An on-page SEO checklist will ensure you don’t forget anything important when creating epic content.
When you pay attention to on page SEO, your content will reach a better audience and rank higher.
We’ve created the ultimate checklist for on-page SEO. Bookmark this checklist and refer to it often.
What Is On-Page SEO, And Does It Matter?
On-Page SEO tells search engines what your content is about. It also describes to the search engines how people use your content.
A search engine uses on-page SEO to determine your content’s quality and relevance to searchers.
When you don’t optimize your on-page SEO, you won’t get search traffic. Some aspects that you can optimize include the URL, your headers, content, links, and more.
When you optimize your page, you make it easier for the right audience to discover your content. It also helps search engines bring more traffic to your page.
On-Page Checklist For SEO: 29 Things You Should Do Now
It’s relatively easy to optimize your on-page SEO. At Contentellect, we consistently put our content through this on-page SEO checklist. It ensures that we create epic content that ranks.
Here’s what you should do before you hit publish on your next content.
1: Keep Your URL Short
Your URL should be short. It should also contain your primary keyword.
Since the primary keyword in your URL is a ranking factor, you don’t want to spam your keyword multiple times in the URL.
An excellent example of a short, user-friendly, optimized URL is:
A bad example is:
An even worse URL is one that’s got no meaning, such as:
2: Catch Them With A Meta-Title
Meta-titles should always include your primary keyword. Add some modifiers, such as the current year or power words, to improve the click-through rate (CTR).
An excellent example is:
- On-Page SEO Checklist - 29 Things You Can Do Now
A bad example of a meta-title is:
- On-Page SEO - Content Writing Expert
Your meta-title is the ever-helpful salesperson that needs to grab a reader’s attention within seconds. If you write a dull, bland title, don’t expect to see readers storming to consume your content.
3: Reel Them In With A Meta-Description
Keep your meta-description under 160 characters. Include your primary keyword at least once.
Readers see meta-descriptions right after meta-titles.
The meta-description should intrigue them but also offer value. Let your meta-description end with an open question or a cliffhanger to make people click.
You could even use FOMO (fear of missing out) or humour to improve that CTR. You’ve only got 160 characters to sell your content to a reader. Use it wisely.
4: Use A Single H1
Use only one H1 header per page. Your H1 must always contain your primary keyword.
An excellent example is:
- The Ultimate On-Page SEO Checklist
The catchier and simpler your title is, the easier it becomes for search engines and people to understand your content.
Don’t use clickbait or obscure titles. Doing this can lead to more bounces. If loads of people “bounce” from your content, search engines will deem it poor quality. You’ll end up losing traffic and drop in the rankings.
As they say, the best place to hide a body is on Google’s page 2. Make sure you don’t end up there.
5: Entice With An Epic Intro
Write an excellent introduction. Include your primary keyword within the first paragraph.
A bad introduction will lead to readers clicking away from your site. When readers quickly click away from your site, this is usually a bad user signal, and you can lose traffic and authority.
Use our guide to writing blog introductions. We’ve detailed common mistakes and ways to fix them.
As long as your introduction includes the following, you should be good to go:
- Entice the reader to keep reading
- Leverage your authority on the topic
- Incorporate humour
- Add some FOMO
6: Answer The Search Intent
Your content must satisfy the user’s search intent.
Search intent is the reason why someone searches for something online.
Are they looking for information? Do they want to transact? Do they want to go somewhere?
When creating content, ensure that you address the search intent. Remove any fluff that isn’t relevant to the content.
Every keyword falls into a specific search intent category. Let the search intent guide your content, and you’ll enjoy higher-ranking content.
7: Sprinkle Keywords Throughout Your Content
Sprinkle keywords throughout your content without spamming it.
The order in which your keywords appear is also essential. The primary keyword should appear within the first 100 words of your content.
Secondary keywords are best used in sub-headings. Sprinkle any related keywords and synonyms throughout your content.
