- Page Title & H1 Tags.
- Use descriptive and SEO-friendly URLs.
- Subheadings and Header Tags.
- Keyword Placements.
- Good User Experience (UX).
- Internal Links.
- External / Outbound Links.
- Spread secondary/LSI keywords.
- Image Optimization.
- Video Optimization.
- Strong Call-To-Action.
- Schema Markup.
- Meta Descriptions.
- Make Sure Your Website Is Crawlable and Indexable.
- Track and Target the Right Keywords.
- Avoid Keyword Cannibalization.
- Satisfy Search Intent.
- Optimize for Voice Searches.
- Use Modifiers in Your Titles and Keywords.
- Featured Snippets.
- Write Relevant, Quality, Long-Form Content.
- Add Social Sharing Buttons.
- Loading Speed.
- Mobile-First Indexing and Responsive Design.
- Reviews and Comment.
The Complete On-Page SEO Checklist
1. Page Title & H1 Tags
The title is one of the most significant on-page SEO factors. It should include the primary keyword. Your title tags are one of the things that web crawlers crawl through in your site to determine the intent of your page and be able to partner it with a search query.
Make your titles unique and eye-catching. It should also be descriptive and concise (about 60 characters long), and it should help your users get a clear idea of what your page is all about.
Do not forget to wrap your title in an H1 title tag — a piece of HTML code that tells search engines that the copy you wrap in it is the page’s title copy and an important element in your content.
2. Use descriptive and SEO-friendly URLs
Your URL should include your primary keyword. Avoid using special characters in your URL and keep it short. Including your primary keyword in your URL may only have a small effect on your rank at SERPs. Doing so will make it easy for both users and search engines to read and remember your URL.
3. Subheadings and Header Tags
For better user experience, it is ideal that you include subheadings in your content. Doing so will give you the opportunity to include your keywords in your content. Moreover, it will make your content easier to scan. Since people nowadays don’t have the patience to read through your article, subheadings serve as roadmaps that will help your readers easily go through your content and find the information they need.
Remember to divide your content into logical and scannable chunks that can be easily digested by your readers. Also, similar to what you will do to your page title, do not forget to wrap your subheadings in the H2, H3, and so on tags of your HTML code. This will inform search engines that the copies you wrote are important and related to the topic of your page.
4. Keyword Placements
It is best practice to place your keywords on your page’s title, URL, meta descriptions, subheadings (if possible), and in the first 100 words of your content.
Placing your keywords within the first 100 words of your content will help Google easily understand what your page is all about. It is best to use your keywords 2 to 3 times per hundred words. However, beware of keyword stuffing — bombarding your content with your primary keywords to manipulate your site’s ranking in SERPs. Place your keywords as natural and seamless as possible in your content.
5. Good User Experience (UX)
You want users to have a seamless experience while visiting your site. A lot of factors contribute to good user experience. To give you an idea, these factors include:
- Making your content easy to understand;
- Ensuring that all your links are working;
- Improving your site’s loading speed; and
- Having a responsive design.
If a user is using mobile for browsing, it will be pleasing if the font type, size, and color are readable. Make sure that the buttons on your site are not too big or too small. If your site is difficult to navigate, your bounce rate will increase yielding bad results for your website’s performance.
6. Internal Links
Internal links are links in your content that is connected to other pages or articles within your website. Using internal links is like making a trail for users to explore your page, therefore creating higher traffic on your site. Moreover, adding a number of internal links on your page will increase dwell time on your website. Longer dwell time in a page means better SEO ranking. Crawlers also use links to transfer from one page to another and to discover new web pages. That is why it is ideal for including links on your pages.
When adding internal links on your page, make sure that you use clear, relevant, and descriptive anchor texts. This will help the reader get a clear grasp of what that link is all about and how that is related to your page. The pages you link to should be relevant to your topic for it to be helpful to your reader. Make sure to update links if needed and fix broken links if there are any.
7. External or Outbound Links
External links are links in your content whose pages are not found in your website. It also helps crawlers further understand your content. If you practice linking to websites that are related to your topic and has high domain authority (DA), you increase the credibility of your page, which is important for SEO. To check a site’s domain authority, you may use MozBar or Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest.
