Mostly likely, as a business owner, marketing or sales manager, you've heard of search engine optimization (SEO) and you understand it's significance if you want potential leads to find your website online.
But do you know the difference between off-page and on-page SEO? HubSpot states that, "75% of SEO is off-page and 25% is on-page."
We'll be discussing off-page in a future blog, for now, let's sort out how to increase organic rankings on Google with on-page SEO in HubSpot.
What is On-Page SEO
On-page SEO boils down to WHAT you rank for vs. off-page SEO that focuses on how HIGH you rank.
On-page SEO is basically all the elements of your website, ensuring it's performing at it's peak and goes well beyond just inserting keywords in your title and meta description.
This can include things like:
- Title Tags
- Meta Descriptions
- Headings Tags
- Usability & Design
- URL Strings
- Authoritative, Topic Focused Content
- Internal Links
- Optimize Images
- Mobile & Responsive
Now we'll go through each of these in more detail and show you exactly how to accomplish them in HubSpot.
Your title of your blog or webpage is super important for on-page SEO.
This is how your content is being view in search engines for both paid and organic results and the words that appear at the top of each tab in your browser.
The title tag essentially outlines what the page is about.
When Google ranks pages for certain search queries, they are looking at the title tag and comparing it to the content that proceeds it. This means, you need to not only insert your topic into the title, but your content needs to be highly relevant to your title.
Another factor to consider in the length of your title.
You want to keep your titles concise and short, as Google will display a title in full around 70 characters.
- Anything over 70 might be cut off and the exact number is unknown, so it's safe to just stay at 70 or below.
In HubSpot, your title tag lives on the 'settings' tab of your blog, landing or website page and it's the first field at the top. It also tells you your character length so you never have to worry if your title is too long.
The meta description is the next on-page SEO factor to make sure you are taking the time to write.
This tells users (and Google's crawlers) what they will find on the page.
Google's search engines crawl the meta descriptions and determine the audience that will find the page’s topic the most valuable.
A creative meta description that goes beyond just repeating the title of the page, can create a competitive advantage for your webpage or blog by increasing click-through-rate and potentially conversions.
You also need to take length into consideration for meta descriptions.
In 2016, Google extended the length of descriptions for both desktop up to 200 characters and mobile up to 172. To ensure your descriptions are fully shown for both, HubSpot recommends to stay around 155 characters.
- Clearly summarize what users will find on the page
- Add your brand name and a keyword
- Think about synonyms and other terms and phrases that will support your keyword with relevance and authority
- Include an offer or CTA to entice a click
By solidifying your title and meta tag strategy, you will increase traffic to your site. Once your clicks start increasing, this is where things like heading tags, user experience, and quality content can be additionally beneficial and encourage engagement.
In HubSpot, your meta description is also on the 'settings' tab of your blog post, landing or website page and is about half way down the page under 'tags' and above 'campaigns'. HubSpot again keeps track of the length here for you.
On-page SEO also includes your heading tags.
The number one thing to consider when using your heading tags is to only have ONE H1 header.
You can include as many H2 - H6 headers as you want, but you don't want to confuse Google's crawlers that are looking at your H1 to determine what topic to rank your page for.
The subsequential H2 - H6 headings then tell the reader what the various sections of the page are about. This is not only beneficial for SEO, but for usability and page structure as well.
Once you've determined that you only have one H1 header on the page, then you need to insert your main topic that you want to rank for.
- Some blogs and webpages automatically make the title an H1, you'll want to look at the HTML version of your page to confirm if this is true.
- Some SEO research states that its best practice to have your title and H1 be different, giving your page more context and variety.
In HubSpot, your title is not your H1 by default. You can make your first heading an H1, by clicking into the content editor and going up to the editing tool bar and selecting 'Heading 1' in the 'style' drop down menu.
Usability & Design
Your website's user experience and design will also have an impact towards on-page SEO.
A Search Engine Land article says according to a Googler, "site design impact on user experience, is a ranking factor equivalent to what John Mueller calls a soft ranking factor".
Apparently, soft factors help Google indirectly evaluate whether a site is popular or not. Then when your site is bookmarked, shared, and returned to, it tells Google you have a quality site and this can contribute to higher rankings.
As we just briefly mentioned above... headings and subheadings are beneficial for usability and page structure - as they help readers quickly scan a page to answer their questions. They also help to split up the page and make it look cleaner and easier to read.
HOT Tip: If you’re changing the subject use H2s, but if you are breaking down a subject further use an H3.
Again in HubSpot, you can easily change the heading sizes by clicking into the content editor, going up to the editing tool bar and selecting the heading size you'd like from the 'style' drop down menu. HubSpot's default heading tags range from H1 - H6.
URL strings and structure also effect your on-page SEO.
Google states that the URL of your page should be, "as simple as possible." Keeping them short, concise and containing the topic you want the page to rank for, without sounding forced with keywords, are some great strategies to keep in mind.
