On Page SEO

Discovering the real unfiltered on-page SEO strategies that the “experts” don't tell you. We cover everything you need to know about on page SEO to skyrocket the results of your website.

On page SEO is one of the most important elements to ranking in organic search results, it’s a known fact that without completing this step, you may as well not have a website.

Search Engine Optimisation is made up of many moving parts and variables that count towards your overall website growth.

On Page SEO Specs

On-Page is typically the very first aspect of optimisation that takes place upon web development. If done correctly can provide the fastest increase in rankings for the least effort. In other words, It’s the low hanging fruit.

Optimising a website can be done by anyone, however, It’s recommended to find someone who genuinely knows there stuff. Professionals are able to manage the more technical side of your strategy and set the fundamentals.

With hundreds of ranking factors, it’s no wonder we recommend getting it done properly. Asking your web design agency, or look for an agency who specialise in on-page SEO services.

Don’t take it for granted, your code, content and meta tags are commonly overlooked by even the biggest and best names in web development and marketing. It’s the technical side of optimisation and because of the technical aspects, it’s incredibly difficult to master.

Whether you’re a local business, national or multinational corporation understanding the below will not only guide you, give you a better understanding of the fundamentals but give you the ability to bring it up with whoever is taking on the task.

This is a technical guide on on-page SEO, it’s advised you have basic knowledge of HTML, or a keen passion. I’m covering things that most specialists don’t know, and acts as a one-stop guide.

Let’s dive into how on-page SEO can, and will increase your rank in Google.

Understanding Search Engines

Search engines are platforms like Google, Bing, Yahoo as well as question-based sites like Quora, Reddit, and Ask.com. They’re all designed around the same core values. They want to answer your question or “query”.

You have a question, you expect an answer. It’s pretty simple.

Whether you’re asking “Electrician Near Me”, “How to remove paint”, “What time does Woolworths close”. They’re all questions.

Google Search Query

It’s the search engines job to answer your question as quickly as possible with the best possible answer.

Your job is to answer the search query with the best possible answer.

Anyone can create beautifully appealing websites and stunning graphics. Few can create engaging content that answers the question, It’s rare to find someone who can do it all.

Good agencies consider buyer intent, who the customers are, and what they’re looking for.

Going in with a game plan with search engine intent in mind can set your website up for success from the start.

Completing a full audit of all your pages to understand it’s a relation, it’s engagement and how customers are interacting needs to be understood using correctly configured reporting and analysing each and every interaction.

Ensuring your Google Analytics is installed and configured to provide actionable insights into how content is being engaged helps determine the direction to start.

To date, Google control 92.81% of Search Engine Market Share which Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, DuckDuckGo share the remainder. Not only this but here in Australia, it’s actually 95.2%.

Google Market Share Stats

It’s because of this to why optimisation is often referred to as “Google Optimisation”. Often the technology designed and developed for the Search Engine Giant is used by the smaller guys. Because of this, optimising for one is often going to work for all.

At any given time of any given day, there are over 74,000~ searches per second on Google.

Let’s take a look at the most actionable on page ranking factors.

Meta Tags

Meta tags are by far the easiest thing to optimise. With limited to no coding knowledge, tags like Titles and Description tags can be modified in any good CMS (Content Management System) like WordPess, Joomla, Shopify or Drupal.

Title Tags

Your title tag appears in search engines and within the browser tab.

Your title tag needs to be below 60 characters in length. The tag is actually calculated on a 600px container. Moz has a great tool for checking title lengths.

Ensuring your target keyword, and a call-to-action is within the title, as well as your brand name.

The html for a title tag is as follows:
<title></title>

Example of it completed:

<title>Everything you need to know about marketing [Free PDF]: sitecentre</title>

We use brackets to help increase our CTR (Click through rate) which ultimately improves your rankings.

Description tag

The description tag fits within the same category as the title, it’s easy to change, easy to optimise and provides enormous value.

Similar to the title tag you want to keep it below the character restrictions which is below 160 characters.

Your description tag can make or break your CTR, An unoptimised description can decrease your click-through rate, decreasing your organic positioning within the SERPs and make your listing look less appealing.

Explaining exactly what the page has to offer, how it values the searcher, whilst including relative keywords can make all the difference.

