There’s no more useful practice for increasing your organic search traffic than search engine optimization or SEO. When you optimize your content to improve your website’s search engine rankings, you help optimize not only the quantity but also the quality of your web traffic. But SEO isn’t just about content. There are all kinds of SEO factors to consider, including HTML tags, headers, and images.
If you’re not familiar with SEO or SEO factors, it might all seem too overwhelming or confusing at first. But it turns out, there are some really simple practices to boost your SEO performance, and it starts with understanding SEO factors.
To get started, let’s break down the basics of SEO before we dive into on-page SEO factors.
What is SEO?
SEO is a practice meant to increase organic results for your website. Unlike paid advertising tools and campaigns, SEO focuses on “free” or “natural” ways to get results.
We mentioned SEO helps you increase the quality and quantity of traffic, but how exactly does it do this?
Search engines look at all kinds of things to take into account when deciding on results that are displayed before others.
In many cases, the specific algorithms used by search engines to determine site/content quality and relevance are kept secret. But that being said, there are still many proven ways to boost SEO, and a lot of it comes down to considering SEO factors.
While this article is focusing on on-page SEO factors, here are some of the most important SEO ranking factors in general:
- Site speed: How quickly does the site load?
- Mobile friendliness: Is the website optimized for mobile use?
- User experience: Is the site easy to navigate? Accessible?
- Domain age and authority (typically, older domains rank higher and have more authority)
- Security: Was your website created with a well-coded website builder? Does your site have a robots.txt file that tells Google where to look for site information? Is your site SSL security enabled? Does it have a sitemap that lists all your pages?
- Optimized content and on-page factors (We’ll discuss a lot more on that in a minute)
Understanding Google search rankings
While each search engine has different ranking factors, Google is said to have about 75% of the search market share. So, let’s look at what they’ve shared about the ranking factors they use for indexing sites.
Google’s primary goal is delivering relevant search results to users. To ensure they can do this, they use “spiders” to crawl the internet and index sites.
These spiders add correctly optimized and crawlable pages to Google’s index and catalog them at the same time. Depending on what the spiders find, your site will be ranked accordingly.
When these spiders index pages, they look for some of these things, according to Google:
- The purpose of a page
- Content quality and amount
- Website info and information about who created the content
- The website and content creator’s reputation
- User interaction with the page (how long they spend on a page, how many pages they visit, etc.)
- Expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T)
What is E-A-T?
It’s worth looking at E-A-T in a bit more detail before we get to other on-page SEO factors for ranking higher.
Back in 2018, Google released a broad core algorithm update. It included more information about how they hone and develop their algorithm.
It also placed great emphasis on the importance of website expertise, authority, and trustworthiness, or E-A-T. They even updated pre-existing references to “high quality” to read “high E-A-T” instead. Many of the on-page SEO factors we’re about to discuss relate to expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
But there are also broader factors to consider for high E-A-T content, like improving site security, and including information about the website and who creates the content.
Now, let’s get to on-page SEO factors specifically to help you optimize your website for more organic results!
9 On-Page SEO Factors You Need to Know to Rank Higher
- Title tags
- Header tags
- Meta descriptions
- Optimized images
- Internal links
- External links
Let’s explore each of the on-page SEO factors in more detail so you can start making the necessary changes you need to your content.
A title tag is an HTML tag displayed in the head section of each webpage. It gives users context as to the general topic of that particular page. For example, the HTML title tag or H1 header on this page would be, “9 On-Page SEO Factors You Need to Know to Rank Higher.”
[Image Source: ModernWorldConsulting.com – https://modernworldconsulting.com/title-tags/]
Header tags are displayed prominently in search engine results, and there’s a lot of emphasis on them in indexing. Not only do they tell your visitors what to expect, but they give spiders an idea of the content and context as well.
If you’re using a site like WordPress to publish your content, it will automatically wrap your titles in an H1 tag. If you’re coding your own site, be sure to wrap your title or heading in an H1. Keep in mind, they should almost always only be used once per page, and other, less important headlines can be wrapped in H2 headings.
