30 second summary:
- On-page SEO is the process of optimizing your web pages and content for search engine crawlers
- There are many moving parts, so it’s easy to forget about some elements or to optimize them incorrectly
- This quick checklist will help you keep track of the various on-page SEO elements
On-page SEO is basically a set of techniques and best practices for your web pages to make them more search engine friendly and thus improve your rankings.
As you know, keywords are at the heart of almost all on-page SEOs. However, on-page optimization involves many elements – not just keywords – so some of them can be easily overlooked.
Here’s a handy checklist to check off as an easy way to ensure that all of your pages are properly optimized for the best possible rankings.
Check the URLs of all the pages on your website to make sure they are precise and not long and complex. Shorter URLs tend to have better click-through rates and are easier for search engine crawlers to understand.
Include your page’s primary keyword in the URL, removing noise (also known as stop words) like “the”, “for”, and “to” and keeping it below 60 characters.
Your website is likely full of pictures, and that’s a good thing, as pictures go a long way toward improving user experience and ranking. They make your content more user-friendly, engaging and memorable and, if properly optimized, will help you drive more traffic to your website.
To Optimize your images for on-page SEOHere are some things to make sure:
Image filename and alt text
Like humans, Google bots cannot “see” images. You will need accompanying text to understand what the picture is about. So for each image on your website, write a descriptive filename (“blue-running-shoes.jpg” instead of “82596173.jpg”) and alternate text (which will help if the image fails for any reason), including Keywords both.
Alt text also helps make your website more accessible as screen readers use alt text to describe images for visually impaired users. Indeed, it is prudent Test the accessibility of your website to ensure you never have to spend a lot of money settling ADA litigation.
Image file size
Page speed is an important ranking signal for both desktop and mobile search. Bulky images slow your website’s loading speed. So make sure to compress all images to reduce their size – ideally under 70KB.
Title and meta descriptions
Make sure you put your main keywords before the title tags of all pages. Make sure your title tags are less than 60-65 characters and no longer than 70 characters in length. Otherwise it may get cut off in the SERPs.
Also, the title should be the only element included in the H1 heading tag. In other words, only one H1 tag per page reserved for the title.
For meta descriptions, just make sure you have written a keyword rich and welcoming meta description that is relevant to your user’s search intent. Keep it under 160 characters for all of your pages. If you don’t, Google will select some relevant text from the page and display it as a meta description in the SERP, which is not ideal for SEO.
Page load speed
Speed is a Main ranking factor You just can’t afford to overlook it. If your pages take longer than two to three seconds to load, your visitors will jump to a competitor and reaching the top page rankings will remain a dream.
So make sure that:
- The code is optimized with minimized CSS and JS
- There are no unnecessary redirects
- You have compressed all of the images
- You have activated file compression and browser caching
- The server response time is optimal
Check your website speed with regularly PageSpeed Insights to find out the exact areas that can be improved.
Links – internal and external
Make sure you have an appropriate linking strategy that you always follow. Both internal and external links play a role in your on-page SEO.
Citing external sources and outbound links is critical to building credibility in the eyes of both Google crawlers and human visitors. However, make sure that you only link to high quality websites and reliable sources.
Also, make sure there are no broken links (“404 not found”) as they will impact SEO and user experience. In the event that you may have a lot of website pages, it is best to create a nice and easy-to-navigate 404 error page. This way you can retain website visitors and find relevant content / actions.
Make sure you strategically link pages and content on your website. This helps crawlers to better understand your content and to sort it according to the right keywords.
Internal links also help direct visitors to relevant pages and keep them occupied.
All of your blog posts and website copies play a crucial role in on-page optimization. In addition to making sure that your target keywords are distributed wisely and naturally in your content title, URL, sub-headings, and paragraphs. Here are a couple of things to get right.
Structure and readability
Check the structure of the content on all pages. Make sure you’ve used keyword-optimized headings and sub-headings (H1, H2, H3, etc.) to create a logical hierarchy that will make your content easier to read and crawl.
Studies suggest that longer, in-depth posts perform better on Google rankings than shorter ones. So try to have more than 2,000 words in each piece of content.
Comprehensive, long-form content will also serve your audience better as they will likely answer any questions on the topic so they won’t have to look for additional reading opportunities.
Over to you
With every new update of its core algorithm, Google quickly shifts its focus to rewarding websites with the best user experience.
However, if you take advantage of your on-page optimization, which is closely tied to UX, you can still get top rankings and stay there. Have this checklist ready as you work on your SEO in 2021 and beyond.
Gaurav Belani is Senior SEO and Content Marketing Analyst at Growfusely, a content marketing agency specializing in content and data-driven SEO. He can be found on Twitter @belanigaurav.