Background of On Page SEO
Alright, first things first, before we can go over the techniques to optimize your page, you must understand the basics and the backgrounds, because everything else that you will learn about on-page SEO has its fundamentals in this.
In search engine optimization, there are On and Off page SEO. On-Page SEO includes factors like titles, keywords, and content, which can be directly influenced by you. This makes it easy to have good On-Page SEO because everything you optimize on your site is up to you and not dependent on other factors like for example Off-Page SEO does.
In the world of Off-Page SEO you are mostly dependent on other people or other websites, because these will create backlinks, social signals, and blog 2.0 posts if you are lucky and of course, only if you can provide a high level of content to your website visitors, which, as we already discussed earlier on, is an On-Page SEO factor.
I think you have already got me on the importance of content, but I really want to underline the fact that content is key and more important than everything else.
You already made it through the tough part, now this is where the fun begins. As you know SEO is always changing, because Google changes their algorithm almost every month to display the most valuable sites to their customers, and every other year they release a big update. If we look at the past we can see that these updates, were, for example, panda and penguin, if you do not know what that is, I strongly recommend you look it up.
This year internal links, also called crosslinking has gained more importance whereas the importance of backlinks has slightly decreased. This has something to do, with the methods of how Google’s crawlers work. Internal links aren’t used to manipulate the crawlers anymore but rather used to show theses crawlers on how your site is built, what content they should crawl, and which other sites on your website are important and relevant. In conclusion, it is possible to say that SEO, more specifically on-page SEO in 2019 depends mostly on connecting user-usability and readability with relevant and specific content.
The most important On-Page SEO factors
Now you should already have a broad understanding of On-Page SEO, but your knowledge is still rather vague, that is why I am going to go about the most important factors which you must consider, in more detail. Of course, we cannot dig through all factors, because this would take a hell of a lot of time, but these are the most important ones, so prepare for some dense information
Despite the classic on-page factors, on which we will go over in a second, topics like loading-speed, usability, and mobile accessibility are big ranking factors to consider, specifically in 2019.
We start off easy and straight forward, with the base of everything: The site title. The title or title-tag as it is sometimes called is one of the most important on-page SEO factors. The source code which is placed in the header is shown first in the SERPs, as the first part of the snippet and on various other locations, like in social media entries, etc.
Ideally, the title contains the main-keyword and conducts the user a first impression of the content, found on your website.
The description is also displayed in the SERPs, it goes closer to the content of the page. Nowadays, no direct ranking factor anymore, but it still plays an important role in the optimization of a page. A successful description can significantly improve the Click Through Rate (CTR) of a page. This factor is used by Google & Co to assess the relevance of a website.
Placing keywords in the right places is one of the on-page basics. The commonly used keyword density (keyword density) measurement is hardly of any relevance nowadays, modern methods like WDF * IDF (a formula by which search engines determine the optimal distribution of topics, relevant terms, and keywords in content) offer an alternative. The main keyword is built in among other things, the URL, the H1, and if possible in the first sentence of the content or in the alt tag of pictures, videos and generally speaking multimedia files.
Headlines in your website’s content should be optimized specifically for the user. The most important headline is H1, which should contain the main keyword and render the page’s content as understandable as possible. So be sure to use your headings wisely.
The URL or web address of a page can also be optimized. Basically, static URLs should be used. As a word separator “-” (minus) is used, the keyword should be inserted in the address close to the domain. As short as possible URLs with a clear structure and readable content improve usability and are preferred by Google.
Back to the content of a website. Once enough articles have been published, it’s time to optimize internal linking – both at the article and site level. At article level, site operators should (semi) automatically draw their visitors’ attention to relevant articles, usually a short list at the bottom of the article. For WordPress, there are several SEO plug-ins to choose from. Even within texts, it makes sense to link to appropriate articles, ideally with the appropriate keyword as an anchor text.
Equally useful: the merging of topic-related articles on category pages. The relevant keywords can be linked within articles via suitable plugins automatically, WordPress users can get help here again by using different plugins. It often turns out to be helpful to merge information from multiple articles on a landing page. Users then have a central point and can click through individual articles, so do not forget to cross-link. Those website owners who offer real value can thus dominate even more competitive search terms. Series of articles unfold their full potential in this way and permanently attract high-quality users, who are capable of creating AdSense revenue.
