On-Page SEO Basics




What most marketers don't know is that several factors could rank a website on Google. One factor is called on-page SEO. In this article, you will learn on-page SEO basics that can help you rank on Google.

Many give up on SEO when they can't make it work. I know it's a challenging task, but with the right SEO elements, you'll get there.

I want to start this article with some compelling statistics.

According to a 2018 survey conducted by MOZ, on-page signals make up 13.82% of local pack/finder results and 26.03% of localized organic ranking.

On-Page SEO Basics - 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors

These stats prove how essential it is to invest in the elements of on-page SEO. If these do not convince you to work on your on-page search, then I don't know what will.

So what exactly is on-page SEO?

Find out in the next section.

What Is On-Page SEO?

On-page or on-site SEO is the practice of optimizing both the visible content and the HTML source code of a web-page for search engines like Google.

It includes optimizing your keywords, header and title tags, meta descriptions, and images, unlike off-page SEO, which optimizes links and other external signals.

Why is on-page SEO important?

On-page SEO is essential because it helps search engines understand a website and its content. It identifies whether a website and its content are relevant to a searcher's query.

Search engines like Google focus on relevance and semantics in results pages (SERPs), and their algorithms are only becoming more complicated.

If you adapt quickly to the changes in algorithms, then you'll see an improvement in your ranking.

Your SEO strategy must include the on-page elements which I talk about in detail in the next section to improve your ranking.


Keyword Research

Keyword research is a process of researching the most useful and relevant keywords that can improve page ranking on search engines like Google.

It allows you to develop unique keyword ideas that are relevant to your target audience. You get to learn and understand what online searchers type when they search for content like yours through keyword research.

In on-page SEO, it's most important to research keywords that have:


  • High search volume.
  • Low competition.
  • High relevance to your business data.

These are the keywords you want to market to.

Here are tips on how to do keyword research.

Choose A Keyword Research Tool

There are many online tools you can choose from to do your keyword research. Here's some of them:

When selecting a keyword research tool, I recommend matching the features with your business needs and choose the one within your budget.

Do Your SERP Research

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) research is a process of analyzing multiple sets of keywords and how they could contribute to your overall On-Page SEO strategy.

Here's a practical example to understand what I mean...

The keyword "Holiday Gift" is so popular that many of your competitors are already using it.

So instead of using this general keyword, analyze other keywords such as:

  • "Perfect Holiday Gift for Kids"
  • "Holiday Gift Perfect for Christmas 2019"
  • "Online Shops With Holiday Gift"

Use SERP analysis tools to analyze your keyword variants.

If your budget is running low, type in different sets of keywords within your search bar and see how the results change.

Also, track your competitors' keywords and their position and use it to improve your keyword placement.

Use Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is a free tool that could help you with:

  • Target Results - Target your keywords by adjusting location, language, and network settings using Google Keyword Planner. It allows you to know how a specific keyword performs in a specified area, or different foreign languages, or even in Yahoo and Bing.
  • Date Range Customization - Google Keyword Planner lets you know how a keyword is performing in a specific range of time to help you decide accordingly.
  • Filtered Results - Google Keyword Planner allows you to view the performance of your keywords on mobile or desktop devices, and how well they perform in different locations.

Analyze Your Competitors

Comparing how others rank for keywords you want to use or already have as part of your online content is a vital part of the research process.

Just type in keywords and see if your competitors are on top of the results page. If they’re on top, don’t expect that you’ll be as successful, but you are absolutely in the right direction.

Now, you should use keywords that your competitors are not ranking for, especially if they have a huge search volume and show potential for your website.

Analyze The Search Volume, Clicks, And Traffic Potential Of Keywords

A critical part of your keyword research task is to analyze the following metrics:

  • Search Volume - This metric shows the number of times searchers used a specific keyword.
  • Clicks Volume - This metric determines how many times searchers click on a link after typing in the analyzed keywords.
  • Traffic Potential - This metric displays which keywords have the highest potential to direct searchers to your website if you rank first for the parent keyword.

Title Tags

Another on-page SEO basics element you need to know are title tags.

Title tags tell search engines about the content of a page, and that a page is relevant to particular keywords or keyword phrases. Search engines like Google will highlight keyword phrases when a user searches for them.

Here’s how it looks in Google...

On-Page SEO Basics - Title Tags

That blue clickable link is the title tag.

Title tags are valuable because Google’s algorithm sees the title as a significant indication for the web page’s purpose and relevance.

The first thing to remember about title tags is that it should always be unique to each page.

Take on the format :

“Primary Keyword - Secondary Keyword | Brand Name”

For example:

On-Page SEO Basics - Title Tags 2

Also, keep your title tag to or under 55 characters.


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Once you know what they are, they are easy to fix, and this cheat sheet will show you how. You'll bring in more leads and sales with your website immediately.


Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions provide online searchers a description of what’s on the website.

Here’s what meta descriptions look like:

On-Page SEO Basics - Meta Descriptions

While they don't have an impact on search rankings, meta descriptions still have a definitive influence on whether or not users will visit your page.

A well written Meta Description has the following characteristics:

Up To 155 Characters

There's no right or wrong answer when it comes to the length of your meta description. Google changes it from time to time.

