What is On-Page SEO? Why is it Important?

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On-page SEO refers to the practice of optimizing individual web pages to help them rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). Improving your rank in SERPs can help to bring in more relevant organic traffic to your website.

On-page SEO is only part of the equation when optimizing your website. But, it can go a long way in showing Google and Bing what your website is about and how it provides relevant and valuable information to users. Optimizing certain aspects of your website’s pages like content, page architecture and coding can be helpful in improving your website.

Content Elements for On-Page SEO

When optimizing your website, part of the solution comes in the form of content elements. Content elements refer to content or copy that appear on your website that users will find relevant and useful.

When creating content for your website, you want to create long-form, high-quality content that is seen as valuable and unique. You also want to create content that is keyword targeted to relevant users and content with internal and outbound links.

High-quality content

Content is king when it comes to on-page SEO. It tells both search engines and users what your website is about and what you offer. The page content you create should be valuable and optimized for keywords that your target audience is searching for.

When optimizing your content, it is helpful to review your competitor’s content on similar topics. You can then understand how to leverage new information they may have excluded making your content more valuable and unique. Offering a new opinion on similar topics gives users a unique perspective on information they’re interested in.

Expertise, Authority, and Trust

Search engines determine relevance by evaluating a website based on expertise, authority and trust. Creating high-quality, valuable content for your website helps to establish expertise, authority and trust with search engines and users. This helps to boost your relevancy.

When creating topic-specific quality content for your blog or article, you want industry experts or professionals writing the content who understand the topic or information. This ensures that your content is accurate and useful for users. This creates a level of expertise for your website that can attract users who are looking for information you provide.

Similar to creating content with expertise, building authority through content is another way to improve your site’s relevancy. Authority is determined through how accurate and trustworthy the content on your site is along with the author. When users read content, they want to know the information is accurate and that they can trust the source of the information.

As mentioned earlier when talking about authority, creating trustworthy content focuses on showing users they can trust the creator of the content. Creating accurate content from a reliable source ensuring users and search engines your website is a valuable source of information. You can also create trust in your website by creating a secure website, but we’ll get into that a bit later.

Keyword-targeted Content

The ability to attract relevant users to your website is crucial to your on-page SEO success. Sprinkling target keywords into your content can help search engines find your pages and determine the relevance of the information. Keywords are a good representation of what people are searching for. By providing content that meets the needs of users, you will be able to better attract your target audience.

When creating content, it is beneficial to research which keywords matter the most to your content. If you can figure out what people are searching for, you can leverage the important keywords that match their search queries. Using keywords can increase your rank in Google based on relevancy. If more users are able to see your page in the SERPs based on relevant searches, you can attract more people to your site.

One thing to keep in mind is using your keyword too many times in your content. This is known as keyword stuffing and is considered a black hat SEO strategy. Keyword stuffing refers to the practice of loading a webpage with many keywords in an attempt to quickly gain ranking in the SERPs. Search engines have cracked down on this strategy and other black hat strategies penalizing or banning websites from appearing in the SERPs.

Internal Links

Building internal links, or hyperlinks to other pages on your website can help search engines and users learn more about your website. Internal links help search engines easily index and understand all of the pages of your site. Internal links can also create authority between pages. When one page links to another, it passes a part of it’s credibility to that page increasing the likelihood that the second page will rank.

Link building also helps to reduce your site’s bounce rate. If you’re writing about a topic that includes a product or service, and you sell that product, you can link to the product or service page. Someone that comes to visit your site can read your blog post or article. But, they are also invited to explore the rest of your site by additionally clicking on your internal links.

Site Elements for On-Page SEO

Site elements refer to the elements that make up your website and site pages. These include mobile friendliness, user experience, site speed, architecture and secure site.

Mobile Optimization

Mobile friendliness or mobile optimization is about optimizing your website for smartphone and tablet users. More people are using mobile devices more than ever to search which means having a mobile-friendly site is a must-have.

With mobile holding 42.79% of internet usage, having a mobile-friendly site is crucial in reaching users through mobile devices. No matter what industry you’re in, it is critical to have a mobile site that is fast and easy to use.

User Experience

The user experience of your website is important in helping users navigate your site to find relevant information that they are most interested in. A clean navigation can also lead to sitelinks that appear in Google search results. 

Sitelinks act like a submenu that appears under the first result. These appear based on how much traffic a specific site attracts along with the busiest pages. Google also determines showing sitelinks if they think it will be useful to a user’s search query.

On-page SEO: Google search for "Chapters Bookstore" showing a submenu on Google.

This type of navigation is helpful for ecommerce businesses who use categories to sell certain productions. For example, A clothing store will use categories for “Men’s T-shirts” and “Women’s T-shirts” to make it simpler for customers shopping for specific products.

On-page SEO: Google results for "Gap" showing a submenu of the website.

Breadcrumbs are also another useful way to increase user experience. They are a way for users to track their location on a website. 

On-page SEO: A website's breadcrumbs

They act as a secondary navigation bar that shows how a user got their current page. Users can easily navigate to higher-level pages and return to previous pages with just one click without feeling lost.

Page Speed

Page speed is another important factor in ranking higher organically on SERPs and keeping users happy. Whether your site is being viewed on a desktop or a mobile device, your site must be able to load quickly for users. 

People want to be able to access information easily and quickly without any delay. If you’re an ecommerce business, for example, page speed can have a significant impact on your bottom line. 

