How To Do Basic On-Site Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

How To Do Basic On-Site Search Engine Optimization (SEO)


arnold on Nov 04, 2018

***Updated 4/8/24***

On-Page SEO (or On-Site SEO)

You have read a how-to guide by Google about how to do on-site optimization and reviewed an infographic that illustrates on-page SEO on a web page. With this guide I am going to try to break SEO down as simply as possible so that anyone can understand the basics of what is often times considered a difficult topic.

SEO Components

SEO has two primary components which are on-page (or on-site) optimization and Off-page (or off-site) optimization. On-Site SEO focuses on what you can do on your website to rank higher in the search engines. Off-Site (which we will touch on next week) is what you do away from your website to rank higher in the search engines (link building).

The next thing to mention about On-Site SEO is that there are a lot of things that go into it. For every client that I have, I could easily spend 40 hours a week for 52 weeks a year doing nonstop SEO work on each website.

For this class I am only going to be able to cover about 5% of what I could if this course were solely focused on On-Site SEO. The good news is that I am going to focus on the most important On-Site techniques and if you do everything I teach you for your website then you will be better than 95% of the website that are out there. You can get really good results in the search engines by sticking to the basics and learning good SEO habits.

Good SEO in 100 words or less:

Good SEO starts with amazing content. If you have content that people love then you will have an invisible army of people sending triggers to Google about what a great site you have. Besides content, you need a responsive website that loads fast and this starts with good hosting and optimized images. You need very descriptive meta tags and an XML sitemap so that Google knows where your content is and what your content is. You also need an effective keyword strategy that naturally incorporates your keywords into the correct areas of your website. You also need to monitor and improve your pages with SEO tools.

If you do only those things, you will be putting yourself in a position to rank on your preferred keywords. Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how to do all this.

Edit Site Title

The first thing we are going to do is make some change to our WordPress website in accordance with the suggestions by Google for an optimized website.

In the Google SEO guide it is recommended that you:

Create Unique Accurate Page Titles

We are going to do this. But first we will start with the title of the website. This is a good place to work in your site-wide primary keyword.  What you enter for the site title is what will show up in the tab at the top of the website page. To change the site title go to your dashboard in WordPress.

Click setting and then general and you will see a few website settings. The first thing we want to do is edit our website title. The Site Title is displayed in the title bar of a web browser and is usually displayed in the header.  The tagline is a short description or catchy phrase that describes what your blog is about. You probably already changed this in the customize option but I wanted to show you another place where you could change it.

How To Change The Site Title Tag In WordPress

For class work, log into your resume website and change the site title to something relevant. Since this is a resume website it should probably include your name as your name is going to be your primary keyword on a resume website.

The next thing we are going to do is edit our page titles as suggested by Google. To do this we are going to use our Yoast plugin we installed. When we installed Yoast, it embedded itself in the backend of every page on our website. Once we edit Yoast in the backend of our pages it will change our SEO code accordingly.

Let’s first access the Yoast Plugin on the homepage of our resume website. Go to the homepage of your website and click EDIT PAGE as shown below:

How To Edit A Page In WordPress

Scroll down until you see the YOAST settings and enter the focus keyphrase for your homepage as shown below:

Yoast Keyword Phrase 1

The focus keyphrase is not looked at by Google. It just helps Yoast know what keyword you want to rank for on that page.  Since it is the homepage of a resume website I want to rank on my name. Once I put the focus keyword in, Yoast will take a look at the page and let me know how well I am doing. As of right now I am not doing so great. Yoast is giving me an orange button as you can see at the top of the picture above. Let’s make a couple more improvements.

Next look at the SEO TITLE. This is what Google calls, the Page Title Tag.  Put a SEO Friendly title there and try to use your keyword early on. Then do the same thing for the meta description which is what Google will show people in the SERP when your result comes up.

The last thing I should do is add Arnie Robinson a few more times on the website. Yoast reminded me that I did not have the keyword in my homepage text. Once I did this I got the Green Circle seal of approval from YOAST.

Optimizing The Yoast Plugin In WordPress

**Take a screenshot that looks like this ^^^ to turn in. (For my students who are using Themify, do not worry if your readability is orange. Yoast has trouble reading the content from the Themify builder.)

The Google guide gives all the best practices for the meta tags so please be sure to review those.

Help Google Find Your Content:

The following is from the top of the google SEO guide:How To Change The Site Title Tag In WordPress

In order to help Google find our content we need to create a sitemap of all our content. The best sitemap is an XML sitemap that has multiple sitemap “directories.” For example it can tell Google all the pages on your site in one file, and all the images on your site in another file.

Nowadays there are plenty of plugins that will create XML sitemaps for us. One of those plugins is YOAST which we already installed.  I will first show you where to find your sitemap URL and then show you how you can share it with Google, which is through your Google Search Console.

