The on-page referencing is much more than a simple checklist of factors to optimize. It's also a great way to get your content in front of people, build your brand, and build customer loyalty.
In this article, we will explain what is the On-page SEOwhy it is essential, and demystify the elements to take into account to optimize your natural referencing on-page.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO is the practice of optimize the content of a website to generate more organic traffic.
For those who are not familiar with SEO, the terminology may seem technical. A on-page SEO strategy is a specific formula with a user-centric approach. The ultimate goal of any on-page SEO strategy is to meet users' expectations, notably by providing them with a quality content.
Why is on-page SEO important?
On-page SEO is essential because it helps users and search engines to read and to interpreting the content of a website. It should be noted that a quality on-page SEO strategy consists of more than just adding keywords in the title tags and meta descriptions.
This doesn't mean that meta titles and meta descriptions don't play a big role in your on-page optimization strategy, quite the contrary! What we mean is that you should think beyond what will appear in the search results. Think of your website as a book, if the cover is great but the pages are poor, it won't take long for readers to switch to another book. When web pages are not optimized, they result in a bounce rate high. This has very negative repercussions on the natural referencing in general.
11 On-page SEO ranking factors
Now that you understand what on-page SEO is as well as its importance, let's take a look at 11 essential ranking factors that help landing pages rise to the top of organic search results.
- Keyword mapping
Always start with your SEO audit on-page by mapping the keywords. If you don't know exactly what terms you need to target, there's no point in optimizing the page and working in vain. Chances are that the topic you want to rank for can be addressed in several ways. That's why it's important to target keywords that have a high search volume. Indeed, if the keywords have traffic, it is because users are looking for them.
Not sure where to start? Choose 3 to 5 keywords you want to work on, including long tail keywordsto ensure that the subject of the page to be optimized is clear.
For example, in this blog post, we decided to target the following keywords:
- On-page SEO
- on-page referencing
- what is on-page referencing
If you scroll up and take a good look at the title and subtitles of this blog post, the keywords we just listed will become apparent. Read on to find out why this is essential!
- The research intention
Think about how users will find your content. Then do the same research and optimize the page based on what is offered in the search results.
Pay attention to all the features you see: images, rich snippets, Knowledge Graph, People Also Ask (PAA), videos, even sponsored ads, etc. Google is constantly testing and optimizing its search results based on user behavior. So, you can conclude that what is proposed on the first page of your query corresponds to what your target audience is looking for, so why not take inspiration from it?
- Duplicate content
SEOs and content managers know the duplicate content as plagiarizing the content of others. But in the context of on-page SEO, this expression can take another meaning, that of duplicate your own content.
When you've been blogging for years, you might forget some of the topics you've covered before. If you don't take certain steps before writing, you could rewrite an entire article on a topic you've already covered. To avoid this kind of mistake, you can use a tool like Siteliner to see what you have already published on a specific keyword. You will then know whether to create new content or not, whether to update old text or not. It would be a shame if two of your pages became competitors. You will waste your efforts for nothing. Moreover, it can affect your SEO.
- The title (<h1>)
The page titlealso known as beacon <h1>is still the most crucial title of a page. It is even considered a major ranking factor. Moreover, it is of utmost importance since it is usually one of the first elements that visitors and search engines notice when they consult a web page. A good <h1> can improve engagement and lengthen the time spent on the page, thus reducing the bounce rate.
When writing a title for your website or blog, make sure to include target keywords. In addition, the title must be sufficiently descriptive to avoid the blank sheet syndrome.
- The subtitles (<h2> - <h6>)
As the title of the page you just explained above, the subtitles should include target keywords and make sense when they are set apart. Think of it as a table of contents. It helps users understand what the landing page is about, scan and locate information easily. Subheadings also serve to provide a positive user experience.
When writing subtitles, be sure to sort by importancethe<h2> being the most important (after <h1>of course) and the <h6> being the least important.
Never use subtitles just for style! It will harm theaccessibility of your websiteat theuser experience and SEO. If you don't like the look of your subtitles, work with developers to solve the problem instead of sweeping them under the rug!
To attract a wider audience, the content must be easy to navigate and assimilate. To do this, here are the rules to follow:
- Use of simple and short sentences.
- Use of bulleted lists.
- Be careful with jargon, acronyms and technical words that are unfamiliar to the general public.
- Divide long text blocks into shorter paragraphss, the separated by subtitles descriptions.
- Avoid the passive voice.
To help you, there are online tools that evaluate the readability score of a page.
