Of all the SEO improvements you can make, one of the ones you have most control over is on-page optimisation. The tactic of improving your pages to earn more traffic through being more relevant to search queries, on-page SEO is something everyone can do. Our goal is to craft a page that helps the searcher achieve their goal, answering the intent of their search. Your efforts should focus on being as relevant and helpful as possible.
Websites come in all shapes and sizes, but no matter the subject matter or page layout, the basic set of on-page principles detailed below apply.
Create better title tags:
One of the first things any searcher sees of your site isn’t visible on the page itself. The title tag displays as the blue link in the search results, and as the main heading when a page is shared on social media. This lets us optimise it in two ways.
Firstly, we can put our main keyword subject target(s) in it to show search engines what this page is about, preferably towards the beginning.
Secondly, we can build highly interesting titles that grab attention. Standing out in the search results this way can help earn us extra clicks. Of course, what will achieve this depends on your audience, and the type of page in question. A product description page and a blog post will have very different title tags.
Go through all your pages and look at your titles. Are you making the most of your keywords? And are they as interesting as possible (and suitable)? Each page needs a unique title tag, and tags should be 65 characters or less in length.
Use more interesting meta descriptions:
Similar to your title tags, meta descriptions are a simple, but highly effective way to improve your SEO. Meta descriptions are used to generate the small paragraph of text that appears below a page’s title in the search results.
They are designed to be a concise description of what you’ll find on the page. Although they do not count as a ranking factor, they DO influence click-through rate – a great meta description helps make a result stand out amongst its peers!
As a result, taking the time to review your meta descriptions and write the best ones possible is a key optimisation – these are essentially an advert for your page, so make them as compelling as possible!
To get started, look in Search Console for descriptions Google think could do with improvements. Then, using a piece of software called a crawler, we can see the entire website and look for pages with missing/ugly meta descriptions.
Don’t worry about the meta keyword tag: A piece of advice that refuses to go away – despite what some guides will say, don’t worry about using the meta keywords tag, it doesn’t help for SEO.
Have sensible URLs:
A more technical topic, most sites can review and optimise their URLs, especially when creating new pages. Making URLs short, readable and keyword-subject-rich is a simple way to make the most of them.
There are a few guiding principles, such as using hyphens instead of underscores and adding your primary keyword target – especially in the first few words. If possible, keeping them short and simple while reflecting site hierarchy is best.
One common mistake is using auto-generated URLs in many CMSs – these can use codes to describe a product where we want to have descriptive text. For example, www.retailer.com/product/gb/&categoryid=18&productid=567824 will work perfectly fine technically, but we’d prefer something more descriptive such as www.retailer.com/tvs/samsung-48inch-hd34589. Just like a title tag, we’d like the reader to be able to guess what’s on the page from the URL.
Make the most of your images:
No doubt your new site has many beautiful images. But are you using them to their full potential?
Make sure you have made them as svelte as possible by reducing their size (both in data and physical size) so they are fast to load. Then, use a descriptive filename, and make use of alt tags to provide descriptive text so search engines can understand what the image is of.
Have clear headings:
The main heading of your page tells visitors, including search engines, what the page is about. Heading tags let us mark up what is a heading or sub-heading on the page, and we can use the h1 tag to show the primary header. Most CMSs do this automatically.
Review your h1 tags across your site, using a crawler to find them all if required. Do they all describe the page accurately? Do they use the keyword target? And do they match the title tag in what they say the page is about?
A great way to put people off your page is to tell them one thing with the title tag, and then not match their expectation with your main heading. Don’t keep repeating keywords through your sub-headings – use variations and natural language to describe your content.
Improve your content:
A big topic to finish, and the broadest. Look at the content you have for your page. Does it fully cover the topic in question? Does it address all the relevant keyword variations you can find?
Does it address common audience questions? Is it written as well as possible to improve engagement? Search engines love quality content, so you need to be making your page as good as possible each time. Look at who is ranking well for your keyword targets. How can you create a resource that is clearly much better? How can you solve problems?