For every 92 marketing dollars spent on driving traffic to a website, only $1.00 is spent on optimizing what visitors see once they get there. If you are going to spend money to get people to your website, it’s imperative that you make the investment in a site designed to engage and convert.
Figuring out how to optimize your site may seem daunting. If you have questions about what on-page optimization is, how it fits into your overall marketing strategy, or what best practices look like, these fundamentals should get you caught up.
What is On-Page Optimization?
On-Page Optimization (OPO) refers to all tactics that can be taken directly within the website in order to improve its position in the search rankings. How the site appears in search results and its relevance to the search query is also determined by the site’s OPO.
- Keyword targeting
- Title/meta tags
- Schema markup
- Conversion optimization
- Body tags (h1, h2, etc.)
- Photo alt tags
- Rich semantic usage
- Internal linking
All parts of the website are important, including:
- Core web pages
- Supporting pages
- Location pages
- Blogs/Resource content
When you have taken steps to improve your OPO, you will enjoy an increase in total organic traffic, visibility to all landing pages, click through rate, and conversions.
How On-Page Optimization Fits into Your Overall Marketing Strategy
Think of your marketing strategy as a house. You have the foundation made up of all the technical factors. The walls and inside of the home are your on-page tactics–this is where your site interacts with visitors. Once web crawlers and visitors are impressed, they spread the proverbial word about the quality of what’s inside. The roof represents the off-page tactics you take to get people onto your site.
Best Practices for On-Page Optimization
Part of OPO best practices overlaps with the process of getting found by search engines. For starters, you want to focus on the following.
Start your title with the most relevant keyword to your topic and keep your title tag under 65 words. This is the second most important focus, behind producing quality content.
Utilize long tail keywords to capture lower-funnel searchers who are more likely to convert.
Short and keyword-rich permalink URLs
Make it easy for search engines to determine whether your page is relevant to a query by guiding it with your URL structure.
For example, compare this URL:
With this url:
With the first, you can get a pretty good idea just from the URL about what you are going to see on the page, namely information about the web design and development services that Gruen Agency provides. With the latter, you have no idea what you are getting. Search engines favor the roadmap or breadcrumb URL.
Meta Tags & Schema Markup
Meta tags are the snippets of text describing a web page’s content seen in search results. They don’t appear on the site itself but are valuable to tell search engines what is on a page and to convey to the searcher what they should expect to find should they click. SERP’s only show about 156 characters for each listing so make sure to convey your description in less than that amount to avoid being cut off.
While the meta tags flag the very basic information of title and page description, Schema microdata markups provide search engines with even more context and better understanding of what the page is intended to convey. Schema can be used to clarify details like dates, times and places of events that the search bots can often have difficulty understanding. Schema also enables SEOs to indicate specific information on a page to be displayed in the rich media snippets in search.
Ever wonder how Google determined which particular lines from a webpage to put in an answer box ahead of organic results? It used the content marked by Schema microdata added to the page by the site developer or SEO.
Page Load Speed
Good user experience, especially on mobile devices, starts with how quickly the requested page loads on the device. If the page does not load quickly, the user is likely to abandon the page and go back to search for a different option that loads faster. Google uses page load speed as a ranking factor. Google provides a tool to test your load time here. You should generally shoot for a page speed score of 85 or above for each device type.
Optimizing images, videos and diagrams is by compressing the for faster loading times is a commonly needed fix. There are numerous other ways to increase your loading speed, and running this test will provide you with a report of opportunities for improvement.
Your content needs to be easily linkable. Often times a really great piece of content will not be competitive because it cannot be linked. This can happen with content that can’t be reproduced or shared, if it is gated or otherwise limited in visibility, or when part of an AJAX-image powered slideshow.
For a deeper look into linkability, read our 6 Do’s and Don’ts of Link Building.
Design to keep people on the site
User interaction-based ranking factors are critical to algorithms.
- Internal linking keeps visitors on your site, provides added value, and will help your SEO.
- Quality content is a necessity. None of these efforts matter if what you are giving the viewer has little value or veritas.
- Content length is strength!
Optimizing a Page
Until recently the best way to help the search engines understand the topic of a page was with dense use of a specific keyword. However, since the launch of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm in 2013, the search engine is a lot more semantically savvy. Several WordPress plugins still score pages and articles for SEO based on the density of a specific keyword on the page, as in the example below.
Although this practice has been a staple of SEO for a very long time, it does not serve the reader as well as content written with a natural use of language. While it’s easy to check keyword repetition off an SEO to-do list, most copywriters can do better.
- Rather than stopping the process at a unique, competitive keyword – for example, “chocolate donuts”, try to determine what questions people have about chocolate donuts and cover the topic will all kinds of words often associated with chocolate donuts.
- When appropriate, placing critical keywords in the first paragraph of copy is still a good habit.
- Make sure natural variations of your target keyword and related terms are found in each paragraph.
- See to it that the keywords that best represent the topic appear in the URL for the particular page
- Outbound links – have at least 1 when it is relevant to do so. Don’t force an outbound link to something that is not clearly relevant to your on-page content and does not provide any additional value to the reader just for the sake of having an outbound link.
- Images should have alt tags and schema markups related to the topic
- The page title should be between 40 and 70 characters (and contain the keyword)
- The meta description is less than 156 characters (containing the keyword)
- Build up the content – Should be at least 3 paragraphs or 300 words, but ideally are 500 to 1000 words to provide comprehensive coverage of the topic and keep the user on page longer.
- Make sure your heading tags are indicated
- h1- title
- h2 – sub heading
- h3 – sub/ bullet points
Remember that the key to optimization always circles back to the quality, relevance and authority of the content. Always design with the reader in mind. If you find yourself struggling in making a decision, choose the user-friendly option.
On-page optimization is a key component of your search engine marketing (SEM). Check out our guide on How SEM Works.
Still have questions? Let us take a look under the hood for free! We’re happy to provide honest feedback and ideas for improvement to help you reach your goals.