On-page SEO is crucial to enhance your website’s visibility and performance.

Pages that are not optimized for search engines struggle to reach the top of Google’s search results, significantly reducing their visibility to potential visitors.

This guide covers everything you need to know about on-page SEO, ensuring your site maintains a top-ranking position in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

From the basics of HTML elements to the complexities of site architecture and content optimization, this guide is your comprehensive resource for all things On-page SEO.


What is On-page SEO?

On-page SEO

Have you ever wondered how some web pages pop up at the very top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)?

This is largely thanks to On-page SEO, which involves optimizing elements directly on your website to climb to the top of the SERPs.

This practice focuses on your content, the HTML setup, and the overall structure of your site to improve visibility.

On-page SEO includes tactics like adjusting your title tags, using the right keywords, and crafting engaging meta descriptions.

Unlike Off-page SEO, which involves external factors like backlinks, On-page SEO gives you full control over these adjustments.

This guide will help you understand how you can make these changes to boost your site’s performance in search results.

On-page VS Off-page SEO: What’s the difference?

On-page SEO is about all the things you can tweak on your own site to boost your rankings.

This includes the content you write, the keywords you choose, and how you set up your HTML.

On the other hand, Off-page SEO involves external factors—think of it as building your site’s reputation through links from other sites or social media engagement.

On-page SEO Off-page SEO
You have direct control Influenced by external actions
Involves content and site structure Involves links and external recognition
Tells search engines what your site is about Tells search engines if others vouch for your site

To learn how Off-page SEO can complement your On-page efforts, have a look at our Off-Page SEO Guide

Why does On-page SEO matter for your website?

Ranking highly in Google isn’t just nice to have; it’s crucial if you want to catch the eye of potential visitors.

The top three spots in Google’s search results get over half of all clicks, and the very first result alone grabs 27.6% of those clicks.

This makes being at the top not just a goal, but a necessity.

Google uses five criteria to decide which pages are worthy of appearing first, with each of them confirming the importance of On-page SEO:

  1. Meaning: Your page content must match what users are searching for, making keyword selection crucial.
  2. Relevance: The more your keywords align with search queries, the better your chances.
  3. Content quality: High-quality, authoritative content gets prioritized, so aim to produce helpful and informative pages.
  4. Usability: If a web page is easy to navigate, especially on mobile, it stands a better chance of ranking higher on SERPs.
  5. Context: Google also considers the searcher’s location and settings to provide the most relevant results.

Mastering these 5 key areas via On-page SEO will help you convince Google that your page deserves a top spot.

To help you do so, the next chapter explains what On-page elements to consider when optimizing a web page for SERP rankings.

To learn more about how Google ranks webpages, have a look at our ultimate guide How The Google Search Algorithm Works

On-page SEO elements

The elements that can make or break your On-page SEO efforts fall into three main categories:

  • Content elements
  • HTML elements
  • Website architecture elements

When optimized, these elements can dramatically improve how high you rank in search results.

Content elements

Your content isn’t just there to inform—it’s a vital part of your SEO strategy. Here’s how to make it work for you:

1. Helpful content (E-E-A-T)

One of the most influential factors in boosting your page’s SERP ranking revolves around Google’s E-E-A-T principles, as highlighted in their Search Quality Rater Guidelines.

E-E-A-T stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness

This means your pages should provide well-researched, trustworthy information that reflects genuine knowledge and authority on the subject matter.

To put it in even simpler terms, your web page must be seen by Google as ‘helpful content.’

Remember, great content should serve the needs of your users, aligning closely with what they’re searching for.

In fact, each and every element of On-page SEO we discuss in this guide aims to enhance your site’s E-E-A-T, ensuring that what you offer not only meets but exceeds the expectations of both users and search engines alike.

2. Keywords

Effectively using keywords is essential to aligning your content with the E-E-A-T principles outlined by Google.

Keywords help to demonstrate the expertise and relevancy of your content, which is crucial for On-page SEO.

They should be strategically placed not only in the main body of your text but also in your URLs, headings, title tags, and meta descriptions.

This helps search engines understand the context of your pages, ensuring they match the intent behind user searches.

However, it’s important to use keywords thoughtfully—overstuffing your content with them can harm your SEO efforts.

Instead, aim for a natural integration that enhances the readability and relevance of your content.

For more guidance on mastering keyword placement to boost your page’s authority and relevance, explore our Keyword Research Guide

3. Visual content

Visual elements like images, videos, and infographics play a crucial role in enhancing your On-page SEO by making your content more engaging and accessible.

These visual aids help break up text, making your pages easier to read and more appealing.

Additionally, when you optimize these elements—for instance, by using descriptive alt tags and appropriate file names—you help search engines understand what the content is about, which can boost your visibility in image searches.