My tip is to keep your meta description to 155 characters or below. Keep it short and snappy at the same time.

Written In An Active Voice

Here is an excellent example of a meta description written in an active voice:

On-Page SEO Basics - Meta Descriptions 2

This description is active, stimulating, and directly speaks to an audience.

Includes A Call-To-Action

A meta description with the right call-to-action (CTA) could drive web visits instantly.

Include words like f
ind out more, learn more, get it now, and try for free in your description to get a boost in your traffic.

Contains A Focus Keyword

Users are more likely to click on a search result listing if the search keyword matches a part of the text.

Shows Specifications

If a visitor is looking for a particular product, chances are you won’t have to convince them if the meta description already includes information like manufacturer, SKU, and price.

For example:

On-Page SEO Basics - Meta Descriptions 3

The presence of this information will trigger a click.

Matches Content

You want the meta description to match the page content 100% of the time.

It’s important to remember that search engines like Google could figure out when your meta description deceives visitors into clicking and might even penalize your site for doing so.

Also, misleading descriptions could increase the bounce rate.


This one’s a no brainer!

Never create a duplicate meta description because it hurts the user experience, and Google will surely notice.

To check for duplicate meta descriptions, check out HTML Improvements in
Google Webmaster Tools.


Keep Content In Charge Of Targeted Keyword Phrases

One mistake that SEO content writers make is stuffing their blogs or other webpages with target keyword phrases.

While it is very tempting, you should avoid it! Why? Because it's not natural. It sounds weird and looks annoying.

Your visitors will notice it, and they might end up exiting the page.

What you should do instead is to write your content more naturally by adding target keywords only when appropriate. It's a great way to keep the content in control instead of the keywords.

It's also worth mentioning that Google will penalize you for repeating pages or using content that appears on other pages.

Remember that your content is the main reason visitors keep coming back to your site, so always write unique pieces of content.

Here are simple tips on how to write content:

  • Keep your content scannable with easy to read paragraphs. Around three sentences each.
  • Break up big pieces of information into bullets.
  • Use simple words.

Header Tags And Keyword Phrases

An H1 or Header Tag is the first tag that visitors see on your pages. It is the subject line of a webpage and belongs to a page you're trying to drive traffic into.

Header tags are essential for the following reasons:

  • Search engine spiders can efficiently crawl a page if it has appropriate headers.
  • Google will understand what your content is all about - quickly!
  • Header tags make it easier for visitors to navigate through your page.

So how do you write header tags? Here are some best practices:

H1 Tag Should Be A Little Different Than The Page Title

You've seen this plenty of blogs. It's perfectly fine to have the same or almost the same text for the page title and H1 heading.

Although it looks off, it's not something SEO content writers should shy away from.

In fact according to

On-Page SEO Basics - Header Tag

Use Keywords In Header Tag

Always include target keywords in header tags when its appropriate and natural. If your page title and H1 heading are different, use a related keyword in the H1.

It's that simple!

Keep Your Header Tags Short

The recommended length for header tags is 65 characters or less. Also, it's good to use short but clear headers.

Style Your H1 Differently

To make your H1 header stand out, you need to style it differently than the rest of the headings.

You can capitalize the first letter of each word of your H1, use bold, or use underline to make it pop.

Apply The Header Hierarchy

Writing a blog or setting up a web page is like writing a book. The titles follow a hierarchy to provide ease of content consumption.

If you are new to On-Page SEO content writing, here's a simple concept you should always keep in mind:

On-Page SEO Basics - Header Tag Hierarchy

Internal Linking With Anchor Text

Another way for search engines like Google to know if the content on your site is relevant and valuable is through internal linking.

Internal links point to pages on the same domain through the use of anchor texts and images.

A general rule of thumb is to make sure to link text with your target keyword in it to show Google that the page is relevant to that keyword.

Here are other tips on how to do internal linking for On-Page SEO:

  • Always link to high-authority pages.
  • Avoid using the same anchor text for two different webpages.
  • Use Google Search Console to audit your internal links.

For more internal linking tips, check out this article.

And that's a wrap!

Those are the on-page SEO basics you need to know to improve the ranking of your pages.

It's impossible to rank high in search engines without relevant keywords, title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and authoritative internal links.

These on-page SEO factors must be a top priority for your digital marketing team.

If you need more help with this SEO topic, check out the recommended resource below. Also, we are here to help out. Just TALK TO US!

Recommended On-Page SEO Basics Resources

On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page (2019 Update)

The Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO in 2019

On-Page SEO Checklist: My 35-Step Process For Writing Search Engine Optimized Content (2019 Ultimate Guide)

So what do you think about this article? Are you ready to tweak your On-Page SEO strategy?

Drop a comment below and let's discuss.

If you think this article is worthy of SHARING, it would be a great honor.

Need more local SEO tips? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Local SEO.


Are you Making These Common But Avoidable Website Mistakes?

Once you know what they are, they are easy to fix, and this cheat sheet will show you how. You'll bring in more leads and sales with your website immediately.

Header image courtesy of Pixelied.

About the author, Tim Fitzpatrick

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