On-Page SEO Guide &
Optimization Checklist

Our complete on-page checklist includes everything you’ll need to know to optimize your site for higher rankings.

Whether you’re new to SEO, or just checking up on the latest best practices, we’ve got your covered.

As long as there have been search results, there have been businesses looking to get top rankings to grow their traffic, leads, and ultimately sales.

While many tactics and techniques have come and gone over the years, one of the few that’s remained important since the very beginning, is on-page SEO.

While it’s not exceptionally difficult to perform, it can be trying for new comers, and best practices have changed over the years. With that in mind, we created this continually updated resource to be your one-stop shop for all things on-page SEO.

From beginner methods, to advanced and technical on-page SEO, we cover it all in the sections below.

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO, at it’s most basic level, is the practice of optimizing your site’s pages and posts. That includes both content and under-the-hood code.

To get an idea of how your site holds up, ask yourself the following questions:

 

When was the last time you updated your title/meta descriptions?

Does your site content flow naturally? Is the writing contextually relevant?

 

How long does it take for your most important website pages to load?

The answers to the above questions will help you determine what areas of on-page SEO will need to be prioritized for the fastest results.

Before you even think about investing the time and energy required to earn high-quality links, your first priority should be to ensure your website content is optimized with on-page SEO best practices in mind.

So what are some of the most important factors to consider? They say a picture’s worth a thousand words…

On-Page SEO Factors

When Google (or any search engine for that matter) crawls a web page, it considers a number of factors. How well it is able to process the page contents is a good indicator of how well your page is optimized.

But let’s take an even closer look at how Google does this, and how you can improve Google’s understanding of your website content.

Click the image to expand to full view.

On-Page SEO Checklist (How-To Guide)

While it may seem obvious to experienced business owners, it bears mentioning that keyword research is a vital precursor to performing any actual on-page SEO.

Researching keywords that have both impact and visibility, but are reasonably obtainable, can indeed be a tough balance to strike. But don’t get discouraged, it’s definitely possible.

Anyways, once you have your list of target keywords for a given page, you’re ready to get started.

Browse through the list below and be sure to dig deeper on any subjects you don’t feel 100% confident about.

Here’s how you can start to optimize your site, page by page.

Basic On-Page SEO Techniques

First and foremost, focus keywords in the title of your page. 

The closer your keyword is to the beginning of the title, the better. But above all, make sure that your title makes sense and the keyword use is natural.

Try mixing up your format by using questions or tag modifiers as well. 

Tag modifiers are great to use for updated content. And honestly, it’s more tempting to click on a source with modifiers like “(2020 Update)” or “(NEW)”. 

Best practice is constantly evolving and readers don’t want to waste their time with outdated content.

Meta Descriptions have remained good practice for On Page Seo for years. 

So, you’ll want to make sure you include your keyword in the page’s meta description. While meta descriptions do not actually affect rankings directly, they can increase CTR when they’re well-written and convincing.

That in turn can have an impact on rankings. So give your meta descriptions some love.

Think about what would compel a reader to click your result over your competitors. If you’re lacking in the inspiration department, check out some top-ranking pages in the SERPs to see what they’re doing.

When considering a URL, be sure to consider your target keywords. Recently, Google moved URLs above Page Title Tags, so URLs are more important now than ever.

But it’s pretty simple. Keep your Urls neat, keyword-focused, and short. Just like we did for this post.

The H1 tag is a prominent tag you’re going to use on any page. It’s a staple of on page seo.

So just be sure to make it your first heading tag, and include your keyword rich title (with a modifier when appropriate).

While rather obvious, make sure you use your keyword in the first paragraph of your post. This is one of a variety of ranking factors looked at by Google and other search engines.

Tip: If you use WordPress, install WordPress SEO by Yoast. You’ll get clear instructions on how to optimize each page of your site in a very easy to understand way.

Keyword frequency is as easy as it sounds. Although, it’s not a huge SEO factor it can definitely improve your SERP ranking.

Basically, it reinforces Google’s algorithm that your keyword is, indeed, the page’s topic.