The html for a title tag is as follows:
<meta name=“description” content=“”>

Example of it completed:

<meta name=“description” content=“See how we made marketing more simple than ever before with these 16 local business tips to improving your marketing ROI.”>

Social Media Meta Tags

There are two main social media platforms to focus on when optimising your meta tags. They’re Facebooks and Twitters.

Other platforms typically use one or the other.

Facebook uses the Open Graph Protocol and Twitter uses its own twitter card.

They’re both very similar, but it’s important to focus on optimising both.

Here are the barebones of Facebook’s Meta Tags:

<meta property=“og:title” content=“European Travel Destinations”>
<meta property=“og:description” content=“Offering tour packages for individuals or groups.”>
<meta property=“og:image” content=“http://euro-travel-example.com/thumbnail.jpg”>
<meta property=“og:url” content=“http://euro-travel-example.com/index.htm”>

Twitter:

<meta property=“og:title” content=“European Travel Destinations”>
<meta property=“og:description” content=“Offering tour packages for individuals or groups.”>
<meta property=“og:image” content=“http://euro-travel-example.com/thumbnail.jpg”>
<meta property=“og:url” content=“http://euro-travel-example.com/index.htm”>
<meta name=“twitter:card” content=“summary_large_image”>

Combined and the extras:

<!-- Essential META Tags -->
<meta property=“og:title” content=“European Travel Destinations”>

<meta property=“og:description” content=“Offering tour packages for individuals or groups.”>
<meta property=“og:image” content=“http://euro-travel-example.com/thumbnail.jpg”>
<meta property=“og:url” content=“http://euro-travel-example.com/index.htm”>
<meta name=“twitter:card” content=“summary_large_image”>

<!-- Non-Essential, But Recommended -->
<meta property=“og:site_name” content=“European Travel, Inc.”>

<meta name=“twitter:image:alt” content=“Alt text for image”>

<!-- Non-Essential, But Required for Analytics -->
<meta property=“fb:app_id” content=“your_app_id” />

<meta name=“twitter:site” content=“@website-username”>

CSS-Tricks have a fantastic, in-depth article that outlines these more in depth.

Schema

Schema is getting more into the technical, advanced level of on page SEO that separates the experts from the novice.

We have all seen the power of schema, whether you understand it technically, or you’ve never heard of it before. You have seen it in your Google search results.

Schema Markup Example

It’s designed to help Google understand what the website, page, and contents are about.

It’s so much more than making your content look good, it’s about helping create a better internet as a whole.

Google’s search isn’t determined by people, it’s a machine-learning algorithm that learns from their structured data. It knows a lot but understands far less.

Marking up your content with schema helps educate google with key data that they otherwise would have struggled to obtain.

By providing this, you’re essentially helping complete their knowledge of your business, content, and intent.

Schema can be done one of three ways.

  • JSON-LD
  • Microdata
  • RDFa

The preferred method is JSON-LD. The main reason for this is it’s quick to process, in the one place and contains all the information necessary to make sense of what’s on your page.

Second, to this, JSON-LD allows for more data points and cross-linking of data for quicker-wider understanding.

Google uses Schema.org to format what data to consider.

“Schema.org is a collaborative, community activity with a mission to create, maintain, and promote schemas for structured data on the Internet, on web pages, in email messages, and beyond.”

Depending on what your website is about, whether it’s a business, corporation or informative blog changes what markup you use.

To go more in-depth, depending on what page of your website can change what markup used, what is put in the markup and how it connects.

It’s imperative that this is done correctly or Google will flag it as an error within Google Search Console.

Schema Error Image

The standard structure for nearly 100% of websites is:

Then we go into another popular markup such as:

There are a lot more, however, for the vast majority of the internet, these are the essentials.

Website Speed & Load Time

Optimising your website’s performance is fast becoming one of the biggest headaches for webmasters.

It’s reported that 53% of mobile users will leave if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load.

Optimising load speed for SEO is no easy task.

It comes down to a couple of factors:

If you get those 4 things right, it’s not perfect. But you’re well on your way to keeping your sites speed up-to-date.

We have a 50 item checklist when optimising - Above, are just the low hanging fruit, easy to fix changes.

Based on the type of business you run, your target demographic and what your features your website has can greatly change how website speed optimisation is handled.

