Even though SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) continues to be one of the most important and influential online marketing processes, it is amazing just how many brands and businesses ignore the basics.

Disregarding certain on-page elements is sometimes understandable, as the ranking algorithms of search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo are constantly changing. On top of that, other ways of improving visibility and exposure such as social media, directory submissions, local listings, link exchanging and content sharing also take a priority.

However, if you want to outrank rivals and appear on the first page of results when prospective customers and clients type in relevant keywords, the following fundamentals of on-page SEO must be adhered to for search success:

SEO Title Tags

Although title tags should be written in a natural and coherent way, they must always include your main keyword as well alternative yet similar terms. Search engines are much more intelligent now than they used to be, so stick to one keyword on each page instead of trying to optimise several different landing destinations with the same term.

In the past, Google displayed approximately 70 characters of a title tag, but it is now based on pixel width. Despite there being no set number anymore, Moz have developed an incredibly helpful title tag preview tool.

Meta Descriptions

While these descriptions no longer have an impact on search engine rankings, they remain a significant feature of on-page optimisation. More often than not, this is the first chance you’ll get to introduce your brand, so having a coherent and compelling description is imperative.

Try to think of a meta description as a scaled-down sales pitch, which needs to include all the information a customer would want to hear. Try to avoid over-optimisation, keep to the point and do not exceed 156 characters.

Heading Tags

Yet another factor that Google picks up on to determine what your page content is all about, heading tags are of the upmost importance. Again, place an emphasis on the user instead of the search engine by writing articulate headings that make real sense.

Each page should ideally have only one H1 tag, which introduces upcoming content. Break up additional text with more header tags (H2, H3, etc) so users can quickly scan and understand the page content. Steer clear of repeating the same keyword and use lots of relevant variations instead.

Alt Image Tags

While these used to be considered a primary SEO tactic, alt image tags are probably not as pivotal as they once were. Even so, they still enable your site to rank in Google, Bing or Yahoo’s image search results and can strengthen on-page content.

If your page contains images that don’t correlate with keywords you want to include, avoid adding them just for the sake of it. Instead, consider changing the on-page images to something more appropriate. Tags should help users comprehend and understand the image subject with clear and concise descriptions.

URL Structure

Think about implementing the most search engine friendly URL structures if your site uses query strings, as these indistinct web addresses could be detrimental to your overall ranking and visibility. Both users and search engines will appreciate a tidier and optimised URL.

Remember to use hyphens instead of underscores and always include relevant keywords. If you demonstrate a hierarchy of information on the page through your URL, search engines can determine its content and suitability more efficiently.

Page Speed

Without a shadow of a doubt, you’ll want to have a website that loads quickly so visitors can have the best browsing experience possible. However, page speed is of great consequence to search engines too. This means that you must fully optimise the site for speed, and either use a dedicated server or pay for high speed hosting for your site.

Visit Google’s PageSpeed Insights to see how fast they can load your site. This incredibly useful tool also provides an abundance of suggestions on how to improve speed as well as the overall user experience for desktop and mobile users.

Content

It is difficult to emphasise the influence, impact and importance of top quality content. Keyword density is no longer applicable, as search engines now look to reward content that is interesting, engaging, useful and valuable instead.

This is because of Google’s latent semantic indexing algorithm technology, which is nowadays able to recognise unique content that doesn’t explicitly target search engine notoriety. Relevant keywords and phrases are still important, but don’t try to cram them in to every other sentence.

Crawl Errors

Nobody benefits from crawl errors, so make sure you stay on top of this issue. If URLs in your site could not be successfully crawled by search engines, users won’t be able to access the content they are longing to see.

Once more, Google’s Webmaster Tools is your friend. Take a look and see whether any crawl errors rear their ugly head and then set about resolving these problems. Redirecting to another page is fairly straightforward; just make sure it is the closest and most relevant alternative.

Internal and External Links

Links still carry plenty of weight in the world of on-page SEO and should be regarded as one of the most vital fundamentals. Link internally to different sections and pages of your site but also provide users the chance to explore external resources, which are both credible and valuable.

Lots of designers and developers say that visitors should be able to get to any page of your site in three clicks. Thankfully, this can be achieved with internal links. When it comes to external links however, don’t question the impact that directing to another site can have, as search engine algorithms reward this practice.

Mobile Optimisation

This might not be a quintessential aspect of on-page SEO, but mobile optimisation is more crucial and consequential than ever before. All of the aforementioned fundamentals could be rendered useless if your website does not work on a multitude of devices.

When you consider that Internet usage on mobile devices will finally overtake desktop activity this year, it is an aspect of SEO that simply cannot be ignored.