A Beginner’s Guide To On-Page SEO

By Rodney Laws | Marketing

Jul 04

Regardless of whether you’re running a website to provide a service, promote your business, or simply share your thoughts and hobbies with the world, you ultimately want as many people as possible to find it. The bigger the audience, the better — and the key to having a big audience is achieving strong search rankings for relevant terms.

That’s where SEO (search engine optimization) enters the picture, giving you various different ways to make your website more likely to rank well when it matters. There are distinct types, but the core type is on-page SEO — making changes to the content and configuration of your website to improve its chances of winning traffic.

In this piece, we’ll cover the basics of on-page SEO. Let’s get started.

Being mobile-friendly

Whether it’s for general browsing or ecommerce, we increasingly use our smartphones to engage with the internet, and this has changed what’s required of a good website. Google tests the pages it crawls to determine how suitable they are for mobile browsing — sites that don’t don’t pass muster can be flagged up in search rankings to warn searchers away.

Fortunately, this is generally as simple as using a decent modern mobile-responsive CMS to build your site. Anything that’s consistently updated, has strong support and provides high-quality templates from the outset should be fine. If your site is sufficiently outdated that it doesn’t meet those criteria, it’s time to move to a new platform.

Mobile-friendliness is also something you should consider when creating content — include details like one-click phone numbers, embedded maps, FAQs, listicles, and other mobile usability features that will elevate your mobile customer experience.

SEO is a complex discipline that spans technical, UX, content, customer experience, and usability considerations. By keeping abreast of the latest (mobile) developments, you will be investing in onpage SEO where it matters — on the platform currently most frequented by users.

Meeting speed standards

Aside from being mobile-friendly, your site also needs to be able to operate quickly, even when accessed using slow connections. Mobile connections tend to be fairly fast these days, but signal strength still fluctuates: what happens if someone tries to access your site in the middle of a bad signal area? If your site isn’t optimized for speed, it’ll likely be so slow that they give up.

The more you can boost your speed, the better your site will look to the visitors, and the more time they’ll spend on it. In this way, your site speed does have a significant impact on its likelihood to rank well. Use a good website host, get rid of any unnecessary content on your site that might slow it down, and use Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix to test your performance.

Getting the metadata right

Every page on your website needs a concise and meaningful meta title, as well as an informative and enticing meta description. For the former, you should include your primary keyword (what the page is about) plus some secondary keywords if you have room, but keep it fairly short. For the latter, you should give the reader a reason to click — this is because the meta description is often (though not always) used as the main text of the Google result.

If you’re not sure how well your metadata represents your page, it’s a good idea to get some inspiration from existing sites, particularly those already optimized for SEO. Take a look at your favorite websites to see how they use title text. How do you rate their efforts? Which pages are titled well, and which ones have titles that cause confusion?

Rather than looking at a broad range of website for inspiration, you want to hone down on your niche, and websites for sale are a great place to start. The type of small ecommerce stores you’ll find on marketplaces are typically optimized in every aspect for their niche and are built by entrepreneurs that know how to generate traffic as fast as possible. For the best examples, remember to filter by your industry and by the sites with the highest monthly revenue.

Breaking up content

Neither Google nor the average reader likes hyper-dense content (typically giant blocks of text with no clear delineation). That’s why you need to break up your content however you prefer: well, subheadings are vital, but beyond those you can use bullet points, tables, images, etc.

Think about someone reading your page from a mobile device — text that looks fine on a desktop screen might look massive on a smartphone, after all. Separate each page into a selection of meaningful chunks, so that each one can be consumed separately and still mostly make sense without external reference. It’ll look better, and rank better.

Providing useful links

A great deal of a website’s utility lies in its ability to direct readers towards value: a lot of that value can be provided on the page being visited, but you shouldn’t stop there. Some people fear including links on a page because they take people away, but when you offer citations and valuable resources to your visitors, they’ll remember that assistance.

You should aim for a good mix of external and internal links. Good external links provide context, sources for claims, or resources that will help the reader get things done. Good internal links, however, further reinforce the overall value of your site, and help you keep a reader there for even longer.

If you cover all of these basics, you should get your website into a reasonable state for ranking in the SERPs. Of course, that’s just the start of your SEO adventure — there’s so much more to do if you hope to perform optimally, so keep making improvements.