There’s more to on-page SEO than simply slipping a few keywords into your content.
SEO (search engine optimization) is an essential part of any successful, long-term digital marketing strategy, but it also has a reputation for being this big, overly complicated thing. The reality is that it’s pretty simple. In fact, the basics of SEO can be broken down into three main parts — keywords, content, and links.
However, even though keywords, content, and links are the main things Google looks at when ranking a page on your website, they aren’t the only things. There are several different areas of a page that can be optimized to tell Google exactly what your business does and what it has to offer.
SEO doesn’t have to be complicated, but getting the most visibility for your page means knowing how to optimize the different elements of on-page SEO properly.
The Elements of On-Page SEO
The title tag is an element of on-page SEO that doesn’t show up on the page at all, but it’s your audience’s first clue as to the subject of your page. Title tags are featured in the SERP (search engine results pages), and they can also be viewed when the mouse hovers over the tab.
Title tags play a key role in telling Google which keywords are relevant to your page, but even more important than that, they entice people to click on your page in the SERP. In this way, title tags have a direct role to play in the click-through-rate of the page.
While the title tag itself won’t make or break a page’s ranking in the SERP, if your site has duplicate, missing, or even just poorly written title tags, it will almost certainly hurt your site’s organic rankings.
The meta description is another element of on-page SEO that’s not actually on the page itself — or at least you won’t see it on the page. Like title tags, meta descriptions appear in the SERP; your meta description will actually appear directly underneath your title tag.
Also similar to title tags, meta descriptions play a huge role in how many clicks your page gets because they are part of what entices people to visit your page.
According to Google, meta descriptions don’t have a direct impact on how a page ranks in the SERP, which means that they don’t play a role in how many people have the opportunity to visit your page. However, since meta descriptions affect the clickability of the page, they do have an impact on how many people will actually visit.
Headers, also called header tags, are an HTML element that it utilized to help Google differentiate the headings and subheadings in your content from the other kinds of text that may be present (paragraph text, for example).
Like the other elements of on-page SEO that we’ve already discussed, your page probably won’t tank in the rankings if you don’t have headers, but it’s important to have optimized headers for both the SEO of your website and the experience that you provide for your audience.
By breaking up your content and making it easier for your visitors to read, as well as by providing context about the page to search engines, header tags can have an indirect impact on the page’s organic rankings.
Most people are already aware of the fact that images are an important part of increasing the convertibility of a page and creating a better experience for your visitors, but did you know that they are also important to the page’s organic rankings in the SERP?
Images can be a powerful thing, but it’s important to realize that not all images are made equal, and in order to get the most out of the images on your page, you’ll need to optimize them.
Image optimization involves resizing and compressing images properly. This is a critical step, because large, clunky images make for slow load times, and if your page loads slowly, it will almost certainly have a negative impact on both the user experience and organic ranking of the page.
Another aspect of image optimization involves adding alt image tags. Alt image tags — also known as alt tags and alt descriptions — is the copy that appears on a webpage in the case that the images fail to load. They are also used to describe images to visually impaired readers by screen-reading tools, and they help search engines crawl and rank the page.
The content is probably the most important SEO element of any page. Google has always placed a high value on quality content, as evidenced by the fact that it’s one of Google’s three main ranking factors.
As anyone who has ever tried to get a page to rank on Google can tell you, Google doesn’t view all content the same way. In fact, when Google looks at content to determine a ranking, it looks at three main things — expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T).
- Expertise – In order to be an expert, you need to be very knowledgeable and/or skillful in a specific area, and chances are, you are already an expert in your field. When Google looks for expertise in content, it’s looking for writers who are able to communicate their knowledge in a way that engages their audience.
- Authority – Any expert can write about their field, but only the most authoritative content will be shared and linked back to by others. In addition to earning links, when your content gets shared consistently on social media, it also helps to make your content more authoritative.
- Trustworthiness – If there’s one thing that can tank a good organic ranking, it’s a lack of trustworthiness. Luckily, there are a lot of things you can do to make your content — and your business — more trustworthy, including having an author biography, citing external sources, having a secure domain, associating your website with a physical location, and having a clear path for people to contact you.
In addition to writing content with expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, it’s also important to utilize targeted keywords in your content, but keep in mind that you should do so as naturally as possible. It’s essential to your organic rankings that your keywords don’t appear as if they’ve been awkwardly forced into your content.
I hope that understanding the main elements of on-page SEO will help to reduce any intimidation you might be feeling about optimizing your site. But, if you’re still feeling iffy, don’t hesitate to take advantage of our content team!