Ultimately, your URL should clearly outline the information on the page.
Length also plays a factor with your URLs.
Ahrefs found that shorter URLs rank better and they are also easier to share or embed creating a better user experience.
Fewer folders also seem to help with rankings and Rand Fishkin said more folders can “create a perception of depth for both engines and users, as well as making edits to the URL string considerably more complex.”
- Each word in your URL should be separated by a hyphen (-) and not an underscore (_).
- For pages with similar content, setting up 301 redirect or canonicalization tag to the stronger page avoids duplicate content and shows Google which page to rank.
In HubSpot, you will also create your URL on your 'settings' tab, directly below your title.
Authoritative, Topic Focused Content
Your blog, landing and website page content is the core of your on-page SEO.
As your page gets crawled by Google, the crawlers are looking to match your content with user intent, so your content should clearly explain the topic you are trying to rank for.
This topic, like we mentioned above, should not only be in your title, meta description, H1 heading and URL, but naturally spread throughout the body of your content as well.
In addition to having topic focused content, you want to establish some authority. A great way to do this, and have your content stand out from the competition online, is to make your content unique.
Are your readers going to be entertained or learn something? Or are they going to be bored and leave?
- Think of your content as having a conversation with your readers, speaking directly to them
- Develop valueable offers to entice readers to give you their email address or contact your company
- Use content to solve your reader's problems
Once you start solving people's problems, they will begin to look at your company as a thought leader in the industry and you will establish trust and then authority.
In HubSpot, as you write your blog, landing page or website page, the HubSpot SEO optimization tool will tell you if you have included your topic keyword or phrase enough times within the copy. Just head over to the black left side bar and click on the second icon from the top - an 'upward trending graph'. Then click on 'topics' and look under the section called 'page body has subtopic phrases'. If there is a green check mark, you are all good!
Internal links are links within your own website that link your content together. This benefits the user experience by making it easy for the reader to find related content on your site and ultimately helps to enhance SEO.
External links are links to and from your website from other quality websites, sources and businesses. The actual practice of earning external links (also called backlinks) is part of an off-page SEO strategy, so we'll focus on just internal linking in this blog.
The benefits of internal linking are:
- Improves usability through anchor texts
- Boosts page views
- Improves Google's SEO PageRank
- Improves length of time spent on site
- Helps to crawl and index
HubSpot makes it super easy for you to include links in your copy. Highlight the text you want to link in the content editor, then scroll up to the tool bar, and click on the 'insert link', chain icon. This will then populate a window where you can add both your internal and external links.
You can't discuss on-page SEO without addressing image alt text.
Adding alt text to every image on your website allows Google to not only crawl the image, but it gives you additional opportunities to add your topic keyword or phrase to the page.
Image alt text should describe what the image actually is, so choose images that are relevant to your topic and content so you can make the alt text natural.
Yoast says, “The image should reflect the topic of the post, or have illustrative purposes within the article.”
Images size also plays a huge role in on-page SEO, as large images can make your pages load slow.
HOT Tip: use the smallest possible size of an image to ensure your page loads fast.
In HubSpot, you can add alt text to your image by clicking on the image, click edit, and then type your Alt text in the appropriate field.
Mobile & Responsive
Another on-page SEO factor is mobile and responsive.
By making your website responsive you will not only provide a great mobile experience, but it will render correctly no matter what device is being used.
Google's 2015 Mobile Algorithm Update also aims to provide the best search results from mobile and you can use their Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to understand how a Googlebot is viewing your page and what you can do to fix it if needed.
HOT Tip: If you have your website on the HubSpot CMS or your use any of the HubSpot marketplace templates, your webpages will be automatically responsive and optimized for every device.
We saved speed for last, but it's one of the most important on-page SEO factors to get right.
No-one wants to wait more than a couple seconds to see your website page load. If this happens, most likely it will be closed and never returned to.
You can optimize your website's speed by:
- Leveraging Browser Caching
- Optimizing Images
- Using GZIP Compression
- Switching to Faster Hosting
- Cleaning Up HTML & CSS Coding
- Eliminating Ads
- Minimizing Redirects
In addition, to your images being small, you want to ensure your files are small too, as large files can also negatively effect your website speed and performance.
You can check your website's speed using various tools. Some useful ones from Google are:
- Google Analytics - you can look at your site speed under the “Behavior” tab in the left sidebar
- Google Page Speed Insights - get tips on how to improve your website's speed.
If you use the HubSpot CMS for your website, speed has been taken care of with the following items below. You can learn more about each of these in our blog, 'How to Boost Your Website's Technical SEO with HubSpot'.
- Automatic Image Compression and Optimization
- Combined CSS Files
- Page Caching
This concludes our discussion of HubSpot on-page SEO to improve your website's performance and start ranking higher on SERPs.
Stay tuned to learn everything you need to know about HubSpot SEO.
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