15 of the Most Important On-Page SEO Tactics

SEO professional implementing on-page SEO factors on webpage.
If you could only choose 15 on-page SEO tactics, which would you choose?

In this article, I’ll share what I believe to be some of the most important on-page factors that you need to check off your SEO checklist for every single webpage on your site:

      1. Experience, expertise, authority, and trust
      2. Quality content
      3. Content freshness
      4. Readability
      5. Page experience
      6. Meta tags
      7. Heading tags
      8. Keyword optimization
      9. Image optimization
      10. Video
      11. Alt Text
      12. Schema
      13. Other structured data
      14. Links
      15. SEO insights

    FAQ: If you could only choose 15 on-page SEO tactics, which would you choose?

1. Experience, Expertise, Authority and Trust

If we’re paying attention to Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines (SQRG), we know that experience, expertise, authority and trust are essential to a quality website.

Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines table of contents.
Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines table of contents

Here are some things to consider:

Trustworthiness: Google wants to be sure that the webpage is accurate, honest, safe and reliable. That may look different for different types of websites (ecommerce versus informational) and different types of topics (like “your money or your life” topics).

Experience: This has to do with the first-hand experience about the page topic from the content creator. Google recognizes that experience is valuable to nearly any type of topic (think social media posts, forums discussions) but especially important for things like product reviews.

Expertise: Do you have the right level of skill or knowledge to speak intelligently on a topic? This is yet another key element in how Google assesses the quality of a webpage.

Authoritativeness: The authority factor takes into account the brand or the person’s reputation as a go-to resource. Often, this isn’t as serious as it sounds; in the SQRG, Google gives a couple examples such as “a local business profile page on social media may be the authoritative and trusted source for what is on sale now,” or “the official government page for getting a passport.”

This all boils down to the following questions:

Was your content created with the necessary experience and expertise needed for the topic? Is your website and brand an authority on the topic? Can people trust you?

For more, read:

2. Quality Content

Writing is an art and science, so there isn’t a definitive guide to what quality content is. But here are a few tips to consider. Do you:

  1. Answer the query better than your competition?
  2. Consider data from the search results like “People Also Ask” and “Searches related to” in addition to addressing common FAQs?
  3. Include original research, data, opinions and images?
  4. Fact-check and cite quality, relevant resources?
  5. Write with a high degree of accuracy when discussing “Your Money or Your Life” topics?

3. Content Freshness

Not all topics need to have fresh content to be quality (think a page on the American Civil War), but some queries deserve freshness and others need to be maintained to be relevant.

A webpage on the American Civil War from History.com.
A webpage on the American Civil War from History.com.

And remember that Google says in its SQRG that unmaintained sites are low quality:

… unmaintained/abandoned “old” websites or unmaintained and inaccurate/misleading content is a reason for a low Page Quality rating.

Everyone wants to create new content, but I recommend spending 50% of the time refreshing old content, too.

For more, read:

4. Readability

Would the target audience easily understand and relate to your content?

The grade level with which you write your content can make a difference. For example, a scientific topic may be written at a higher grade level than a topic about a hobby.

If you examine the search results, you will begin to see that certain queries create results that are written at a similar grade level.

If you have the right SEO tools (like our WordPress SEO plugin), you can easily see what the average grade level is among the top-ranked websites for a query.

Bruce Clay SEO WP plugin summary tab.
The summary tab in the Bruce Clay SEO WP plugin analyzes target readability scores.

For more, read:

5. Page Experience

Google’s “core web vitals” are elements of a webpage that provide a good user experience.

Core web vitals measure things like how fast the page renders, how responsive it is and ensures things like buttons and links don’t unexpectedly shift, causing someone to click on something they didn’t intend to.

Here’s an overview of the three core web vitals:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures how fast the largest image or text block renders on a webpage. Google recommends that it happens within the first 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.

First Input Delay (FID) measures interactivity – how quickly a webpage loads and executes so that the user can interact with the page. Google wants pages to have an FID of 100 milliseconds or less.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures visual stability on a webpage, and pages need to maintain a CLS of 0.1. or less.

Each of these core web vitals has specific thresholds that your webpages must meet at least 75% of the time.

Core web vitals are signals in Google’s page experience algorithm update. To stay competitive, website owners need to work on these technical factors.

For more, see:

6. Meta Tags

Meta tags may seem like a small thing in the grand scheme of SEO, but they serve an important role.

Screenshot of HTML code for BruceClay.com homepage.
Screenshot, HTML code for BruceClay.com homepage.

When done right, meta tags help:

  • Search engines determine the topic of your webpage
  • Drive clicks and organic search traffic
  • Avoid duplicate content issues

So what do you need to consider when it comes to these tags?

  • Always include an original title tag and meta description tag for every page.
  • Make sure the tags are properly configured in the head section of the page (it’s less likely this would be an issue when using a CMS).
  • Write compelling copy that informs a search engine user and entices them to click from the search results to your webpage.
  • Include the most important keyword(s) in the right order – but do not keyword stuff or make it sound unnatural.
  • Consider the length, taking into account best practices and also research that suggests title tags between 40 to 60 characters have the highest CTR.
  • Know that Google can and will rewrite titles and meta descriptions to make them more relevant, according to Google. This can be frustrating but remember that is only a rendering issue (what the user sees). The actual tag remains the same. Here is a possible solution to that if you want more control.

