Actionable On Page SEO Checklist (2021)

A practical walkthrough of 13 key On Page SEO checklist to get a perfectly optimized page.

With search engines looking at more than 200 SEO factors when ranking a website, how do you know which ones to focus on? Or better yet, what steps do you need to take first to boost your search rankings? The ultimate goal of your SEO effort is to get your web pages to appear in search results. But, for that, you have to build your web pages in the right way. So, let’s check out the 13 key On-Page SEO factors to make a perfectly optimized page. I keep the post handy for a quick check-through that you’re not falling short in any part.

  1. Leverage SEO-Friendly URLs

Both your website visitors and search engines prefer well-structured and consistent URLs. So, it’s a good idea to stick with them. Here are the steps to create an optimized permalink before you hit publish.

  • Use Keyword in URL

I do recommend you to include the main keyword in your URLs, as a keyword-rich URL can improve your URL click-through-rates (CTR) in search results. Also, URLs are a part of your snippet, so having a keyword on your URLs makes them more relevant.

  • Avoid Special Characters

Special characters and symbols can cause unwanted troubles in your URLs, can cause your URL links to breaking, and make them hard to read. So, avoid using unsafe special characters and symbols while writing your URLs.

  • Avoid Unnecessary Words

Short URLs are better than long URLs because URLs that are over 50-60 characters long will be shortened in SERP. Thus, long URLs can impact user experience, also shorter URLs are easier to share on social media. So keep your URL length to less than 100 characters and cut out unnecessary words around the keyword to give more clarity.

  • Avoid Stop Words and Automated Numeric Labels

Search engines often filter or ignore Stop Words like “and”, “but”, etc. Therefore, cut down on stop words to make your URLs shorter and more readable. Some CMS platforms automatically generate URLs that include numeric and awkward labeling, which can give a messy or confusing look to your URLs. So, avoid these numeric labels to make cleaner-looking URLs that your readers will understand and recognize.

  1. Perfectly Optimized Title Tag

The title tag is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page. Title tags showed on SERPs as the clickable headline for given search results. Therefore, the title tag is one of the most important parts of both SEO and search user experience. That’s why it’s essential to optimize your title tag. Let see what are elements you need to focus on while optimizing your title tag.

  • Put Main keywords First

Main keywords closer to the beginning of your title tag may have more impact on search rankings. Ensure to always begin your title with your main keywords to emphasize their relevancy and importance. Plus, according to user experience research, people may scan as few as the first two words of a headline. This is why I recommend adding the main keywords at first in the titles.

  • Watch Your Title Length

If your title is longer than 50-60 characters, search engines may shorten it by adding an ellipsis (“…”) and could end up omitting important words from your title. Also, avoid writing your title in ALL CAPS, they may be tough for search users to read, and may rigorously limit the number of characters search engines will show on the SERP results. It’s really good to be aware of how your titles appear in search results, but there are no penalties for using a long title on your content. Here you need to use your judgmental mind and think like a search user while writing your title tag.

  • Write For Your Customers

Title tags are very important but don’t forget that your first job is to attract clicks from well-targeted search users who are likely to find your content valuable. So, it’s important to think about the user experience when you’re creating your title tags. Along with keyword usage and title tag optimization, also, you need to focus on the attractiveness of your title tag. Because the title tag is a new visitor’s first impression and interaction with your brand when they find it in a search result. Hence, it should convey the most positive and valuable message possible.

  1. The Right Meta Description

The Meta description is a snippet of short text up to about 155 characters that summarize a page’s content. Most search engines show it in search results when the phrase of the searched query exactly matched with the phrase within the Meta description. So optimizing it is important for on-page SEO.

There is no direct ranking benefit from the meta description, but, meta description impacts your click-through-rate (CTR) and Google uses CTR as a factor to determine whether you’re a good result or not. If more people click on your web link, Google considers you to be a good result, and based on your present ranking position, it will move up your rankings. That’s why optimizing the Meta description is so crucial, as is optimizing your title tags.

  1. Schema Markup

Schema Markup Structured data is a semantic vocabulary of tags that you can include in your HTML to improve the way search engines read and represent your page in SERPs by enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed beneath the page title.

