Seo on page the definitive guide

ON-PAGE SEO:The Definitive Guide

This is a complete guide to on-page SEO in 2022.

In this new guide you’ll learn:

  • How to optimize your content
  • How to create SEO-friendly URLs
  • How to write titles and descriptions
  • Lots more

Let’s get started.

On-page SEO: The Definitive Guide



Chapter 2

Optimize Your Content for SEO

Unique, valuable content can get you to the first page of Google.

But if you want to stay there, your page has to satisfy Search Intent.

In other words:

Your page has to be EXACTLY what a Google searcher wants.

Otherwise, your page will likely be buried on the 3rd page.

SERP goes to third page

This is a mistake that I had to learn the hard way.

Some time ago, I published this comparison of the top backlink checkers on the market.

SERP goes to third page

My goal was to rank for the keyword “backlink checker”.

A few days after I published that post, I decided to check out the SERPs for that term.

And I quickly realized that 100% of the first page results were tools.

"backlink checker" SERP

Literally, 10 out of 10 results were backlink checker tools. There wasn’t a single blog post on the first page.

This means the chance of my post hitting the first page was basically zero.


Fortunately, I do rank for a long-tail version of that keyword (“best backlink checker”).

Google SERP – Best backlink checker

But if I spent more time looking at the Search Intent for that term, I would have realized that my content had zero chance of ranking for “backlink checker”.

And now it’s time for the next chapter…

CHAPTER 5:Optimize for CTR

Optimize For CTR

Your organic click through rate is important for two reasons:

First, CTR is (probably) a Google ranking factor.

Second, increasing your CTR can drive more traffic to your site.

In this chapter I’ll show you five practical ways that you can improve your organic CTR.

Use “Question Title Tags”

Few years ago we analyzed 5 million Google search results to figure out why certain pages get clicked on over others.

Backlinko - Google CTR stats

And one of our most surprising findings was that question-based title tags have an above-average CTR.

Question titles have a 14.1% higher organic CTR .vs. Non-question titles

So whenever it makes sense, I recommend testing titles tags that have a question.

For example, my nofollow links guide uses a question in the title tag.

Question in title tag

That’s because anyone searching for “nofollow link” probably just wants to know what that means.

And my title tag shows people that my site will give them what they want.

In fact, that page has a 27% CTR for the keyword “nofollow link”.

Nofollow Link post – CTR

Fill In Missing Meta Descriptions

I talked about meta descriptions way back in Chapter 1.

Specifically, I pointed out that you want your descriptions to be super compelling.

But you don’t need to write an amazing description 100% of the time. Just HAVING a meta description might be enough.

In fact, we found that pages with a meta description got approximately 6% more clicks vs. pages with a missing meta description.

Pages with a meta description have a higher average CTR .vs. Pages without a description

I recommend doing an SEO audit on your site to find pages that don’t have a meta description. Then, add in descriptions for pages that need them.

Use Review or FAQ Schema

Schema doesn’t directly help your SEO.

But using certain types of Schema can hook you up with you Rich Snippets.

And Rich Snippets CAN help you get more clicks.

Two of the best types of Schema for getting Rich Snippets are review Schema:

Google SERP – Review schema

And FAQ Schema:

Google SERP – FAQ schema

You can double check if you have your Schema set up correctly using the Structured Data Testing Tool.

Structured data testing tool result

Add Some Emotion to Your Title Tags

Our CTR study found that emotional titles got clicked on 7% more often vs. titles that didn’t have a strong emotional sentiment.

Emotional titles have a higher organic click through rate

We also discovered that emotionally-charged “Power Words” decreased click through rate by 12%.

What gives?

Well, people are attracted to titles that pack an emotional punch… to a point.

If a title goes overboard, it looks like clickbait.

And they’ll click on another result that looks less spammy.

Bottom Line: Write title tags with some emotion. But avoid terms like “insane” and “powerful” that can make your title look like clickbait.

Add the Current Year to Title and Description

Here’s an example of what I mean.

Year in title and description

Adding the year to your title and description won’t make or break your CTR.

But in my experience, it does help… especially for content that can go out of date really quickly.

For example, someone searching for “Seneca philosophy” doesn’t need something that came out last month.

But for a keyword like “best smartphones”, people want to make sure they’re about to read something current.

