7 Starter SEO steps: Step 3 – On-page factors

The SEO Journey - Step 3: On-page factors

7 Starter SEO steps for beginners and new websites

Step 3: On-page SEO

Written by: Tarquin Lessing . 03 November 2020

Now that you have the basic structure from Step 2 as well as your keyword spreadsheet from Step 1, you are ready for the final piece in your initial planning phase. The on-page SEO considerations.  If you have not been following since the start, click on the step 1 & 2 links above to get yourself up to speed.  After you have done that, come back here and continue your journey.


What is meant by on-page SEO factors?

On-page SEO factors are the fundamental elements you can add or expand upon for your website to make them easier found, and more likely clicked on, by users after search query result is received.

The elements to consider, which I will be going over with you in this step are:

  • valuable page content
  • page titling
  • Meta information
  • SEO friendly structure & design 


Valuable page content 

Due to the sheer volume of indexed pages and options available on the web, the engines had to move away from the method which they first employed of being nothing more than a directory listing of sorts, to now serving up the most relevant answer and content to the users’ search query (in the engines mind at least).


It is for this reason that if you want to have success on the web, you need content which gives the user a reason to visit your site and thus, a reason for the engines to place you in a top 3  or even a first place position.


Merely echoing content which can be found on a number of sites will most likely not give you stellar results at all. You need to either find aspects which set you apart from the competitor and focus on highlighting these in your content, or supplying the website user with a great experience (UX) with a unique drawcard or reason to visit your site.

Think of ways in which you can make your user’s journey easier, or even what you can offer them to make the  online experience more pleasant. It is about satisfying the user and getting them to engage with your website, as this will lead to more clicks, which leads to greater search listing

With that in mind, let us now get started: 


Good site structure leads to better search results, as simple as that. This is partly due to the fact that by structuring your site in a logical manner, you make it easier for Google to crawl, understand and grab those nuances we spoke about in the previous step that set you apart from your online competition.


Great site structure leads to a great user experience (UX), which is gold in the terms of your search goals. User engagement is an important ranking signal for Google and as such by making your website easy to navigate and the information pleasant to digest, the user will be more engrossed by your content.

So let us now start the process.


Take your keyword list which you have generated in Step 1, and divide the primary and secondary keywords which you have grouped together among the content pages which you have planned out in Step2.


What you should aim for is one target primary keyword per page, which has a number of secondary and synonyms attached to it.


The reason for having one keyword (or keyword term) per page is to help you focus your site pages to search intent. Having numerous pages which use one primary keyword could give the engine a hard time in deciding which page to serve for a query, and thus see your site as not the best option or non-authoritative to resolve the search user’s challenge. You do not want this. Remember your top page will act as the guiding ‘pillar’ for your site, and thus links to all pages.


Now craft the content of each page using the keyword list which you generated in a natural sounding language using your various key phrase variations. During this step you do not have to worry about the search engine, but your user. Just make sure that you stick to your keyword guides, use variation and a natural tone to attract the user and get their attention.


It is quite important to make you main point, using your primary keyword close to the beginning of every page, in the first introduction paragraph if possible. Remember….sound natural.


For each page you create, you will create 1 x primary header (an H1 header) at the top of the page which must contain the main focus keyword or keyphrase of that page.

The other content on your pages will be broken up with secondary headers (H2 & H3) variety headers. 


Do not be concerned if you do not use all your secondary key phrases or terms, you will have plenty of time to test these when you do your first ranking checks and need to tweak pages.


A picture is worth a thousand words

The statement above rings no more true than in the case of your SEO goals. A Graphic element on your page is able to have 2 very important functions.


Firstly, when used sparingly and in balance, graphical elements can greatly add to the user experience of your website. Graphic elements are also able to contain alt text to further your SEO query goals. Alt text is a tiny bit of generated text which is attached to all picture elements on your site, and is by default usually the filename, and not very meaningful.


Alt text gets used for screens which cannot generate graphics (such as old cell technology or first sight impaired users , who are guided around the web by text and not image clicks. It is greatly important to not exclude these users from your website experience, and alt text goes a long way to help. 


Secondly alt text is an excellent place where you can add an extra keyword phrase or synonym to your content, and can be great for increasing the long-tail reach and understanding.


If you plan to use images on your website, especially large hero images, it is very important to correctly optimize your images to the smallest file size, yet keeping balance with the best visual quality. You can do this using most graphics packages, or through your wordpress interface , using a plugin such as ‘Smush’ 


Page Titles

Now that you have an idea or your page content and H1 and H2 structure, its time to craft your page title.


