Mastering On-Page SEO: Your Ultimate On-Page SEO Checklist For Success

Discover the ultimate on-page SEO checklist to boost your website's ranking on Google. Learn about keyword research, content optimization, header tags, internal linking, mobile-friendliness, and more. Maximize your organic traffic and gain the authority your site deserves.

Updated: September 29, 2023
impacts April Core Update

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If you’re serious about your website ranking higher on Google, knowing the critical components of an effective on-page SEO strategy is essential. That’s why this on-page SEO checklist and guide are tailored for you.

It’s all about the difference between attracting organic traffic, securing a high ranking on search engine result pages (SERPs), and gaining the authority your site deserves, versus staying virtually unnoticed.

Take a closer look at everything digital-age marketers should know to dominate the SERPs in 2023 and beyond, conveniently gathered in one place with this on-page SEO checklist.

    Understanding On-Page SEO

    On-page SEO, also known as on-site SEO or onsite optimization, encompasses all the tactics and adjustments you make directly on your website to boost its ranking on Google.

    It involves optimizing various elements of your web pages, such as content, meta tags, and URLs, to make your site more appealing and relevant to both search engines and users.

    By doing so, you increase your chances of ranking higher in search engine results and attracting more organic traffic.

    The better optimized your site and content, the better your site’s overall user experience. 

    A great user experience, which includes helpful content and a streamlined interface, inevitably leads to a better ranking on the SERPs, more traffic, and better ROI.

    If you need a hand with that, receive our on-page SEO checklist by clicking below. Once you have it, follow this guide step by step, and we’ll walk you through completing it with ease. Just sit tight and let us help you along the way!

    1. Conduct Keyword Research and Optimization

    Smart keywords are the heartbeat of any great SEO campaign, so no on-page SEO checklist can be considered complete without keyword research

    Identify target keywords for content optimization

    Use trusted keyword research tools like SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool or Ahrefs Keyword Generator to identify the best ranking opportunities for your site. 

    Look for keywords and keyphrases that strike a sweet spot between high search volume and low competition to maximize your chances of success.

    However, when you’re aiming to target specific niches, long-tail keywords, or local audiences, it’s also essential to consider low-volume keywords.

    These may have lower search volume individually, but collectively they can attract valuable, highly targeted traffic and help you stand out in specialized areas.

    Optimize meta tags with relevant keywords

    Add keywords to important on-page elements like titles, meta tags, and URLs to help demonstrate the associated relevance of your page to search engines and users.

    By strategically incorporating relevant keywords into these elements, you improve the chances of your page being indexed accurately and displayed prominently in search results.

    This not only boosts your search engine visibility but also provides valuable information to potential visitors about the content and focus of your page, ultimately increasing the likelihood of attracting relevant organic traffic.

    Incorporate keywords naturally throughout the content

    Google prioritizes content that thoroughly covers the topic and is written so that it flows and scans well for human readers. Avoid forced or heavy keyword usage in favor of adding keywords naturally for this reason.

    Screenshot of SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool displaying “on-page SEO” keyword results, including related keywords, search volume, and keyword difficulty.
    SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool

    2. Ensure Content Quality and Relevance

    The days when all you had to do was use a keyword a certain number of times per page to rank are long gone. Nowadays, high SERP ranks are all about two key factors: quality and relevance.

    Create valuable, informative, and engaging content

    Content that ranks is content that’s unique, original, engaging, and high in quality. And you need a steady stream of it to really stay on top of SEO.

    Consider signing up for a trusted content creation service like WriterAccess to streamline content production. Cutting-edge AI-powered tools take the guesswork out of finding the right writers and creators for your site, making it easy to build a dream team to be reckoned with in a few clicks.

    Align content with user intent and answer their queries

    You can cover relevance by carefully considering user search intent when crafting your content – the “why” that led them to perform a search in the first place. Content should be helpful and meaty, answering all of a user’s burning questions.

    To find out the search intent, put yourself in the shoes of your target audience and think about the specific problem or information they are seeking.

    Conduct thorough keyword research and analyze the search results to understand the common themes and patterns that emerge.

    Additionally, pay attention to related search queries, user feedback, and engage with your audience to gain insights into their needs and preferences.

    By understanding their intent, you can create content that not only satisfies their queries but also resonates with their interests, leading to better engagement and ultimately higher search engine rankings.

    WriterAccess triad of power - website screenshot
    WriterAccess triad of power

    Optimize content length, headings, and readability

    Ensure longer pieces are readable, skimmable, and easy to digest by using on-page elements like headings and subheadings wisely. 

    For example, break down your content into logical sections with descriptive headings that give a clear idea of what each section covers.

    This not only helps users navigate through your content effortlessly but also signals to search engines the key topics you’re addressing.

    Additionally, use bullet points, numbered lists, and short paragraphs to enhance readability. This formatting makes the content more scannable, allowing users to quickly find the information they need.

