We recently conducted a series of interviews with candidates for a new role at Digital Hothouse. There were various stages to the interview, but in the final sit down, we had a series of questions that we asked all the candidates. One of those questions was “What do you think are the most important SEO factors as we head into 2024?”
Whilst we did get a variety of answers from the candidates, the most common response was “on-page”.
There is no doubt that on-page SEO factors are a crucial part of any successful SEO strategy, however, we needed our candidates to go into more depth so we could get a better understanding of how they would prioritise any on-page SEO activity.
This got us thinking about the key on-page SEO factors that businesses need to include in their strategy as we head into 2024 and that led us to writing this post.
What is on-page SEO?
When Google ranks webpages, they look at a variety of on-page factors to determine how that page should rank and how it should be presented in the search results pages.
Getting these on-page factors right should be a core foundation of any successful SEO strategy and can lead to higher rankings, increased visibility, and more organic traffic to your website – all key metrics when creating an SEO strategy.
Whilst there are many on-page SEO factors to consider, we have prioritised the top ten to focus on in 2024. Let’s take a look at how these on-page factors can help you to rank better in 2024.
1. Title Tags
Title tags hold a significant role in SEO, as they’re the first thing users see on the search engine results pages (SERPs).
An effective title tag should briefly and accurately describe the content of the webpage, enticing users to click through. Moreover, title tags are crucial for search engines. Google, Bing, and other search engines use title tags as a major factor in their algorithm to understand the content of a page, affecting its ranking in the SERPs.
As we head into 2024, the importance of well-crafted title tags cannot be overstated. Not only should they incorporate relevant keywords, but they also need to engage the user and stand out amongst the competition. Therefore, investing time and effort into creating precise and appealing title tags should be a high-priority task in your on-page SEO strategy.
Read more: Title Tag Best Practices for SEO
2. Header Tags
Header tags, ranging from H1 to H6, are fundamental elements of on-page SEO. They provide a hierarchical structure to your content, making it easier for both the users and search engines to navigate and understand the webpage.
The H1 tag typically serves as the title or headline of your content and should include your primary target keyword. The subsequent tags (H2-H6) are utilised for subheadings and to segment the content into readable and digestible sections.
Search engines like Google scan these header tags to gain a more detailed understanding of your page’s content and context. Moreover, incorporating relevant keywords into your header tags can improve your visibility in the SERPs and attract more organic traffic. As we move into 2024, it’s vital to ensure that your header tags are effectively optimised with the right keywords and structured properly, as they can significantly influence your SEO performance.
3. Meta Descriptions
The Meta Description is another crucial element of on-page SEO. Although it does not directly influence your website’s ranking in the SERPs, it plays a significant role in attracting users to click on your link. A meta description is a brief summary (usually up to 160 characters) that appears under the title in search engine results, providing users with a snapshot of what your page content entails.
In 2024, with the growing competition, crafting a compelling and keyword-rich meta description is increasingly important. It serves as your “sales pitch” in the SERPs and can significantly affect your click-through rates. A well-optimised meta description should incorporate relevant keywords that match the user’s search query, thereby increasing the chances of your site being noticed and clicked upon in the crowded search results.
Additionally, a good meta description can also improve the user experience, as it helps users quickly determine if your page contains the information they’re looking for. Therefore, taking time to write and optimise your meta descriptions can have a significant impact on your website’s overall SEO performance and user engagement levels, making it an essential task in your on-page SEO strategy as we head into 2024 and beyond.
It should be noted that even the best-crafted meta descriptions will often be changed by Google to something they feel best represents the content on the page. Don’t let this put you off writing unique descriptions for each page – it remains an important part of any on-page SEO activity.
Read more: How SEO Can Future-Proof Your Brand
Images play a critical role in enhancing the overall user experience on a webpage. They make your content more appealing and easier to digest, thus capturing and maintaining the user’s interest. However, beyond aesthetics, images provide an excellent opportunity for better ranking in search engine results.
When it comes to SEO, three key elements of images should be optimised: alt tags, captions, and image sizing.
Alt tags, short for alternative text, are descriptive attributes attached to images. They are crucial as they provide context to search engines about the image content, helping them understand and index it appropriately. This is particularly important for users who rely on screen readers due to visual impairments. In such cases, the alt text provides a description of the image, offering a complete browsing experience.
Captions, on the other hand, are readable text that accompanies images, providing users with additional context and supporting content. While not a direct ranking factor, captions can boost user engagement and time on page, indirectly influencing SEO.
Lastly, image sizing plays a significant role in page load times. Larger images can slow down your site, creating a poor user experience and negatively impacting your SEO. As such, it’s crucial to balance image quality and file size to ensure fast load times without compromising visual appeal.
In conclusion, while images enhance the visual appeal of your web content, their importance in SEO should not be underestimated. By optimising alt tags, captions, and image sizing, you can improve both your site’s accessibility and its performance in search engine rankings.
Read more: Our Go-To Guide For Improved Rankings
5. Internal Links
Internal links are hyperlinks that direct to another page on the same website. They are a key element in on-page SEO, contributing significantly to both navigation and site architecture. Internal links direct users and search engine crawlers to other relevant pages on your website, improving the user experience and enabling crawlers to understand the hierarchy and relationship of your website’s content.
From a user perspective, internal links can guide users to related content, keeping them engaged with your website for longer periods. This not only increases the chances of conversions but also sends positive signals to search engines about the relevance and usefulness of your content.
