Don’t neglect the importance of optimizing your content to drive search traffic. On-page SEO is one of the most critical things you can do – we explain how it works.
Optimizing the content on your website is a particularly important part of search engine optimization. In this guide, we explain how on-page SEO works, and how you can successfully use it on your own website.
On-page SEO is the optimization of content and page elements within your own website. This differs from off-page SEO, which focuses on SEO measures outside of your own website, such as incoming links.
The aim of on-page SEO is to improve visibility and rankings in search engine results and to improve the user experience on your own website. This might include updating your content, adding internal links, or adding structured data.
On-page optimization should be an important part of your SEO strategy, as it’s relatively easy to perform and can have a significant impact on your organic search success.
Why is that? For each search query, search engines highlight the pages that best match the needs of search engine users. If you optimize important on-page factors on your pages, they will become more helpful and interesting for search engine users.
The better your on-page optimization is, the greater your chances of winning a high position in search engine rankings, and generating more relevant traffic for your pages.
Google uses a variety of criteria to evaluate the quality and relevance of websites. These include the use of important keywords, and technical aspects such as the loading time of your pages. Basically, it always boils down to the following overriding points:
Search engines want to provide their users with the most helpful results. Your page can only be considered a top result if its content can fulfill the search intention of the user.
Google analyzes the structure of your pages, the keywords used and also checks the writing style and spelling. Stuffing pages with target keywords is definitely not considered good practice nowadays: Google trusts content that contains naturally ranked keywords, makes sense, and conveys a high level of knowledge and authority.
Remember to take a look at our guide to content curation, which may help you complete the picture by using selected information from other sources.
Google also checks how (and if) users interact with the content of a website, whether they find what they are looking for and how satisfied they are with the user experience on your website in general .
Let's summarize why on-page optimization is important to you:
On-page SEO affects both the text and image content of a page, as well as technical elements of the page. Let's first take a brief look at the most important factors that fall under the term "on-page optimization":
A reminder: the main goal of on-page optimization is to provide high-quality, relevant and SEO-friendly content for your target group (and search engines), thereby creating a positive user experience.
So let’s now go through which specific on-page measures you can implement to achieve exactly that…
First of all, of course, you have to make sure that you offer content that your target group is interested in, which fits their search intent, and can be found by search engines.
If you already cover the right topics and rank with them in organic search, that’s great. But you should also think about regularly updating and optimizing your content. Your pages can certainly use a refresh every now and then, not only due to new facts, but also due to Google's regular updates to the search algorithm or changes in the preferences of your target group.
Search engines are pretty smart these days! But you should still help Google, Bing and other to understand the topic of your site. By using appropriate keywords, you ensure that your pages are displayed for the right search queries in organic search.
Use your main keyword in the main heading (H1) and in the first paragraph of the page. The first paragraph should be concise overall and clearly describe the topic of the content.
You can also include thematically-related keywords in H2 headings and in the rest of the text. The best way to find the right terms for your content is to do keyword research.
For keyword optimization of existing content, you can also use tools such as the Ryte Content Editor, which provides you with suitable keyword suggestions for your texts.
Fig. 1: The Ryte Content Editor provides you with suggestions for the SEO optimization of your texts.
Meta tags contain the SEO title and a short description of your pages. Search engines show them in the search snippets, which means they serve as a preview for your content in the SERPs.
The title tag contains the meta title that will appear as the headline in the search result snippet. This is important, as it gives users valuable information about your site and thus influences your click-through rate in Google searches.
It’s often the title tag that decides in the SERPs whether your page is interesting to users and whether they click on your result. Your SEO title should briefly and clearly explain the topic of the page and include your focus keyword for that purpose. It should not be longer than 55 characters in order to be displayed correctly in the search.
Fig. 2: Search result snippet with meta title and meta description
The meta description appears in the search result snippet as a short description below the title. Pay close attention to this description, as it conveys important information about your site. It should clearly describe the content that the visitor will see on your site, and must be around 130-160 characters long.
The better the meta description is formulated and the better it fits the user's search intent , the higher your chances that your page will win a click from the search results. The meta description is both an advert and the gateway to your site.
Fig. 3: You can check your meta tags on the Ryte platform under Search Engine Optimization
Structured data is a standardized format that you can use to tag your content to help Google better understand that content. When used correctly, it helps you to highlight your pages in the Google search with rich results and thus increase your click chances and your traffic potential.
We explain in detail how to use markup for structured data on your pages in our Structured Data Guide.
Another important on-page factor is the structure or hierarchy of your content. If you use hierarchically-correct H1 and H2 headings, search engines can understand the page content better and classify it more easily.
An easily understandable structure of the text is also important for your visitors. Unstructured content makes it difficult to read and find important information right away.
Fig. 4: With Ryte, you can easily check the number, content and hierarchy of your article headings
The URL structure of your website contributes to how well you can be found and how users find their way around your website.
Well-structured URLs allow search engines and users to quickly identify what a web page is about. Therefore, it makes sense to follow a uniform URL structure and to include particularly important keywords in your URLs.
Note: You should not change URLs lightly. Changing a URL means your site is no longer accessible at the original address and Google will have to re-index your content at a new address. Only change existing URLs if absolutely necessary, and ensure that redirects are used correctly.
When done correctly, links are a great way to optimize your on-page SEO. They make it easier for your visitors to navigate on your website and provide further information on important topics.
Links to other websites are known as “external” links. You can use external links if you cover topics that are deepened on other high-quality websites. Don't be afraid to distract readers from your site – by linking to trustworthy sources you give your content credibility and create a well-rounded user experience.