It’s also wise to include your primary keyword for that particular page in your title tag, and we’ll discuss more about keywords in a minute.
[Image Source: SEOptimer.com – https://www.seoptimer.com/blog/header-tags/]
An H2 heading is another type of header tag. After H1s, they’re the most common. You’ll sometimes see H3s through 6 as well. Generally speaking, the lower the heading number, the higher priority the heading. That’s why titles get H1s.
Use header tags throughout your content to break up the copy and provide an outline for readers. This is great for readability, and it also tells search engines more about the context of your page when they’re keyword-rich.
Your headline or page title is another important on-page ranking factor. While some pages can do just fine with a simple title like “About Us,” or “Contact,” many pages do better with more detail. This is particularly true for blog post titles or headlines.
Compelling headlines help your results stand out on search engine results pages (SERP) which ultimately boost traffic and increase authority.
[Image Source: WordStream.com – https://www.wordstream.com/meta-description]
Meta descriptions are another important on-page SEO factor. These meta tags provide a brief summary of what that particular page is about. They’re often displayed on SERPs below a page’s title. They indicate to visitors what they can expect from that particular page.
Ultimately, they can increase:
- Your click-through rate (CTR).
- The perception of the quality of the result both from spiders and visitors
- Perception of what that web page offers
As tempting as it may be to just pop an image onto your page and call it a day, you’re not doing yourself any favors in terms of SEO.
Images are a vital on-page SEO factor. They provide a lot more context during indexing, and high-quality images are also great for the user experience.
Be sure to include alt tags for your images. This is a brief description of the image, and it offers visually-impaired visitors with an idea of what the image is. At the same time, it provides further context during indexing.
In addition to alt tags, give your images descriptive, relevant titles that include your primary keyword too.
One of the biggest and most often overlooked on-page SEO factors is the importance of internal linking. This involves including a link to another page on your website.
You’ll particularly want to focus on linking from high-authority pages on your site to pages that could use a little help. When the link includes keywords, this is even better for search engine ranking!
Unlike internal links, external links take visitors to a different domain. Now, you might be wondering why you’d ever want to do this, but it turns out to be very important for SEO.
Outbound links tell search engines that your page is a hub for good quality, helpful information. All of this goes a long way toward increasing your page’s authority.
High-quality content is:
- Content with a high readability score
- Content with shorter sentences (this is part of readability)
- Unique and original
- Valuable and informative
- Long-form (a minimum of 800 words is always recommended, over 2000 is great!)
If you struggle to create content for yourself, try outsourcing this task to a content marketing agency and watch your SEO success go through the roof.
[Image Source: KeywordTool.io – https://keywordtool.io/blog/keyword-research/]
While keyword-rich content is important, there’s also a fine-line between keyword optimization and keyword stuffing.
First, you need to do extensive keyword research for each page. This involves getting clear data about the search terms that bring people to your page as well as the words you WANT them to search to get them to your page.
When you write comprehensive content, there’s a good chance it will naturally include short and LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords. LSI keywords give search engines an even better understanding of your webpage, which is why they’re an essential on-page SEO factor.
Long-tail keywords are terms that are probably less common (lower volume) but have higher conversion rates because they signal more interest. Take a look at this blog post for why you should be using long-tail keywords in your content.
Finally, let’s talk about URLs as an on-page SEO ranking factor.
The structure of your URL can play a big role in SEO.
Luckily, it’s really easy to create SEO-optimized keywords:
- Keep them short
- Include a keyword
Now that we’ve discussed nine on-page SEO factors to help you get the results you need, it’s time to take the next step and start implementing these changes!
Of course, if you need help along the way, Blue Water Marketing in Stuart, FL., is here for you. In addition to SEO, our services include pay-per-click advertising, content marketing, Facebook ads, and web design.
Get in touch with us today for a free consultation and proposal.