What is On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO is one of the most important elements in any SEO strategy. Whilst there are many external factors involved, ultimately, the page itself needs to be well optimised for SEO to work effectively. Search engines are looking for pages that offer visitors good usability and an excellent user experience as well as being targeted for a particular topic.
On-Page SEO Factors
There are many On-Page SEO factors that need to be considered and we’ve listed a few examples below.
The content of a page is integral for it to rank well in search engines. Visitors to your website are there to view your content – this content could be informational, service related or even groups of products. There is a strong onus on creating unique, high quality content that visitors find useful and want to engage with. Generally, quality content like this is very ‘linkable’ and therefore attracts a lot if inbound links from external websites.
Google and other search engines have developed algorithms that a designed to analyse and identify good quality content. This makes content an important on-page SEO factor.
Just like a human reading a document in the offline world, Google and other search engines like pages to be organised with appropriate titles. Not only does this make pages and content easier to read but it helps inform the search engine what the page is about. Consideration should be given to the title tag of the page and also the headings used within the content.
The structure of a website should group pages together in a natural way with URLs reflecting this hierarchy. Again, this helps search engines understand which topics are the most important and makes the website easier to read. Google considers each URL a separate page. Therefore, URLs must be static and pages only available via a single URL to avoid accidental duplicate content penalties.
The page must be accessible by search engine robots or ‘crawlers’. This is an extremely important point but something easily forgotten about. Considerations must be given in files such as robots.txt and any XML sitemaps as well as available links across the site, especially within the site navigation. Redirects from any old versions of the page must be set up and finally, meta robots tags must be set appropriately to allow crawling and indexing.
Usability & User Experience
The usability of a page is a key concept sometimes overlooked during SEO. Often there is a misconception that SEO can damage the human user experience of a page in favour of improving the experience for search engine robots. However, this should never be the case and in fact goes against the very purpose of SEO. Read more about this in our article on how Google’s algorithm has developed.
Therefore, pages should consider UX elements such as navigation, strong aesthetic design and layout in order to be visually appealing as well as more technical usability factors such as page speed, browser requests and responsive design.
Structured Data, Schema and Rich Snippets
Structured data formats such as schema and rich snippets provide robots with additional information about a page. This helps to inform search engines about what data is important as well as open up additional features in search – for example, review stars or event details.
Whilst some microdata markup has been hit or miss, examples such as Authorship are now obsolete (for now), there are still many useful applications. Pages should consider using relevant structured data for things such as language, business purpose, location and many others. Check out schema.org for other possibilities.