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On Page SEO Check List (Definitive Guide 2021)

What Is On Page SEO?

On-page SEO is a technique that is used to optimize a webpage for search engines. 

If you want to rank on the search engines you can’t ignore on-page SEO.  

Instead of focusing on backlinks or other things which take time to show results. Why not do something which is completely on your hand.

Without wasting your time, let’s jump right into it. 

On Page SEO Check List: 12 Tips

Formatting 

First one on the list is formatting. 

Not a lot of people talk about this but formatting plays a huge role in on-page seo techniques. 

As google has made it clear to write for humans and not for search engines. 

Proper formatting can change the way your post looks. Making it pleasing for the eyes of users.

Not only that, formatting also helps in ranking. H1, H2, listicles, pictures, and more can help search engines determine the quality of the web page. 

Formatting is also beneficial for skimmers. Not every visitor will read the whole thing, most of them will just skim. And clear formatting can help skimmers understand your point in a better way. 

Don’t forget to use visuals.

A blog post should not be only writing and writing. A page with only words all around will scare the visitor away.

So, use a lot of pictures, videos, graphics, charts, tables, etc. Break your long content into headings and subheadings. 

Write Killer Headlines

Did you know a good title can change your post’s ranking?

The title is as important as the whole blog post. You can write an article as good as you can but no one would read it if it is underneath a crappy title. 

If you want to write fantastic titles I have a tip for you. After writing a title ask yourself “would I click at it, if I was a visitor?” If not, there’s no reason you should post without changing that title. 

Another tip for you. Write 5 to 10 alternative titles and choose the best one. Show them to your friends and family and ask them which one’s the best. 

Alternatively, you can take help from the internet and ask other bloggers in the groups. And they will help you choose the best headline for you. 

A good headline can change your position in the SERPs.

For instance, if one of your articles is ranking on number 2 or 3 or (even below) and a lot of people start clicking your articles instead of the one which is on number 1. Then Google will change your position and you can end up getting that top spot.

A simple way to write better headlines is to use parentheses or brackets.

I know this sounds crazy but this thing actually works. In fact, Brain Dean from Backlinko shares that 6 out 10 of his most popular pages on backlinko contain either parenthesis or brackets in the headline. 

You can also use numbers, a study by Buzzsumo found numbers can improve CTR up to 49%.

10 works best amongst the numbers. 

Lengthier headlines work better than shorter ones. Best length for a headline is 64-68 characters. Writing too long or short headlines can decrease CTR and hurt your SEO. 

blog-post-writing-best-practices
Source / Buzzsumo

Optimize Your Post’s URL

Optimizing URL is another critical on-page SEO technique. This could be a little confusing to a beginner but don’t worry, it won’t be after this simple guide. 

Ok, first of all. Go to your WordPress dashboard and select settings. 

Note: these settings can break your site and hurt your SEO. If you don't want to change these settings, you can skip this step. Please take safety precautions or hire a developer to do it for you. Read this article before changing these settings. DO IT ON YOUR OWN RISK!

Ready? 

Ok, let’s go!

Scroll until you find permalinks. 

on-page-seo-check-list
Take your cursor over Settings > Permalinks

You’ll see options like these. 

blog-post-writing-best-practices

Best one is the last one and that’s the one most of the websites use. News websites usually use the one with the date to keep records. 

Learn this simple trick to optimize urls for SEO. Clean and optimized URLs are better than messy and untidy ones.

Let’s take an example here. 

blogsbysarmad.com/on-page-seo-is-a-technique-that-is-used-to/

Or:

blogsbysarmad.com/m=php?

Now look at the URL of this page.

Got it? I hope you did.

It looks 10 times better and performs better in the long run. 

Just put your focused keyword on the URL but avoid numbers. Suppose, you’re writing a post about 10 facts about blogging. Your URL would be:

/facts-about-blogging/

And not.

/10-facts-about-blogging/

Because nobody searches for “10 blogging facts” instead people search “blogging facts”. 

You can download a SEO plugin like RankMath, Yoast, or All In One SEO (a.k.a AIOSEO) to easily optimize your post’s URL. 