Google found that for every second in mobile page load, conversions can fall by up to 20%. This can result in a loss in revenue and an increase in bounce rates. In a mobile-first world, page speed matters when it comes to retaining visitors on your site and ranking on SERPs.


A website’s architecture refers to how it’s pages are structured and linked together. Creating a strong website structure is key in helping users and search engines find what they’re looking for.

A proper site architecture improves crawlability allowing for search engine spiders to find and index all of the pages of your website. Their goal is to index a website’s content in order to return it for search results. The better your site structure is, the easier you make it for spiders to crawl your website.

Your URL structure should be as simple as possible. Try to organize your content so that the URLs can be constructed in a way that makes sense to users. For example, if you’re searching for information about engineering, a URL like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineering makes it easier to decide whether you will click the link.

URLs should also serve a purpose to users and search engines. Whether the reason for the page is for informational or transactional purposes, it should be clear in the URL. Creating a simple but effective URL will help your pages get discovered by crawlers and the right people.

Secure Site

Having a secure website is important to any user searching the web. But, site security is especially important when personal information is being shared. Using HTTPS to secure your site is the optimal way to protect your users and your site from harmful hackers.

Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is an internet communication protocol that protects the integrity and confidentiality of data between the user’s computer and the website. HTTPS is secured by Secured Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate which provides three points of protection: encryption, data integrity and authentication.

Encryption makes sure any exchanged data is encrypted to keep it secure from eavesdroppers. Data integrity makes sure that data cannot be modified or corrupted during transfer without being detected. Authentication proves that users communicate with the website they intended.

There are three types of SSL Certificates; Extended Validation (EV SSL), Organization Validation (OV SSL), and Domain Validated (DV SSL). EV SSL checks the right of the applicant to use a specific domain while reviewing the organization. OV SSL checks the right of the applicant to use a specific domain. DV SSL checks the right of the applicant to use a specific domain name.

As of 2014, Google has added HTTPS as a ranking factor. According to a study done by Backlinko, they found that HTTPS moderately correlated with higher rankings on Google’s first results page. Although the study didn’t find a strong correlation between HTTPS and higher rankings, it is good practice to have HTTPS in place for quality user experience.

HTML Elements for On-Page SEO

HTML elements refer to the elements in your source code that build your website. These elements allow you to organize your website to make it easier for users to navigate around your site. It also makes it easier for search engines, like Google, to crawl your site to understand what each page is about and how they relate to search queries. Some of these HTML elements include title tags, meta descriptions, headline tags and image alt-text.

Title Tags

Title tags or page titles are one of the most important elements in on-page SEO. Titles are critical in giving users quick insight into the content of a page and why it is relevant to their search. 

Oftentimes, it is the main piece of information that is used to decide which search result offers the best solution to someone’s query. Title tags also tells Google and other search engines your page is about a specific subject. That’s why it is important to use high-quality, relevant titles on your web pages.

When managing your title it is important to include your keyword in your title. Using a relevant keyword tells search engines that your web page is relevant based on search queries. It also allows users to make a quick decision on whether your page is what they need to answer their query.

It is also important to avoid boilerplate titles or repetitive titles. Boilerplate titles are a type of text that can be used in many areas of your website and require little change. When creating titles for each page, it’s important to use brief, but distinct and descriptive titles for each page on your site. Avoiding vague titles like “Home” or “Profile” offers little to no information to search engines and users.

Schema and Meta Descriptions

Schema is a type of code that helps search engines retrieve more information in search results known as rich snippets. It helps to provide context and important information about your website for search engines. Adding schema to your HTML helps improve the way your page appears in SERPs by improving the rich snippet that appears.

Schema markup adds additional information to rich snippets and can be used for articles, book reviews, events, local businesses, products and more. Examples of a schema markup include reviews, ratings, or publication date which you may find for a book, movie or article.

On-page SEO: A Google search for the book "Shoe Dog" with reviews under each result

A meta description is a type of schema that creates a snippet of text that appears below the title link in the SERPs. The description is a brief summary of the content of the webpage that is linked above. These descriptions help you rank higher in search results and can be edited to help users decide whether the webpage is relevant to the search query. If there are any words that match the search term, they are bolded in the description.

When creating a meta tag description, it is important to include actionable language to entice users to click on your link to learn more. It is also helpful to provide a benefit or answer based on a user’s search query. Writing a short sentence that previews the content on your page tells the user why they should visit your site and what they should expect.

It’s also important to create separate meta descriptions for each page on your site. Having similar descriptions for every page of your site isn’t helpful when each page appears in the search results. Creating descriptions that accurately describe each page helps to organize the pages in search results improving your on-page SEO.

Image Alt Text

If you’re adding images to your page, it benefits the user experience to use alt text. Alt text is the information that appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image fails to load. This text helps persons with disabilities describe each image audibly. This also gives search engines an indication of what your page is about, making it easier to crawl and rank your site.

When creating an alt text for your image you want to use descriptive and specific language. This language should be useful and information-rich content that uses keywords in relation to the content of the page.

Similar to title tags and meta descriptions, you want to use keywords sparingly. If your target keyword can be easily included in your alt text then you can include it. If not, you can consider using related keywords.

Related Content: 18 Top SEO Tools for 2019


On-page SEO is a strategy that focuses on creating a seamless and easy-to-use website. From the appearance of your website to the functionality, optimizing your on-page portion of your website requires quality content, strong site structure and HTML coding. Optimizing your on-page elements will improve the way users navigate your website along with search engine crawlers.

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