The folks at Rankwatch developed an SEO software used across 25 countries by brands such as Amazon, Sky, and many more. Having more than 25,000 customers, they do know SEO. This is why we invited the Rankwatch CEO and Founder, Sahil Kakkar to give some useful advice on how to improve a website SEO-wise.
Every website on the internet is trying hard to get to the top positions in the search results. Or at least wanting to be there.
But, they are clueless about the starting point. And it is justified to be unsure in the beginning because SEO is vast and complex.
It can be broadly classified into on-page and off-page SEO, yet that’s just showing the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more that goes into acquiring the top search rankings for your target keywords. To make it easier, I’ll be talking about 10 on-page SEO elements, which must be well-optimized in the first place.
But first, let’s get the basics right.
What Is On-Page SEO?
Search ranking refers to the position of a given web page for a specific query (primary keyword/target keyword) on the search results page. On-page SEO is all about optimizing elements present on a webpage to improve search rankings and drive more organic traffic. It is different from Off-page SEO, which is about building backlinks and other practices that improve organic search performance.
The on-page SEO elements include optimizations across keywords and topics, URLs, title tags, alt text, internal links, and meta descriptions.
We will be discussing them in detail later in this article.
And when we do so, you’ll realize that these elements are under your control. You can optimize them to better your site’s overall SEO.
But, before proceeding, you must know where your site stands in terms of SEO.
Check Your SEO Performance
Using RankWatch’s free website SEO analyzer, you can do a quick and thorough check. Just enter the web page URL you want to test, and the tool will give you a report within 60 seconds. It will tell you whether your web page has a meta description, meta tags, heading tags, page links, etc., or not.
Also, it highlights the errors so that you can fix them and improve your SEO.
It is a good practice to audit your site and check for errors frequently. So, you should make it a point!
Now, without further ado, let’s begin.
10 Essential On-Page SEO Elements
Knowing the essential elements of On-page SEO helps you optimize and achieve better results. Here’s a rundown of the 10 On-page SEO elements we will be talking about:
- E-A-T (Expertise-Authority-Trust)
- URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
- Title Tags
- Meta Description
- Heading Tags
- Page Speed
- Internal & External Links
- Mobile Friendliness
- User Experience
Let’s learn more about them one element at a time.
1. E-A-T (Expertise-Authority-Trustworthiness)
E-A-T is Google’s latest addition to its Quality Rater Guidelines. It has become the most important on-page SEO element, so you must not miss out on E-A-T. First, understand what the three terms in E-A-T mean:
- Expertise: Is the content written or produced by an expert? Does the author have good knowledge about the subject?
- Authority: Is the content published by a reliable source? Can we trust the accuracy of the information?
- Trustworthiness: Is the source transparent about its identity? Can we reach out to the publisher if needed?
In a nutshell, Google wants you to create valuable content for users. If your content is high-quality, Google will boost your rankings and organic search performance. So, you must optimize your web pages for E-A-T. Here are some tips:
- Get links and mentions from high-authority sites
- Provide your contact information on your site
- Publish highly knowledgeable and expert content
- Mention details about the author with the content
- Collet more positive reviews from users
- Build your online presence
Once you have produced content, you must work on your URL.
2. URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
URL makes it easier for the Google crawler to understand your webpage. It appears in the address bar like this:
But, incorrect URLs can seriously affect your organic search performance. But worry not. The following tips will help you create SEO-friendly URLs:
- Mention your primary keyword in it,
- Keep it simple and short,
- Stick with lowercase,
- Avoid numbers and special characters,
- Use hyphens not underscore as separators,
- Go with HTTPS security.
Next, work on your title tags.
3. Title Tags
The clickable links present on the search result page are known as title tags.
You can also spot them in the browser tab when the web page is open and on social networks when the page is shared.
They help users and search engines to get an idea about the web page and decide whether to click or not. Using the <title> tag in the HTML code, you can add a title tag to your web page.
But, there are certain things that you must keep in mind while working with title tags:
- Keep your titles under 60-70 characters
- Make it relevant to the page’s content
- Use target keywords but don’t overuse
- Add your brand’s name if possible
- Don’t use boilerplate, be unique
- Avoid stop words (to, so, was, etc.)
- Use action words at the start
- Don’t copy-paste the page heading
If you abide by them, you will be able to create SEO-friendly title tags easily. Most people often neglect this on-page SEO element because of its small impact. They sideline title tags’ potential altogether. But if you use this with other elements, it will help you rank and drive organic traffic to your site.
Now let’s keep the drum rolling and talk about what’s next on the list.
4. Meta Description
A meta description is a short summary of a web page, appearing below the title tag on the search results page.
Like the title tags, they also help users and search engines understand a page’s content and influence click-through rates. So, optimizing them is very important.
Here are a few things you must take care of while writing meta descriptions:
- Wrap it up within 150-160 characters
- Describe your page’s content sufficiently
- Include target keywords
- Use it for advertising your content
- Make them compelling
- Encourage clicks
- Keep it unique and original
With that, you can influence your page’s CTR (click-through rate) and its ability to rank.
Now, let’s discuss the heading tags.
5. Heading Tags
Heading tags or header tags help you separate the content present on a web page. They indicate the relative value of one part of the web page in comparison to another. H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 are the most widely used header tags, with H1 having the highest value and H6 lowest.
Every web page must have a minimum of one H1 tag and a few H2 tags. It helps to structure the information and differentiate one part from another.
