SEO 12 min read
26 On-Page SEO Checklist to Optimize Your Website for 2020
- 13 Jul 2020 14 min read
SEO remains an important element in increasing your business’ ROI. It can help you maximize your resources while generating more traffic to your website.
Using several marketing statistics compiled by Hubspot, it shows that 70 to 80% of search engine users focus on organic results, and organic SEO is deemed 5.66 times better compared to paid search ads. Looks like it's all bout organic these days, huh?
Search is no longer a mere Q&A platform, but it now has a crucial and significant impact on your customer journey. That is why we'll be focusing on On-Page SEO, one of the four pillars of SEO that deals with your website’s content and HTML optimization.
What is On-Page SEO?
Every SEO strategy prioritizes rank higher in search results. To achieve this, we develop and optimize a website that Google’s algorithm and crawlers can easily crawl, read, and understand. To understand this more, you should know first what On-Page SEO is about.
On-Page SEO is the practice of optimizing your website to rank higher in search engines, as well as to earn more relevant traffic to your page. It also has to do with the elements in your website like technical set-up, the quality of your codes, textual and visual content, and user-friendliness of your site.
If all of these terms sound alien to you, better read up on our guide to understanding SEO to catch up and get familiar before we start off.
How to use our On-Page SEO checklist?
Think of this as a recipe list for your favorite cheesecake. Each and every ingredient is critical to the overall taste of delicious cheesecake.
If you forget to put cream cheese, chances are it will fail and taste bad. Meanwhile, if you forget to use vanilla, there will only be a little difference in the outcome.
The point is, you don’t need to follow all points on this checklist here. You just need to do what’s necessary for your website and let your efforts grow over time.
The Complete On-Page SEO Checklist
Want to know more about on-page SEO? Here’s your On-Page SEO Checklist to optimize your website this 2020:
- Use concise page titles & H1 Tags
- Use descriptive and SEO-friendly URLs.
- Have a compelling meta description.
- Use subheadings and Header Tags.
- Be Cautious of Keyword Placements.
- Provide Good User Experience (UX).
- Place Internal Links in Your Content.
- Provide External or Outbound Links.
- Spread secondary/LSI keywords in Your Content.
- Do the Necessary Image Optimizations.
- Always do Video Optimization.
- Have a Strong Call-To-Action.
- Implement Proper Schema Markup.
- Make Sure Your Website Is Crawlable and Indexable.
- Track and Target the Right Keywords.
- Avoid Keyword Cannibalization.
- Satisfy Search Intent.
- Optimize for Voice Searches.
- Use Modifiers in Your Titles and Keywords.
- Optimize for Featured Snippets.
- Write a good introduction.
- Write Relevant, Quality, Long-Form Content.
- Add Social Sharing Buttons.
- Improve your Page Loading Speed to 3 Seconds.
- Mobile-First Indexing and Responsive Design.
- Place a Reviews and Comment Section.
Interested in on-page SEO? Read more about the crucial on-page SEO factors you should look out for.
1. Use concise page titles & H1 Tags
The title is one of the most significant on-page SEO factors. Your title tags are one of the things that web crawlers check through in your site to determine the intent of your page vis-a-vis search query.
Make your titles unique and eye-catching. It should also be descriptive and concise (about 600 pixel-width), and should encapsulate what your page is all about. Take note, title tags should include the primary keyword you’ve set for the page.
Do not forget to wrap your title in an H1 title tag — a piece of HTML code that tells search engines that the copy you wrapped is the page’s title copy and an important element in your content.
2. Use descriptive and SEO-friendly URLs
Every page of your website has a unique URL. Think of it is as your online address.
Avoid using special characters in your URL and keep it short, around a maximum of 5 words.
Your URL should include your primary keyword. It may have a small effect on your SERP ranking, but it’s worth the effort as doing so will make it easy for both users and search engines to read and remember your URL.
3. Have a compelling meta description
Meta descriptions are the small snippet of text that best describes your page’s content on the SERP. It helps your result stand out, and reading it should give an idea of what to expect from the article.
For writing your meta descriptions, make sure to be descriptive but keeping in mind the 928-pixel width limit.
It is ideal to mention your primary keyword in the first part of your copy, as well as a strong and compelling call to action to encourage readers to click, read, or learn more about your content.
4. Use subheadings and Header Tags
For better user experience, it is ideal that you include subheadings in your content. Doing so will give you the opportunity to include your keywords in your content.
Moreover, it will make your content easier to scan. Since people nowadays don’t have the patience to read through your article, subheadings serve as roadmaps that will help your readers get an overview of your content and find the information they need easily.
Remember to divide your content into logical and scannable chunks that can be easily digested by your readers.
Also, similar to what you will do to your page title, do not forget to wrap your subheadings in the H2, H3, and so on tags of your HTML code. This will inform search engines that the copies you wrote are important and related to the topic of your page.
5. Be Cautious of Keyword Placements
It is best practice to place your keywords on your page’s title, URL, meta descriptions, subheadings (if possible), and in the first 100 words of your content.
