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On-Page SEO Guide To Rank On The First Page – 2020 Edition

On-Page SEO

What is On-Page SEO?

On-Page SEO is a search engine optimization technique to help search engine bots understand, what your page is all about. By tweaking and optimizing features like Meta title, description, Heading tags, Internal links, you could increase the chances of achieving a higher rank in search engines.

When it comes to optimizing a website or a blog post, there are two main factors at play:

  1. On-page optimization
  2. Off-page optimization

Off page optimization deals with optimization of signals which are outside your website. For example Backlinks.

Today’s article will focus on on-page optimization, and I will be sharing lots of good on-page SEO techniques you should implement while working on optimizing your blog posts.

Best On-page SEO tools:

There are a few popular On-page SEO tools out there that will help you analyze the top 10 results for your query.

Some of these tools will also compare your page with the top pages and give you data backed up recommendations for improving the on-page SEO.

Here is the list of tools:

  1. SEMRush SEO writing assistant
  2. Frase (AI based tool)

Using any one of these On-page SEO tools will ensure that you are using the Search data to optimize your article for modern on-page SEO requirements. They are easy to use and could be used by you or your team of writers.

This is something I have been extensively using and that’s how you have found my website in Google search.

Now, let’s not confuse on-page SEO-optimization with onsite SEO-optimization.

  • On-site SEO refers to the optimization of the entire website with things like Sitemap and setting permalink structures.
  • On-page SEO optimizes content for a target keyword within a single blog post. This includes using proper headings, proper keyword placement, ensuring content quality, and paying attention to many other factors.

Why Do You Need On-Page SEO Optimization?

Now, when some SEO’s hear the term “SEO-optimized articles”, they think this is some kind of bad practice.

But it’s not only bad, but it is necessary.

Here is some food for thought:

  • Why are you not ranking on the first page of search results?

Well, there are likely a lot of reasons, but if you aren’t paying attention to SEO, then that’s probably the biggest reason.

So when we do SEO-optimization of a post, we follow a certain set of proven methods to rank it higher on a search engine.

Now, Google doesn’t only consider on-page SEO score when ranking an article. It also takes into account many other factors like social media signals (shares, likes, tweets, follows, etc.), backlinks, domain authority, and many other off-page metrics.

Our goal with on-page SEO is to optimize an article in a natural, but smart way, so that search engines can easily pick out the target keyword and bring our website targeted visitors.

Before you read more, I assume you know about keyword research and how to find keywords to target. If not, check out these posts:

A lot has changed over the past several years. While off-page SEO is important, on-page SEO should not be neglected.

In particular, the golden rule still applies:

  • Content is king.

One thing which I would recommend you start doing is adding in videos to your blog posts.

Videos will not only increase the amount of media on your posts, it will also make your posts that much more informative and content-rich.

You’ll see an example of what I’m talking about in a minute.

11 On-Page SEO Techniques For Better Ranking in 2020

Before I share some specific tricks, here are a few non-technical things that you can incorporate today:

  1. Improve the user experience.
  2. Ensure that readers coming from search engines spend a lot of time on your site. If they hit the back button quickly, your ranking will drop quickly too.
  3. Create good content.

So now I’ll share with you the 10 on-page optimization factors you should keep in mind while optimizing your blog posts.

1. Meta Title

This is the most important on-page SEO factor. The reason for this is because the more attractive and optimized your title is, the more people will click. And in general, the more clicks your post gets, the higher it will rank.

You should try to use the targeted keyword or Keyword phrase toward the beginning of the title (H1) tag, but if that’s not possible, make sure it’s atleast in the title.

You should also not repeat the same keyword more than once in the title tag because you think it will help the article rank higher. It won’t. It could actually hurt your ranking. Don’t do it.

And keep the title length to under 65 characters.

For more on how to write a great title, check out:

2. Post Permalink Structure

Making sure your URL is displayed correctly is an important on-page metric. Again, you should use your target keyword in the URL, and avoid using special characters, symbols, brackets, commas, etc. within the actual URL.

Use dashes to differentiate the strings in your URL structure. These are called “pretty” permalinks and are supported by most web browsers.

Example of a good permalink:

  • https://www.domain.com/post-title-separated-with-dashes

For more on permalinks, check out:

3. Use Proper Heading Tags

You should use heading tags to highlight various headings, sub-headings, and important points.

