Learn how to optimize the pages on your website for search engines, this guide will cover every aspect of on-page SEO.
You will learn everything that you need to know, all lined up in a nice checklist.
On-page SEO is specifically important because it will improve the user experience for your site’s pages, and also help search engines to understand what your content is about, making it easier for search engines to rank your pages.
Let’s dive straight into it!
What Is On-Page SEO?
On-Page SEO refers to the practice of individually optimizing web pages to earn a higher ranking in search engine results pages.
On-page refers to all content, including text, images, videos and also the HTML code for the website.
If you are new to On-page SEO and SEO in general, this will be perfect for you.
On-Page SEO Checklist:
This checklist will cover all the steps that you need to take to correctly optimize the pages on your website so that they have a higher chance of ranking in search engine results pages.
Keyword In Page Title
To help work towards improving the optimization of your page, you should include your keyword or phrase in the title of your page.
I also suggest that you put it at the beginning for best results.
The majority of search engines only display the first 60 characters of your title, so keep it to the point but also relevant.
If the title that you have written is too long, it may not be displayed in its entirety in search results.
Double-check that the title you have written is unique and will stand out from other pages on your site and search engines.
Don’t just give your pages one-word titles that simply title your blog page ‘blog’, take a look at the title of our blog page below as an example.
It is important that you never write your keyword in your page title more than once, this is seen as a negative by search engines and it is spammy to users that are reading it.
Avoid ‘stop’ words, these are words like if, that, and, an, a – these types of words will not simply help the SEO for your page.
The title of your page is the first thing that users will see when they find your page in search results and it tells search engines what your page will be about.
Optimizing the title of your page will give a good first impression to users, which will increase your click-through rate (CTR).
Search engine crawlers also pay a lot of attention to your title tag when scanning your website, so it should be relevant, descriptive and to the point.
When done correctly, a well-optimized title tag will help towards increasing search ranking and it will also increase the click-through rate when the page is ranked on search engines or linked to on social media.
To learn more about how to write the perfect title, read this post.
Keyword In The meta-description Tag
For your meta-description tag, you need to pin down what your page is about in under 150 characters.
Once again, it should be relevant and descriptive, but to the point.
This will make it easy for users to see what your page is about and it should draw them in, it should also be well written and should not feel spammy when you read it back.
You must write a unique meta description for every post, page and product and you must also remember to include your focus keyword when writing your meta-description.
I recommenced that you use call-to-actions within your description, these are words & phrases like: Read more, buy now, learn more and download.
These words and phrases make the reader more likely to click onto your page, but remember, it must be contextual to your page and not just a random description.
The meta-description should ‘sell’ your content and make a user want to click onto your page to see your content.
Writing high-quality meta-descriptions does not technically improve your SEO or page ranking, but it does increase the chance of a user clicking onto your page, so this is still a very important part of your SEO plan.
Let’s take a look at what a meta-description will look like in search results.
The meta description is the snippet of text below the URL, as you can see it is written in a way that it will entice a user to click onto the page and read more.
Keyword In URL / Slug
To have your URL display properly, it should have no more than 95 characters.
When writing the URL for a webpage, you want it to be relevant, descriptive and also snappy.
If you look at the URL and more importantly the slug for this page, you can see that is short and simple, but descriptive.
You know what you are going to get.
The part of the URL you can easily change when writing a blog post is the slug.
Usually, it is a shorter version of the page title, as it will explain the page in a concise format.
Keyword In Introduction
Ideally, you should include your keyword at the beginning of your page’s content, this means within the first 50 words and in the first paragraph.
It should make sense and should fit in naturally, you must also make sure that it is grammatically correct.
Keyword In The H1 Tag
The H1 tag is the most important heading tag that will describe the content beneath it, it will appear larger than all of the others.
It is important to naturally include your keyword within your H1 tag as it stands out to both readers and also search engines.
You should include the keyword in your heading tags when you can because it helps the search engines to understand what the content is about and it will help when the content is being ranked.
Keyword In Sub-heading
As well as including your keyword in your main headings, it is also important to include it in your sub-headings.
Once again, it will help to show readers and search engines what your content is about and it helps when organising the content on your site.
The keyword density is the number of times that your keyword or key phrase appears in your written content.
You don’t want to overuse or underuse your keyword.
It is recommended that your focus keyword appears in about 0.5 to 2% of your written content, so if your article is 500 words, you should aim to naturally include your keyword 3-10 times.
If you spam your keywords, search engines are likely to stop indexing your site as spammy websites are seen as low quality and are not trusted by users or search engines.
Overusing your keywords like this is known as keyword stuffing.
It’s important to find the right balance of how often to mention your key phrase, as it must be natural.
Your keyword must be a word or short phrase that describes your content, so it must be written within your content as it helps search engines understand what the topic of your article is about.
Realistically, if your keyword describes your content, you should naturally include it multiple times when writing so this should not be too difficult.
Image Alt Text
Adding images to your articles is proven to increase engagement in your articles and will also increase your SEO strength.
The image alt text is read out by screen readers for the visually impaired, so you should use the alt tag to describe your images.
