The Complete On-Page SEO Checklist
While implementing a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, digital marketers often focus only on posting fresh content and building high-quality back links. But you cannot leverage the off-page SEO techniques without optimizing each web page for search engines. Before publishing a blog post, you must use on-page SEO techniques to convey key information about the web page to the search engines. You can increase a website’s search engine ranking only by combining on-page and off-page SEO techniques seamlessly. Its very important for webmasters to follow an on-page SEO checklist for better results.
In addition to publishing fresh content, you need to fine-tune the web page’s HTML source code and content according to the latest search engine guidelines and using the right plugins or tools. It is always important for you to check several factors to increase click-through rate and reduce bounce rate in addition to improving the web page’s search engine ranking. You must prepare a comprehensive SEO checklist to optimize every web page for search engines while publishing fresh content.
A 25-Point On-page SEO Checklist to Optimize Every Web Page for Search Engines
Set up Google Search Console
Google search console comes with features to help you identify and fix the issues affecting a website’s ranking on Google search results. You must start the on-page optimization process by installing and configuring the Google search console. In addition to improving the web page’s performance of Google search pages, the free service will help them to submit a sitemap, find relevant keywords, monitor backlinks, and resolve technical issues.
Install Google Analytics
You cannot improve a website’s search engine ranking without understanding its traffic. The free analytics service provided by Google helps them to monitor, understand, and analyze website traffic from various sources. The information helps decision-makers to understand what the website visitors and searchers are looking for on the website. They can easily optimize on-page SEO by integrating Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Set up Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing Webmaster Tools help you to assess and improve a web page’s performance on Bing search results. You can use the online tool to verify the XML sitemap, meta tag, and DNS. Also, they can choose and compare the most relevant keywords for the web page using the built-in keyword research tool. The online tool further helps users to identify and fix the crawling errors affecting the website’s search engine ranking on Bing.
Install An All-in-one SEO Plugin While Using WordPress
You should include an All-in-one SEO plugin like Yoast SEO or Rank Math in the on-page SEO checklist if your website uses the WordPress CMS. In addition to being the most installed SEO plugin for WordPress, Yoast plugin comes with features to facilitate keyword research, keyword optimization, XML sitemap generation, internal linking suggestion, robots.txt creation, and content optimization. I have been using Yoast plugin for more than 6 years now and I always recommend it. Here is a quick guide on Yoast SEO plugin.
However, you can also consider some of the robust alternatives to Yoast SEO like Rank Math. Interested readers can dig more by checking out this blog on Rank Math vs Yoast SEO.
Submit XML Sitemap to Search Engines
An XML sitemap helps search engines to collect information about the web pages and understand the relationships between various web pages. You can use the XML sitemap as a road map to help make search engines index all the important web pages on the website properly. In addition to creating the XML sitemap, they must submit the sitemap to Google and Bing using Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools respectively.
I have been using Yoast Plugin to automate the XML sitemap handling. Otherwise, you have to manually update sitemap after you publish new posts/blogs or any other details in your website.
Prepare Robots.txt for the Website
While crawling or indexing a website, search engines refer to the robots txt file to understand the web pages they must index and the web pages they should ignore. The text files help you to ensure that the important and relevant web pages are indexed by the search engines. After creating and updating the robots.txt, they must store the text file in the website’s root folder. They can further increase the crawling budget by submitting the robots.txt file to Google and Bing.
Install a Rich Snippet Plugin for WordPress
You use rich snippets as an SEO tool to make searchers visit the website. The rich snippets persuade searchers to click on a specific search result by providing relevant information about the web page compellingly. While using WordPress, you can generate or add rich snippets using plugins like All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets and WP Review. These plugins help users to improve both search engine visibility and click-through rate.
Find Relevant Keywords
Before creating and posting content, you must identify the most relevant keywords for a specific topic. They can easily find the keywords or keyphrases for which the web page or blog will rank on search engine result pages (SERPs) using several tools –
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- Keyword Surfer
- Bulk Keyword Generator
- Keyword Generator
- Answer the Public.
In addition to suggesting keywords, these tools help you to compare the keywords using important parameters like monthly search volumes and high/low competition.
Keep the URL SEO-Friendly
Both search engines and searchers love URLs that are easier to read and recall. Before posting fresh content, you must focus on keeping the URL SEO-friendly. They can easily optimize the URL for search engines by restricting its length to 100 characters. However, they need to ensure that the URL depicts the title of the blog post clearly on SERPs.
Identify Primary and Related Keywords for Content
Before writing a piece of content, you need to clearly identify the primary keyword and the related keywords. It is also important to assign the primary keyword to a single web page on the website. You can even maintain a content writing calendar to assign the targeted keywords to multiple pieces of content. Here are some innovative ideas to create and maintain your content calendar. At the same time, the content must contain five to six related keywords that are related to the primary keyword semantically.
Include the Primary Keyword in the URL
In addition to keeping the URL short, you must explore ways to include the primary keyword in the URL. The URL will not contribute to increases the web page’s search engine ranking. But it will add authority to the web page’s overall domain when search engines assess its relevance for specific search keywords or keyphrases.
Use Appropriate Heading Tags
HTML allows you to depict the web page’s title to web browsers and search engines using six different heading tags – H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6. While posting the content, you must clearly identify the web page’s title using the H1 tag. Likewise, you can differentiate the subheadings from the content using H2 tags. The tags will make the search engine understand the nature of content clearly while indexing the web page.
Write Long-Form Content
According to SearchEngineLand.com, “If you want your articles to rank well, consider using long-form content.”
According to the research by SERPIQ, average content length of top 10 results ranges from 2450 words to a little above 2000 words.
