We've all heard the story of the playwright who was better than Shakespeare...the only problem was, no one ever read his plays. A similar story is now playing out across the Internet. The fact is, no matter how good your website content is, no one will see it if you don't have a good on-page SEO checklist and strategy.
What Is On-Page SEO?
There are a lot of factors that go into your whole site's search engine optimization (SEO). On-Page SEO, in particular, focuses on the content you can see on the web page itself and the accompanying metadata.
By updating and optimizing your content and metadata on each of your pages, you’re also enhancing your page ranking in search engines. And enhancing your page rankings will lead to a better click-through rate (CTR) for all of your content.
What Should Be on the On-Page SEO Checklist?
An effective on-page SEO checklist will ensure your content places higher in search results. To achieve this goal, you will need to examine the content itself and all the information around the page. This means learning about keywords, meta tags, backlinking, formatting, and images. All these factors work together to boost page rankings in Google, Bing and most other search engines out there.
1. Keyword Research
First, figure out what the searchers’ intent is and decide how well your pages match that search intent. Once you’ve identified the intent, you can do keyword research to choose a primary keyword or phrase that people are using when looking for information about that topic. See what types of pages are already appearing in search results for the focus keyword and aim to make your content even better. Finding the right keywords can take time, but the SEO rewards are worth the extra effort.
2. Frequency and Placement of Keywords
Now that you have your primary keyword, you need to know where and how to use it on your page. For the best results, include your keyword in your title, URL and meta description, as well as a handful of times throughout the rest of your page’s content. Google is now smart enough to identify variations of your primary keyword, so no need to worry too much about the exact phrasing. You do, however, always want the keyword to sound like it's been used naturally in the text. Keyword “stuffing” can actually hurt your SEO.
3. Use of Related Keywords
Latent Semantic Indexing, or LSI keywords, are search terms related to your primary keyword. Think of these as secondary keywords. For example, if your primary keyword is “how to make people laugh”, LSI terms might be “jokes”, “puns”, “humor”, and other laughter-related words or phrases. The use of LSI keywords helps your content to sound more normal, engaging readers while still keeping the topic on point.
You can also incorporate schema markup into your pages for even greater control over your keywords. With schema markup, you’re able to share information about the topic through the use of meta tags on specific keywords.
4. Title Tag
The title tag is simply the page title that people see on the search page. To get the most out of your title, keep it short and informative. You only get 50 to 60 characters for your title, including spaces. It should give users a helpful idea of the information found in the rest of the article. Include your primary keyword in the title but don't overdo the keywords or it may seem confusing to the searcher.
5. Meta Description
The meta description is the portion of the search result directly underneath the page title and it explains what your page is about. You get more space to dive deeper into your page’s purpose than you do with the title tag. Only 155 to 160 characters will appear in search results, so make your meta description count! Concise, easy-to-read meta descriptions are more likely to entice people to click on your page.
URLs aren't quite as important as they once were in SEO ranking. However, you can still optimize your URL by using your primary keyword as the URL slug -- AKA, the part of the URL that comes after your domain name.
In the content, keep your heading structure organized. The title of your page will be the H1 tag (every page should have one, and only one, H1 tag). All other main headers should use an H2 tag. When you need subheadings, use H3, H4 and H5 headings, depending on the page structure. By cascading the headings like this, you make your content easier to read while simultaneously improving the page’s ranking.
8. Image Alt Text
Image alt text is used to help describe your page to search engines should your images not load properly when the page is pulled up. Alt text is a brief explanation of the image used -- oftentimes the alt text will be a primary or secondary keyword.
9. Internal and External Linking
Optimizing your content for on-page SEO also includes the use of both internal and external links. Internal links send users to other pages on your site. When done correctly, it can get your site more clicks and help your readers.
External links are a helpful way of showing your references. Ideally, you’ll be referring to high-quality, well-respected sources when writing your content. Links can prove to your readers why they should trust any of the claims you make and information you provide on your page.
10. Content Writing Best Practices
Blog posts and other site content should be unique, helpful, and easy to read. As far as page length is concerned, a good rule of thumb is to make your content at least 300 words long. The longer the better, but avoid fluff to keep everything sounding natural and informative. Stay away from huge blocks of text and make your content easier to skim by breaking up your paragraphs often. Make use of bulleted lists and include media like images, videos and charts. And of course, avoid duplicate content at all costs, whether from your own site or from other sites. If you have two or more pages with similar -- or nearly identical -- content, consider consolidating the pages and redirecting and deleting one of them.
On-Page SEO Tools
If you’re looking for help with content marketing and on-page SEO, there are plenty of tools available. Some are free and some are not, but it’s worth checking them out to see what works best for your particular site and content style.
For help with keyword research, SEMrush and Moz tend to be the go-to choices for most SEO experts. You’ll likely find Google Search Console and Google Analytics a couple of the most helpful resources for the technical aspects of SEO. Depending on the content management system you’re using, i.e. HubSpot, WordPress, SquareSpace, etc., these systems will also have their own built-in SEO tools or plugins. Take the time to research and experiment with these tools and programs to find the ones that work best for your site.
If you've already done the heavy lifting by researching and writing the content for your site, the only thing left to do is optimize it for search engines! This on-page SEO checklist will increase the likelihood of your hard work being seen by the entirety of the internet. Over 90% of people don’t look past the first page of their search results. Putting it in front of the most eyeballs can help the most people and get more interactions.
If you or your team is struggling to improve the on-page SEO of your website, Sparkinator is here to help! Contact us today by filling out our form and we'll get back to you as soon as we can!