The Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO: 8 Proven Strategies for Organic Search Success

Published: 1 December 2023
Updated: 7 April 2024
Joe Ferris

Mastering on-page SEO is crucial for any website aiming to achieve organic search success. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll share eight expert strategies (and a bonus tip!) that should not only improve your website’s search rankings but also provide a seamless user experience for your visitors. Let’s dive in!

On-Page SEO Essentials: Laying the Foundation

Before we explore the expert strategies, it’s crucial to understand the fundamental aspects of on-page SEO. On-page SEO refers to optimising individual web pages to rank higher in search results and drive more relevant traffic. These optimisations include crafting keyword-rich content, optimising meta tags, using descriptive URLs, and more. By creating a strong foundation for your website’s on-page SEO, you’ll maximise its search performance and visibility.

When laying the foundation for your on-page SEO, it’s important to prioritise content quality. High-quality, original content that’s relevant and informative, is more likely to attract users and keep them engaged for longer, leading to improved performance in search results. Focus on addressing your target audience’s needs, answering their questions, and providing valuable insights. Regularly update and expand your content to maintain its relevance and continue providing value to your audience.

8 Expert On-Page SEO Strategies for Boosting Search Rankings

1. Keywords Mastery: Crafting Click-Worthy Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

The first step is to start with some keyword research to figure out what your target audience are searching for. Then you can create content around that. When you’ve got your content written, or at least have an outline and know roughly which keywords you think are relevant for each section, then it’s time to think about your title tag, meta description and heading tags, and the distribution of your keywords within these.

A well-crafted title tag and meta description are essential for driving organic search traffic. The title tag should be unique, engaging, and include your primary keyword. It should not exceed 60 characters, as search engines may truncate longer titles. For example:

<title>Professional Web Design for your Business</title>

Meta descriptions summarise your page’s content and should be around 155 characters. This is the text that’s shown underneath the titles when you look at a page of search engine results. If it’s any longer than 155 then the text might be cut off before the end. While meta descriptions don’t directly impact search rankings, they can influence your click-through rates (CTRs) by enticing users to visit your page. Include relevant keywords and a compelling call-to-action (CTA) to increase engagement. For example:

<meta name="description" content="We're a professional digital marketing & web design agency in Hertfordshire, building results-driven websites for businesses since 2015.">
A search result for our  Web Design service page, illustrating on-page SEO with keywords in title and meta description.
Google search result for our web design page.

Addressing Heading Tags within Content Structure

It’s also essential when crafting your content to make proper use of heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc). Heading tags help to structure your content and make it easier to understand the hierarchy of your page. Use just one H1 tag per page, representing the main topic or focus, and use H2 and H3 tags for subheadings, to break down the content into logical sections. Including relevant keywords in your heading tags as well to further improve your on-page SEO.

Balancing Keyword Density

When writing your titles, meta descriptions, heading tags and page content, it’s important to be aware of keyword density – or how often your keyword appears in your content. A keyword density of around 1-2% is usually optimal to help search engines to understand your page’s topic without seeming like you’re trying to manipulate the algorithm! Overusing keywords can negatively impact your rankings, as it may be perceived as keyword stuffing – an old black-hat technique that Google clamped down on years ago. Use variations and synonyms of your target keyword to create a natural flow of content.

2. URL Optimisation: Crafting Short and Descriptive URLs for SEO

A well-structured URL not only improves user experience but also enhances your website’s SEO. Keep your URLs short, descriptive, and easy to read. Incorporate your target keyword and use hyphens to separate words. For example:

https://bigwheelwebdesign.com/on-page-seo-expert-strategies

Avoid using ambiguous strings, excessive parameters or special characters (other than hyphens as separators) in your URLs, as this can confuse users and search engines.

3. Image SEO: Optimising Images with Alt Text for Improved Rankings

Images play a vital role in breaking up text and drawing the eye to enhance user experience. They can also improve your website’s search rankings. To optimise images for SEO, compress them to reduce the file size so they load faster while maintaining their quality. Use descriptive file names, such as:

on-page-seo-guide.jpg

Include alt text for every image to provide a textual description for users with visual impairments and search engines. Alt text should be concise, descriptive, and include relevant keywords. For example:

<img src="on-page-seo-guide.jpg" alt="On-Page SEO Guide Cover Image">

4. Mobile Optimisation: Ensuring a Seamless User Experience Across Devices

With over half of all website traffic now coming from those browsing the web on their phones (according to Exploding Topics), it’s important to make sure your website is mobile-friendly. A mobile-optimised website not only provides a seamless user experience across devices but also positively impacts search rankings, as search engines like Google prioritise mobile-friendly websites. To optimise your site for mobile, consider implementing a responsive design, using legible font sizes, compressing images, and enabling touch-friendly navigation elements. You can also use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to identify and address any potential issues.

