Search engine optimization is a lot like an iceberg. From your little viewing boat, the mass of ice (the SEO) looks like a small, jagged island. If you didn’t know any better, you might think that was the entirety of it. But beneath the surface, much of the body is hidden, leaving only that tiny tip to peek out. Similarly, on-page SEO is the optimization technique viewers can see on your webpage. Its prominence can leave viewers thinking that that’s all there is to SEO. They’re wrong, of course, but today we’re going to stick with the tip of the iceberg. What is on-page SEO? Why is it useful? Stay tuned to find out.
What Is On-Page SEO?
So what is on-page SEO? Sometimes called on-site SEO, on-page SEO refers to elements on a website that contribute to the search engine optimization efforts of that page. These elements can be specific (like page titles and keyword density) or broad, like increasing the website’s ease-of-use and overall quality. On-page SEO is incredibly beneficial to a website’s ranking, though some features are more important than others. If it is employed well, it benefits both the marketers and the website’s audience.
Now that we know what is on-page SEO, let’s look at some of the most important on-page SEO elements.
Elements of On-Page SEO
Page Titles are just what they sound like: the titles of webpages. When visiting a webpage, you’ll see the title at the top of your browser bar, and when you perform a web search, they’re the emphasized, clickable results. If you’re having trouble finding your page’s title, look in the head of your HTML for the words enclosed by <title> tags. Simple enough, right? Great title tags are kept under 70 characters, include keywords and your website’s name (or the name of your brand/company), and separate keywords with commas or pipes.
Meta Descriptions describe the webpage and appear in search results beneath the page title. In the head of your HTML, a meta description will look something like this: <meta name=”description” content=”Concise, clear, and appealing description of the webpage.”>. If you don’t have a meta description, the search engine will create one by using a bit of your site’s content, but you don’t want to risk the quality of that snippet, which is integral in drawing in search engine viewers. It’s best to keep your description under 155 characters, make it relevant to that specific page, include keywords and your brand, and include a call-to-action.
A URL is the address of your webpage. For example, www.417marketing.com/blog is a URL. When used well (like our example), it is concise, fits the page’s content, and is easy to read. It is also important to include keywords and use hyphens to separate terms. You want to avoid unattractive and incomprehensible characters like ampersands, percentage signs, numerals, and random punctuation.
Page Content is one of the most important features of a website. If you build it, they will come. Or in this case, if you build it well. Page content that is relevant to your site, well-written, and consistently updated will draw in the respect of both visitors and search engines. If someone were to ask you, “What is on-page SEO?”, page content should be one of the first elements to come to mind. If visitors are very impressed with your content, they might even link to your website or share the page through social media. Great page content is essentially great writing, so make it interesting and be sure to use proper grammar and punctuation. However, it’s also important to use at least 300 words per page, keep your keyword density high, and add links.
Images are essential to great websites. They break up the text, can act as links, and draw viewers in. But if you’re thinking about what is on-page SEO, it’s important to remember that search engines don’t have eyes; they need text. So always give images alt text, using the text to describe the picture and employ keywords. Like all on-page SEO, image alt text should be concise and relevant.
Internal Linking should be built into your page content. An internal link is a link that connects to other areas of your site (as opposed to external links, which send viewers to outside websites). Great links use short keywords as anchor text, work correctly, and are relevant to the content. If possible, they should only be used where they might be helpful to viewers.
So what is on-page SEO? An essential part of website optimization built with many different elements. When considering what is on-page SEO, remember to consider your viewers’ opinions. Ranking well is great, but you don’t want to sacrifice the approval of your audience. Tune into the 417 Marketing blog next week for another SEO 101 lesson featuring the hidden bit of the iceberg: off-page SEO marketing.