It is basically the process of optimizing content pages of a website with the aim to secure better rankings in search engine result pages (SERPs) and drive more traffic to those pages. The tactics so involved enable any single given page to rank for a primary targeted keyword.
Here is a comprehensive on-page SEO checklist that you can use before publishing any new page or post on your website. This checklist will also come in handy if you want to screen any previously published website page or content.
The Comprehensive 32 Point On-Page SEO Checklist
1. Perform Keyword Research:
The first step of on-page SEO is to perform keyword research to come up with the best keyword for a specific content page on your website. The best one is the term or phrase that is:
- Relevant to the main topic or theme – It should accurately describe your content
- Frequently searched by the target audience – Its search volume is huge enough to drive traffic to your website
- Within the competitive potential of your website – Your site’s authority should be high enough to rank over the other websites, already ranking for that keyword.
2. Select a Primary Keyword for the Content:
Once you have the primary keyword, use it on one content page of your website. Prepare an editorial calendar and assign one keyword to every page.
3. Keep the Primary Keyword Exclusive to Just One Page:
You should never assign the primary keyword to more than just a single content page on your website. Remember that the “cannibalization” problem will occur if you try to assign a similar keyword to more than one page. This issue causes search engines to get confused about which page is most important and eventually, they would rank none. A duplicate content checker can be helpful in such a situation.
4. Pick 3 – 5 Related Keywords for the Content:
Known as latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords, these are terms or phrases that are semantically or synonymously related to the primary keyword. Find 2 or 3 LSI keywords related to your primary keyword.
5. Create a Content Plan:
Create a content plan to ensure the appropriate use of the primary keyword. Decide if the keyword should be used in a regular blog post, landing page, or evergreen content. Also, decide the length of the content and the way you want the content to back your marketing funnel.
- Keep the content in line with the search intent – It should offer what users look for when performing the search
- Decide how the content fits your sales funnel – Using a consumer journey mapping template, create content that matches a particular purchase funnel level.
- Create content better than the already ranking ones.
6. Create a Title with the Primary Keyword:
Create a title that could appeal both the search engine and the target audience with the primary keyword placed at the beginning of the title. It should be crisp yet descriptive enough to tell readers why the content is worth reading.
7. Use H1 Tag for the Title:
When giving a title to your content, add it to the H1 tag. As a piece of HTML code and H1 title tag suggests search engines that the phrase is the title of the content page and a short description of the content.
8. Write the Content, Comprising 300 Words or More:
The length of the content may differ based on the purpose of your page or how deeply you want to cover the topic. The best practice is to keep it over 300 words, but aiming for at least 800 words is even better as detailed posts are more likely to get a great rank.
9. Craft Original Content:
Your content shouldn’t be copied from any other source and should be original. Search engines will either penalize you or not rank your page altogether if you have duplicate content on your website.
10. Create Quality Content:
Even if you want to SEO-optimize your content, remember that your #1 focus should be your audience. Create content that is valuable, informative, unique, and written well.
11. Write for an Eight-Grader:
High-quality content doesn’t mean it should appear like a research thesis or contain complex technical jargon, terms, and phrases. Rather, it should be written for a layman with short sentences and paragraphs. On the Flesch Reading Scale, your content should be of the eighth-grade reading level.
12. Include the Primary Keyword with a Keyword Density of 2-3%:
Use the primary keyword twice or thrice for every 100 words to ensure the keyword density is 2-3%. This helps search engines to identify the basic theme of your content.
13. Use Related Keywords At Least Once in the Copy:
Also, use the related keywords naturally at least once in your content piece.
14. Keep the Content Scannable:
Keep your content easy to scan and understand for both search engines and readers. An easy way to do this is by:
- Dividing content into sections with subheadings
- Using bullets for list of information
- Using bold texts or callouts for important information
15. Use H2 Tags for Subheadings:
This helps search engines recognize your content subheadings or its major points. Similar to the H1 tag, this HTML code suggests that your content piece is important to the content topic.
16. Use the Primary Keyword in At least One Subheading:
Include the primary keyword in at least one subheading in your copy. You can use them more than once in subheadings if the keyword goes well with the natural flow of your content.
17. Use The Primary keyword in the Introductory and Concluding Paragraph:
To tell search engines that the content page is closely related to the topic, mention the main keyword at the beginning and towards the end of the copy.
18. Add Relevant Internal Links to Other Pages on the Website:
Links help search engines better understand your content topic. Besides adding relevant links to other pages of your website, try using the target keyword as an anchored text for the link.
19. Add Relevant External Links to Top-Quality Websites:
This again helps search crawlers to better understand the content by giving it the necessary context. Include high-quality and valuable outbound links while citing a source in your copy.
20. Create Outbound Links for New Pages:
Even if a visitor clicks an external link while reading your content, you would never want them to leave your website altogether. An easy way to ensure this is by creating an outbound link that opens in a new browser window. This ensures that your website will remain open if the user chooses to visit another website temporarily.
21. Include At least One Image:
Spruce up your content by adding at least one image to the copy, so that it appears more valuable and appealing to readers as well as search engines.
22. Name the Image with the Primary Keyword:
Before uploading an image, name the image file with a phrase containing the primary keyword.
23. Include the Primary Keyword to the Image Title:
Also, add the main keyword to the image title for the graphic.
24. Include the Primary Keyword to the Image Alt Tag:
The primary keyword should further be added to the image alt tag for that graphic.
25. Use a Properly-Sized Image:
Your image shouldn’t be large enough to slow down the loading speed of your page. Before uploading large files, compress and resize them to the predefined ideal size.
26. Create a User-Friendly URL using the Primary Keyword:
Use the primary keyword to create an SEO-friendly title. In the permalink, avoid adding any special characters, stop words, or anything extraneous.
27. Give Relevant Categories & Tags to Blog Posts:
Tags and categories help arrange on-site content in an orderly fashion. In the case of a blog post, add the categories and tags that are relevant to the topic of the blog.
28. Create Optimized Meta Title & Description:
A meta title describes the main topic of the web content and a meta description is a short expansion of the title. They both get displayed in SERPs and help search crawlers to understand a piece of content in a better way. Your meta title should be less than 60 characters and meta description should be less than 320. The primary keyword should appear earlier in both.
29. Add Structured Data Markup:
Adding a schema or structured data markup to your page makes your content look more attractive in SERPs. These are additional codes that aid search engines to identify specific sections in your content. It also helps improve search visibility and enriches search results.
30. Include Social Sharing Links:
Optimizing a copy both for organic search and social media increases its odds of being found easily. Integrate sharing options like click-to-tweet buttons and other similar calls to actions to the content page.
31. Proofread the Content:
Before publishing a copy to your website, proofread it thoroughly for data accuracy as well as spelling and grammatical errors. This is important to ensure that the content is of high-quality, authentic, and worthy of being at the top of search results.
32. Give a Final Check to Your Work:
Give a finishing touch to your entire work by checking on-page SEO for one last time using a popular on-site SEO checking tool. This ensures that you don’t miss out on any action item along the way.
Follow this handy checklist – before publishing a new copy or to examine an existing one – to make your web pages get more visibility and traffic with a higher search engine ranking.
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