On-Page SEO is the low-hanging fruit of search engine optimization. Anything you can do to help the search engines better understand the content of your pages and why you should rank for a certain keyword, can be considered on-page SEO. Your heading tags, title tags, meta description tags, and alt tags can all be optimized for the keyword phrases you are targeting. Also, your URL structure, overall look and feel of the website, LSI keyword inclusion, and social media icons are also very affective techniques when it comes to on-page SEO.
When Does On-Page SEO Start?
Ideally, on-page SEO begins before you even start to write your content and it starts with identifying and assigning a targeted keyword phrase for that page. For instance, if you have decided to create a page about alpacas in Northern Colorado, and have determined that the keyword phrase “Northern Colorado alpacas” is one worth going after, the task of on-page SEO is probably the first thing you are going to set about doing.
Writing or modifying quality content of the page is a big part of the on-page SEO process. Gone are the days of simply being able to regurgitate a few hundred words of text that repeat your target keyword phrase over and over and being able to rank. Today, on-page SEO starts with quality content. Is the content of that page able to help people solve problems they are searching for? If not, no matter what other on-page SEO techniques you use, you are probably not going to show up in the SERPs (search engine results pages). In my experience it is best to start with the intent of creating quality content at the forefront of your mind.
In the best case scenario, assigning your targeted keyword phrase for a page is done before the content has been written. However, if you have an entire website that has already been created and you want to start doing on-page SEO, you still have a couple of choices.
Content Refresh or Rewrite
I highly recommend refreshing or completely rewriting the content of a page that you really want to rank for using on-page SEO techniques. You certainly can do on-page SEO after the content of the page has already been created, but it is much more difficult and not nearly as affective. If your content is long and detailed, which is a great problem to have to deal with, rewriting the entire page may not be a practical solution. However, if it is relatively short in length the chances are that it is not bringing in much traffic anyway, so you don’t have much to lose.
Retro On-Page SEO
Retrospectively going back through the contents of a page that was written prior to its being assigned a primary target keyword can indeed be done, but it is certainly not as efficient or as productive as doing it prospectively. Unfortunately, this is how a lot of people build their websites and more importantly this is how most people conceptualize SEO.
What Does On-Page SEO Consist of?
Tagging for On-Page SEO
On-Page SEO consists of optimizing a page for an assigned keyword phrase, doing everything you can to get people to first click through to your web page and then spend some time there. What keyword phrase do you want your page to rank for? Making sure the targeted keyword phrase appears on your page a number of times, particularly within the first 100 words, and that the heading tags, title tag, meta description tag, and image alt text tags all contain your keyword phrase, is a big part of on-page SEO.
URL Structure for On-Page SEO
Your URL structure, also something that you as the site owner have complete control over, definitely falls under the umbrella of on-page SEO. If you are using dynamic URLs or non-logical, ugly URL structure, chances are that you are not ranking as high for your targeted keyword phrase as you could. Having a logical URL structure helps the search engines understand what your page is about. If they don’t understand what your page is about, they cannot refer people searching for your content to them.
Aesthetically Pleasing Look and Feel
How in the world does the overall look and feel of your website fall under the category of on-page SEO? Remember, Google is keeping track of how much time users that click through to your web page are spending there and on other pages of your website that they navigate to subsequent to landing on your site. An aesthetically pleasing look and feel for your website is going to give users confidence that the information that is contained on that page can be trusted. This is a quintessential user experience metric that Google uses to help them rank websites. And it makes perfect sense, if you think about it. If you come to a website that appears to have been created back in 1992, the odds are quite low that you are going to stay there very long. Google is taking note of how long you spend on a particular web page, along with how long users are spending on competing web pages. If users are not finding what they are in search of, that reflects badly on Google, and they will rank your page lower as a means of mitigating that.
Social Media Buttons for On-Page SEO
Having social media icons on your website is also something that is totally within the control of a web site owner and can go a long way in terms of helping your business be more visible online and cementing your brand within the brain of the users who employ them. If you have written an outstanding blog post on a subject within your realm of expertise and people have read it and found great value it in, odds are those people are going to want to share that blog post. Allowing the people that come to your website to share information and follow your business through social media can be a great way of procuring new business through this on-page SEO technique.
The truth is that most people want to share things of value in part because it makes them look smart. The same principal can be applied to obtaining backlinks, which is a form of off-page SEO. Why would anyone want to link to your website? Because it provides value and it makes them look good. The same can be said of social media sharing.
When does On-Page SEO end?
In a word: never. Once your on-page SEO has been completed for all of the pages of your website, you will need to start creating new content for freshly discovered and targeted SEO keyword phrases. Remember, on-page SEO is the low hanging fruit of SEO. It’s all within your control, so you don’t have to look for other people to cooperate with. Want to start ranking higher with your targeted keyword phrases? Start with on-page SEO.