What is On-Page SEO

Mandi Rogier


October 4, 2018 (Updated: January 23, 2024)

Learn about on-page SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of driving quality traffic to your web page. Good SEO practices will draw more visitors to your site and help ensure that you’re connecting with the right audience. It’s not enough to get more clicks on your site if these people quickly bounce because you’re not offering what they’re after. Proper SEO promotes products, services, and information that your site truly delivers on. Smart on-page SEO strategies are crucial to any marketing campaign.

Understanding On-Page and Off-Page SEO

Image via Flickr by Limelight Leads

On-page SEO is essentially any optimization that takes place directly on your website. This is the SEO that you have control over, so you can craft and execute smart strategies down to the last detail. On-page SEO is the opposite of off-page SEO, which occurs on other websites and is typically out of your control. A well-crafted marketing strategy will address both types of SEO, but it’s the on-page content that gives you a more concrete medium to work with.

Examples of on-page SEO include:

  • Keyword density.
  • Internal linking strategies.
  • HTML tags.
  • Anchor text.
  • URL structure.
  • Content.

Off-page SEO includes things like:

  • Social signals.
  • Customer reviews.
  • Backlinks.
  • Guest posts.
  • Social bookmarking.
  • Image and video sharing.

Comparing Front-End and Back-End SEO

The front end of your website is the area that live visitors deal with. This is what you see on your computer, smartphone, or other devices when you, as the user, visit a web page. The front-end experience must be engaging and easily navigable. If your visitors bounce away within a few seconds, Google and other search engines will track this behavior and determine that you don’t have a well-designed site.

To improve your front-end SEO, you must ensure that your site quickly meets the user’s needs. Ask yourself these key questions:

  • Is the purpose of the web page clearly defined?
  • Will the visitor find useful content immediately?
  • Is the content of the page highly relevant to the keywords and content titles that you’re using?
  • Is it easy for visitors to quickly navigate to another part of the site with a few clicks?
  • Does the site load quickly?

Back-end SEO takes place behind the scenes. This is the code that nests within your site telling it how to operate. Google and other search engines read your back-end SEO and respond appropriately, but most everyday visitors will have no idea what’s hidden in this part of your SEO strategy. Back-end SEO includes things like meta descriptions, title tags, and descriptive URLs. When determining how good your back-end SEO is, you should ask things like:

  • Does my site feature technical optimization for mobile viewing?
  • Is the metadata optimized to feature relevant keywords?
  • Can bots easily navigate my site and determine its purpose?

A strong on-page SEO strategy will address both front-end and back-end factors. Most importantly, these two sides of the site need to work together to further the same goals. If you optimize your content around a new set of keywords for your current campaign, you need to make sure your metadata is similarly optimized, or Google bots and live visitors may not get the same idea as to what your page is about.

Identifying Keywords for On-Page SEO

You can’t control the keywords and language that others use when referencing your site with off-page SEO, but you’re in total control over what you say and how you say it on your site. The advantage of a well-organized on-page SEO strategy is that it will often bleed into your off-page SEO as well. If you’re smart about your key phrases, users are likely to absorb some of these terms and use them in their own description of your products and services.

Keyword research is at the heart of a good SEO strategy. You need to identify the proper terms and phrases that your users will be looking for. There are numerous ways to identify keywords for your site. It requires a fine balance between search volume and competition. Ideally, you want to find that sweet spot where there’s high search volume but low competition.

While you want to optimize for many of the same keywords as your competitors, so you can stay in the race, you also want to find those elusive terms and phrases that others are missing. These present a valuable opportunity for differentiation. Know your audience so you can identify both what they’re looking for and the terminology that they’ll use to find it.

Placing Keywords for On-Page SEO

Once you’ve identified the best keywords for your page, you need to find proper placement to optimize your site. While you can and should optimize your content with keywords, this isn’t the only place these words need to be. Include your keywords in these key places as well:

  • At the beginning of your title tag.
  • In your H1 and H2 tags.
  • In your URL.
  • Within the first 100 words on your site.
  • In image file names.

These areas all present prime opportunities for keyword placement. Check the text in these places and make sure relevant keywords are included.

Optimizing Your Site Features and Functionality

Keywords are one of the most important factors for strong SEO, but they’re not the only thing you need to consider. You can have an excellent selection of well-placed keywords and still perform poorly if your site is disorganized, unhelpful, or slow to load. Don’t simply place your keywords, make sure that the content you’re providing follows up on the promise made by those terms.

Use a responsive design, so your page looks good on all devices, and complement your written pieces with engaging images and video. Include both internal and external links that offer real value. Finally, place social media buttons on all your pages, so it’s easy for others to share with a quick click.

On-page SEO is a critical part of your web site design. Make sure you’re approaching it in a mindful and organized fashion. Find the terms and phrases that are best for your business and include them where it counts.

Author Image - Mandi Rogier
Mandi Rogier

CopyPress writer

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