    Consider using a tool like Yoast to ensure all aspects of your on-page SEO are on point before publishing.   

    3. Craft Compelling Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

    Crafting incredible content that genuinely serves your users’ needs and addresses all of their concerns is only part of what it takes to nail on-page SEO. You also need to ensure that users feel compelled to click on your search result in the first place.

    That’s where well-crafted metadata elements like title tags and meta descriptions come in. 

    Leverage tools like TextMagic and Hey Meta to help take the guesswork out of tasks like the following.

    Create persuasive and descriptive titles

    Appropriately descriptive titles let a user know what the page is about while also piquing their curiosity enough to encourage a click.

    To achieve this, consider incorporating power words or action verbs that evoke emotions or urgency. For example, instead of a bland title like “Ways to Improve Productivity,” use a persuasive title like “Boost Your Productivity with These Proven Strategies.”

    Additionally, you can use numbers, such as “5 Tips for Better Sleep” or “Top 10 Travel Destinations,” as they tend to attract attention and indicate the content’s structure.

    Moreover, tailor your titles to match the user’s search intent. If users are looking for solutions to a problem, address that directly in your title, such as “Solve Your Skin Care Woes with these 5 Easy Steps.”

    By striking the right balance between being descriptive and persuasive, you can entice users to click through to your content and increase the likelihood of engagement and conversions.

    Write compelling meta descriptions to improve click-through rates

    Meta descriptions (the blurbs that appear directly underneath the title on the SERPs) should build on the promise presented by the title.

    These descriptions must convince a user that this is the content they’re looking for and that will answer their query or solve their problem.

    The meta description for this blog post
    The meta description for this blog post

    4. Utilize Header Tags

    Helpful content that addresses a user’s questions and concerns is the key to getting Google’s attention and achieving the top SERP rankings your website deserves. That’s why long-form content is so beneficial these days.

    However, the longer and more involved the content, the more critical it is to organize the content logically and ensure good readability. 

    Use header tags effectively for content organization

    Properly using header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) is vital when it comes to efficient on-page SEO. It streamlines and organizes your content, making it easy to skim and digest.

    Ensure effective header structure within your content by starting with well-planned outlines that cover your key points and make skillful use of header tags.

    Outlines also help steer hired writers through the content creation process.

    Incorporate relevant keywords within header tags

    Boost on-page SEO value by incorporating keywords into as many of your tags as feels natural. 

    Tools to help you wisely use and optimize header tags include SEO Site Checkup and Header Checker.

    Header Checker highlights the H1, H2s, H3s, H4s, etc. within an article

    5. Optimize Keyword Density and Placement

    I know we have been mentioning keywords a lot, but that’s because they truly matter.

    When it comes to must-know on-page SEO strategies and tips, keyword placement is a pretty important one. For the body of your content, natural keyword usage is best, but you’ll also want to use them in specific places.

    Maintain appropriate keyword density throughout the content

    Consistently use keywords throughout your content in ways that feel organic and help the text flow. 

    Tools that can help you with this task include Hoth Free Keyword Density Tool and GeoRanker.

    Incorporate relevant keywords naturally into your headings and content, but avoid keyword stuffing, which can harm both readability and SEO. Strive for a balance that aligns with user intent and provides valuable information.

    Strategically place keywords in important areas like headings and first paragraphs

    Keywords should appear in the page title and title tag and at least two of your headings. Include it within the first 100 words of your content (that’s usually the introduction), your meta description, the URL, and your image file names.

    Example of keyword in introduction (this article)
    Example of keyword in the introduction (from this guide)

    6. Establish SEO-Friendly URL Structure and Site Architecture

    Site structure is an essential consideration for any comprehensive on-page SEO checklist. Google is in the business of directing users to sites that offer a superior user experience, and a website that’s disorganized and hard to navigate doesn’t do this.

    Create structured and user-friendly URLs

    Create URLs according to a consistent, cohesive system. URLs should be simple, with lowercase keywords instead of a long string of numbers. 

    This helpful resource from Google Search Central covers the ins and outs of ideal URL structure.

    Organize website structure for easy navigation and crawlability

    Ensure your site is easy for both visitors and search engine crawl bots to navigate. That means your site should be intuitive and logically organized

    Refer to this handy Webflow article for a helpful overview of different site structures and tips for implementing them properly.

    Example of good URL
    Example of a good URL

    7. Implement Internal Linking Strategies

    Google favors websites that make it super easy for visitors to find as much helpful information as possible. For this reason, overall link structure is one of the key components of an effective on-page SEO strategy.

    Establish relevant internal links for a better website structure

    Smart internal link usage can suggest additional, helpful resources to users that they may not have initially considered. It helps ensure that relevant pages within your site are correctly connected and related to one another

    Check out helpful resources at Google Search Central and Moz to learn more about best linking practices and more.

    Utilize descriptive anchor text for internal linking

    Anchor texts are clickable words or phrases within a hyperlink that direct users to another page, either on the same website (internal linking) or to an external site.