Internal links are equally important, if not more so! If you link to your own related content on a topic, this creates additional value for the user and helps them browse your content. Internal links allow visitors to move from one piece of content to the next without having to search. Internal links also contribute to lower bounce rates.
Tip: With Ryte, you can easily check existing links and identify potential for additional links:
Fig. 5: In Ryte Search Engine Optimization you will find a report on all links on your website
As the saying goes, “a picture’s worth a thousand words”. Images add variety to your pages and can increase the engagement rate of your pages.
Images have to be optimized however. They should have a web-friendly resolution (not too high), and should be uploaded in the appropriate format. Give your images meaningful file names and titles that underline the image content. Additionally, use descriptive alt tags that help search engines to understand what's in your images.
And most importantly: images must load as quickly as possible, otherwise they cause frustration to website visitors. Compress your images or use lazy loading.
Fig. 6: You can check image sizes, file names and alt attributes with the Ryte reports “File Sizes” and “Alt Texts”.
Tip: If you need help optimizing and compressing images, check out our guide to compressing images for SEO.
Of course it’s important that your pages are well structured and look appealing in search results. But it also matters how your visitors respond to and interact with your content. Make it as easy as possible for your users to interact on your pages:
Mobile-friendly pages are an absolute requirement for a successful on-page experience. Because honestly, how often do you browse the web with your smartphone? All the time, probably!
Ensure that your content is displayed correctly on mobile devices, that text is easy to read and that loading times on mobile devices do not exceed Google's guidelines.
Tip: In Ryte, you can specifically crawl the mobile version of your website to identify mobile issues such as buttons that are too close together, text that is too small, or missing viewport tags. If you want to know more, simply book a free demo.
We have to talk about content because, as already mentioned, this is the basis for successful on-page SEO.
We’ve described in detail how to create successful SEO content in a separate article in our magazine. Here is an overview of the most important points for good SEO content:
With your SEO content, you should provide the reader with all the important information needed to satisfy their search intention. To ensure that your content remains relevant to your target audience and search engines, you should regularly review and update your copy. This is because there might be new findings, studies, innovations or other developments on your topic, and your competitors will certainly be updating their content for it.
Let's assume you wrote a text about cleaning ceramic hobs a long time ago. A company may have developed a new cleaning method that has now become established and is important for your target group. This should then flow into your text.
"Write a text with at least 2,000 words, then we're on the safe side." It always sounds something like this when it comes to the right length of texts. Over time, instead of 2,000 words, it was sometimes 500 or even 4,000 to 5,000 words.
But remember – it’s not just the length of the text that counts, but ensuring that your content fulfills a user need. You should choose the length of your article so that you can deal with all relevant information, but don't artificially lengthen it. The ideal text length always depends on the topic.
Your text specifically about cleaning ceramic hobs will probably be shorter than an in-depth guide on kitchen appliances – and that's perfectly fine!
Always think about how long the text on the topic needs to be in order to clarify all the important questions. If you are unsure, you can look at comparable texts from your competitors. In Google's eyes, the top entries in the organic search results provide the best content and are therefore a good benchmark for how extensively a topic should be covered.
Great literature and SEO content fulfil very different purposes. And while the work of great writers like Ernest Hemingway endures for good reason, it might not succeed for search engine optimization (and vice versa).
Your website needs short sentences that are easy to read and easy to scan. Use active phrases and personal speech. Avoid convoluted sentences and awkward formulations. Because even if you have concise headlines and subheadings, you still need to help readers to work through your sentences in order to easily grasp the message.
Do spelling and grammar still matter in the internet age? A look at social media might suggest otherwise. Especially if you are a celebrity with a million followers.
However, this does not apply to maintaining a reputable, link-worthy website. The content on your website must be flawless, and that includes spelling and grammar.
Now you don't have to do all this on-page SEO work by yourself. Help is at hand with numerous tools that can help you with this. Here are a few free tools for your on-page optimization that we can recommend:
Fig. 5: Tools like Google's rich search results test tool can help you analyze your on-page SEO
In addition to these handy tools, you can of course use the Ryte platform for an all-round analysis of your on-page SEO.
As mentioned above, within Search Engine Optimization you will find numerous reports on important on-page factors such as the headline structure, links, meta tags and so on.
The Ryte Platform also includes a content editor, which you can use to optimize your content for SEO, and single-page analyses, which give you all the details about the on-page optimization of a specific page on your website. To start your on-page analysis in an uncomplicated way, you can sign up for a free Ryte Trial (no payment details needed).
Fig. 6: The Ryte single page analysis gives you an overview of all important on-page elements of a page
That was quite a lot of information about on-page optimization! Of course, we don't want to ignore the fact that successful search engine optimization includes other important aspects such as off-page optimization.
For example, an important, often discussed part of off-page optimization are backlinks. Since the search engines draw conclusions about the seriousness and authority of your site from incoming links from other websites, you should also pay attention to off-page optimization measures.
Spoiler alert: Here, too, the key to success is not placement on dubious link lists, but high-quality content.
You can see by now that on-page SEO is a complex topic. The various factors involved all work together to offer your visitors the best user experience and help them.
If you do it right, you can achieve a lot with on-page SEO for your website and significantly increase your SEO performance with the right measures – so let's go!
Optimize your website with a free Ryte trial
Published on 06/27/2022 by Editorial Team.
The editorial team's mission: to help brands and agencies improve their website user experience. Ryte's content specialists regularly produce guides, explainers and other resources on a variety of topics, from SEO to accessibility, compliance and more.