Use keyword grouping tools like KeyClusters to naturally group relevant keywords together.
8: Create Quality, Optimized Content
Always optimize your content with SEO tools. Check spelling and grammar.
There are plenty of excellent tools, such as Surfer SEO or Frase (compare Surfer vs Frase), to help identify relevant keywords and phrases that you need to include in your content.
As semantic search is becoming ever-more crucial to rank, you need these tools to succeed. Having an extra set of eyes is also helpful to remind you of keywords you may have missed. These tools will be that extra set of eyes you need to succeed.
Also, pay attention to spelling and grammar. Search engines will penalize you for poorly written content. Use software like Grammarly or even Google Docs to spellcheck your content.
9: Understand Synonym Rich Content
Include keyword synonyms to improve your ranking.
Semantic search is a thing. It plays a significant role in how your content ranks.
Sometimes content can rank for keywords that aren’t even used on the page. For instance, Google could rank a piece of content focussed on Cars to also rank for Vehicles.
Ensure you use suitable synonyms. If you’re stuck, use SEO tools such as Frase or SEO Surfer to show you what topics are semantically related. Include these in your content.
10: Keep It Simple
Use a lower reading level to ensure your content is accessible to most people.
Google used to rank content according to how easy it was to understand. Google had 3 levels:
Use SEO plugins, such as Yoast or even the Hemmingway App, to determine the reading level of your content.
While the reading level may change according to your niche, keeping it as low as possible is best. A low reading level means that more people will be able to understand your content. When more people understand your content, the more valuable it becomes.
15: Make Them Stay
Create content that makes users stay on your page.
The longer readers stay on your page, the higher Google will rank it. Search engines view this time, also known as dwell time, as an essential ranking factor determining how excellent your content is.
Suppose a reader stays for less than a minute; it may count as a bounce. Remember, a high bounce rate can negatively impact your ranking.
Should a reader stay for several minutes, the search engine assumes that you deliver exactly what the user is looking for.
You can improve your dwell time by creating content that addresses the user intent and offers actual value.
Use Google Analytics to see how long users stay on your content. Find ways to improve that time, and your content will outperform your competitors.
16: Organize Your Headings
You should logically organize your headings.
When your headings follow a natural, logical order and hierarchy, it improves the user experience. An improved user experience is a crucial ranking factor.
Stick to our tried-and-tested formula for using nested headings:
- Use a single H1
- H2s to follow the H1
- H3s to follow H2
- H4s to follow any H3s
Bonus tip: Optimize your headings through tools like Frase or Surfer SEO. These tools can scrape the most frequently used titles for similar content and alert you if you’re missing anything.
17: Use A Table Of Contents
Include a table of contents for lengthy posts.
A table of contents is an excellent way to improve the user experience. It’s instrumental when you’ve got a long article or a step-by-step guide.
Users can quickly find the sections that interest them most, improving the value of your content.
18: Include FAQs
Answer some FAQs in your content.
A quick way to see if there are any FAQs you should answer is to search for your keyword.
If questions appear in Google’s People Also Ask (PAA) box, consider answering them in your content.
Search engines will love the semantically related content. You’ll get more traffic and establish authority.
19: Show Off With An Author Box
Include an author box.
You’re not a brand, and you are not a logo. Add an excellent profile photo to your content. Briefly tell people who you are or why you’re an expert.
People love knowing that there’s a human behind the content. It’ll create a better user experience. An author box may also win you some life-long fans who’ll keep coming back for excellent, insightful content.
20: Include Disclaimers
Show disclaimers where appropriate.
If you’re an affiliate, especially an Amazon affiliate, it’s crucial to have a visible disclaimer. Without a disclaimer, you may get banned from Amazon.
Disclaimers also tell readers that you’re honest and open about how you do business.
21: Let People Share Your Content
Use social sharing buttons to make your content go even further.
Google takes social sharing seriously.