- The ALT attribute of image tags
The ALT attribute of the <img> (also called ALT text) allows screen reader users to hear the description of an image out loud. ALT attributes on images still play an important role in website accessibility.
They are also important for SEO because search engines do not read images. They therefore take into account the ALT image attribute in the HTML to find clues about its content.
The content of an image's ALT tag can work with other on-page SEO factors to improve the page's chances of ranking and, by extension, improve visits and conversions.
When writing the ALT tags for your images, make sure to :
- Write a precise and concise description of the image.
- Limit your description to 140 characterswhich is about the length of a tweet.
- Use of keywords where possible to enhance the relevance of the page itself.
- Avoid keyword stuffing!
- Internal and external links
Internal links can help build link equity to other pages on your website. Blog posts are more likely to generate external links, so it's especially helpful to link to your product or service pages.
On the other hand, external links should be used sparingly, be authoritative and always open in a new window.
When linking from one page to another, use a anchor text which describes the page you are linking to. For accessibility reasons, be sure to avoid generic descriptions for the anchor such as "as mentioned here", "see in this article", "this link", "click here".
- The title tag
The title tag or meta title is theone of the most important elements for on-page SEO. It is a direct keyword ranking factor. It serves as a blue link in the search results, which visitors click on to access your site.
The ideal length of the title tag of a web page is about 50 to 60 characters. If it is longer, Google will truncate it.
Here are our tips for writing a successful title tag:
- Maintain text length between 50 to 60 characters (545 to 560 pixels).
- Create a title tag unique for each page indexed.
- Always include the target keywordspreferably at the beginning of the title tag.
- Keep in mind theuser's intention when writing the title tag. Make sure it is sufficiently descriptive and catchy to make the user want to click on it.
- End the title tag with the brand name.
- The meta description
The meta description has no direct impact on the positioning of the page. On the other hand, it affects the click-through rate which remains a powerful tool for natural referencing. When written effectively, a meta description provides a clear and concise message in the targeted search results, which may encourage potential visitors to click through to your site.
If the length of the meta description is not controlled and the number of characters exceeds, Google may truncate or simply ignore your text and put another in its place (including a text excerpt in the content of your page).
Here's how to successfully write your meta descriptions:
- Do not exceed the 160 characters for pages without a date and 145 characters for pages with a date such as blog posts, news, etc. (the date will be displayed and embedded at the beginning of the meta description). (the date will be displayed and inserted at the beginning of the meta description).
- Create a unique meta description for each indexed page.
- Write the meta descriptions keeping in mind the CTA (Call To Action) or the objective of the page to be optimized. Ask yourself what message this page wants to send to the user?
- The URLs
Don't let your content management system (CMS) write your URLs for you. As with WordPress, the CMS takes the title of the page and makes it a default URL. If the title is too long, Google will also truncate it for search results.
When writing URLs, be sure to:
- Writing Concise URL (you can remove articles and prepositions for example)
- Use only hyphens to separate the words.
- Use of lowercase letters.
- Integrate target keywords.
Warning: if you decide to update existing URLs, don't forget to set up the appropriate redirects!
Now that you know what you need to do to make your on-page SEO work, you are ready to audit your content! Below is a summary of everything we've explained in this article. It will help you succeed in optimizing your pages with more ease.
On-Page SEO Checklist:
Use the following checklist as a starting point to evaluate the critical factors of your on-page SEO:
- Keyword Mapping The page targets 3 to 5 keywords, uses synonyms, focuses on long tail keywords and avoids keyword stuffing.
- Research intention The page has a clear focus and objectives. The content aligns with Google's search characteristics (images, snippets, AAP, etc.)
- Duplicate Content (to be avoided): the page and its content must be unique on the site, not deal with a subject already covered before.
- Title <h1> tag: the page uses a <h1> which includes main keywords.
- Subtitles <h2> - <h6> tags: the page uses the <h2> - <h6> to separate topics and make reading more fluid. Subheadings also include target keywords.
- Readability The page must be readable, use simple sentences, avoid jargon, acronyms and use mainly the active voice.
- ALT attribute for image tags The images on the page contain alt attributes that are sufficiently descriptive when read alone.
- Internal and external links All links use descriptive and relevant anchor text. External links must be of high quality and open in a new window.
- Title tag The brand name is no longer than 60 characters, includes target keywords and ends with the brand name.
- Meta description : does not exceed 160 characters and is unique to each page.
- URL Title: should be short and relevant to the article. It uses hyphens, lower case letters and targeted keywords.