The next part is about meta descriptions…

Write Meta Descriptions

Meta description is the small snippet that appears underneath a post on the SERPs. 

on-page-seo-check-list
this is meta description.

This could also be simplified by the RankMath plugin or any other SEO plugin. 

Open the box and try to enclose your blog post within 250 words. Because more than that won’t be visible to humans. 

You can also use your focused keyword over there. Please do not try to force it because it would feel robotic and people might hate you for keyword stuffing. Focus on ideal keyword density and try to keep the copy natural. 

Keyword Density

You found your focused keyword, now stuff it here and there and you’ll be good to go. Right?

Absolutely not!

In modern SEO, there is no such thing as ideal keyword density. You can even rank for keywords you didn’t used in your blog post. 

Search engines like Google are smart enough to figure out what the content is about. That means, no need to remind them about your focused keyword by stuffing your keyword again and again.

This will do more harm than any …. Oh! I mean It will only harm you because this can’t help you in any way.

Create In-depth Content

There is no ideal word count when it comes to SEO. You can stop writing when you think you have written the best page about the specific keyword you’re targeting. 

Doesn’t matter if it’s 1000 words, 2000 words, or even longer. 

Long form content outranks short content. But, it’s not always the case. It’s all about value. If your content is more valuable, you will win the race. 

Search engines want to provide the best answer available for the user’s search term. 

If your article is providing the most value, you’ll rank. As simple as that.

Suppose, if a person is searching “how to tie a tie”. 

You don’t have to create the a mighty 2000 words article covering: 

  • What is a tie
  • Do’s and don’ts
  • Tie history
  • Where and when should you wear it
  • Tie types
  • & Everything under the sun related to it

Instead, just slap some of the GIFs and images together and the user would be more satisfied. This topic could be covered under 100-200 words. Maximum.

Undoubtedly lengthier posts work better on the SERPs because of two reasons:

  1. They can rank up for hundreds of different keywords.
  2. Long-form content can answer a question more thoroughly.

No doubt, longer content works better but when it comes to rankings, it’s all about the user’s search intent. For example: 

If a person is searching for “cheap web hosting” the word “cheap” probably means the user is trying to buy. And if the user is only searching “web hosting” they probably want a list post and they are doing it for research purposes or something.

This is search intent. 

And you have to figure it out if you want to score big in the long run.

So, don’t obsess over word count. In fact, John Muller has clearly said that word count is not a ranking factor. 

John Muller on Twitter

Optimize Your Images

We can’t forget the importance of images while talking about on-page SEO. 

Image SEO is still alive. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. 

Undoubtedly search engines are smart. But, you can’t ignore the fact that the search engine algorithm is a machine.

And do everything that can help the machine understand your content better. Image optimization is one of those things. 

This one’s also a topic for another blog post. Please head over to this guide and enjoy reading all the aspects of image optimization (a.k.a Image SEO).

Internal Linking

This one is critical. A good internal linking technique can boost your rankings. 

Please note that putting a lot of links can make it harder for mobile users to scroll down without accidentally touching one of your links.

That can decrease user experience. 

And remember, humans before search engines.

So, don’t start putting links to every word in your article but link back to one of your articles where it’s relevant. 

Internal linking is a good way to keep a visitor on your site. Usually people just read your blog post and fly away forever.

You know there are 98% chances that a visitor will not come to your websites ever. 

Provide your visitors the best articles that they can read after. 

And this is an effortless way to increase traffic to your website

External Linking

A lot of people hate external linking but the fact is, external linking is a part of a healthy on-page SEO technique and linking to your competitors can help you in the long run. 

Not linking to the sources from where you found the info in fear of losing a visitor is extremely unprofessional. 

Don’t live with the fear of losing a visitor but try to provide the best information. Doesn’t matter if the article is yours or not, if you think your audience will love to read that article as well. You shouldn’t hesitate to link to it.

There is another big advantage of external linking. You can reach out to people (that you have linked to) and ask them to link back to your blog. Bigger portion of them will not respond. But the ones that do, will help you get more and more backlinks.