To Find you XML Site Map with YOAST, log into the dashboard of your WordPress Dashboard.

Go to the GENERAL section of the YOAST SEO in the left sidebar. Then click on the SETTINGS tab. Next scroll down until you see the XML sitemap options.  Click VIEW THE XML SITEMAP and it will take you to your sitemap.  All this is shown in the image below:

How To View Sitemap In Yoast

Ding this will take you to a page with a URL that looks something like this:

URL For Sitemap

It may just say sitemap.xml.  Either way copy the highlighted portion of the url above as we will be submitting that into Google Search Console.

Additionally, your Sitemap will look something like this: (If you get a 404 see below)

What Your XML sitemaps look like with Yoast

This Sitemap was automatically created by YOAST. You can play around in the Sitemap to see your content. You can’t break anything here.


If you get a 404 error:

Sometimes resetting the permalink structure will quickly solve a 404 error from a recent change to your installation. Go to Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks. Switch it to  “numeric” and save.  Then switch it to “Post Name” and click save.

Uploading The XML Sitemap To Google Search Console

Now that we have a sitemap created by YOAST we need to tell Google where they can find our sitemap so they will always know when we create new content.

Log into your Google Search Engine Console

Then make sure your website is selected. If not you can change it as shown below:

How To change your website and find the sitemaps in Google Search Console

Next Click on SITEMAPS as shown above.

You now need to let Google Search Console know where your sitemap is stored on your website. We found this earlier when we clicked on the Yoast settings.  Enter that sitemap location and click submit as shown below. (If your default sitemap doesn’t work then enter: /sitemap_index.xml). You should get a SUCCESS message. If you get an error, submit it a few more times and it should work.


You have now officially given Google the Sitemap to your website and they now have a map of all your content so they can easily find and crawl your website. Take a screenshot of your successfully submitted sitemap to submit at the end of class.

Site Speed:

We always want to do everything we can to make our websites run as fast as possible. The reason for this is because Google will not show websites in the search results that load slowly. Google wants the experience of users to be as flawless as possible and people are generally unwilling to wait for slow sites to load. 75% of users wouldn’t re-visit a site that took longer than 4 seconds to load.

Making a website load fast starts with good hosting. If you buy $7 a month hosting you are probably on shared hosting where your website is being hosted along with hundreds of other websites. The performance can be impacted by how busy the other websites are. The managerial implication of this is to not go cheap on hosting. Once you have good hosting I always use a CDN service as well to ensure my websites load quickly no matter where people are accessing it from. To read more about CDN’s you can click here.

There are several tools we can use to help us speed up our website. I personally use:

Google PageSpeed Insights


Doing a scan with these tools will show us how fast our websites are loading and what we can do to improve our websites to make them faster.

Images & Alt tag:

One of the main ways a website gets slowed down is with oversized images. There are two ways to reduce an image. The first is to reduce the size of it.  If you are serving a 600 x 400 image in a blog post then don’t upload an 1800 x 1000 image and make your website reduce the image.  When someone comes to your website they will still need to download the full image before it gets reduced which slows down load time. So always reduce images to the size you know will be served.

The second step is to reduce the image size using a file reducer. I already showed this class which is used to reduce the file size of images without change the actual size of the image or the quality.

We also already talked about Alt tags with images. Alt tags are what Google reads to know what an image is.  Alt tags should be accurate and descriptive and you should always try to work in a keyword if it is natural. Don’t stuff keywords as Google knows when they are out of place. Lastly, give your image file a good name before you upload the image to your website.

The following process is what you should do every time you upload an image to your website. You need to get in the habit of always reducing images and labeling them when creating content for websites. It is tedious but really helps with site speed.

1) Find out how big the image needs to be and reduce it down to that size.

2) Run it through 

3) Give it a descriptive name

4) Upload to your website.

5) Edit the Alt tag to something that describes what the picture is.

Mobile Friendly and Responsive Design:

The last thing that is important for managers to know about On-Site SEO is that Google is switching to mobile first indexing now that more than 50% of website traffic is through cell phones. Additionally, 80% of global traffic is predicted to be mobile by the end of 2018.  What this means is that Google is ranking your website in the SERP’s by looking at the mobile version of your website. If your website is not mobile friendly then you will not rank as high as competitor’s websites that are mobile friendly.

Responsive design is when your website automatically adjusts to the size of the screen it is showing on. Three to five years ago only a portion of websites were responsive but now the majority of websites are.  If your website is not responsive then you need to get a new website that is responsive if you want to rank in the SERP as Google typically won’t show sites that are not responsive.

To test the mobile friendliness of your website, Google has a scanning tool that will tell you how Google ranks it and what you can do to improve.  I will demo this scan in the video as well.

Here is the link for the scan:


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