On-Site SEO for Beginners: How to Optimize Your Site to Rank on Google

If you're like many business owners, you've put a lot of work into producing content for your website. You heard that starting a blog and answering customer questions is a great way to get visitors to your website.

The question is, why aren't you ranking on the first page of Google?

You need to optimize your content if you want Google to understand and rank it. The good news is that optimizing your website to rank isn't too difficult. Keep reading to learn what on-site SEO is and how you can use it to get more search engine traffic.

What Is On-Site SEO?

Optimizing your website for SEO wasn't always hard. All you had to do is add your keyword to your content, and Google would reward you with rankings. Today, it takes a lot more work.

On-Site SEO is the process of optimizing your website content to boost your ranking on search engines. Now that Google is better at understanding content, it can factor in more information when it ranks websites. Google will consider your content, backend code, and website architecture when making a decision.

How Can You Optimize Your Website?

Now the question is, what are the things you can do to get your website to the first page of Google. While nobody knows everything Google considers when ranking websites, some patterns show us the most important things to optimize.

Keep reading to learn what those things are.

Optimize Meta-Information

Your title and description are the first things Google searchers see about your website. They use it to determine if your content will answer the question they have. The question is, how does Google know what information to show its users?

Your meta-information is what helps Google understand your content. Without your meta-information, Google has to guess the information that you want searchers to see. You need to optimize these tags if you want the right information to show up.

The first tag to pay attention to is your meta-title. Your title is the blue link shown on the search results. Include your primary keyword at least one and use the rest of your headline to let searchers know what they can expect when visiting your site.

The other important tag you need to optimize is your meta-description. Like the title, make sure you include your keyword. Use the rest of your description to convince searchers that you have the best answer for their question.

Use Structured Markup

Have you ever wondered how Google knows what images and text to grab to display in search results? Structured markup helps that happen.

Structured markup is HTML markup that helps Google better understand your content. You can use it to add images, star ratings, and extra-information to the search pages. The good thing about this is that every little bit of content you add to your search results improves your chances of getting a click.

Structured markup can also help with more than adding content to your search result. If you do a lot of searching on Google, you probably noticed that they include instant answers at the beginning of many searches. Your markup will help Google find the answer to those questions and give you a shortcut to the number one spot on Google.

Figure Out Search Intent

Google wants its users to find the information they're looking for. You might be able to get away with fooling search engines for a while with SEO tricks. However, Google can see when people bounce from your page when they don't find answers.

That's why it's essential to match your website content topics to what people want to find. There are a few common types of search intent you need to be aware of.


An informational query is one where the user has no interest in buying a product. These searchers typically don't want to find pages that try to sell products. They want to find solutions to their problems.

Of course, this doesn't mean that you can't sell to these people. Use your informational posts to answer questions people have. You can suggest products your business sells as a way to start your visitors down the sales cycle.


Someone using commercial search terms knows they need to purchase a product. It's the step someone takes before they take out their credit card.

Your commercial posts should inform the searcher about their options and convince them that your choice is the right answer. These posts should drive your visitors to the final part of the buying cycle.


A transactional searcher already has most of the information they need. These searchers are looking for specific products to buy. Your pages should provide searchers a way to take that action.

Keep in mind that these people are already primed to buy, so you won't need to do much education. Convince them that your solution is better than the rest of their options.

Focus on Multiple Keywords

If you've looked into keyword research before, you know the educational material's common theme is to pick a focus keyword for your articles. This is an excellent first step to doing your keyword research. However, it doesn't stop there.

Google doesn't want to see websites that have a bunch of articles that target similar keywords. It leads to repetitive content that adds no value for searchers.

If you want to step up your keyword research game, you'll need to build your articles based on keyword clusters.

A keyword cluster is a group of keywords that form the basis of a single topic. Your goal is to create an authoritative source for a subject. Doing this means long posts that cover every angle of an issue.

These posts rank better over time compared to short articles with only one keyword focus. Even if you don't rank your posts for high-search volume keywords, you'll end up ranking for secondary keywords. Your search traffic from these terms is often far more than your primary keyword will give you on its own.

Design for Mobile

You can't get away with designing for only desktop computers anymore. More than 50% of all internet traffic now comes from smartphones and other internet-enabled devices. If your website doesn't show up correctly on smaller screens, you'll turn off a lot of your visitors.

