Onpage SEO is still too poorly understood: here’s how to improve it


When talking about SEO, there are two broad pretty general categories — onpage SEO (also known as onsite SEO) and offpage (or offsite) SEO. Both onpage and offpage SEO are important and need to be part of your overall strategy, but onsite SEO tends to be less understood. Sometimes people conflate it with technical SEO, but the two aren’t the same.

What you need to know about onpage SEO

We’re going to cover some of the key things you need to know about onpage SEO, so you can improve your strategy, rankings, and visibility in the new year.

Comparing the Different Types of SEO

First, what is onpage SEO? Onsite or onpage SEO refers to optimizing your web pages for certain keywords to improve visibility in search engines and traffic. There are elements specific to your page that need to be part of an onsite SEO strategy including your headings and title tags, your content, and internal links with the appropriate keywords. As we mentioned, there are situations where we use the terms onsite and technical SEO interchangeably, but it can be better to separate these concepts.

Technical SEO includes things like page speed and site speed, as well as schema and site structure. Your technical optimization is more focused on your website in its entirety, and on-page optimization focuses more on particular pages and pieces of content. However, including technical SEO under the umbrella of on-page optimization is okay too.

Onpage SEO, if you really want to wrap things up in a neat package, is what your site or page is about. Offpage SEO, by contrast, assesses how popular your site is and how much of an authority it’s seen as being. What you rank for is determined by your on-page factors. How high you rank is driven mainly by off-page factors. While we do make a distinction between the technical elements of onpage SEO, we’ll still talk about them a bit below.

The Goal of Onpage SEO

While you might have many specific, smaller goals, your biggest goal of onpage SEO should be to help your audience and search engines to both understand what your page is about, identify that page as relevant to search queries, and find the page useful and worthy of ranking well on a search engine result page, also known as a SERP.

Keywords and Content

Keywords are not the only thing you need to think about with onpage SEO, and they’ve actually lost some of their relevance in recent years, at least as far as how we used to think of them which often led to unnatural keyword stuffing. Your content remains critically important. In the past, if your page was going to rank, it was dependent on using the right keywords at certain places on your site. User experience was not as crucial as ensuring Google was finding those keywords.

Now, Google’s search algorithms are increasingly sophisticated and growing more so by the day. Because of that, they can understand more of a page’s meaning from synonyms and context, as well as looking at specific combinations of words. Keyword still matters, but the idea of putting it throughout your content as an exact match isn’t something considered an SEO onpage best practice anymore. Relevance and user intent are two key terms to keep in mind here.

The real takeaway here is that it’s not so important how you place or repeat keywords, but more that when you create content, you do so with an understanding of how your users are and what they’re looking for. You want to create content fulfilling their needs. As such, content needs to be in-depth and user-friendly. It needs to be easy to navigate. Your content should be trustworthy and authoritative as well.


When you’re thinking about onpage SEO, metadata is especially relevant. Metadata is something that your development team might handle, but it’s good to have an overview. Most developers use an automated system to create meta titles for every page based on your page title. Your description metadata is text a browser might use in your pages’ search return.

You can automatically create meta descriptions, which need to be around two sentences and should alert search engine users what your page is about and should have a call-to-action. Your keyword metadata isn’t especially relevant to your search engine rankings, on the other hand.


The headers you’re using are a big part of your on-page SEO. Headings, including H1, H2, and H3 tags, help users read your content. It breaks up large chunks of text and guides them through what they’re reading in a logical, organized way. Multiple headers can help your users quickly not just find what they’re looking for but understand what they’re reading. Headers also help Google figure out what’s on your page.


The content on your pages drives essentially everything else that’s part of your onpage SEO. You want to make sure that you have a writer who understands SEO best practices and resonates with a human audience.

For example, in great, SEO-friendly, and similarly user-friendly content, you have compelling, clear introductions that introduce both your product and your solutions. Keep the sentences and paragraphs short. Write for your readers first and foremost, rather than for search engines. As you’re writing SEO content, you want to start from the perspective of user intent.

You’ll often see user intent broken into four general categories:

  • Informational, meaning users are looking for a particular piece of information
  • Navigational, which is when a user has a particular page in mind they want to find
  • Commercial, which is the research period before buying
  • Transactional, when users are active in the process of trying to buy something

You can figure out intent by considering the query. For example, if the query includes how or methods, that’s informational intent. Words like top or best tend to be more indicative of commercial intent.


These are just of the few things to keep in mind for onpage SEO when you’re creating content that ranks. Remember, if nothing else, to rank well in Google, you need to be providing value to readers and thinking about user intent.

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