On-Page SEO: Checklist, Ranking Factors & FAQs

on-page seo

What is On-page SEO?

On-page SEO (also known as on-site optimization) is the process of improving your website’s appearance and functionality by optimizing its content. It involves writing, rewriting, or adding to webpages that are not optimized for search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo.

With an improved site, you will have more visitors coming to your website. You’ll also get better rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs).

That means more business!

Why is On-Page SEO Important?

On-page SEO is important because it provides signals to search engines to help them understand your content. The better the search engine understands your content, the more relevant it is likely to be in the eyes of a search engine. While off-page SEO can certainly help, on-page SEO is one of the major factors that can affect your search engine rankings.

As search engines become more sophisticated, there is a greater focus toward relevance and semantics in search engine results pages (SERPs). On-page SEO involves the use of different HTML tags, keywords, etc. to tell search engines what your page is about.

On-Page SEO Checklist

Here are the top 40 on-page SEO techniques checklist:

  1. Check that your website passes the “mobile-friendly test.”
  2. Verify your site’s XML sitemap is present and working properly.
  3. Use a tool like Google Search Console to find any issues with your site (especially ones related to crawlability).
  4. Check that your page titles, description, and URL are relatively similar (and relevant) to the content on that page.
  5. Check the spelling and grammar of your important pages.
  6. Check that your website has a human-friendly structure (i.e., not all images, codes, or unreadable text stacked up in one single page).
  7. Use descriptive filenames for all images, videos, etc.
  8. Be sure hreflang tags are set up for any content that has alternative language versions
  9. Avoid adding “view website” to the end of every page
  10. Make sure your website loads quickly.
  11. Use online diagnostics tools like GTmetrix, Pingdom, or Google Pagespeed to see where you can make improvements on loading times.
  12. Check for broken links on your site (both inter-page and external links).
  13. Check that all of your metadata (including title, description, keywords, etc.) is filled out completely and accurately.
  14. Check that your metadata is formatted correctly (including capitalization, punctuation, etc.)
  15. Check the spelling of all of your important pages for basic SEO purposes.
  16. Check that you have control over your permalinks.
  17. Check to make sure that your post titles and content are written for humans (and not simply “Robots”).
  18. Check that your most important site pages have internal links to them from other pages on your site.
  19. Check that your most important site pages have external links that point to them (especially from other authoritative sites).
  20. If you are manually doing your own link building, make sure you’re creating high-quality, high-DR (Domain Rank) links.
  21. Make sure that all of your images have ALT text that is relevant to the image and contain relevant keywords for your niche.
  22. Check that you have no broken images on your site.
  23. Check that your CMS or blog allows for the use of “nofollow” tags (if you are trying to avoid doing any spammy link building).
  24. Check that your CMS or blog allows for the use of 301 redirects (if you have a lot of content).
  25. Look at the history of your website using something like WebCache or Archive.Org)
  26. Check that your internal links are not broken (and look to see if there are any pages with a high number of inbound links but no inbound internal links).
  27. Check that your important landing pages have a high number of inbound links relative to the number of outbound links on the page.
  28. Check that your important landing pages have a high number of referring domains relative to the number of outbound links on the page.
  29. Use Google Search Console (formerly WebMaster Tools) to see if you are getting any warnings or notices that you might need to address.
  30. Run your website through multiple spam tests.
  31. Check your site for broken links using a link: command in the browser’s address bar (such as “link:yourdomain.com” without the quotes).
  32. Check your server for any unwanted or unused files that you don’t recognize.
  33. Check your headers to make sure that no one is hacking your website by seeing a sudden increase in 404 errors.
  34. Check your source code to make sure that there are no hidden links being placed on your site (sometimes this happens with free themes and can be used to mask spam links).
  35. Check your backlinks profile using a backlink software to see if you notice any drops in your ranking.
  36. If you are using any other SEO services (such as AdWords) make sure that they are not doing anything shady.
  37. Check Alexa and Google Traffic Estimates to see if there has been any significant drops in traffic.
  38. Check your analytics to ensure that there are not any sudden drops in user engagement on your website (such as a change in bounce rate or time on site).
  39. Check for negative reviews or signs of negative buzz online about your business.
  40. Check forums, such as reddit, for mentions of your brand or products.

What are the most important on-page SEO ranking factors?

Before we dive into the technical elements of on-page SEO, it’s important to note that there are no magic tricks. There are no shortcuts and there is no 100% guarantee that you’re following all of the rules perfectly.

However, all you need is a solid understanding of what works and what doesn’t work. Once you have that fundamental understanding, you’ll be able to avoid most of the simple mistakes that kill your SERP rankings.

