Ranking high on search results and having a well-established online presence has become a necessity for businesses these days. With SEO playing an important role in determining how successful an online marketing campaign has been, online marketers need to have an in-depth understanding of SEO.
Search Engine Optimization can seem like a complex world of constantly changing algorithms and updates to novices. To simplify SEO and gain a better understanding of how exactly it works, it’s better to split it into two major parts: on-page SEO and off-page SEO.
What Is On-Page SEO?
As the name suggests, on-page SEO refers to the practice of working directly on a webpage to improve its search engine rankings. On-page SEO plays a very critical role in helping you achieve more quality visitors and better conversion rates.
By investing time and effort working on on-page SEO, you can be sure that both your content and code are in accordance with Google’s best practices. In simple terms, on-page SEO can have a positive or negative impact on your rankings, depending on how well you implement it.
Important Components of On-Page SEO
As search engines like Google roll out more advanced algorithms, some SEO practices that gave fantastic results in the past have now become obsolete. These changes have also had an impact on on-page SEO. Some components of on-page SEO have become more important, while some others have become irrelevant.
Here’s a look at the important components of on-page SEO and how they affect search engine results rankings:
LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords have been hot commodities in modern SEO practices. As all of us know, Google has been working hard on updating its algorithms.
Every time Google announces changes to its algorithms, it makes things easier for the users. Carrying out a Google search has become easier in the past few years, thanks to Google’s ever changing codes.
Remember when Google put a stop to keyword stuffing? The SEO practice, which was once quite popular amongst websites looking for a shortcut, has all but disappeared. Not content with that, Google came up with a system to look for LSI keywords.
Basically, Google has shifted from simply matching the exact keywords to looking deeper, to get a better understanding of the content. LSI keywords refer to both synonyms of your target keyword as well as keywords that relate to the content.
For instance, if an article contains the words “bleach” and “hair”, Google will rightly deduce that the content is about bleaching hair. Conversely, if the words are “bleach” and “clothes”, then Google will understand that the article is actually about bleaching clothing, which is a totally different topic.
As you can see from this example, LSI keywords can go a long way in helping your content rank higher in search results. All you need to do is be smart about the keywords that you use. Also, don’t forget to double check your content to ensure that you don’t have any words in there that might confuse Google’s bots.
Your website URL gives you a great opportunity to optimize your page. Getting your URL search engine optimized is not a time-consuming process. And since it attracts the bots and can help your content rank higher, it makes sense to get it right.
To optimise your URL, make sure that it is:
- Not too long
- Contains the target and LSI keywords
A good meta description can help increase CTR (click through rates). Meta description is the content that appears below the title and URL in search results. They give potential visitors a brief description of the content, giving them a clear idea of what to expect when they click on the link.
While it’s true that meta descriptions are there for the users and not the search engine bots, they are still an important on-page component.
Failure to optimize your meta description will result in the search engine displaying text from your content as it sees fit. This could result in a very unappealing meta description that could cost you a lot of visitors.
Here’s how to get your meta description right:
- Keep it brief
- Include target and LSI keywords
- Give the user value—make them want to click on your link with the promise of giving them useful content/information
Outbound and Inbound Links
Links are easily one of the most important components of SEO. They have a huge impact on how your content is perceived by search engines and users. While outbound links point to external sources that relate to your content, internal links connect content within your website, enhancing user experience.
Search engines look at any external links provided in your content to get a better understanding of what that content is about. While outbound links are crucial to gaining some brownie points from search engines, you need to use the right links.
Link to authority/ high quality websites as doing this will enhance the quality of your web page with the search engine bots. You also need to ensure that the parts that you link are thematically relevant to the core focus of your content. Linking obscure words or parts will not really help you.
More often than not, content creators do not give inbound links the same attention and care as outbound links. This is a mistake as inbound links come with their own benefits.
They help enhance user experience by providing them with relevant links within your website. But what’s more is that they also facilitate better crawling by giving search engines a clear idea of the important pages of yours site.
