What is On-Site SEO?
What is on-site SEO? On-site SEO is the practice of optimizing elements on your website to improve your visibility on Google. When you hire an SEO marketing agency to optimize on-page elements, they’ll focus on things like content, internal linking, and HTML source code.
That’s a pretty straightforward definition, but putting that definition into practice is a different story. These optimizations are necessary for maximum visibility online, but they take time and resources.
If you need help with things like backlinks, social media marketing, and guest blogging, hire an SEO agency that has experience in off-page SEO. Luckily, as a full-service SEO marketing agency, EverSpark has experience in both arenas. If you need help optimizing your website and surpassing your competitors on Google, give us a call.
In the meantime, keep reading to learn some on-site SEO tips to help you get started.
Elements of On-Page SEO
Google reportedly uses over 200 factors in their ranking algorithm. Some have caused controversy among SEO professionals; Google has confirmed some factors exist, but not nearly all of them. Whatever you do, don’t let that 200-figure number intimidate you.
Google doesn’t place the same emphasis on each factor, which is another reason why it’s a good idea to hire an experienced SEO marketing agency like EverSpark. Thanks to our recurring in-depth research, we know which factors Google looks for at a given time, and we’ll help you craft and execute an unbeatable on-page optimization plan to get you in front of your audience.
Before you round up your team and get started optimizing, it’s important that you learn some of the “evergreen” on-page ranking factors. These are the factors that are very unlikely to change, so they’re a good place to start.
What is on-site SEO – or any SEO for that matter – without keywords? While hundreds of factors go into a website’s ranking on Google, keywords remain one of the most important. They help Google understand what your page is about and match what real people are searching for.
You’ll need to research to find out what your target audience is searching for. For example, if you own a shoe store, you need to find out whether people search more frequently for “high heels,” “pumps,” or “stilettos.” Knowing which term has a higher search volume will help you craft on-page optimization elements that directly match user intent. That’s important for conversion.
You should choose a “focus” keyword for each page on your website. This would ideally be a high-volume keyword that is not too difficult to rank for. Include the keyword several times throughout the copy (once every 200 words or so is a good ratio), in your title tags, URL structure, heading tags, and alt tags.
Keep in mind that a keyword doesn’t have to be one word – it could be a phrase or even a question. The important thing is to research what people are really searching for and to match that intent throughout your copy.
2. URL Structure
A website’s URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is located at the top of the webpage. Each contains a protocol (HTTP, HTTPS) domain name (eversparkinteractive.com) and path (eversparkinteractive.com/atlanta-seo-company).
URLs are extremely important for both search engines and humans, as they provide Google with the page’s file structure, directions for retrieving information, and more.
A properly-optimized URL will include the keyword of the page. For example, if you own a clothing store (let’s call it Fashion ESI) and want to dedicate a page of your website to women’s vintage clothing, your URL should appear like this:
Don’t make your URLs too long, and keep them clean and organized. Nobody likes URLs with long, impenetrable strings of numbers.
3. Title Tags
A well-crafted title tag is one of the strongest signals that a page can send to Google. A title tag is just what it sounds like – a short description of the content on a page. Just as the title of a book can signify what kind of story is inside, the title tag of a website provides important context and information that Google can use to rank the page in search results.
Title tags appear like this in code: <title> and should include the focus keyword of the page it’s on. For example, a well-written title tag for Fashion ESI’s vintage clothing page would say Shop Affordable Vintage Clothing | Fashion ESI. This title tag tells you exactly what you’ll find on the page, as well as the brand name so it’s fresh in customers’ minds.
Try and keep your title tags under 60 characters. If it’s longer, Google will likely trim it and customers won’t be able to read the whole tag.
4. Meta Descriptions
Although meta descriptions don’t directly impact Google rankings, they are a helpful way to provide more information to users about your website and what you have to offer. These are the little snippets of text you see beside a result on a search engine, so you should make them eye-catching and entice the user to click on your page. You’ve probably noticed that Google commonly bolds text in meta descriptions that match your search query.
