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On Page SEO: What to look for

On Page SEO is crucial for getting your site to rank in Google, but it can get pretty technical.

Here’s everything you need to know about On Page SEO services, including what to look for and some questions to ask.

What is On Page SEO?

On-page SEO is all about what you can do directly on your website to increase your ranking in the search engines.

This ranges from straightforward steps, like putting your keyword in your title tag, to much more technical processes like improving your site speed by optimizing your html and css.

A large part of on-page SEO is obviously creating content and optimizing it to rank well in the search engines.

What is On Page SEO vs off-page SEO?

If On Page SEO is what you can do on your website, off-site SEO is all about what you can do off your website.

The main off-page SEO strategy is gaining backlinks or link-building; in other words, getting people to link to your website.

Off-page SEO is huge, since backlinks make such a huge difference to your ranking, and gaining backlinks is such a creative field.

There are many black-hat link-building techniques out there, so you need to be sure to choose a trustworthy SEO agency to do this for you, or your rankings could be in trouble in the long-run.

Other factors like growing your social media also count as part of off-page SEO.

Why is On Page SEO so important?

On-page SEO is like the foundation of your SEO strategy. It should be dealt with first, as without excellent on-page SEO, your Off Page SEO tactics won’t be effective.

For example, you could generate hundreds of backlinks, but if your site is too slow, or Google can’t crawl your site properly, you’re still not going to rank in the search engines.

How long does it take to see results?

This depends on where you start from, and how competitive your industry is.

If you have a huge site and your on-page SEO is currently very poor, and you’re in a highly competitive industry, it could take up to a year to see the full effect of SEO.

If you have a small site and you’re in a less competitive industry, it could take just a few months.

On Page SEO: What to look for

When looking for the right on-page SEO agency, you want to make sure they’re following the best practices and not taking any shortcuts.

Here’s 7 features a good on-Page SEO strategy should include:

Keyword density and placement

Keyword density is a hard thing to balance nowadays.

Before, keyword stuffing would get you great results. Now, it’s a guaranteed fast-track to getting red-flagged and sent to the bottom of the pile.

You have to be careful not to use your keyword too much; over 2% of the word count isn’t recommended.

This is another reason long-form content is preferable, as it means you can get your keyword in more times without it being classed as spammy.

A good keyword placement guide is to include the keyword in:

  • The title tag (obviously!) – and as far to the front of the title tag as you can
  • The first paragraph – the earlier the better
  • At least one of the subheadings
  • Sprinkled throughout a few times in the rest of the text, and preferably the last sentence too
  • The url – but this should be taken care of in your site structure

But aside from the title and url, the main rule is to keep things natural. Don’t put a keyword where you wouldn’t naturally put it.

Just as important now are LSI keywords. These are similar, relevant keyword terms to your main keyword, that you want to sprinkle in throughout your content. Again, you don’t want to go over 2% with this.

Meta descriptions

A page’s meta-description is a snippet that appears in Google below the link, giving a little preview of the page content.

For example a home page:

Or a blog article:

Google used to use these to work out what kind of content you were displaying, so keyword placement was super important.

Today that’s not really relevant, so it’s far more important to optimize this description so that people pick your link over someone else’s.

Google recommends that you write your own meta descriptions, even though Google can use its own if it wants to.

It’s still worth putting your keyword in there, however, as Google bolds any words that match the search term. Above, I searched for ‘Mac repair San Francisco’ and ‘keto diet plan’, and you can see that these words are bolded.

This bolding helps increase your click-through rate.

High-quality content

It’s no use just writing any old content and putting the right keywords in the right places.

Google’s algorithm measures lots of quality factors now, like the time spent on pages, and you’re only going to get legitimate backlinks if you have content people actually want to link to.

So it goes without saying, you want an experienced writer with perfect fluency in English to write your post.

It needs to be easy-to-read, enjoyable, on-point and knowledgeable on the subject matter.

Getting anyone in your department to string a blog post together probably isn’t going to get you very far.

Here are some other on-page SEO factors to take into account when writing content:

Create long content

Long content is actually proven to rank higher than shorter content, and a good ballpark is your content should be at least 1,500 words. However, for highly competitive terms, you’ll often find articles are a lot longer on the first page of Google.

Use headings

You should also use lots of headings to break up the text and make it easy to ‘scan’, which a lot of people do nowadays thanks to being bombarded with content and our ever-shrinking attention spans.

Bullet points also work well.

Use images

Images and other multimedia are great for a multitude of reasons:

  • They’re another great way of breaking up text and making it scannable, which helps increase the time people spend on the page.
  • They increase the quality of the content itself; as the saying goes, a picture says a thousand words.

Using your own, unique images is better than using stock images. Studies have shown unique images rank better. This isn’t a surprise, since Google prefers unique content to duplicate content.