Now , the page title which you craft is quite important as this is the first section you see in the search engine result which you can click and thus carries one of the most important places in the SERP real-estate.


Thbe page title on the SERP
The positioning of the title element on the SERP


Place your proposed primary keyword / keyphrase as close to the beginning of the title as possible. You are only allowed 57 characters in the title space with which to achieve your click goal (this is dependent on various device resolutions). For this reason, place your most important core keyword or phrase at the start of the title, with other information following.


While the engines will likely cut your title off at 57 characters, you can still use more than this, it will just not display and be useless to attracting the user. You may get an SEO advantage out of this, however guard against being too long and keep you important phrase at the front.


A good format to try stick to for titles is:

<main keyword / keyphrase> | <Company Name>


Devise a title for each page in your site and add this to your spreadsheet document. 


Meta information

The metra information (or meta description) is essentially the descriptive text below the title element which you worked on previously. After your title, this is THE best place to try and convince the user to click. You see this information paragraph just below the title in the SERP listing.


Using your spreadsheet as a reference, craft a single paragraph with punchy wording to motivate the user click. Use your primary keyword in the beginning of this description or allude to the core idea of the page. And then use the rest of the character allotment to convey the rest of your message. Keep this total description length within the allowed limit of 160 characters.


The meta description as well as title information often gets rewritten by Google (for titles as much as 70% of the time!) if it is under the impression that you have not supplied the best core subject matter in your title. So it is vitally important that you take care to correctly , and succinctly, convey your message, else you run the risk of losing control over your description element. 


Log your chosen meta description with your title for each page in your created SEO spreadsheet.


SEO-friendly layout

The last point in this step is where you bring the above elements together and ensure your page layout adheres to the correct structure and contains all the necessary elements for you page to be found when a user types a search query. 

Ensure that you have a primary (and secondary, if needed ) header for each page in your site.


The structure of your page will always be natural and start with a keyworded H1 header. You will then divide the various sections with H2 headers, and should it be required, further break the H2 sections down with H3 headers.  Look at the graphic below to get an idea of the structure of this.

header structure of your page
Example header structure of your page

Next it is important to start each page with a core paragraph of text which can be bolded for emphasis. Again, this will contain a variation of your core page keyword close to the start.


For large blocks of text, consider breaking the eye-strain this causes to the user with bulleted text. Bullet points are much easier to digest and also loved by the search results as they are usually quite core focussed.

Final thoughts

The factors mentioned in this post are not an exhaustive rundown of all on -page elements, however these are the factors that if followed properly, will give you the best starter SEO results.


The elements we looked at are also those which you will want to tweak in order to adjust your search position once you have your website setup and start doing ranking checks to see where your ranking position for your keyword lies.


SEO is not a sprint, and most likely quite a bit of tweaking will be needed to these elements once your site starts its operation and you do your first test rankings. Level your expectations, and realise that you will not achieve every SEO goal in an instant, but it will take a focussed approach over time, to anchor your site in the terms you want to be found for.  


Lastly, remember that while we are trying to make good gains in our organic rank for the search engines, our primary content target must always be aimed at the user and enhancing their experience.


The next step in this series will be putting it all together.  We will implement the SEO elements from the last three  posts on your wordpress or HTML site as well as start the registration process of getting your site indexed on the World Wide Web search engine.


How has your SEO experience being going? Are you having any major pitfalls or challenges with your keywording and content process? Let me know in the comments below.


Come back and bookmark my blog for more great knowledge to enable you to go from an SEO beginner to a complete SEO winner. Stick around and follow me on my Facebook page or bookmark this Blog. If you would like to chat more about SEO and how I can help your website, please contact me at info@seou.co.za


About the Author:

Tarquin Lessing has been a SEO professional for more than 20 years and operates under the banner of ‘The Search Engine ou’. He started his online journey with the world of BBS and text-based browsing in 1993, with his formal industry SEO experience beginning in 1997. While working on optimization and submission for websites when the likes of Yahoo, Infoseek and Hotbot where the search crazes of the day, he started his love and passion for internet search.

The search landscape was soon dominated by Google’s search experience, which he embraced and became Google Search & Adwords certified. His experience in SEO over this long period has strengthened his base knowledge and has the experience to catapult new sites to success, fix older sites with SEO challenges as well as delve into deeper online marketing, search statistical analyses and pay-per-click strategies. 

Tarquin can be contacted at info@seou.co.za for any consultation, PPC & online marketing or advanced SEO work.