And adding the year to your title and description makes it clear that your content is up-to-date.

CHAPTER 6:On-Page UX Signals

On-page UX Signals

In this chapter I’ll show you how to optimize your content for “UX Signals”.

(In other words, how Google searchers interact with your content).

Does Google really pay attention to Dwell Time, Bounce Rate and other user interaction signals?


In fact, Google’s “How Search Works” says that, to help them rank the best results, they “use aggregated and anonymized interaction data to assess whether search results are relevant to queries”.

Now it’s time to show you how to make sure that your content keeps Google searchers on your page.

Push Content Above the Fold

When someone lands on your site from Google, they want their answer FAST.

This is why you want to avoid massive images above the fold, like this:

Huge image above the fold

Instead, put your headline and introduction front and center.

Intro above fold

To be clear: it’s OK to have an image at the top of your post. But if it pushes your content down the page, that’s bad.

Chunk Your Content

In a perfect world visitors would read every word on your page.

But we don’t live in a perfect world 🙂

This is why you want to make your content super easy to skim.

This is something I spent A LOT of time on here at Backlinko.

I use a ton of H2 subheadings.

H2 tag in post


Bullet list in post

And images:

Images in post

Have an Active Community

Having a community on your blog is like a Bounce Rate cheat code.


A high-quality comments section gives people something to read… after they finish reading your post.

That’s because comments add context to your post:

Comment from Teresa on Backlinko post

Contribute new approaches and strategies:

Comment from Marko on Backlinko post

And, sometimes, spice things up with a little bit of controversy:

Comment from Pawel on Backlinko post

All things that keep people super glued to your page.

CHAPTER 7:Advanced On-Page SEO Tips

Advanced On-page SEO Tips

This last chapter is a list of some of my favorite on-page SEO techniques.

So once you’ve optimized your page’s title and H1 tags, here are a handful of tips that will help take your on-page SEO to the next level.

Let’s get right into the strategies.

Use Original images

Do you use stock images in your content?

Well, those stock images might be hurting your SEO.

Shai Aharony recently tested the effect that stock images had on Google rankings.

Here’s what went down…

First, Shai created a bunch of brand new websites just for these experiments. These were fresh domain names that had never been registered before.

Shai's new test domain names

He used generic stock images on some of the sites. And original images on others.

Stock image or unique image

The results were clear: sites with unique images outranked the sites that used stock photos.

Duplicate images .vs. Unique images

So if you’re using stock photos that a thousand other sites use, consider creating custom images.

This is something we do at Backlinko. And at least according to this little study, these original images probably help us rank.

Internal Linking

Internal linking is HUGE for SEO.

Specifically, you want to link from high-authority pages on your site to pages that need a boost.

Internal link from high-authority pages to low-authority pages

When you do, make sure to use keyword-rich anchor text. Here’s an example:

Keyword-rich anchor text

With that, here’s the process that I use and recommend.

First, use an SEO tool like Semrush and its “Indexed pages” report to bring up the pages on your site with the most link authority.

Semrush – Indexed pages report

Then, add a few internal links from those pages to a high-priority page on your site.

For example, I recently wanted to improve our rankings for our press release guide.

So I added an internal link from one of our most authoritative pages to that guide.

Internal link in Backlinko post


And if you want to see a great example of how to internal link on your site, check out Wikipedia.

They add LOTS of keyword-rich internal links to every page:

Keyword-rich links in Wikipedia article

Write Comprehensive Content

Google wants to show their users content that gives them EVERYTHING they want on a single page.

In other words: comprehensive content.

And if your post covers an entire topic, it has a higher chance of ranking.

Content topic authority (Marketmuse data)

And one of the easiest ways to make sure that Google sees your content as complete?

LSI keywords.

LSI keywords are synonyms that Google uses to determine a page’s relevancy.

I don’t go nuts about LSI keywords because I usually write REALLY long content.

(Long content increases the odds that you’ll naturally use LSI keywords.)

But if you want to make 100% sure that you’re using LSI keywords, search for your keyword in Google and scroll down to the “Searches Related to…” area at the bottom of the page:

Google SERP – Related searches

And toss any that make sense into your post.

Boost Your Page Speed

Google has stated on the record that page loading speed is an SEO ranking signal (and they recently made PageSpeed even MORE important).