Also as per another study by Hubspot, “Articles with a word count between 2,250 and 2,500 earn the most organic traffic.“
While planning and writing content, you must try to increase its word count to at least 2000 words. The increase in word count will make the content look well-researched. However, you must not increase the word count by including information that is not related to the topic. It is always advisable to decide the appropriate word count according to the purpose and depth of the content.
Include Primary Keyword in the First Paragraph
The search engines understand the nature of content by reading the first 100 to 150 words of the content. You can easily make the search engines and readers understand what the content is about by including the primary keyword in the first paragraph. It is also a good idea to focus on including the primary keyword naturally in the first 100 to 150 words of the article or blog post.
Focus on Maintaining Keyword Density
The search engines use the primary keyword as a tool to understand the theme of the content. You can convey the theme of the content to the search engine clearly by maintaining keyword density. While writing content, you should maintain a 2% to 3% density of the primary keywords. However, you must not try to stuff the primary keyword and repeat them after 100 words. Also, you need to ensure that every related keyword is included in the content at least once.
Check Originality of Content
Both Google and Bing penalize websites containing duplicate content. While writing fresh content, you need to ensure that the same textual content is not included in any existing web page. You can easily check the originality of content using popular online tools like Copyscape, Quetext, or Grammarly. Also, you can use Yoast SEO while working with WordPress to identify and fix duplicate content issues. You should publish a piece of content only after establishing its uniqueness.
Connect the Web Pages Internally
Interlinking is one low hanging fruit, which is often missed by webmasters while preparing their on-page SEO checklist. The search engines understand the interrelationship between various web pages on the same websites based on internal links. When you link a new web page or blog post to existing content, it becomes easier for search engines to crawl and understand the fresh content. You must include 3 to 4 internal links to existing blogs while writing and publishing fresh content.
Include Outbound Links to High-Quality Websites
In addition to interlinking web pages, you need to add credibility to the content by including outbound links to high quality and authority websites. While writing content, you can easily link the content externally to authority websites by including information and statistics collected from those websites. For instance, you can link the content on SEO externally to one of the most popular and credible websites related to digital marketing.
Combine Textual and Multimedia Content
In addition to writing fresh and high-quality content, you must complement the textual content with multimedia content. You can easily keep the visitors engaged by including images and videos in the article or web page. Likewise, you can interact with the website visitors by creating an interactive quiz or conducting an online poll. The engagement and interaction will improve the website’s performance of search result pages in the long run.
Optimize the Images for Search Engines
You can easily keep the visitors engaged by embedding multiple images in the article or blog. But you must remember that the images impact the website’s search engine visibility by reducing is loading speed. You must make the website’s loading speed intact by reducing the size of image files before uploading. I would suggest the use of lossless compression for this purpose. At the same time, you must optimize the images for search engines by using descriptive alt tags and including title tags.
Tinypng is an amazing site, which compresses your .jpeg or .png image using lossless compression method. It also provides a WordPress plugin, which can be used in your website
Don’t Forget to Fine-tune Meta Title
This should be one of the most important factors in your on-page SEO checklist. Both search engines and searchers know the title of a web page by referring to its meta title. As the meta title appears on SERPs, the searchers decide about visiting a web page by reading its meta title. While preparing the SEO checklist, you must focus on fine-tuning the meta titles by including the primary keyword. It is also advisable to use the primary keyword at the beginning of the meta title. However, you must restrict the length of the meta title to 60 characters.
Optimize the Meta Description
Meta description complements meta title by summarizing the web page’s content for both search engines and searchers. The search engines refer to the meta description to understand the web page’s content. Likewise, the searchers decide about visiting a web page only after reading the meta description appearing on SERPs. You can easily optimize the meta description by adopting simple best practices like including the primary keyword and a call-to-action. However, it is also important to restrict the length of the meta description to 120 to 160 characters.
Here is a complete guide to meta description best practices and its impact on your site health and SEO.
You also need to keep a tag on other important Meta tags apart from meta title and description.
Identify and Fix Crawl Errors
Often search engines do not index or crawl new web pages due to several issues. While optimizing the web page for search engines, you must focus on identifying and fixing all crawling issues:
- Website errors: Site Errors include DNS errors, server errors[commonly denoted by 5xx errors], robots text file errors
- URL Errors: Typically the 4xx errors like URL not found errors or No-index issues
You should check the Google search console and Bing search console regularly to solve these issues. Popular SEO plugins like Yoast help you to fix all crawling issues while optimizing a WordPress website. Also, you can identify and understand various crawling issues using free tools like Screaming Frog.
Facilitate Visitor Interaction
You can impress search engines and increase website revisits by interacting with website visitors proactively. It is always important to include options on each web page to enable visitors to share the content on popular social networking platforms. Also, you must include options in the web pages for posting comments and reviews. You can easily increase the website’s search engine ranking by responding to the comments posted by visitors proactively.
Boost the Website’s User Experience
You cannot increase a website’s search engine ranking without improving its user experience. While preparing the on-page SEO checklist, you must focus on making the website accessible on both computers and mobile devices. Likewise, you must make the website load in less than two seconds to prevent visitor abandonment and increase search engine visibility. It is always important to assess the website’s user experience on various devices before implementing on-page and off-page SEO.
The on-page SEO checklist will help you to optimize every web page on a website for search engines while publishing fresh content. If you are a WordPress website owners, please free to check out our WordPress SEO checklist.
But the search engines change their guidelines and algorithms frequently to deliver more relevant search results to users. Likewise, the new SEO tools and plugins come with features to address the shortcomings of existing software applications. Hence, you must review and update the on-page SEO checklist regularly to boost a web page’s search engine ranking.