There are so many things you can do to your blog posts, service pages or home page to help them rank well in Goole. There are also plenty of ‘experts’ out there who’ll tell you how to do it. But unless you publish pages and track their progress, you’re basically guessing. Having all your ducks in a row from an on-page SEO perspective can give your content the boost it needs to get more traffic. Here’s my tried and tested on page SEO checklist so you’ll never again waste time with your content publishing efforts!
1. Optimise Your SEO Meta Title Tag
One of the biggest and most frequent mistakes I see with websites is the poor optimisation of their SEO title tag for each page. Google places a lot of weight on the tag and often you can have big wins by knowing what keywords to put in there and how to word it.
How To See a Your Title Tags
A quick way to see an SEO title tag is by hovering your cursor over the browser tab. You can also use extensions like SEO Meta in 1 Click. To see bulk title tags in one go, Screaming Frog is a great tool but can take a few minutes to finish crawling depending on the size of the website.
How to Optimise a Title Tag
Here’s a few tips to a great SEO title tag:
- Write for humans and search engines.
- ‘Front load’ the tag with keywords but don’t overdo it.
- Always add your brand name at the end, if possible.
- Keep it catchy to encourage click through from the SERPS.
- Don’t over write – the title tag should only be 50 to 70 characters in length.
- Avoid stop words like and, to, but, etc.
- Use verbs like ‘buy, increase, learn, shop‘.
- Use some emotion with words like ‘best, expert, ultimate‘.
- Use numbers. This has a higher click through e.g ‘Top 10, 3 best‘.
- Using the current year also has a higher click through e.g. ‘Best x for 2022‘.
Here’s an example for a site that sells women’s dresses:
‘Buy Women’s Dresses Online | Brand Name’
Here’s the title tag for this post you’re reading now
‘My 13 Point On Page SEO Checklist | Will Mullins SEO Services’
Note: Often the title tag that shows in Google will be different than the one you’ve written. Google sometimes change the tag based on the keyword typed in and user behaviour.
2. Optimise Your Meta Description
The meta description is the couple of lines of text below the blue title in search results – see below:
The purpose of the meta description is to entice the reader to click through to the website. A well crafted meta description will do just that. Here’s some meta description tips:
- Outline the benefit to the reader of why they should visit your site.
- Think of what type of customer/reader is coming to the page, and target your copy to their intent.
- Use your main keyword once (google will likely bold it).
- Provide a call to action.
- Make sure it’s relevant to the page itself otherwise people will leave the page fast.
Note: Even though you may have the best meta description in the world, on average Google will show different text from your page around 50% of the time.
3. Have 1 x H1 tag per page
Another cue to Google on what your page is about is the text contained in the H1 tag. This is visible on the page itself and is the main heading on the page. Here’s some H1 tag tips:
- Have 1 x H1 per page.
- Use the H1 as your page title.
- Use your target keywords in your tag.
4. Structure Your H Tags to tell a story to Google
As well as humans using headings and subheadings to guide their knowledge of a page, you should also structure your H tags accordingly. Here’s an example:
Main Title (H1 Tag)
Topic 1 (H2 Tag)
Topic 1a (H3 Tag)
Topic 1b (H3 Tag)
Topic 2 (H2 Tag)
and so on…
5. Have at least 1 image
Pages with at least 1 image rank better than those that don’t!
6. Bold Important Keywords and Related Keywords
There’s evidence to suggest, (and Google employees have mentioned also), that bolding important keywords gives the algorithm more hints as to what the page is about.
7. Optimise Your URL
Short descriptive URL’s with keywords are the way to go. Long URLS with stop words (and, they, at) are not good. If you’ve had the URL for a long time, don’t change it.
Example of a Google URL
Example of a Poor URL
8. Use Italics where relevant
Same as bolding, italics can give emphasises to certain important keywords that emphasises their relevance.
9. Use keywords and related keywords in your H Tags and Copy
Your Heading tags should read as chapters in a book and outline the page content. Google looks at these H tags to aid in knowing what the page is about.
10. Optimise your Images
The file name of the image should describe the image. The alt text should also say exactly what the image is – primarily a function to help sight impaired people. The image should be as ‘light’ as possible so page load time isn’t affected. As well as helping your page, a properly optimised image will rank well in Google image search which can bring valuable traffic to the site.
11. Link out to External sites
Link out to appropriate external content where relevant. Have the external website open in a new tab.
12. Internal Linking
Link strategically to appropriate parts of your website. Internal linking tells Google where to go and what pages it should rank. A good strategy is to have a body of related content (blog posts) linking to each other and also linking to the best ‘money’ page (service page/product page) Use content comparison tools to guide your internal linking strategy. Have your linked content open in the same tab.
13. Add the appropriate Schema Markup
Schema Markup adds more information to your page and assists in Google adding information to Rich Snippets in search results. I use this tool here to create schema and also use this tool to check the schema on a URL. Google Search Console will also let you know if there are issues with your schema. You can read more about Schema here.
Having good on page optimisation can make or break your content visibility. Always have an SOP you can refer to and update over time as things change. Happy on paging!