Earning top ranks on Google is a dream run for every digital marketer, except that it’s easier said than done. To capture the #1 position on Google, you need a sharp SEO strategy that includes the following:
- Having a robust website and quality content (also known as on-page SEO)
- Building a quality backlink profile (comes under off-page SEO)
- Working on local SEO, if you are a city-specific business
All these three activities work hand in hand and contribute to making the whole greater than the sum of individual parts.
However, on-page SEO is the starting step of your SEO success. It’s like the foundation of your entire SEO campaign, and at times, on-page optimization is just what it requires to rank on the top.
Today I will talk more about the most important on-page SEO elements that you should focus on right away.
What is On-Page SEO?
In very simple terms, on-page SEO refers to optimizing the content and HTML of your web pages, one at a time, so that you can make them more user and search engine friendly.
On-page SEO elements also include few technical components (known as on-site SEO) that are optimized at the website level (rather than the page level).
On-page SEO elements are under your direct control and your priority should always be to get these parameters right before you build on your SEO campaign.
Below, I have listed 17 mission-critical on-page SEO parameters that you should optimize for all your web pages. Just in case you are new to SEO or want to see how the to 10 URLs have defined their on-page SEO elements, you can use my tool OnPage Champ to see the best practices of your competitors and replicate their success in your SEO campaigns.
17 On-Page SEO elements
7 Most Important Technical On-Page SEO Parameters
Technical SEO refers to optimizing those factors which define the way you have created your website. These elements affect your entire website and not just a specific page.
Technical SEO lays a strong foundation for your website and ensures your other SEO efforts to reach their true potential.
If you are not familiar with coding, you would need a help from your developer to work on technical SEO.
Here are 7 SEO best practices that you should adopt right away:
1. Make your website https
Having a secured website is extremely important for your SEO since Google bot views security as an important ranking factor.
If your website is still on Http protocol, consider switching to https without any delay.
This also gives confidence to the end-user when they browse a secured website.
Don’t forget to use a ‘301 redirect’ when moving from Http to https.
Here’s a video from Google’s John Mueller explaining why to use a 301 redirect.
2. Have a robots.txt file in the root
Robots.txt file defines the rules for the search bots and how they should crawl your website and the individual pages.
This file sits at the root folder of your website and is the first file that Google crawler (and other search bots) look for when they visit any website.
robots.txt file looks something as follows:-
Allow: [URL string not to be crawled]
Disallow: [URL string not to be crawled]
Focus on the disallow part and ensure you are not blocking any part of your website that you want Google to crawl.
3. Get your XML sitemap in place
A sitemap is a map of your website that tells the crawler the pages that have been added/modified on your website.
This saves the crawlers time, else it will crawl the pages at its own pace and may skip a new page. Having an XML sitemap brings new/modified pages to crawler’s attention, thereby resulting in an increased probability of them getting crawled and indexed.
If you are on WordPress and are using the Yoast plugin, the sitemap gets automatically created for your website.
4. Improve your page load speed
As per Google’s research done in 2017, if a page load speed increases from 1s to 5s, the probability of a user leaving a website increase by 90%.
And mind it, this is an old study when 4G networks were not that widespread. The probability of a user dropping out will be much higher now, especially when we are used to fasting internet speeds.
Therefore, ensure you have a fast loading website that solves the user query as quickly as possible.
5. Build a mobile responsive website
This is a no brainer.
Almost 60% of web traffic today originates through mobile devices. And this is going to increase even further, as mobile penetration increases and more people connect to the internet.
Therefore, ensure your website is mobile-friendly, else Google will penalize a non-responsive or poorly mobile-optimized site.
After all, Google doesn’t want to provide a bad user experience to its mobile audience.
6. Go for clean URLs
Opt for clean and simple URLs that both your user and the search engine can understand. Make sure you use a hyphen (and not some other special character) as a word separator.
Make the URL relatable to the content within and if possible, include your focus keyword in the page URL.
7. Image optimization
We talked about page load speed as an important ranking factor.
I have seen that most of the time, heavy images and multimedia result in reducing your page load speed.
Before you upload any image, make sure you do a lossless compression to minimize its size. TinyPng can come as a quick help for you.
6 Critical Content Related On-page SEO Elements
When it comes to tasting SEO success, high-quality content plays a critical role.
Only if you get the content piece right, you will be able to rank on the top.
