Disk-shaped metal nanoparticles on high-index substrates can support resonant surface plasmon polariton (SPP) modes at the interface between the particle and the substrate. We demonstrate that this new conceptual model of nanoparticle scattering allows clear predictive abilities, beyond the dipole model. As would be expected from the nature of the mode, the SPP resonance is very sensitive to the area in contact with the substrate, and insensitive to particle height. We can employ this new understanding to minimise mode out-coupling and Ohmic losses in the particles. Taking into account optical losses due to parasitic absorption and outcoupling of scattered light, we estimate that an optimal array of nanoparticles on a 2 μm Si substrate can provide up to 71% of the enhancement in absorption achievable with an ideal Lambertian rear-reflector. This result compares to an estimate of 67% for conventional pyramid-type light trapping schemes.