For the vast majority of small to medium size businesses the following applies.

Server Location

Choose a website host that has servers within your target demographic location. Here in Australia, you can either choose from Melbourne, or Sydney. Selecting the nearest to your target demographic is important.

Global Ping Graphic

When a visitor visits your website, it’s not just loading your website, a series of events happen which could see your traffic being routed overseas, or in a chain of countries before ending up at your server.

Pingdom’s State of the Internet page is a great resource for what’s happening online. Or the submarine map shows internet cables joining nations together. Kaspersky also has a great tool for threats, although it relates less to internet routing it does show routing directions.

This delay is can make up for most of your available dwell time, eliminating this is a must.

Server Performance

Believe it or not, not all servers are made equally.

The difference is massive, from shared hosting to a VPS or Dedicated Servers can impact how fast your websites code is processed to deliver optimal results.

Each of those server configurations then splits into hardware configurations, and what we like to call “greed”. If you’re a small business you’re most likely using shared hosting.

Shared hosting can have various hardware configurations and settings which can throttle performance based on what “package” you’re on.

Shared hosting also can run on slower hardware, poorly configured software and because it’s shared. You could be sharing resourced with 5 people, or 200. That’s where the greed comes in.

Cheaper hosting providers lower costs by reducing hardware costs and allowing more websites to share single servers resources.

The same can apply for a VPS or dedicated server in a sense that although you’re not sharing, you can still be limited by lower quality hardware and software configurations.

Take the time to choose a quality provider, who is transparent with what it is you’re paying for.

Multimedia Optimisation

Multimedia like Images, Videos, Podcasts can significantly impact your load times. It’s the easiest optimisation to do, with the biggest impact.

There are hundreds of tools for doing these tasks, images alone can increase your websites speed by 30-70%.

The best tools for optimising images:

Using the ImageKit testing tool, you can identify possible improvements.

We use a combination of in-house coded scripts along with the tools above to compress images to their absolute smallest before serving online. Not only will you save on bandwidth, but improved speed.

Taking things to the next level, serving images in next-generation formats such as webp can significantly increase speeds for mobile, and tablet devices. This new image format can provide 25-34% decrease in file size dynamically.

Proper Frameworking

Whether your website is custom coded, made using WordPress or a framework like angular or Laravel it’s important to ensure it’s optimised correctly.

This comes down to minor details like script placement, compression and not loading unused assets.

Getting more technical, stopping render-blocking assets and serving assets from a CDN (Content Delivery Network) like Cloudflare or MaxCDN.

It’s common for a theme, or poorly optimised website to contain every script under the sun for maximum compatibility and support. Loading scripts that don’t get used is a waste of resources, load time and bandwidth.

Before downloading a “theme” or going with the cheapest web designer on the market, consider their coding knowledge around performance optimisation.

Testing site speed

Testing is fortunately very easy.

There are plenty of free tools to help diagnose and find issues with load time.

Here is a list of tools we use:

Once you have diagnosed what and why passing these onto your developer is simple. Any good developer will be able to make these adjustments without any issues.

GTmetrix Report Preview

On-page optimisation in SEO doesn’t need to be hard, these are some of the most simple to apply changes.

Each tool has its own unique suggestions, There are hundreds of tools out there, I’ve included the ones above because they provide unique suggestions not similar to every other tool.

Geotagging

Geotagging is one of the most missed strategies by SEO agencies. It’s a strategy that is most definitely advanced, and quite technical.

Geotagging is a method in which an image has embedded in its metadata local data that signifies the image or photo used was local.

This strategy is only really useful for on-page SEO for local businesses.

Newer model phones are capable of turning on this feature by simply turning it on by following the instructions below:

If you’re looking to modify photos you have purchased like a stock photo you or on a DSLR, or even a graphic. You can use a tool like GeoImage or urban bird which allows you to upload an image, select the location, name, and description and embed the tag in.

GeoImage Preview

If you want to get really tricky, download Adobe Bridge and geotag using Bridge. It’s far more powerful but much harder to use.

Ranking local businesses isn’t like it once was. Search engines rely on signals to verify authenticity. Photos taken within the local area is a great way for machine learning algorithms used by search engines to verify your businesses physical location.

