You may have the best looking website for your industry, with the greatest information and offers for your local customers – but if nobody can find you, what’s the point, right
That’s where Onpage SEO comes into play!
What is Onpage SEO
When we say, “onpage SEO”, we are referring to steps you can take to optimise your website so Google is more likely to “find” it. More importantly, to encourage Google to favour your website over your competitors, and rank it higher in their search engine results.
This optimisation applies to your website headings, copy (the words on the page), images, videos and several other bits of code on your page – as well as social media connections.
Let’s explore those in more detail.
One Main Topic Per Page
Each page of your website should be about one key topic, service or idea. While it is often appropriate for your home page to provide a broad sense of what your business is about, the details should be contained in separate, targeted pages.
Besides being easier to read and digest information, the approach is also preferred for SEO. By keeping each page focused to one topic, you can later create backlinks (links from other sites pointing to your website) which are more targeted and logical.
What you DON’T want to do, is try & point ALL your backlinks to your homepage, or one other page on your website – your goal is to build relevant backlinks to each major page of your website for optimal results.
To summarise, try to stick to this rule wherever possible: one main idea per page.
You want to be “sprinkling” your ideal keywords through the copy on each page. As with the headings, you don’t want to be stuffing your keywords into the page so the page becomes unreadable. Years ago, before Google starting punishing the practice, it was common for people to rank their websites by writing content like this:
Best dentist in Somewhereville
If you’re looking for the best dentist in Somewhereville, you should call Dr Someone in Somewhereville. Nobody in Somewhereville knows dentistry like Dr Someone. Many of his patients say he is the best dentist in Somewhereville and for good reason – he’s a great dentist!
My exaggeration is only slight… but suffice to say this no longer works (for the most part). You’ll want to keep your copy interesting & engaging for the reader, not just full of the searches you want to rank well for.
Feel free to use synonyms and variations of your keywords within your copy, because Google is getting smarter at interpreting your site content. For instance if you’re a bathroom renovator, don’t just use the same “keyword phrase” like, “bathroom renovations”. Mix it up with phrases such as, “bathroom overhauls”, “renovate your bathroom”, “bathroom do-overs” and so on.
Your page headings act as strong signposts to Google as to what your website is about. This text is formatted as Heading 1, Heading 2 or (sometimes) Heading 3. By far the most important are Heading 1 and Heading 2.
In most common website development tools such as WordPress, you can select your ‘heading’ text from a simple dropdown menu within your text editor – just like you would with Microsoft Word and other text programs.
The Heading 1 text is also referred to as “H1” text or “h1 tags” – Heading 2 not surprisingly is referred to as “H2” text or “h2 tags”. Why Because when Google’s robots scan your page, it doesn’t read your headings as “heading 1″ or heading 2” – it reads it this way:
Anything text contained between the <h1> and </h1> text is considered the heading.
H1 and H2 tags matter – despite the many changes Google have made to their ranking algorithms in recent years, headings remain a key factor they look for.
So you can why I cringe when I see people putting cliche, tired or irrelevant words within their h1 and h2 text – such as, “Welcome to our website” or “Thanks for dropping by” or even “Home Page”.
Such headings tell Google nothing about your site, and therefore do nothing to help your site get found online. And I’d suggest they don’t help your site visitors in any way at all, either!
What kind of headings should you use Try to keep them short, ideally around 7-10 words. Keep them relevant to your business. For example, “For the best dental care in Sydney“, or “Give your Melbourne home a facelift with a new premium kitchen“, or “Secure your home with Australia’s most trusted alarm systems”.
Note you should have just one Heading 1.
You can use as many Heading 2 texts to support your page content as you like – so if your h1 tag on your home page was, say, “For the best dental care in Sydney“, you may choose Heading 2 texts such as, “Child friendly dentist“, “Pain free treatment” and so on.
Note you do not want to cram keywords (your ideal search phrases) into your headings – apart from looking awkward, Google doesn’t tend to look favourably upon the practice. Keep them meaningful to humans! You don’t need to have a keyword in every single H2 tag, in fact it’s probably better if you don’t.