Placing your keywords on those critical on-page factors will help Google easily understand what your page is all about. It is best to use your keywords 2 to 3 times per hundred words. But don't fuss about it, placing keywords naturally and as seamlessly as possible is the goal.
However, beware of the dangers of keyword stuffing — bombarding your content with your primary keywords to manipulate your site’s ranking in SERPs. Place your keywords as natural and seamless as possible in your content.
6. Provide Good User Experience (UX)
You want users to have a seamless experience while visiting your site. A lot of factors contribute to a good user experience. To give you an idea, these factors include:
- Making your content easy to understand;
- Ensuring that all your links are working;
- Improving your site’s loading speed; and
- Having a responsive design.
If a user is using mobile for browsing, it will be pleasing if the font type, size, and color are readable. Make sure that the buttons on your site are not too big or too small. If your site is difficult to navigate, your bounce rate will increase yielding bad results for your website’s performance.
7. Place Internal Links in Your Content
Internal links are links in your content that is connected to other pages or articles within your website. Using internal links is like making a trail for users to explore your page, therefore creating higher traffic on your site.
Moreover, adding a number of internal links on your page will increase dwell time on your website. Crawlers also use links to transfer from one page to another and to discover new web pages. That is why it is ideal to include internal links on your pages.
When adding internal links on your page, make sure that you use clear, relevant, and descriptive anchor texts. This will help the reader get a clear grasp of what that link is all about and how it relates to your page.
The pages you link to should be relevant to your topic. Make sure to update links and fix broken links if there are any.
8. Provide External or Outbound Links
External links are links in your content whose pages are not found on your website or domain. It also helps crawlers further understand your content. If you practice linking to websites that are related to your topic that have high domain authority (DA), you increase the credibility of your page, which is important for SEO.
To check a site’s domain authority, you may use MozBar.
Here is the list of rel attribute values:
- rel="sponsored"- links that are advertisements or paid placements
- rel="ugc" - user-generated content (UGC) links, such as comments and forum posts
- rel="nofollow" - when you don't want Google to associate your site with, or crawl the linked page from your site
Quick reminder: When a user clicks on your outbound links, make sure that it will open in a new window or tab so that your website remains open even though they’re visiting your outbound links.
9. Spread secondary/LSI keywords in Your Content
LSI or latent semantic indexing keywords are related keywords or phrases that are synonymous or semantically related to your primary keyword.
Years ago, Google launched its Hummingbird algorithm, an update that allows Google to understand a page’s theme by not only looking through the keywords.
By using LSI keywords, you add more context to your content, making it relevant to broad topics. Google then will see that your content is of high quality and should be ranked higher on SERPs.
Place LSI keywords throughout your article so google bots can understand your content more easily, thus resulting in higher page ranking.
10. Do the Necessary Image Optimizations
Using images in your content will make the information you present easier to understand and makes your page interesting. It also contributes to your page’s overall ranking in SERPs. It is ideal to add the keyword in your image file name, title, and alt text.
Use Alt tags. These are the words that appear when an image fails to upload properly on your page. It is used to describe the image and how it is connected to your content. Crawlers also use this to index your image accurately.
Use high-quality images and do not forget to compress them before uploading it on your site. Properly resize your image to its intended display for faster page load time.
11. Always Do Video Optimization
Aside from images, you can also add videos on your page. Video is one of the preferred mediums or content to consume information online as it combines auditory and visual senses. Adding videos in your content will engage your visitors and increase their dwell time on your page.
When optimizing your video content, note some basic reminders:
- The title of your video should be concise, engaging, and must include your primary keyword.
- Add a full description of your video which describes the topic being tackled or what your viewers can expect to see. Do not forget to include your keywords and LSI keywords in the description.
- Choose high-quality and relevant thumbnails.
- You can add subtitles, if possible, for it to be more user-friendly.
- Make sure that your video is relevant to the rest of your content.
Putting a video on your website engages viewers more, and helps them understand your content better.
12. Have a Strong Call-To-Action
After site visitors consume your page’s content, they should know what to do next. You can help them by having a clear call-to-action.
Your call-to-action should be related to the intent of your content. For example, if your page’s intent is informational, then your CTA maybe “Sign up now.”
13. Implement Proper Schema Markup
Schema helps in organizing the structure of your data to help search engines read your page and rank it in the SERPs.
Schema.org is the result of a collaboration between Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo! To help companies provide necessary information for their search engines to easily understand. This provides a shared vocabulary for webmasters and developers to use a schema and get the maximum benefit for their efforts.
According to Moz, “Adding Schema markup to your HTML improves the way your page displays in SERPs by enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed beneath the page title.”
An example of a Schema markup is the star ratings you find in search results when you Google for a nearby hotel or restaurant. Another example is when you find an image attached to the result of your query on SERPs. Adding Schema markup will help increase your page’s CTR.
There are three formats of schema markups which are commonly used in top search engines:
- JSON-LD - nested data items are easier to express because the markup is not interleaved with the user-visible text.
- Microdata - An open-community HTML specification used to nest structured data within HTML content.