Use LSI Keywords Wisely

I know, I know that John Muller has said there is nothing as LSI keywords.

But hear me out. 

I’m not asking you to start sprinkling LSI keywords here and there on your blog post. Instead, use LSI keywords to cover your topic more thoroughly. 

LSI keywords means Latent Semantic Indexing. Which basically means keywords related to your targeted keyword. 

By having a look at what people are searching related to your focused keyword can help you figure out the searcher’s intent. 

Therefore, you can create an in-depth guide covering all the sub-topic and in the end that’s what search engines are looking for. 

Finding LSI keywords are easier than you think.

Just go to Google’s search bar and put your focused keyword. Don’t hit enter and wait for Google to fill in the blanks.

Find LSI keywords using Google auto complete.

Alternatively, search for your targeted keyword and scroll all the way down to end.

blog-post-writing-best-practices

These are the related queries to your search term that people are actually searching for.

Improve Core Web Vitals

It has not been long since Google introduced core web vitals as a ranking factor. 

Core web vitals consists of three things:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
  • First Input Delay (FID)
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)

LCP means the time it took to load the whole context on the screen.

Sounds like page load speed but it’s different.

Page speed means loading the entire page. 

LCP means loading the context of the page which is right in front of the user’s screen.

First Input Delay (FID)

First Input delay is the time it takes for the user to actually interact with your website. 

Interacting could be anything like filling up a form, clicking on a button, choosing an option from the survey, etc. 

In plain English, a user landed on your site to fill out a form but the form is taking forever to load. 

What is the user going to do in such circumstances? 

Of course, they are clicking the back button to hop over to one of your competitors’ websites. And remember what Douglas Warner said.

It’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away.

Douglas Warner III

This is not something you should be really worried about if you’re running a text-based only blog like the one you’re reading right now. But if you’ve a button or form or something like that, you might have to fear this thing.

Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS)

Ever happend that you visited a website and tried to click on something and boom! An advertisement appears and you mistakenly touch something else. This is known as cumulative layout shift. 

If you look at them they all are directly related to better user experience (UX). 

The good thing is that you can improve your core web vitals without any technical knowledge. 

However, this one is another huge topic and story for another blog post.

I would recommend give this article a read if you want to discover all the aspects of core web vitals and how to improve them. 

Check Your Site’s Mobile Responsive(ness)

Since more than 50% of searches were happening from mobile devices. Google tried this crazy mobile-first indexing update.

Before that, Google would show two different pages to desktop and mobile users. 

After the mobile-first indexing update things changed. 

Now, whenever a user searches for something, the page will undergo a mobile responsive test. 

If it passed, the page would show up high in the SERPs. And if it didn’t you better be worried about it. Check out this tool by Google to check if your pages are ready for mobile-first indexing or not.

Conclusion

You can also download a SEO plugin like Yoast SEO, AIOSEO, or RankMath. These are third-party apps that can help you with on-page SEO strategies.

But remember, any SEO plugin in this world can’t help you rank first on search engines. I have seen a lot of people trying to score a 100 on RankMath. 

Which is absolutely useless. 

You can’t just put together a worthless article and expect it to rank even if you’re scoring a solid 100 on the plugin. 

A Quick Recap: 

  1. Properly format your blog posts before writing a catchy and attention grabbing headline
  1. Optimize your URL and make it clean, readable, and memorable. 
  1. Optimize your title and meta description. A good meta description incite the visitor to click-through and read the rest of the article.
  1. There is no thing like ideal keyword density & word count. Write for humans and write a good one.
  1. Properly optimize images and link to your articles and other bloggers’ articles that could be useful for your audience.
  1. Use LSI keywords to figure out what the searchers are searching for. And hit those areas that your competitors are not considering.
  1. Optimize core web vitals.
  1. Optimize your website for mobile-first indexing.

And that’s it for today. Thank you for reading and I hope you learnt something new here. 

Now, It’s time for you to educate me.

What are some other on-page SEO strategies that work right now?

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