On-page optimisation: a super actionable task that you should absolutely be doing to get your website in front of the people who matter most.
In this guide, we’ll provide all the information you need to optimise your web pages.
Keep reading to learn more on:
- What is on-page optimisation?
- Why is on-page optimisation important?
- Content fundamentals
- HTML fundamentals
- Site architecture fundamentals
- Examples of on-page optimisation
- On-page optimisation checklist
On-page optimisation refers to the measurements taken to optimise your site’s pages for the purpose of providing clear and valuable information for users that shows search engines that your page deserves to rank for your chosen topic.
There are certain best practices to follow when optimising a page and many of these are ranking factors that are considered by search engines when deciding where your page should rank in the search results.
All on-page fundamentals can be placed into three main categories:
- Content fundamentals
- HTML fundamentals
- Site architecture fundamentals
Search engines use keywords and other on-page elements to help determine what the page is about and whether the page matches a user’s search intent. In other words, it helps Google understand your website and its content, as well as identify its relevance to the searcher’s query.
On-page optimisation has the power to bring countless new visitors and potential customers to your website.
When it comes to on-page optimisation, if not done correctly it can have a huge negative impact on user experience and rankings. Throughout this guide, we will cover all the do’s and don’ts for content fundamentals, HTML fundamentals and site architecture fundamentals.
A few things to be aware of to avoid overall bad on-page optimisation are:
- Not understanding what your customers are searching, and therefore not matching search intent
- Targeting the wrong keywords (for example, using jargon when users tend to use more common language)
- Not answering the questions or providing the right information your audience is seeking
- Having a non-user-friendly website, such as being slow to load or hard to navigate and with no clear calls-to-action (CTAs)
- Not using meta-tags (e.g. H1s, H2s, meta-description and alt-text) to make it clear what your content is about and how to easily find what you want to read.
Having high-quality on-page content is one of the fundamentals in optimising your site. It tells both searchers and search engines what your website and business is about. There are two types of important content; blog content and on-page product category content. In this guide, we are focusing on the latter.
- Product page content: Product page content explains the value of particular products or services, may include posted answers to customer questions, and encourages purchases through product reviews. Product pages typically include a call to action (CTA), such as an Add to Cart button.
- Blog content: Blog content is usually article-style, long-form written content that provides information of value to your target audiences. Blog posts are often part of a company’s SEO and content marketing strategy: They educate or entertain and use specific keywords in an effort to show up in search engine results.
The first step to creating high-quality content is choosing relevant keywords. For ecommerce businesses, topics can be easily split into the product categories that your business sells. You can read more about keyword research in this ecommerce guide.
A few best practices for writing high-quality and well-optimised content are:
- Incorporating short and long-tail keywords
- Actively solving your buyer’s query
- Optimise for conversions with CTAs to offers and product pages
Including images on your pages can increase your chances of ranking in Google Images – Google image search accounts for 10.1% of all Google traffic, this equates to 11.5K users every second clicking on an image. This is a great way for you to get traffic onto your site.
A good place to start when optimising images on your site is to include alt text. Alt text (alternative text) is text included in the HTML code that describes the image.
Alt text has two purposes:
- It provides search engine crawler context to the images.
- It allows users with screen readers to hear the descriptions of the images on your site.
Tips for writing good alt text:
- Include target keywords – it’s important to include your target keywords for context, but don’t keyword stuff.
- Don’t include ‘image of’ or ‘picture of’ in the alt text. Using phrases like this can waste characters and crawlers often stop reading alt text at around 120 characters.
FAQs are a great way to build out the content on your product pages whilst still providing value to the user. They enhance the user experience by providing answers to commonly asked questions about the products that page is selling, and as a result, increase your page’s chances of ranking for that topic.
Another reason why every ecommerce business should include FAQs within each product category page is that they are prime candidates for featured snippets because they often contain a concise answer to a question.
Here are some best practices and recommendations for FAQs:
- Reflect and respond to your audience’s needs. Only add FAQs on the relevant product pages and product-specific questions your audience might want to know.
- FAQs can cover a broad range of transactional, informational and commercial search intent. Capitalise on this by including questions that your customer service team or internal sales team frequently get asked for an enhanced user experience.
- Add internal links to other relevant pages on the site and informational blog posts where possible.
HTML refers to the elements in your source code. Within this section of the guide, we will cover the importance of page titles, header tags, meta descriptions and structured markup.
1. Page Titles
Your page titles, also known as title tags, are one of the most important SEO elements. Having the right title tag that reflects your site the most can improve CTR.
An example of a page title has been highlighted below:
Although only a small ranking factor, title tags are the first thing that a user will see in the search results so it is important that they are descriptive and reflective of what the page is about. Search engines also use them to determine what the page is about alongside the header tags.
Here are a few best practices for writing optimised page titles:
- Keep it under 60 characters to ensure your titles display correctly. Keeping your titles at 60 characters or less ensures the title won’t be cut off in the search results, although Google doesn’t have an exact limit, its display titles cut off at 600 pixels.
- Don’t keyword stuff! Modern search engines are smart enough to monitor for stuffed titles and will penalise content that is unnaturally stuffed with keywords.
- Make the page title relevant to the page and descriptive.
2. Header tags
Header tags also known as Htags, allow users to easily skim through the content on your page and allow search engines to understand the structure of your page.