    The importance of utilizing descriptive anchor text lies in its ability to provide users with a clear idea of the linked content and its relevance, enhancing their overall browsing experience and encouraging them to click through.

    Use descriptive, relevant wording for your anchor text to boost on-page SEO and inform a user as to the type of content you’re linking to. 

    Supplement your internal linking strategy with external links. Link to sites with a high domain authority to show Google you make smart choices and can be trusted.

    Anchor text and internal links – example from this article
    Anchor text and internal links – example from this article

    8. Optimize Multimedia

    Images, videos, graphics, charts, and other forms of multimedia are crucial parts of optimizing your website. But, as with all of your other on-page elements, it’s important to set them up with SEO in mind.

    Compress and optimize images for faster loading

    Use images and visuals strategically to add visual interest and value to your on-page content. But also ensure images are properly compressed to optimize load times and decrease your bounce rate. 

    Take a look at this resource from WPEngine for more helpful information.

    Add descriptive alt text and captions to images

    Descriptive captions and image alt text (or alt tags) are also crucial. Not only do these elements help make images accessible to people with visual impairments, but they help boost your on-page SEO and SERP rankings

    This guide from Shopify contains more helpful tips.

    Alt Text created for the first image that appears in this guide

    9. Verify If Your Page Is Indexed

    Naturally, ticking off all the items on a good on-page SEO checklist is a solid start to nailing your ongoing SEO strategy. But for a given page to rank for your chosen keywords, it has to be correctly indexed.

    Some factors could prevent a page from getting indexed as it should. Sometimes it’s a simple indexing error. But other times, there’s a more practical reason to tackle, like a duplicate page problem or a robots.txt file that could be telling search bots to ignore the page.

    The right tools can make it easy to tell whether a page has been indexed or not, as well as give you tips on how to fix it. Start with Google Search Console and SEMrush, two must-haves that should be in every SEO expert’s back pocket.

    Google Search Console page indexing verification screen
    Google Search Console page indexing verification screen

    10. Apply Schema Markup

    The more Google knows about the type of site you run and each piece of content on it, the more efficient your overall on-page SEO will be. Applying schema markup is one of the more effective ways to tell search bots what you need them to know. 

    Understand the benefits of schema markup for search engines

    Schema markup (or structured data) is a unique coding language that conveys key information about your site to visiting crawl bots

    Not only does schema help Google rank your pages more accurately, but it’s also a crucial aspect of ranking for key SERP features like Google’s rich snippets (or rich results).

    Identify relevant schema types for your content

    Proper schema markup requires some know-how, but it’s far from impossible. Check out this handy SEMrush guide for more information on how to identify the right schema type for your site and individual content pieces.

    Implement schema markup to enhance search result displays

    A comprehensive tool like Google’s own Structured Data Markup Helper can help take the guesswork out of managing your site’s schema markup. Simply specify a data type and paste either the URL or HTML code for a web page to analyze – top-tier assistance straight from Google itself.

    Google’s Data Markup Helper first page

    11. Ensure Mobile-Friendliness and Responsive Design

    These days, the average web user isn’t necessarily accessing search engines via a laptop or standard desktop system. They’re researching on their smartphones when they have a spare moment, not to mention searching for local businesses to visit on the fly.

    For that reason, solid on-page SEO means ensuring your site is mobile-friendly and responsive. 

    Make the website mobile-friendly for optimal user experience

    At this point, nearly everyone uses a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet to access the internet, especially when they’re on the go or surfing the web in between tasks. 

    Mobile search makes up more than 65% of the global internet traffic share, emphasizing how crucial the mobile-friendliness of your site is. 

    Familiarize yourself with Google’s current “mobile first” indexing approach at Google Search Central, and implement best practices to boost on-page SEO and user experience.

    Optimize site layout and design for various devices

    Optimize all aspects of your site (including images and other multimedia elements) with various devices and screen sizes in mind. Ensure everything loads as it should on a variety of screens. 

    And regularly use a tool like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to double-check the overall user experience. The more devices you optimize your site for, the better your overall on-page SEO score. 

    Mobile-friendly blog interface

    Conclusion

    A great on-page SEO checklist is more than just a helpful resource for taking the guesswork out of optimization. It’s the key to ensuring every aspect of great SEO is continuously taken care of to achieve success.

    Take the time to master all the basics, including some technical aspects of on-page SEO (like schema markup). It’s also crucial to know which resources to turn to for reliable help. This is especially the case when it comes to valuable, scalable content creation.

    WriterAccess has you covered with one of the most reliable talent networks out there. Connect with experienced, talented content writers specializing in any industry, and build the ultimate dream team today when you sign up for your free 14-day WriterAccess trial!

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    Human Crafted Content

    Find top content freelancers on WriterAccess.

    Human Crafted Content

    Find top content freelancers on WriterAccess.

    Iasmine Oliveira Rock author vector
    Content Marketing Analyst | SEO Specialist

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