What is On-Page SEO? The ultimate guide


Also known as on-site Search Engine Optimization, On-Page SEO is the act of optimizing web page content to help it increase ranking chances and enrich the user’s experience.

on page SEO

Unlike off-page optimization, which refers to optimizing outside the box, including backlinks and social media mentions, on-page SEO is different because it works inside the box.

That is to say, It is modifying and optimizing the components of the page you’d like to rank high.

These components are:

  • Title tags
  • internal linking
  • External linking
  • URL optimization
  • HTML code
  • Meta description
  • Images
  • Content
  • UX signals

What is the importance of SEO?

Before diving in, let’s look at how Google sees a web page.

Google sends its crawlers(spiders) to check every single accessible page on it. Then it stores all the information found on these web pages and organizes them in a process called indexing.

You may also like to browse: Most 77 SEO questions asked

Google crawlers

According to Google, its search index contains hundreds of billions of web pages.

Google is continuously updating its algorithms, with 5000 updates in 2021, trying to understand what the intents of the users are and what their experience is. This is a reason why you should focus on learning SEO.

Even with all these updates to its algorithms, Google still needs help in understanding what your content is all about.

You can help by optimizing your content for SEO to help Google index it and rank it highly on the SERPs.

Optimizing the title for SEO

First things first, One of the first things that Google sees is your title and your target keyword.

Make sure to include your title with your keyword, it’s preferred to use it at the beginning of your title, but if this is not the case, using it whenever it makes sense in the title would not affect your SEO.

Mention your keyword in the first 100 words

It is important to help Google know what your topic is about by inserting your target keyword in the first 100 words.

Even if you use SEO plugins to help you, you’ll find that they recommend the keyword to exist in the SEO title as well as in the introduction.

It’s not wise to mention the target keyword in the title only, drop it somewhere in the first 100 words.

Use the H1 tag for your title

Google recommends using an H1 tag for the title in order to help it understand the structure of the page.

Thanks to WordPress and other platforms for setting this up automatically, so you don’t worry about that.

Do not forget to include your target keyword in the title.

The place of the keyword in the title is not an issue, putting it at the beginning of the title may attract the readers more but its location has nothing to do with ranking.

Use the H2 tag for subheadings

So, let’s agree that the title should always be in the H1 tag, the subheadings in H2, and additional subheadings in H3.

A good practice is to use your keyword at least once in the subheadings.

Keyword frequency and density are important

As we mentioned before, the target keyword should be mentioned in the title and in the introduction.

The frequency of keywords may not play a big role in ranking, but it tells Google and the users about your topic.

Imagine that if you only post your keyword in the title, your post will be weak and somehow vague.

Always mention your keyword a few times in the H2 and H3 titles if applicable (Frequency).

Use it 6-7 times in your post. Do not stuff your piece with unnecessary keywords. This may ruin your work.

keyword density

Make internal and external links your priority.

Have you ever heard of orphaned pages?

An orphaned page is a page where no links exist on it.

Internal(inbound) linking has benefits:

  • It tells Google to crawl your website more easily and smoothly.
  • It gives other pages on your site a boost.
  • It helps Google learn more about your topic.
  • It gives you more opportunities to let your readers stay on your website.

Always link to at least one page on your website.

Read this full guide on how to use internal linking and boost SEO

an orphan page is a page with no links from other pages

External(outbound) linking is linking to a high-authority page. It plays a role in

  • Telling Google about your topic.
  • Showing that you depend on authoritative sites’ information and statistics
  • Building trust with your users
  • Creating authority for yourself
  • demonstrating that your topics are credible and that you are eligible to be followed.

URL optimization

If you search for something in Google, you’ll notice that the URL of the posts that show up in the SERPs comes over the title. What does this mean?

URL optimization

This shows at least the importance of the URLs over some elements.

The URL consists of 3 parts

  • The protocol (HTTP, HTTPS)
  • The domain name
  • the Slug

Optimizing the URL is obviously where you can make some modifications to the slug since the protocol and your domain name are fixed elements.

The slug is the part that identifies the page that explains the content and you want the visitor to access it.

By default, when you write a post, the slug contains IDs and parameters rather than relevant words that help Google and users know what your content is all about.

The first thing to do before optimizing a slug for SEO is to edit it. To change its appearance and make it informative.

Editing the slug is easy to do.

Go to your WordPress dashboard, scroll down to Permalinks, and choose the “post name”.

set permalinks to post name

This will show your post name after your domain name in the URL.

What’s the benefit of a slug if it doesn’t contain your keyword? Think about it.

Always put the target keyword in the URL/slug and make it short.

If you are using a long-tail keyword, do not include all the words in the slug.

For example, if my keyphrase is

What is on-page SEO, and why is it important?

My URL will be:


How ugly and long it is, right?

Instead, I will only use the target keyword (on-page SEO) and make it appear like this:


Tips about optimizing the slug

It is recommended by Yoast that you never change your slug once you publish your post, deal with it as something you write, and never change forever.

  • Use lowercase letters only.
  • Never use a date (the year, for example) since you’re not going to change it ever.
  • Try to avoid using words like “and,” “the,” and “a” if there’s no need for them.

Meta description optimization

On the SERPs, the order of components of a result is presented vertically in this order:

  • URL
  • Title
  • Meta description

Shortly, the meta description is the snippet of the text. It is that part (around 160 characters) that summarizes the text and gives the user a quick look at what to expect to read in the post.

