SEO is complicated.
That complexity makes it challenging to answer questions simply. But if you’re interested in the single most important On Page SEO factor, let’s give it a go!
What is On Page SEO?
First, let’s make sure we understand the context of what we’re talking about. SEO is a multifaceted discipline and On Page SEO is one of the many facets. With On Page (also called On Site SEO), we’re interested in the performance and ranking potential of the website itself.
In the overall SEO framework shown below, we’re talking about the things on the left side of the screen.
Here’s a 4 minute video walking through the same idea.
Ok, So What’s The Single Most Important On Page SEO Factor?
Oh, right. Thanks for getting us back on track. There are 3 correct answers depending on your perspective. Here are those 3 answers.
- Domain Authority (for overall ranking potential)
- Title tag (if you can only change one on page element)
- Compelling, helpful, and unique content (table stakes for On Page SEO)
We’re aiming for a simple answer to a complicated question. But even in striving for simplicity, we still have a nuanced perspective. I told you SEO is complicated!
Let’s review those 3 answers.
The Single Most Important On Page SEO Factor For Overall Ranking Potential: Domain Authority
Domain Authority, or DA, is a score ranging from 1 – 100. SEO software company Moz developed DA. Domain Authority predicts how likely a website is to rank on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) based on its relative authority.
Moz measures Domain Authority on a logarithmic scale. That means it’s far easier to move your website from a DA of 5 to a 10 than it is to move from a DA of 50 to a 55.
So how do you get Domain Authority? Simply put, it’s all about the quantity and (especially) the quality of the inbound links coming to your domain.
Links are the currency of the internet. Search engines view links from other sites to your site as votes of confidence. In turn, they credit your site for receiving those votes of confidence. As that confidence rises, so too does the potential for ranking on the SERP.
You can read more about Moz and Domain Authority here.
If you’re interested in learning how Authority + Relevancy = SEO, you can check out the video below.
The Most Important On Page SEO Factor If You Can Only Change One Thing: The Title Tag
If you could only change a single factor for On Page SEO, I’d proudly nominate the title tag. Your title tag on a given page is your first and best opportunity to tell the search engine crawlers what the page is all about. As such, it is an incredibly important ranking factor, and it’s critical to construct them correctly and thoughtfully.
The title tag shows up in blue font (purple after it’s clicked) on the Google SERP. Check it out below. It also shows up if you hover over the tab in your browser window at the top of your page.
The title tag should explain the essence of your page in ~50 – 60 characters and it should be compelling for both humans and search engines.
Check out step 3 in this 9 step guide to writing for SEO for detailed instructions on creating title tags. The 7 minute video linked below has more instructions related to the title tag and its cousin, the meta description.
The Most Important On Page SEO Factor If You’re Serious About SEO: Awesome Content
It’s not uncommon for people new to SEO to think about a one-time effort to “boost SEO” and then move on to other things. That’s just not how SEO works. Instead, doing SEO properly is all about having an inbound marketing mindset. That means creating helpful and informative content that answers the questions being asked by customers and prospects. This content also needs to be unique and add a different perspective in order to differentiate from the competition on the SERP.
Creating helpful and unique content is hard. It requires research and revisions. It is time consuming. For example, this blog on Google Analytics 4 vs Universal Analytics took over 10 hours. It is also the “table stakes” for the game of SEO if you’re serious about participating. Unlike with Paid Search, we *earn* clicks with our SEO efforts, and thoughtfully-planned, awesome content is the price for earning those clicks.
If that is a new perspective for you, consider checking out the video below. It covers inbound marketing and the funnel, and how high quality content is essential.
One Question About On Page SEO: Three Answers
I hope this was a helpful read. The single most important On Page SEO factor depends on your perspective.
If you’re interested in what matters most for SEO ranking potential it’s Domain Authority, a logarithmic 1 – 100 scale measuring the strength of a domain.
If you’re interested in tackling an On Page SEO project and want to know what element to work on first, it’s the title tag.
And if you’re serious about making SEO a part of your ongoing inbound strategy for the long-term, the answer is thoughtfully planned, awesome content.