In WordPress, the title tag is set at H1. You don’t really need to use any more H1 tags anywhere in the article. One is enough. For section breaks, stick to H2 and H3 tags.

Also, don’t use too many H2 or H3 tags as Google’s algorithms won’t like that.

Learn: Heading Tags SEO: Tips for using heading tags correctly

Here is what Google’s Matt Cutts has to say about repeating heading tags:

If you are using WordPress, you can click on content structure at the top to see if you are using proper heading tags or not.

4. Use Table of content

As it has become important to write a detailed article, and some time the articles are as long as 5000+ words.

By using a table of content, you could help users to navigate your long article better, but it also helps you to earn jump links in Google search.

I have explained about this earlier in this video

5. Keyword Density

You should keep the keyword density around 1.5% percent with a mix of LSI keywords. But as Matt Cutts explains in the video below, there is no real magic formula. My recommendation is to use semantically related words to help the search engines understand more about your content.

Use your main keyword once in the first paragraph and again in the last paragraph. And use it in the content where it makes sense.

Check out:

6. Meta Tags

You should add a unique and relevant meta description with each blog post.

Again, you should use your use targeted keyword in the meta description. I have seen a lot of SEO’s advocate that meta description is not a ranking factor which I believe is not correct. I have seen a great co-relation with optimized meta descriptions and ranking.

While search engines pick up on keywords, it’s also important for users to click on the post. You need to write user-friendly meta descriptions that make sense and are related to your post.

With regards to meta keywords, Google has made it clear that they don’t care about them. But some search engines, like Bing, may still care a little.

Here is the official statement from Google regarding meta keywords:

7. Images with Alt text + Meaningful name

Image optimization does help a lot in driving traffic from image searches.

Keywords in the “image title” and the “alt text” help to make your blog post more focused and targeted.

Make sure you give a meaningful name to image before uploading. And, after adding an image to a WordPress page or an article, add alt text.

Adding Alt text for On page SEO
Adding Alt text for On page SEO

Another advantage of using images are:

Images create engagement.

And the more engaged a user is, the more likely they’ll stick around, thus increasing your overall rank.

But there’s one very important point to note.

Large images will slow down your site, and having a slow loading site will decrease your Google rank. So it’s very important to:

For more about how to speed up your site, check out:

7. Word Count Per Post

Blog posts that don’t have a lot of words typically don’t perform well on search engines. That’s because they’re usually seen as being “less informative”.

Of course, there are exceptions, but for a general information-based blog, creating posts with at least 1300 words is the new standard.  

However, there is a way by which you can find the idle word limit for an article, and this video helps you understand that:

It’s always better to be well-researched and overly informative than it is to not provide enough information. This is especially true if you’re targeting highly competitive keywords.

Here is how the find idle word length for perfect ON page SEO:

  • Head over to SEMRush
  • Create an account, click on SEO content template (Left sidebar)

Enter your target Keyword, and location for which you want to optimize.

Now, on the next page, you will find the idle word limit for your target keyword, like this:

It also shows other data like “Semantically related words” and “Readability” of top 10 search results.

This is the best way to find the word limit for an article that you trying to rank for.

Suggestion: Analyze other posts for your target keyword and see how many words they have. 

You can use the below mentioned On-page SEO tools to analyze the top 10 search results for your target keyword.

While there is no “official” count, longer posts tend to rank better because there is typically more information there. For instance, this post is over 2,800 words.

For more on writing informative content, check out:

8. Add Schema

This is underutilized On page SEO technique that you can use to outrank your competitors. By adding Schema (Structured data), you help the search engine understand more about your content.

For example, having your phone number and email address in the footer is definitely valuable for your visitors but the search engine might not make sense of it.

By utilizing schema, you giving context to its relevance.

A simple example is the star ratings (review) you see in the search engine. See example below:

Schema can be used for blog articles as well as on a business website.

For WordPress, you can use WP Product review or Schema Pro plugin which let you quickly add the following schema types:

If you are not using WordPress, then use this tool to generate Schema markup and add it manually on pages of your website.

FAQ schema is one of the newest schema types, and it could help you improve your content ranking by a great extent.

I have made this video to help you understand everything about implementing FAQ schema type for improving On page SEO:

9. Internal Linking

Interlinking of blog posts will help your blog readers spend more time on your blog, and it will also help pass page rank to other pages of your site.