It appears below the title on the search engine results page.

After we’ve learned how to optimize the URL and the title, let’s have a look at how meta descriptions should be optimized.

SemRush claims that a meta description, unlike the title, is not a ranking factor.

On the other hand, it plays an important role in contributing to a positive user experience and higher click-through rate (CTR).

A recent study shows that Google rewrites 70% of meta descriptions to update them to match users’ search intent.

This means that only 30% of meta descriptions may not be modified and re-written.

Nevertheless, Google wants you to write a meta description because you know your content better than they do. So, it is something you don’t want to miss.

If you don’t specify the meta description, the search engine will display a copy of the page instead (Yoast).

Brian Dean of backlinko invented his own formula to write a meta description.

It goes like this:

This is a [content overview]. Learn how to get [specific benefit] from this [content description].

So, to apply this formula to my post here, it’ll be like this:

This is the ultimate guide to on-page SEO. Learn how to rank high on the SERPs from this Detailed Post.

Write a unique content

Google certainly puts more weight on content. That’s why it should be unique.

A unique post doesn’t only mean it differs from other posts and contains elements that do not exist in the competitor’s post but also has valuable and optimized content.

Valuable content is that which adds details, lists, and other elements.

Always keep in mind that even if you have unique and valuable content, you’ll also need someone to read it.

Here comes the importance of the user intent: the exact thing that a user wants to get when he types in a query.

If users hit that button and get the same answer they want for their queries, your post is more likely to rank on the first page.

If they are satisfied, your post will stay longer on the front page.

This is how to write a killer blog fast.

Add images and optimize them

So now we’ve got the title, the subheadings, and the content optimized, let’s add some flavor, the images.

Images are not meant to be included for decoration.

They make up a fundamental part of your blog.

People tend to use images as aids to understanding your content rather than those blocks of hundreds of words.

For example, if you are writing about a DIY topic, what would you provide that makes your readers more engaged? A bare text or a text with helpful images?

Although I’m not writing about technical SEO in this post, it is useful to mention that page speed has a gigantic role in the “user experience”.

Who wants to wait for your page to load when there are loads of pages on websites to answer their queries? Nobody.

But what makes your blog speed low?

A lot of factors, one of which is image size.

The type and size of an image have a great impact on page speed, They slow your blog down to the extent that users will very soon leave your page and maybe never come back.

Good image optimization is what makes posts smooth and fast, but how do you do that?

  • Never use copyrighted images. (This has nothing to do with speed, but it’s still a hint to remember).
  • Use small-sized images and implement lazy loading.
  • Create your own images. (Canva)
  • Convert PNG and JPEG images into WEBP (use convertio)
  • Use descriptive alt text to tell Google what your image is and to see it as a piece of valuable content.
  • Choose a title for your image.
  • Use Page Speed Insights to analyze your page speed and fix issues if they exist.

Optimize UX (User Experience)

When you write a post, you definitely want to reach two destinations: users and search engines.

As for search engines, everything is done and optimized in order to rank on the first page and bring more traffic to your post. Then what?

What about the users?

Assume that users visit your site, what makes them stay, and what factors affect bounce rate and Dwell time?

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who open one page on your site and then bounce to another page or leave your site without taking action.

Dwell time is the amount of time that goes by from the moment a user clicks on a search result to the moment they return to the search engine results pages (SERPs).


The percentage of these factors indicates how good and appealing your post was to the reader, and gives Google a sign about your content, whether it is valuable or not.

learn how to find content ideas

The greater the dwell time, the lower the bounce rate.

For example,

If someone searches for a query and clicks on a result, let’s say your post.

Dwell time starts at this point.


The more he stays, the longer the dwell time is to be, and the lower the bounce rate.

Once he returns to the SERPs, maybe to choose another result, The dwell time is calculated.

So, all we need to do is to prevent users from bouncing out quickly, because this means that they’re not interested in your content. How to do that?

Simply by creating magnetic content that increases engagement by:

Keep your content above the fold.

This means not using a big image directly below the title.

The user wants to find a quick answer, so it’s not preferred to push your text down the image.

You can put them next to each other or put the introduction above the image.

keep the content above the fold

Ensure you have a fast page load

Use this analyzer to always make sure your page is easily accessible and no errors are found.

Look at my website’s performance.

test website speed

Use lots of headings

Lots of headings show the user how detailed your post is, and how much effort you put into simplifying and clarifying.

This presents the information in a way that helps him find what he wants quickly.

Make lists and Bullets

bullets and links

Add images and videos

Images serve as illustrative materials to help in explanation and help users to understand better and faster.

Add comments section

To keep users involved in reading, add a comments section.

People like to read comments about something they love or something they want to obtain, and this affects the bounce rate positively.

Final thought

On-page SEO is putting the pieces of the puzzle together.

If done correctly, from the keyword research down, your chances of having your posts appear at the top of the SERPs are high.

You’ve learned how to do full optimization regarding on-page SEO. Keep the steps in mind and use them whenever you write a post.

When does it pay off?

Ranking on search engines is a patience game, so never feel demotivated, because once you do your homework, results will eventually please you.

Now let me hear from you. Was this post helpful?

Do you suggest any other topic to write about?

Which tip was most helpful to you?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.

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