One of the easiest ways to rank higher and gain more traffic in search engines is to perform on-page SEO. In other words, it is crucial to optimize all your pages and posts on your website. Content is very important, but so is structure.
The infographic below presents some key points of on-page SEO.
Now let’s have a look at these key points in more detail.
1. URL structure
The very first thing you have to make sure of is that your URL is SEO-friendly. What does that entail?
URL should be relatively short and easy to remember
By all means, try to avoid super lengthy URLs as it will likely damage your chances of ranking high in Google. According to Backlinko data research, the perfect URL length is somewhere between 50 to 60 characters.
Have a look at the chart below:
As you can see, pages with a URL length of 50 to 57 characters tend to rank in the Top 3. The longer your URL is, the weaker your Google position is.
However, these are just research findings from one study. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it is always going to be the case as ranking number one on Google is a process that takes lots of different factors into consideration.
URL should contain your keyword
Once you have your keyword, make sure to use it in your URL. For example, if your keyword is “best restaurants in Chicago”, your URL could be the following:
Use hyphens to separate words
This is important. Make sure to separate your URL using hyphens. Some sites prefer using underscores, but the vast majority of websites use hyphens.
Look at these two URL examples:
https://www.yourdomain.com/category/howtocookasparagus – BAD
https://www.yourdomain.com/category/how-to-cook-asparagus – GOOD
Use of conjunction words and articles is unnecessary
In order to keep our character count down, using conjunction words (and, or, but) and articles (a, the) is really not that necessary.
https://www.yourdomain.com/category/pros-and-cons-of-owning-a-franchise – BAD
https:///www.yourdomain.com/category/pros-cons-owning-franchise – GOOD
2. Post title
The majority of industry leaders advice not just including, but starting a post title with your keyword. If it is impossible to put the keyword right at the beginning, nonetheless still try to put it closer to the beginning, rather than the end.
See the example below:
The post title contains the keyword “best beaches in Greece” and it is almost at the beginning of the title. Also, you can see that the URL contains the keyword as well.
3. Heading and subheadings
When you write your blog post, make sure to have one heading (which is usually the title) that is used with an <H1> tag and several subheadings that are used with a <H2> tag. Don’t forget that the main heading should always contain your keyword and the subheadings should be relevant to the topic you are writing about.
<H1>Lose 10 Pounds in a Month<H1> (main heading)
<H2>Start counting calories</H2> (subheading 1)
<H2>Start doing cardio</H2> (subheading 2)
We have already talked about including your keyword in the URL and title of your blog post. However, it is also important to use your keyword in the first 100 words of your article. Why? Because then Google will know that your text is relevant to the keyword you presented in the URL and title.
Now, please don’t go over the top and use your keyword 10 times, especially if you are only writing an article that is 1000 words long. That will easily come off as keyword stuffing, something that will negatively affect all your SEO efforts and can even lead to a Google penalty.
For those of you, who don’t know what keyword stuffing is, Google has the following definition:
“Keyword stuffing” refers to the practice of loading a webpage with keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site’s ranking in Google search results. Often these keywords appear in a list or group, or out of context (not as natural prose). Filling pages with keywords or numbers results in a negative user experience, and can harm your site’s ranking. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context.
Ideally, depending on your word count, you can use your keyword 1-2 times throughout the text. However, this is not compulsory. Only use your keyword if it is relevant and doesn’t affect your word flow. Many Google and SEO experts have stated numerous times that keyword density is not even a thing anymore.
John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, has said (and this was way back in 2014):
Keyword density, in general, is something I wouldn’t focus on. Search engines have kind of moved on from there.
So there is that. Just remember, always try to find a balance and use your keywords wisely.
If you want to read more on the topic of keywords and keyword research, check out my Keyword Research for SEO guide.
5. Image optimization
Optimizing images to make them SEO-friendly is another thing to always keep in mind. Whenever you use an image in your article or post, make sure to include your keyword in the image file name and the Alt text. So if your keyword is “healthy breakfast ideas”, you should do the following when adding an image to your WordPress post:
As you can see, Alt Text and Title should always contain the keyword. Filling in the caption is really optional, but I do prefer to write one, especially when you want to write a little explanation under your image. A description is optional as well and doesn’t really affect our on-page SEO in any way.
Always, always include a few relevant internal links in your blog post and article. Given that your blog is related to a certain niche, it should be quite easy to interlink posts from within one category. Depending on your word count, use 2-3 links that will hopefully tempt your readers to read some of your other posts and articles.
