On-page SEO: How to optimize your website

Reading Time: 5 mins

You’ve probably learned that good content is one of the keys to getting a high ranking in search engines, but that’s not enough. The content of your page must be structured so that it can be read by both people and search engines. It does not make sense to have good content if nobody can find it.

What is on-page SEO?

On-page search engine optimization (SEO) is about the elements on the website that can tell Google what your page is about. These items are not crucial alone, but they help to strengthen your ranking if you control them. Your pages must be structured so that search engines can easily understand what your page is about how it is built and what topics are important.

But it is equally important that the page is optimized for the people who are going to visit it. The page should be easy to read, easy to share and contain what it promises. Both Google and people will see through it you if you use other keywords in meta descriptions and the URL than what the page is about. In other words, the times when you could cheat Google’s algorithm are well and truly over so you must be honest and you can help yourself by adding the right details on the page.

But what is best practice then? We have compiled a checklist of 8 points that are important for on-page search engine optimization.

Checklist for on page optimisation

1. Title Tag

An important element of your on-page search engine optimization is your title. Here you must include the keyword you want to focus on, and it may be formed as a question or answer to a question so it becomes easier for search engines to understand what the page is about and what it helps a given recipient with. You also need to make sure that the title length is kept between 40-70 characters, so the search engines show your entire title in the search result.

2. URL

You’ve probably been on pages with long URLs with a lot of characters and symbols that make it difficult to read. Google will also find this difficult. Therefore, make sure your URL is easy to read, and include your keywords as well. Use hyphens between the different words to make it easy to read each word – both for humans and machines.

3. Meta Description

Yes, you guessed correctly: The keyword must also be included in your meta description. This does not directly affect SEO, but it is extremely important for those who try to understand what the page is about when it appears in a search result. A good meta description has a lot to say for your click rate and thus has an indirect impact on your ranking because a site with a lot of traffic will give you a better ranking.

Make sure that the meta description contains the main points of what your page in an exciting way, and please include some text that calls for the user’s action, but keep it short, otherwise, Google will truncate and cut the last part of your meta description.

By the end of 2017, Google allowed for longer meta description but we do not know the absolute maximum length. It may seem that they have different parameters to choose from, but the  SEO experts from Moz estimate that a meta description must be no more than 300 characters.

If you do not have a meta description, search engines will extract text found on the page, and it’s not always that useful as it does not necessarily provide the best description of what your page is about, so do yourself the favour of spending some time on your meta descriptions.

4. Optimize your photos and graphics

As mentioned above, you should be able to read what your pictures are about. Use the keyword when naming your images and add an alt-text that further describes the image. This is also important because it is this text that is read if a blind or partially sighted user is using a program to read the page. Your alt text will also be substituted for your image if that image is not loaded in the browser.

5. H1, H2 and H3

One of the most important things you should do to structure the content on your side is to create a title structure. To do this, use H1, H2 and H3 tags in your HTML code. The H1 tag is the most important and you should only have one of that, which includes your keyword. Search engines will understand that this is the main title.

H2 and H3 are subheadings. These form the hierarchy of your page and structure the content that comes after the main title. When using these, you tell the search engines how the different titles should be weighted and how your page is built up in relation to the topic. Use multiple variations of the keyword in these captions to improve your location, but make sure you do not overuse them. Make sure that the keyword is used naturally in both titles and text.

6. Encourage sharing and action

Make it easy for your visitors to share your content. Include sharing buttons on your pages and invite sharing. You have written something of value so do not be afraid to share it with the world!

Also, make sure your visitors perform actions like clicking on to other pages or the like. Both sharing and clicks indicate commitment, and the more your visitors engage with your website, the greater the ranking value Google will attach to it. The same goes for “time spent” – that’s how long they stay on your website or page.

7. Responsive and optimised for multiple devices

This point is absolute. Your site must be responsive so it is optimized for different devices. Make sure it is easy to navigate your site on a mobile or desktop.

If a website is not user-friendly on the mobile, it will frustrate the visitor (I can vouch for that having had similar experiences). Secondly, Google will penalize those pages that are not optimized for mobile – and they will not appear in searches made by mobile. Keep in mind that 75% of all searches start on a mobile. You do not want to miss out on these searches!

8. High-quality content

We read digital content in a different way than what we read on printed media. Often we just skim the content of our search for answers. Therefore, you should write the content in a manner that is easily accessible. Avoid long sections and differentiate the way you make the content. Some things may be better suited as bullets or an illustration. Also, remember to use fonts that are easy to read on screens.

The length of the content also has something to say. It depends, of course, on the topic you want to write about, but content that has more than 1,000 words performs better in search engines. A longer text also allows you to include variations of the keywords in a natural way throughout the text.

One last tip is to use links, both internal and external. Perhaps you have an article or page that goes into depth with parts of the topic you are writing about? Then you should link to this in your content. It is also a good thing to link to external sources if these are considered credible. If you link to 1 or 2 such pages it will make you more credible in Google’s eyes.

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Torkild Smith is the owner of Bramhall Web Designs, helping business owners to get more time so they can concentrate on closing more deals with their strategic partners.

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Torkild Smith

Torkild Smith is the owner of Bramhall Web Designs, helping business owners to get more time so they can concentrate on closing more deals with their strategic partners.

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