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On-Page SEO:
It's about more
than just content

Martin Nielsen

On-page SEO is a much more expansive topic than many might realise

Search engine optimization (SEO) is about so much more than just content. This article explores some of the other elements of SEO that are important to get right, and why they’re important.

There are two types of on-page SEO: content and technical.

Content on page SEO includes reflecting the keywords you want to target in your content, as well as structuring it for optimal readability with good paragraph lengths, headlines etc.

Technical On Page SEO covers optimising things like the HTML code so that Google can find your website easily.

Keywords and content

While you want to optimise for the keywords you just can’t cram a bunch of them onto the page, this is where good SEO texts come in. So it’s a good idea to make the content relevant and in a way that captures your target audience.

The keywords still need to be there, and this is where we look at the placement of the keywords in context of the text on the page. Usually it’s a good idea to have the targeted keywords in the first 100 words on a website.

You want to have a good balance of keywords but also make sure the content is engaging.

How frequently do you use keywords?

It’s about doing it enough but not too much. This process is making sure that the keyword is mentioned frequently, but without making the page seem like it is being keyword stuffed, which is a bad thing. Google heavily penalises keyword stuffing.

While it is tough, the best rule to follow is to find keywords that are genuinely relevant to what you are writing.

Write out your content, then search for the keywords you want, if they haven't naturally formed, find other words you have used that sound similar, and replace accordingly.

Headers are important

The header tags on your website’s pages help Google understand the structure and hierarchy of the content on a page.

There are some hard rules to follow:

The H1 tag is the main headline of any given page, and should be limited to only one per page (with some exceptions, but as a general rule, one per page unless you really know what you're doing).

The rest of the tags, H2, H3, etc. are used to separate denote "depth" in subjects. Always use header tags in ascending order. A simple way to view header tags would be a list:

  • H1
    • H2
      • H3
      • H3
        • H4
    • H2
      • H3
    • H2

You can always fit a deeper header tag within another, but not the other way around.

Outbound Links (External Links)

Making sure that what you link to is done in the right way, it can help your ranking if you link to authority sites on subjects. This process helps Google understand what your site is about.

URL optimisation

Simply put the URL is what you see in the address bar in your browser when your are on a website. This also needs to incorporate your keywords. So if you are targeting pistachio ice cream, my favourite, then that needs to be in the page about pistachio ice cream’s URL. This is another detail that helps google understand what a specific page is about. WordPress will typically do this for you, as it uses your page title to form the permaslug (the URL).

Meta Title and Meta Description

Making sure your keyword is in the title tag and in the meta description is a very important ranking factor, that again, tells Google what a page is about.

Titles shouldn't be too long (nor too short0), somewhere around 50-65 characters, white-space included.

Descriptions can be a bit longer, with the general consensus of "up to 300 characters" being the norm.

Be aware that search engines truncate (limits) the text, so if your title or description run too long, it will be cut off in search results.

Use Schema Mark-up

This one has shown not to have any effect directly on your rank but helps make your content better looking on Google and it re-enforces Googles understanding of the content on a page. Most decent WordPress SEO PlugIns like Smartcrawl, RankMath and Yoast, can help you set up Schema painlessly.

Conclusion

In short:

  • Make sure to include relevant keywords when writing content, without cramming them in unnessecarily.
  • Have a simple header layout, when in doubt, think of them like a list.
  • Make sure to link to relevant sources, especially if they're well known in your field.
  • Ensure that your URL is relevant, take a look at the URL of this page as an example.
  • Arguably most importantly: Have well written and relevant titles and descriptions for all the content you want optimised.
  • Use Schema if it's easy for you.