It’s also important to ensure that these visuals are optimized for fast loading and are mobile-friendly, as these factors contribute to a better user experience and are considered by search engines when ranking sites.

HTML elements

HTML elements form the backbone of your webpage’s structure, playing a crucial role in how search engines interpret and rank your content.

These elements include everything from the titles and descriptions that appear in search results to the organization of your content through headers and the optimization of images.

Here’s a closer look at the HTML elements you should optimize to enhance your On-page SEO:

4. Title tag

A title tag is the HTML element that specifies the title of a web page, and it’s important because it’s one of the first things both users and search engines encounter.

It appears in the search engine results pages (SERPs) as the clickable headline for a given result and is crucial for usability, SEO, and social sharing.

A well-crafted title tag should capture the essence of your page content in a concise and appealing way, incorporating primary keywords at the beginning if possible.

5. Meta description

The meta description is a brief summary of a page in the HTML of your document that search engines use when displaying search results.

A compelling meta description can improve the likelihood that people will click through to your site.

Therefore, it should include relevant keywords and provide a clear description of what users will find on the page.

6. Headers

Headers (from H1 to H6 tags) organize and structure your content hierarchically and are critical for readability and SEO.

The H1 tag, typically reserved for the main page title, is particularly important for search engine rankings as it’s considered a strong signal of page content.

Subsequent headers (H2, H3, etc.) should be used to structure content effectively, making it easier for readers to navigate and for search engines to understand the key points and subtopics of your content.

7. Image optimization

This involves adjusting the HTML elements related to images such as the ‘alt’ text, image title, and file name.

Proper image optimization helps search engines understand the content of the image, contributing to SEO by making your images discoverable in search engine image results.

Effective optimization includes using descriptive, keyword-rich file names, and ‘alt’ attributes that succinctly describe the image’s content.

This not only aids in SEO but also improves accessibility for users with visual impairments.

8. Schema markup

Schema markups are a form of microdata added to the HTML that creates an enhanced description (commonly known as a rich snippet), which appears in search results.

Schema tells the search engines what your data means, not just what it says.

This context helps search engines to index your content more effectively and improves the richness of the content displayed in search results.

This can include enhanced visuals and crucial information that may attract more clicks even if your ranking remains the same.

Implementing schema can be crucial for SEO as it directly helps to communicate to search engines the specifics of your content and can improve how your content is represented in SERPs.

Website Architecture Elements

9. URL structure

URLs, or Uniform Resource Locators, are a fundamental part of your site’s architecture and are vital for both user experience and SEO.

A well-structured URL provides both users and search engines with a clear indication of what the page is about.

Ideally, URLs should be simple, descriptive, and include keywords relevant to the content of the page.

This helps not only in ranking better in search engines but also in enhancing user experience by making the URLs easy to remember and type.

A clean URL structure that avoids unnecessary parameters can significantly improve the crawlability of your site, ensuring that search engines can more easily access and index your content.

Links are the pathways that connect the content on your website and to other websites, playing a crucial role in On-page SEO. There are three main types of links to consider:

  • Internal links: These are links that go from one page on your domain to another. Effective use of internal linking helps improve site navigation, defines the architecture and hierarchy of your site, and distributes page authority and ranking power throughout the site.
  • External links: Also known as outbound links, these direct users from your pages to different websites. Citing reputable sources through external links can enhance the authoritativeness of your content.
  • Backlinks: These are incoming links from other websites to your site. High-quality backlinks from reputable websites can significantly boost your site’s credibility and authority, which are crucial factors in SEO.

11. Mobile friendliness

Since mobile search volume first surpassed desktop in 2016, the importance of having a mobile-friendly website has become undeniable.

Currently, mobile devices account for over 56% of all Internet usage.

Recognizing this shift, Google has increasingly prioritized mobile-friendly sites in its rankings.

Sites that are optimized for mobile devices, offering fast load times and a responsive design, are more likely to rank well.

These factors not only cater to user preferences but also align with Google’s goal to enhance user experience.

It’s crucial to ensure that your website hosting, design, and layout are optimized for mobile devices.

If you’re unsure about your site’s mobile readiness, Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test can provide you with valuable insights.

12. Site speed

Google considers site speed a critical ranking factor, underlining the importance of a fast-loading website.

Whether on a mobile device or a desktop, your site’s ability to load quickly directly affects user experience, which in turn impacts your SEO performance.

Slow-loading sites tend to have higher bounce rates, as users are less likely to stay on a site that doesn’t load promptly.

This can negatively affect your site’s search ranking and overall user engagement.

Additionally, faster sites are likely to see better conversion rates and a higher return on investment.

To monitor and improve your site’s speed, you should take advantage of tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights.