What is on-page optimization?

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Master the fundamentals of on-page optimization to fortify your website’s SEO groundwork and enhance your organic visibility.

On-page optimization stands as a pivotal component of any robust SEO strategy. It encompasses fine-tuning various elements directly on a webpage to enhance search engine rankings and deliver an improved user experience.

Although off-page techniques such as link building also contribute, the on-page factors are entirely within your control, making them the bedrock of SEO achievement.

This article delves into the essential components that warrant optimization on each page to yield optimal SEO outcomes. These encompass both content-centric aspects and technical elements.

Understanding on-page SEO

On-page SEO revolves around enhancing various elements of a webpage to ensure that both individuals and search engines can easily comprehend the page’s purpose. This involves improving user-friendliness and providing valuable information.

On-page SEO grants you full control, and this sometimes leads some companies to go to extremes in their quest for perfection in search engine optimization. However, excessive optimization can harm the user experience and result in rankings devaluation.

When you prioritize the user experience, focusing on their needs rather than your own, you often create an ideal experience for search engines as well.

Search engines strive to present the most relevant results in a format that’s easy for users to consume and access quickly. This is achieved by creating content that’s accessible to a wide range of users.

Your goal should be to design your content to cater to user needs, effectively convey information, and remain accessible to all users, including those with disabilities or limited internet connectivity.


  1. Header Tags
  2. Titles
  3. Meta Descriptions
  4. Body Content
  5. Internal Links
  6. External Links
  7. Incorporating Customer Feedback and Addressing Complaints
  8. Optimizing Images (Alt Text, Descriptions, File Names)


  1. Optimizing Clickable Element Names
  2. Page Speed Improvements (Caching, Fetch Priority, Deferring and Lazy Loading)
  3. Implementing Canonical Links
  4. Configuring Meta Robots
  5. Schema Markup Integration

Content elements for on-page SEO

Content encompasses a wide range of elements, including text, videos, images, audio clips, or any combination of these. Search engines rely on the words used, their relationships, linked phrases between pages, and other factors that their web crawlers can process.

It’s important to note that not every webpage necessarily needs to rank highly or undergo optimization efforts. For instance, homepages may primarily need to appear prominently in brand-related searches. Therefore, it’s advisable to prioritize the optimization of product, service, and category pages. You can leverage the homepage and navigation to pass authority to these critical pages through strategically placed text links.

Here are some of the contextual elements you may want to review and consider for optimization:

Header tags

Header tags, also referred to as H tags, serve as the means to define both the main topic of a webpage and its individual sections. Clarity and precision in language significantly enhance the user experience, benefiting both visitors and search engines, as opposed to the use of vague or overly branded terminology.

Consider this: when visitors with visual impairments cannot view images, they rely heavily on the specificity of header tags to understand content since supporting imagery is unavailable. It’s important to note that excessive keyword stuffing in headers is unnecessary.

There should always be just one H1 tag per page, encompassing navigation and menus. The subsequent H2 tags should inherit the primary keywords and topic. For example, if the main topic and H1 is “t-shirts,” there’s no need to repetitively use it in your H2 tags. Instead, opt for headings like “Blue Crew” and “Red V Neck” as your H2s, with the accompanying content fulfilling the rest of the context.

Header tags must follow a specific hierarchy and not skip levels. For instance, it’s discouraged to transition directly from H2 to H4. However, moving upward in the hierarchy, such as from H4 to H2, is acceptable.

Avoid utilizing header tags purely for styling font sizes or in navigation menus. While their use in menus isn’t a grave offense, it doesn’t align with best practices.

The singular exception to employing multiple H1 tags is typically found in blogs, where blog post titles are typically formatted as H1 tags. However, with proper coding techniques, this can be rectified. Generally, having more than one H1 tag on a single page is discouraged and should be avoided whenever possible.


Title tags are visible in search results and serve the dual purpose of enticing users to click through to your page while helping search engines understand the page’s topic. Think of them as similar to the title of a book. While it’s beneficial for the title to align with the theme of the H1 tag, they don’t necessarily need to be identical.

Best practices for titles can vary depending on the tool you’re using because the available space is measured in pixels rather than characters. Most tools provide a character count, but it’s important to note that phrases containing multiple letters like “m” or “w” require more pixels compared to phrases with more “i” or “t.” As a result, some titles may have 55 characters with spaces, while others can accommodate up to 60 characters.


Although meta descriptions do not have a direct impact on search engine rankings, they hold significant importance in on-page SEO.

A well-crafted meta description can potentially drive more clicks to your page, even if it’s ranked lower than a competitor with a less compelling description.


