Did you know that Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second? That’s an astonishing 3.5 billion searches made by people every day! Many of whom are your audience seeking answers and information.
But, the only way to get in on that Google action is by using SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as part of your marketing strategy.
Now, SEO is a vast subject, and there is a lot to learn—too much to cover in one post. Even an in-depth series of posts would only scratch the surface. However, one aspect you can learn quickly is on-page optimization.
What is on-page optimization?
On-page optimization is a series of actions that you can perform on a post or page to improve its performance on Google, making it more visible in search results.
Now, optimizing your content does not mean your posts will appear on the first page of Google; they might. But usually, many other factors come into play for that to happen.
However, on-page SEO is a big part of the SEO puzzle, and if you learn how to do it, you’ll significantly increase your chances of getting traffic from Google and other search engines.
Ok. So, now that you know what on-page optimization is, let’s look at how to do it.
1. Optimize Title Tags for Google and Humans
A title tag is a post’s SEO title. It’s an HTML element that displays the headline of a web page in search engine results pages (SERPs), and it’s a critical factor in on-page optimization. It helps Google understand what your content is all about.
The title tag is usually the same as the main headline of a post, but it doesn’t have to be.
To optimize a title tag, include primary keywords of your post within it – placing the most important keywords close to the start.
For example, for a post called “Basic Techniques for Toilet Training a Doberman Puppy,” the main keywords are ‘Toilet Training a Doberman puppy.’
The title tag would read “Toilet Training a Doberman Puppy – Basic Tips & Techniques.”
In addition to optimizing for search engines, you should optimize the title for humans. It should be natural to read, descriptive, and entice searchers to click on it when seen in search results.
Below are two examples of a title tag. Which would you click?
“How to Train a Doberman Puppy”
“How to Train a Doberman Puppy – The Ultimate Beginners’ Guide”
There is just one catch with title tags. They need to be 60 characters or less; anything over will be cut off. So, make the limited space count.
2. Write Compelling Meta Descriptions
Like title tags, Meta descriptions are HTML elements that appear in search results.
Unlike title tags, meta descriptions do not directly affect the visibility of your post in SERPs. However, they do have an indirect impact!
Google uses CTR (click-through rate) as a ranking factor. This means the more people who click on your post in search results, the better your rankings.
The key to increasing the click-through rate (CTR) is to write a compelling meta description. Your description should work hand-in-hand with your title tag; it should reinforce it and give the searcher a reason to click.
For example – If my title tag is “10 Essential Tips for Puppy Training a Doberman,” my meta description could be something like this:
“Do you want to teach your Doberman puppy how to use a potty, heel, and walk with a leash? Our in-depth post will teach you these essential training techniques, and much more. Click to discover how.”
Again, just like with title tags, there is a limit to the number of characters you can use in your meta description. It’s best to keep it at less than 160 characters.
3. Internal Link to Related Posts
Use internal links (hyperlinks) within your content to link to other posts on your website that provide further information or more context. Internal links are essential for a number of reasons:
- They help Google understand the relationships between the different content on your site.
- They help readers navigate to related content that might be of interest. This means visitors spend more time on your blog, which is a good signal for Google.
- They distribute link juice (power) throughout your blog, which establishes a hierarchy of posts and pages. The more links that point to a page, the greater its importance.
- Internal links enable Google bots to crawl and index pages and posts, making them available for discovery in the search engine.
When linking to other posts, use anchor text (descriptive keywords) to help readers and Google understand the relevancy of the link.
4. Externally Link to Other Websites
In addition to linking internally to related posts, you should also link-out (create external links) to other websites.
I know what you’re thinking: Won’t that take people away from my blog?
The answer is, maybe! But providing additional resources and information will help you build authority and trust with your readers.
Linking out also builds authority and trust in the eyes of Google. If you link to relevant resources, Google will consider your post and site to have more relevance, trust, and authority.
When linking out, only link to reputable websites. Linking to sketchy or spammy sites will harm your SEO efforts and damage your reputation with your audience.
5. Optimize Images
Images make your content pop and draw the reader into your post; they also play a big part in on-page SEO.
Here is how to optimize them:
Compress – Large images slow down the speed at which a post loads, which is viewed negatively by Google. If using WordPress, you can add a plugin like “Smush” which compresses image files on upload.
Resize -Resize large images to fit smaller containers. For example, if an image is 1500 x 1500 pixels, but the container size is 250 x 250 pixels, then resize the image to fit.
Use Alt Tags (Alternative Attribute Text) – Alt tags provide information about an image:
- Readers with visual impairments (using screen readers) see what an image represents.
- Google can read the image and understand its relationship to the topic of your post.
- They add more keyword relevance to your post.
When writing Alt tags, make them descriptive as possible, and include keywords within the text. Keep Alt descriptions brief no more than 70 to 100 characters max.
If using WordPress, when uploading an image, there will be a section to add Alt text.
6. Review and Improve Page Speed
Page load speed is one of the metrics that Google uses to determine the position of a web page in SERPs. Slow load times have a negative impact on SEO. They also make for poor user experience.
According to studies, 40% of visitors will abandon a page if it takes more than 2 seconds to load.
Many factors impact speed:
To test load speeds, you can use a tool like Google Page Speed Insights:
If pages are slow to load, these tools will provide recommendations such as browser caching, minifying CSS, image compression, etc.
For those of you using WordPress, you can install plugins like “Autoptimize” and “WP Fastest Cache” to fix coding and compression issues.
7. Optimize Heading Tags
Heading tags (known as H tags) are HTML elements that format headings’ sizes within a post.
There are six tag sizes – H1 to H6—but the ones most commonly used are H1, H2, and H3. The H1 – the biggest and boldest font – is used for the main heading (post title). The H2 tag is smaller and used for sub-headings, and H3 tags for sub-subheadings.
Using heading tags to format a post makes your content more visually appealing and helps readers quickly scan the page. They also help Google to understand your content better.
To optimize H tags, place your primary keyword or phrase in the main title (H1) and then sprinkle the other related (secondary) keywords throughout the sub-headings.
I might lay out my “Training a Doberman Puppy” post like the example below.
When adding keywords to headings, they should appear natural, don’t repeat the same keyword phrase; mix it up. For my post layout example above, I don’t repeat “Training a Doberman Puppy to xxxxxx” or even “Doberman Puppy” in every heading.
8. Use SEO-Friendly URL’s
URLs are another critical factor for on-page optimization. Google reads the URL of a page or post to understand the topic and content.
There are different URL formats, but /Post-Name/ and /Category/Post-Name/ are the two most commonly used for SEO and readability purposes.
/Category/Post-Name/ – highlights the category and the name of the post – represented in the example link below:
/Post-Name/ – as the name suggests, contains just the title of a post – represented below.
If using WordPress, you can set the URL structure (across your website) under “Permalinks” in the settings tab in the admin dashboard.
Regardless of the URL format (both are good), ensure you include the primary keyword phrase within the URL.
In addition to adding your keywords, try to keep your URL short. Shorter URLs are easier to read and look cleaner – anything over 80 characters is probably a little on the long side.
Usually, URLs will automatically take the title of your blog post, which is fine in most cases. However, if your blog post title is very long, you might want to edit the URL.
And That’s a Wrap…
Thank you for sticking with me to the end. I hope you have enjoyed the post and that you now have an understanding of how to optimize your website content for better Google search results.
Even if you don’t do another thing with SEO (although you would be leaving a lot of traffic on the table), knowing how to optimize your content is a skill that every website owner should learn.