For more, read:

7. Heading Tags

The heading tags make up the “table of contents” for a webpage.

Heading tags help search engines and website visitors easily distinguish between a main section and the subsections on the page, and how those sections relate to one another.

Heading tags are categorized as H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, etc. H1 represents the title of the topic, and subsequent headings represent subsections.

Screenshot of heading tag on the HTML side of a webpage at BruceClay.com.
Screenshot, heading tag on the HTML side of a webpage at BruceClay.com.

Here are some tips:

  • The sequence of heading tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6) should be used in a hierarchy (think of it as an outline of a research paper).
  • An H1 heading tag always correlates to the main topic of the page.
  • I don’t recommend having more than one H1 tag on a page in most cases (definitely not on informational webpages, but maybe OK on main navigational pages in some cases).
  • Subsequent sections after the H1 default to an H2 tag.
  • You can have more than one H2 tag.
  • If an H2 section has subsections underneath that, they would start with H3 tag, and so on.
  • You can create subsections all the way to H6.

For more, see:

8. Keyword Optimization

Keyword optimization is one of those touchy subjects in SEO.

People either believe you should intentionally optimize a webpage or do nothing and let the content speak for itself.

I am a firm believer that the content is naturally optimized when you write it well, but that you can always tweak it with keywords to make improvements to relevancy.

Consider this scenario: A person searches on Google for a topic that you have written about on your website. Next, Google determines which webpages to serve in the search results.

Let’s also say that all else was equal between your webpage and your next competitor (meaning you both did all the right things well from an SEO perspective, and you both had quality content).

But you made sure the exact queries/keywords that the person used to search showed up on your page – and all the relevant related words as well – and your competition didn’t.

Do you think you might have a better chance of ranking on top than the competition?

I think so.

For more, read:

9. Image Optimization

Google wants to rank pages that have not only great text, but also great images. This represents more opportunities for more traffic.

Through the images on your webpage, people can find your site in a Google Images search, the traditional Google Search results, or Google Discover.

I recommend you read “How to Improve Google Image Search Ranking” for more details on 17 ways you can use images in your SEO, including:

  1. Track your image-based traffic
  2. Create high-quality, original content
  3. Use relevant images
  4. Have a proper file format
  5. Optimize your images
  6. Aways create alt text
  7. Make use of the image title
  8. Create an image caption
  9. Use a descriptive file name
  10. Implement structured data
  11. Consider image placement on the page
  12. Analyze the content around the image
  13. Be careful with embedded text
  14. Create page metadata
  15. Ensure fast load time
  16. Make sure images are accessible
  17. Create an image sitemap
Adding image details in WordPress.
Adding image details in WordPress.

10. Video

A large percentage of Google searches produce YouTube videos in the search results.

Searches for information that fall under the categories of how-to, tutorials, and reviews often trigger YouTube video results in Google.

Google Search results showing a “how-to” video in “position zero” for the query “how to tie a shoe.”
Google Search results showing a “how-to” video in “position zero” for the query “how to tie a shoe.”

In addition, YouTube is a search engine itself, and represents another way for people to find your content and your business.

So including video in your SEO program in most cases means you will create and optimize videos in YouTube.

Here’s a few things to know:

  • If you are targeting queries/keywords that often produce video results, make sure you have video for those queries as well.
  • Employ various YouTube SEO tactics to rank well in YouTube and the Google Search results.

But you should also put video content on key webpages of your own site, and this can be an embedded video that you created somewhere else, for example, from YouTube.

This is because videos on your webpages can help:

  • Further explain a concept to people who would rather watch than read
  • Keep people engaged on a page longer
  • Influence buying decisions

For more, read:

11. Alt Text

Alt text is a best practice, but it’s often overlooked and misunderstood. Google highlights the importance of alt text for the vision impaired, but it goes further than that.

Text Alternatives for Images, Web.Dev
Image credit: Text Alternatives for Images, Web.Dev.

The American with Disabilities Act says your site should be compliant for the visually impaired. And if you don’t have an accessible site, you could find yourself in court.

In 2021, a judge found Domino’s Pizza violated ADA, Title III, by having a website that was not usable by the plaintiff – a blind man.

Other organizations are pushing for web accessibility, too. The W3C Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) is working to develop guidelines and resources to help make the Web accessible to people with disabilities.

Does alt text influence rankings? This has been a debatable point. But regardless of what side you are on, being a good web citizen means making your site accessible – at least doing the bare minimum.

12. Schema

Structured data markup using Schema.org guidelines clarifies to the search engine what a page is about, and also enhances listings in the search results, which can lead to more clicks.

Restaurant type at Schema.org.
Restaurant type at Schema.org.

This can be a bit technical, so many website publishers opt out. However, for the less techy bunch, Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper can be of assistance.