Think of content as the fuel that powers search engines. It encompasses text, images, audio, videos, and various forms of media. When your content is concise and straightforward, it not only enhances the user experience but also assists Google in identifying when to display your page for specific queries to the right audience.

If you bury valuable information behind unnecessary verbosity or prioritize fancy branding over clear communication, Google might struggle to discern the purpose of your page.

Moreover, there’s no need to obsess over word counts or keyword density for SEO purposes. These metrics are primarily used by tools to assess content quality and are not heavily relied upon by search engines like Google or Microsoft Bing.

To bolster your content, offer well-supported answers backed by evidence and don’t hesitate to link to relevant blogs, websites, or studies. Even if a site is relatively new or doesn’t score high in SEO tools, it doesn’t automatically imply unreliability.

For example, an article authored by a licensed professional on their new blog may still represent credible expertise. Linking to their study is preferable as it directs readers to the original source rather than a third-party journal.

Metrics such as domain authority or authority score are generated by third-party tools and aren’t synonymous with search engine rankings. If a tool advises against linking to a specific site, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should heed that advice.

When determining your external linking strategy, prioritize the quality of the site, content, and the credibility of the author over relying solely on tool-generated metrics.

Internal links

Internal links refer to the hyperlinks connecting one page on your website to another, serving the dual purpose of helping search engines understand each page’s topic and contributing to the overall structure of your site. These internal links can take various forms, including:

  1. Menus
  2. Links embedded within content
  3. Links in the website’s footer
  4. Breadcrumbs
  5. Buttons and Call-to-Action (CTA) links
  6. Links in the sidebar
  7. Redirects
  8. Canonical links (subject to varying opinions)

A recommended best practice involves carefully planning your internal linking strategy to avoid linking multiple pages using the same anchor text or creating complex redirect chains, often referred to as “daisy chains.”

Additionally, internal links have the potential to transfer authority garnered from external backlinks from one page to another. While some believe they continue to hold significance in SEO, there is some debate among peers regarding their current impact.

There is a debate about the significance of the position of internal links within content, with some arguing that links placed higher up on a page carry more weight. However, it’s essential to note that Google has debunked this myth. In reality, internal links should be positioned naturally, where they provide the most benefit to the user. For instance, placing a link at the bottom of a page may be more appropriate when citing a definition, rather than interrupting the flow of a paragraph.

Certain studies and claims suggest that you can manipulate rankings by creating more internal links to specific pages. While there are instances where this approach appears effective, it doesn’t always yield the desired results. My recommendation is to use internal links organically to enhance the user’s experience on the page, rather than solely for the purpose of manipulating rankings.

Another SEO theory proposes that menu and footer links may pass more authority than in-content internal links because they are present on every page, part of the template, rich in keywords, and serve a navigational purpose. This theory has its merits and can be tested. However, it doesn’t consistently produce significant results, so it’s advisable to rely on your data and control groups to make informed decisions.

One final internal linking myth revolves around the idea that having more links on a page diminishes the authority they can transfer. While this claim has some merit, in practice, I haven’t observed a substantial impact in any tests I’ve conducted. Consequently, it’s best to prioritize the user’s benefit when implementing internal links, rather than using them solely for SEO ranking purposes.

External links

In the realm of SEO, incorporating links to external resources, sources, and other websites is a fundamental aspect, and there’s no need to shy away from it. Various representatives from search engines have affirmed that it is not only acceptable but also considered a best practice, especially when the link is earned through merit.

When you encounter a website that offers valuable content that complements your own article, it is advisable to include a link to it. However, transparency is crucial. If you receive compensation for including a link, it should be clearly marked as “sponsored.” On the other hand, if you’re uncertain about the trustworthiness of a site but find its resource to be valuable and worth sharing, you can employ the “nofollow” attribute to indicate that the link should not be considered an endorsement of the site.

Details from customer questions and complaints

Search engines continuously seek fresh and distinctive perspectives and experiences. If your business involves selling products from various sources, such as a department store, or if you run an affiliate website, consider researching customer complaints and queries to enhance your content.

You can discover valuable insights by exploring forums and reading product reviews. Once you’ve gathered accurate answers and definitions, seamlessly integrate them into your product descriptions and specifications. This approach aids potential buyers in making informed decisions and simultaneously signals to search engines that your content offers more value to users compared to competing websites.

These insights can encompass various aspects, including sizing, compatibility, required user experience level, real-life color representation compared to online photos, and more. Addressing these concerns not only benefits consumers but also provides you with a competitive edge in the digital landscape.

Images (alt text, descriptions, names)

It’s essential to provide descriptive names for your images that reflect their content or the section of the webpage where they are placed.

