Welcome to the foundation of your on-page SEO journey!
In this chapter, we’ll demystify why on-page SEO remains a linchpin for digital success in 2024.
So if you’re looking for the key to enhancing visibility and user experience, this chapter is for you.
What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO (also known as “on-site SEO”) is the practice of optimizing web page content for search engines and users. Common on-page SEO practices include optimizing title tags, content, internal links and URLs.
This is different from off-page SEO, which is optimizing for signals that happen off of your website (for example, backlinks).
Other examples include social media marketing, guest posting, and PR.
Optimization of elements on a website’s pages
Strategies performed outside the website to boost authority and visibility
Enhance individual page visibility and relevance
Boost overall website authority and trustworthiness
On-page analysis tools, content optimization tools, site crawlers, page speed insights, analytics tools, AI
Backlink analysis tools, social media analytics and platforms, Google Business Profile, outreach management tools
Does traditional on-page SEO still make a difference in 2024?
Yup! Google’s “How Search Works” report states that, even with advancements in artificial intelligence, certain traditional SEO practices, like specific keyword presence, remain integral:
Even though Google is MUCH smarter than it was back in the day, it still uses old-school stuff (like looking for a specific keyword on your page).
So, in the grand scheme of things, on-page SEO isn’t just a checklist; it’s your secret weapon for standing out and making both algorithms and people say, “Yep, this is the one!”
How to do On-Page SEO
On-page SEO has changed A LOT over the last few years. Back in the day, you only needed to do four or five basic things to optimize your page (like making sure that your keyword density was high enough). And you were pretty much done.
Today? Optimizing your site’s content is much more involved. There are more steps. And those steps are more complex than before.
But there are ways to make it simple to create content that helps you rank for your target keywords.
Semrush’s On-Page SEO Checker can help you analyze your content and provide actionable insights you can implement in minutes.
This tool lets you know if you have your keyword in all the key locations like the H1 and body content but also offers suggestions for improvement and provides valuable information on semantic keywords to enhance your content.
Semrush also offers a suite of other tools that make it the all-in-one companion for on-page SEO.
But tools aren’t the only way to simplify your SEO process.
Our on-page SEO checklist helps you keep track of all the little things that you need to do to optimize your content.
Do you think I rank because I used my keyword a bunch of times?
That helped. But for a competitive term like this, using keywords isn’t enough.
My page ranks at the top because it’s unique.
Sure, it has tips and strategies that you can find anywhere, but it also has lots of tips and examples that you can only find in my post.
Publishing something that’s unique is a good starting point.
But it’s not enough.
(After all, literally millions of blog posts come out every single day.)
So for your content to stand out and get noticed, it needs to be SUPER valuable.
Here are a few ways that you can make your SEO content insanely valuable:
Detailed: Images, screenshots, and steps make it easy for someone to put your content into practice.
Crisp writing: Strong copywriting will make your content more engaging.
Updated material: Brand new strategies, steps and examples go a long way.
Expert authors: Most content is written by people that have never done the thing they’re telling you to do. Content from someone with first-hand experience is almost always more valuable than something written by a random freelance writer.
Accurate: Provide trustworthy, up-to-date information for your audience.
The main thing that makes my SEO checklist post so valuable is the checklist itself.
It starts off with beginner-friendly stuff.
And gets more advanced as you work your way through it.
Along the way, you get a ton of specific details:
And content written by someone that lives and breathes SEO every day:
Satisfy Search Intent
Unique, valuable content can get you to the first page of Google.
But if you want to stay there, your page has to satisfy Search Intent.
In other words:
Your page has to be EXACTLY what a Google searcher wants.
Otherwise, your page will likely be buried on the 3rd page.
This is a mistake that I had to learn the hard way.
My goal was to rank for the keyword “backlink checker”.
A few days after I published that post, I decided to check out the SERPs for that term.
And I quickly realized that 100% of the first page results were tools.
Literally, 10 out of 10 results were backlink checker tools. There wasn’t a single blog post on the first page.
This means the chance of my post hitting the first page was basically zero.
Fortunately, I do rank for a long-tail version of that keyword (“best backlink checker”).
But if I spent more time looking at the Search Intent for that term, I would have realized that my content had zero chance of ranking for “backlink checker”.
And now it’s time for the next chapter…
Chapter 4: Optimize Your Content for SEO
Embarking on the journey of on-page SEO involves more than just the art of crafting compelling content.
It’s about strategically placing your target keywords, creating a seamless structure, and employing tactics that signal to search engines that your page is an authoritative source on a specific topic.
In this chapter, we delve into actionable techniques that can elevate your on-page SEO game, ensuring your content not only attracts but retains its rightful place on the coveted first page of search results.
So if you’ve ever wondered “How do I actually use keywords on my page?”, you’ll love the actionable tips in this chapter.
Use Your Target Keyword In The First 100 Words
This is an old-school on-page SEO tactic that still makes a difference.
All you need to do is use your main keyword once in the first 100-150 words of your article.
For example, in my article optimized around the keyword “email marketing”, I mentioned that keyword right off the bat.
Why is this important?
Google puts more weight on terms that show up early on your page.
Which makes sense. Imagine that you just published an article about The Keto Diet. If your article really was about The Keto Diet would it make sense to first use the term “keto diet” halfway down the page?
Of course not.
This is why you want to drop your keyword somewhere in the first 100 words or so. This is one of those little things that helps Google understand what your page is all about.
Wrap Your Keywords Into Headings
Heading tags are like the guiding stars in the vast universe of your content, ensuring both search engines and users find their way through the cosmic landscape of your webpage.
It’s best practice to include a single H1 per page. You want to check your site’s code to make sure your title is wrapped in an H1. And that your keyword is inside of that H1 tag.
You can use the Semrush Site Audit Tool to find pages that are missing H1 tags and write new tags with keyword incorporated into them.
Strategically incorporating your target keywords within the H1 to H6 tags not only communicates the topical relevance to search engines but also enhances the user experience by providing a clear hierarchy.
Will heading tags make or break your on-page SEO?
Nope. But it can’t hurt. And my own SEO experiments have shown me that wrapping your target keyword in an H2 tag can make a dent.
Here’s an example of this strategy in action (target keyword=”content marketing tools”):
Keyword Frequency is just like it sounds: It’s how many times your keyword appears in your content.
Google may deny that using the same keyword multiple times helps. But SEO pros with experience will tell you that it definitely works.
Think about it this way:
Imagine that you have a page that Google THINKS is about a specific keyword. But that keyword only appears once on the page.
How confident can they be that the page is about that keyword? Not very.
On the other hand, if the page mentions the keyword 10 times, Google can be more confident about that page’s topic.
To be clear:
This isn’t about keyword stuffing or anything like that.
It’s simply mentioning your target keyword a few times to confirm to Google that your page really is about that topic.
For example, one of our posts ranks in the top 3 in Google for the keyword “YouTube SEO”.
How many times do you think I used the exact term “YouTube SEO” in that 3,200-word post?
So yeah, there’s no need to go overboard here. As long as you use your keyword naturally a few times, you’re good.
Key places to include your keywords on your page include:
Title Tags and Meta Description
The Semrush On Page SEO Checker can provide you with a comprehensive list of recommendations to let you know if your keywords are in these key places.
Use External (Outbound) Links
External links to related pages help Google figure out your page’s topic. It also shows Google that your page is a hub of quality info.