Again, there is no magic bullet. You need to study, research, and stay on top of the latest news relating to SEO changes.

Let’s look at some of the most important ranking factors of on-page SEO.

Internal Links

One of the most important parts of a strong SEO strategy centers on internal links. These are the links you have within the pages of your website. You should strive to have a:

Website with 500 pages = 500 * 4 internal links per page = 2,000 Total Internal Links

These links are important because they let search engines know that your website is extremely relevant to the searches people enter. Obviously, you don’t want all of these links to be the exact same text. Instead, you want these links to be dynamic and change depending on what page the user is viewing.

For example, let’s say I’m selling sun glasses. My homepage talks about what styles of sun glasses I sell, and it mentions a few popular celebrities that wear my brand.

I could link the word “celebrities” to a page on my website that features a few pictures of said celebrities wearing my sunglasses. This way, I’m not only linking to more information about celebrities, but also exposing the word “celebrities” to more internal links on my website. Later on, if someone does a search on Google for “celebrities wearing sun glasses,” my website is much more likely to show up in the top results.

Outgoing Links

Outgoing links are links that lead away from your website. Most of the time, you don’t want to have too many outgoing links. This is because search engines view websites that have a lot of outgoing links as spammy. It’s also because most users will find it difficult to navigate your website if they’re being redirected to multiple pages after each click.

Having said that, you should have a few outgoing links on each of your pages. You can use these outgoing links to link to pages that are related to the content of the page.

Also, outgoing links can be used as contextual link exchanges.

Finally, outgoing links are important for building bridges with other websites. Building these types of relationships is an important digital marketing tactic. If another website finds your content valuable enough that they want to link to it, it definitely boosts our websites authority.

E.A.T

E-A-T, which stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.

  • Expertise: Do you have expertise in this subject?

  • Authoritativeness: Are you the ultimate source of information on this subject?

  • Trustworthiness: Can people rely on you as a source of information?

Trustworthiness can rely on several subfactors, including but not limited to:

  • Accuracy: Do you provide accurate information?

  • Credibility: Does your information come from a reliable source?

  • Objectivity: Are you unbiased in your information?

When attempting to increase your E-A-T, it’s important to recognize that you need to do more than just list your credentials. You need to explain how they make you an expert or trustworthy source of information in order to convince Google that this is the case.

Here are some tips for improving your E-A-T:

  • Include specific information in your site’s metadata.

  • Highlight your specialist knowledge in your website content.

  • Get testimonials and reviews from industry experts and consumers.

  • Display social media sharing buttons that increase the visibility of your content.

  • Create a unique layout using a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

  • Create a printable version of your content to increase E-A-T.

  • Have experts in your field share links to your content.

  • Create infographics, slideshows, and other visual media to increase E-A-T.

  • Use clickable internal links to give users options within the page.

  • Link to your social media accounts and other high quality sites.

Title Tag

A title tag is included in the source code of every page on the web and is one of the most important on-page SEO elements. A title tag tells internet browsers what a particular webpage is about, which appears below the webpage title in the browser tab.

It’s also what people see before they click onto the webpage through a search result and what appears in social media interaction, so it’s really important that this information is accurate and attractive to encourage clicks.

The title tag also plays an important role in your click-through rate, as it will be included in the preview of a Google search. If the preview text attracts a user’s attention enough to click, they are more likely to be engaged by the page itself.

Meta Description

A meta description is a snippet of text that describes your website or web page and is used in search engine result pages (SERPs). It’s not as important as the title tag, because it only appears in SERPs if it’s specially written to do so, but writing good meta descriptions encourage clicks as they appear directly under the title and are the first thing users see.

Meta Description

While writing meta descriptions with keywords is still necessary, it’s also important to write them for the consumer, which means using them to sell the page or putting your brand promise into them.

Tips for writing the best meta description:

  • Include your target keyword in the meta description

  • Avoid stuffing keywords while adding smooth flowing sentences

  • Write to encourage your potential customer to take action

  • Ensure that the description is within the 158 character limit

Alt Text

What is Alt Text?

The alternative text, or alt text, of an image is displayed when a browser cannot display the image. Some people also use it to describe an image to people who can’t see the image. Images are an important part of many web pages as they can make them more attractive and help to convey information. Without images, the web would be pretty dull looking!

Example of Alt txt html code:

<img src="catfishbait.gif" alt="Catfish Baits">

It also helps people who are visually impaired to know what the image is about and associate with your content.

