17-Point On Page SEO Checklist for better usability and rankings

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    On Page SEO checklist to help you structure web pages so visitors and search engines can read and rank the page better.

    The best part ?

    A free On Page SEO Checklist to download.

    Title Tag – Put Target Keyword At The Start

    Put your target keyword towards the start of your page title as per example below.

    A formula that I like to use is

    Keyword + User Intent + Outcome

    In this example,

    • The target keyword is “seo copy”
    • The user intent after analysing the top pages is ‘how to write seo copy”
    • And the outcome the user wants is higher rankings and clicks

    And in the page you are reading

    • The target keyword is “on page seo checklist”
    • The user intent is a checklist to follow as you produce a web page
    • The outcome of using a checklist should better rankings and usability

    With more emphasis being put on mobile rankings, your page title can only use so many characters.

    I write my page title out in a tool called Test Page Title & Meta Description Visibility

    As you can see 519 to 578 pixels is an acceptable length.

    Then when I preview the page title in Yoast for mobile results, this length looks ideal.

    Here’s an example of a page title on a mobile phone where I currently rank at position 4.

    Finally, when you are using characters such as | and – and your company name, you aren’t maximising the page title opportunity for searchers or search engines.

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    Meta Description – Target Keyword in meta description

    The meta description is a few lines of text just below the page title.

    The meta description is an extended version of the page title.

    I copy the page title into the meta description box and add a call to action towards the end.

    Use the preview box in Yoast or the test tool to maximise the space.

    Here’s the desktop view.

    Here’s the mobile view.

    I was also shocked to discover that Google rewrites over 62% of meta descriptions.

    Here’s an example showing how Google rewrote my meta description.

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    URL

    Every page on a website has a URL to uniquely identify it from other pages.

    Ideally, you should include your primary keyword or phrase in the URL

    For example

    • /on-page-seo-checklist/
    • /keyword-research-checklist/

    Of all the on page ranking factors, the URL is one of the strongest, according to research by Brian Dean and Ahrefs.

    Just be careful with URL’s in WordPress as they use your page header by default.

    So save your page or page as a draft and then edit the URL slug.

    Put Page Heading in H1 Tag

    Place your main keyword into the page heading wrapped in an H1 tag.

    Although, according to a study of 2 million keywords by Ahrefs, around 85% of top-ranking pages don’t have their keyword in the H1 tag. (ahrefs.com)

    First Sentence or Introduction

    The first sentence or the introduction to your page should include your target keyword.

    Most of the time, I use the meta description that I wrote as the first sentence on a page.

    Putting your keyword in the first sentence reassures the site visitor they have landed on the page result they clicked on.

    This can help combat the back button being hit and increases the time spent on your page; dwell time.

    After the first sentence put the most important details about the page first.

    If you are producing a data study page you will include the key findings.

    Many content creators use the BLUF technique (Bottom Line Up Front) at the start of a page.

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    Content

    Here’s my checklist of the content component.

    Scannable Content

    People don’t read web pages the way they read a book.

    They scan and skim through a page looking for areas or pieces of content that grab their attention.

    Put your own pages into Hotjar to track the mouse and scrolling movements.

    Subheadings to use H2 tags

    For me the easiest way to write website content is to produce an outline of my page using sections.

    These sections, ideally, use H2 headers.

    Using these sub-headers enables you to write faster and your writing to flow easier for the reader.

    H2 and H3 headers are also cues that help the visitors who are skimming and scanning your page.

    Subheadings can also be scrapped by Google and appear as rich snippets in the search results.

    Here’s an example of a featured snippet using the headers of a page.

    And in this example, Google displays the subheadings of my page right underneath my meta description.

    Short sentences

    You aren’t writing a book when you create a web page.

    Don’t group a number of sentences into a block; that’s hard to read.

    Use a short sentence in one line.

    After the full-stop use another line.

    Spacing

    The stylesheet that controls my typography has large spaces between each sentence and paragraph.

    Again this makes scanning and reading web pages easier.

    Bullet Points and numbered lists

    Use bullet points or numbered lists to break up the monotony of headers and paragraph text.

    Additionally these features can also help your page acquire rich or featured snippets.

    Bold and Italic

    Whilst not essential, the use of bold and italic can help draw the reader’s attention to words, phrases, quotes or testimonials.

