Critical On-Page Factors: Where should you place your keywords?

What are the most important on-page factors in SEO that you definitely must include?
SIA Team
July 10, 2021

For this test, we determine what are the most important on-page factors in SEO that you definitely must include in the on-page SEO of your page. We tested the following factors and checked which ones are the most important placement for your keywords, based on which pages were at the top, in order of importance.

The factors tested were:

  • Keyword in the URL
  • Keyword in the Meta-title
  • Keyword in the description
  • Meta Keyword
  • Keyword in the body at 2% link density 
  • Keyword in an H1
  • Keyword in an H2
  • Keyword in an H3
  • Keyword in an H4
  • Keyword as a bold word
  • Keyword as an italic word
  • Keyword in an image alt

For this test, twelve pages were created, one for each factor.

Confirmed Top Factors for On-Page Keyword Placement

  • Keyword in Meta Title
  • Keyword in Body Content
  • Keyword in the URL
  • Keyword in an H1

Big Takeaways from This Test

The big take away from this test is that the Meta Title is the undisputed champion in on-page SEO signals.

How many times do you see struggling sites with pages and pages of duplicate meta titles? The key is to ensure that meta titles are unique for each page and that it contains the target keyword. 

A signal that most people probably miss is the keyword in the URL. We don’t know how many times we’ve looked at a page to diagnose why it is ranking for the keyword when the url is or

If you aren’t going to put the keyword in the #3 or #4 spot, they you are going to face an uphill battle. A better option is

You’ll notice that the keyword in bold is ranking well. That sort of jump into the top 5 for a traditionally secondary keyword is not uncommon.

You’ll see secondary factors jump up and move down from time to time. As such, we wouldn’t run out and put a bunch of bold text on a target page based on this one test.

However, it is never a bad idea to bold something on a page that makes send to do so and that contains the target keyword. If your resources are limited or you are facing a stubborn client, we would draw a line in the sand on getting an H4 on the page before some bold text.

A really important insight comes from the H1 and H2 test pages. On those pages, Google has ignored the meta title used and chose to use what it felt is most important to the particular search.

We have known some time that Google will ignore meta data and use what it wants to use.

Now, we have the insight into the places that Google will look for the title to display in the SERPs. First, it will look at the meta title you have written, then it will look to the H1 and H2 signals. 

In this test, meta description and meta keywords have not indexed, and from experience, we can tell you that they may never index. 

We find it interesting that the image alt is ranking last. It will be worth watching this test over the next few months to see if there are changes in the ranking position.

Clint’s Takeaway

As time has gone on, we felt the need for Clint to revisit these tests again. In this video, he gives his opinion on where you should place your keywords.

This is a continuation of a series of published test results in order to help you rank your website, or clients website if you’re doing client SEO.

So with that being said, this is test number three – Critical on-page factors. Now, let’s get into it.

What you’re looking at here is a test of HTML tags,and the URL. And basically, what we’re looking for is what do we have to do in order to, the basics of SEO – what are the basic things you must do in SEO to rank a page. And so, we outline the tags in this particular test. This was done in April 2016, and has been retested multiple times over and the results stay the same, is set up 12 of the HTML tags.

We have another test set up that was running actually all 70 or 76 of them, and because of Google’s filtering factors, and keyword cannibalization, and stuff that have kicked in and started affecting test pages, those we’re limited to three in each test.

It’s data, it’s interesting, it matches the results that we got here. However common, it’s a little convoluted. So it’s got to be set-up.

But the problem doing that is, if you set it up across multiple domains, which is a way around that keyword cannibalization filter, is what I’m just going to call it. You have to buy 76 of them or 100, depending on how many you’re testing. So, we’re figuring that out and working around that. But this will be retested. But I can tell you that it’s still the same.

So what we did is 12 pages, one page each factor. Remember we’re testing factors in the algorithm that is combined together to rank everybody’s websites. We’re looking for bits and pieces and kind of analyze the best stuff and things that you can capture pretty easily with your basic SEO and your basic on-page. And we set them up, got them all indexed, and saw where they landed, and the authority Google rank them for us in order of meta title, the body content – the keyword in this case, it was 2% keyword density. So just the title outrank the 2% keyword density. The keyword in the URL, the keyword in H1, and then the bold keyword.

Some things that I would expect inside of there is you can actually beat these individuals with combinations. So URL, title and h1 beats would beat all of those. URL and title would be all of those but not beat URL, title, and H1. So it was the combination of those multiple factors, put together that send more optimization signals to Google.

So we’ll be doing more follow on tests like that and testing the different combinations of these HTML tags to see which ones in combination beat everything. And then be able to set a, I don’t want to say a template, but at least an information sheet for SIA members that says “this is what you have to do as part of your basic SEO package”.

And when I talk basic SEO, it’s what normal person would do, a normal webmaster, normal web developer, normal business owner making their website –  this is the basic stuff that you can do set yourself up for success before you get into technical optimization, and running a CORA report and implementing all of that, or doing entities and schema and all that madness. Basic content optimization for SEO. And this is probably the first piece. It’s knowing these things and getting that plugged in.

That’s the goal behind SEO Intelligence Agency.

Did you enjoy this test on critical areas to place your keyword in? Check out our other on-page tests to further boost your chances of getting your page ranked at the top. Visit our other test articles.