On-Page SEO – The beginner’s guide to SEO

On-Page SEO – The beginner’s guide to SEO

If you are looking for a step by step guide for on-page SEO to improve your ranking and get more organic traffic for your business, you came to the right place. Many times when a business or an individual get in touch with an SEO specialist or digital marketing agency, one of the first things they ask is usually related to SEO and to the ROI (return on investment) of their investment.

Obviously, most of the customers will not have any experience in the field of search engine optimization and some may have surely never heard of the subject, and so they will ask for explanations.

This is where we have to make a summary, with the least amount of data and technical words, so that everybody understands the work we are offering as an integral part of the SEO strategy for their business, and understand broadly the importance of it and, of course, the value on-page SEO will provide to their ROI.

“On a broad scale, I see SEO becoming a normalized marketing tactic, the same way TV, radio, and print are traditionally thought of as marketing tactics.” – Duane Forrester, Senior Product Manager, Bing

Basically, SEO and most importantly, in this case, the on-page SEO includes all work carried out on the actual website (including the domain a website is hosted), from usability issues, improvements in web design, complete site redesign, re-programming of the web site code to make it friendly to seekers, ie containing HTML tags needed to meet the quality standards requested by search engines.

Important aspects of SEO optimization On Site

Having a page that has been optimized for on-page (On-Page) SEO will have already a clear advantage over those websites that have not been putting any work into the necessary on-page optimization.

However, we should not rest and expect the site to hit the top positions in Google right away. It is essential to maintain SEO over time, as search engines like Google & co update their algorithms.

This can often change quality guidelines, that are required to be taken into account, for search results for the targeted niche business.

Keyword optimization chart: Important aspects of SEO optimization On Site

As you can see above in the chart I have provided a live example of 5 websites that I have developed. One website is fully optimized with on-page SEO (adent.ch) and the others have little to no SEO optimization.

All sites are in the same branch (dentistry) for the same keyword (Dentist in Switzerland) and build with the same technology. It shows clearly that the on-page SEO optimized website “Geneva dental lounge” is ranked much better on search engines, just after 1 year. You can compare this to the other non-optimized website.

It is also clear that on-page optimization alone is not enough to grow your business and show up in top search results. In the chart below, you can see the full optimized website was already topping the first position in Google after 6 months. The site which only focused on the on-page optimization kept appearing around the fourth page of search results in Google.

Analytics keyword organic traffic of curaprox.

Optimizing a website can refer to search engine optimization, which increases your website’s ranking on search engines, or to performance optimization, which ensures that your website runs quickly and smoothly. But what are the steps involved to make a site fully on-page optimized?

Research keywords

Identify keywords related to your site’s content, focus on a few keywords, and make all the content in your website focused on those keywords and place keywords strategically throughout your content.

  • Use the keywords liberally on your home page.
  • Include keywords in header tags, title tags, and meta tags.
  • Include keywords in the anchor text used to describe links.
  • Use keywords in the URL of new pages.

These can be popular search terms that lead people to your site, words related to your overall topic, and the topic of a specific page or blog post. If you’re not sure which keywords are popular search terms, there are services online that can help you evaluate keywords, many of them with free trials.

The URL structure should be as short and descriptive as possible

This is one of the main points at the time of ranking, the URLs should be clean, short and contain a description of what you will find in the content. The url need to contain the category of the content, product or service you are targeting to present.

Example of a clean well structured URL:


Optimize page title

Ranking in Google is about SO MUCH more than just optimizing one element of a page.

The Page Title Tag (or more accurately the HTML Title Element) is still, however, arguably the most important on-page SEO factor to address on any web page.

A Page Title is one of the most important on-page ranking factors and should be treated with care. Your page title tag shows up in Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Search engines such as Google, Yahoo, and Bing use the title tag as the search results’ title for that page.

Title tags are often used on search engine results pages (SERPs) to display preview snippets for a given page, and are important both for SEO and social sharing. The title element of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page’s content. When creating a page title, I recommend you to stick with a length between 50-60 characters.

