On-Page SEO
Red Divider Bar - On Page SEO

What is On-Page SEO Optimisation?

On-page SEO, sometimes known as 'on-site SEO', is the pillar of search engine optimisation (SEO) that connects your content with visitors. It also helps crawlers understand your web page in terms of quality, experience, and unique offering, to be indexed appropriately by search engines.

By optimising your web pages search engines can deliver your content to the intended user. When a user searches for a query, a search engine wants to present the most relevant content with the best experience possible to answer that query. On-page SEO optimisation is about clearly defining the webpage and its content to meet the intent of a user's query.

On-page SEO - Abstract representing webpage optimisation.

On-Page SEO vs. Off-Page SEO

On-page SEO is everything you can do on a webpage to increase its ranking and visibility.

Off-Page SEO, on the other hand, is external, or anything you can optimise off-site to encourage better rankings and authority, such as social media, backlinks, and other PR opportunities.

Each pillar of SEO plays a pivotal role in any good SEO strategy. Technical optimisation optimises the journey from the site to rendering on the browser. On-page optimises the journey for the user. Off-page optimises the reach and connection from other websites and platforms back to your website.

The Role of On-Page SEO in Digital Marketing

SEO is vital in digital marketing for long-term success, especially on-page. When properly optimised, on-page SEO effectively ensures that content is high quality, relevantly useful or helpful, and provides a good user experience. In turn, this signals to search engines that your web page is a valuable resource, and there is a good chance your website is too.

The aim of an on-page strategy should not simply stop with attracting more organic traffic. It also must attract the right traffic and user engagement, which is crucial to convert the visitor into readers, customers, clients, or whatever the call to action may be for the web page in question.

The On-Page Pillar of SEO - Solid intricate glass pillar

What is On-Page SEO Optimising, Exactly?

Essentially, it is all about optimising content, site architecture, and HTML to rank in search engines and answering the queries for the target audience.

There are many layers to each pillar of search engine optimisation, and on-page SEO is no exception. A big part of on-page SEO is the research put into defining and how best to optimise each webpage, and it should also align with your website and your business. The general premise of "measure twice, cut once" provides a webpage with the best chance to succeed when published, and even then, it may require further attention further down the road. Let’s take a look at the core elements of on-page SEO.

Where Does the On-Page SEO Optimisation Process Start?

The first step is about understanding the who, why, and what of the webpage that is to be optimised. No, it’s not just about Google ranking your site and pushing conversion; it must be of value to the reader first and foremost, then the search engines.

  • Who is the target audience for this content? Who would want to share this?
  • Why has this content been created? Why is this content being made?
  • What is this content about? What value does content provide to users?

The SEO goal here is to define the target keywords for the content. Traffic is useless without the correct intent. Remember, we want users to convert. Okay, so we understand the purpose of the webpage. How do we find the right words to bridge our webpage to the target audience via search engines?

Keyword Research

Keyword research is the ‘bread and butter’ of on-page SEO. As one of the vital stages of SEO, keyword research should not be taken lightly. That is why understanding the content is so important; you want to narrow down the intentions before keyword research begins. It can be tempting to simply pluck the highest traffic on the subject and go for it, and many do. It’s a waste of time because there is more to consider than traffic.

Keywords should align with the content, have a realistic level of search traffic, fit the intent, and ranking should be achievable, especially the primary keyword. That's why we must consider the competitors.

Competitor Research

The competitors are not necessarily, going to be the same as your business or homepage. As each page must be optimised independently (then interdependently), we must research the competitor's web page, site and keywords.

Before embarking on a mission to rank for any keywords, we must gauge if they are attainable to rank in the first place. While researching competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, we want to scope out opportunities, gaps, or anything else to take advantage of.

On-Page SEO Checklist Post-It Notes

Content SEO

The next step is to use everything we have learned and apply it to optimising the content. We want to use the target keywords strategically and optimise the content with thought. Implement any of the gaps and opportunities. Structure and optimise the speed of the page.

Content Quality and Structure

While optimising the content for SEO, it’s important to either keep or enhance the overall quality of the content. We want to stay on point and deliver relevant, valuable, and reliable content for the user first. At the end of the day, there is no point in ranking and generating more traffic to the website, only to fall short of its purpose.

The presentation and structure are also important. Clear, well-presented content helps the users feel engaged. Part of the presentation is how the content is structured. This can be done visually for the users visiting your webpage, but the crawlers are reading code. On-page SEO assists crawlers by using a systemic structure to help the search engines index the webpage appropriately.

