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Your Guide to On-Page SEO

Every year, people get up on their high horse and exclaim, “SEO is DEAD!”

Scrolling through social media, I read about how this or that tactic doesn’t work anymore and how it’s impossible to keep up with the algorithm changes and penalties, and I just laugh.

The truth is– SEO’s core practices are very much alive, and people may see that as a hostile landscape while others (like us at damolade) see it as a dormant garden waiting to become vibrant.

Like a garden, it will continuously adapt to changing seasons and the ever-shifting winds of the internet.

Let’s explore the vast wilderness that is on-page SEO in 2024, unravel a few fundamental practices, and have you cultivating success from a few strategically planted seeds, year after year.

What is SEO in 2024?

Gone are the days of keyword-stuffing content. The focus now is on content quality and user relevance, aligning with Google’s priority for valuable search results.

This post will guide you through things that have not changed and some new elements to consider –all are 100% within your control.

Broadly speaking, there are three main types of SEO.

On-Page SEO

On-page SEO uses relevant keywords in your copy, meta description, headers, image naming conventions, User experience (UX), structured data, and relevant internal and external links throughout your content.

Technical SEO

Technical SEO considers factors that directly impact the user/visitor experience. These include elements such as site speed, site architecture, 404 errors, and more. Part 2 of our SEO guide, How To Complete A Technical SEO Audit [+ Free Audit Checklist] covers these elements in detail.

Off-Page SEO (E-E-A-T)

In the past, authority was built through link building, but in 2024, the E-E-A-T approach created by Google, which stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness, is the hardest part of SEO to master.

To go beyond standard link building and build content that meets the E-E-A-T criteria, we must focus on creating content deserving of links. Invest time in crafting valuable content, and you’re halfway there.

types of SEO

We consider Local SEO to be a variant of all three main types of SEO.

Why On-Page SEO Matters

Applying on-page SEO best practices to your website sets you up for the best chance for high search engine rankings for relevant keywords on search engines like Google.

Selecting the right focus keywords for each page or post is crucial for appearing in the top organic search results and increasing click-through likelihood. While competition plays a role, let’s focus on on-page SEO factors entirely within our control!

Before You Start On-Page SEO Work

Before you do any keyword research…

you must get these content strategy bits right first:

  1. Document your audience(s) personas. Even a simple one will do. Here’s our user persona template.
  2. Identify how your messaging can address audience pain points and solve problems in a way that sets you apart from your competition. Here’s a messaging template.
  3. Know your content’s goals: Business KPIs & Digital Metrics (so you can choose page-level calls to action). Here’s a one-page strategy document.
  4. Know what topics you can write about with authority; SEO optimize from there. We like the mindmapping technique for topic ideation.

Who are your customers? What are they looking for? How do you solve their problems?

When creating content, strategically consider humans and search engines—ideally in that order.

In other words, you’ll need to create content for humans that’ll satisfy buying intent while keeping search engines in mind.

Don’t worry; our on-page SEO services package is designed to help! But for now, let’s dive into the On-Page SEO work and how to incorporate it into your entire content strategy.

Keyword Research:

Now that you know your audiences, messaging, and topics you can write about with authority, it’s time to start keyword research.

The sweet spot is finding terms –

  • relevant to what you offer,
  • competitive in your market (what terms are your organic search competitors ranking for and how well?), and
  • should speak to the buyer or user intent (what search terms are your potential customers using?).

For this post, we’ll stick with the example of a natural beauty supply store, hoping to rank in national search results. So, for example, if you sell ethically sourced beauty products, you want your website to be one of the first results when someone searches “sustainable beauty brands,” “ethical beauty products,” or maybe “small-batch beauty products,” if it’s relevant.

Long-Tail “informational stage” Keywords

Focusing on these “long-tail keywords” – three or more words in a phrase – rather than just one-to-two-word phrases, also known as “head terms” like “beauty” or “beauty products” because the competition is much lower, increasing the likelihood to be found by someone who’s looking for almost exactly what you offer. This is called “strong purchase intent.”

They also more clearly mirror how people with purchase intent are searching, as shown in this graphic from Moz:

search demand curve

Long-tail keyword-optimized content, internally linked to a head term on a product or service page, defines our hub-and-spoke content strategy—a critical factor in our successful client engagements. However, it’s not always a “quick win” strategy.

This SEO content strategy requires consistent creation and optimization over time. It’s a long-term approach, proving to be one of the most effective marketing channels for ROI, particularly when integrated with email marketing.


You must purchase a tool if you plan to do your own keyword research. You can use SEMRush for free for up to 10 searches per day. However, we recommend subscribing to a beginner plan if you have a large website.

Here’s a workflow in SEMRush for beginning your keyword research.

First, enter your seed keyword into a keyword research tool like Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool.