Have a look at the diagram below:
External links are also very important for our on-page SEO. I always try to include at least 3-4 links to external websites. Make sure these links are relevant to your content though, don’t just create links for the sake of it. Also, do not include links to any spammy or suspicious-looking websites. Always try to link to websites that have a domain authority similar to yours or higher.
Domain authority (DA) score was developed by Moz and this is how they explain the term:
Domain Authority (DA) is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). A Domain Authority score ranges from one to 100, with higher scores corresponding to a greater ability to rank.
8. Word count
Another important thing to always keep in mind, especially if you are just starting your online journey and your site hasn’t got much authority or backlinks, is word count. Always try to write long and high-quality articles. There are loads of studies out there that prove that Google favors content that is longer than 2000 words.
According to serpIQ findings, the average content length of an article that is ranked number one on Google is a bit over 2450 words. See the chart below:
I personally aim to write blog posts that are approximately 2000 words or more. Remember, produce content that gives your readers an in-depth understanding of the topic you’re talking about and keep track of your word count.
If you want to read more on this topic, check out Search Engine Journal article on What’s the Ideal Blog Post Length for SEO?.
9. Page load speed
Page load speed is really something that people care about nowadays. Times, when the internet was slow, are over. Now, that the majority of us have super fast broadband at home and 4G (and in some case even 5G) on their phones, it is crucial to have a website that loads fast.
According to Google documents released back in 2017, they stated that:
The average time it takes to fully load the average mobile landing page is 22 seconds. However, research also indicates 53% of people will leave a mobile page if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.
So make sure your website pages don’t take more than 3 seconds to load.
What can we do to improve page load speed? You can start by following these 3 simple steps:
- choosing fast web hosting – I know all of us probably start by having a cheap shared web hosting plan, but when you feel like your site is making considerable progress and you are getting more and more visitors each day, it is definitely worth looking into more expensive, yet faster and efficient options. Don’t try to save on hosting when your site generates a good income.
- compressing files – the smaller your media files are, the faster your page will load. You don’t want to upload 3 MB images to your page, so make sure to either compress them manually (using online image editing tools or Paint), or use a compression plugin. I use the Smush Image Compression and Optimization plugin on WordPress. It’s got a 5-star rating and over 1 million downloads, so you can’t really go wrong with that.
Once you have done this, you can check your loading speed by going to GTMetrix. It will not only provide your site’s loading speed stats, but also give you more insights and recommendations on how to optimize it.
In my opinion, we are now living in the era of social media. Tell me one person who hasn’t got a Facebook page or an Instagram account? What about sharing things on Twitter and connecting with colleagues on LinkedIn?
Even if you don’t personally use any of these social networks, always include social share buttons on your site. The more times your blog post or article is shared on social media, the greater are your chances of people actually visiting your site.
I have read loads of articles with polarizing opinions on how social media affects your SEO, but I would like to share Neil Patel’s opinion today::
While the authority of a social account doesn’t impact search rank, links published on social media could be marked as credible back-links and thus influence a page’s rank.
So include social share buttons on your blog. Some popular free social sharing plugins for WordPress include Social Share Icons & Social Share Buttons and Social Media Share Buttons & Social Sharing Icons. And if your site hasn’t got any social media accounts connected to it, I strongly recommend at least using a few. You can start by creating a Twitter account and an Instagram account.
11. Responsive web design
In this day and age, when everyone has a mobile phone, a tablet, and a laptop, it is very important to have a website that is responsive. No matter how good your content is, it will not rank high in Google, if your site only looks good on a PC screen. Having a mobile-friendly website is a must. So make sure every post and article you write looks good on a mobile phone and tablet. WordPress has thousands of themes available that are responsive.
12. Content, content, content
All the things we have talked about prior to this are kind of on the technical side. Now I want to emphasize content. No matter how good your page looks, how good your site structure is, how fast your page loads, you won’t retain your visitors unless you have great content to offer. And perhaps it is not really a part of on-page SEO, but I always like to remind myself and others that content is the most important thing on your website or blog.
So once you have optimized your page or post and made sure everything looks neat and tidy, have another read through your text and make any necessary alterations that will improve the readability of your post.
To Sum It All Up
And these were my 12 on-page SEO recommendations. I hope you have learned something new today and can utilize these techniques in your future posts.
If you are new to blogging, I highly recommend reading my article on “How to write your first blog post”.
Got any comments or questions? Please leave them in the comment section below.