A beginner’s guide to on-page SEO

A beginner’s guide to on-page SEO

Okay, so you’ve taken the time to understand your customers’ needs and wants.

You’ve come up with some awesome content ideas to truly meet those needs.

And you’ve chosen some killer keyword phrases.

The next step on your Search Engine Optimisation journey is to start optimising your content.

You need to make sure:

  • Your website pages and blog posts are cleanly coded so Google can access them properly.
  • You include your chosen keyword phrases in the right spots.
  • You don’t over-optimise your page.

This simple, straightforward and stress-free guide will help you understand how to ensure your on-page optimisation is in tiptop condition.

Ready? Let’s get stuck in.

The basic components of a well-optimised web page

Let’s break your web page down into edible little chunks and deal with them one by one.

For the sake of example we’ll say your chosen keyword phrase for this page is ‘cashmere jumpers for guinea pigs’.


This is the actual address of your page (the bit starting with https://www). When choosing your URL, try to include your chosen keyword phrases.

So www.katetooncopywriter.com.au/cashmere-jumpers-for-guinea-pigs

is a stronger URL than www.katetooncopywriter.com.au/123/id=12e21$

TOON TIP: If you’re using WordPress you can change your URL format for your posts by heading to Setting > Permalinks.
Then change the selection to /post-name or category/post-name.



This is the name of the page that appears both in the browser tab and in the Google search results.

My rules for title tags are simple:

  • Include your chosen keyword phrase near the start.
  • Ensure your title is around 55 characters including spaces.
  • Focus on one keyword phrase per page. (Don’t shove a long list in here.)
  • Make sure the title tag is unique. (Don’t use the same one for multiple pages.)

So a good title tag for our page would be:
Cashmere jumpers for guinea pigs | Kate Toon Copywriter



Although this isn’t visible on the actual web page, it’s what shows up in the Google search results. It’s not used by Google to rank your page, but it is important in encouraging users to click through.

My rules for meta descriptions are equally simple:

  • Ensure it’s different from the title tag.
  • Include your chosen keyword phrase somewhere.
  • Ensure your meta description is around 70-160 characters including spaces.
  • Make sure it’s a full sentence – no long lists of words.
  • Make sure the meta description is unique. (As with title tags, don’t use the same one for multiple pages.)
  • Include your phone number and location if relevant.

Think of it as a two-line sales pitch for your page or site – so include a benefit, or feature.

So a good meta description for our page might be:

Affordable, luxurious cashmere jumpers for guinea pigs. Order online for 24-hour delivery Australia-wide. Give your guinea pig a treat. Call 0418 166 458.

TOON TIP: The title tag and meta description are often the first pieces your potential customers ever read about your business. Make sure they are on brand, engaging and sell your product or services.



Your main heading, or blog title (<H1> tag in coding terms) tells Google what the page is about, so ideally use your keyword phrase here.

So a good main heading for a sales page might be:

Affordable cashmere jumpers for guinea pigs

while for a blog post you might go for something like:

20 myths about cashmere jumpers for guinea pigs

TOON TIP: Remember – a click-worthy heading beats an SEO-optimised headline every time.


Your sub headers (<H2> tag in coding terms) also help Google evaluate what the page is about but they’re considered of less importance than the main header.

Don’t spam the page by including your exact match phrase in every sub header; instead, try to use alternative phrases or synonyms to enrich your copy.

So (depending on the type of page) some good synonyms might be:

  • Woollen pullovers for guinea pigs
  • Guinea pig fashion
  • The latest trends in guinea pig knitwear
  • Getting the right fit for your guinea pig



You don’t need to work too hard shoehorning keywords in the main text of the page itself. Just write normally and you’ll use them naturally. If you become obsessed with keywords, your copy will end up becoming keyword stuffed, which makes it less engaging and more difficult to read.

TOON TIP: Always write for humans first and Google second.



When you upload an image onto your page, you’ll have the opportunity to enter alt text (or alternative text). This is used in two ways:

1)   By vision-impaired people through screen-reading software

2)   By Google as another guide to what the page is about

Alt texts should be informative and useful.

So instead of giving our hero image for the page an alt tag of:


we might want to go for:

Purple guinea pig jumper

TOON TIP: Again, don’t overdo it and use your exact match keyword phrase in every alt tag or image name. Just once per page is enough.