A seed keyword is any bigger keyword from your niche used as a stepping stone to finding more keyword ideas.

Select your target location and hit “Search.”

Keyword Magic Tool

Select your target location from the drop-down menu and hit “Search.”

You want to find keywords that aren’t too competitive but have good search volume.

This is the sweet spot.

Choose keywords that match the user intent stage for the content you plan to create, low to medium competition, and at least 250 searches per month, if possible.

Use sorting in the (KD%) Keyword Difficulty and Volume columns to play around until you see results in the sweet spot range.

kw results

Match intent with the user journey stage to craft content for every stage in the funnel:

  • (I) Informational (top of the funnel) – The user wants to find an answer to a specific question
  • (N) Navigational (middle of the funnel)- The user wants to find a particular page or site
  • (c) Commercial (mid-bottom of the funnel)- The user wants to investigate brands or services
  • (T) Transactional (bottom of the funnel)- The user wants to complete an action (conversion)
  • Local queries: The searcher wants to find something locally, such as “natural beauty products near me”

Local queries

Competitor keywords:

If you’re unsure who your organic search competitors are, head to Google and “Google” your focus keyword for your home page. If you aren’t sure what your focus keyword is, try “Googling” your product or service plus your local area or without the local area modifier to see the national search engine results.

search engine results

The first three national results above are “Sponsored” results. These are not your organic search competition.

You will see the Organic results list under the Sponsored ads and “People Also Ask” section.

These are your organic search competition for the keyword you “Googled.”

natural beauty products

Now head to SEMRush, armed with your top three competitors for your selected keyword. Add your competitor URL in the Organic Research tool and hit Search.

Organic Research

Then, go to the “Positions” tab.

Organic Research Positions

To filter out their brand keywords, go to the right side of your screen and click “Advanced filters” > “Exclude” > “Keyword type” > “Branded.”

brand keywords

What you’ll see is a list of your selected competitor’s best keywords that you could use to optimize your content.

Go through the list. Get some data for your SEO Strategy. Then, repeat the process with another competitor.

Finding Existing Opportunities: Do You Have Any Low-Hanging Fruit Focus Keywords?

You can find keywords you’re already ranking for and ensure they target the correct pages.


Audit existing content using SEMRush.

  1. Import all existing content URLs into a spreadsheet. You can export the URLs using SEMRush Site Audit tools.
  2. Enter critical URLs into your site audit tool or Google Search Console to see its best-ranking keywords.
  3. For each URL, choose a primary keyword from the list (this should be the best-ranking keyword). If there is nothing within positions 4-20 that you’d choose as the focus keyword for the page, then most likely, more keyword research will need to be done from this step. This step will ideally help you identify low-hanging fruit keywords/landing pages if they exist.

Which Keywords to Use

We like creating a keyword matrix in a spreadsheet and working down the list. This approach comes from Maxim Poulsen, a growth expert at

Score keywords using Volume, Difficulty, and funnel stage. BOFU keywords generate leads for quick ROI, while TOFU keywords, like the long-tail ones mentioned earlier, drive traffic and micro conversions, such as social shares and email signups.

Volume, Difficulty, and Funnel Stage

If ROI is a primary goal of your SEO strategy, target BOFU keywords by creating BOFU content first. BOFU content offers an incentive for purchase, often through discounts, free trials, or more services. Examples of content positioned at the bottom of the funnel include product demos, product comparisons, and client testimonials.

BOFU keywords

How to Use Your Keywords

Don’t make the ‘over-optimization’ mistake so many sites make by trying to rank for multiple keywords at once and stuffing three keywords into a meta title or description.

Optimize each page for one focus keyword and use that exact phrase in the page title, meta description, headings, and the first 100 words of body content for the best results.

Try to use variations of this term throughout the body content, but don’t overdo it. If your content is good enough (think E-E-A-T here), Google will naturally rank it for many keyword variations.

Optimizing Title Tags

The title tag remains the best location for placing your focus keyword in on-page SEO.

As the initial element users encounter in the Search Engine result pages, it provides an opportunity to create a positive first impression.

Use the keyword exactly as it appears in your keyword research tool.

Don’t use a variation.

This is called an “exact match keyword” and what I’ve been referring to as your “focus keyword.”

Below is what a title tag looks like:

exact match keyword

Google typically displays a title tag’s first 50–60 characters, so keep yours within that range. The Title tag above was truncated in search results because it is not the optimal length.

In the backend of your site within the code. A title tag looks like this:

<head><title>Example Title</title></head>

The optimal format for title tags is

Focus Keyword – Descriptor | Brand Name

To keep your titles brief:

  • Avoid typing your title in all caps. Uppercase letters take up extra space and could cause your title to get cut off. They can also be harder to read.
  • Use symbols to save space (e.g., “&” instead of “and”)
  • Since they’re narrower, consider using colons (“:”) or pipes (“|”) as separators rather than hyphens (“-”) or dashes (“–” / “—”)

Make Every Title Tag Unique

Give each of your website’s pages a unique title tag relevant to its target keyword and product/service.

