Beginner’s guide to On-page Search Engine Optimisation in 2021

So, you’ve set up your website/blog/online shop, it’s looking good and you’ve even posted a few blog posts, products, and/or other information. But, looking at your analytics, traffic is only coming from places you’ve shared your content, or not at all. Welcome to the reality of non-optimised Search Engine Optimisation. While you might have heard about the term ‘SEO’ and ‘Search Engine Optimisation’ and how search engines have the possibility to be your website’s biggest source for organic traffic, the differences between On-page SEO, Off-page SEO, and Technical SEO might have missed you. If you are experiencing a lack of organic search engine traffic on your website, continue reading this blog post to boost your knowledge on the essential parts of On-page SEO, and in turn boost your ranking on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), and organic traffic from those search engines.

What is On-page SEO?

On-page SEO, also known as on-site SEO, is the practice of optimizing the content on your page (both the written word and the HTML source code) to make it as discoverable as possible.

Lahey, 2020

On-page SEO involves everything you can do to optimise your SEO on your website. As Lahey states in a post on SEMrush in the quote above, this includes all written content, images, URLs, the website’s HTML elements, and site performance and user experience.

Why should you focus on optimising your On-page SEO?

All SEO strategies have one main goal: to increase the website’s organic traffic. The way this goal is achieved is by providing relevant and optimised SEO strategies to increase the website’s SERP, which in turn increases the chances of potential leads finding your website in their searches online. Search engines constantly use crawlers to go through websites online, by optimising your On-page SEO, you make it easier for these crawlers to crawl your content, rank it according to your used keywords and key-phrases. The higher the ranking of your website, the more likely your website is to be shown to search engine users who are looking for similar content to yours.

Optimised keywords and key-phrases

Keywords and key-phrases are the most vital part of your SEO strategy. Keywords and key-phrases refer to the relevant words and phrases aimed towards your target audiences. These keywords should be included in every relevant page on your website. However, it is important to note that these words need to be relevant and used naturally. If you attempt to mention your keywords too often, your content might risk not actually being valuable to your visitors, and seem like it’s written by a robot – this is called keyword stuffing. Your main objective when writing content an using keywords and key-phrases is to provide your visitors with value on the topic of said keywords.

How to utilize keywords for On-page SEO:

  • Research your target audience’s needs: Before even setting up your business and website you should have researched who your target audience is, what their needs are, and how to fulfil those needs. By knowing the answers to this, you are a step closer to understanding what your keywords and key-phrases are. If your target audience is looking for plant care information, your keywords should include aspects within this topic.
  • Research how your audience uses search engines: What search terms and phrases are they using? Which types of plant or aspects of care are they most frequently searching for?
  • Research and discover keyword competition: Once you have found some keywords through the first two steps you should research the competitiveness of those keywords, find relevant and similar keywords to the discovered once, and determine if the keywords are too narrow, broad or just fitting for your business and target audience. How big is the search volume for these keywords and phrases? How easy is it to rank with these keywords? In this step you should use various keyword research tools online such as, Wordstream, SEMrush, MOZ, Google Trends, Google Search Console, SpyFu, and Ahrefs.
  • Select relevant and optimised keywords: Now that you have gone through some keyword research you should make a list of your chosen keywords and information about the keywords. By having a list with the information you reduce the amount of time spent research every time you want to post new content. However, you should re-evaluate the list frequently as trends, topics and searches move quickly on search engines.
  • Optimise your content using the given keywords: Now that you have your list of keywords it is time to incorporate them into your website in a natural, relevant and valuable way – without keyword stuffing. Continue reading to see where to place your keywords other than blog posts.

Optimising HTML elements:

This section is a short introduction to the HTML elements within a website which must be optimised for an well functioning On-page SEO.