The image name is the name of the file you’re uploading so, again, try to use something sensible.


is preferable to


TOON TIP: Google prefers hyphens ‘-‘ in image names, to underscores ‘_’.



The visible, clickable text in your pages (sometimes called a hyperlink) can also be a signal to Google.

So go for:

‘Guinea pig jumper sizing guide’

rather than

‘Click here’ or ‘read more’


There’s no magic number

Anyone who is still talking about keyword density needs a firm slap on the bottom. There’s no exact figure; it’s more about writing engaging content and using your keyword phrases naturally. If there’s one thing I want you to take from this post, it’s…


Let’s get visual

My hero Rand Fishkin created this great visual guide to on-page SEO. You can also read his full article here.


And that’s it

If you follow this simple guide you’ll be well on your way to having a well-optimised website.

I also recommend (if you’re using WordPress) that you download the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin. It uses a traffic light system to judge the success of your on-page optimisation.

Over to you

How do you optimise your web pages for SEO? Are there any other tools that you find useful?

Oh, and if you like the post, please share it.

Did you like this post?

You might like my book ‘Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur | How to succeed despite yourself’ – buy it online here.

Want to have a chat?

If you need a Copywriter, SEO Consultant or Information Architect, then please contact me.

The Recipe for SEO Success
The Clever Copywriting School

Image from The Cavy Cottage

A beginner’s guide to on-page SEO was last modified: by
  • Hi Kate, I was wanting to know where I can order one of the Cashmere jumpers for guinea pigs?

    • Hmm not sure, have you tried Googling it 😛

  • Lynsey Bradley

    Hi Kate – great advice for an SEO novice like myself (but trying to get better!). Quick question, regarding the yoast free download plugin, is this only available for wordpress.org sites rather than wordpress.com? Cheers

    • Yes, go the PROPER version of WordPress they you can get all the lovely plugins (and a lot more). It’s fairly easy to move a .com to a .org, but if you get stuck message me and I’ll let you know the name of someone who can help.

    • Hi Lynsey, agree with Kate. Using the self-hosted version of WordPres (.org) gives you a lot more flexibility and power. I have a guide on the steps involved in migrating from .com that you can refer to, or let me know if you need help 🙂


      (Kate please delete my comment if this crosses the line)

  • Pingback: Why I'm saying 'goodbye' to my business bucket list | Kate Toon()

  • Jamie Press

    Great tips, Kate! Couldn’t agree more about forgetting keyword density. The whole idea makes me cringe.

    You are spot on about keyword variants and synonyms. They are essential these days.

    A great way to see how Google sees relationships between keywords is to put your main keyword into Google and scroll down to the bottom of the page to the ‘Searches related to…’

    Thinking about how to work these related terms into your page is a great way of helping the Google Hummingbird algorithm learn about your content.

    Another tip for Hummingbird is to use questions and answers in your content.

    Imagining what questions your target audience would ask and work that into your copy.

    Often questions make great sub headings. E.g. “What is the best way to wash a cashmere sweater?”.

    You can use sites like Quora.com and Reddit or in Australia, the Whirlpool forums to see what questions people are asking.

    • Hi Jamie – yes the Google ‘searches related to…’ tip is a great one. As is just starting to type into Google and seeing what Google suggest comes up with.

      While constant questions can get a bit exhausting, the odd carefully crafted one is a great way to create good subs.

      Thanks for your super useful and helpful contribution – it’s genuinely appreciated.

    • Trey Collier

      Product Reviews on that page would also help. Then those that have previous experience with “Cashmere jumpers on their own Guinea Pigs” could lend more relevant content to this page……to further help with that of what Mr. Press added. (Since this is beginner stuff….I’m sure that rich snippets is over the top for now)

      • Yep- agreed. I think I need to do another post on rich snippets/ scheme and break it right down as it seems to utterly confuse most people. Thanks for the read @treycollier:disqus 🙂

  • Aimee Kunau

    Hello again, Kate! Love your handy tips. Wishing you a cashmere jumperific new year!

  • Jinny Coyle

    I never knew google preferred – to _ in image names – thanks Kate

    • Yep it’s an odd little thing. Not an earth shattering change, but every little bit helps!

  • Great tips – I’ve shared this on a blogging group I’m part of on Facebook as there are always people asking about SEO on there!

    • Thank you so much – feel free to come and join my I LOVE SEO group as well @disqus_8nSypQEelc:disqus