If one of your beauty products is an African Clay Face Mask and you want to attract shoppers looking for that specific product, your title tag for that page would be: [African Clay Mask] – [Descriptor] | [Brand Name]

Front-load the essential words:

❌ Bad: Shop Online For African Clay Mask

✅ Good: African Clay Mask Beauty Products | Brand

Adding Meta Descriptions

Your meta description, visible below the title on search engines and social media, serves as the second impression of your brand.

It’s your initial chance to convey the value your brand provides, address the searcher’s needs, and conclude with a compelling call to action to encourage a click-through to your site.

meta description

Stick to one focus keyword for each page’s meta description; keep it under 155 characters.

Pro tip: You can use an online character counter tool for titles and descriptions.

Where you add your metadata will depend on what platform your site is built on (i.e., WordPress, Squarespace, Webflow), but every content management system will have a meta title and meta description field.

We highly recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin if you are on WordPress like we are. It will make managing your SEO workflow 1000% easier over time.

You can review your website’s title tags and Meta Descriptions with Semrush’s On Page SEO Checker.

Import your pages and their target keywords to check whether your Title tags and Descriptions are present, contain the correct number of characters, or if any are missing from your site.

You can work on resolving issues over time by exporting the data to a spreadsheet and scheduling a workflow.

If you work with us, we handle it all. We create and oversee the workflow and provide reporting as part of our ongoing client commitment.

Keyword Optimizing Your On-page Content

Use your exact match keyword within the first few lines of text and at least one header, but use it organically so that it flows within the context and isn’t forced. If you have to force it, reevaluate your language.

You can add a few secondary keywords for longer content, like blog posts or guides.

Believe it or not, Google understands the semantic relevance between terms, so blog posts are a great place to incorporate multiple keywords.

Just be sure you’re writing for humans, not algorithms. Use them in moderation so as not to compromise the quality of your content.

Semantic Search and Natural Language Processing:

Rather than solely relying on specific keywords throughout the content, consider the broader context of user intent and the natural language users employ in their search queries.

Nowadays, content that aligns with user intent is prioritized by Google. We talked about user intent above, but to understand this more specifically regarding local SEO, let’s take another look at the beauty supply store. Many local search queries contain “near me” in the phrase.

local SEO

Use semantically related words and phrases, such as the other phrases in this list above, to enhance content relevance. Craft content conversationally, anticipating how users might phrase their queries. You should still aim to choose one focus keyword for every page but sprinkle in these other naturally related phrases in your body content.

Adding Internal & External Links

When you use keywords within your content, you can link them to another page appropriate to that keyword.

Those terms are called anchor text.

Anchor text can provide both search engines and users with relevant contextual information about the content of the link’s destination.

Anchor text

In the above example of the link code, ‘Tiny dancing horse’ is the anchor text for the link.


For example, writing a blog post about beauty regimens and mentioning African Clay Masks is an excellent internal link opportunity.

Use “African clay mask” as the anchor text to link to your African Clay Mask product page.

Or, if you mention the importance of exfoliation but don’t want to dive too deep into the science behind it, you can link to an external article with a high search ranking.

Optimizing Headings for Your Keyword

Google says that header tags don’t hold much weight within their algorithm today. However, headers are vital to readability and, thus, the user experience. They create a structure and hierarchy for your information, allowing readers to scan and scroll to find what they need.

Most SEO tools will tell you to add your keyword to your first header. So go ahead and put your focus keyword in your first header tag. In your backend, that’ll look like this:

<header> <h1>Most important heading here</h1> </header>

Optimizing URLs

Your site URLs should include your focus keyword for each page, as indicated by your keyword research.

It should also show the page hierarchy.

For instance:


A page on your website should take at most three clicks to reach from your homepage.

You want to keep your important pages high up in the site hierarchy so bots can use their crawl budget efficiently.

Again, we audit for this when we begin our work with you.

Adding Alt-Text to Your Images

You’ll also want to name any images (photos, graphics, logos, diagrams, etc.) by their relevant keywords before uploading them to your website.

Then, again, add “alt text” in your content management system with the exact match keyword. Consider this extra SEO juice to add to your rankings.

In WordPress, for example, when you add a new image to a page or post, you’re given the option to add alt text when you upload it onto your media library, which looks like this:

media library

Mobile Optimization

Mobile-friendliness is crucial. Google uses mobile-first indexing, giving preference to mobile-optimized pages in search results.

You will want to bake this part into your web design and development workflow.