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    Table of Contents and Passage Interference

    Adding a table of contents can help you to rank particular sections of a page in the search results.

    This feature is particularly useful on long form content articles; read more about table of contents here.

    Content Length

    You can easily check the word count of the top ranking pages using a tool such as Thruuu.

    Content length matters for certain page results such as guides, how to article and so on; but the word count for ecommerce collection pages shall be much lower.

    Keyword frequency

    Keyword frequency is the number of times your main keyword appears in your page content.

    For example, I’m planning to produce an seo plan template and I don’t need to mention the target keyword at all in the article.

    What’s more important is to serve the user’s intention on your page by writing your answer naturally.

    Relevant, up to date content

    One of my top pages was created by identifying competing out of date pages.

    I discovered people searching for “how to advertise locally” and the top page was a few years old.

    I also realised that their content and page advice was very outdated.

    So I created a more relevant and up to date guide.

    Now there may come a time when my page content becomes out of date.

    Look at the date when you published an article.

    Use Ahrefs organic keyword tool to look for keywords and pages that have declined over the past 6 months.

    Answer questions

    The primary purpose of your page is to serve the user’s intent.

    The intent for the query “seo plan template” is to deliver a template someone can use to plan an seo campaign.

    However, within the page you may also have to answer particular questions related to the intent.

    Here’s an example.

    When I finally decide to start writing, I must provide a template but I also need to answer a few questions throughout the article.

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    Image Assets

    Not many people like to read rows and rows of text and headings.

    You should break up your page with :

    • relevant images
    • photographs
    • screenshots
    • Graphs
    • charts
    • diagrams or 
    • Videos.

    Not only do these assets aid the reader, they can also help you earn links to your page.

    Internal Links

    Links help the search engine connect and understand pages.

    I wrote this page and mentioned “top of funnel keywords” 

    It may have made sense to link to a page I had already written about this subject.

    I’ve added the internal link using anchor text that clearly indicates to the reader and the search engines a relevant page.

    Using Ahrefs link opportunities feature will help you to identify internal link opportunities and could help boost the organic rankings of particular pages and keywords.

    Outbound Links

    A link to an external website can help Google understand the context of the page; especially for complex or mixed intent subjects.

    For example, there are 2 towns in the UK called Troon.

    If I mentioned and linked out to the golf courses in Troon then Google would know my page is about Troon in Scotland; not Troon in the south east of England.

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    Above the fold

    According to the Google UX playbooks, your page should have the following information above the fold of the browser (as indicated by the arrow in the screenshot)

    1. Display page header, category title or product name
    2. Clear descriptive call to action above the fold of the browser.
    3. Consolidated menu in a hamburger style format
    4. The first sentence is clearly visible.

    Google’s UX Playbooks also recommend you remove revolving carousels and image sliders from the top of your pages.

    Spelling and reading level

    Try and keep the reading level of your page as close as possible to a basic level.

    That’s easy for me as I speak and write very plainly.

    However for more complex and technical subjects you would have a higher reading level than other sites.

    You can use the reading level feature within Yoast to check.

    Page Speed

    Google has previously said that page loading speed is an SEO ranking signal.

    You can improve your site’s loading speed by:

    • Using a faster web hosts
    • Using a faster theme eg: Generate Press
    • Using speed performance tool such as WP Rocket (WordPress only)
    • Optimising your page images

    HTTPS

    This should be a given that your website uses HTTPS.

    Image Alt Tags

    Add your target keyword to the alt tag of your images.

    This can help you rank better for images and shopping search queries.

    Also consider using your keywords in the file name of the image you are using on your web page.

    Schema

    Adding schema markup can help search engines to understand your content better. 

    For example, your page may be a property listing page.

    You can define the page type and signal to the search engines what the content is about.

    Related Pages or Products

    Nice to have but not essential is to link to related pages or products.

    Call to Action

    And last but not least have a call to action on your page.

    As Seth Godin wrote in his book, Knock Knock, there are only 4 things that can happen in the moment after someone sees a page :

    • Click the back button
    • Clicks and goes to the link you want them to go to
    • Clicks and buys
    • Clicks and fills in a form

    And above all, do not interrupt the reading experience with pop-ups, push notifications or other distractions.  

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    Summary

    I trust this on page SEO checklist along with illustrated examples was useful and hope you’ll download and implement some of these points in your next page.