Image Optimisation

Images add so much value to any webpage, especially in long-form text. They are more than just breaking the text up. Images can tell a story of their own and add depth to the content. There are also opportunities to enhance the webpage visually and for SEO, such as with alt text.

While getting all the goodness from images, we don’t want to sacrifice page load speed. Who cares how nice a page is if it takes forever to load? Optimising size ratios and finding the balance between quality and size with just the right level of compression helps deliver a great UX. Not to mention, other techniques such as file type conversion and lazy loading.

Search Engine SEO

Google's algorithm is fantastic at understanding pages; they can understand a website, its pages, all its content, and how it all works together on so many levels. That said, a crawler must read everything first. These are busy little bots that require resources, that’s why there is a crawl budget allocated. While we want to show that our site is worth increasing the budget for, we also want to optimise it to enable crawlers to quickly and efficiently scan everything they need to index properly.

Dominate the Worls With On-Page SEO meme Doctor Evil

URL Optimisation

The website as a whole should have a nice and clean structure. That means all web pages must be considered separately and together for navigation. An SEO-friendly URL makes all the difference. Think about going through a sitemap, where you can see everything nicely structured and able to quickly read at every level what each page is about and how they hang together. We want our pages to be found, crawled completely, and indexed effectively.

Meta Data Optimisation

Optimising meta titles and descriptions is not quite as intuitive as first imagined. We want to convey what your webpage is all about. Provide clarity and transparency to the web page's content very quickly, while incorporating specific keyword(s) and a clear call to action. If that is not enough, we also need to think about delivering with very limited text as there is an optimal character window in each meta title and meta description that changes from mobile to desktop.

Internal Linking

Strategically placing links throughout your website helps search engines understand the relationship between pages and their content. Not only is this good for clustering relevant content as routes for the user’s journey and keeping them engaged on your website, but it’s also a great way to share link equity and support other pages and posts.

External Linking

Like any good article, it’s good to reference. Referencing sources of information is not only for academic papers. It’s good to reference who you are, what you are writing about, and where you got it from. Externally linking to other websites is a good idea should the user want further information. But why would an SEO look at external linking? SEO needs to check the intended destination. Outdated or broken links are a bad user experience and can harm your SEO. There is also the matter of showing search engines whether you trust these links or not.

Benefits of On-Page SEO

  • Boosts Rankings: Enhances website comprehension for search engines, improving placement in search results.
  • Improves User Experience: Optimises site usability and content quality, increasing visitor satisfaction and engagement.
  • Increases Traffic: Achieves higher search result positions, drawing more organic visitors.
  • Enhances Conversions: Attracts a targeted audience with specific keyword optimisation, raising conversion likelihood.
  • Offers a Competitive Edge: Sets your site apart through effective optimisation, surpassing less optimised competitors.
  • Cost Efficiency: Provides a low-cost method for boosting site visibility and traffic compared to paid ads.
  • Gives Control: Allows for testing and refining SEO strategies with direct control over website elements.

Whether You Need or Offer On-Page SEO Services; Let's Summarise

Wrapping up our journey through on-page SEO, we've navigated from the foundational importance of aligning your content with both the needs of your visitors and the criteria of search engines to the intricate details that make your website not just visible but valuable to those who land on it. We've dissected the art of integrating keywords thoughtfully developing content that genuinely serves and engages your audience, and fine-tuning the technical aspects, from your site's URLs to its meta descriptions, to strengthen accessibility and discoverability.

On-page SEO goes beyond optimisation for search engines; it's about curating a user experience, that not only satisfies curiosity but encourages engagement and trust. Every element, from text, and images to the links that weave through your content, is a thread in the fabric of a site designed to attract, resonate and retain.

Our aim should go beyond climbing the search rankings. We aim to solidify your website's reputation as a trusted resource. A place where visitors come for answers and insights they won't find elsewhere. The strategies outlined here aren't just for today's SEO standards but are steps towards proofing your online presence against the ever-shifting algorithms.

As we come to a close, remember that the path to effective on-page SEO is iterative, requiring you to stay vigilant and adaptable to both technological advancements and your audience's evolving needs. Success in this area isn't just about adherence to current best practices; it’s about anticipating changes and preparing to meet them head-on.

In essence, this journey through on-page SEO is not just about optimisation, it's about transformation. Putting your audience first and rigorously tuning every aspect of your site to serve them better lays the foundation for sustained engagement, conversion, and growth. Here's to not just navigating but mastering the nuanced landscape of on-page SEO, and in doing so, elevating your online presence, and spreading your online visibility.


Need some help with your on-page SEO? Let’s arrange a (free) chat.

author: Chris McKane

AI assistance has been used for some of the images on this website.