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On-page SEO: A Quick Guide for 2021



February 17, 2021

The aim of a search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy is to make your website rank as high as possible in search engines, such as Google. But how can you create a website that Google’s secret algorithm loves?

On-page – or on-site – SEO optimisation is the first step to making Google love your website and rank you up in its search engine result pages (SERPs).

As Google algorithm changes every year, so do on-page SEO best practices. So, it’s important for businesses and SEO specialists to keep up with the latest tactics.

In this article you’ll learn:

  • What on-page SEO is
  • Why it matters
  • How it’s different from off-page SEO
  • How to do on-page SEO in 2021
  • The best on-page SEO practices

What is on-page SEO?

On-page SEO is about:

  • Publishing relevant, high-quality content
  • Optimising a website’s headlines, images, HTML tags, internal links and URLs

A website that includes all the information its target audience needs – in an easy-to-digest and navigate way – can satisfy users’ needs, answer their queries and make them happy.

And that’s what Google appreciates! Websites that keep their users engaged by showcasing high levels of authority, relevancy and expertise. As a reward, Google ranks the website higher and gets more relevant traffic to it.

Why is on-page SEO so important?

On-page SEO really matters because search engines crawl your web page’s content to find out to which extent it’s relevant to the search query. “Does your website’s content include the right, relevant keywords?” is what Google wants to understand at first by looking at your headings and body of your texts.

But cramming relevant keywords into your web page’s HTML is not enough. For example, the website’s design, layout, content structure as well as keyword placement, all play their part in giving your website a competitive advantage.

Google is such a smart search engine and if you want to get its attention for the right reasons, you need to optimise on-page ranking factors, such as:

  • Writing in-depth, high-quality, unique content
  • Cleaning up the code (e.g. HTML)
  • Optimise meta descriptions and title tags
  • Speed up the website
  • Make it easy-to-navigate for users

Optimising the on-page SEO factors can lead to higher rankings, higher visibility and more organic traffic. It might take some time for the on-page SEO strategy to come to fruition. But once it gets off the ground, it’ll make your online rankings and conversions soar!

On-page SEO doesn’t need advanced technical skills and is one of the easiest parts of SEO. So, if you’re good at writing, enjoy research, and know how to make basic website edits, you’re ready to nail on-page SEO practices!

What is off-page SEO?

Off-page SEO is the second important pillar of an SEO strategy. It refers to the SEO tactics that take place outside of your website, such as link building, citation building, social media, content marketing, reviews, podcasts and more.

The difference between on-page and off-page SEO looks so simple as that:

  • On-page SEO = your website
  • Off-page SEO = another website or platform

A successful on-page SEO strategy increases the chances that your off-page SEO tactics will also be fruitful. Who wants to link to bad-written, boring and non-relevant articles?


How do you do on-page SEO step-by-step?

    1. Place your keywords wisely

    Google places more importance on terms included early in a page. This helps the search engine to understand what the page is all about.

    For this reason, it’d be wise to use your main keyword in the first 100-150 words of your text. Even if this is an old-school on-page SEO practice, it’s still valid and can make a big difference.

    But what about the title of a description or article on your website?

    If it makes sense, use the keyword as it is in the title. In case it doesn’t, use a close variant. For example, the keyword “seo writing” can make sense in a title as “How to write SEO-friendly content.” Keep your titles simple, short and clear.

    In terms of keyword frequency, try to mention your target keyword a few times within your text to convince Google that your web page is about a specific topic. Make sure the content flows naturally, though.
    2. Don’t overlook the title & H1 tags

    The title tag is an HTML tag that shows up in the SERPs as the hyperlinked headline people should click on to head to your web page.

    A title tag also appears in the title bar at the top of the web browser. Think of it as an accurate and snappy description of your page’s content.

    It’s also the first impression users have of your web page!

    Some rules of thumb for title tags are:

    • Limit them to 55 characters – otherwise, Google cuts it off in search results.
    • Avoid ALL CAPS titles – they might be hard for visitors to read.
    • Include your main keyword.
    • Don’t stuff every variation of your keyword into the title if it doesn’t make sense.
    • Try to give unique and valuable title tags for each of your pages.

    Duplicate, missing or misspelled title tags can have a negative impact on your ranking.

    Caution: A title tag is not your actual title – it doesn’t appear on your web page! But it does appear on the SERPs and helps Google understand what your page is about.

    The title users see on your web page is named H1.

    H1 should have its own “mini title” tag that helps Google understand the structure of your web page. H1 tag should contain your main keyword, even though it doesn’t appear in SERPs.

    If you want to go one step further, wrap your target keyword in subheading (H2) tags, too.
    3. Use internal links

    Do you want the search engine crawlers to find all your site’s pages and supercharge your organic rankings and visibility?

    Try to use internal links that help users navigate around your website. With internal linking you also pass ranking power – or else link equity – to other pages on your site.