Not every web content gets the benefit from schema markup, but, some web pages will have a tough time ranking in search engines without it. However, you need some extra skills to use schema markup, there are mainly two possibilities to build your schema markup for the first time:

  • WordPress Plugins

WordPress offers plenty of plugins for structured data optimization. If your website is built on WordPress, you can use those plugins to create your own schema markup.

  • Google’s Markup Helper

You can use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to build your schema markup. This tool helps you to apply your own schema markup in a user-friendly way. Just select the type of page you’re creating, highlight your page elements, and assign your type of schema markup. When it’s done, download the HTML file and upload it to your website.

  1. Optimize Heading Tags

HTML heading tags (H1-H6) play an important role in structuring your website’s content. Heading tags give both the website visitors and the search engines a clue about the website content’s hierarchy and relevancy. Besides, including keywords in the heading tags can help you to boost your search rankings.

  • H1 Heading Tag

Technical wise, your web pages have two titles: the title tag that is presented in your search snippet, and then the H1 heading tag which is displayed on the page itself that defines a page’s main topic. H1 heading tag should be highly related to the content and unique across your website, and a page may only contain one H1 heading. Besides, don’t add the H1 heading tag in the image, since search engines don’t recognize images very well, you’d be missing out on an opportunity to signal to search engines what your web page is about.

  • H2–H6 Headings Tags

H2–H6 headings are used to further structure your web page content. Therefore, using H2 headings is highly recommended, as H2 heading tags split your content into high-level segments which help users to easily navigate your page content, also help search engines to understand what the web page is about, so make them more informative with secondary keywords. Using H3-H6 headings is optional; you can use them to mark further subsections within the content.

  1. Optimum Keyword Density

Unfortunately, there is no defined rule for how many times a keyword should appear on-page content. Search engines do not announce an accurate percentage for target keyword density, so you must use some of the best practices to optimize your keywords. Let’s check out the best keyword optimization practices.

  • Focus On Keyword Use

The best content is written for readers first. So, write naturally that provide value to your readers and use the keyword organically in your content. Also, make sure you drop your keyword somewhere in the first 100 words that help search engines to understand what your page content is all about.

  • Use Keyword Variations

Search engines have the ability to recognize and associate similar word forms related to the target keyword. Usually, these keyword variations include a prefix, suffix, or pluralization to a target keyword. For example, the keyword Digital Marketer could be Digital Marketers or Digital Marketing. Because search engines recognize and associate these words. Accordingly, use keyword variations in your content to support your target keyword while adding textural variety to your page content.

  1. Evaluate Content-Length

There are many great articles on the web that provide some insights into the “ideal” content length of a piece of content or blog post. For example, a study conducted by the Search Engine Journal in 2016 found that the average word count for top-ranking content on SERPs results is around 1,900 words. In fact, the exact number keeps on changing and currently it hangs around 2,000 words per page. Based on these data one thing is clear that there is no such thing as the ideal content length, what matters more is to cover the topic fully in your content.

But, still, there are few reasons why lengthy content tends to rank better on search engines. First, more words often mean more value and authority. This leads to visitors staying on the particular web page longer and not requiring to go elsewhere to get the information they need and longer content often has higher social engagement, too. Consequently, all of these factors can tell search engines that your piece of content is substantive, valuable, and useful to visitors. However, ideal content lengths vary depending on the topic, keyword, and the competition, so, instead of using some random number for all of your pages’ content, I do recommend you to determine the word count for each of your page content individually according to the topic, keyword, and the competition.

  1. Visual Media Optimization

Now, let’s look at the element that makes your content more attractive to users. Adding multiple visual media like images, videos, gifs and infographics can enhance your SEO benefits, keep your users engaged, and gives search engines a strong cue that this page has higher quality content. Also, this will make your page eligible for image search, and it can actually drive backlinks to your website.

  • Alt Tags Attributes

Alt tags are HTML codes that describe your image and amplify the context of your content. Even though they are not visible on the page, search engines can read them to better understand the page images. Besides, make sure to avoid Keyword stuffing and long alt tags.

