9 On-Page Factors to Get Your Content Ranked By Google in 2022
That Google uses some algorithms to rank websites is no news. The finer design details of these algorithms are only known by Google. We also know Google that make changes to these algorithms regularly. We can only speculate on these ranking factors from the outcome of the ranking process.
The scenario above forces SEO strategies to be ‘live’ processes. The success of such strategies is dependent on how responsive it is to the changes made by Google. Think of it as an investment strategy in the stock market. Today’s ‘good’ investment decision may be useless one month down the line.
What’s On-Page Optimization and Why is it Important to SEO?
Google’s algorithm ranks your website based on three main aspects: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO:
On-page SEO is about everything that can be on to your website to enhance its ranking status. It’s the process of preparing your web pages to attract relevant traffic and rank higher in search engines result pages (SERP). The ultimate focus of this process is always to draw new visitors to your website.
The key elements of on-page SEO is the content and the site structure.
Off-page SEO is mainly the efforts that happen off your website but impact on your webpages ranking in SERPs. These activities assist the search engines and visitors to better understand your website thereby enhancing their confidence, trust in your site and site’s authority.
The key elements of off-page SEO include external linking, social sharing, brand building, content marketing among others.
Technical SEO is the process of ensuring that a website meets the technical requirements of modern search engines for improved organic rankings.
It addresses the website and server optimizations which in turn help search engine spiders crawl and index your site more effectively.
Important elements of technical SEO include crawling, indexing, rendering and website architecture.
When should you do on-page SEO?
When setting up your website, there are those parameters that you have to take care of, a one-time process. For example the website speed, security (https), site structure among others (read about all these). Some other aspects of the website are however recurrent and require periodic updates, tweaking, etc.
Such is the on-page optimization activity which must be considered every time you publish a new post in your blog. In fact, even when one of your pages is ranking top of the SERP, you don’t stop doing on-page optimization.
While this may sound rather intimidating, the bottom line is always publishing high-quality content that readers will want to read, like and share.
On-page SEO Optimization Pillars
The beauty of on-page SEO is that it entirely depends on the action you take in your website. The ideal situation is to have a webpage with the same keyword as the search query.
This on-page SEO involves broadly involves three areas namely the HTML code, the site architecture and the content.
Let’s know delve into the pertinent factors;
1. High-Quality Page Content
High-quality content perhaps is the central pillars of on-page SEO. After all, isn’t it just content we search for in the Internet? It communicates to both search engines and the visitors to your website the fundamentals of your business.
We cannot talk of quality content without mentioning Keyword Research. It is at the heart of any successful on-page SEO process.
Assembling high-quality page content involves first choosing the relevant topic upon which you can mount the ranking war. Its through the keyword research that you identify relevant keywords for a topic, what keywords your niche competitors are ranking for and how to apply those keywords in the page content.
There are so many keyword research tools in the market. For example, you can use Google for keyword research or tools like Jaaxy.
With relevant topic choice and relevant keyword research, next you need to align your content to customer purchase lifecycle namely;
These will give you direction on how you will apply the keywords and what types of content you create. For example, a blog post is more appropriate for the research stage where the customer is looking for information.
Now you have reached the stage of assembling your content. In an nutshell;
1. Remember you are writing for humans – a human always on the other side of every click.
2. Make use of both short and long-tail keywords naturally.
3. Add clear and optimized images.
4. Don’t forget CTAs (click to action) for conversions.
In summary, high-quality content means it readable, factual, detailed enough and is optimized for the right search intent.
2. Your Website Must be Discoverable
How easy and fast your website is accessible is the foundation of the technical SEO. Search engines make use of small programs called bots or crawlers that ‘visit’ each and every webpage for relevancy. The most relevant web page is then indexed into the search engine databases to be presented to visitors when they search.
The onus is however on you the blogger to make your website discoverable by the search engine. In other words, you must always strive to create crawler-friendly webpages so that Google and other search engines can easily discover your content for onward availability to the visitors
Crawling is the first step in the on-page optimization process that ends with your site listed first in the search engine results pages (SERPs).