According to our analysis of 5.2 million websites, you can improve your site’s loading speed by moving to a faster host.

TTFB performance among major web hosting providers (Desktop)

Removing as many third-party scripts as you can.

Third-party scripts negatively impact page load times

And reducing your page’s total size.

Factors that impact fully loaded on desktop & mobile

Image Optimization

You want to give every image on your site a descriptive filename and alt text.

Alt text

This helps Google (and visually-impaired users) understand what each image is showing.

And if it makes sense, make one image optimized around your target keyword. So use a filename that includes your target keyword (for example, on-page-seo-chart.png). And use that same keyword as part of your image alt tags.

Alt text on WordPress image

Another reason to optimize your images for SEO: it gives search engines another clue of what your page is about… which can help it rank higher.

Put another way: when Google sees a page with pictures of “blue widgets” and “green widgets” it tells them: “this page is about widgets”.

Optimized images help search engines understand your content

Rank Your Content In Featured Snippets

Ranking in a Featured Snippet can make a HUGE difference in your CTR.

The only catch?

According to this industry study, you need to already be on the first page to have any shot of getting a Featured Snippet.

Where featured snippets tend to rank

This means you need to find first page results that have a Featured Snippet AND you rank for.

To find them whip open SEMrush or whatever SEO software that you use.

And find pages from your site that rank on the first page of Google.

Organic research – Top 10 filter

Then, filter for keywords that have a Featured Snippet already.

Organic research – SERP features filter

Then, look at the Featured Snippet in Google for each of those terms.

Google SERP – Featured snippet

Finally, you need to optimize your content to rank in the Featured Snippet.

So if you see a “definition” Featured Snippet, then you want to include a short definition in your content.

Bounce Rate definition in Backlinko post

If it’s a list of steps or tips, then you want to make sure that your page structure is consistent.

Consistent page structure on Backlinko post

Voice Search SEO

Voice search is growing SUPER fast.

And the best way to optimize your content for voice search?

Create FAQ pages.

Our voice search SEO study found that Google loves to pull voice search results from FAQ pages.

Results which are FAQ pages

Now I’d Like to Hear From You


I hope you found this new on-page SEO guide helpful.

Now I’d like to hear what you have to say:

Which tip from today’s post do you want to try first?

Are you going to front-load your keyword in your title tag?

Or maybe you want to rank in the Featured Snippet spot.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

    1. to help.


  2. Jason

    Your publish date on this article is today. Yet… there’s 20,961 shares on this post and you’re ranking #1 already. Did you publish new instead of just hitting update? Why?

    1. Brian Dean

      Hi Jason, this post will explain it better than I can in a comment:

      Actually, today’s guide is more of a combination of The Content Relaunch and The Skyscraper Technique 2.0.

  3. Hey Brian, another great post as always and mostly the tactics I am implementing on my site but there are a few things I probably need to go back through like adding the keyword in the first 100 words.

    My site has a low DA so if you were in charge would you target more specific long tail keywords around the 20-400 range that are likely to convert rather than build out a definitive guide say like this on branding but I doubt I would have the authority to rank on page 1 for big volumes?


    1. Brian Dean

      Hey Alex, thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’d actually combine the two: create a definitive guide on a long tail topic. That way, you have a good chance of ranking and create something that’s worth linking to.

  4. Hamza Hashim

    Hi, you are awesome man, thanks for sharing this amazing content.

    1. Brian Dean

      👍 👍 👍

  5. Great Information, thanks for the article, my boss paid a web company for SEO and they simply created web pages with no site links! “Orphan pages” I heard they were called. But a lot of articles say it’s actually bad for SEO…have you done any articles on this?

    1. Brian Dean

      Hi Andrew, you’re welcome. Orphan pages definitely aren’t ideal. You want internal links somewhere on your site to every page. But as long as you interally link (and ideally get external links too) to your orphan pages, you’re fine.

  6. Hey brian,

    Thanks for sharing this masterpiece with us. I believe on page seo and technical seo is the two main factors of ranking.
    And I totally agree with you that voice search is growing and everyone should focus on that.

    Thanks again brian.

    1. Brian Dean

      No problem. On-page SEO + technical SEO = the foundation. After that, it’s all about link building. And that pretty much sums up SEO in two sentences 😆😆😆

    1. Brian Dean

      You’re welcome, Ivaylo. A lot of work went into this guide so I’m glad to hear that.

