On-Page Optimization Dissected

On-page optimization is the process of making individual web pages “search engine friendly” by optimizing elements that are directly on your webpage in order to rank higher on the SERPs (search engine results pages). A properly executed SEO Audit will lay out all the on-page strategies that are required to rank. Our motto regarding on-page optimization here at NJL Marketing is “Do what Google expects.” Luckily for us, Google shows us the 10 pages that they believe is the best results for a specific query; therefore, the easiest way to get started is to analyze what these pages on the top 10 are doing and incorporate their structure and methods as necessary. Click here if you need a recap on what SEO is.

The Elements

SEO is an industry that is always evolving, which means that strategies and methods are likely to change along with search engine algorithm updates. The following list is some of the major on-page elements for your reference. Please note that the method to optimize the following depends on the niche and changes along with the algorithm as well.

URL

URLs should be kept short and descriptive. Make sure to include your main keyword and avoid ugly, long, non-descriptive URLs. For example, if you have a page about dog training, your URL should look something like, “www.yourdomain.com/top-10-dog-training-tips/” and NOT something like, “www.yourdomain.com/p=123?”.

Title Tag

The title tag is the text link the user sees on the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) when entering a query in the search engines. The title tags should also include your keyword and should be as close to the beginning as possible but should avoid over-optimization. Having the keyword is important but make the title enticing to improve CTR (click-through-rate), which is also considered a ranking factor. If you have enough space left after getting your main keywords in the title, make sure to include modifiers to increase the chances of ranking for long-tail keywords.

Meta Description

This is the bit of text describing what your page is about under your Title on the SERPs.

Although this is not considered a direct ranking factor, the description should be created in a way that users will want to click on it (to improve CTR). Also, make sure to include your main keywords in them as they are bolded or highlighted.

Header Tags

As the name suggests, Header Tags are headings on your actual page. These tags are represented as H1 through H6 in your source code. A well-organized page should start with one H1 and then have subheadings underneath them in a logical manner. Here is a quick example:

On-Page Optimization 101

and so on…

Keywords or synonyms of your keywords should usually be in your title tags as well. The selection of key phrases, type of title tags, and their quantity in each tag depends on the competition on the first page of the SERPs. Although putting keywords in your header tags seem simple, it can actually get complicated and time-consuming pretty fast. If you don’t want to waste your time and go through many rounds of trial and error, the easiest solution would ask a professional to take a look.

Content

You may have read many articles that claim “Content is King”, but is it really?

The answer, from our experience, is both Yes and No. If you believe that making an excellent piece of content is all you need to do to rank, then I am afraid you are going to be disappointed. Optimizing content is a lot more complicated than people think.

Content Quality

There are many factors that go into the “quality” portion of content. Here are a few: Grammar, Topic, Readability, Compelling, etc. Google apparently does not take readability scores into account; however, that does not mean that you should have poorly written content. The reason is simple. If you have poorly written content, it’s highly likely that the reader will not finish reading and “bounce back” to the SERPs to look for another page that is more in line with what they were looking for. This increases the page’s bounce-rate and it is definitely not a good thing. This tells Google that your page is not satisfying what the searcher is looking for and will hurt rankings.

Is your page in-line with searcher intent? When you decide on a keyword to go after, it is important to analyze the searchers’ intent behind that keyword and align your content to satisfy that intent.

For example, if a user is looking for an SEO agency in Japan, make sure that the content has details and features of your agency that will make them want to reach out to you.

That being said, we have seen a local business rank on the first page of Google for particular keywords with a “Lorem Ipsum” page with Keywords strategically placed in specific spots in specific quantities. Although this may have worked for this particular page, we highly suggest you create good content since we have no idea how long this tactic will work and how long the high rankings will stick (plus the competition was relatively low for this term).

Length

If you are trying to rank a 100-word page for a SERP that has an average of 2,000 words on the top 10 pages, it’s a good idea to get your page into the same ballpark.

Keyword Density

Keyword Density is the percentage of the number of times the target keyword appears compared to the total number of words on the same page (there are many different ways of calculating this which will be covered in a completely separate article). There was a time where keyword stuffing worked, like having your exact match keyword “SEO Singapore” or “SEO Hong Kong” in the text hundreds of times. Thankfully, this hasn’t worked for a very long time. Some SEOs still use fixed percentages for keyword densities (like 1%, 2%, etc.); however, we never use this approach as we believe this method is flawed. Instead, we adjust the percentage as well as the specific locations (as in H1, H2, p tags, alt text, etc.) on a keyword-by-keyword and SERP-by-SERP basis.

LSI and Synonyms

Make sure to use LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) and Synonyms of your target keyword as well. To do this properly it is important to figure out which words Google considers a synonym or LSI.

Media

This ties into the “quality” and “bounce-rate” we wrote about earlier. Avoid big walls of text. If you are like us, we get put off by pages packed with just text. Make sure to include pictures, videos, tables, graphs to break up the text and make the page more interesting and less intimidating to read. The goal is to get the user to stick on your page as long as possible and convert. The opportunity to use alt texts is an added bonus.

Image Optimization and Alt Tags

Never overdo things; however, be sure to include keywords in the alt text of your pictures if this is what is expected on the SERPs. Make sure that your image is optimized for size (we will look into this in further detail on the Technical Optimization page).

Siloing and Internal Linking

Are you making proper use of internal links on your website? If you have related pages or blog posts, linking back to the specific page you are trying to rank with relevant anchor text helps. If you do not have other relevant pages on the same topic, this is a good opportunity to start building out a silo of relevant pages to build topical relevance as well as for internal linking. When making silos, be careful not create keyword cannibalization as this can greatly hamper your ranking efforts. Anchor text ratios is a factor so it is important to follow specific guidelines on what type of anchor text and ratio to use.

Outbound Links

It is said that outbound links to authoritative websites are a ranking factor. We have seen mixed results for this; therefore, if it is not disruptive to your goal and if it makes sense to do so, go ahead and link out (just don’t choose Wikipedia every time like many SEOs).

Call to Action

What is the purpose of the page you are trying to rank? If you are trying to get email opt-ins or direct calls, structure your page to make it clear where the user can do so. Ideally, you want the user to end their search on your page.

Structured Data

Structured data is a bit of script that is added to a page that makes it easier for Search Engines to understand what the content is about. JSON-LD, Microdata, and RDFa are three of the most popular formats.