On-Page Optimization Guide

You’ve probably put a lot of time into creating content on your website.

Now, optimize those pages for the keywords people are searching for, using the 8 tips below.

What Is On-Page SEO?

“On-page” SEO refers to the changes we make to each of the pages on our website. It is different than “off-page” SEO, which refers to the techniques we use off of our website, such as link building.

Clean, concise on-page SEO is easy to perform, yet it is amazing how many businesses screw it up.

#1 – Keyword In Title

Your web page’s title appears at the top of your browser or when you hover over the tab for a web page. Every page on your website has a title.

Write a brief description of what your page is about and don’t repeat keywords. Keep your title to 66 characters or less – most search engines don’t recognize more than that amount.

I usually put my keyword phrase first because I think it sends a stronger signal to search engine robots of what the page is about. Local businesses are smart to include their location in the title, as you’ll have a better chance of ranking in your local market.

In the example below, I’ve used:

WordPress Web Design Services | Portland, Oregon

to target people in my market searching for WordPress web design services.

title of web page for mikemunter

#2 – Keyword Variant In H1 Tag

“H” stands for Header and “1” means it’s your first heading tag. Matt Cutts of Google recommends having only one H1 tag on each page of your website and I tend to agree.

Your H1 is your main headline and much like your title, it should be descriptive of what your web page is about, without being too long. (The 66 character cutoff does not apply to your H1, but I’d still keep it short and concise.)

H1 example

#3 – Keyword In Additional H Tags

WordPress sites give you H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 tags. As a practice, I generally use H2 tags to break up sections of text and transition between sub-topics.

For instance, on this page, my H1 is “On-Page Optimization Guide” and each sub-topic is an H2 (Title, H1, Additional H tags, etc). If my sub-topics were particularly long, I might further divide sections with H3 tags.

Each tag is of lower importance. If possible, I try to include at part or all of my keyword in my H2 tags. But when it sounds spammy, I don’t do it.

#4 – Content Length

Multiple studies show that longer content usually ranks better.

If your competitors are writing 500 word blog posts, write a 1,000 word blog post.

If they’re writing 1,000 word blog posts, write 2,000 word blog posts.

Never sacrifice quality for quantity.

When you write good, quality content that’s long you achieve several goals which help you rank better:

  • More words for Googlebot
  • Lower bounce rate
  • More time on page by human visitors

#5 – Unique Content

Your content needs to be as unique as possible. Don’t just do a re-write of someone else’s content and don’t ever copy/paste your own content or someone else’s.

Google is not going to rank it if it thinks it is similar to content that is already published on the web.

You’ve got to supply something new, fresh, and better.

I see this a lot in the online reputation management space. Some companies use executive interviews to create content for their business clients. Great idea!

But the problem is, they don’t differentiate one interview from the next. If two interviews on two different sites are similar in content, Google will probably not rank them both.

For best results, you’ve got to make them entirely unique.

For example, if one executive interview is focused on his business ideas, make the next one more focused on his hobby. Then make the next one based more on family, then charity work, etc.

The more topically diverse you can make each interview, the better the chance each one will rank on its own.

Of course, lots of social media sharing and link building help, too!

#6 – Internal Linking

Internal linking is a link from one page of your website to another page of your website. nternal linking is a terrific way to lead your visitor deeper into your website, which helps with engagement and time on site, two factors many SEO’s believe contribute to establishing website authority and improved search engine rankings.

Plus, it makes good sense. Each page on your website will usually have natural places where it makes sense to link out to another page, especially when you’re mentioning a new topic, service, or product.

Use internal linking wherever it seems natural to do so, but don’t overdo it. As you add more and more quality content to your site, you’ll start to see more ways to tie everything together with internal links.

Internal Linking example

# 7 – Keyword Density

Personally, I don’t waste time worrying about the % of times I’ve used a keyword on a page. I DO, however, make sure to use my target keywords within a page wherever it seems natural to do so.

For example, if I’m writing a page with a title of “WordPress Web Design Services,” then it follows that I’d be mentioning those words within the content of the page. If you write your pages naturally, as if you were speaking to your customer, you’ll be just fine. If you read it back and it sounds spammy, then it is. Clean it up.

If you need more guidance, watch this video from Google’s Matt Cutts.

# 8 – Highlighting Keyword Phrases

I haven’t seen anything officially from Google on the use of highlighting or bolding your keywords on a page, but I try to remember to do it as a practice.

As a user, when I see keywords that are bolded in the first couple of sentences, I feel like I’m in the right place. So, even if it doesn’t help your on-page optimization for search results, it seems to me to be the right thing to do.

I recommend bolding your keyword phrase or relevant phrase once, within the first paragraph, if possible.

On-Page Optimization Summary

Optimize your website’s core pages to help you rank locally for your target keywords. You can optimize your blog posts using the same strategies, but I have to be honest. I usually don’t spend time optimizing my blog because I’m usually not trying to target a certain keyword.

Usually when we’re working with a client on content, they will do the writing and send it to us for editing and optimization. We also post it to their site to make sure it looks good when it’s published.