    Take caution not to overload your text with links as this might weaken the authority of each link and overwhelm users.
    4. Use unique meta-descriptions

    Meta-descriptions are HTML tags that describe the content of the page they’re in. An optimised meta-description helps your page to stand out, especially if it includes your target keyword.

    The Campaign Management System (CMS) you use can auto-generate useful meta-descriptions. But Google suggests that you write your own meta-descriptions as no one knows your content better than you.

    The output of an HTML meta-description is displayed in the SERPs under the title of your page.

    A good meta-description should summarise the key concept of the page, so that it sparks users’ interest. If the description is relevant, well-written and valuable, users will click on the title that heads to your website!

    SEO experts have noticed that a high click-through rate helps your web page rank higher, even in an indirect way.

    The optimal length for a meta-description is 155 characters.
    5. Create SEO-friendly URLs

    A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is an address for a web page, which should include a very brief description of the page’s topic.

    Google has recently started using some weird URLs in the SERPs, which appear above the title tag.

    To make your URLs SEO-friendly and increase your chances of ranking higher in the search results, follow these two tips:

    • Include a keyword in every URL.
    • Make it short and clear!
      • But don’t cut down on URL length if that means sacrificing its descriptiveness.

    An example of a good URL is:

    A bad URL would look like this:

    A well-structured URL plays its part in increasing the chances of your web page to appear higher in relevant search results!
    6. Improve your page speed

    Page loading speed is a clear indicator of search results rankings – especially for mobile rankings. It also has an impact on your conversions, ROI and user engagement.

    If you want to check your web page’s speed, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

    To improve your website’s loading speed, follow these easy steps:

    • Find a faster hosting provider
    • Get rid of any unnecessary third party scripts, such as useless social media buttons
    • Reduce the size of images and other multimedia

    One of the main causes of slow web pages is images in wrong formats and sizes. There is no standard rule for compressing a web page’s images or what format to use, so you need to evaluate what works best for your pages.

    If you want to use a high-resolution image but you’re worried about its size having a negative impact on your SEO ranking, use PNG. PNG-24 is more suitable for colourful images, while PNG-8 is appropriate for images that don’t have a lot of colours.

    Opt for JPEG and test out various compression options if you don’t need to use a high-res image.

    Remember to give every image on your website a descriptive name, which would include your target keyword, and an alt text. This alternative text makes your web page more accessible and improves your Google Images ranking.

    Suitable and optimised images help search engines understand your page’s content and rank it higher.

    It’s also better to use original, unique images instead of generic stock photos that anyone else can buy or find online for free.
    7. Make your site mobile-friendly

    How does your website look on a tablet or mobile phone?

    More than half of your site’s traffic comes from mobile devices. That’s why Google uses indicators for mobile responsiveness as a ranking factor.

    A responsive website will also bring you valuable leads and revenue apart from ranking you up in the search results.

    You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to find out if your website is responsive to all devices!
    8. Make your content valuable and unique

    Using the right keywords is not enough.

    Your content should bring new, valuable knowledge to the table. Do your research and use your academic and professional background to write about new tips and strategies on a particular – and relevant to your website – subject.

    ‘How to’ and step-by-step processes or new case studies can also add something new in your industry and spark users’ interest!

    The content you generate should be snappy. Images, videos, screenshots, experts’ views, up-to-date examples and infographics can make your SEO content extremely valuable!

    Always keep in mind that your content has to be exactly what Google users are searching for.

    Headers, subheaders, and visual content make it easier for the user to read and digest it.
    9. Include CTAs

    Each page of your website offers an opportunity for conversions.

    So, what about including at least one call-to-action (CTA) for each page?

    Make sure your CTAs are actionable, short, and presented in bold tap buttons. Some generic examples of CTAs include:

    • Make a purchase
    • Schedule a call
    • Learn more
    • Fill in the form
    • Participate in survey
    • Follow us on social media
    • Watch our video

    10. Optimise for CTR

    In organic SEO, click-through-rate (CTR) refers to how many people, of those who saw your page in search results, clicked through to your page.

    SEO specialists list organic CTR as one of Google’s ranking factors. Even though we can’t be sure about what’s included in Google’s secret algorithm, CTR drives traffic to your website – for sure.

    To increase your website’s CTR, follow these tips:

    • Optimise your title
      • Ask a question
      • Try to add emotion
      • Be relevant
    • Optimise meta descriptions
    • Add current year to the title and description
    • Add images to your posts
    • Use schema markup to target rich snippets
    • Localise your content
    • Check regularly the click-through status of your pages


Optimising your on-page SEO will take time, so be prepared to spend a few hours on a weekly base for this project.

If you want to improve your traffic, conversions and rank higher on search engine result pages, on-page SEO will definitely get you closer to your goals!

Want to speak with an SEO expert about on-page or off-page SEO services? Reach out to YoYo team of SEO experts!