On-Page SEO: The Complete Tutorial for Beginners (2021)
By Tommy Griffith • Last Updated: July 16, 2021
A simple and comprehensive on-page SEO tutorial to get higher rankings and drive more traffic through organic search.
The way you optimize your content has a far-reaching influence on how well your website ranks. On-Page SEO is crucial, and it is also one of the most well-known SEO methods for generating leads and sales.
This step-by-step SEO tutorial will serve as your guide to understand On-Page SEO and bring organic traffic to your site.
On-page SEO optimization is one of the pillars of SEO, along with off-page optimization and technical optimization. Examples of off-page optimization are external link building and social media marketing, and technical optimization includes keeping your robots.txt file in order and maintaining a high page speed.
Therefore, SEO techniques are something you want to learn and, more importantly, understand to do your website’s technical SEO excellently.
In this blog post, I will show you the best way to do on-page optimization for your pages and rank high in Google search – so let’s get going.
First, let’s get through the high-level overview of what we will do next:
Goal: To optimize each page and blog post on your website to be easily found on search engines.
Ideal Outcome: Your website pages and blog posts will become SEO friendly – your website will rank high on SERPs.
Pre-requisites or requirements: The SEO tips described in this SOP will only work on WordPress.org websites. Other Content Management Systems (CMSs) might use the same principles and practices, while the steps and methods needed to perform on-page optimization may differ.
Why this is important: On-site SEO is one of the three pillars of SEO (along with off-site SEO and technical optimization). Together, they help businesses get noticed on search engines (thus, they help increase audience and, consequently, the number of conversions). Remember, though: no matter how crucial on-site optimization may be, you should never compromise quality content over this. On-site SEO is not solely about utilizing the appropriate keywords. It is all also about providing a fantastic user experience and sharing relevant information.
Where is this done: In your WordPress.org admin panel, on each web page and blog post that will go live.
When is this done: Ideally, before the pages and blog posts go live. It is also possible to do it later (for example, if your website is already up but not optimized yet).
Who does this: You, your SEO specialist, your VA, content creator (if they also upload the page content or blog posts), or an agency you have hired for your digital marketing needs.
Before starting with on-page optimization, make sure you download the free SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that complements this blog post. It will teach you exactly what a digital marketer needs to do, which SEO tools to use, and what to look for with an almost painful level of detail.
Get This Entire Walkthrough and All the Resources in This Post
1. Based on your keyword research and mapping spreadsheet, select the keyword and searcher intent you want to use for the webpage or blog post, which you want to optimize. Remember: In general, you want to make sure each page targets only one searcher intent (or a “bucket” in the keyword mapping spreadsheet you have worked on).
For this blog article, we will be going through and optimize an example blog post for “red emojis.”
2. Write the content of the page or blog post without optimizing it for the target keyword. I did this a lot when I first started writing for search engine optimization. It is better to write the content without worrying about the algorithm, optimization process, or the keywords you need to use. This way, you can produce more natural and high-quality content with your focus on the user experience rather than the search engines.
Optimize the Meta Data
The meta tags on each of your pages and blog posts are just as important as the content itself. So, you should make sure to optimize it before moving on to optimizing the content.
Start by optimizing the page title with your chosen keyword.
a) When you’re in the Edit Post section of your WordPress site, scroll down to the Yoast SEO bar (you will find it right after the box that allows you to paste/ edit the content). Click on it to expand the bar.
b) Click on Edit Snippet to expand the editable metadata boxes.
c) Optimize the title in the SEO title box. Here’s how to do this:
Click on the SEO title box.
Enter your desired SEO title (including your target keyword).
Remember to keep it under 65 characters – otherwise, Google will truncate it when displaying it on SERPs. If this happens, it will consequently lower your CTR.
Yoast will help you determine if the SEO title is too long. As long as the bar underneath the “SEO title” box is green, you haven’t exceeded the 65-character limit. If the bar gets orange, you have exceeded this limit (or the title is much too short, as you can see in the caption below).
There is no need to add your domain name to the domain title because Google automatically adds it.
Keywords placement and keyword density have an impact on rankings, but they are not the only factor. So, don’t get carried away and get into keyword stuffing your website. The CTR on your search result is an important ranking factor, so this step will help you write appealing and compelling titles.
Aim for a score above 70 on CoSchedule’s Header tag analyzer, but don’t stress or obsess over it—it is an automated tool, and you should only use it as an indicator.