All of your images should have alt text, it will usually be a sentence or two as it does not need to be too long.
If possible you should use your focus keyword within your image alt text, but only if it fits naturally for that particular image.
Never stuff multiple keywords as readers and search engines see this as spam and can negatively affect your site’s SEO.
So when writing alt text for your images, you should focus on being informative, using keywords (only when relevant), and keep it snappy.
Let’s say you are writing an article on how to bake a carrot cake and you are including an image of the carrot cake, a great alt tag for the image could be: “Classic carrot cake”.
Although this is very simple, it explains exactly what it is (so it’s informative) and it also has the keyword “carrot cake”, so it will help to rank the image in google images and the web page in search engine results pages!
Meta Description Length
The meta description for your page should be no more than 150 characters.
If it is too long, it simply will not be readable for some users.
So when writing your meta description it is important to keep it relevant, concise and of course below 150 characters.
Linking out to other relevant websites is a signal of relevancy that helps Google to figure out what the topic of your page is.
For example: If you are writing a blog post about a particular type of food, you could link to another blog that has written about something similar.
Outbound links also help your audience by linking them to more relevant information that will be useful to them.
It is important to only link to relevant websites.
You should add 2-3 relevant internal links to every post.
A website that does very well is businessdictionary.com as you can see they link to other word explanations, you can also link to blog posts, products, etc.
The internal links must naturally fit into the context of your article, if I am writing about SEO it is relevant for me to link to our article on how to generate a free SEO audit.
Types of internal links:
Navigational links –
These are the links within your header, footer and navigational bars which help users to find other pages within your website.
Search engine crawlers also use internal links to understand the structure of your website.
Contextual links –
These links are usually found within your articles and they are created when you link to another relevant article.
Once you have various articles on a certain topic, you can link them to each other.
Contextual links show search engines and also users, that those particular articles are topically related.
These links also have higher SEO value.
When you are writing content it is important that your content is not just high quality but also of a good length.
It is best to always write articles with at least 300 words but it is also recommended that you write one article a month that is over 1000 words.
Studies have shown that longer content does tend to rank much higher in Google’s search results, but I also suggest that you also focus on quality and not just the quantity of your content.
It’s important that your focus keyword has not been used on your website before, otherwise, you will be competing against yourself as you will have multiple pages trying to rank for the same keyword.
If you want to learn how to properly research your keyword, read our complete keyword research guide here.
Optimize For Search Intent
The search intent is the reason that a user makes their search.
Why they are making that specific search, are they looking for an answer to a question, or a specific website, or are they looking to buy something online?
There are four different types of search intent:
- Informational Intent
Firstly, we have informational intent.
This type of search intent is found when a user is looking for information about a particular topic, in many cases, this involves searching a question.
- Transactional Intent
The transactional intent is when a user is looking to purchase something online.
Users can browse the web to find the specific item they are looking to buy.
- Commercial Intent
Commercial intent is when a user is looking to research before buying something.
For example, they could search: What is the best 4K television? Or Which vacuum cleaner has the best suction?
By searching these questions the user is trying to find out specific information on a product or which product they should buy.
- Navigational Intent
The final type of search intent is navigational, this is when a user is searching for a particular website.
If they search for Amazon they are likely to be looking for the Amazon website.
How can you optimize for search intent?
The best way to do this is to try and optimize the pages on your website so that they fit the search intent of your audience.
If someone is just looking for information, you don’t want to try and sell them something straight away as they are likely to click away.
Your main focus should be to satisfy the search intent of the user.
For example, if a user searches: ‘How to re-wire a light switch?’
They are looking for a post with information that will show them how to do just that.
They are not necessarily looking to buy a light switch, although what you can do is promote your product or service after you have given them the information that they were originally looking for.
A great tool that will help you to find what questions users are searching is AnswerThePublic.
This free tool lets you find questions people search based on the keywords that you input.
Make sure that you are optimizing your website pages, products and blog posts for the relevant keywords, questions and queries that people are searching to find the information that you are offering.
This can be somewhat time-consuming, but search intent is a very important part of SEO, as you don’t want your website’s visitors to click off of your page straight away because you are not offering what they are looking for.
Adding social sharing buttons to your website pages, products and specifically to your blog posts will give your audience an easy way to share your content online to other people using social media.
The better your content is and the more accessible the social sharing buttons are, the more likely your audience will share your content via social media.
Of course, this will also help you gain even more traffic to the page, post or product that has been shared.
Search engines prefer content that is fresh, fresh in more meanings than one.
First, it means that the content is recently updated or published and secondly it means the content is original and not just copied from someone else’s website.
To keep your content ‘fresh’ be sure to keep your text and images up to date and you MUST only write unique content for your website or blog!
Once you have finished reading this guide, you should understand how to properly optimize your website’s pages so that they have a higher chance of ranking in Google and other search engines.
When optimizing your pages, you should go through every item on this list and apply it to your page.
Once you have properly optimized your page, you should use an SEO audit tool to check to see if you have done everything correctly, read this post here to learn how to generate a free SEO audit.
If there is anything that you need more help with, please leave a comment below, or email us.