It’s easy to overthink on-page SEO. From aiming for the perfect keyword density percentage (which, by the way, isn’t as important as you think) to making sure every permutation of each and every search term is in your copy, some people take on-page SEO just a little too far.
If you’re a small business owner or SEO manager interested in producing measurable, rapid results, it’s far more effective to focus on the small changes that have big results than to think about the minor details of on-page SEO.
Below, we’ve listed seven on-page SEO improvements you can make in 24 hours or less. All are quick, simple fixes that can have big positive effects on your rankings. If you’d like to make instant progress in organic search without having to reinvent the wheel, give them a try:
Fix your title tags (they’re probably far from perfect)
Are your title tags optimised for SEO? If your keywords appear close to the end of each page’s title tag (or worse yet, don’t appear at all) you can can earn an easy SEO win by refocusing all of your page titles on a single keyword.
A good formula to use for your title tags is Keyword – Brand Name. For example, if you own a local business called “Corner Café” and have a page targeting the keyword “fair trade coffee in London”, a good title would be “Fair Trade Coffee in London – Corner Cafe”.
Placing your main target keyword at the beginning of your page title tells Google the focus of your page, increasing the relevance of your page for its target keyword and improving it as a search result. It also quickly tells users what the page is about.
Adding your brand name at the end of the title tag lets you establish your brand, even if a user doesn’t click your search result. This way, anyone that searches for “fair trade coffee in London” sees Corner Café mentioned, improving brand recognition without detracting from your SEO.
Follow the keyword-brand name formula above and keep your title tags under 60 characters to get the biggest possible on-page SEO benefit from your page titles.
Use your H2 and H3 tags for long tail keywords
Headings and subheadings on your page can be broken down into several categories. There’s the main heading, which is placed in the H1 tag, and subheadings, which are smaller headings placed in the H2 and H3 tags that are used to break up content and improve readability.
It’s best to think of the H1 tag as the title of your post, and the H2 tags as the titles of specific chapters. H3 tags are for subheadings within each specific chapter. Using different headings and subheadings improves your website’s readability, keeping users on your site for longer.
Headings play an important role in SEO, and you can use them to your advantage by targeting different keywords using different headings. Use the H1 tag for your main keyword, and keep it as close to the beginning of the heading as possible to maximise its visibility.
Then, use your H2 tags for secondary keywords and your H3 tags for long tail keywords. This format gives all of your target keywords some level of visibility on the page, even if they aren’t all part of the main page heading.
On our “fair trade coffee in London” example page, we would use “Fair Trade Coffee in London” as the H1 heading, then secondary keywords like “Fair Trade Coffee Brands” in the H2 and H3 tags, giving the page relevance beyond its primary focus keyword.
Make each page solve a specific problem
One great way to improve your on-page SEO is to build each page around a specific problem that’s relevant to your target audience. When you’re writing content, ask yourself: “What is the problem this content solves?”
This keeps each page tightly focused on a specific topic, narrowing its focus and ensuring it’s the best result in its category. Since Google’s goal is to deliver the best result for each search query, being focused and relevant increases your chances of ranking near the top of the page.
The great thing about this approach is that it helps you create content that’s optimise for search without having to unnaturally insert keywords. When your content is designed to solve a specific problem, it naturally becomes more relevant.
Expand your content for more detail and value
Did you know that the top ranked pages for most competitive search keywords are usually at least 2,000 words in length? While long content isn’t necessarily better than short content, it’s clear that Google usually values detailed, long and valuable content over short and simple.
If you have a specific page that’s ranking reasonably well for its target keywords but just can’t seem to crack into the top few positions, try expanding it and adding more detail. Built out the page to better focus on its main target keyword and turn the page into a true authority.
Google’s goal is always to display what is believes is the most relevant, detailed and helpful result for any search keyword, and long content is often the best result. Long, detail-focused content also tends to attract more links than short content, further increasing its value.
Whether you’re stuck in position two and want to be position one or just need to move up to the front page for some extra visibility on a short tail keyword, try expanding your content to deliver more value and relevance. Done right, it could give you an instant ranking improvement.
Practice the art of relevant internal linking
There’s more to links than just off-page link building. The links that you build on your site from one page to another play an important role in telling Google which of your pages are the most valuable, and which aren’t particularly deserving of Google’s attention.
When you link to one internal page from another — for example, from a blog post to a relevant product or service page on your website — you signal its importance. The same rules of anchor text apply as for off-page SEO, meaning the text you use has an impact on the page’s ranking.
Internal linking will rarely bring you to the top of search results for a competitive keyword on its own, but it’s an important aspect of on-page SEO that shouldn’t be ignored. Good linking habits help strengthen your inner pages and are an important part of technical on-page SEO.
See what we did there? That’s a simple example of relevant internal linking. If your website has a page that covers a specific topic and linking to it from a post helps the user, don’t be afraid to add a link. As long as the link serves a purpose other than just SEO, it’s worth adding.
Structure your URLs properly for SEO
The structure of your website’s URLs can have a big effect on its visibility in organic search. As a general rule, the shorter your URLs are, the better. Google likes short, simple URLS, as they signal that a page is highly relevant to a specific search term.
For example, let’s go back to our London coffee shop example. Which of the following two URLs do you think is better for our page about fair trade coffee in London:
In this case, the second URL is not the one to choose, even though it might initially look like it’s more detailed and descriptive than the first. The first, shorter URL is more likely to be rewarded by Google with a good ranking than the second, and for several reasons:
- It makes it clear that the page is about fair trade coffee in London, specifically
- It includes the exact match keyword, further increasing its relevance
- It’s easy for users to read and identify, likely improving its CTR from organic search
Finally, there’s an off-page benefit to structuring your URLs like the first example. Since the first URL contains the target keyword, it contains an exact match anchor text even when it’s copied and pasted onto a site as a naked URL.
In short, keep your page URLs as short as possible, all while making sure you include your main SEO keyword in each page’s filename.
Optimise your code and images to load faster
Google announced site speed as a ranking factor in 2010, prompting SEOs around the world to rush out and upgrade their servers. While site speed is only one of several hundreds factors that Google uses to determine your page’s ranking, it’s important to make sure your website is fast.
A fast website is more likely to achieve page one rankings for its target keywords than a website that performs sluggishly. It’s also much better for end users. Fast websites consistently achieve better conversion rates than their slower counterparts, showing that customers value speed.
There are several ways to increase your website’s speed. One way is to make sure it’s located as close as possible to its target customers, either with a CDN or by choosing a server close to your target location. Another way is to optimise its code and images for a small file size.
If you’re interested in optimising your images for the best combination of file size and quality, try Google’s guide to image optimisation. Tools like GTmetrix are great for tracking down code that slows down your website and making the necessary fixes.
Optimising your images and code can be a slow, boring process, but it’s an important step in the SEO process. Plus, it has the added benefits of improving user experience and conversion rate, giving your users another reason to return and your website’s bottom line a measurable boost.
Do you need on-page SEO help?
Are you unhappy with your website’s on-page SEO? Are you considering restructuring your site to improve its search engine optimisation? We offer SEO consulting services to help you design and structure your site for the best possible rankings in any language, region and industry.