Onpage-SEO: The most important ranking factors

Good rankings start with the content of a website, the most important of all onpage factors. But that's not all: structural elements and internal links also play a decisive role. In this article we summarize the most important factors of Onpage-SEO.

Search engine optimization has always been based on two pillars: Offpage and Onpage SEO. As the name suggests, Onpage-SEO contains all internal factors of the website. They start with the content of the website, lead over the page structure and internal links up to meta tags. Whoever deals with the topic discovers unused potential when visiting almost every website. This article gives a first insight into the topic.

Onpage-SEO: The perfect ranking in five steps

1. Content: The Heart of Good Search Engine Optimization

The heart of good search engine optimization is the content of a website. This previously lost focus of many site operators was sharpened in 2011 by the Panda update. However, it is still unclear what constitutes truly good content. Moz's SEO experts have this to say about this: "From an SEO perspective, good content always fulfils two things. It can be linked and meets a demand". Against this background, the following applies: Always deliver significantly better content than any other site operator and meet a concrete demand. The rankings then often come all by themselves.

Those who hide their pictures and texts behind a paywall risk relevance in the search engines. The content may meet a demand under certain circumstances, but can only be viewed by selected users. They are therefore not "linkable". The perfect counterexample is provided by the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. It has earned a reputation for working out almost every topic in good quality. Its texts therefore meet a concrete demand from users. Since every Wikipedia entry is openly accessible, it can also be linked. Two reasons why Wikipedia is regularly at the top of search engine results.

Anyone who understands this meta-perspective will come quite a bit closer to high-quality content and good rankings. Onpage-SEO, however, is primarily driven by clear ranking factors. Thus, on the content level, a focus on certain keywords is important. Let's take Wikipedia as an example once again: It provides searchers with an all-round summary of information about certain terms or persons, such as Steve Jobs. The individual website is clearly structured. It provides information about the childhood, youth and career of the Apple founder, lists well-known quotations and awards, and closes with the corresponding source references. This comprehensive overview justifies why Wikipedia comes first for the search term "Steve Jobs".

The decisive factor is the focus on one or a few search terms that ideally fulfil a specific search intention. A website therefore answers questions, offers services or sells products: The main thing is that it does 100 percent justice to at least one search intention. This does not always require a classic Wikipedia-style all-round cover. Google is increasingly moving to dividing the search results into "clusters". Each listed website fulfils a specific search intention, i.e. it meets specific questions or requirements. Whoever can fill one of these clusters in the best possible way has a good chance of achieving first-class rankings. "Does that sound like work? Right, the IST work," writes Eric Kubitz from Contentmanufaktur Gmbh. And indeed, so it is: If you want to harvest, you have to sow (learn).

The ranking factors at a glance

2. Multimedia: Photos and Videos

Only additional content such as photos and videos form the optimal overall package. Unfortunately, search engines have trouble reading the content of these elements. Therefore, site operators have to intervene in a supportive way. This is relatively easy with images: The file name should contain the most important keywords, as well as the description of the image content via alt text. A suitable caption with a clear reference to the corresponding keyword is also decisive. If you use WordPress, you can use SEO plugins like "SEO Friendly Images" and "WP Smush.it".

The optimization of videos is somewhat more complicated. If the focus is on a video, it can be worthwhile to provide a summary or transcription. If you upload your videos to platforms such as YouTube, you should also consider its internal ranking factors.

The ranking factors at a glance

3. Page Structure: The Basics for Onpage-SEO

Structural ranking factors are essential to let search engines like Google know which keywords are the focus of a website. These include mentioning the main and secondary keywords in headings (H1 - H6) and the introductory paragraph. In addition, it makes sense to include further mentions in the course of the text, also in the form of synonyms. However, a certain keyword density is irrelevant. Such specifications are a thing of the past. However, those who are just starting out do not have to concern themselves with the new magic formula "WDF*P*IDF" either.

The focus on the visitor is much more helpful here again. Never write headlines only for search engines, but always for the user as well. Structure texts according to their content. Use bold or italic letters, use lists or tables.

Another lever on page level are "Breadcrumbs". They do not belong to the classic ranking factors, but serve both visitors and search engines. Following the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel, breadcrumbs refer to the hints at the top of the page that explain the navigation path to the visitors of a website. There could be something like: "Home > Category XY > Topic XY". This is especially helpful when visitors enter a subpage. In this way, they can quickly see where they are within a website.

The ranking factors at a glance

4. META TAGS: Optimize your Snippet

The basics are given: the content is ready, has been extended by photos or videos and structured in a meaningful way. Now it's time to make the most of any rankings in the search results. Important for this is a keyword-optimized URL, a keyword-optimized title and a description that is not only keyword-optimized but also click strong. The bold keywords attract attention in the search results. An activating description should also encourage searchers to click. After all, what is the point of good rankings if the click rate is not right?

Further tools to increase the click rate are so-called "rich snippets". By means of certain awards, page operators can provide the search engines with additional information.

The ranking factors at a glance

5. internal links: Use all content, guide the user

Back to the content level of a website. Once enough articles have been published, it is time to optimise the internal linking - both at article and website level. At article level, site operators should (semi-)automatically alert their visitors to relevant articles, usually with a short list at the end of the article. For WordPress there are again several SEO plugins to choose from. Also within texts it is necessary to link suitable articles as far as it makes sense, ideally with the suitable keyword as anchor text.

Equally useful: The combination of topic-related articles on category pages. The relevant keywords can be automatically linked within articles via suitable plug-ins, WordPress users can again use various plug-ins to help them. It is often helpful to combine information from several articles on one landing page. Users thus have a central point of contact and can click through to individual articles if they are interested, so don't forget the link. Those who offer real added value can also dominate more competitive search terms in this way. In particular, article series unfold their full potential in this way and permanently send qualified users.

The ranking factors at a glance