For a site to be declared crawlable, it must allow search engine bots carry out their basic tasks, namely;
- Discover that a page exists through links pointing to it
- Reach the page from main site entry points (landing page, home page)
- Examine the contents of the page
- Find links to other pages
Googlebot, the web crawler used by Google, gathers the webpages’ information to build Google search index that is used to supply Google search engine results pages.
3. Site Architecture
Site architecture refers to how information in your website is organized and prioritized. Have an optimally organize site is very important as it plays the role of a guide to the crawlers as well as enhancing user experience.
Let’s look at what a perfect site architecture entails for on-page SEO.
A sitemap explains to the search engines crawlers the organizational structure of your website. Crawlers look at these files to get a better sense of what’s located where and then use the data to highlight a site’s ‘content priority list’.
Sitemaps also allow you to include metadata that describes the contents of one or more pages. sitemap
These are secondary website’s navigational system used to create a better user experience (UX) and also improve crawlability. It consists of a link that allow visitors to track where they are on a website and how far they are from the homepage.
Below is an example of a breadcrumb for www.silicon.co.ke website
It shows exactly the categories clicked on to land on the page currently being viewed, making it easy to go back to previous page.
In addition of making navigation easier, Google is now displaying breadcrumbs in the search results and also uses them to categorize information in the search results. This make them a vital asset to on-page SEO efforts.
Depth of the site
Site depth refers to the number of clicks between a given page and the homepage. For optimal on-page SEO benefits, your website should just be deep enough for the search engines to crawl all the important content easily and visitors can also find the desired content quickly.
The so-called three-click rule of navigation prescribes that a visitor to your website should be able to find any information with no more than three mouse clicks from the homepage.
Internal links ‘connects’ one page to another within a single domain. Every website with more than one page should be connected through internal linking.
Internal links are almost in every page on the Internet. If you however want to optimize your content for on-page SEO, its important you understand how they work, where to place them, and why they matter.
Internal links have been proved to be a great method of increasing visitors dwell time on your site. First, they improve user interaction and bring added value by offering relevant resources or context to a topic. They also tell the search engines what pages are important and how to get there.
4. Page URL
URLs are a guide to the organization of your website’s content. They’re the link between your content and a user. They are also important when keeping your site hierarchy consistent as you create subpages, blog posts, and other types of internal pages.
Your page URLs should be simple for the consumption of both readers and search engines. For example, if you’re searching for information about laptops, a URL like https://xyz.com/hardware/laptops will help the visitor to click on that link or not.
However, a URL like https://xyz.com/us/hardware/business-solutions/utm_source=DV360&utm_medium=cuecard&utm_campaign=msme may not be helpful in decision making.
URLs are a ranking factor in Google. Optimizing URLs enhances Google PageRank (PR) – an algorithm used by Google Search to rank web pages in their search engine results. PR indicates the relevance to a search query.
Here is a simple but powerful guide towards ideal URL;
- Follow a good URL structure – simple, logical and intuitive for search engines and visitors
- Use HTTPS protocol – the secure protocol gives your website credibility to its visitors
- Edit the page URL to be relevant – avoid generated phrases as often they are not descriptive of the page content.
- Keep it short and simple – the shorter the better. Short URLs tend to rank higher too.
- Use focus keywords – Use some few keywords in your URL that are relevant and tell Google about the post. Use a keyword that’s in the title of the page or post.
- Use hyphens to separate words – URLs do not use spaces to separate words. Don’t use underscores either.
- Don’t use digits or other special characters
5. Take Care of your Website Page Speed
Speed is very important for a website which made Google have it a ranking factor. Google has even invested towards improving PR by availing tools such as Google Lighthouse.
Google Lighthouse audits performance, accessibility and search engine optimization of web pages
You can improve the Page Speed using the following actions;
- Compress/optimize your images
- Clean and compress your code
- Upgrade your hosting (Guide to Web Hosting)
- Activate Browser Caching – This allows repeat visitors to store parts of your page in their browser cache.
