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Onpage Optimization

  • Brief summary
  • Detailed summary
  • Reasons for onpage Optimization
  • Important onpage optimization elements
    • Keywords
    • Meta tags
    • HTML tags
    • Content
    • Links
    • URL and redirects
    • Loading times
    • Website structure
  • Analysis of onpage optimization
  • Conclusion


Onpage Optimization: Brief Summary

Onpage optimization is a part of search engine optimization (SEO). It describes the measures website operators can apply on their own website to make their pages easy to find and as usable and readable as possible for search engines and users alike.

Graphic with Onpage Optimization headline

What is Onpage Optimization: Detailed Summary

With onpage optimization, all elements affecting search engine optimization can be restructured, and website operators can carry out this optimization on their own web pages. This ensures that a page is optimally designed for search engines and readers. Onpage optimization can be roughly subdivided into technical, content and structural aspects, and thus might concern, for example, website links, text enhancement or redirects.

The main aim of onpage optimization is to achieve the best possible search engine ranking.

In contrast to onsite optimization, onpage optimization refers only to the improvement of a single page, not an entire domain. In addition, it also sets itself apart from off-page optimization, which includes measures that are largely controlled by elements outside the optimized page.

Reasons for Onpage Optimization

Google evaluates millions of websites and compares them according to certain guidelines. So the search engine tries to find the pages most relevant to each topic in order to supply users with the best matching results for their search.

As part of the onpage optimization process, website operators put signals on each page that indicate to Google:

  • What relevance that specific page has.
  • How it relates to other pages in that domain.

The better a page is optimized, the higher the chances are that it will gain a good ranking in Google SERPs.

Important Elements of Onpage Optimization

Many factors play a role in onpage optimization. However, Google and others rarely make any official announcements about these elements. SEO experts therefore need to deduce the majority of such ranking factors by an ongoing process of testing, logical conclusions and personal assessments. Which measures have a strong impact, and how this is achieved, is only partially predictable in both onpage, and off-page, optimization.

Google takes into account the following factors (among others):


One key element is keywords that should be present at various points. The search engine crawls the content on a page and ranks the site according to the words and phrases it finds that are associated with a certain topic. The website is then displayed to match users’ search queries in line with these findings.

Using the right words, website operators can show a search engine what they want to be found. Keywords, semantically related terms and synonyms should not only occur in the content but also all the right places. SEO Experts believe that, for example, a keyword in the headline is more important than one placed in the middle of a paragraph.

The precise density or frequency of keywords to be used is unknown, and information and advice about optimum keyword densities has changed again and again. Many experts now believe that there is actually no strictly defined percentage. In addition, there are always new ideas about keyword density, such as the WDF * IDF formula, which are redefining the proper use of keywords.

Meta Tags

Meta tags are tags in the HTML code that tell the search engine about specific website properties. Webmasters can use the code to define when Google and others should bypass a certain page or to signal what a particular page communicates. Here are some important meta tags:

  • The title tag (in the header): designates a page and is typically used as a heading in search results. Here, for example, are the most important keywords that indicate the contents of the page to the user.
  • The meta description tag: describes the contents of a page and often acts as a teaser in search engine listings.
  • (IMG) Title: designates an image and makes its contents easily understood by Google and can also be used as a link.
  • (IMG) Alt: describes the contents of a picture and where it will appear and also details when, for example, the image cannot be loaded.
  • Robots: these can determine, for example, whether or not a search engine can search and/or index a website.
  • Canonical: can define pages with the same content to indicate to the search engine which pages should not be crawled.

Not all meta tags are observed by the search engine, and some carry a lot of weight while others will have less impact on rankings.


Search engines prefer well-structured content, and HTML tags can be used to organise and structure text, video and images. For example, many SEO experts believe that keywords marked by certain tags are recognized as important by search engines. These include, for example, headline tags like H1 or H2 as well as ordered (<ol>) and unordered lists (<ul>).


The content of a web page includes, for example, text, images, videos and infographics. Unique, timely and high-quality content influences various ranking factors and is the key to optimum customer satisfaction. Good content increases the length of stay on a page and reduces the SERP return and bounce rates.

Google may penalize duplicate content as well as content replicated across different pages with a negative rating. This causes the search engine extra crawl effort, which doesn’t benefit the reader; therefore, unique content should not be neglected.

There are different ways of posting quality content. In addition to a blog, and the regular appearance of articles or tutorials, website operators can also create content such as videos or infographics. Furthermore, well-crafted e-books or whitepapers can provide the reader with help, advice and entertainment and then also positively influence important ranking factors.


Links includes all the website’s internal and external links – those links connecting to other websites are predominantly the concern of off-page optimization. However internal page links are considered an important factor in onpage SEO.

The better structured and interconnected the individual website pages are, the better a user can move through the pages – a property that search engines evaluate positively.

Links can be placed in different positions, and this placement probably also has an impact on how the search engine classifies links. So links in the main page navigation could be more important than links in the footer.

Often, the functioning of links in search engine optimization can be explained by the so-called link juice concept. Every website has its own individual weight or strength and a certain amount of link juice. This power is defined by various factors such as its number of inbound links. A site’s link juice can to an extent be further enhanced or diminished by outgoing internal and external links. So the more links that exist on a site, the more link juice can potentially flow from this site and other sites to provide enrichment. Therefore, a backlink to a strong site is more valuable than a backlink to a site with little link juice.

URL and Redirects

The URL of a page may have an impact on the search engine ranking. Many SEO experts consider URL keywords to be an important ranking factor. Google’s Matt Cutts has also suggested that the length of an Internet address could have an impact on its ranking.

Loading Times

The average speed at which a web page loads can have an impact on its ranking. For instance, the speed at which a website initializes is a Google ranking factor. The search engine assumes that users will leave a site very quickly if they have to wait too long before it has (completely) loaded. This is especially so with mobile devices where Internet connections can often be slow or unstable.

Website operators can track the loading times of their pages not only in Google Analytics but also via free test tools like Page Speed. This tool evaluates page loadinging times on a scale from 0 to 100 and also identifies places where the page can be optimized.

Website Structure

A good page structure shows the search engine that your website is user-friendly. This means, for example, that each subpage can be reached with a minimal number of clicks, which confirms that the site navigation has been carefully designed.

Search engines cannot crawl, or at least experience problems trying to crawl, pages using certain programming languages, file types or page elements. For instance, Google has repeatedly had problems reading AJAX applications in the past, meaning that pages were not (fully) crawled and/or indexed.

Website operators should set up a page so that search engines can have the easiest possible access. This includes, for example, granting appropriate rights in the page’s robots.txt file as well as creating a sitemap to facilitate search-engine indexing.

Analysis of Onpage Optimization

According to Google, site operators should be guided in their search engine optimization simply by what is helpful for the user. Even if that is an accurate reflection of its primary intention, Google still has over 200 ranking factors to assess a page. Certain tools can help website operators to keep track of their website pages and decide which small adjustments will improve their onpage optimization.

These programs include paid software such as Searchmetrics. These tools provide a very wide range of functions and therefore allow in-depth analysis. They employ their own database to help correctly determine keywords and rankings.

In addition, webmasters can use Google Analytics to retrieve useful information about their website and thus deduce the necessary steps for proper onpage optimization.


With the correct onpage optimization, webmasters can ensure their site is found by search engines. Unlike off-page optimization, successful onpage optimization depends entirely on factors located within that particular site. These factors can be broadly divided into technical, content and structural issues. Site operators can use various tools to analyze pages and target the optimization of individual elements. Onpage optimization is a sub-sector of SEO and an important means of increasing website traffic.


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