Optimising the on-page elements of your site can have a big impact on how it ranks and performs in organic search. It’s a powerful way to improve the visibility of your pages without a great deal of investment, and could significantly increase the volume of clicks, traffic and leads your site receives.
But given that the best-practice advice for on-page SEO is regularly updated, it can be hard to keep track of what to do to appease search engines through your website content.
In this guide, we’ll be giving you a checklist of 17 on-page ranking factors which you can use to optimise your website for better SEO results in 2019.
- What are On-Page Ranking Factors?
- How Can Optimising Pages Help My Site?
- 17 On-Page Ranking Factors for SEO in 2019
On-page ranking factors affect how well your page ranks in search engines. A page that’s optimised for SEO needs certain elements to make sure it ranks in SERPs, gains traffic and performs for the user.
On-page optimisation applies to both the content and HTML source code of a page; it doesn’t include offsite factors, like links. The great thing about optimising your site with on-page ranking factors is that you’re in full control of how well-optimised your pages are, so you can make amends and additions that give your site the best chance of gaining traffic and leads from organic search.
On-page optimisation is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your site from an SEO perspective. Here are some of the advantages of using on-page ranking factors to optimise your website:
- Improved ranking performance on search engines
- Increased traffic to your site
- Higher user engagement
- Lower bounce rate
- An inexpensive strategy that adds permanent value
- Improved user experience and conversion rates
- Greater opportunities to gain links and organic traffic from trusted sources
- The opportunity to gain valuable local results in SERPs
- Avoid penalties issued to sites with low-quality or thin content
Optimising on-page content should always be the first step in an SEO campaign. It’s a way to ‘get your house in order’ before pursuing off-site opportunities that further increase the traffic and links to your website.
If you want to improve the organic performance of your website, take a look at our checklist of 17 on-page ranking factors which can supercharge your SEO strategy in 2019.
1. Optimise Your Title Tag
Optimising the title tag is one of the most important ranking factors in organic search. It gives search engines and users an immediate steer of the content on your page, and has a huge impact on click-through and bounce rates – both of which are powerful ranking factors.
Optimise your title tags by placing relevant keywords at the beginning of the heading; this provides immediate context and focus for your page. Make sure you keep titles relatively short, too; Moz suggests a maximum of 60 characters to ensure your title is displayed correctly in Google SERPs.
2. Use an SEO-Friendly URL
URLs matter to search engines. Bots crawling your site read them, so they should be clear and relevant to the on-page content. We see lots of long, overly-complicated or messy URLs, but this can be damaging from an SEO perspective.
Instead, keep your URLs short and, if possible, incorporate the keyword or phrase that the page is targeting. Remove unnecessary words like ‘to’ and ‘and’ to help keep the URL focused and context-rich.
3. Target Long-Tail Queries with Title Modifiers
The competitive landscape of SERPs means that you have to do more to encourage clicks through to your page in organic search. An effective way to do this is to target long-tail queries, which often pose a question or ask for specific pieces of information.
Although 5-10-word search queries are less common, they are valuable, so amending your titles to target long-tail queries is a sensible approach. You can do this by adding title modifiers, which will make your headings more natural to users. A good example is the title of this article; see how we’ve added ‘better’ to encourage more clicks.
4. Make Sure to Use a H1…
Search engines want to see a H1 that’s relevant to the page title, so don’t forget to include one and wrap it in the <h1></h1> tag. Most CMS platforms, like WordPress, do this for you, but it’s worth checking your system to make sure you’re not missing out on a vital ranking factor.
5. …and Subheadings are H2s or H3s
Leading on from the point above; H2s are a great way to reinforce the context of your page whilst adding relevant keywords and breaking up your content. Just make sure that any subheadings you include are wrapped in <h2></h2> or <h3></h3> tags.
6. Improve Your Search Performance with Fraggles
In February 2019, Builtvisible published a guide on ‘Fraggles’ and their value in improving organic search snippets. The technique involves using ‘jump to’ links in a quick navigation section at the top of a page, which include a fragment in the HTML that Google can include as an additional link under your position on the SERPs page.
Here’s the example Builtvisible use to show how fraggles appear in html:
And this is what is then shown in Google SERPs:
As you can see, Google has picked out the jump to links and included them as additional links on Builtvisible’s organic search result. This is a really good strategy for multi-topic pages which target more than one keyword, as well as those focused on attracting long-tail search intent.
