOP. SOP stands for Standard Operating Procedure and it basically means you always know what you need to do next, and in what order.
So, develop your custom SOP once and never again wonder what’s next.
Here’s my on-page SOP, feel free to steal and modify it.
1. Keyword in SEO Title;
2. Keyword in URL;
3. Keyword in meta description;
4. Keyword in H1 title;
5. Keyword in first paragraph;
6. Keyword in subheadline;
7. Keyword in image file name, alt attribute and caption;
8. Keyword somewhere in the middle of the post;
9. Keyword at the end of blog post.
Optional- if I really want to rank and feel like I need to do absolutely everything, I’ll go back and insert a few LSI keywords here and there.
Pro tip: remember, it’s important that those related phrases are somewhere on the page. But they don’t have to be visible.
Image alt attributes of other images on the page are excellent places to sneak in keywords you didn’t have room for in the article body.
Concluding my On-Page SEO Guide for Beginners…
On-page SEO is a must. In 2020,,, 2021 or even 10 years from now.
Google will always be driven by keywords people type and say. So you better adapt and adapt fast.
Use this beginner-friendly, on-page SEO guide to help you. And in case you have any questions, feel free to drop a comment and let me know.
I’d be happy to help you 🙂
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