Helping Win Hearts & Minds on
the Battlefields of Online Media

On-page Optimization

    Pie Chart of Whitespark 2023 Local Search Ranking Factors--On-page: 27.5% Overall

    Whitespark:   Local Pack/Finder (19%)   Organic (36%)
    In SEO industry jargon, on-page means everything concerning your website itself, i.e., those things you have direct control over.

    We will audit/analyze your site from the perspective of search engines and write a report of recommendations. It'll include everything that's important to know about the site and what can/should be done with it. We'll also write or rewrite the title tags and meta-description tags of your most important pages.

    Because Google evaluates websites from the perspective of what is best for users, there should be a close correlation between optimizing a site for users and optimizing it for search engines. We oftentimes combine this project with a broader Website Best Practices evaluation.

    User Experience
    In an earlier section, we said that Google looks for relevancy, authority, user experience and location in determining rankings for local queries. Google looks to on-page signals for all four dimensions. But the website is the sole realm of user experience.

    Google is sophisticated at evaluating websites in terms of user experience, and is constantly adding new ranking criteria in this, and changing what criteria it values most and to what degree, based on consumers' needs and behavior. We've observed these changes for more than two decades. In April 2015, for example, Google made mobile usability an important ranking factor, and it continues to increase in importance because of consumer behavior. If your site is not in responsive design so that it's easily viewable and usable on all the different-size mobile phones and pads, then you're going to be penalized in the rankings.

    Other aspects of user experience include: Page speed, i.e., how fast the pages download? Is the site well organized and be easily navigated? Can it be viewed and used in all popular browsers? Does it have SSL encryption to make it safe for users to transmit information to you?

    Importance of Content
    Quality content is critical. There are many external factors that Google uses to gauge this, such as links, bookmarks and engagement metrics (e.g., do they click on your site in the SERP, and immediately hit the Back button?). But there are also many on-page factors. Google uses a special update to its algorithm called Panda, that combs websites looking for low-quality content.

    Fundamentally, you need to have word content on your pages in indexable HTML, if you want prospects to find them on SERPs.

    An often overlooked opportunity is how much user traffic you can get from infrequent and unique queries, but only IF you have a lot of good indexable content. In the days before search engines hid the keyword data, you could look at referrer data in your log file reports and see all these keywords that brought visitors to the site just one time in a month; cumulatively, these rare keywords added up to more traffic than that brought by the popular keywords.

    Yet, many businesses have sparse word content content, and oftentimes no word content on the homepage—the most important page. Clients have asked, We have the words in alt tags and other tags in the source code so search engines can see it—isn't that good enough?. Well, it's not the same thing. As we said at the top, Google is most interested in what the user sees and experiences!.

    The content also needs to be unique—not the same stuff that's on every page. Duplicate content has always been a major SEO, well before Panda. Oftentimes pages have such little unique content that they're overwhelmed by template items and source code that is the same on every other page.

    Location Signals & Negative Factors
    As we're talking about local SEO for location-based businesses, strong location signals need to be on the site. We'll evaluate if city and state and other location-related keywords are sufficiently used in the (header) tags, body text and alt tags, in addition to the title and meta-description tags. Your full NAP information should be on the site and in structured data markup.

    We'll also evaluate your site to see if any negative ranking factors are hurting your rankings. Problems with your NAP information—e.g., inconsistent with what can found off-page—is an example, as are duplicate content, keyword-stuffing, and even malware on the site that you may not be aware of.

    As we said upfront, SEO is not brain surgery, but it is complex because of the many factors involved, some of which are quite technical and obscure.

    Our audit is a one-time consultative project (though it should be conducted annually due to how quickly ranking factors change). Your webmaster or web developer can implement our recommendations. Or we can do so as a separate project.