Get creative with your descriptions! The meta description is one of the first things users will notice about your page, so hook them from the beginning. If your company has a staff copywriter, ask them to write a jazzy 160-character description. Stay under 160 characters, as Google will truncate longer descriptions.
If you don’t have an SEO copywriter, consider hiring one. Their skills and knowledge of the industry can make a difference in how you rank.
5. Heading Tags (H1, H2, and H3 Tags)
Headings help users and search engines navigate your content. Think of an H1 tag as the main heading or overarching theme of the page, and H2 and H3 tags as subheadings.
These tags help break up the text on a page and give it more context. They’re similar to chapters in a book, so think about how you want your content spread across your page. What section should be at the top of the page, and which at the bottom? Writing H1, H2, and H3 tags can help you organize your content as well as helping users read it.
For example, the H1 tag for a women’s vintage clothing page could be “Affordable and Elegant Women’s Vintage Clothing.” The H2 tag could be “Making the Most Out of Vintage Clothes Shopping,” and the H3 tag could be “Finding Vintage Clothing to Match Your Style.”
Make sure to include your focus keyword in the H1 tag.
Imagine that you’ve spent an hour or two on the internet looking for an answer to a question. It looks like you’ve finally found the page that can answer it for you, but when you click the link and scroll through, you realize it doesn’t answer your question at all. In fact, the content on the page doesn’t match its title!
That’s an extreme example of a badly-optimized site, but people do make these mistakes regularly. Without conducting proper, in-depth research about what your target audience is searching, it’s like you’re going in blind. How can you provide the answers to potential customers if you don’t even know what they want?
After doing research, you should create compelling, detailed content that does the following:
- Includes keywords in headings and paragraphs.
- Breaks up content into headings and subheadings for readability.
- Includes images that complement the copy.
You should also update your pages regularly with new content. Doing so shows search engines that you’re active on your website and are likely providing great, relevant information to users. You don’t have to double the length of a 10-year-old blog; just make sure your pages are up to date.
7. Alt Text
Search engines don’t see images like we do. Instead of colorful images, Google “sees” a string of code that describes what the image is and how it fits in with the content on the page.
You can do this by adding alt text to your images. Alt text tells Google what’s happening in the image, and if they’re well-written, you’ll rank better on Google and Google Images. Many people find company websites through Google Images, so it’s worth optimizing the images on your pages.
Like other on-page elements, you should include your keyword in the alt text. For example, alt text for the below image could be “Fur, suede, and denim jackets are just some of the women’s vintage clothing items we offer.”
8. Internal Linking
An internal link is a link from one page on your website to another page on your website. It’s helpful to include these links if you want users to find other content on your site, and it’s important for search engines, as they won’t be able to find and “crawl” pages that don’t have links to them.
Internal linking has long been overlooked in on-page optimizations, but they are important. Here are some places where you can include links on your website:
- Subpages within the copy (contextual links)
9. Page Speed
For many people, there’s nothing worse than clicking on a website and then waiting…and waiting…and waiting for the page to load. Few things will make users leave your site more than having a slow-as-molasses page speed, so this is something you definitely need to optimize.
50% of users expect a webpage to load in less than two seconds.
Of course, Google also uses page speed as a ranking factor. If your page doesn’t load quickly, people are less likely to get the information they need, demonstrating to Google that your page probably shouldn’t be in the top results. And it won’t be if your page takes longer than two seconds to load.
Get Started With On-Site SEO Today
If you ever asked, “What is on-site SEO?” we’ve certainly provided a lot of basic information. Many elements and techniques go into on-page optimization, but the most important thing to remember is that this process takes time. You’ll need to research, plan, and evaluate your goals for your website.
Of course, EverSpark can do the research, planning, and optimizations for you. We’ll meet with you to discuss your goals and strengths and work toward a plan for optimizing your website to get you more customers and higher rankings. Call EverSpark today to schedule your website audit.