Quick reminder: When a user clicks on your outbound links, make sure that it will open in a new window or tab so that your website remains open even though they’re visiting your outbound links.
8. Spread secondary/LSI keywords
LSI or latent semantic indexing keywords are related keywords or phrases that are synonymous or semantically related to your primary keyword.
Years ago, Google launched its Hummingbird algorithm, an update that allows Google to understand a page’s theme by not only looking through the keywords. By using LSI keywords, you add more context to your content, making it relevant to broad topics. Google then will see that your content is of high quality and should be ranked higher on SERPs.
9. Image Optimization
Using images in your content will make the information you present easier to understand and makes your page interesting. It also contributes to your page’s overall ranking in SERPs. It is ideal for adding the keyword in your image file name, title, and alt text.
Use Alt tags. These are the words that appear in an image fails to upload properly on your page. It is used to describe the image and how it is connected to your content. It is also used by crawlers to index your image accurately.
Use high-quality images and do not forget to compress them before uploading it on your site and properly resizing it to your intended display to make sure that it will not slow down your page’s loading time.
10. Video Optimization
Aside from images, you can also add videos on your page. Video is one of the preferred mediums to consume information online. Adding videos in your content will engage your visitors and will increase their dwell time on your page.
When optimizing your video content, note some basic reminders:
- The title of your video should be concise, engaging, and must include your primary keyword.
- Add a full description of your video which describes the topic being tackled or what your viewers can expect to see. Do not forget to include your keywords and LSI keywords in the description.
- Choose high-quality and relevant thumbnails.
- You can add subtitles, if possible, for it to be more user-friendly.
- Make sure that your video is relevant to the rest of your content.
11. Have a Strong Call-To-Action
After site visitors consume your page’s content, they should know what to do next. You can help them by having a clear call-to-action. Your call-to-action should be related to the intent of your content. For example, if your page’s intent is informational, then your CTA may be “Sign up now.”
12. Schema Markup
Schema helps in organizing the structure of your data to help search engines read your page and rank it in the SERPs.
According to Moz, “Schema.org is the result of a collaboration between Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo! to help you provide the information their search engines need to understand your content and provide the best search results possible at this time. Adding Schema markup to your HTML improves the way your page displays in SERPs by enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed beneath the page title.”
An example of a Schema markup is the star ratings you find in search results when you Google for a nearby hotel or restaurant. Another example is when you find an image attached to the result of your query on SERPs. Adding Schema markup will help increase your page’s CTR.
13. Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions help your result stand out in SERPs and have a higher CTR. It is a small snippet of text that best describes your page’s content — reading through it should give your reader what to expect before reading your article. It is also ideal for including a strong CTA in your meta description. Do not forget to include your primary keyword in the meta description of your page.
Bonus on-page SEO factors you can optimize:
14. Make Sure Your Website Is Crawlable and Indexable
Search engines scour, evaluate, and determine billions of content online to know which has the highest probability of answering a human’s query. They do this by crawling and indexing.
Crawling is the process of scouring through existing, new, and updated contents on the internet. Search engines send out crawlers or spiders to do this. These crawlers explore a number of web pages and follow the links in these pages to discover new URLs. Through this, they find new content that they can index.
Of course, you have the option of blocking crawlers to crawl and index your page. You may do that by using Robots.txt. You can also use Google Search Console and/or Screaming Frog to know if you have pages that have a “no index” tag that you want to be indexed.
15. Track and Target the Right Keywords
One of the integral factors for ranking in SERPs is knowing what keywords users use when searching for content they need. Take into consideration your target audience. What are they searching for? What keywords are they using when searching for that query? To research keywords, you can use the following tools: Google Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool, SEMrush, and Long Tail Pro.
An ideal keyword (this can be a phrase as well) is relevant to the main topic of your content and is used by your target audience when searching on search engines.