Plus, if you use unique images, they’re more likely to appear in a Google Image search, which will bring you more traffic.

For example, you can see an image search for ‘blueberry muffins’ brings up unique images taken by blogs.

Unique images can be photos, diagrams, cartoons, or the very shareable infographics.

More advanced multimedia such as audios, videos or interactive media like quizzes, games, or interactive diagrams, is the crème de la crème of multimedia content.

Just think how long someone will spend on your page if there’s a 5 minute video on there, compared to one without.

And remember, you don’t have to necessarily use your own videos. You can embed other peoples’.

So to sum up use plenty of images, and optimize the alt text. Using unique images, as well as multimedia like videos, is even better.

Optimize images

Once you’ve picked an image, it’s time to optimize it.

Large file sizes are only going to increase your page loading time, so try to keep the file size as small as possible.

You should also input the alt text.

The alt text is a description of the image that’s displayed instead of the image if there’s an error displaying the image. It’s also used by the visually-impaired to understand what the image is.

But Google also crawls alt text, so you should use your keyword in the alt text of the image.

For example, say you’re writing about windsurfing and include this image:

A good alt text would be “man windsurfing in sea”.

This includes your keyword, and is also descriptive of what the image is actually showing.

Just “windsurfing” uses the keyword, but isn’t descriptive enough.

And “windsurfing sea waves watersports windsurfing equipment” is guilty of keyword stuffing.

Just like with the rest of your content, you’ll get penalized for this.

It’s also good practice to include the keyword in other places like the filename and caption.

Internal links

Internal linking is when you link to other pages on your website.

It can be used cleverly to pass link “strength” or “juice” onto other pages.

For examples, say you have a very authoritative page, such as your most popular blog post.

If you link that blog post to another less popular page, the more popular post will pass some link “juice” to the less popular page, and start to rank higher.

Pretty clever, huh?

For a lot of companies, your most popular page will be your homepage. So, linking your blog on your homepage is another good idea to spread the link “juice” around to all your blog posts.

A good SEO agency can do this strategically across all your pages to really boost your rankings.

For internal links, you want to use the keyword in the link text, rather than just ‘click here’. You also want to double-check they’re not accidentally marked as nofollow due to some setting, error or plugin.

Site speed

Site speed, particularly for mobiles, is hugely important.

If your pages load slowly, users aren’t going to hang around. They’re going to click on another google search result instead, making you lose valuable traffic and potential customers.

But also, Google actually penalizes sites with slow speeds, more so since 2018.

And when impatient users click away, your bounce rate soars, another very bad sign to Google.

You may think ‘well, my site loads just fine….’

But it’s worth testing this theory, particularly your mobile site, as the vast majority of sites out there are simply too slow for Google’s standards.

Google PageSpeed Insights is a great, free tool by Google for doing this.

Simply pop in your url and it will give you a score out of a 100 along with a host of details and suggestions.

Fixing speed is probably the most technical part of on-page SEO. The first problem is finding out what exactly is causing your slow speeds. 

A good SEO agency will use various tools to diagnose the issues.

Solutions include:

  • Compressing images
  • Minimizing html, css and javascript
  • Upgrading your hosting
  • Using browser caching
  • Using a Content Delivery Network


A good SEO agency will make sure your website is fully responsive, so that it works well on tablets and mobiles.

The best sites will carefully alter each page depending on the screen size and shape, moving around sections and taking out unnecessary content as the screen gets smaller.

For a real life example, take Apple’s homepage.

Image Source: Apple

You can see that the menu is modified, and Apple even changes the phone image to a different portrait image on mobiles.

Image Source: Apple

Mobile usage has skyrocketed, particularly for local businesses, as people look for services on the go.

So local business websites really need to be mobile-first, rather than just mobile-friendly.

Crawl errors

Google and other search engines search through or ‘crawl’ all parts of your website to find the information they need.

If your site won’t let Google do this properly, it will affect your rankings.

Fortunately, you can check your site for ‘crawl errors’, which show where you’re going wrong and enable them to be fixed.

This includes checking your site map, robots.txt file, meta robots, broken links, poor redirects, and duplicate content.

Image Source: Moz

Premium tools like Screaming Frog can help immensely with this.

Image Source: Screaming Frog

Your site architecture should also be optimized to enable Google to crawl your site quickly, and this can take a long time to fix if you have a lot of pages – for example, e-commerce sites with lots of products.

Our On Page SEO services

If you’re ready to start optimizing your on-page SEO, we can help.

We only take on four clients, giving you the attention you need to ensure your SEO success. Our SEO strategy is results-driven and data-centric, so you can track your ROI every step of the way.Whether you’re a local business, e-commerce store, or blog, we can help. Contact us online today.

Author avatar
Perrin Carrell

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