You probably know by now that Google is using over 200 ranking factors to decide what to rank at the top of the search engine results pages. Backlinko has done a great job at listing them in this amazing article. You may also know that you categorise these ranking signals into on-page SEO and off-page SEO factors, but are they created equal? In other words, do you need to pay the same attention to all these factors to score a higher ranking?
Although Google uses an important number of ranking factors, not all will have a significant impact on your site’s search engine rankings. Some can make or break your website while others will have little to no influence.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at the five most important on-page SEO factors.
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What Is On-Page SEO Exactly?
On-page SEO or on-site SEO is the process of optimising web page content to boost its ranking in the search engines. It includes tactics such as optimising the content, title tags, meta descriptions, and images as well as ensuring that you provide a stellar user experience.
On-page SEO plays a crucial role in search engine optimisation as it helps the search engines understand your web pages better and display them for relevant search queries. Moreover, unlike off-page SEO, on-site SEO provides full control over the factors you are optimising. With the right on-page strategy in place, you can see a surge in search presence and a boost in organic traffic.
The Five Most Important On-Page SEO Factors
Now that we’ve made it clear why you need on-page SEO if you want to rank higher in search results, let’s take a look at the factors that can actually drive these results.
It should come as no surprise that the content you post on your web pages is the most important on-page SEO factor.
High-quality content keeps readers engaged and coming back to your website. Think about your favourite blog for a second. You would be disappointed if they failed to publish new content regularly.
The more people turn to your website for information and answers to their questions, the more search engines will start seeing your content as relevant and begin displaying it at the top of the search engine results page.
Of course, creating fresh content is just part of the equation. Your efforts won’t make that big of a difference if the search engines won’t be able to find it. You will also need to perform keyword research and identify the key phrases your audience is using when searching for the issues you are addressing in your content. Then, you need to place these keywords strategically to help the search engines “read” your content better. Make sure to include them in the page title, URLs, meta description, subheadings, alt text, anchor links, throughout the content, as well as in your social media posts.
But, what does creating quality content mean exactly?
The simplest answer would be that quality content informs, educates, or entertains your audience in a way. Great content should also serve a purpose and help you reach your marketing, business, or SEO goals. If at the end of the day, your content achieved your objectives, then you can be satisfied with what you’ve put out there.
The title tag is the HTML element that describes the title of a web page. If we were to take this article as an example, then the title tag would look something like:
<title> The Five Most Important On-Page SEO Factors </title>
Its job is to tell the search engines and internet users what they can expect to find on the page once they click the link.
Title tags are important because they are usually the first thing users see. If you can’t convince them at that moment that your content is worth their attention, then there is a good chance that they will move on to the next result. Search engines also look at the title tags to understand what a page is about and decide if it’s relevant to a particular search query.
You may think that title tags are pretty straightforward and it would be impossible to get them wrong. Well, not so fast. There are some rules you need to follow to optimise your title tags both for users and the search engines:
- Keep them short, no longer than 50-60 characters;
- Capitalise the first letter of most words;
- Include your keywords;
- Make sure all of your title tags are unique;
- Write enticing title tags for humans, not robots.
A meta description is the HTML element that summarises the content on a page. It’s the snippet of text that appears on the search engine results page right under your title.
Most people ignore meta descriptions because they know it’s not a Google ranking factor and believe that they won’t help their SEO efforts. While it’s true that the meta description won’t influence your ranking, it can, however, boost your click-through-rate.
People don’t look just at the title tag to decide if the content on a page is relevant to them but also the meta description. That means that you will have to create good meta descriptions to get people to click on your link.
- Use your target keyword in the meta description;
- Make them relevant and show users the value they will get from reading your content;
- Create a sense of urgency;
- Add a call to action;
- Create unique meta descriptions for every page on your site;
- Make sure they don’t exceed 160 characters on desktop and 120 characters on mobile devices.
You may think that the sole purpose of images is to make a web page look better, but they actually play an important role in SEO. For starters, images improve the user experience as they can help break the content, support ideas, or help readers visualise some concepts better. Images also provide additional ranking opportunities as they can help your web page show up in the Google Images search results.
Image optimisation can also improve page load speed, giving users a better experience and search engines another reason to rank you higher.
But, to reap all these benefits you need to know how to optimise your images.
- Always use relevant images that add value to your content. If you can’t create the images yourself, then you can use platforms like com or unsplash.com where you can find high-quality visuals.
- Name the image file. Instead of Untitled1234.jpg, use a descriptive name like “boy-playing-with-airplane.jpg.”
- Reduce the image file size. That way, the quality remains the same, but their size won’t affect the loading time;
- Images should be mobile-friendly too so make sure to use responsive images that look good regardless of the screen size.
- Optimise the alt text.
Build Internal Links
When it comes to link building, most people focus on acquiring links from other websites. And, for very good reasons: backlinks from authoritative sites in your niche can help boost your domain authority and improve your ranking in the long run. But, internal linking (meaning linking to different pages on your site) is just as important for SEO, and here’s why.
Google follows links to discover content. If a lot of links point to a particular page, then that’s usually an indicator that it offers quality content. Google looks both at external AND internal links.
Moreover, internal linking can also help you transfer link value from one authoritative page on your site to a web page you’ve just published. For example, the new landing page you’ve just created will get more “link juice” if you link to it from your homepage, which usually has the highest link value, than from a category page.
Do You Need Help with Your SEO Strategy?
When it comes to SEO, there isn’t a secret recipe that can guarantee your success. Yes, there are some things that you can tweak to maximise your chances, but a good SEO strategy means more than a simple checklist of the factors that could help you rank higher.
At Australian Internet Advertising, we create effective digital marketing strategies that fit a business’ needs and bring targeted results. If you would like to learn more about how we can help, get in touch with us here.