7. Use Your Target Keyword in the First 100 Words
Relevancy and focus are key to organic search performance, both from a search engine and user perspective. That’s why you need to include relevant keywords at the top of your page, so that both Google and your reader understand the context of the page and your value proposition.
Try to use one keyword in the first 100 words of text, but be careful not to overdo it. Stuffing keywords into your copy screams spam, and Google will penalise you for attempting such a black-hat strategy.
8. Incorporate Visuals
While multimedia content like images and videos don’t have a direct impact on how well your page ranks, they can affect other ranking factors like click-through and bounce rate, and can also boost the perceived value of your pages from a user perspective.
Use premium images, visuals, graphics and video that are unique to your brand, and which encourage the maximum number of links through to your content.
9. Break Up the Content with H2 and H3 Sections
Not only is adding H2s and H3s to your pages good from an SEO perspective (particularly when incorporating relevant keywords), it can also help make your pages more readable – improving the user experience and helping you to encourage visitors towards your desired CTA.
10. Post Long Content
While relevancy, engagement and user experience are arguably more important than page length, stats show that long-form content still holds sway over rankings – with 1,890 words being the best average length for sites on the first page of Google.
So, if you’re looking to maximise engagement with social shares while ranking highly on search engines, aim for longer content that exceeds the 1,000+ wordcount.
11. Add Outbound Links
Google is keen to see that you’re a proactive participant on the WWW, so including outbound links to other relevant, trusted sites is a good way to appease this. Link to high-authority sites like popular blogs and news pages, or sites with a .gov or .edu URL to maximise the perceived value of your outbound link efforts
12. Boost Your Page Load Speed
Page load speed is a critical ranking factor for SEO. Regardless of how well optimised your site is, if your pages are slow to load, search engines won’t rank them highly.
You can check the current load speed of your pages using Google’s PageSpeed Insights platform. This gives you a good overview of where your pages are falling short, so you can make changes to improve load times and ensure a good experience for the user.
13. Strengthen Your Internal Linking Structure
An internal linking structure is one of the most important signals we send to Google, so making sure that your content is easy and quick to find is extremely influential in the bid to get content to rank.
This should be implemented clearly throughout the site’s navigation and within blog content.
This is also where your XML sitemap will come into play, as this is where you place all your primary pages into an XML file which Google can use to discern the pages you want to be crawled.
14. Use Relevant Keywords Throughout Your Content
While keywords are absolutely essential in titles, headings and your introduction, they’re also valuable when used throughout your page, bolstering relevancy and adding greater context.
We’d recommend using a mix of different terms which are related to the query you’re specifically targeting, as well as specific phrases which often appear when talking about a certain topic. These could capture slightly different search terms, and could improve readability.
15. Add 2-3 Internal Links Per Page
Adding internal links makes your site more accessible to search engines, so you’re more likely to rank even for less-trafficked pages. As a rule of thumb, you should get in the habit of adding 2-3 internal links to your pages, as a means of making your site more accessible and easier to navigate from a user perspective.
16. Optimise Images with Alt-Text
Because search engines don’t directly see images, they hold no natural value from an SEO perspective – until you add alt-text that is. Alt-text is what search engines see when they come across an image on your site; the lines of code which you can add content to from your CMS.
This also has the benefit of providing information for visitors who are visually impaired. A screen reader will detect the alt-text and read it out – effectively describing the image for the user.
As with the rest of your content, when writing alt-text for images, you should avoid spammy practices like keyword stuffing. Instead, write unique, natural alt-text which is relevant to the page content, but that incorporates keywords naturally.
17. Reduce the Number of Clicks Between Targeted Pages and the Homepage
Your homepage is the most valuable page on your site, and the authority it holds passes to other pages linking from it. The further away from your homepage a page sits, the more diluted its authority, so you should consider the structure of your site carefully to ensure the most efficient way of sharing authority. We’d recommend important content is never more than three clicks from the homepage.
Making changes to the navigation of your site is one of the best ways to ensure that all areas receive authority from the homepage. It also informs Google that the page is important and the content within as valuable. Internal linking can also help, encouraging PageRank to flow throughout the site structure.
Combining technical SEO with targeted content marketing, the organic search team here at Banc are specialists in optimising on-page content. If you’d like to find out how we can help your site perform better in search, visit our homepage or call us now on 0345 459 0558.