  • Page names: Pages should have accurate names according to their contents. Little is more frustrating than trying to find a website’s ‘about page’ found under a random numbers and letters name.
  • Meta description: This tag provides search engines and visitors with a short summary of your website and page’s content. It is important to use relevant keywords that accurately describe the content of your website and each individual page. It is important that each individual page has their own meta description as each page should provide different valuable content. Look at the given example below on the different meta descriptions for BBC’s home page and their news page.
This image shows BBC’s home page meta description and how it shows up on Google.
Google search result on BBC's news site showing meta description
This image shows BBC’s news page meta description and how it shows up on Google.
  • Heading tags: Heading tags (H1, H2, H3…) inform search engines and visitors about the most important topics on each page. It is also a way to structure your content, which makes it easier to navigate and extract information. You should use the most relevant keywords in your headings. Looking through this blog post you can see different heading (H1) and subheading (H2, H3) tags throughout depending on which section they belong. Heading tags should be used when it makes sense and to add a functioning structure, using heading tags instead of paragraphs looks weird and confusing. Below is another example from BBC showing how they use headings sparingly to create informational content sections in their articles.
BBC article heading examples
Example of heading use in an article from BBC
  • Images: Webpage images can also be optimised for On-page SEO under the <img> og <picture> tag in your HTML codes. Image file names and image ‘alt’ text are important features as search engines cannot view images, but rely on these elements to understand the image’s content. In addition, if your visitors for some reason cannot see the images, the ‘alt’ text will describe it for them. See below for the image code with alt text.
  • Link anchor text: When you are linking, whether it’s an internal or external link, the clickable text for the link, the anchor text, should inform visitors and search engines about the page the link is referring to. Using non-descriptive anchor text such as ‘LINK’ and/or ‘MORE’ gives users no indication of what the link leads to. Furthermore, all links you include on your webpage should be, like keywords, relevant and valuable. See below for the link code with anchor text, which will look like this in text: Elise Ols’ index page
<a href="">Elise Ols' index page</a>
<a href="URL">ANCHOR TEXT</a>

Page speed

In 2020, Google announced that page speed and user experience is taken into consideration when it comes to your site’s SERP ranking. This means that an optimised page speed is a vital part of your SEO strategy. When it comes to measuring your page speed I recommend using Google’s PageSpeed Insights as they give you a score from 1-100 and insights into which aspects and files on your website is increasing your page speed and how to improve it. PageSpeed Insights measures both your website for desktop and mobile devices with individual scores and insights for both categories.

On-page SEO for E-commerce and online businesses:

This section is particularly for online shops and online businesses as I have seen these issues while working and evaluating different online shops in the past.

  • Use specific product titles: When selling products or services online it is important that the product title is as specific as possible. One of my previous collaborations for example was selling pet apparel, but their products were titles ‘Dress’, ‘Jumper’ and ‘Shirt’. With this the SEO competition tools I was using did not register the shop as a shop for pet apparel, but a shop for human apparel because of the lack of keywords like ‘pet’, ‘dog’, and/or ‘cat’. Therefore it is important to remember to use researched keywords in your product titles as well as elsewhere on your page. However, we’ve all seen the product titles on sites like – ‘Creative Funny Slingshot Darts Launch Bottle Corkscrew Bar Party Gift’ is more likely to leave leads confused than converting them to customers.
  • Include detailed and helpful product descriptions: We know that customers are more likely to research products before buying. By not including product descriptions, or just having bad and non-descriptive product descriptions, you might be missing out on a better search engine ranking for that product page, but leads might be turned off by the lack of information. So remember to make time to write a relevant and valuable product description for all of your products.
  • Start business blogging: If you own an online business and you have not yet started business blogging you are missing out on a huge opportunity to continue to optimise your On-page SEO strategy. Not only does business blogging give you an opportunity to provide your users with valuable content, it also gives you an opportunity to increase you rank on SERPs by creating regular On-page SEO optimised content.

The takeaway:

Although SEO might seem scary and complicated at first glance, if you take some time to learn how search engines function and how SEO strategies might impact your rankings, you can definitively learn and understand SEO enough to boost your organic traffic from search engines.

By following these tips on On-page SEO you are well on your way to improving your website’s search engine ranking without hiring an SEO specialist.

You are more than welcome to save, like, share this post to remember in the future! Or pin the image underneath as a simple overview of some of the basic elements within On-page SEO!

Infographic on how to optimise your on-page SEO

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