Here’s an example:
<H1> <Big bang theory></H1>
<H2> <About the theory></H2>
<H2> <Scientific conclusions for the theory></H2>
The best SEO practices for using header tags are:
- Using H1 tags to introduce the main title
- Following the hierarchical structure
- Giving subheadings to break the monotony
- Including target keywords in header tags
- Structuring the content for snippets
- Keeping the tags consistent
Once you get used to it, working with header tags becomes a breeze.
Keywords are the terms or phrases people type into the search box to find what they are looking for.
Search engines understand a page’s content with the help of keywords. When you use the right keywords in your content, it ranks well. Without keywords, your content will not perform as desired.
So, researching the perfect set of keywords for your content piece and using them helps your SEO.
Here are a few tips for using keywords in the best way:
- Select the most recent keywords
- Go for long-tail keywords
- Separate primary keywords and secondary keywords
- Distribute them evenly throughout the content
- Use them naturally in sentences, don’t stuff
- Add them to meta description, title tag, URLs, etc.
Here we follow on to the next element.
7. Page Speed
The one thing we all hate while browsing the web is to wait for a site to load!
When it takes more than 10 seconds to display the desired page, we shift to another webpage. That’s common user behavior.
So, websites need to optimize their page speed. They need to reduce the time it takes to load the webpage’s content and show it to the user. If the web page’s loading time increases, it causes the users to leave the given website. It adds a bad experience to the user’s history, which reduces the traffic on the website. Most website auditing tools like the free website checker by RankWatch will point out page speed issues with your site. Also, they’ll help you figure out constructive solutions to improve your page speed.
In general, people enhance their page speed by:
- Compressing images and videos
- Reducing redirects
- Implementing lazy loading
- Using browser caching
- Using a CDN (Content Delivery Network)
You can also do it. Having a good page speed will ensure your on-page SEO efforts pay off and users don’t bounce back.
Now, let’s learn about the links.
8. Internal & External Links
A link is simply a word or set of words with a hyperlink. When users click on it, they get directed to a new web page.
There are two types of links present on a web page:
- Internal Links (Links to pages of the same website)
- External Links (Links to pages of another website)
And you’ll find two attributes attached to them:
- Do-follow (telling search engines to crawl the link)
- No-follow (asking search engines to ignore the link)
When used in the right way, links can greatly influence a website’s search rankings. Links help crawlers discover and index new content on your site. They also help users navigate to other relevant pages. So, you must add links to your web pages, wherever and whenever necessary. And while you do so, here are a few things you must keep in mind:
- Use appropriate anchor texts
- Make sure the linked page is working
- Don’t add too many links
- Link to mentions and citations, always
If you wonder which link attribute to use, let me tell you that it depends on your purpose.
However, generally, people prefer no-follow for external links and do-follow for internal links. It saves their crawl budget and helps them get more of their web pages ranked. With that, optimizing links on your web pages will get easier!
In 2021, mobile devices (excluding tablets) generated 54.8% of global internet traffic. And as years go by, this number will increase. So, optimizing your web pages for mobile devices is necessary.
What does mobile-friendly mean? It implies that the page’s content adjusts itself according to the screen resolution. The images, videos, text, links, etc., realign for ease of use on mobile devices. To achieve this, most web admins use a responsive web design.
You can check if your website is mobile-friendly or not using Google’s Mobile-friendly Test.
If your web pages are not mobile-friendly yet, don’t panic. Here are some tips to ensure your content must look good on all mobile devices:
- Use a responsive web design
- Make navigation easy
- Keep your input fields small
- Display CTA buttons clearly
- Add a search option
- Don’t use pop-ups
- Break-up your text
- Select right fonts and sizes
10. Core Web Vitals
Google recently announced the Page Experience Update, adding Core Web Vitals to its list of UX-related ranking factors. Core Web Vitals help you understand your site’s performance when a real-world user interacts with it. It includes three metrics:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measure of your page’s loading speed.
- First Input Delay (FID): Measure of your page’s interactivity or responsiveness.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measure of visual stability of your page’s content.
And here are the ideal scores for each metric:
- LCP: Less than or equal to 2.5 seconds.
- FID: Less than or equal to 100 milliseconds.
- CLS: Less than 0.1.
Collectively, these influence the search rankings. So, you must optimize your web pages for them.
Some ways to better your Core Web Vitals are:
- Implement server-side caching
- Compress images and videos
- Use progressive loading
- Reserve the slot size for the ads
- Allot ample area for embeds and iframes
- Avoid animations, etc.
Using PageSpeed Insights, you can analyze your Core Web Vitals. It will tell you if you are in the Good, Needs Improvement, or Poor zone.
Accordingly, you can improve your site and improve your SEO performance.
That’s about it.
Poor On-Page SEO Can Be An Ache
Search engines require a clear understanding of your page’s content to rank it better in the SERPs. Plus, they want to ensure that users will have a good experience while on your site.
So, not optimizing your on-page elements can be detrimental to your overall SEO strategy. I hope the tips mentioned in this article will help you better your on-page SEO.
Sahil is the CEO and Founder of Rankwatch - a platform, which helps companies and brands stay ahead with their SEO efforts in the ever-growing internet landscape. Sahil likes making creative products that can help in the automation of mundane tasks and he can spend endless nights implementing new technologies and ideas. You can connect with him and the Rankwatch team on Facebook or Twitter.