Site speed

No matter how you measure it, a faster page speed is better. Many people have found that faster pages both rank and convert better. – MOZ

How quickly the site loads and response speed are very important factors for search engines. Make sure your site is hosted in a secure and fast hosting environment with optimized servers to give your site the boost of your need to compete against your competitors. The cashing system on your site need also to be configured accordingly, the CSS and Javascript files minified, the images optimized…

Use the following tools to test your page speed: Pingdom, GTMetrix or PageSpeed Insights.


Google has been considering the safety of users when browsing for quite some time now. For that reason, the use of HTTPS when presenting your website on the web is more and more important, besides the SEO benefits of using HTTPS, it is also very useful to prevent hacking and other security-related issues.

Responsive website

Google will use mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal in search results, rewarding websites that are fully optimized for mobile platforms. – Forbes
With more people using their smartphones and tablets to browse the internet, it has become increasingly important to create a website that works across multiple platforms.

Google is the divine being you’re trying to impress with your website, it is wise to pay attention to what Google take into consideration when positioning website on their search engine. Google not only recommends responsive websites as the best way to target mobile users , but also favors mobile-optimized sites when presenting results for searches engines.

Title Attributes for Navigation

Title attributes for your website navigation can provide a significant amount of extra value to clients visiting your site and search engines.
Add a title attribute to all of your navigation tabs to give users a better indication of what the pages are about:

Title TAG attribute guidelines:

  • Be precise with the text to let users know exactly what’s on the page.
  • Shoot for 10 words or less.
  • Try to implement keywords naturally into the descriptions.

Title Tags

The title tag is what the search engines use to provide seekers with relevant information. You need to be specific with your titles in order to achieve high rankings.

Title TAG guidelines:

  • A range of 60 to 90 characters with spaces is a good standard. Google only recognizes 70 characters with spaces included, so I always try and stay under 70.
  • Place the most important keywords for that page in the title tag and keep them as close to the beginning of the tag as possible.
  • Keep non keyword terms to a minimum.
  • Each page should have a unique title focusing on the keywords for that page.

Meta Descriptions

Meta tags are very important for search engines and this is where you optimize the content according to keywords your business is working to achieve. once search engines reads your title tag they will then crawl (read) your meta description to better understand the content of the landing page and to which audience the content should be presented to and in which ranking position in search engines.

Meta description guidelines:

  • Descriptions should be written with a marketing style of writing.
  • Descriptions should be between 25 and 40 words (I have a plugin installed on my blog that limits the number of words to 20, but for a static page, 25-40 words is a good rule-of-thumb).
  • Descriptions should include all targeted keywords for that page and should be unique for each page.

Image Alt Attributes

The alt attribute adds SEO value to your website. Adding appropriate alt tags to the images on your website can help your website achieve better rankings in the search engines by associating keywords with images. As a matter of fact, using alt tags is probably the best way for your products or services to show up in Google image and web search.

Image ALT attributes guidelines:

  • Text should describe the image with targeted keywords when appropriate.
  • Image alt attributes should be used on images such as .jpg, .gif, .png, and clickable buttons.

Image Size Optimization

When a customer goes to your site, it can take a while depending on how large your files are. Specifically with big images, the larger the file size the longer it takes a webpage to load. Make sure your images are optimized and render (load) quickly on your business website.

If you can decrease the size of the image files on your webpage and increase page load speed, less people who visit your site will click away.

Consider this:

Most consumers wait about 3 seconds for a website to load on a desktop or laptop …and about 5 seconds on their mobile device.

Amazon found that if their pages slow down by 1 second, they lose $1.6 billion a year.
Google uses page load time as a factor in their ranking algorithm.

If you have images are slow resulting and a slow website that takes over 10 to 15 seconds to load – well, you can count that prospective customer goodbye!

Heading Tags

These tags are also known as HTML header tags, head tags and SEO header tags. The most important heading tag is the h1 tag which is also known as the page title, the least important is the h6 tag. In HTML coding the heading tags from h1 to h6 form a top-down hierarchy.

