Often when people think of search engine optimization (SEO), on-page SEO is what comes to mind. On-page SEO is exactly what it sounds like – the elements of SEO that are actually on the page, like keywords and headings. There are other elements of SEO that are not “on-page” and have to do with things like metadata and site structure – we’ll talk about those later. Today, we’re focusing on the main elements of on-page SEO.
This is obviously the first thing you have to have – you can’t have SEO on your page if there’s nothing at all on your page. Good content – useful information that is presented in an interesting or engaging way – is the cornerstone of SEO. SEO is for search engines, but search engines are for people, and if search engines figure out people don’t want to read your content, they won’t rank it very highly.
Keywords are words and phrases that tell search engines what your content is about. For example, the keyword for this post is “on-page SEO.” Search engines read your page to see all the words on it – having a specific string of words that repeats a couple times tells the search engine that if people search for that phrase, your page is relevant. The ideal keyword density (how often the keyword appears in your content) is around 2%, so in a 300-word blog post, the keyword should appear 2-8 times.
Headings divide a post or page into different sections. Search engines like it when pages and posts are broken up by headings into easier-to-skim sections. If you manage to work your keyword into some of your headings, that’s even better for SEO.
Internal and external links both factor into SEO. Internal links are links that link to other pages or posts within your website. An external link is a link that links to any page or post on a site that’s not yours. Having one (or even better, both) in a post will make search engines see it as more authoritative, and therefore deserving of a higher rank.
Search engines can’t read images, and neither can screen readers for visually impaired people. Instead, you use alt text to describe the images in words. Alt text has two purposes – it should describe the image so people using screen readers can get an idea of what the picture looks like, and it should also contain your keyword to improve your SEO.