They also help search engines determine whether the content on your page matches the user’s search intent. Optimising your header tags with keywords will add more weight to the keywords and will help search engines understand what each section is about.
Use H1 as your heading or main title for the page, an H1 tag is critical. The heading acts as an information guide for the search engine bots. It should include a highly searched keyword.
Add an H2 as the subheadings or subtopics throughout the page. If you need to cover further detail, use H3 etc. As with the H1 tag, you can place H2, H3, and other heading tags anywhere in the body of the content. However, hierarchy is critical.
Be sure to use H tags in logical order within each section of content, such as this hypothetical example of an article about making a cake.
One H1 tag: How to Make Cake
H2: Batter Up
H3: Mix Your Dry Ingredients
H3: Add Your Wet Ingredients
H3: Head to the Griddle
H2: Heat Up the Links
H2: Enjoy Your Fresh-Made Cake
Best practices for Htags are:
- Always include an H1 tag and only use one per page.
- Include the primary keyword for your content.
- Avoid populating the tag with too many keywords.
- Ensure that your target audience can easily read the H1 tag.
- Use up to 70 characters in the tag length.
3. Meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are short page descriptions that appear underneath the page titles in the search results. Although these are not considered an official ranking factor for search engines, they can influence your CTR which is key to driving traffic.
A few best practices when writing your meta descriptions:
- Include your target keywords as this helps users determine whether your page contains the products they are looking for.. Google often bolds keywords that match a user’s search query and could be the deciding factor for them clicking on your page over another.
- Keeping it short – under 160 characters. Think of mobile phones, Google cuts the text off if it’s too long, so it’s better to keep it on the shorter side to avoid this.
4. Structured data
Structured data organises your page’s content and makes the information easier for Google to understand.
Using schema markup increases your chances of securing rich snippets, knowledge panels and other content features in the SERPs. In addition to taking up valuable space in the search results, it can also increase your page’s CTR.
Structured data is considered to be technical SEO, however, when optimised correctly it can create a better on-page experience for visitors as well as search engines.
Common types of schema makeup include:
- Local business
Site architecture fundamentals refer to the elements that make up your website and site pages. How you structure your website will determine how easily Google and other search engines will crawl your site.
1. Page URLs
Your URLs should be easy for both users and search engines to understand. There is an important hierarchy to be aware of when creating your URL structure, such as parent, child and grandchild pages. These are to make sure your site hierarchy is consistent as you create subpages, blog posts and product category pages.
Tips when creating optimised URLs are:
- Always ensure your pages are secure (HTTPS), as Google views this as a ranking factor.
- Include keywords to ensure Google knows what you are aiming to rank for and that the content on the page corresponds with the keywords in the URL.
- Use words relevant to your content so users know what the page is about.
The more context Google has about a particular page, the better it can understand it, this also means that Google is able to match the page with the relevant search queries.
2. Internal Linking
Internal links are hyperlinks that point to different pages within the same site.
Internal links are an important part of on-page optimisation as they help search engines understand your site’s structure and how pages are related to each other.
They can also allow Google crawlers to discover and navigate to new pages, they would have otherwise not found. This is done by signalling to Google that the linked-to page is valuable and helpful.
Internal linking from one page to another signals to Google that these pages are related and can help Google understand whether pages match a user’s search intent
Internal linking best practices:
- Canonicalise your URLs to avoid any duplicate pages. This is particularly important if you are an eCommerce website selling multiple products within the same category.
- The flow of link value – The more authority (link juice) a page has, the more likely that page will rank well. Ensuring the relevant pages are internally linked to the correct corresponding pages, in turn, passes on link equity/juice.
3. Site Speed
Google cares about users’ experience first and foremost. If your site loads slowly, it’s likely your visitors won’t stick around – Google knows this. Site speed can also directly affect impact conversions and ROI.
You can check your site speed using Google’s Page Speed Insights tool. While site speed and mobile responsiveness are considered to be technical SEO, they have been included here as optimising them creates a better on-page experience for visitors.
Best practices for ensuring a fast site speed:
- Optimise your images – Images tend to take the longest to load on a site as they are larger in size than HTML and CSS files. This can be avoided by compressing your image files.
- Limit the use of external scripts -Any script page elements that are loaded from somewhere else, such as external commenting systems, CTA buttons and CMS plug-ins, all need to be loaded each time the page is. Depending on the size of the script, these can slow a web page down or cause it not to load at all.
Easy Garden Irrigation – Product category pages
Here is a good example of a well-optimised product page from one of our clients, Easy Garden Irrigation.
This product page has been optimised to include an on-page copy to include target keywords, FAQs, product details and internal links to relevant guides within their site.
This client has also optimised their product pages with schema markup. They have product schema, breadcrumb schema and website schema.
Origin Coffee – FAQs example
Here is a great example of using FAQs within your eCommerce website. One of our clients Origin Coffee have optimised their product category pages to include FAQs, as mentioned in the content fundamentals section of this guide, FAQs are a great way to include your targeted keywords and showcase your expertise.
- Crawl your website
- Conduct an SEO audit and determine your site architecture
- Update URLs, page titles, and meta descriptions.
- Make sure your URLs include your keywords
- Don’t keyword stuff
- Add internal links
- Review and edit page content as needed
- Plan new page titles
- Include your keywords throughout your content
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