Heading TAG guidelines:

The most competitive keywords should be represented in the

Site architecture should represent a rational outline:

  • H1 (Title or the description of the landing page)
  • H2 (further description of H1 or categories of H1)
  • H3 (further description of H2 or categories of H2)
  • H4 (further description of H3 or categories of H3) …

Interlinking or Crosslinks

Search engines find websites by spidering or traveling from link to link. Adding keywords in your links gives the search engines a strong value to base where the link is going and what that link is about. When interlinking throughout your own website you want to link from page to page with the keywords that are on the page you are linking to. This will help the more popular landing pages to boost the traffic of the least popular landing pages of your website. This will also improve your Pageviews, Pages / Session, Avg. Session Duration and off course your Bounce Rate.

Ex: Page B is targeting the keyword “digital marketing” You want to add a link from Page A (where you use the keyword “digital marketing” or a synonym of the keyword) to Page B.

Interlinking guidelines:

  • interlinking should have a clear destination, but keep in mind that there are two types of Internet users: scanners and readers. Scanners will scan through the page and click on the colored links that they think they might be interested in without reading any of the surrounding content. Users who read the entire page will naturally come upon each link and decide if the link is worth clicking on. The best links make sense to both types of users.
  • Link length should be as short as possible so that excess words do not dilute the value of your keywords.

Keyword Density

Keyword density is the percentage of times a keyword or phrase appears on a web page compared to the total number of words on the page. In the context of search engine optimization keyword density can be used as a factor in determining whether a web page is relevant to a specified keyword or keyword phrase.
When I’m considering keyword density I look more towards good writing with a natural tone versus trying to please the search engines.
When considering keyword density, I recommend you writing good content to your readers thinking of the keyword density strategy only when it is possible to apply. Do never force it.

Keyword density guidelines:

  • If you’re targeting a three word phrase, you need to try and make sure that you include all three words in order for the instance to count towards your keyword density. They don’t have to always be right next to each other, but they should be within a few words of one another.
  • Some say for best practices you should hit your keyword phrase once in the first paragraph, once in the main body section of the content, and one final instance in the closing paragraph.

Keyword Proximity

The keyword proximity refers to the distance between the search term’s individual keywords. For example: a website contains the keywords that make up the search term “dentist Denmark implant” in the heading “Your professional dentist in Denmark; dental practice for minimally invasive implants”.

Example of Keyword Proximity:

  • Keyword phrase: SEO friendly website online
  • If you looking for an SEO friendly website, you can find them online.

Although the words in the keyword phrase aren’t immediately adjacent to one another, they are close enough to be meaningful to the search engines. This example would also seem natural to a user.

Keyword proximity guidelines:

  • Keep your keywords as close together as possible while still sounding natural.

Keyword Order

If you are trying to target “ SEO friendly website online” you have to mention SEO > friendly website > online in that order throughout your content. If you scramble them up or mention online before SEO then you are not targeting the same phrase that you researched and selected based on traffic and competition.

Keyword order guidelines:

  • Always mention keyword phrases in the exact order that you selected based on the results of your research.
  • If you are targeting more than one keyword phrase per page the order concerning which keyword phrase goes first doesn’t matter, but the order of each individual keyword phrase does.


These are all the things you need to do help your site become more relevant and gain more authority in the search engines for your niche. A major part of this is related to the construction of your website and the way it is structured and coded in HTML, hosting quality etc…

Important aspects of this as we mentioned more in details throughout the article are TITLE tags, META descriptions, H1-H6 tags, other Header tags and ALT tags on images on every page or post on your website…

Other important issue you should attend to are related to Internal Linking and the Anchor Text used for those links within your site, including navigation and other elements.

It is always recommended do both on site and off site search engine optimisation to ensure that you get the best of both of the major SEO components.

Remember SEO is an ongoing process and the more you do the better your sites will rank.

Dani Thifa
Dani Thifa

My name is Dani Thifa and I am a husband to a clumsy wife, dad to two cute spider babies, uncle to triplets, blogger, and digital lead at #CGI.

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