For instance, if an image serves as a featured image and relates to the post’s topic, aligning its name with the post’s subject matter is a sensible approach.

When dealing with diagrams, ensure the image is labeled to convey what the diagram represents and what insights the viewer will gain from it. If you’re dealing with a formula or calculation, name the image accordingly, and consider adding terms like “example” or “infographic” if they are relevant.

After assigning a suitable name, be sure to complete the alt text and description fields for the image. These elements play a crucial role in aiding individuals who rely on screen readers and assistive technologies, as well as assisting search engines in better comprehending the image’s content.

Technical on-page SEO elements

These elements pertain to non-visible components that search engines utilize to gain insights into your webpage and its overall page experience. It’s worth noting that I won’t be covering items such as .htaccess, as they relate to SEO but are not fundamental to the everyday tasks of an SEO specialist.

Similarly, robots.txt and sitemaps, while vital for SEO, are excluded here as they primarily concern how search engines discover and navigate your website, rather than the content directly visible on webpages.

Naming Clickable Elements

Clickable elements encompass buttons, hyperlinks, calls to action (such as phone numbers, email addresses, icons, login links), and occasionally, form submissions. These elements can serve as signals to search engines, indicating which pages are designed for conversions and, akin to internal links, shedding light on the topics of the linked pages. Additionally, search engines may potentially discern whether a page experience is geared towards direct conversions or if it primarily serves a contextual and informative purpose based on the nature of clickable elements and the actions they facilitate.

Page Speed (Caching, Fetch Priority, Deferring, and Lazy Loading)

While search engines aim to present the most relevant results quickly, it’s important not to become overly fixated on page speed. It undoubtedly contributes to a positive user experience, but from an SEO perspective, there are more critical factors than Core Web Vitals.

In my perspective, these considerations come into play when everything else is equal, and search engines must choose between two pieces of equally valuable content. In such scenarios, the preference should be given to the page that loads faster and becomes interactive sooner. However, it’s worth noting that different individuals may have varying opinions on this matter, and that’s perfectly acceptable.

Canonical Links

A canonical link serves as a meta tag that assists search engines in resolving content duplication issues by specifying the location of the official version of the content. Canonical links are particularly useful in the following situations:

  1. When you have products or articles listed in multiple categories.
  2. During split tests, where similar or identical content is presented in different layouts.
  3. When syndicating content to a third-party website.
  4. Canonicals are also crucial when migrating URLs, as they help define the new page’s location.

Meta Robots Tags

Meta robots tags are meta elements that convey instructions to search engines regarding whether they should index or exclude a page, as well as whether they should follow or nofollow the links within that page.

It’s crucial to differentiate meta robots tags from robots.txt. While robots.txt defines which folders, pages, URLs, parameters, and backlinks should be counted or excluded, meta robots tags provide specific page-level instructions.

For instance, consider a temporary landing page that should not be indexed because of its transient nature. However, you still want search engines like Google to follow and crawl your website through internal links. In this case, you would use the “noindex, follow” directive.

Sometimes, a temporary page might gain attention from journalists or the media, especially if it’s part of a promotional campaign. Properly managing these directives is essential, and the approach often depends on the specific situation.

As a rule of thumb:

  1. If you want your page to appear in search results for an extended period, opt for “index.”
  2. If the links on the page are organic and not paid for, and you want search engines to follow them, use “follow.”
  3. If the page has temporary or low-value content, choose “noindex,” and consider applying the same “nofollow” directive to the links. If the links lead to temporary folders, paid partnerships, or partner companies, using “nofollow” in the meta robots tag simplifies the process compared to handling each link separately.

Schema Markup

Schema markup is a method of using code to convey information about a webpage’s content and the user experience it provides. It allows you to define various aspects, ranging from the geographical area where you offer a service and the nature of that service to specific details about a piece of art created by a well-known individual.

There exists schema markup for a wide range of information, such as hours of operation, ticket sales, reviews, recipes, and even videos found on a page—virtually anything you can think of. In cases where you don’t find a schema library directly related to your webpage’s content, you have the flexibility to use additional types and construct your schema to assist search engines in comprehending the nature of your content.

Schema warnings can be anxiety-inducing, but they don’t spell doom. Occasionally, certain recommended schema fields may not be applicable to your content. Nevertheless, it’s essential to address errors as they have the potential to impact your website’s performance.

While not every search engine may utilize all available schema types, you can access a comprehensive list of available schemas on

Enhancing SEO-Friendliness

Optimizing even a subset of these elements can yield improvements in search engine rankings. By incorporating the on-page SEO fundamentals outlined here, you position your webpages favorably for better organic visibility and a higher influx of qualified traffic to your site.

Original news from SearchEngineLand