Here are 6 SEO best practices you should keep in mind while writing content for your website.
8. Authoritative & informative content
Google loves informative and detailed content. This ensures that the user gets an answer to his query in one single place, at the same time establishes the authority of the website.
Focus on a few cornerstone, detailed articles around the most important topics related to your niche, and then build ancillary articles around that cornerstone article.
For example, if you are a financial blogger, write a detailed guide on how to buy life insurance in India, and then create small content assets around different life insurance types, best life insurance companies, types of riders in insurance and so on.
9. Intent-based content
The way Rankbrain (Google’s machine learning algorithm) works is by analyzing the intent of a user query and matching your website content to it. You need to keep some things in mind when analyzing your SEO strategy.
Therefore, ensure you are writing highly focussed, intent-based content that directly answers a user query and explains what you are offering.
10. Focus on long-tail keywords
This is an extension of the point above.
Write your content with a long-tail keyword as your focus keyword.
Long-tail keyword refers to keywords that are 4-8 words long.
More the number of words in a search query, the clearer is the intent behind the query, and sharper content can be written for it.
E.g., if the search query is “SEO”, you can’t derive the user intent behind the query. A person might be looking for an SEO course or maybe looking for an SEO agency or an SEO tool.
But if the search query is “how to do SEO by a beginner”, the intent is very clear: the person wants to learn and do SEO by himself and he is a beginner.
That means you can write laser focussed content in the second case and satisfy the user.
11. Incorporate LSI keywords
LSI keywords are those strings that are contextually relevant to your focus keyword.
For example, if your focus keyword is “best electric cars in India”, your LSI keywords will include strings like “electric cars prices”, “Hyundai Kona Electric”, “Mahindra KUV100 EV” etc.
Usage of LSI keywords increase the relevance of your primary keyword and make your content natural and contextual.
Don’t forget to link out to authority websites. That will serve 2 purposes:-
- It will help the user refer to a detailed content resource, in case he wants to dig deeper.
- It sends a contextual signal to Google about the topic of your web page, based on the content on the target URL you have linked to.
But make sure the linking is contextual, relevant and natural.
Always link to other articles within your website that can help the user deep dive into any specific area related to his search query.
This also ensures that Google discovers your webpages through multiple other pages, thus increasing the crawling.
4 HTML Parameters that Play a Crucial Role
There are a couple of HTML tags that you should optimize along with your content.
These parameters need to be optimized at a page level. Moreover, there is no right or wrong in these. Most of the time, you need to keep experimenting until you hit the right chord.
If you are using WordPress as your CMS, you can use the Yoast Plugin to input the page title, meta description, and H1-H6 tags. But if not, you might need help from your web developer to help you key in this information.
14. Title tag
The title tag, also known as SEO title, is a one-line description of your content.
It is visible to both the search user and the Google Bot and has high importance in SEO.
Ensure you drop your focus keyword in the title tag, as close to the start as possible.
15. Meta description
While meta description is not a ranking factor and is completely ignored by Google bot, it is something that impacts the user click-through rate. That’s because the reader clicks on a search URL after reading the meta description.
Ensure you include your focus keyword or a close variant in the meta description. Moreover, a meta description should be descriptive and engaging so that it generates user interest.
Use heading tags to structure your content.
Use the h1 tag to write a summary of the content and use your focus keyword, as close to the start as possible.
For H2 – H6 tags, ensure you put ideas at the same logical level under the same heading tag (refer the way I have put my 3 subheadings under H2 and the 17 bullet headings under H3).
Try to use a mix of LSI keywords and focus keywords within these tags, only if possible.
17. Image alt text
Search engine bots can’t read images. That’s why it becomes increasingly important to use relevant alt-text with your images to convey the right context to the search bots.
Incorporate your focus and LSI keywords across image alt texts, but naturally and without overstuffing.
Important is that you write relevant descriptions to describe your images.
Conclusion: On-page SEO elements
On-page SEO sounds intimidating but is pretty simple. You can learn on-page SEO easily in a digital marketing course.
All elements that make the user experience better are nothing but part of on-page SEO.
If you take good care of the user through your content and presentation, Google will reward you.
And that’s the entire crux of on-page SEO.
To dig deeper into how the top 10 URLs on Google optimize their on-page elements and what should you do with your pages, do try On-Page Champ today.