Website shown on desktop, tablet and phone screens to highlight importance of mobile optimisation for on-page SEO.
Look great on any screen size by optimising for mobile with responsive design.

5. Link Power: Enhancing Internal Linking with Optimised Anchor Text

Internal links connect the pages of your website together, helping the search engine crawlers and your visitors to understand and navigate your site’s structure. Use keyword-rich anchor text that accurately reflects the content being linked to. For example:

<a href="https://example.com/blog/off-page-seo">Learn more about off-page SEO strategies</a>

Avoid using generic things like “click here” or “learn more” as your anchor text without context. Use internal links naturally within your content and aim to link high-quality, relevant pages to each other.

6. Structured Data Intelligence: Boost Search Visibility with Proper Markup

Structured data (or schema markup), provides search engines with more information about your content, such as a product rating or FAQ section. This can lead to your content showing up in rich snippets in the search results, which can increase your website’s visibility and improve click-through rates (CTRs). Implement structured data using JSON-LD or Microdata formats, following the guidelines provided by
Schema.org.

Choose the appropriate schema type for your content, such as `Article`, `Product`, `Event`, or `LocalBusiness`, and provide as much relevant information as possible. For example:

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "https://schema.org",
  "@type": "Article",
  "headline": "The Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO",
  "description": "Discover the top on-page SEO strategies to boost your organic search rankings and drive more targeted traffic to your website.",
  "image": "https://www.example.com/images/on-page-seo-guide.jpg",
  "author": {
    "@type": "Person",
    "name": "John Doe"
  },
  "publisher": {
    "@type": "Organization",
    "name": "SEO Experts Inc.",
    "logo": {
      "@type": "ImageObject",
      "url": "https://www.example.com/images/logo.png"
    }
  },
  "datePublished": "2023-04-25",
  "dateModified": "2023-04-25"
}
</script>

Adding structured data helps search engines to better understand your content and its context, and this can help to improve your search rankings, enhance your visibility and therefore drive traffic.

For self-hosted WordPress and Shopify websites, you could use Yoast to choose the schema type of your content and the Scripts n Styles plugin to add any extra schema markup such as for an FAQ section.

7. Addressing Duplicate Content: The Importance of Canonical Tags

Duplicate content can dilute your website’s SEO value by confusing the search engines. Canonical tags help to address this by telling them which version of a page to index, when there are multiple versions available. Implement canonical tags by adding a <link rel=”canonical” href=”URL”> tag in the <head> section of your duplicate pages, pointing to the preferred version. This ensures that search engines understand your website’s content hierarchy and helps prevent duplicate content penalties. For WordPress and Shopify users, the Yoast SEO plugin makes this easy by providing a text input for the preferred the version in the advanced settings tab when you’re editing the duplicate versions.

Yoast post editor advanced settings showing canonical URL setting for on-page SEO.
Set a canonical URL on duplicate pages to tell search engines which version you want them to index.

8. Speed Optimisation – Improve Page Loading Times for Better User Experience

Loading speed is really important for both user experience and search engine rankings. A slow-loading site can lead to higher bounce rates, which leads to lower search rankings and visibility. Here are some best practises to get your website loading faster:

1. Optimise your images: Compress images without losing quality using tools like TinyPNG. For WordPress, we use EWWW Image Optimiser to compress and convert images to NextGen format (.webp). There are loads of plugin options for WordPress users. Check out a few of the best image optimization plugins as recommended by HubSpot.

2. Enable browser caching: Browser caching stores a cached version of your website on users’ devices, reducing load times for repeat visitors. W3 Total Cache is our go-to caching plugin for WordPress websites.

3. Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML: Minification removes unnecessary characters and whitespace from code, reducing file sizes and improving load times. We do this via CloudFlare CDN rather than W3 Total Cache. Be careful not to minify your code twice if you’re also using both!

4. Use a content delivery network (CDN) such as CloudFlare: A CDN distributes your content across multiple servers worldwide, ensuring faster delivery to users in different locations.

By implementing these speed optimisation techniques, you’ll provide a better user experience and improve your website’s search performance.

9. Extra Tip: Leveraging Social Media: Encourage Sharing for Increased Visibility

Encouraging users to share your content on social media can increase brand awareness and drive more traffic. Implement social sharing buttons on your web pages to make it easy for users to do this. Although social signals don’t directly impact search rankings, they can positively influence user engagement, leading to better overall SEO performance.

Unlocking On-Page SEO Potential: Maximise Your Website’s Search Performance

By following these proven on-page SEO strategies, you can lay the foundation for organic search success and maximise your website’s search performance. But remember, SEO is not just ‘one & done’ – it’s an ongoing process, and it’s essential to keep up with the latest trends and best practises. Continuously optimise your website, track your progress, and adjust your strategies as needed to maintain and improve your search rankings.

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