Optimize the URL slug:
Keep it as short as possible (4 words at most—it makes it easy to understand and remember by users, but it also improves your CTR.)
Also, try to include the keyword in the URL structure as well—it will help with the on-page optimization.
If your page is already published, do not change the URL. Especially if it’s already ranking in the SERPs or if other pages already link to it. Doing this would mean you are migrating your URL, and it’s best to avoid it in most cases.
Once you’re done with this section (or any of the following ones), don’t forget to mark it as done on the free SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that accompanies this blog post (if you haven’t downloaded it yet, get it here):
Optimize the page content
Now that you have optimized the metadata supporting your page or blog post, it’s time to move on to optimizing the actual content on it.
Here are the steps you need to follow to do this:
Try to include the keyword in the h1 heading, but do not force this. Again, it is far better to publish natural (rather than keyword-stuffed) content.
Make sure your page or blog post has an h1, but remember that there should be only one h1, and it should be above the fold. Typically, your h1 will be the actual title of the blog post or page.
Same with the meta tags optimization- focus on creating an attractive and compelling h1, rather than something that feels built exclusively for Google’s crawlers.
Try to include your target keyword in the first 100 words of the page or blog post.
In general, avoid including the exact target keyword more than 3-4 times/page.
Add other keywords from the same keyword bucket in the body of your content. It will help Google contextualize your page or blog article. Google will then show your content to users searching for the information related to your keywords.
Try to add synonyms to your target keyword as well. It is an excellent approach since it will help Google contextualize your content. And it will also help you avoid overusing identical target keywords.
Include LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords too. These keywords are semantically related to your target keyword. To find more LSI keywords, go to https://lsigraph.com, enter your target keyword, and pick the most relevant suggestions to include in the body of your page content.
a) Rename the image you want to upload into your page or blog title with a descriptive name. For example, “img17348.png” is not a descriptive name, but “red-emojis.jpg” is a descriptive name.
Always use the “-” sign to split the words in the image names.
To rename a file, download to your computer, right-click it, choose “Rename” from the drop-down menu, write the new name, then press “Enter”, and re-upload to WordPress.
DON’T include keywords in the file name unless they are actually relevant for your content.
b) Include descriptive ALT tag for each of the images you upload into your page or blog post.
Within the media selection view in WordPress, select the image you want to edit, you will see a series of fields in the right side of the window.Scroll to the “Alt text” field and enter it.
Make sure your ALT text is relevant and descriptive. For instance, “image 17348” is not a descriptive ALT text, but “beautiful red emojis” is.
Again, do not try to include keywords in the ALT text if they are not relevant.
Adding ALT text to your images will also improve accessibility. For instance, this feature can be used by screen-reading software applications for the blind or visually impaired.
Do some internal linking (adding links to other pages within your domain).
Try to include at least 2 or 3 links to relevant related web pages on your site.
To do this, select the words you want to create a link on, click on the “Insert/Edit link button”, and paste the URL you want to link to.
5. Do External Linking
Try to link to authoritative sources of information or pages that are already ranking very well on the search results for your target keyword. This may increase your chances to get backlinks.
To add an external link, follow the same steps as described above for internal links.
6. Avoid Duplicate Content
Having duplicate will get you fined by Google algorithm, which will lead to loss of page reputation and search engine ranking. Publish plagiarism-free and unique content to rank higher on the Google search.
You can use canonical tags if your website has similar content on two web pages. This tag tells Google that both pages are equivalent and prevents your website from getting penalized.
To check your content for duplicate content, copy ten subsequent words from your content and paste them on Google search in quotes. You should expect only your content to appear in the search box.
Set up and integrate both SEO tools to keep track of your SEO. Google Analytics will give you insight into page visits, conversion, and audience behavior on your website. Google Search Console will tell you about your website performance and search engine presence.
That’s it! If you have completed all of these steps, your on-page optimization is done. Together with your technical optimization and off-page optimization, your on-page optimization will help search engines better understand your content, pushing it higher into the Search Engine Result Pages for your target keywords.
If you want to do this periodically or have a member of your team to do it, download and use the free SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) that accompanies this blog post here.
Once you’ve got your pages good to go and you are seeing results, use our template to create a simple SEO report that shows how your new on-page SEO expertise has improved the site.
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Tommy Griffith has been doing search engine optimization for almost 10 years. He was previously managing SEO at PayPal and Airbnb.
He feels weird writing about himself in the third person, but admits that it sounds slightly more epic.