Alt text helps:

  • Search engines to better understand the images

  • Visually impaired to know what the image is

  • In case the image gets corrupted

Duplicate Content

When the same exact content can be found on multiple web pages, it is known as duplicate content. While search engines do have mechanisms in place to detect and handle duplicate content, you should always strive to ensure that you aren’t serving duplicate content.

Potential problems with duplicate content:

  • Duplicate content can cause problems with your SEO as search engines have been known to penalize sites that contain large amounts of duplicate content.

  • Duplicate content can affect the “crawl depth” that search engine bots are able to crawl. This means that your website may not be completely indexed leading to lost SEO potential.

  • Duplicate content hurts usability. If a user is searching for content on one of your pages, but ends up finding mostly duplicates of other pages they’ve already seen, they’re not going to have a very positive impression of your site.

  • Duplicate content can dilute your inbound links. Search engines do devalue sites with low quality inbound links.

While it may be tempting to save time and effort by copying and pasting from another page on your site (or even another site), this isn’t going to help you in the long run.

Robots.txt

What is a robots.txt file?

The robots.txt is a file at the root directory of your website that instructs web robots (typically search engine robots) how to crawl pages on your website. The file gives instructions in the form of rules, and each rule consists of a sequence of tokens delimited by forward slashes. The four primary tokens are:

  • The first token is the address for which all other tokens in the rule will apply to. You may specify multiple addresses by separating them with a comma “,”. These addresses are not limited to a single host, so you can make rules that apply to multiple hosts or subdomains.

  • The second token is the type of user agents to which the rule applies. The most common user agent you’ll come across is the “googlebot”. You can also specify a note to a specific user agent by using the “@” sign before the name, so rules can get rather granular.

  • The third and fourth tokens are hostnames and filenames respectively. You can specify partial filenames by placing a wildcard in the middle. You can also negate tokens so that rules that match them do not apply.

Rules are applied in order, and the most specific rule that matches the address is applied. For example, consider the following rules:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /secret/

This rule will be applied to all agents.

User-agent: Your-Agent-Name
Disallow: /secret/

This rule will be applied to only Your-Agent-Name.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /secret/
Disallow: /secret2/

This rule will be applied to all agents except those that match the second rule.

As an SEO, you need to allow your target URLs to be crawled and indexed by search engine robots. Enter your HTML root directory and open up robot.

Schema Markup

What is a schema markup?

Schema is an HTML framework for marking up the structure of data on a page and applying styles based on that data. (Wikipedia) The main purpose of using schema is to reinforce your web page content to both search engine crawlers and browsers.

These schemas are the result of collaboration between search engine developers and SEOs. A lot of websites use them already.

The most commonly used schema markups are:

Page Speed

What is Page Speed?

Page seed is the speed at which your webpage loads when clicked on, it is a ranking factor for Google. The faster your page loads, the higher it will rank the better user experience it creates for website visitors.

The effects of a slow webpage on your business can be devastating.

It takes about 0.5 seconds for a user to start scrolling (whether this is out of boredom or because they’re looking for something). This means that your page has 0.5 seconds to catch their attention. Anything slower than this and you’ll lose up to 20% of your visitors.

Important facts about page speed:

  • If your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load, you’ll lose 67% of your visitors.

  • A 1 second delay in page speed can cause a 22% drop in conversions.

  • You should aim to keep your load time under 2 seconds and have a max size of 100 KB.

  • Compress your images

  • Enable caching on your server (most hosts have this option).

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

What is Conversion Rate Optimization?

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) is the practice of tweaking elements of your website to increase the percentage of visitors that take an action. These actions are called conversions.

Often, conversion optimization can be used to turn a website profit, even if the website was never profitable before.

Because CRO is Big Data topic, and requires a bit of math, it isn’t covered in this Primer. However, we suggest reading up on it–seriously!

HTTP Status Codes

HTTP status codes are the messages returned by a server in response to an HTTP request.

When a user tries to access a webpage, their browser submits a request to the webserver. The webserver then responds with a webpage, or an HTTP status code.

The most common HTTP status codes are:

  • 200 OK – Everything’s great. Keep on rocking.

  • 404 File Not Found – The webpage you’re trying to access doesn’t exist anymore.

  • 500 Internal Server Error – Something’s gone wrong on the webserver.

Most users aren’t familiar with HTTP status codes, so they don’t understand what’s happening when they get an error message. Instead of finding your information, they’ll quickly hit the back button and try another search.

Most internet users are familiar with these as they often appear in web browsers after submitting a form or following a broken link. Having a basic understanding of HTTP status codes is important for webmasters to quickly identify problems on their website.