16. Avoid Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization happens when two or more web pages from your website target the same primary keyword or phrase. When this happens, you confuse search engines in pointing which page is more important. Therefore, neither pages from your website will be ranked. Remember one primary keyword for one page.
17. Satisfy Search Intent
There are four primary categories of search intent:
- Informational – how-tos, tutorials
- Transactional – making a purchase
- Comparison – comparing different products
- Navigational – finding a particular website
Make sure that your content satisfies the search intent of your website visitor. If your user’s intent is searching for the similarities and differences of two products, your content should not be geared towards making a sale.
18. Optimize for Voice Searches
Voice search is the option of speaking to a device to search through search engines instead of typing your queries. According to Forbes, “Voice search drastically improves user experience — and because of that, by the year 2020, half of all online searches will be made through voice search. Due to its prolific use, search engines such as Google are placing a higher emphasis on voice search optimization.”
19. Use Modifiers in Your Titles and Keywords
Adding modifiers are helpful in forming long-tail keywords. Meaning, aside from your primary keyword, you can be ranked for other variations, thus increasing organic traffic in your website. Modifiers also appear in voice searches.
20. Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are organic answer boxes on top of SERPs that search engines pulled from websites for specific queries. It helps increase organic traffic on your site. Sites where these featured snippets are pulled from coming from websites that rank in the top 5 SERPs positions.
Make sure to provide clear and concise answers to commonly-raised questions, link out to high authority page sources, have your content optimized for mobile, have HTTPS installed, and use a number of headers for your snippet to be featured.
21. Write Relevant, Quality, Long-Form Content
Ideally, longer posts are better (1,000 to 2,000 words) because it attracts more backlinks and therefore increases your page’s authority and ranking in SERPs. Your content should be of high-quality, original, and relevant. The information you disseminate should be related to your goal category of search intent. It is also practical to focus on contents that will remain useful and relevant over a long period of time. That way, the information you impart in your content will not be easily outdated.
Quality content should be easily understood. It doesn’t have to be filled with jargon and highfalutin words that only industry professionals could understand. To make information look organized in your page, you may also use bullet points and number lists in your content. It is also ideal to write in short paragraphs to make your content easier to digest. Of course, content is not limited to text. You are free to include media in your content to make it easier to understand and more entertaining to read.
22. Add Social Sharing Buttons
Good content is more likely to (and must) be shared. In this day and age, where social media is widely used by almost everyone everywhere, a lot of information pass through it. If you add social media sharing buttons on your page, it becomes easily distributed across multiple platforms, and you can gain more traffic and brand recognition. It will also send signals to search engines that your content is insightful.
23. Loading Speed
Admit it or not, no one likes a slow loading website. Make your visitors happy when they are on your site by speeding up your website as much as you can. Google is also using the loading speed as a ranking factor, so make sure to optimize your page speed because the faster your page loads, your rank becomes higher. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to check your site’s loading speed and to look for other factors that affect your website’s loading speed.
24. Mobile-First Indexing and Responsive Design
Mobile-first indexing means that Google will likely use the mobile version of your page for indexing and ranking. Thus, optimizing your site for mobile is a necessity. Also, a lot of users are using their smartphones when using search engines, so optimizing your site for mobile will improve your website’s traffic and rank in SERPs. If your website has a responsive design, it can easily adapt its layout depending on the user’s device for browsing.
25. Reviews and Comment
You may also add a comments box on your pages, especially blog pages, to engage with your readers and to know if they like your content or not. It will also increase dwell time in the site as readers will also read through the comments before giving their own. Do not forget to reply to the comments of your readers.
Ticking all the boxes in this SEO on-page optimization checklist will optimize your website for 2020. Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind with on-page SEO:
- You can have cost-effective marketing that will help you have a greater return on your investment.
- Having an optimized website will help you create buzz due to the specific and targeted keywords that are related to your business.
- With good SEO practices, consumers will be encouraged to visit the site more often if your website has a cleaner, faster page speed.
Optimizing your website for the succeeding year may be overwhelming. If you find yourself lacking time to do so, you can always hire a data-driven digital marketing company to do the work for you and make sure that you optimize your site the right way for 2020.