Above the fold content

Ensuring your web design was properly thought out is very important. Ensuring the content that is above the fold is optimised for not only conversions but SEO.

Not only capturing the attention of the end-user but engaging them to continue reading. If your header, banner, and data are pushed too far down the viewable fold your risk of losing interest and clicking the back button significantly goes up.

“76% of users will make some type of scroll action, whilst only 22% will reach the bottom. This fact in itself leaves 14% of customers not scrolling at all.”

Search engines also put more emphasis on content clearly visible with no user engagement.

What Above the Fold is

This goes for all screen resolutions right through to mobile. Having your page title, description and the start of your content visible at all times is the bare basics.

Making sure your web designer is aware of SEO fundamentals within Web design. If he or she isn’t aware of designing for search engine optimisation let alone conversion rate optimisation you should consider looking elsewhere.

Using tools like this allow you to visually see content that is above the fold on various devices before rolling out a new design.

Tools like the SEO Browser allow you to see how search engines see your website, by emulating this experience you can better understand if your content is actually above the fold or not.

Content Quality

“Content is key” is one of the most used terms in online digital marketing. Creating high-quality, relatable content is the absolute most important ranking factor when it comes to ranking well.

Every page on your website, from home page to contact page should be content-rich. Content doesn’t need to be completely focused around conversions, it’s just as important to write to rank.

Without content to produce rankings, you have no one to convert.

In 2016 Brian Dean SEO mastermind analysed 1 million search result pages and found some unbelievable findings.

One of the findings was the average word count of the top-ranking pages.

Word Count to Rank

The exact word count for first position rankings was 1,890. Local businesses are typically below 600.

It became very clear that long-form content was key.

Long-form content is typically well researched, well presented and thorough. The more in-depth the content is, the more likely the end-user is going to find the answer they were seeking.

The study also found that the use of at least 1 image was a bare minimum for first page rankings.

A picture is worth a thousand words. - A notion that a simple visual can represent or tell a story better than a short description.”

Keyword Density

Keyword density in SEO refers to how often your target keyword appears within the contents of the page. No more than 3% is a safe industry standard density for long-form content or 2% for short form.

It’s important to use LSI keywords to diversify the usage of exact match search terms.

There are plenty of available tools that help identify keyword density.

If you’re using freelancers or paid writers who advertise “SEO Content Writing” be wary, it’s often 5-10% of the article. It’s important to be very clear on this when outsourcing content.

Write natural content, don’t over optimise your content. You’ll likely find the article either won’t rank, or you’ll struggle to gain traction.

Duplicate content

Duplicate content is content that appears in more than one place.

It’s a common misconception that long text footers, testimonials that appear site-wide and disclaimers are considered duplicate content. This is false.

“Duplicate content is where multiple pages on your website are either closely matching, exactly matching or targeting the same keyword.”

It can also refer to content which has been copied from another source like wikipedia, a competitor website or somewhere online.

Duplicate content is extremely common in eCommerce where product content is copied from the supplier’s website and pasted onto yours. Along with 30 other of your direct competition.

Matt Cutts - ex-Google Engineer specialising in spam filtering says:

“25-30% of the internet is duplicate content, and that’s okay”

You won’t get a penalty for having the same content as 30 other websites, however, you can expect Google to no longer consider your page for indexing.

Ensure your SEO team is writing unique, fresh content specifically designed for on page rankings.

Images and multimedia

Other than optimising your images for local SEO by geotagging them, you can help identify to search engines what your images are using title tags, alt tags, and image naming.

Although search engines do technically understand what items are in images. It’s machine learning, it’s subject to incorrect tagging and only knows basic objects.

Using Alt text (alternative text) tags are used to identify what the image is used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page.

The title tag of an image, on the other hand, is used briefly identify the image or contents of the image.

Here is an example of a well-written image HTML:

<img src=”bus-driving-down-road.jpg” title=”Bus on a road” alt=”Bus driving down a road” />

The third thing to optimise for an image is its physical name. Calling an image 452-GF-1000x1000.jpg doesn’t identify what the image is naming the image bus-driving-down-road.jpg helps machine learning identify what’s inside the image.

When optimising images it’s important to not only name the image something useful but include keywords for ranking.

URL Optimisation

Having a good website structure, domain, and clearly structured naming will improve your rankings significantly.