On top of that, Google is planning to begin using its Core Web Vitals algorithm as part of its ranking factor. A poor experience will lead to worse rankings when this happens.

One of the best ways to cater to people with small screens is to use a responsive design. These designs work by calculating the size of your visitors' screens and modifying the website layout to fit those screens.

Of course, it's tough to break your site down into pieces if you've already created a desktop design. It's a much easier process to create your website design for mobile-first.

Adding design elements to your website is much easier than removing them. Doing a mobile-first will save you time and money on development.

Improve Your Page Speed

Just like you can't expect a mobile user to render a desktop website design on their devices, you can't always count on them to have a reliable internet connection at all times. This is a problem when your site has a large file size and takes too long to download. When you only have a few seconds to grab someone's attention on the internet, that's time you can't afford to waste.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to improve the performance of your website.

Optimize Your Images

The internet doesn't only use text to build websites anymore. A lot of websites have moved to image-heavy formats that use great visuals to capture attention. The problem is that unoptimized images are large and can bog down an otherwise great website.

If you want to reduce your image file sizes, you'll need to run them through an optimization program. A lossless image optimization program will handle this task. It will strip out the unnecessary parts of images without reducing image quality.

If you run software like WordPress, there are plugins available to handle this automatically. Download one for yourself and let it do the job. If you don't have that option, you'll need to download a desktop application or use another web service.

Lazy-Load Images

Optimizing your images won't solve all your issues. If your pages have a lot of visual elements, your visitors still have to download everything. The good news is that they don't have to download everything all at once.

When you lazy-load your images, web browsers will only download images that people immediately see as soon as they load your site. This reduces the initial download size for people who have slow connections. Your other images will download as needed when people start scrolling down your pages.

Use Caching

Most websites today use database-driven websites. Whether it's WordPress or another content management system, these platforms provide a better webmaster experience.

The problem with this is that it makes your site dynamic. Your site makes database calls every time someone visits your site. This process will reduce your page response time.

Caching is the process of creating static copies of web pages that don't often change. This means your visitors won't need to wait for your pages to make database calls.

Most popular content platforms have plugins available to handle this. Install one of these plugins on your site, and caching will be handled automatically.

Another popular option is to use a content delivery network (CDN). A CDN is another web server that hosts a copy of your web pages. Instead of relying on your webserver to deliver your site content, your visitor will download your website files from a CDN server closer to their location.

Make Your Website Crawlable

Your website structure plays just as much of a role in your Google ranking as your regular content. If you want all your pages to rank, Google needs to find them first. Unfortunately, Google bots only have a limited amount of time to crawl your website.

Google assigns a crawl budget to each of your websites. If you have a ton of pages with a complicated structure, Google might not have enough time to crawl all your pages and rank them. That's why it's essential to format your site structure to reduce the number of clicks it takes to find each page.

Ideally, it should take no more than three clicks to get to any page on your site. This is a flat site structure, and it ensures everyone can easily access every page on your site.

The next step is to avoid orphan pages. Big sites can get out of hand quickly, leading to some pages having little to no links to them. It would take a miracle for a user to find them, and the Google bots are no different.

The last big problem with crawlability is duplicate content. When Google finds multiple pages with the same or similar text, how are the bots supposed to figure out which version is most important?

Look through your site to find any content that repeats itself. The most common culprit for this is category pages that have post descriptions. Noindex these pages, so Google knows that you don't want those pages in search results.

Likewise, if you have pages similar to each other, see what you can do to combine those pages. No-index your old page and use a higher ranking page to post higher-quality content.

Use Internal Links

Site structure isn't the only way Google learns about your site. Search engine bots follow every link you have in your website content. That's why internal links are a great way to help Google learn what your essential website pages are.

That isn't the only significant benefit, either. Internal links help keep your visitors on your site longer. Since Google wants people to find the information they're looking for, increasing your visitors' time on site is a great way to show that people find value from your site.

Internal links are also a great way to pass page authority. If you have high-powered backlinks that point to important pages, you don't want that link juice to stop at that page. Internal links help your page authority flow down to lower-power pages to help them rank better.

Don't Wait to Invest in On-Site SEO

You might get lucky and rank on the first page in Google for a few of your pages. Unfortunately, that's typically the exception and not the rule. Invest in improving your on-site SEO strategy so you can take advantage of all the traffic Google has to offer.

Do you need help optimizing your website for higher rankings? Get in touch today to get started.

Copyright © 2021