The ranking factors at a glance
Use keyword-strong internal links
Use overview pages on specific topics
If useful, use landing pages to merge information from multiple articles
Sometimes falsely labeled as counterproductive, links to external sites not only help Google sort them by topic. You also increase the trust of a site if the linked site is reputable which in the long run helps to rank your site higher in the SERPs. Always double check the site you are linking to and their reputation and quality of content, as bad external links can also backfire and ruin your site’s reputation too.
Google measures the speed of a page and evaluates whether a too slow loading speed has an impact on the user experience. More specifically pages with a loading time of more than 4 seconds are rejected by most users and therefore penalized by Google. Vice-versa, fast loading pages will be rewarded. Various measures such as image size optimization, CDNs or browser caching can be taken to improve loading time. To check your loading time, Google offers its own tool, called page Speed insights, be sure to make use of it, as it is free.
To tell search engines like Google which search terms are vital to a website, structural ranking factors are essential. This includes mentioning the main and sub keywords in headings (H1 – H6) and the introductory paragraph. In addition, further mentions of keywords are useful in general text, even in the form of synonyms! On the other hand, keyword density is irrelevant. Such measurements are a thing of the past. However, those who are just starting out do not have to deal with the new magic formula “WDF * P * IDF”, which is now used by Google to evaluate how keywords are blending into the text and how useful they are to the website visitor.
Put your focus on the visitors’ experience! Never write headlines just for search engines, but always for the user. If you plan on writing longer texts, consider using bold and italic passages, to style your texts and make it more readable.
Another factor, which you can utilize on your page is “breadcrumbs”. They do not belong to the classic Ranking factors but serve both visitors and search engines. Based on the tale of Hansel and Gretel Breadcrumbs refer to the hints at the top of the page, explain the navigation path to visitors to a website. There could be something like: “Home> Category XYZ> Theme XYZ”. This is especially useful when visitors are cross-linked to a subpage. This way, they can quickly understand where they are within the website structure, and can more easily navigate their way around.
Pictures and File-names
Only additional content such as photos and videos form the optimal overall package. Unfortunately, search engines struggle to read the content of these elements. Site operators, like you, must, therefore, intervene supportively. This is comparatively easy with images: The file name should contain the most important keywords, as well as the description of the image content via the alt text. Also crucial is a matching caption with a clear reference to the corresponding keyword. If you use WordPress, you can rely on SEO plug-ins such as “SEO Friendly Images” and “WP Smush.it” for support.
Somewhat more complicated is the optimization of videos. With a video, it may be worthwhile to provide a summary or transcription if you upload your videos on platforms like YouTube, you should also pay attention to the video’s internal ranking factors.
If content can be reached via multiple URLs, then it is called duplicate content. E.g. Uppercase and lowercase spelling in the URL or missing trailing slashes. Duplicate content is a threaten, which you should eliminate as soon as possible as Google is eager on penalizing stolen, plagiarized or duplicated content!
In the meta tags, you can define instructions for bots, there are also special tags for Google available, which help the crawlers to navigate through your site. Thorugh the meta-tag, you can prevent robots of indexing a page.
Controversial Topic: Keyword Density
The density of keywords used to be one of the most important ranking factors. Nowadays, the usability and quality of content and answering user questions are more important.
It must be considered, that in terms of keyword density there is no sense in over-optimizing in the form of keyword stuffing. This means that your website includes tons of keywords in the text, this absolutely destroys the readability for the user and is therefore massively penalized by Google.
The best thing you can do is to not worry about the keyword density in your content. First and foremost, your aim in search engine optimization should be to optimize the page for the user – this satisfies not only the users but also the search engines. In general, it is possible to say that you should still, besides the new updates, aim to have a keyword density of optimally 1%, in relation to your overall content length.
Alright, this was a rather long read, I hope you learned something and put it immediately to use, to crush those SERPs with your newly acquired on-page SEO skills.