Your designer will ensure you have a responsive website that adapts to different screen sizes and devices. A responsive website maintains a consistent user experience across desktop and mobile.

Mobile-Friendly Testing & Page Speed

We perform tests to check if your website is mobile-friendly. Note that Google sunsetted the mobile usability report in December 2023, and it’s no longer available in Google Search Console, but page speed remains a crucial ranking factor in Google’s algorithm.

Currently, the most robust resources for evaluating mobile-friendliness are Lighthouse from Chrome and Google’s Page Speed Insights tool.

If you are not web technical, you will likely need your web developer or designer to help you implement the results of these tools.

User Experience + User Interface (UX/UI):

In the past, UX/UI was not explicitly a part of an on-page SEO strategy.

Things have changed drastically over the last ten years regarding positive user experiences and good page rankings.

When building out navigation and designing menus, ensure your site hierarchy is clear to the user.

We highly recommend working with a web designer or information architect to build your site correctly from the start.

A well-built site will ensure your SEO work doesn’t fall flat.

Top-level categories, sub-categories, and, if relevant, product pages should flow in a logical, well-designed hierarchy with clear call-to-actions on the page.

As part of our SEO Site Audit, we thoroughly analyze your UX/UI to ensure your navigation meets current search standards.


Structured Data and Schema Markup:

In the past, there was minimal use of structured data.

Results were displayed on a search engine result page as a Title tag and Meta description only.

Now, incorporating schema markup into your HTML enhances the presentation of your page in SERPs, elevating the visibility of rich snippets featured beneath the page title.

If you offer a product or service that falls into one of these categories and are willing to do (or pay for) a bit of extra coding, you can significantly enhance the competitiveness of your page result in search.

Structured data is used to provide additional information about the following (not an all-inclusive list):

  • Creative work
  • Events
  • Organizations
  • Person
  • Place
  • Product
  • Recipes.

According to Google: “The Food Network has converted 80% of their pages to enable search features and has seen a 35% increase in visits.”

If you want to test structured data on your site, Google’s Structured Data Markup helper is an excellent place to start. If you are not technical, it’s good to have a web developer or designer around to help with this part. As a part of our technical SEO services site audit process, we will evaluate your site for structured data and make recommendations for your three-month SEO strategy game plan.

structured data

Here’s an example of a rich snippet created with structured data:

rich snippet

A newer enhanced result is rich cards, which look like this:

rich cards

Here’s what rich snippets and rich cards look like on mobile:

rich snippets and rich cards

Image source: Google Webmasters.

From a user experience perspective, they provide benefits such as

  1. Drawing a user’s attention to your relevant result.
  2. Provide instant information related to their search query.

These aren’t available for all types of sites, so see the full list of the type of content that Google supports rich snippets for here: Google documentation

Voice Search Optimization:

According to the Hoth: “Over 50% of all internet searches are voice-activated, and that number will continue to increase as more people purchase smart speakers and start using voice features on their mobile devices.”

If you believe Voice Search Optimization will be a growth channel for you in 2024, you will want to optimize for three major platforms: Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. You will want to do optimization on all three for best results.

How we speak is changing how we search.

For instance, going back to the beauty products example, you might type “natural face mask recipes,” but with voice, you might say, “How do I make a face mask at home?”

natural face mask

The functionality of these results is tied to Google’s Hummingbird update, marking Google’s shift into becoming an “answer engine.”

Now, users receive comprehensive SERP results directly on Google without the need to click through to a website. We see what you did there, Google.

Hummingbird strongly emphasizes semantic search, involving conversational keywords, and understands the implied meaning behind search queries.

Google’s Knowledge Graph presents results in an infobox format, providing a quick snapshot of relevant information.

how do i make a face mask at home VOICE

RankBrain, an integral part of Google’s core algorithm, can interpret complex queries. Leveraging machine learning, it delivers highly relevant results based on searcher preferences.

For voice search optimization, the focus should shift to conversational keywords tailored to how users express themselves verbally rather than the concise terms entered into a browser.

Consider how you use voice search: you are on the go, in your car, and need directions for “something near you.”

You aren’t looking for extensive text. Instead, you want a featured snippet, a link to a product page, or directions in Google Maps. This search intent emphasizes micro-data and schema markup, which we discussed earlier in this post.

So, if you are a local business looking for nearby users to come on in, Voice search might be something you consider in your SEO strategy for 2024.


In Conclusion…

People will always explain the death of this or that, including SEO. They will urge you to invest in the latest trends, like creating Podcasts or Videos for social media.

While dynamic visuals have their place, the written word remains a powerful tool for lead generation, especially for those with smaller budgets and teams.

SEO continues to be a powerhouse component of a successful multi-channel marketing program.

Let’s build your audience.

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