For more, read:

13. Other Structured Data

This category of on-page optimization is all about how you format the information on a page.

Content formatting can enhance the user experience and help search engines better understand the content. This includes things like:

  • Table of contents at the top (especially with anchor links)
  • TL;DR (“too long, didn’t read”) summary near the top of your article
  • Headings that contain a key term or question, followed by the answer in body text
  • Breadcrumb navigation
  • HTML tables
  • Bulleted lists
  • Ordered lists

14. Links

When it comes to page links, you want to consider the following:

Make sure they are fully qualified. An absolute link is a link that contains the whole URL of the file you are linking to. A relative link is only part of a full URL. There are arguments for and against both. While absolute links may take more work upfront, they are easier to maintain in the long run.

Make sure they are optimized. Make sure URLs on the page are descriptive and contain keywords.

Make sure you are virtual siloing. SEO siloing is a way to organize your website content through links based on the way people search for your site’s topics and can make your content more relevant for a search. For more, check out: SEO Siloing: What, Why, How.

Make sure you mind your outbound links. Your outbound links impact user experience and SEO. On the user experience side, the sites you link to can provide value to your website visitors. On the SEO front, if you link to quality sites in your field, then search engines may deem your site higher quality by association (and the opposite can be true when linking to low-quality or spammy sites). For more, see: What Are Outbound Links? Why Are They Important? And How Do They Work?

15. SEO Insights

OK, so this one is technically not an on-page “factor.”

But without the right SEO tools to help you uncover how to optimize your pages to meet or exceed what the competition is doing, you’re largely shooting in the dark.

One tool I must recommend is our Single Page Analyzer from the SEOToolSet®. This tool allows you to analyze a webpage (your competitor’s or your own) to uncover key SEO data.

Single Page Analyzer tool from the Bruce Clay SEOToolSet.
Single Page Analyzer tool from the Bruce Clay SEOToolSet.

People use the tool to:

  • Better the meta tags on a page
  • Adjust the reading level of the content
  • Improve keyword density
  • Find optimization opportunities
  • Further research the competition

For more, read:

So there you have it: My list of 15 of the most impactful SEO factors when optimizing webpages. Do these right and you have a better chance of ranking on page one of the search results out of millions of results.

Our SEO experts can help you implement these on-page SEO factors to improve your website performance and win more traffic. Reach out to us for a free consultation.

FAQ: If you could only choose 15 on-page SEO tactics, which would you choose?

  1. Experience, Expertise, Authority, and Trust (E-E-A-T): Align your content with your expertise and showcase authority in your industry. Building trust with users and search engines is paramount for ranking success.
  2. Quality Content: Create valuable, engaging, and original content that addresses users’ needs and queries better than your competitors. Incorporate relevant data and research to support your claims.
  3. Content Freshness: While not all topics require constant updates, regularly refreshing your content shows search engines that your website is up-to-date and relevant.
  4. Readability: Write in a clear and concise manner, catering to your target audience’s reading level. A user-friendly, easily digestible format enhances the user experience.
  5. Page Experience: Prioritize user experience by focusing on Core Web Vitals, ensuring your pages load fast, and avoiding unexpected layout shifts.
  6. Meta Tags: Craft compelling and accurate meta titles and descriptions that entice users to click through to your website from search results.
  7. Heading Tags: Organize your content using proper heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to create a logical structure that search engines can understand.
  8. Keyword Optimization: Integrate relevant keywords naturally throughout your content to improve relevancy for search queries.
  9. Image Optimization: Optimize images with descriptive alt text and proper file names to improve accessibility and enhance the user experience.
  10. Video: Utilize video content to engage users, provide valuable information, and potentially rank in both traditional search results and YouTube searches.
  11. Schema: Implement structured data markup using Schema.org guidelines to provide context to search engines and enhance your listings in search results.
  12. Other Structured Data: Use content formatting techniques like tables, TL;DR summaries, and breadcrumb navigation to improve user experience and content understanding.
  13. Links: Optimize internal and external links for relevancy and descriptive anchor text. Virtual siloing can improve content organization and boost relevance for specific searches.
  14. Alt Text: Provide informative alt text for images, not only for visually impaired users but also to enhance search engine understanding of your content.
  15. SEO Insights: Use reliable SEO tools to gain valuable insights into your webpage’s performance and identify optimization opportunities for better search rankings.

Mastering these 15 on-page SEO tactics will empower you to create a strong foundation for your website’s search engine visibility. By combining technical expertise with user-focused content, you can significantly improve your chances of ranking higher in search results and attracting valuable organic traffic.

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay Inc., a global digital marketing firm providing search engine optimization, pay-per-click, social media marketing, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with him on LinkedIn or through the BruceClay.com website.

See Bruce's author page for links to connect on social media.

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2 Replies to “15 of the Most Important On-Page SEO Tactics”

It’s great to have all these valuable tips in one place for easy reference and implementation. Thank you for sharing this comprehensive guide that will undoubtedly help businesses and website owners take their on-page SEO efforts to the next level!

A very helpful post – I really like to be reminded about things in this post – thanks :-)


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