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

On-Page SEO
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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.

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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.

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

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

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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:

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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:

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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. That’s a masterpiece article on ONPAGE SEO. Made a short notes of it …and will bookmark it for future reference.

  2. Jacqueline Brown

    Hii
    These tips are good. But can you tell me how can I improve my SEO after FRED Update of Google. My site is affected in a negative way out of this.

  3. To appear on the first page of google you need some high quality backlinks and after that do some SEO edit on ur site. coz ur Onsite SEO is not going to work if you got high competition on google.

    1. Yeah u r right but we our first priority is to make our web site according to Google rules ..if we make backlinks before on page that links can hit our site..

      1. Yes, Definitely. But to get googles trust to be appear on first page you need to make some high quality backlink, that not means everytime to make links from sponsored post, by contribution or guest post, even sometimes the backlinks from some forums work great for some niche or you can say for a specific page. It’s a complete chapter on itself to do the analysis of your competitord and make links accordingly with some anchor text ratio if you are about to rank a keyword. But overall if you are on a product niche then definitely go for making such sponsored and contribution links from high DA sites and the forum and do-follow comment links are really not going to work for you.
        All th best

  4. Very useful article. I just don’t agree with the “content is king” rule. It’s a great starting point for sure, but you also need to know how to promote your content and get it out there. A lot of website owners think that great content is all they need because of the above-mentioned rule. The thing they need to do is reach new audiences and make sure that the traffic they get converts to subscribers and customers.

  5. Much appreciated Anil for this supportive Post, as I am a learner in blogging heaps of things I have learned from this post, trust in future you will refresh more accommodating Article.

  6. Hello Anil

    This is a great resource, well written with useful insights. On Page optimization is the beginning of your SEO efforts. Sometimes on page optimization is all you need to do to start getting some organic traffic. If you get on page SEO wrong it will be harder to get good results even if you do off page SEO. Thanks

  7. it answers almost everything about SEO.

    Thanks!

    I’m just confused about meta-tags. How do I make good use of it?

  8. Put keyword in first paragraph it’s common sense but in the last paragraph does not make sense. With HTML structure which is very complex and sometimes have a lot of comments it’s too difficult for the programmer to analyze the keyword placement.

  9. Great article.
    But I would like to mention one point that was not mentioned in this post.

    That is – Blog Post Tags.

    By this, I mean the Tags (entered for every post on the side column) that help in searching the post on our blogs.

    I don’t know whether that carries any significance. But It might carry some weight os an indirect SEO.

  10. Hi,
    My self Matt from Engage online. I want one help regarding yoast seo.
    In my site, i have installed it but in “focus on keywords” option I want to set up more keywords. how can i fix it??

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      Hey Matt,

      Thank you for dropping buy. For multiple focus keyword option, you will need to upgrade your yoast SEO to a premium account.

      1. Here’s something I’ve wondered for some time now. If I move to multiple keywords, would that open the door to offering more H2’s?

        Per your previous comment Harsh:
        “These are no thumb rule for this as different marketers do it differently. I have seen people using up to 4-5 H2 tags. However, I use & recommend using only 1 or maximum 2.”

        Your previous comment denoted 1 or 2 h2 tags for on page SEO best practices.

        Would increasing the keywords increase your header amount? I’m new to this but testing it variably all around my WordPress sites.

        Also, really loving this site, will be back tomorrow for sure!

        Do you have a formula you like to follow? Or stick with the 1 or 2 method? I assume that would increase the number of header 3’s for me? If I were to roll that update out..

        Your advice is appreciated, thank you.

        1. @Devlop
          There is definitely a formula/blueprint but its hard to put it on paper for now. It usually depends upon the article length & structure you are creating. The first focus is to create a proper structure of H1, H2, h3 & then look for placing the keyword strategically. At times, it’s ok to not have H3 or move h2 to h3 to have keyword in your H2 tags. Its not complicated but its just practice that would help you get it right.

  11. Kanchan Chatterjee

    Hi Anil,
    You are right! All the things you shared very helpful.
    If I promote my blog post with Facebook paid promotion, is there any issues for SEO Ranking?

  12. From a long time i have a doubt and asked on comment section of other post, but it was not came up or may be you just ignored !
    How many H2 are advised for a post have 2000 words?

    1. Harsh Agrawal

      @Gouri
      These are no thumb rule for this as different marketers do it differently. I have seen people using up to 4-5 H2 tags..However I use & recommend using only 1 or maximum 2.

      1. Thank you Harsh, for your reply. Previously i used 1-2 H2 tag as you said, but i found it wasn’t worked for me. And after that i analysed my competitor and accordingly i used 7-10 h2 tags for 3000-4000 word count article. But still had a doubt about it. That’s why asked you. Anyway thank you for your answer.

    2. Lokesh Tanwar

      There is no problem in using many H2 tags. It will just depend on the structure of the article. You can even use 15 H2 tags if you have good and relevant information for each sub-headings. According to me if there are 300 words in particular heading then it means it has relevant and detailed information. SEO won’t get affected in this case.
      If der is any sub-sub heading then u can use H2, H3 and other tags also. Heading tags are mainly designed to help Google to understand the flow of your article and hence indirectly affect the SEO. Even Forbes use 5-15 tags.
      Hope now ur doubt is clear.

      1. Hello. Read you content . Its very good. Can you please help me with little more knowledge on backlinks building activities. Like what kind of activities we should do in 2019. Does backlink creations helps in website ranking. Please find little time to comment.

        Thanks

  13. Hi Sir, These are the good techniques how to get rank your website on first page. But please sir, can you tell me how to get traffic from different techniques on my website 500 to 1000 visitor’s a day.

  14. HarnishDesign

    Thank You for great tricks. I will follow all the above mentioned steps whenever I publish my next post.

  15. Odira Ndubuisi

    Great post and useful information for on-page SEO optimization. Definitely on page optimization counts in ranking but from my experience, the most important of all ranking is site authority.

  16. Muhammad Hashim Nisar

    Greeting!
    You’ve great brain 😀
    Really i’m so happy today i’m working in a software house as seo expert i can say that i’s only because of you and your articles
    Stay Blessed 🙂

  17. Munna Hossain

    Hi, Anil.
    You have done a great job here. You are one of my favorite bloggers. Thanks for such an informative and important article. I think On Page SEO is the key factor to rank in Google. It is more important than off page SEO. We must focus on it. It is possible to rank on Google if you can write perfectly on page SEO optimized article. I have really enjoyed your article and learned a lot form you.

  18. This is a Germain topic for successful blogging and the earlier the art is learnt, the better.

    I’ve updated my knowledge of on-site SEO optimization.

    It is highly important to write compelling content( that’s top priority) on the one hand, and doing the right SEO -practice is essential on the other hand.

    Thank you for this informative post.

  19. Joseph Chikeleze

    Wow, I feel relaxed after reading this post.

    It’s informative and concise. I must appreciate you for this post sir.

    This is best SEO guide for me, this made my day

    Do have a nice day, Harsh.

    Regards

  20. Nice content. I was able to do several drastic changes on my site. Wow… got boost in search presence. Thanks for sharing.

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