If your headings are related to your subject matter, you should be fine.
Apart from the <h1> & <h2> tags, the other key “back end” codes you want to give attention to are the meta description tag, page title tag and – to a much lesser extent these days – the keywords tag.
- Meta description – This is the text you see below the title in Google listings, after you search for something. Here’s our meta description for our home page:
- Page Title – this is the description of your page. This can be the same as your <h1> text, or a variation on a theme
- Keywords – years ago, Google gave much more weight to this code. Unfortunately, site developers & marketers used this code against them & started to “cram” this field with huge lists of common keywords in the hope of attracting more traffic. You can still use this field today, just realise Google doesn’t look at it too seriously 🙂
If you’re on WordPress, I use & recommend the awesome WordPress SEO by Yoast. With this powerful tool you can easily setup your meta tags & customise them for each page.
“Alt tags” are defined – this is the text which will display if your image cannot be viewed
“Title tags” are defined – this is the text which will appear when the mouse is moved over it
Filenames are appropriate & meaningful – avoid keeping the default filename if you’re using a stock image
Images are appropriately sized – keep your images compressed (small in size) and at the appropriate height & width
Onpage SEO for Images
Very few people like to read pages & pages of plain text. We’re visual beings, and our eyes are naturally drawn to images first. Therefore, it makes sense to include meaningful, high quality images throughout your website.
Now, this article isn’t designed to teach you design, photography or legal information – remember we’re purely focused on the SEO side of things right now!
So I’m going to assume at this stage that your image are:
- Legally yours or able to be used by your business
- Not offensive
- Of a high quality (if you are using animated flags or cartoon pictures of koalas, please slap yourself right now)
- Appropriate & relevant to your page topic
There are three key things you want to keep in mind for images beyond the above. They are:
- Filenames – give you image files meaningful names. If you’ve purchased stock images, this is especially true. Filenames such as “best-plumber-parramatta.jpg”, “cheap-shoes-sydney.png” are more helpful than “shutterstock1234284353#.jpg”
- Alt tags – tells Google what the image is about, but is invisible to the viewer. Use between 5 and 15 words. Website systems such as WordPress allow you to change these easily. Be sure to use your keywords here, just don’t “keyword stuff”
- Title tags – you know when you move your mouse over an image on a website, you sometimes see text “pop up” That’s the Title tag at work. Another place to put your keywords with the same caution about over-doing it
Build internal & external backlinks
Creating hyperlinks to pages within your own website (like this one) and other authority sites is an important part of onpage SEO.
Internally, you may link to other blog posts, services, product information or contact forms.
Externally, Google wants to see that you’re educating your site visitors well, and they understand no one site is the “only” source of truth! This means you may find benefit in linking to external, high-ranking sites – for example, I may talk about search engine optimisation & link that text to Wikipedia. You may also want to build external links to your own blog posts & social media sites.
In most cases, you’ll want to open external links in a new tab / window, so the visitor isn’t removed from your own website.
Onpage SEO for Video
The majority of the optimisation will be done in the video and the video listing rather than on the page – but including videos is a great way to increase engagement – therefore increasing the amount of time visitors spend on your site.
Whether you use your own videos (preferred) or 3rd party content (where relevant and non-competing), you should definitely consider adding video content to your site. The good news is, most website tools (like WordPress) make it easy to embed YouTube videos directly into your pages & posts.
To make a point – Google’s ranking algorithm is constantly changing.
What I’ve tried to do in this post is highlight the key fundamental rules to follow for onpage SEO – obviously there are plenty of advanced techniques which may or may not work in a week!
As always, if you have any specific questions not covered here, feel free to reach out to us & we’ll answer your questions the best we can.
Other Onpage SEO Ideas
Avoid large blocks of text which are not broken up by subheadings, images or dividers. This will encourage your viewers to read more of your page content, which will increase their “time on the page”, which Google wants to see.
Sites that have visitors leaving within 3 seconds of opening the page are not favoured by Google, because this “early quitting” suggests the page is not relevant or helpful.
Next, check out Part 6 of this series – Offpage SEO.