On-Page Optimization

person sitting at desk doing on-page optimization

On-page Optimization: Short Overview

On-page optimization is one of the main pillars of search engine optimization (SEO). It involves the steps website owners may take so that their sites are visible and as accessible as possible - for both search engines and people.

On-page optimization: Deeper Dive

All components of a site related to its search engine optimization can be restructured in on-page optimization; website owners execute this optimization themselves to ensure optimal design for visitors and for search engines. On-page optimization consists roughly of technical, content-related, and structural aspects. This can touch all areas of a website like links to other websites, redirects or text enhancements.

The primary purpose of on-page optimization is to drive the highest possible search engine rankings for a website. It covers a different domain of activity than off-page optimization, which is mainly controlled by initiatives external to the optimized page.

Why Should You On-page Optimize?

Google is constantly assessing and comparing websites based on predefined criteria - millions at a time. In order to provide users with the most relevant results for their search, the search engine evaluates which sites are the most related to each topic.

This is where on-page optimization comes in. To help Google determine the relevance of their pages, website owners incorporate signals as part of the on-page SEO process that tell Google:

  • How relevant that particular page is to the search term in question
  • Its relationship to other pages on the website’s domain

The more optimized a website is, the higher the likelihood that it will get a favorable Google SERPs ranking.

Key On-page Optimization Elements

On-page optimization is influenced by a variety of things. Google and others, on the other hand, seldom make explicit disclosures regarding these features. As a result, SEO professionals

There are many factors that impact how effective a website’s on-page optimization is. Unfortunately, Google usually doesn’t reveal these factors in any official announcements. Consequently, SEO experts are left to infer most of these ranking factors through ongoing testing, logical deductions, and personal judgments. For both on-page and off-page optimization, one can only partially predict which measures have a significant effect and how this impact can be achieved. 

Google considers a variety of factors when ranking a search result:


One of the biggest factors is including relevant keywords throughout the page. The web crawler considers the content on a page, then ranks it based on the words and phrases on that page that are connected with a particular topic. Then, for a user’s corresponding query, the website is displayed in search results.

By choosing the right words, marketers can indicate how they want to be found to a search engine. Keywords, synonyms, and semantically related terms should occur not just in the content - where they occur in the content matters. For example, SEO experts believe that keywords placed in headlines have greater impact than if they appeared in the middle of a paragraph.

The exact optimal keyword density (frequency of use of the word) is unknown. Information and recommendations on optimizing keyword density have changed time and time again. Currently experts believe that there is no strictly defined target percentage. [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[Frequently there are also new keyword density concepts, such as the WDF * IDF formula, that are redefining the correct use of keywords.]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]

Meta tags

Meta tags are parts of the HTML code that inform the search engine about specific website properties. Webmasters can use meta tags to determine when Google should ignore a particular page or to specify what a particular page is communicating. Some important meta tags:

  • Title tag (in header): designates a page and usually appears as the page title in search results. These are generally the most important keywords that tell the user what the page is about.
  • Meta description tag: describes a page’s general content, often acting as a teaser in search engine results. 
  • Title (IMG): designates an image and makes the subject of the image easy for Google to understand. It can also be used as a link.
  • Alt (IMG): Describes the content of an image and where it will appear. Alt text also includes informational details in the case that the image cannot be loaded.
  • Robots: These tags can, among other things, determine whether or not a search engine is authorized to crawl and/or index a website.
  • Canonical: designate pages that have the same content to tell the search engine 1) which page contains the original content, and 2) which pages should not be crawled.

The search engine does not observe all meta tags, and some are given more weight than others when it comes to ranking factors.


Search engines like content that is well-structured, making HTML tags quite useful since they can be used to organize and structure text, video, and images. Many SEO experts believe that search engines pay specific attention to keywords that are designated with certain tags. Examples are heading tags like H1 or H2, and ordered (<ol>) and unordered (<ul>) lists.