When interlinking, try to use a keyword as the anchor text, but be very careful not to overdo it.

Internal links that are relevant to the original post show search engines that you are providing extra information beyond what is being displayed in the content.

A good combination of anchor text + internal link, will help on passing link juice from one page to another.

There are a few popular internal link plugins available for WordPress.

Here at ShoutMeLoud, I use the Linkwhisper plugin for managing internal links.

Watch this video to understand how to configure this:

But make sure your interlinking is relevant and necessary.

Read:

10. External Linking

Apart from linking to your own blog posts, it is a great idea to link out to external websites as well. Again, only do this if the information on the external website is relevant to the information in your post.

While linking out to external websites, you should link to trusted websites only. And if you have doubts about the authority or popularity of a website, you can use a nofollow tag to avoid passing your link juice to potentially bad sites.

You should use dofollow links for trusted websites and nofollow links for those that are less trustworthy.

But somewhere authoritative like Wikipedia, or CNN, or a major player in your niche, will not only be trustworthy, they’ll likely have relevant content that your readers will love.

This will make your site appear more credible.

Read: How Outbound links improve SEO

11. Write Engaging Content

You should write engaging content. Period.

If you’re trying to get by with low-quality content and “trick” search engines, you will surely fail.

Your post should be a complete manual for that keyword. You should learn how to engage your audience in a way that works for them. Try asking your readers questions and answering them. Understand what they want to read, and then write that.

If you are unable to write engaging content, people will not spend much time on your blog, your bounce rate will increase, and your rankings will plummet.

For more on creating great content, check out:

On-Page SEO Checklist for 2020:

Here is a checklist you can use to make sure you are doing everything possible to rank higher in search engines.

Keyword placement Tips:

  • Keyword in the title.
  • Keyword in the permalink.
  • Keyword in the first 100 words.
  • Keyword in the image alt tag.
  • Use LSI keywords in the body (use SEMRush to find related keywords).
  • Use LSI keyword in H2 or H3.

On-Page SEO Ranking Factors 2020:

  • Remove all stop words from permalink.
  • Add multimedia (video, slides, infographics).
  • Find idle word limit using the On-Page SEO tools mentioned above.
  • Optimize images before uploading (compress and resize).
  • Optimize page load speed.
  • Create a meta title of fewer than 65 characters.
  • Create a meta description of fewer than 158 characters. (This is a new meta description limit for 2020)
  • Internal links to related articles.
  • Outbound links to relevant high-quality sites.
  • Use Breadcrumbs
  • Use FAQ Schema

Other things not mentioned here:

  • Make sure to add an image for Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Make sure to have social sharing buttons either at the end or floating on the site of your post.
  • Have related posts after each post to lower down the bounce rate.

Things not to do:

Things to focus on:

  • Use your keyword in the post title.
  • Use long-tail keywords.
  • Content length: It should be based on research. Analyze the word length of the top 10 results for your query and create content with the same or more words than the top 3 results average.
  • At the end of the blog post, ask users to take action.

How To Do Proper On-Page SEO of any Articles

So these are 10 tips that will help make your on-page SEO much better and more likely to rank on search engines.

But it’s important to remember:

You can’t trick the search engine for long.

Recommended read: How To Write SEO Friendly Content

The things that rank the highest are the things that are the most informative, the most engaging, and the most useful.

So strive to create content that readers love, and search engines will love you too.

Here are FAQ related to On-Page SEO:

How to Optimize a page for SEO?

The very first step is to know for which keyword you want your page to be optimized. From here, you can use the above-mentioned checklist or use a tool like SEO writing assistant or Frase to optimize a page for SEO.

How to do On-Page SEO in WordPress?

WordPress offers many useful SEO plugins for Onpage optimization. Two most popular one is:
1. Yoast SEO (Free)
2. SEO Writing Assistant (Paid)

What are your tips for optimizing blog posts? Share them with me in the comments below!

Like this guide? Don’t forget to share it!

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Authored By
A Blogger, Author and a speaker! Harsh Agrawal is recognized as a leader in digital marketing and FinTech space. Fountainhead of ShoutMeLoud, and a Speaker at ASW, Hero Mindmine, Inorbit, IBM, India blockchain summit. Also, an award-winning blogger.

250 thoughts on “On-Page SEO Guide To Rank On The First Page – 2020 Edition”

  1. Hello, Anil. This content is highly researched and well written. You have mentioned some Actionable On Page SEO Techniques. Great article.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Regards,
    Prakhar.