While adding images to your content helps enrich it, they are more for the visitors benefit than for search engine crawlers. Unlike the human eye, search engine crawlers cannot “see” the images.
They know that they are there, but have no idea of what the images show. That is, unless of course, you provide some key information to give them an idea of what a particular image relates to.
You can optimize your image by providing it with a good alt-tag. In instances where the image doesn’t load, the alt-tag is what the users will see. So, it’s important to make sure that the content of the alt-tag is relevant to the image.
Here’s what you need to remember when dealing with image optimization:
- While it’s a good idea to try to include keywords into your image alt-tag, what’s more important is a relevant description. So, don’t stuff keywords into your alt-tag. Opt for a useful description of the image instead.
- Reduce image size. Aim to reduce image size to ensure that your page loads quicker. Strike that balance between using a smaller image size while still retaining the quality of the image.
If you’re a business that operates on a local level, then on-page local SEO is an important aspect for you. Being recognized as a local business—operating in a particular area—can give you a competitive advantage.
Local SEO is simple enough and should definitely be capitalized by local businesses. All you need to do is provide all the relevant business information on your website, such as:
- Name and address
- Contact details (phone, email, fax)
- Type of business
- Operating hours
Optimizing your local SEO will help you rank higher on local search results.
Active Comment Section
An active comment section adds a lot of value to your content. Search engines like Google place a lot of importance on user activity. When you have an active comment section, Google infers that visitors are spending a lot of time on your page. Google also looks at comments left by users as a sort of micro conversion.
As for how comments enhance user experience, it gives them the opportunity to agree with or argue about the content. It also provides them with additional information (from other comments) and can add value to the topic being discussed.
And last but not the least, when visitors leave comments, there’s a very high chance that they will return to the site. So, you get repeat visitors, which is always a big plus.
Although comments are a great way to share ideas/ opinions, moderating the comments section is very important. Maintain the quality of your comment section. Be sure to handle negative comments sensitively and get rid of any inappropriate or unrelated comments.
Let’s face it, there’s no escaping the social media craze. How does social media relate to on-page SEO? It helps bring in more traffic, which in turn affects the search result rankings.
Making it easy for readers to share your content on various social media platforms can do wonders. Not only will it give your content more exposure, but content that is popular on social media is looked at favorably by readers.
If your article or blog post has little to no social shares, readers will shy away from sharing it, even if the content is good. Social shares are a must when it comes to ensuring that your content reaches a broader reader base.
It also gives you an idea of what topics and content interest your readers. This knowledge can help you develop more shareable content in the future.
Page Load Time
Visitors don’t have the time or the patience to wait for a page to load. If your page takes too long to load, be prepared to lose visitors. Page load time does not have a direct impact on search engine rankings. But if your page is repeatedly abandoned, that is bound to negatively affect your ranking.
So, you need to make sure that your page loads fast to avoid this scenario. Image optimization is a key factor when it comes to page load time. Compress images that are too big as they can slow down your page loading time significantly.
Google has confirmed HTTPS as a major factor when it comes to ranking. It’s a well-known fact that internet security is one of Google’s top priority. Having secure HTTPS encryption for your site will not only make your website safer, it will also make Google take notice of your site.
HTTPS is not a popular on-page SEO component, simply because people are not aware of it. While meta description and image optimization are constantly discussed, HTTPS is not. But that’s just even more of a reason for you to tap into this component, gaining an edge over your competitors.
On-page SEO is slowly but surely moving towards a more user-centric experience. This in turn ushers in a new set of on-page SEO components that have a stronger impact on search rankings.
Where once on-page SEO was all about heading tags and keyword density, you now see components such as LSI keywords and social sharing gaining prominence. Google’s algorithm will continue to evolve, and SEO will evolve with it.
Content creators and marketers need to keep up with those changes if they want to survive and thrive in such an active environment.