On-page SEO: developing successful strategies for your website

Someone reading my guide to on-site SEO with a cappuccino

On-Page SEO is the set of improvements made to the content of a page, so that it is referenced more easily on search engines (Google).

Generally, we optimize in priority, the title, the meta description, the various subtitles as well as the keywords and images of each page.

The On-Page is part of the three main pillars of SEO (Technical, On-Page and Off-Page).

Most search engines like Google analyze the content of a site (keywords and other important elements) to determine if the page corresponds to the search intent of a user.

This is why it is important to establish an On-Page strategy for each page of your site.

In this guide, we will detail the elements and important points to take into account for a successful strategy!

Keyword research and content optimization

SEO is based on three main principles, the technical aspect, the relevance of the content and the reputation of the site that offers the information.

A very good copyright is not synonymous with first place in search engines.

A person who creates the best content will have very little chance of being displayed in the first places if his text is not optimized around targeted keywords.

Photo of letters for keywords.

That’s why it’s imperative to first think about the questions and queries that people make when looking for information about your brand, products, or services.

The reality is that your homepage is not the first point of entry for a visitor in most cases.

The queries that 92% of Internet users make to find an answer to their questions are made on Google, Bing, and other search engines.

That’s why it is necessary that for each content you produce, to have in mind the targeted keywords and make them appear (sparingly) on your pages.

No one is looking for “the wow effect in their kitchen!” or “the perfect companion for their household”.

Prospects will tend to look for solutions to their problems. “Best appliance to make cooking easier”, “how to clean a wine stain”.

It’s then up to you or your team to create the best copyright for all pages around the targeted keywords. In order to attract the attention of your prospect and create interest in your brand, product or services.

Performing a keyword search

One of the fundamentals of a successful SEO strategy is to identify the keywords that best define your business, products, or services.

Called “Seed Keywords”, they set the context for effective additional keyword research.

Contrary to what you might think, a keyword is not a single word. It can be a set of words, even a phrase or a question.

The seed keyword has to be relatively short. Generally, it is the one that best defines your main activity “raison d’être”.

The steps to effective keyword research

Here is an overview of the different steps to follow to set up an effective search:

  1. Define two to three “seed keywords”:
    • “Fitness” and “lose weight.”
  2. Use a keyword exploration tool
    • ahrefs, semrush or moz
  3. You will have a large list of keywords that do not all match your business
  4. Add keywords related to your business to reduce the number of results:
    • “Diet, bodybuilding, training, calorie, dumbbells”
  5. You can also use other tools to generate more keyword ideas:
    • “Equipment, shakes, meal prep”
  6. Do a new search by filtering your keywords with the new phrases

You have a list of relevant keywords that you can then filter according to the number of searches per month and especially the difficulty to be visible on it.

Photo of a fitness session

Don’t be afraid to use words that are used based on search intent.

“How to… , What is the best…, Comparison of …., Review of … “

Just analyse with a tool like Google Analytics and modify the existing content of the pages and your SEO site.

  • Update titles and meta descriptions on all pages
  • Add the keyword in the header of a paragraph
  • Write additional text to answer a specific query

Finally, you need to plan the necessary additional content to implement your on-page SEO strategy on all pages.

Optimize the title and meta description of a page

One might think that the title at the beginning of an article is the title of the page. However, there is a big difference between the title of an article (also called headline) and the title of a page (title tag).

The title of the page is found in the title tag in the form <title>Page title</title>. It can usually be changed when you edit the content of a page or directly in the HTML code.

From an On-page optimization point of view, it plays a crucial role. On the one hand, because it allows search engines like Google to understand the meaning of a page even before having access to the content.

On the other hand, because it offers users precise information about the subject of the page.

Photo Google search results

The title (in blue) is found at the beginning of each search result.

The meta descriptions have no direct impact on the referencing of pages. According to Google, the various keywords present are not part of the algorithm’s referencing criteria.

Nevertheless, it’s an important factor as a signal and a “guide”, because if it is well written, visitors will tend to click on your site rather than another.

The Google click trough rate

Google takes into account the ratio between the number of times your page is displayed in its results compared to the number of clicks of users (also called user experience).

A good ratio is synonymous with relevant content. That’s why it’s important to write titles and meta descriptions for each web page of a site.

From an editorial point of view, you should not “over-optimize” these two elements. A list of keywords one after the other will have a negative effect on your SEO.

The targeted keyword must of course be present in the title of a page. Preferably, place it at the beginning of the title.

For the meta description, you can add the targeted keyword or synonyms (semantic) that will help define the context.

Best practices to optimize the title and the meta description

The title should not exceed 60 characters. Try to have the keyword at the beginning.

For the meta description, it should not exceed 160 characters, otherwise it will be truncated in the search results.

Each page of your site must have a unique title and meta description.

There is no point in adding many keywords, just include the targeted keyword and above all create an understandable text that encourages people to click on your link.

Finally, avoid special characters that may not be displayed by search engines.

Headline: The title and subtitles of a content

The headline is the element that is located at the beginning of an article or content of a page.