That is if they don’t just give up entirely and go do something else.

That’s why it’s up to you to make sure that your webpages load quickly and is free from errors.

Canonical Tags

What is a canonical tag?

A canonical tag (sometimes called a “rel canonical” tag) is a way of telling search engines that a specific URL represents the master copy of a page, and all other URLs redirect to it. Using the canonical tag prevents problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs.

How to add rel=canonical tag?

Add the rel-canonical html code in the <head> section of the page that is the duplicate of the original one. The URL in the code would be that of the original content page and the code itself will be placed on the duplicate page. Example of rel=canonical tag
<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/wordpress/seo-plugin/" />

Canonicalization matters because duplicates are bad

Besides wasted search engine crawl time and duplicate content penalties for having too many pages with similar content,

Redirects

A redirect is a way to send both users and search engines to a different URL from the one they originally requested. The three most commonly used redirects are 301, 302, and Meta Refresh.

Types of Redirects

  • 301 Redirect: The 301 redirect is the “Moved Permanently” HTTP status. It’s a permanent redirect, and Google recommends using it any time you move a page, or move a site to a new domain.

  • 302 Redirect: A 302 redirect tells search engines that the page has been moved to a new location temporarily, and that they should continue to index the page under its new URL.

  • Meta Refresh: Meta Refresh, or refresh, is a simple HTTP request which causes the browser to request a new page. Search engines see this as a new request for content and can follow the redirect. More importantly, the user will not see any “page flash” when there is a redirect.

Advanced On-Page SEO Tips

Now that we have understood the core of on-page SEO, let’s look at some of the advanced on-page SEO tips.

Keyword Research

We all know that SEO is all about Keywords. And Keyword Research is basically understanding of a particular keyword and finding the correct keyword to rank your site for a particular keyword.

If you want to succeed in any type of business, you need to know your potential customers and provide them what they need. Same goes for the organic traffic we get from Search Engine. By choosing the right keywords we can easily beat our competitor and rank higher in SERPs.

Competitor Analysis

Competitor Analysis is very important to grow your on-line business. This involves analyzing your direct and indirect competitors and tracking their online marketing strategies.

We can analyze our competitor’s pricing strategy, keywords optimization, coding, PPC etc.

This helps you to understand what are they doing for organic search engine traffic and how you can improve your on-line business by beating them.

Backlink Profile Audit

Using a backlink checker tool, you are able to see all of the websites that are linking to your competitors. You will also be able to see all of the websites that are linking to your website (your backlink profile).

There are many free tools online that can perform a backlink profile audit, however for best results, I highly recommend using ahrefs.com.

Backlinks are an important ranking factor in SEO. We want our backlink profile to include only high-quality, relevant links.

What to look for during auditing the backlinks:

  • Relevancy: Links from websites that are relevant to your niche will help you rank better in search engines.

  • Resource Type: The resource type is the domain that is linking to your website. We want to get links from .edu and .gov websites as they carry a lot of trust and authority in the eyes of Google.

  • Number of Links: Google also factors in the number of domains that are linking to your website. The more, the better.

  • Editor’s note: The number of backlinks is not as important as the quality of the backlinks. Focus on building solid relationships with people rather than trying to game the system by building thousands of low-quality backlinks.

Content Audit

A content audit is a method of evaluating the quality and effectiveness of your website’s content.

A successful content audit will help you:

  • Determine which types of content are working for you and which are not.

  • Learn what your readers like (and don’t like).

  • Improve user engagement on your website.

How to conduct a content audit?

  1. Go through each page on your website and check its popularity.
    a) Use the backlink audit tools to check how many backlinks and social shares that page has.
    b) Check the inbound links to see how many other websites are linking to that page.
    c) Check the social engagement to see how many people have bookmarked or tweeted that page.
    d) Check the social shares to see how many times that page has been shared socially.
  2. Based on the results of your content audit, determine which pages are the most popular and which are the least popular.
  3. Re-write any un-optimized pages to improve their inbound optimization.
  4. Publish these new pages and re-audit your website after a few weeks to see the impact that your changes have had on your website.

We can use content audit to find the types of content that we should be creating so that we can attract the most visitors to our website.

Conclusion,

I hope that you are now able to understand on-page SEO in a better way.

Implement the recommended tips on your website and web pages, I am confident by doing so you will see a positive movement in your rankings.

Ensure that you implement the suggestions on the entire website and not just a single page as only then will you be able to see the complete benefits of a perfectly optimized website.

I also recommend checking out more information about how an SEO audit works.

In case, you are stuck or have doubts, feel free to get in touch with us.

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