On page optimisation is the art of telling Google what category and what search phrase (keyword) your particular page is relevant to. If you don't do the correct on page optimisation, Google will not know what category to put your website in and you will have far chance of ranking for your desired search term.
Search Engine Optimisation is all about getting your website ranked in the search engine results and to do that you need to be able to design a website that meets the criteria of the Google search engine algorithm.
With the ever growing sophistication of Google's algorithm due to updates such as Rankbrain, Penguin and Panda, on page elements are becoming increasingly important for the ranking of websites and this trend will only continue to rise.Essentially the Google algorithm can be broken down into two distinct parts, on page optimisation and off page.
What is On Page Optimisation
On page SEO factors are things that are actually on your website and within your direct control, hence the name “On Page” whereas "Off Page" SEO deals with factors that are not on your website or within your direct control such as links from other websites and the strength of your competition.
Why On Page SEO Is Important
Google’s aim is to collate the world’s information and present it in a logical manner in the form of search engine results.
When Google creates it's search engine results it is essentially making a list of all the search phrases and topics in the world and presenting a list of what it believes are the best results for each search query.
Far too many website owners pay lip service to on page elements and spend all of their time concentrating on off page. The problem with this is that if the on page is not optimised correctly, they end up having to do two or three times the work to get the same results as someone who has optimised their page correctly for their chosen search phrases.
What Elements Comprise On Page SEO
Whilst there are numerous elements that comprise on page optimisation the most important factors to understand at a basic level are:
Page URL - A URL is the address of the webpage your trying to rank in the search results, such as https://rapidseoexpert.com/seo/basics.
An optimised URL should be short and contain the keywords that you want to rank for preferably at the start of the string (the section after your domain name).
This is because Google has stated that it prefers shorter URL strings and places more weight on words that are at the start of the URL string.
Page Title - This is what appears in the tab at the top of your browser and is used by the search engines for both organic (search engine rankings) and paid advertising. Optimising your page title is paramount to good SEO. Make sure that the phrase that you want to rank for is in the page title and preferably weighted to the front.
The title of the page is the first thing the search engines look at and is your first chance to tell Google that this is what the page is about, and that you would like to be considered to be ranked for this particular search phrase. Although it is possible it is a lot harder to rank a page for something that is not congruent with the title.
One of the advantages of using wordpress as a content management system in conjunction with the Yoast SEO plugin is the ability to create custom page titles and meta descriptions that are optimised both for SEO and to encourage readers to click through from the search results page.
Meta Description - This is the section that appears in the Google search results directly below the page title. Although it does not directly influence your rankings it is incredibly important as it is your chance to stand out amongst your competition and get people to click through to your website.
It needs to be written in a way that catches the reader's attention and entices them choose your result as opposed to the others.
For those without the Yoast SEO Plugin a good tool to test and optimise your Page Title and Meta Description is Snippet Optimiser
Heading Tags - There are a number of tags on a page and the most important of these are the header Tags, they are numbered in importance from H1 through to H6 although this can vary depending on the type of content management system you have (wordpress, drupal, joomla etc).
The H tags give the search engines guidance on the sub topics of your page and what is of importance. Many webmasters mistakenly use these tags to give the text on their website a different size and thickness to the rest of the text. Although this does work for that purpose it gives confusing signals to the search engines as to what is of importance on the page and actually harms your chances of ranking.
Bounce rate - This is a metric that google uses as a ranking signal and has become more important since the introduction of the Rankbrain algorithm. If someone visits your website from a search result and they immediately click away from your website back to the search results, Google clasifies this as a bounce.
If your bounce rate (the percentage of visitors that click back to the search engines) becomes too high, Google Rankbrain comes to the conclusion that your webpage is not meeting the needs of the user for that particular search query. As a result Google will stop showing your website for that particular query.
Our post on How To Lower Your Bounce Rate goes into this topic in more detail.
Google Hates Slow Websites
Website speed is a critical factor in both search engine rankings and website success. Google penalises websites that are slow to load because they provide a bad user experience (UX).
Your potential customers will not wait for a slow website to load and will click away back to the search results page.
Not only will you miss out on a potential sale but the visitor clicking back to the search results will also increase your bounce rate, which Google uses as a ranking signal.
You can test your page speed and get recommendations from Google PageSpeed Insights.
Be Mobile friendly Or Be Out Of The Race
Google is currently (at the time of writing) preparing to switch from a Desktop to a “Mobile First” search index.
What this means is that to ascertain if your website meets the criteria needed to be ranked, Google will be making that decision based on how your website appears on a mobile as opposed to a desktop. This change has come around because there are now more searches done on mobile devices instead of desktops.
To be mobile friendly you need to have a responsive website design, one that changes to accommodate different screen sizes and not a different m. mobile website. A different mobile website, (usually m.yourdomain.com) which were all the rage when google first started looking at “mobile readiness” does not contain all the necessary optimisation coding to help you qualify for a search result.
Also mobile only versions usually do not contain enough “Topical Depth” for Google to understand the topic and match it to the intent of a users search query.
According To The Google Webmaster Blog:
“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first.
Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.
Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices."You can take the Google Mobile Friendly Test here.
Have Topically Deep And Relevant Content
The more content you have on your webpage the more chance Google has of understanding the topic and the context of what your article is about. The longer the article the more chance you have to rank for multiple queries related to your topic.
For a detailed instruction on “Topical Depth” and how to it relates to Google search refer to our blog post “How To Rank For Multiple Terms”.
Optimise Your Images
If you have images on your website (and if you don’t you should!), ensure that the first image is optimised for the search term you wish to rank for and that all other images are optimised for relevant search phrases that are inline with your main keyword.
You can read a detailed account of image SEO on our post Image SEO : How To Optimise For The Search Engines:
Have A Good Internal Linking Structure
An internal linking structure serves two purposes. It distributes the authority of incoming links throughout the website so that every page benefits. It also helps the reader to find more relevant content to read which increases the “time on site” and lowers the bounce rate.
Both of these factors are ranking signals that Google takes into account when ranking a website.
The Next StepIf you implement all of the steps that are outlined above you will be well on your way to having your website optimised to rank in the search engines.
The next step is to have our team conduct a full audit of your website and provide you our recommendations. Our website SEO audit will provide you with 9 pages of actionable information that you can go way and implement straight away to greatly increase your chances of ranking in the search engine results.