It must be unique and is found between the <h1>title</h1> tags.

Illustration of a mockup site with page titles and paragraphs

Subheadings are placed at the beginning of certain sections of a page to inform about the content (content). They have provided with <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, etc. tags.

While the main title <h1> should be unique, there are usually several subtitles.

Generally speaking, the main keyword should be in the main <h1> title.

However, from an implementation standpoint, There are two practices:

  • The title of a page <title> is the same as the main title <h1>. (the keyword appears identically)
  • The title of a page is different from the main title. (A synonym is used to replace the keyword)

Some will say that it is interesting to be able to place on several keywords (Main keyword and Synonym).

My recommendations on page and article titles

From my point of view, it is more sensible to use the first practice, which is to have the two elements identical. Simply to ensure that the visitor, who clicks on a result in search engines like Google, is not surprised by the page he consists.

Photo of an article title

Another point that is also important to underline, a good structure with clear titles and subtitles greatly favors the understanding and the meaning of a content.

Especially when a user arrives for the first time on your page, he will inevitably browse the content to see if it corresponds to his request.

If the paragraphs are too long and the content is not structured, you have a great chance that the visitor will return to the search engine results and increase your bounce rate.

A signal that the Google algorithm takes into account in its criteria for ranking sites.

Finally, it is important that your title and subtitles are ranked in order of importance. Thus, the rule is that the first tag is an H1, then an H2 and an H3.

Having an H3 before an H2 or even an H4 before an H1 is to be avoided.

Quality and relevance of the content of a page

Content is the main challenge in SEO. Making sure that the information on your site is relevant must be a priority.

Google has implemented an update of its algorithm to promote content with high added value for its users.

This update named EAT aims to differentiate content created purely for search engines like Google from content created for users.

Photo of the Google EAT algorithm update

E-A-T comes from “Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.”

In other words, the algorithm ensures that the content created comes from an expert source in the field. For those, the subject of the text or article must be covered in depth with points relating to different expertise of the author.

Expertise

For example, a person who writes an article without proven or recognized expertise around the canine world will have much less chance of being visible than a specialized vendor who posts content frequently.

Google favours content coming from a site or an author having a significant degree of expertise and knowledge with the subject.

The case of texts generated via AI.

At first glance, the latest AI-based tools are perfect for creating endless content. In this regard, OpenAI’s ChatGPT tool is becoming more and more popular every day.

Nevertheless, the information generated by this tool comes from various content such as books, articles, and websites. For the GPT-3 version, the knowledge limit ends in 2021.

It is therefore quite tedious to create a form of expertise specific to a person specialized in a particular field through this tool. Especially when it comes to providing recent information.

Nevertheless, there are a number of good practices for using an AI tool:

  • Creating content to promote an activity (Advertising)
  • Automate certain tasks such as summarizing different articles or sources.
  • Establish a digital strategy based on best practices
  • Etc…

Nevertheless, I strongly advise against creating purely automated text via AI.

Authoritativeness

We can compare authority to the global reputation of a person, a site, or a brand.

Therefore, as well as notoriety, it is fundamental to have links to your site from reliable sources.

In the same way, setting up articles with links to authority sites is a very good practice.

For example, sites like moz.com, semrush.com and ahrefs.com have a very strong authority in the field of SEO or digital marketing in general.

Most of their articles are very often in the top positions of search results on these topics.

That’s why receiving a link from one of these sites can significantly increase its authority.

Trust

This is the most important element of the EAT concept. Generally speaking, unreliable pages have no added value from an SEO point of view.

The notion of reliability is based on different criteria to measure if the content is accurate, comes from a reliable source and especially if the information is correct.

For a site, a brand, or a person to be recognized as a reliable source, Google ensures that the following points are respected:

  • The presence of the brand or person on various social networks
  • An “About” section on a site with accurate information about the author
  • Ratings and recommendations of a site, brand, or person
  • An author section at the end of the content that demonstrates expertise and authenticity.

Of course, you have to make sure that your site has an SSL certificate. Also, all the payment steps must be encrypted and secure.

Photo of the Google logo for the E-E-A-T update

Latest update and introduction of the E-E-A-T Experience

In December 2022, Google added an element to the E-A-T factors. From now on, the actual experience on the subject of the person who creates the text is taken into account.

Google can define if this experience is a real added value for the subject.

For example, a professional field hockey player who writes an article on specific training for this sport has a very strong experience. This experience brings a legitimate added value.

If a sports site writes a similar article, it will have less chance (compared to the field hockey player’s text) to appear in the first results.

Once again, AI has very little chance (for the moment) to produce this type of text.

The length of a text

In the past, when you wanted to be positioned in the first results, you had to make your article longer than the article already present on the first page.

If a well-structured and detailed article is still a valid reason to be positioned at the top of the ranking, the user experience plays a much more central role.

Google wants to offer the best response to its visitors. That’s why search intents must be taken into account in the On-page SEO strategy.

If you search for the average price of a train ticket between Lausanne and Zurich, the answer should not be a 1’200 words text.

