The industry of SEO can be summarised pretty efficiently by discussing its end goal. When a business starts to implement SEO tactics into their website, they are merely trying to get their site to rank as highly as possible in their selected field. With this in mind, one of the most common tactics used by digital marketers to boost their rankings is the art of On-Page Optimisation. But precisely what is On-Page Optimisation in SEO? What kinds of changes do people make to their pages as a part of this process? And what are some of the best tools to use to do so? All will be revealed in this new blog article!
What is On-Page Optimisation?
On-page optimisation, also sometimes referred to as on-page SEO, is the practice of optimising the individual pages of a website in a variety of different ways, in order to get them to rank higher for key terms and achieve more relevant, high-quality traffic from search engines. When we use the phrase “on-page”, we are referring to both the content of the page and the HTML source code of a page- improvements made to both are what make up the process of on-page optimisation.
On-page optimisation concerns anything that occurs on the page, and should not be confused with off-page optimisation. While both tactics are dedicated to getting individual pages to rank, off-page optimisation focuses on tactics that occur without changing the content of the page itself; for example, getting more external links (or backlinks) from other websites to link to the page in question.
On-Page Optimisation Checklist
In this section of the article, we will provide an on-page optimisation checklist to use. We will discuss some of the many different tactics you can employ as part of your on-page optimisation strategy; while everyone’s processes might look a little different, we believe that a good, thorough on-page optimisation strategy can be broken down into three distinct areas: research, implementation, and analysis.
Stage 1: Research
Before you even consider making any on-page changes to the pages of your website, you need to have a good understanding of why you are making these changes and for what end specifically. You need to have a clear understanding of the wider landscape that the chosen page exists in, as well as identifying what keywords you are looking to target and how this might inform any larger changes to your selected page. We can narrow down our on-page optimisation research tactics to the following: Page Analysis, Competitor Research, Keyword Research and TF-IDF Analysis.
General Page Analysis
An excellent place to start when considering implementing on-page optimisation tactics is to look at the page itself and make a note of any glaring inadequacies. Is the content on this page noticeably thin, or of notably low quality when compared to your other pages? Perhaps the overall layout of the page stands out as being lacklustre and needs improving. You should also, if you haven’t already, check how the page is ranking for your designated keywords (using whatever keyword tracking tool you use) and get a clear picture of what the page is and isn’t doing well.
Once you have analysed the chosen page you will be working on; you should also make an effort to see what all of your competitor’s pages are doing. You can easily identify who your fiercest competitors are by merely searching for your priority keywords and seeing who is outranking you in the SERPs. Make a note of these competitor’s pages; what stands out to you as being particularly good, and also identify any lacking areas that may provide you with an opportunity to gain an advantage over them.
When you have a clearer picture of your direct competitors, this can also inform the approach you take. For example, if you find that your pages are being outranked by huge, industry-leading brands such as Amazon for certain keywords- this can prompt you to find alternative keywords to target. What this means is that you can identify unexploited gaps that you can target to improve your rankings, without having to compete against the much bigger, more recognised brands for more popular search terms.
While you might already have a good understanding of the specific keywords you’ll be looking to target in your on-page optimisation, it is also a good idea to do some additional keyword research to identify further keyword options. Keywords and search queries are continually trending and changing, and you might see that there are new opportunities that you hadn’t considered (or even known about) when the page was first setup.
An additional research tactic you can use to complete this stage of your on-page optimisation is to conduct some TF-IDF analysis. For those unfamiliar with the term, TF-IDF stands for Term Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency; it is a type of numerical metric that is used to determine what the most important words are in a piece of content. By using tools such as Seobility, you can learn what the most essential words in the top 10 ranking pages for your selected keyword are, and how often you use these words when compared to competitors. This is another useful exercise that can help you inform what types of topics you should cover within your content.
Stage 2: Implementation
Once you have completed all of your research, you should be in a position where you have a great understanding of the limitations of your page. This includes how it stacks up against competitors, the types of keywords you want to be optimised for, and the type of content you should include as indicated by your TF-IDF analysis. It is now time to start implementing all of these ideas onto the page itself. We can narrow down our on-page optimisation implementation tactics to the following: Header Tags, Keyword Optimisation, Metadata Optimisation, Internal Linking, Technical SEO, Schema Markup, and EAT Content.