  • Compress Media Files

Use standard image sizes/formats and compress your images before uploading them to your web page. Compressing your image files will have a positive effect on your page speed and enhance the overall user experience. If you don’t have any prior experience in image compressing, you can use an online image compressor or a CMS plugin to compress your image files.

  • Use Descriptive Names

Even though it’s not a major ranking signal, Google does recommend keeping descriptive filenames for your images. Filenames should probably be a short version of your alt tags. However, you don’t need to worry about the filenames.

  1. Above-the-Fold Content

“Above the fold “content refers to the top part of the page visible when it’s just loaded, besides, it’s a term that comes from newspaper editors and becomes an SEO concept after Google’s page layout update. This “above the fold” part is what makes the first impression on your website visitors and Google pays special attention to it.

  • Avoid Distractions

With the page layout update, Google started penalizing websites for lots of pop-ups, distracting ads, and other obstacles that get in the way of above the imaginary fold. So, when designing your web pages, ensure to keep distractions to a minimum, especially on mobile devices, as mobile screens are smaller distractions may seem bigger.

  • Core Web Vitals

Recently, Google has introduced the concept of user experience metrics called Core Web Vitals that are measured based on the above-the-fold content. Particularly, how fast the above-the-fold content part loads, how stable it is while the page loading, and how faster it becomes interactive for the users.

  1. Optimize Internal Links

Internal Links are hyperlinks that go from one page on a website to a different page on the same website. Internal links are most helpful for building website architecture and spreading link equity across the website. Also, internal linking passes authority from popular webpages to less popular webpages.

As you create a new webpage, you should link to other relevant webpages and conversion points this way you can make your visitors stay longer on your website and eventually move them down the sales funnel. Adding a recommendation system is the automatic way to suggests web pages that are related to the ones currently viewed. Plus, you can add internal links within your main content through various “read more” and “click here” suggestions.

  1. Optimize Outbound Links

Outbound links are one of the most undervalued tactics of on-page SEO optimization. But, by linking your content to high-quality websites you can pull their authority towards your own website and provides relevancy signals that help search engines determine your page’s topic.

So, whenever you create new content, see whether you can link to other relevant websites. But, don’t overdo your linking, because certainly, you don’t want Google to get suspicious about your linking and you don’t want to lead your visitors away from your website.

  1. Mobile-friendliness

Nowadays people are almost always on their smartphones and people mostly conducted their queries through their mobile devices. More importantly, Google has already started migrating websites to mobile-first indexing. That means Google will first look at your website’s mobile version when crawling, indexing, and ranking your website.

Therefore, mobile-friendliness has turned into a “must” from “nice-to-have”, if your web pages aren’t optimized for mobile devices; it’s most likely to be excluded completely from mobile search results. Responsive web design is possibly the most widely used solution to go mobile-friendly and Google recommends it too. If you use WordPress or any other CMS platforms you can use a responsive template for your website. In case there is no CMS in place, there are some guidelines available on adapting the responsive design for your website. Sure, it’ll take a bit of work but it’s worth it.

  1. Optimize Comment section

In case, if you allow comments on your website, you should ensure that links posted through comments are automatically set to nofollow, this way you can avoid the passing of any link juice and it will discourage others from spamming your comment section with their links.

Platforms like WordPress, Disqus, and Facebook automatically add the no-follow tag to all links while integrating the comment section on the platforms. So, it’s a matter of whether you’re using a custom solution or an extra plugin.

Conclusion

These are the most important On-Page SEO tactics that will help you to get better rankings in the search engines. If you take into account, most of the factors listed above are actually pretty easy to implement. So, give them a try!

Many brands make the mistake of messing up with their URL structure, hence focus on fixing it first. It’s one of the hardest SEO factors to fix, but it’ll give you long-term benefits. The rest of the factors can be fixed over time, and they aren’t that much complicated. I hope you found this new on-page SEO guide useful for your page optimization.

Is On-Page SEO Still Important in 2021? Now it’s time to hear from you! Do you find out the reasons to boost your ranking? Let me know by leaving a comment below.