  7. Amazing content again & so thorough! Will contact you with questions once I digest the entire article. Thanks again for all your effort.

    1. Brian Dean

      Hey Darshana, thank you. I think you’ll find it useful.

  8. Rohit singh

    Hey brian. This post is super helpful 😍

    I came to know about few new things that I was not aware about.

    As I’ve published a post on my blog yesterday for On-Page SEO.

    I will add new things learned from you once I will try and test it 👌

    1. Brian Dean

      Sounds good, Rohit.

  9. Endashaw

    Wow, I mean, you are the best, I have been trying to get a in depth in on page seo for a while now, this was very much helpful

    1. Brian Dean


  10. Sergi

    Great guide for SEO-guys!

    1. Brian Dean

      Thanks Sergi

  11. Brian, do you take deep dives into your Search Console and how it can be leveraged to inform your on-page? Your deep dives are no joke and I’d love to see how you approach Search Console. Thanks again for the amazing content.

    1. Brian Dean

      Hey Mitch, I haven’t done a deep dive video on that yet but I might. Great suggestion.

  12. How do I get a PDF of this great document?

    1. Brian Dean

      Hey Joe, it may be a while for that. It takes some time to turn these guides into PDFs. Please check back in a few weeks on the post and we may have a PDF version available.

    1. Joe, you could also use a browser extension and save Brian’s amazing post to a pdf doc. You can find one for both Firefox and Chrome.

  13. Excellent!!! We do most of what you pointed out. A couple of things we haven’t focused on… but will now. Top notch work and insights. Bang on from our experience as well.

    1. Brian Dean

      Hey Donat, nice! I hope those new techniques make a difference.

  14. Hasnat

    Thank you so much Brian Dean (The Maestro) for this masterpiece.Time and time you proved yourself as a SEO genius.

    1. Brian Dean


  15. Spot on yet again. Simple, informative but above all, common sense.

    1. Brian Dean

      Hey Andy, thank you. It was tough to distill this HUGE topic into a single-page guide. But I tried my best to highlight the most important strategies that are working best right now.

  16. Hi Brian. All the time I’m reading your posts with interest. This time I found something new, which I have not tried it before. Let’s see…maybe will work. Cheers!

    1. Brian Dean

      Hi Andrei, sounds good. Let me know how it goes.

  17. Brian, another incredible comprehensive overview of on-site SEO for 2020. There is so much value from just focusing on a few of the basics here. If I had to focus, I’d start with understanding what Google thinks users who type in your keyword need, to get the search intent aka “Let’s see what the SERP says”, then crafting the right content to match up to that.

    1. Brian Dean

      Hey Robin, thank you. 100%. Sometimes you can get Search Intent from the keyword itself (“what is X” or “buy Y”). But Search Intent is mostly learning from the SERP.

  18. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for another amazing masterpiece in New Year. On page SEO is important factors to rank a website or a page. But the sad thing is people are still following the old tactics that aren’t effective anymore, I mean keyword stuffing like stuff.

    Most people are still believing in old SEO tactics that has died years ago. I hope this guide would shake them and will make to use advanced SEO methods.

    Umesh Singh

    1. Brian Dean

      You’re welcome, Umesh.

  19. F.R.E.A.K.I.N.G T.A.S.T.I.C

    Brian, first you made this complex topic SIMPLE a couple of years back, now you gradually progressed to make this SIMPLE topic even SIMPLER to understand, accessible, and actionable.

    Well done… BOOKMARKING IT!!

    BTW I would like to append one short topic into “image optimization” that “image compression,” (don’t need to use paid plugins, I compress my images for free), here is a funny story that happens with me recently.

    Recently I published my new (power) article, which uses hundreds of images in it because I wanted to run my images through “imagify” compression algorithms to compress my images.

    However, before uploading any image to my website, I always use a free online image compression tool. But I wanted to compress it even further to increase my article load time As fast as it could be.

    But when I activated “imagify,” it didn’t even compress my image by 1%. Instead, it says, “well done; your images are already compressed as it best”… and it was for free, that made my day.

    So I wanted to let fellow readers know that online image compression tool I use. So they don’t need to pay for any premium plugins to compress their website images.

    Use these two image compression plugins before uploading images to your site.



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