Optimising the structure of your page’s header tags is an excellent place to start when beginning the on-page optimisation process. A reasonably straightforward change, this merely involves making sure that the page content follows a neat, H1-H2-H3 structure. As a standard practice:
- The title of the page should always be the H1 (the H1 of this page, for example, is “What is On-Page Optimisation in SEO?”).
- Relevant, H2 subcategory titles should then separate sections of the page content.
- From here, any further subcategories on your page should come under the relevant sections, in descending numerical order (e.g. “Stage 2: Implementation” is a H3 section within the H2 category “On-Page Optimisation Checklist”).
With all of your keyword research completed, you should have a list of key terms that you are looking to include within your pages content and metadata. The process is as simple as it sounds, you have to organically work in your chosen keywords into your page content more frequently- making sure that the content still reads well and avoiding some black hat SEO tactics, such as:
- Cloaking: Hiding content from users that is just there to include keywords and make the page rank higher.
- Keyword Stuffing: Stuffing content with keywords in an inorganic way.
Your Metadata is another example of page content that can be optimised; the Meta Descriptions and the Meta Titles. Meta Descriptions are HTML elements that are used to describe the contents of a page, and they serve as a great opportunity to optimise your page with relevant keywords. Your page meta descriptions should also be of the right length; if they exceed the character limit of 155, then search engines may ignore your descriptions and pull in other content on the page instead.
A Meta Title is a HTML element that serves as the page title for search engines- and is the title you will see in the search engine results page (SERP). Meta titles should clearly describe the contents of the page, and similarly to the descriptions, should never exceed their own character limit of 60 characters as a standard practice.
Internal linking is another reasonably straightforward tactic within your on-page optimisation strategy. A way that Google uses to identify high-value pages on a website is by checking the number of links it has. It is only logical after all that the most valuable, highest authority pages on a website would have the most pages linking to it. By adding more links from other pages on your website to the page you’re looking to optimise, with keyword optimised anchor text to boot, you are telling Google “this page is important”- so it is more likely to rank higher.
Schema markup is a tactic that is not applicable on every page you might be looking to optimise, but if you can include it, this will provide a massive boost to that page’s hopes of ranking. Schema markup is a type of code you can add to a page, to give more information to web crawlers on what your page is and what it’s purpose is within your website. For example, a page listing products can have something known as ProductSchema added, which tells web crawlers that this page is one that sells products. The better understanding web crawlers have of your site, and it’s pages, the more likely it is to return your website as an answer to a browsers query.
On-page optimisation isn’t just concerned with the optimisation of content. You need to make sure that the page you’re looking at has been set up correctly from a technical SEO perspective, too. When optimising a page, you should be considering things, among others, like:
- Page Speed: Does the page load slowly, and can this be improved?
- Indexing: Is the page able to be indexed?
- Schema: Has Schema Markup been implemented correctly?
- Links: Does the page have any broken links that need redirection?
EAT Content is not so much a specific on-page optimisation tactic, as it is an approach to how page content should be approached generally. EAT stands for Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness; what this means is that search engines like Google want to see pages that provide actual value to the reader- and this is something that engines like Google are getting better and better at noticing. EAT worthy pages, while hard to define, are more authoritative ones; they have many inbound links, lots of well-written, organically-optimised content and provide an excellent user experience (UX). You might notice that by following all the other recommended implementations, EAT content will almost naturally occur on your pages.
Stage 3: Analysis
The final step of your on-page optimisation strategy, once all the research has been completed, and all of your actions implemented, will be to step back and monitor the performance of the page.
Reindex your Page
As soon as possible, once all of your on-page optimisations have gone live, you should look to manually request the page be indexed by whatever search engines you are most concerned with. This will most likely be Google, but may also include other search engines such as Bing. Manually requesting a page be reindexed is merely a way to prompt Google into factoring in your changes faster, and makes it aware that a page has recently been updated.
If you have made any technical changes to your page, you should also keep an eye on the general page health to make sure no errors have occurred. You can use Google Search Console to inspect individual URLs, identify any errors with items like Schema and check the usability of your page on mobile devices, among other things.
The most obvious way that you can check the progress of a page once all of your on-page optimisation changes have gone live, is to keep a close eye on all of your keyword rankings for that page. Keyword rankings are notoriously volatile and often change on a whim. Still, if you notice any significant, long term changes after your optimisations have taken effect, then you will quickly be able to identify what you need to do to address these changes- good or bad.