Encourage people to share your content by including social share buttons. The easier you make it for them to share your content, the more people will get access to it.
22: Engage With Comments And Reviews
Let your readers engage with your content through comments and reviews.
Engagement with content is a ranking factor. Let your readers engage with your high-quality content. Remember to respond to comments, even questions, and criticisms.
Search engines and people love it when you engage with your audience. It says a lot about your content and your company.
23: Never Duplicate Content
Don’t duplicate content, even if it’s your own.
A Semrush study found that 50% of websites had duplicate titles, with over 45% of websites having the same content.
Duplicate content will penalize your rankings and tell search engines and readers that your content has no value.
Even if it’s your own content, duplicating it all over the place will tell search engines you don’t have much else to offer readers.
24: Interlink Content Internally and Externally
Your content should be joined up in an intelligent way using internal links, and it should also reference external sources where relevant.
Make sure you add internal links on keyword descriptive anchors that join up relevant pages.
No page should be an orphan (i.e. have no internal links).
New content and important content should appear on your homepage as this is the first page Google crawls and will therefore discover this content first. A homepage usually has the most referring domains pointing to it. It’s wise to share that link juice with your important content pages. Important pages should only ever be one click away from the homepage.
Any stats or factually information you reference should be linked to. Aim to link to authoritative sources and obviously avoid linking to competitors.
25: Prepare For Featured Snippets
Optimize your content for featured snippets.
We created an excellent guide on how to rank in the featured snippets.
Here’s a short-list of things to consider when trying to steal that featured snippet from your competition:
- Use a similar page structure to the current featured snippet.
- Research what sets the current featured snippet apart.
- Create content that ranks.
Landing that featured snippet means you can become an authority, enjoy more traffic, and get higher quality visitors.
26: Pay Attention To Schema
Add scheme where needed.
While most SEO plugins do this for you, you must check that you’ve got an active, organized schema on your page.
Your schema markup helps search engines understand your content. It also dramatically affects how your page shows up in the SERPs.
Use Google’s Markup Helper to nail down your schema.
27: Make Your Site Crawlable
Don’t block search engines from crawling your site.
If search engines can’t crawl your website, you’ve done all this on-page SEO in vain. To ensure that your site is crawlable, check the following:
- Fix broken links
- Ensure there are plenty of internal links
- Have an updated sitemap.xml
- Check for noindex tags
When search engines have unrestricted access to your website, it becomes easier for them to discover new content and let it rank.
28: Improve Page Loading Speed
Ensure your page loads fast.
Sometimes large file sizes, such as uncompressed images on a page, can slow down your loading speed. A millisecond delay can make a user click back, turning them away.
To ensure your page loads optimally, avoid the following:
- Large amounts of HTML code
- Complicated redirects and loops
- Large image files
The faster your page loads, the fewer bounces you’ll have. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to learn how you can improve your page’s loading speed.
29: Use HTTPS
Your website should use HTTPS.
In 2014 Google announced that website security is a ranking factor.
Websites with an HTTPS protocol will get priority over websites with outdated HTTP. They’ll enjoy more traffic and climb faster through the SERPs.
As cybersecurity becomes a priority, this signal may only gain more importance.
Bonus Tip: Be Mobile Responsive
Your website should be mobile responsive.
Google switched to mobile-first ranking a few years back. If your site isn't mobile responsive, you are definitely losing traffic.
You can check if your site is mobile responsive using Google's mobile-friendly test.
Use Our On-Page SEO List For Success
The world of SEO is constantly changing. Having an updated on-page SEO checklist could be nearly impossible.
However, taking care of the essential elements in our list will ensure your content ranks higher than ever. You’ll outperform your competition and enjoy a higher-quality audience.
If creating on-page SEO content sounds like hard work, it is. Consider using a content writing agency to simplify the process for you.
Now that you've mastered on-page SEO, I recommend reading our off-page SEO checklist.