- Implement a CDN – A Content Delivery Network (CDN) role is to identify the website visitor’s physical location and then utilize the resources from a server closest to the visitor.
With the above actions in place to improve Page Speed, you can test your site performance with difference test tools. One such tool provided by Google is PageSpeed Insights.
PageSpeed Insights not only identify web performance issues, it also tackles sites’ User Experience and accessibility perspectives.
6. Your Website Must be Mobile Friendly
Most online users use portable devices to access the Internet. Optimizing your website for mobile devices is therefore a natural thing to do for every website owner. On-page SEO will greatly benefit from organic traffic from mobile users.
Mobile friendliness is the degree of how well a website is designed and optimized to load on a mobile device. The web is being accessed more and more on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets. Designing your websites to be mobile friendly ensures that your pages perform well on mobile SEO on all devices.
Google now has a ‘mobile-first index’, that gives priority to mobile site by Google’s crawlers. It therefore means that if your site is not mobile-friendly, it will be detrimental to your web traffic, leads, ranking and ultimately hurt your business.
You can achieve mobile-friendliness by;
1. Using mobile first or responsive web design.
2. Creating a separate website optimized for mobile devices and redirect mobile users to that site.
You can test if your website is mobile friendly by using this Mobile-Friendly Test Tool from Google
7. Image Optimisation
As mentioned above, site speed is a major ranking factor by Google. At the same time images plays a big role in determining the site speed. Image SEO and Page Speed are therefore conjoined twins.
Image optimization is about reducing the file size of your images as much as possible without sacrificing quality so that your page load times remain low.
Image optimization has several benefits such as better user experience (UX), improved Page Speed, and better ranking prospects.
On-page SEO relies on search engines crawlers. However, the crawlers can’t read the content of the image. Its therefore important that you guide the search engines to understand what the image is about. One such way is to add ‘Alt Text’ to every image on your website.
Guide to image optimization;
- · Ensure the image and alternative text are relevant to the page.
- · Choose the right file format (PNG, JPEG etc) – a balance between quality and file size
- · Compress the images for lower page loading times.
- · Make sure your on-page SEO elements (meta data, structured data, etc.) align with your image.
- · Create an image sitemap or include your images in your sitemap.
8. CTR (Click Through Rate) Optimization
Click-through-rate (CTR) refers to the percentage of visitors using the search engine that click on a search engine result. Think of it as the ratio of users who clicked on a hyperlink to the total number of people who saw the hyperlink.
CTR = (No. of Clicks/Impressions) x 100
It therefore implies that, the higher the CTR, the higher the traffic into your website.
CTR is an indicator of the performance of your pages that are ranking in the SERPs. This tally with the overall SEO strategy whose most critical focus is to attract as much relevant organic traffic to your website as possible.
Click-through rate is importaways. When you visit a search engine with a question, you simply expressing a need or want and an intent. To website owners, the visitors are telling you exactly what they are looking for! It’s an opportunity for you to align your content/ad to this intent.
Search engines place a premium on a good click-through rate (CTR), particularly for advertisers and in the pay-per-click business. You want visitors to engage with your content further from the clicks and impressions
9. Incorporate Outbound Links to Quality Sites
Outbound links are links from your website to other websites. You want your visitors to read web pages in other websites. Contradictory, right? Not exactly.
Bloggers for example mainly use these links to add more information or context to the topic at hand. In connecting your content to a different site with related or supporting content, you are contributing to the expansion of the catchment areas of your content. You are helping the crawlers to discover you authority in the subject matter.
In summary, you should incorporate outbound links on your website because;
- Improves reputation – you enhance confidence of your visitors in you when you provide more details on a topic from relevant and high authority sites.
- Encourages backlinks – when you link out to other credible sources sites, they are more likely to link to your site.
- Broaden your content reach – with good reputation and likelihood of receiving backlinks in reciprocation, you stand a good chance of receiving organic visitors to your site