A webpage’s content includes its text, images (including infographics), and videos. High-quality, unique, and current content is key to not only ranking well in search engines, but also to satisfying visitors. Good content is associated with longer pageviews and lower bounce rates, which can help your website rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

In the case of duplicate content, or content which is replicated on multiple pages,Google may penalize this with a negative rating. That’s because it causes extra crawl work for search engines, but it doesn't benefit the reader. The takeaway? Don’t ignore the value of having unique content.

There are several ways to provide users with high-quality content. Blog posts, tutorials, and visual content such as videos or infographics all offer value. Well-crafted eBooks or whitepapers can provide readers with helpful advice and entertainment, while also positively influencing important ranking factors.


While links refer to all internal and external links on a site, links to other sites are primarily a focus of off-page optimization. 

For on-page SEO, internal links are an important factor. Better structure and interconnectedness of individual website pages means a user can better navigate them – a website characteristic that search engines regard positively.

Links can appear in different places on a page, and this placement may affect how the search engine classifies them. For example, links in the main page navigation may be more important than links that appear in the footer. 

The "link juice" concept is often used to explain the function of links in search engine optimization. Each website has a unique weight and strength - and, correspondingly, a certain amount of link juice. This “link juice” power is based on a number of factors, such as the number of inbound links it has. The more internal and external links a site has, the more link juice it can generate - link juice that can flow to other sites for enrichment. When it comes to backlinks, a backlink from a strong site is more valuable than a backlink from a site with little link juice.


A page’s search engine ranking can be affected by its URL. SEO experts generally consider URL keywords to be a key ranking factor. Matt Cutts (the former Google SEO guru) has himself implied that a URL’s length can impact its ranking. General guidelines: include keywords in your URL, as close to the beginning as possible - but be careful not to make it too long.

Page load speed

Another important ranking factor for web pages is the average time they take to load. In this sense, websites are evaluated based on how quickly they initialize. Google assumes that users will bounce if a site takes too long to load completely. This is a particular concern for users with mobile devices, since internet connections can be unstable or slow.

Website owners can track page load times not only in Google Analytics, but also with free testing tools like Page Speed. This is a tool that evaluates website loading times and ranks them on a scale from 0 to 100. It’s also a helpful tool in that it identifies load speed optimization opportunities for websites.

Website Structure

Search engines value user-friendliness; a good page structure indicates to them that your website is easy to use. For example, if each sub-page can be reached with a minimal number of clicks from the main page, this indicates careful consideration of the site navigation. 

Search engines may run into problems with certain programming languages, page elements, or file types. For example, AJAX applications have had issues in the past; these sorts of pages weren't (fully) crawled and/or successfully indexed. 

In general, website owners should design their website architecture so that search engines can navigate it easily. Additional measures can be taken to streamline the crawler’s process. This includes granting the appropriate permissions in the page's robots.txt file, as well as facilitating indexing with a sitemap.

On-Page Optimization Analysis

Google’s philosophy is that site owners should focus on what is best for users, rather than rigidly adhering to theoretical guidelines about search engine optimization. Although this is their outward messaging, Google still assesses over 200 factors when ranking a page. 

There are tools out there to help website operators analyze their pages and make adjustments to improve their on-page optimization. These programs include paid software such as Searchmetrics, or strategic insights providers like Ubersuggest. These tools offer a wide range of features and in-depth analysis, building their own databases of web content to analyze keywords and rankings. Tools such as Google Analytics also provide site owners with useful information about their website. This information can be used to strategize necessary steps for effective on-page optimization.


With proper, meticulous on-page optimization, you can increase the likelihood that your site is found by search engines. Unlike off-page optimization, successful on-site optimization depends entirely on manual factors that can be controlled by the owner of a particular site. These factors generally fall into one of three categories: technical, content, and structural. 

Various tools exist to aid site owners in analyzing their pages and optimizing individual page elements. On-page optimization is a key area of SEO and an important component of increasing website traffic.

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