Proper H2 and H3 heading tags helps structure your content for readers and search engines. They provide a hierarchy for the page that tells search engines which heading should have more weight.

You should include variations of your keyword in your headings to give your on-page SEO a boost.

Including variations of your chosen keyword can boost your on-page SEO.

So, maybe keyword variations might be more important than you initially thought? 

You can easily find Latent Semantic Index Keywords, or LSI keywords, by searching your keyword in Google and scrolling down. Once you’re there, you’ll be able to find related searches. Pretty simple! 

Obviously, you can include this naturally as you write or try implementing variations in your body text, headings and even images.

Advanced On-Page SEO Techniques

Link to 1-2 authoritative sites. And use do follow tags. Linking to reputable sources adds trust to your site in Google’s eyes. 

Plus, it’s a great way to offer your readers additional value by pointing them to new resources they can discover.

People read differently online. We scan pages. In fact, very few of you will read every word of this post. 

Part of the reason is the sheer volume of content that is published online. The other half is the fact that our new digital lives offer far too many distractions.

Brevity is key. Breaking up the text in your posts makes your content more consumable and easier to read. Break up the text on your page and be sure to ditch publishing big blocks of text.

Comprehensive content over 1,000 words performs better in search and gives you ample room to naturally add keywords throughout the page. 

it’s a must have for on page SEO in 2020. 

And it’s not as difficult as it sounds. Make sure to include detailed information on a topic, that way users or potential leads can find everything they’re looking for with your resource.

Internal Linking is vital. So, link internally within your site to important posts and pages. 

This keeps Google on your site longer, which means more pages get crawled on your site. It also helps improve visitor “time on site” — meaning more opportunities to convert traffic into conversions.

Google measures bounce rate and dwell time, so a fast website is one of the quickest paths towards better conversions. 

A slow website impacts UX and therefore can ding you in the SEO department. The speed of your server is just one more factor that plays into good on-page SEO. A fast website is a must-have.

 

There are a number of things you can do to speed up your website like:

  • Minify CSS, JavaScript, and HTML

  • Enable compression
  • Enable browser caching
  • Minify resources
  • Optimize images
  • Optimize CSS Delivery
  • Prioritize above-the-fold content
  • Reduce the number of plugins you use on your site
  • Reduce redirects
Want to get the word out? 

Give your visitors the opportunity to amplify your message. Social shares allow you to reach a large target audience virtually for free. 

So, engage your followers (or new users!) with easily shared content.

If your website doesn’t get clicked on it sends a strong signal to Google that visitors aren’t finding your content useful.

The opposite is also true: more clicks, more relevancy. 

Remember to write with search intent in mind. Google will usually give you a bump in search results. 

You can maximize your CTR by writing extremely compelling copy that is geared towards making people click.

The short version is that adding markup to your web pages gives you more visibility in search and helps improve your on-page SEO.

Here’s what Google has to say:

Including structured data markup in web content helps Google algorithms better index and understand the content. Some data can also be used to create and display Rich Snippets within the search results. For example, the Rich Snippet at the right shows search results for a movie, including review stars, an aggregate rating value, and vote count — very useful to anyone searching for information about this movie.

Content should always be unique. 

I mean, for the obvious reason that plagiarism is a huge no, but also for the fact that it’s engaging your audience. 

Making your content valuable with search intent in mind should be a top priority. Add details like photos and block content to spice it up. Plus strong copywriting skills can only help improve your on-page SEO.

Prioritizing content and pages is important when considering web site structure. Ask yourself one important question:

What page do you want visitors to reach?

Make it no more than 3 clicks from the home page. That way, you’ll get better rankings and conversions.

All you have is 3 seconds. Make it count.

Your CTA should immediately be obvious within 3 seconds of landing on your site. 

Check Google Analytics and see what your bounce rate is, from there work to reduce the number by testing different value propositions and calls-to-action.

Feeling Overwhelmed?

You’re not alone. On Page SEO can be challenging. If you’re looking for a professional seo service, or a custom digital marketing solution, feel free to get in touch with us. We’d love to hear from you.

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