Photo of a Swiss SBB and CFF train

However, when you are looking for information on “how to repair a washing machine”, then the expected content will be a precise tutorial to be sure not to break anything.

So there is no real rule in terms of ideal text size. The key factor is the search intent, which then defines the type and length of content a user expects to see.

Again, the goal is to achieve an optimal user experience for Google. Since most users view web pages on their mobile device, don’t hesitate to set up a menu with chapters on long content.

Putting the answer at the beginning of the article to the question asked is also a very good idea.

A summary at the beginning of the text also gives a precise overview of the context and content of the article.

The importance of internal links

Often overlooked in terms of priority, internal links are however a high value-added element in the On-page SEO strategy.

The primary function of internal links is to connect web pages to each other. With a good structure, you can promote certain sections of your site through internal links.

Rope representing the Ariane's thread

While external links are important, sometimes you can read that internal links also help to transmit popularity and legitimacy from one page to another.

For example, pages that receive links from your homepage will benefit from the authority of the latter.

This is why it is very important for your SEO to set up an internal link structure as soon as possible for search engines like Google.

A question of internal linkage

Generally, we work the internal linkage in cascade. Some pages are defined as the main web page “mother”. For each of them, we build a set of “daughter” pages that will promote their mother pages trough internal links.

This is the principle of topic cluster, a main page receives many internal links that makes it more legitimate in the eyes of Google compared to other content on the site.

Also, internal links allow highlighting related pages or pages with information related to the content consulted.

It’s wise to link pages with the same theme to avoid going “off-topic”,

Using SEO optimized link anchors also offers the opportunity to position pages on keywords or a specific term.

For example, a link in an article or “how to” guide referring to the top 10 digital marketing tools could be set up as “digital marketing tools”.

A good practice is to limit the number of links in the menu by proposing only main themes and then add internal links on the pillar pages (mothers) to subcategories.

It is also important to avoid having orphan pages at all costs. That is to say that the web page does not receive any internal links and therefore, it is not attached to the content of the site.

Finally, SEO tools can scan the entire site and each web page to detect orphan pages, but also to give recommendations for optimizing the internal linkage.

Optimize images and videos

Visuals have an important role in Google referencing. On the one hand, they help to illustrate what an article is about, but also to reference it in the image section of search engines.

Depending on the theme, a large number of search engine users use the “search by image” function.

The visuals have a central place in different areas. Cooking (images of recipe results), tourism (images of different destinations) but also in gastronomy (images of restaurants).

Also, the hotel industry (image of a room or suite in a hotel) and even in renovation (image of results).

Desktop with internet video setup

Too often deprioritized, the optimization of images and videos has however an added value in the on page SEO strategy and for Google in general.

It should be noted that image search is synonymous with the discovery phase. It is one of the best ways to appear as a brand or product on initially generic searches.

For example, when a user searches for a chocolate brownie recipe, they will most likely use image search to get an idea of how the recipe looks.

If you offer a kitchen appliance that allows you to make this recipe, you will have a great interest in optimizing the images of your site to appear in his search results.

The user will be able to discover your product without initially knowing about its existence.

Also, video is a very good way to convey a message that is too heavy or long in a text format.

Social networks with video

Some platforms that offer video formats have seen their usage literally explode in recent years.

Consumers often prefer to learn through videos rather than read a long article.

If you are already producing videos, you need to make sure that they are visible and indexed in search engines.

Make sure you have a precise description and title for your video in order to provide the maximum information to the robots.

Also, you can make your videos (and images) appear in the sitemap of your site. A good way to give visibility to these elements in search engines (Google).

Subtitles can now be read by Google. That’s why it’s better to provide a transcript of your videos as often as possible.

This allows the robots to identify the context and important information in your videos.

Finally, for images, it is important to use an Alt=”” tag to include a detailed description of the content.

The Alt tag was initially created to help visually impaired people to better understand the meaning of an image.

From a purely on-page SEO point of view, it is also very useful. However, if the image adds value to the content and if the targeted keyword is in the Alt tag.

Finally, even if these improvements are also technical optimizations, it is good to remember in this guide that the weight, size, and name of files must be analysed and adapted to your SEO strategy.

Frequently asked questions about On-page SEO

Here is a list of the most important questions when it comes to optimizing your site’s pages for search engines like Google.

To conclude about On-page seo

SEO is an integral part of an effective digital marketing strategy.

On-Page Optimization plays a central role in SEO and the visibility and ranking of a site’s content on search engines like Google.

To do this, it is imperative that you integrate the various optimizations outlined in this guide in the form of “how to” on your website or websites.

Whether it is the search for keywords, the optimization of titles or meta descriptions as well as the implementation of subtitles and structure in your content (content marketing).

If you wish to be accompanied in all serenity for the installation on your site of your strategy SEO on page (or seo on site), do not hesitate to contact us.

I will be happy to give you my opinion and define with you the different steps to prioritize quickly.

Finally, don’t hesitate to subscribe to my newsletter to receive regularly the latest information about digital marketing and to improve your on-page seo on your website.