From an SEO perspective, internal linking helps distribute link equity across your website, a factor that search engines consider when ranking web pages. By strategically linking to high-value pages, you can enhance their visibility and ranking potential.
However, internal linking should be done thoughtfully, focusing on providing value rather than simply increasing the number of links. Links should be relevant, offer context, and enhance the overall narrative of your content. Overuse of internal links, particularly if they are not relevant to the content, can be seen as spammy and may negatively impact your SEO.
Internal links also provide you with the opportunity to optimise the anchor linking text, optimising for keywords that you want the target page to rank for. Again, this should be done in a way that improves the overall user experience rather than being carried out for SEO-first.
Read more: How to Improve Your Internal Linking
When it comes to SEO, the structure of your URLs plays a significant role. Clear and concise URLs are more easily understood by users and search engines alike. They tell both what the destination page is about, which can be beneficial to your website’s search ranking.
Firstly, a well-structured URL provides both users and search engines with clear and simple information about the page content, contributing to improved user experience and more efficient crawling and indexing of the site by search engine bots.
Secondly, URLs can be an important source of keywords for your page. If relevant keywords are included in your URL, this can signal to search engines the topic of your page and improve its visibility in search results for those keywords.
Lastly, clean and simple URLs are more likely to be shared, linked to, or referenced by other websites, building valuable backlinks that further boost your site’s SEO.
However, like with internal links, URL structure should be managed prudently. Overstuffing URLs with keywords can be counterproductive and may lead to your page not ranking as well in the SERPs. The key is to keep URLs simple, relevant, and user-friendly.
Read more: Site Architecture and the Importance of URLs
7. Schema Markup
Schema Markup is a powerful SEO tool that can significantly enhance your brand visibility in the SERPs. It is a form of microdata that creates an enhanced description, often known as a rich snippet, which appears in search results.
One of the key benefits of using Schema Markup is that it allows search engines to understand your content more effectively. By providing explicit clues about your website’s content, Schema Markup helps search engines interpret the information on your web pages and provide more relevant results to users.
In addition, Schema Markup can lead to rich results or rich snippets, which are more visually engaging and informative than standard links. These can include images, ratings, prices, and other details, making your website stand out in the SERPs. These visually engaging search results can lead to higher click-through rates, driving more organic traffic to your site.
Moreover, Schema Markup supports various types of data, making it highly versatile. Whether you’re a local business, an e-commerce store, or a news site, you can utilise Schema Markup to highlight specific aspects of your business and boost your visibility on the SERPs.
However, as with any other SEO strategy, the use of Schema Markup needs to be approached with caution. While it can undoubtedly improve your brand visibility, it should not be seen as a quick-fix solution. SEO is a long-term process, and the effective implementation of Schema Markup forms just one part of this.
Read more: How Schema Markup Can Help Your Rank Better
8. User-First Content
Focusing on user-first content is pivotal in on-page SEO. This approach prioritises the creation of content that is valuable, engaging, and relevant to the user. The main goal is to provide an excellent user experience, which includes delivering content that meets the user’s needs and expectations.
While search engines are important, they should not overshadow the significance of the user. After all, it is the user who interacts with your content, shares it, and potentially converts it into a sale or a subscription. If your content doesn’t resonate with the user, no amount of SEO can salvage it.
Furthermore, search engines are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are now better able to understand and value high-quality, user-centric content. They aim to provide the best possible results for their users, so they reward sites that deliver this. Consequently, by prioritising user-first content, you are also likely to improve your search engine rankings, proving that user-first content and SEO are two sides of the same coin.
Read more: Successful SEO Means Putting the User First
9. Content Relevance
Ensuring your content is relevant to your target audience is of paramount importance. The concept of relevance goes hand in hand with the user-first approach, given that it underpins the delivery of value to the user. Relevance refers to the material’s ability to meet the user’s needs, solve their problems, answer their questions, or provide the information they are seeking. When your content is relevant, it resonates with the audience, encourages engagement, fosters trust, and ultimately drives conversions.
Moreover, search engines value relevance highly. They are designed to deliver the most pertinent search results to the user’s query, thus if your content aligns closely with what your target audience is searching for, it stands a higher chance of ranking well in the search engine results pages. Achieving relevance involves a deep understanding of your audience, their interests, needs, and search behaviour. This necessitates diligent audience research, keen analysis of search trends, and a commitment to deliver content that meets these requirements.
In summary, relevance is a key ingredient in the recipe for successful content and SEO strategy. It bridges the gap between the user and your brand, turning casual visitors into loyal customers.
Read more: How SEO Can Help to Build Brand Awareness
10. Content Freshness
The currency of your content plays a significant role in both attracting and retaining your audience’s attention. Equally, it is a critical factor in search engine optimisation. Content freshness refers to how often you update your website with new information or revise existing content to ensure its continued relevance. Search engines, much like users, favour up-to-date content, because they aim to provide the most timely and pertinent information to answer user queries.
Updating older content is an effective strategy for maintaining content freshness. This might involve refreshing the text with new insights, incorporating recent data, adding relevant images or infographics, or even reformatting the piece for better readability. Regularly revisiting your content not only keeps it relevant but also demonstrates to your audience that you are committed to providing value and staying abreast of industry trends and updates.
In essence, content freshness is a vital component of a successful content and SEO strategy. It contributes to improved search engine visibility, increased website traffic, enhanced user engagement, and ultimately a higher conversion rate. Thus, to maintain fresh content, it is prudent to allocate time regularly to review and update older content, keeping your website relevant, engaging, and SEO-friendly.