On-Page Optimization: Top 5 Ranking Factors
Today’s SEO is less about keywords and more about how relevant your content is to the query. To establish relevancy, each of your web pages should be optimized, and here’s how.
The online world is busy, and the rules of conduct are continually changing. Algorithm updates and Google’s quest to deliver high-quality results means that the strategies once successfully used to help a company stand out in this bustling marketplace are now outdated.
Today, it is less about the keywords that you use and more about how relevant your content is to the users’ query. Mastering that level of relevancy means mastering the art of on-page SEO.
What is on-page SEO?
When it comes to SEO, the name of the game is to rank as high as possible in the search results, and to do this, your website must appeal to Google’s algorithm. This algorithm looks for harmony in two areas:
- On-page SEO: This refers to all of the components that you can control and optimize on your website, like your content, design and the source code of your pages. The goal of optimizing individual web pages is to score more relevant search traffic and to help rank higher in the search engines.
- Off-page SEO: This refers to SEO factors that occur outside of your website, like links from other websites and social media activity.
Why is on-page SEO important?
Optimizing for on-page SEO is vital because high rankings start with a bomb website. Remember, these are all of the factors that you can directly control, and focusing on nailing your on-page SEO will directly correlate to the success of your off-page SEO strategy. Building your link portfolio is challenging with a sub-par website because nobody wants to link to pages or articles that don’t provide a high level of value or ease for the end user.
What are the essential on-page ranking factors?
1. Top-notch content
In the earlier days of SEO, Google rewarded websites and pages that utilized the same keywords and phrases that were used in a search query. Today, when Google crawls the pages of your website, it is looking for how well your site aligns with user intent, or how well you combine your keyword strategy with valuable content that speaks directly to the interests of your readers.
To improve your on-page SEO, you must be preemptive about your user’s problems and questions and then address them with well-written, researched, authoritative, and linkable content.
2. Meta tags
Meta tags are used to help Google easily decipher what your page is all about, as well as what your keywords are. There are a few different kinds of meta tags that should be completed for on-page SEO:
- Title tag: This is most-often the title of your article, located within the article’s HTML. The title tag is what appears as the clickable headline situated in the actual search engine results page. This is what tells readers and the search engine what the article is all about. They should be descriptive but short – no more than 70 characters.
- Meta descriptions: The meta description is the brief article summary located underneath the clickable title in the SERPs. To optimize your meta description, succinctly and creatively outline what readers will learn in the article, and keep this description anywhere between 165-175 characters.
- Image Alt Text: Since Google can’t scan images the same way it scans text, it is best practice to give your images alt text, otherwise known as alt tags. Alt text is written words that quickly detail the individual images used on your page. Keep these descriptions unique but still relevant to the image.
3. Heading tags
Your articles and landing pages should include heading tags. The most crucial heading tag is your H1, and you should never have more than one on a page. Instead, use subheadings (H2’s, H3’s, etc.) as readers move down the page. Headings should be used to clearly call out different sections and define the structure.
For SEO purposes, the title tag and your heading tags should complement one another. Include the main keyword of the page in your H1, but do not keyword stuff here, and avoid using the same H1 on different pages on your site. This creates competing pages and Google won’t know which one to rank for and when.
URLs should be to the point and easy to read. The idea is to make it simple for your readers to figure out what your page is about, so the shorter and more concise they are the better. Try to keep them around five words. Again, it’s best practice to utilize your main keyword in the URL, but don’t allow it to look unnatural. Your title, meta description, and URL should all work together to explain what is to come on the page.
5. Site speed
In today’s world of instant gratification, speed is crucial. Your pages should load within three seconds or less. This will increase your conversion rate, decrease your bounce rate, and boost engagement overall.
In the most basic terms, optimizing for on-page SEO is marrying what search engines want with what your users want. Your goal is to keep Google informed while creating a seamless and valuable experience for your readers. By working to improve and optimize the website elements within your control, you’ll be well on your way to building your link portfolio, and ultimately, enhancing your off-page SEO.