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On-Page SEO: The What and How

Are On-Page SEO services worth it? This is a question that a lot of business owners ask themselves. The short answer is yes, but let’s dive into the details! It is a given that no astute business person wants to pay for services that don’t provide tangible results. How does it all work though? Well, the main goal of Search Engine Optimization is to organically get to the top of the SERP’s (search engine results page) and stand out well enough to get people to click.

It is important to note that the algorithms that dictate where a web page is ranked are constantly changing and are also proprietary information so it takes time to adjust and create new strategies. To get an idea of all the minutiae, let’s first discuss what exactly goes into On-Page SEO and let you decide for yourself whether or not these services are worth it.

On-Page SEO takes into account all aspects of the webpage that, when added together, will improve your rankings in the search results. There are a few elements that go into implementing a sound SEO strategy. We like to break them down into the technical, performance, keyword research and keyword placement elements. First, we will discuss the technical element of On-Page SEO and all that goes into it.

Technical Element

When we talk about the technical element of On-Page SEO, how a web page is designed and constructed is the most important factor in getting high on the SERP’s. Terms such as keywords, title tags, URL length, subheading H2 tags, inbound and outbound links, meta-descriptions, responsive design, word count and image optimization might come to mind. If they don’t come to mind though, DON’T PANIC – we have you covered! We understand that to some business owners some of these terms might not mean very much, so if it feels a little overwhelming that is okay. Try to get an overview for the reasons why these items are important and not exactly how to code them into your website.

1. SEO-Friendly URL

Starting from the top(literally) of a web page the first element to consider is the URL. Your web address is important. For most popular search engines, less is more. A prime example of a bad URL would be yoursite.com/#//category/title-of-page-goes-here. Conversely, an optimized, SEO-friendly version would be something like this: yoursite.com/keyword. As with many things, naming conventions are paramount when it comes to SEO.

2. Title Tags

The title tag on a web page is another vital piece of the On-Page SEO puzzle. The title is located right where you would expect it – at the top of the page. The size of it in the code should be an H1 (which stands for heading size one). Headings range from size one (H1) being the largest, to six as the smallest (H6). Intuitively, the title of the page should be the largest size. Additionally, the title of your webpage, wrapped in an H1, should contain the keyword you are trying to get ranked for in the SERP’s.

3. Subheadings

A subheading in your web page should be coded to be a H2. If the title of a web page is the size H1, or the largest, it only makes sense that the Google algorithms are looking for subheadings to be one size smaller to rank higher. For an example of this, look no further than this web page! The title of this page (wrapped in a H1) is “On-Page SEO Services: Are They Worth It” and the first subheading is “Technical Element” that is wrapped in an H2 tag.

4. Keyword Density

This one is common sense. When you choose your keyword (which will be explained in a later element) it should appear verbatim in your web page text. Optimally, in the first paragraph the keyword should appear and should also appear at least two more times on the page.

5. Internal and External Links

As one might expect, an internal link looks like this and takes you to another web page within the given site. External links, as expected, link to other websites. Both of these are important for On-Page SEO. Internal links are often referred to as inbound links and are essential because  visitors to your site have an opportunity to stay engaged with your site longer and increase the authority of you web pages. Outbound links (another way of saying external links) should be from trustworthy sources and enhance the credibility of your website. When you link to other sites, they will see this and are more likely to return the favor. Quality as well as quantity are important here for SERP rankings.

6. Metadata

Metadata is all the information about a page that you send to a search engine that isn’t visible to your visitors. It is in the header of the HTML code and details what your web page is about. There are a few different types of meta-data but the most important ones are the meta-title and meta-description. Though a visitor cannot see them, these tags are a crucial part of any On-Page SEO because they tell the search engines exactly what your site is about. When it comes to best practices, getting this right is vital and a whole article could be written on this topic alone. For now, just know that keywords need to get worked in to your title and meta-description and the length of your meta-description should be in the neighborhood of 155 characters (though algorithms change frequently).

7. Responsive Design

The way that a web site scales, particularly with mobile devices is what is meant by responsive design. Your web site should look clean and be functional at any size on a desktop, tablet and especially a cell phone. If your site is not responsive for cellular devices, you will receive a penalty from Google and your traffic will be lower.

8. Word Count

The more words that are on a page, the more potential for quality content. Having a higher word count is always good! A good rule of thumb is that each posting should have around 600 to 700 words.

9. Image Optimization

Remember talking about metadata? Every image on a website also has tags in it that are not visible. These invisible tags are referred to as alt-text. Your alt-text should be a description of what that image is and should sprinkle in your keyword for this page. 

Performance Element

Now that we have deliberated over some of the most important parts of the technical side of what goes into On-Page SEO it is time to speak to the performance element. When it comes to performance, speed is crucial! Google has indicated that site speed is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages. A slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget, and this could negatively affect your indexation. To put it bluntly, faster speed translates to higher rankings.

There are a few ways to check the speed of your website. We will speak about this later, just know that it is important to be fast on your desktop as well as mobile.

Keyword Research Element

Researching keywords takes time. The power of keyword research lies in better understanding your target market and how they are searching for your content, services, or products. You should be asking yourself the how’s, what’s, why’s and where’s about your potential client base. 

Once you have considered them, think about the terms that people search to discover your website. Put those terms into a keyword research tool to find out average monthly search volume and other similar keywords. Suffice to say, there is a lot more that goes into finding suitable keywords but these are the building blocks and the reasons why keyword research is one of the elements to be considered when dealing with On-Page SEO.

Keyword Placement Element

Now that you are armed with your carefully considered keywords, it is time to use them! Where should you put them though is the next logical question but to answer that it is better to consider how your keywords are found. Major search engines such as Google regularly send out programs referred to as “bots” that crawl the Internet, examining and indexing each and every web page. When a bot examines the contents of a web page, it pays more attention to a few places on the page. Those places are where keywords are best placed!

The best places to work your keywords in organically are:

  1. Page Title
  2. In the first 25 words of your first paragraph
  3. In the last 25 words of your page
  4. Bold keyword(s) at least once on your page
  5. Meta-description
  6. H1 Tag
  7. Included in the URL
  8. Included in Outbound and Inbound links
  9. Alt-text of images

Why It’s Important

By this point there has been a myriad of information thrown at you. It is definitely a lot to take in. Why is On-Page SEO so important though? Well, it is the most fundamental aspect of Internet marketing. Organic web search results are still one of the top drivers of leads by far over social media sites and emails. 

We want to empower anyone who wants to learn how to optimize their website for search engines. If this guide has you feeling a little overwhelmed, just give us a call. We’re here to answer questions, teach you, train you, or even take care of it for you. Just let us know what you need.

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I hired Craft & Clover specifically for their digital marketing services. After my initial consultation it was clear they were the right choice. Cheri was knowledgable and extremely helpful with the full SEO audit and website optimization I was looking for. On top of that the SEO strategy they crafted was personally tailored to my exact business needs and the results are already starting to speak for themselves. Big thanks to Cheri and her team. An absolute pleasure to work with.