  2. i have used you said techniques in my website, before doing the techniques my website don’t viewed in google serp, but now my website showing in google. thanks for this wonderful articles. awaiting for upcoming articles

  3. Hey Anil, your post is awesome and very interesting and useful for bloggers specially newbies. I’ll personally applied these tips on my blogs and getting better result. Thanks bro!

  4. Village Machaan

    It’s really very good on-site seo strategy explained in your blog post.. I used you on-page techniques and it’s very helpful for my website and improve in my website ranking in search engine.

    keep up the good work !

    Thanks !

  5. I have been doing SEO for quite some time. But this articles has given some really great keynotes which are going to produce better search engine result for my website. Have missed few on Page SEO tactics, implementing them step by step right away. thanks for Sharing it.

  6. Wow Harsh !! An awesome guideline on On-Page SEO. Great tips to help you
    get better ranking in Google SERP. While the ratio of on-page to off-page SEO differ based on the keyword, the site, the age, trust & authority of the pages or collective pages within a website; the bottom line is,SEO requires a balance of the two. So offpage factors is as important as onpage SEO.

  7. Hi Anil,

    I’m an SEO amateur (but hopefully a quality-copy writer) and this info is really helpful to me. You’ve just given me a big job to go back to my blog and edit it with all of the ideas above. Thanks! Glad I found you.

  8. Hi Anilagrwal,
    Nice post, canonical tagging and other taggings are also there as per the requirement. And proper internal linking with complete On-Page SEO itself will give good results of Keyword rankings in Google Search Engines. Thanks for the post.

  9. Hii
    I really enjoyed reading your article about on-page SEO tactics. I think that many on page tactics are same as of the previous years. The new things here are content advertising/marketing and outbound links to some trusted and authorized sites.
    Thank For Publishing
    Keep It Up ??

  10. Well explained post brother !! hats off to your hard work and your internal linking is very good , i have to say that i have opened nearly 15 tabs on my browser while reading this post

  11. One of the best articles I have read this year on this topic. But, following every step is not that easy as written here. i believe if one can follow around 60% of the detailed instructions perfectly, that will bring a huge outcome to rank his keyword or site.

  12. I have been following your blog for a long time. Great content as always. I have followed your advice and implemented on my blog. Result? now I rank for some of the keywords on SERP within 2-3 months of blogging. Thanks, Harsh.

  13. Very interesting article and most of it was important this year still. I think in 2018 video and dynamic content will rule the world of seo.

    User signals are going to be more important then ever.

  14. Well explained post brother !! hats off to your hard work and your internal linking is very good , i have to say that i have opened nearly 15 tabs on my browser while reading this post

  15. Hey Anilagarwal,

    It’s rare to find such a comprehensive post, on on-page SEO. Do you consider seo has become more difficult than it was seven years ago? There is huge competition now, and it’s very hard to rank without a good domain authority and back links, and I have a question about On Image optimization, if we use seven images in the article can we add focus keyword to every image. Is that a good practice or it will come under keyword stuffing?
    Thanks for such a highly insightful article.

  16. Great post, Anil. Having a beautiful, well-structured and user-friendly website is not good enough to generate traffic to the website.
    SEO itself has so many different techniques through which you can increase traffic of website, these techniques have been divided into two which includes on-page SEO and off-page SEO. You have explain all the points which should be cover under on page and off page SEO but Structured data and rich snippet also important for our site for well user experience and understandable for crawler also.

  17. Gajanan Patel

    Excellent Post, Sir

    A strong SEO strategy is highly necessary to increase the visibility and the rank of any website. While most people focus on building on-page SEO, off-page SEO is important as well.

    It is necessary that a website has enough backlinks. But those backlinks need to come from good sources so as to maintain the sanctity of the website. I also agree with your point regarding social media.

    But, What do you think about strong social media presence also helps in link-building?

  18. This post is really amazing. I spent about 1 or 2 hours on the Internet for Best On-Page SEO strategy but did not get any posts so that I can be satisfied that this is the best strategy for search engine optimization.

    But after reading this post, it really looks like that I can rank my website well on Google.

  19. Harsh, thanks for all the great tips. One question, when linking out to authority sites from your site do you make those links ‘follow’ or ‘no-follow’?

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