Choosing the right domain name for your business or brand can be difficult, but it’s important to get correct.

Keyword heavy domain names, exact match domain names, and country extensions can help ensure your success on Google.

Including keywords within internal pages is important, but it’s not everything. Short URLs rank best, be sure not to stuff keywords within URLs.

Properly layout your websites sitemap to help your web design agency code your website.

Sitemap Planning tool screenshot

After your websites laid out, it’s live and you’re happy. A sitemap.xml file needs to be created. This informs search engines of the pages on your site, when they were last modified and how much importance each page has.

Using a template, or properly creating a sitemap is hard. However, it’s important to get it perfect, test it and inform Search Engines of its existence.

Use of HTTPS

In July of 2018 Google Announced it’s movement on a safer internet. If your website does not have SSL, you’re missing out. Your website won’t rank as well, it won’t appear as well and it’s going to struggle to gain traction.

8 Things to know about https

Without https, you’re not only losing out on easy Google organic rankings but as the graphic above suggests, you’re losing out everywhere.

SSL is affordable and if your web designer, SEO, Marketing Manager or PPC account manager hasn’t informed you to upgrade yet, your customers might.

Chrome started displaying this:

Google Chrome Error

Speak to your hosting company to discuss upgrading your website to the latest security technology.

Internal Linking

Internal linking is an easy, actionable strategy anyone can do.

Linking to relative and useful pages within your own website helps structure and link information. Internal linking should never be done for SEO purposes though.

Internal linking should be valuable to the end reader, to assist in navigating your website with ease by using valuable anchor texts to push the reader in the right direction.

Internal Linking Screenshot

Running regular checks over your internal linking using tools like Screaming Frog Crawler can help identify missed opportunities, or identify broken links.

Broken links can cripple your website, and lead your traffic into dead ends causing frustration.

External Linking

External linking is linking out to other useful resources online to provide value to the reader to either verify your facts, statistics or to reference something you’re talking about.

Sites like Wikipedia have grown so quickly, and became so credible due to it’s linking proper resources and providing valid “citations”.

It’s known that anyone can edit a page on Wikipedia, but it’s less known that in order to get something to stay, you must provide a valid cite to a resource that backs your changes.

Whilst search engines crawl the internet, find interesting facts, and validate your findings it adds credibility to the content of your pages by referencing information.

By doing this, your content becomes more authoritative and provides more value.

This, in turn, increases rankings and drives better search engine results.

Mobile Friendliness

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you may as well not have a website.

That’s a statistical fact.

48% of the internets traffic is now on mobile, and the rate of growth is incredible.

Mobile Growth Chart

It’s one thing to make your website look nice, get the content correct, optimise its speed and performance, but if the online experience is poor, you’re going to run into struggle street.

“Starting July 1, 2019, mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for all new websites (new to the web or previously unknown to Google Search).”

Test your website on your phone, your tablet and on your computer. The experience should be similar, the call-to-action should be well placed and the value provided should be equal from device-to-device.

Key Take outs

You’ve spent thousands on your new shiny website, you paid the best of the best to come up with the perfect branding that represents your business but simply don’t get traffic.

Traffic doesn’t just appear, having everything inline is tricky, and normally not apart of the “standard” scope of work provided by your web designer.

Having the knowledge and understanding of the steps above, you can push back at your marketing agency and get it done right.

The key things that’ll improve your site’s rankings as quickly as next week are:

  • Optimise Title and Description Tags
  • Compress Images and Serve them as Webp
  • Invest in a good local Server for your hosting
  • Implement Schema Markup into your code
  • Make sure your sitemap is perfect

Hire a professional

If you’re still struggling, your designer or marketing agency just don’t have the technical skills, or you’re looking for an agency to handle everything for you than sitecentre has you covered.

Having optimised hundreds of sites, producing flawless on-page optimisations and getting sites performance to record speeds our team is more than capable of doing everything above with complete documentation.

Providing you with results is what makes us unique. Offering a full turn-key solution that will drive real results and bring paying leads and sales into your website via organic search.

Get in contact with us today, book a free consultation and see how sitecentre can improve your business.

It’s the little things that set us apart.

See why our customers use us, and continue to use us for their internet marketing, hosting and business growth.

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