- RDFa - An HTML5 extension that supports linked data by introducing HTML tag attributes that correspond to the user-visible content that you want to describe for search engines
14. Make Sure Your Website Is Crawlable and Indexable
Search engines scour, evaluate, and determine billions of content online to know which has the highest probability of answering a human’s query. They do this by crawling and indexing.
Crawling is the process of scouring through existing, new, and updated content on the internet. Search engines send out crawlers or spiders to do this. These crawlers explore a number of web pages and follow the links in these pages to discover new URLs. Through this, they find new content that they can index.
Of course, you have the option of blocking crawlers to crawl and index your page. You may do that by using Robots.txt. You can also use Google Search Console and/or Screaming Frog to know if you have pages that have a “no index” tag and have it indexed.
15. Track and Target the Right Keywords
One of the integral factors for ranking in SERPs is knowing what keywords users use when searching for content they need. This is where conducting comprehensive keyword research and mapping takes place.
Take into consideration your target audience. What are they searching for? What keywords are they using when searching for that query? To research keywords, you can use the following tools: Google Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool, SEMrush, and Long Tail Pro.
An ideal keyword (this can be a phrase as well) is relevant to the main topic of your content and is used by your target audience when searching. This is a crucial step in knowing how users search and look for their answers to their queries.
16. Avoid Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization happens when two or more web pages from your website target the same primary keyword or phrase. When this happens, you confuse search engines in pointing which page is more important. Therefore, neither page from your website will be ranked. Remember, one primary keyword for one page.
Using a keyword map can help assign relevant keywords to your content. This will allow search engines to read your website’s relevancy on a user’s search.
17. Satisfy Search Intent
There are four primary categories of search intent:
- Informational - how-tos, tutorials, and guides.
- Transactional - making a purchase, or already decided buyer.
- Comparison - comparing different products and still weighing in options.
- Navigational - finding a particular website, or still looking for a specific service.
Make sure that your content satisfies the search intent of your website visitor. If your user’s intent is searching for the similarities and differences of two products, your content should not be geared towards making a sale. To make sure you got it right, check our guide on understanding search intent.
18. Optimize for Voice Searches
Voice search is the option of speaking to a device to search instead of typing your queries.
According to Forbes, “Voice search drastically improves user experience — and because of that, by the year 2020, half of all online searches will be made through voice search. Due to its prolific use, search engines such as Google are placing a higher emphasis on voice search optimization.”
You can optimize voice search by doing the following:
- Use structured data - Enable search enhancements and get a visually appealing result on the search engine results page (SERP).
- Use Google my business listing - Share your business information in your website’s footer in simple text format.
- Be mobile-friendly - Most voice searches happen in mobile devices, so it's best for your website to prioritize mobile usability and friendliness.
19. Use Modifiers in Your Titles and Keywords
Adding modifiers are helpful in forming long-tail keywords. Meaning, aside from your primary keyword, you can be ranked for other variations, thus increasing organic traffic in your website. Modifiers also appear in voice searches.
20. Write a good introduction
If you lose the readers in your intro, you’ve lost them for good.
Writing an intro that will pique the reader’s interest is crucial to ensure user engagement.
To avoid readers from “pogo-sticking” from page to page, hook them with a compelling intro that will make them stick around for the whole article. Remember that no matter how good your content is, the audience will not be able to see it if they’re already gone in the opening.
21. Optimize for Featured Snippets
Featured snippets are organic answer boxes on top of SERPs that search engines pulled from websites for specific queries. It helps increase organic traffic on your site.
Sites where these featured snippets are pulled from belonging to websites that rank in the top 5 SERPs positions. To rank and optimize for featured snippets, it’s important to take note of the following:
- Answer each question accurately and concisely.
- Use facts and data when providing an answer to your question.
- Make sure the article answers as many related questions as possible.
- Organize and phrase your questions properly.
- Use images, videos, or infographics to strengthen your claim.
Make sure to provide clear and concise answers to commonly-raised questions, link out to high authority page sources, have your content optimized for mobile, have HTTPS installed, and use a number of headers for your snippet to be featured.
22. Write Relevant, Quality, Long-Form Content
In a study conducted by SEMrush, long-form content that has more than 3000 words has more traffic, more social shares, and more backlinks.
Ideally, longer posts are better (1,000 to 2,000 words) because it attracts more backlinks and therefore increases your page’s authority and ranking in SERPs. Your content should be high-quality, original, and relevant. The information you disseminate should be related to your goal category of search intent.
It is also practical to focus on contents that will remain useful and relevant over a long period of time. That way, the information you impart in your content will not be easily outdated.
Quality content should be easily understood. It doesn’t have to be filled with jargon and highfalutin words that only industry professionals could understand.
To make information look organized on your page, you may also use bullet points and number lists in your content. It is also ideal to write in short paragraphs to make your content easier to digest.
Of course, content is not limited to text. You are free to include media in your content to make it easier to understand and more entertaining to read.
23. Add Social Sharing Buttons
Good content is more likely to (and must) be shared. In this day and age, where social media is widely used by almost everyone everywhere, information is shared instantly.
If you add social media sharing buttons on your page, it becomes easily distributed across multiple platforms, and you can gain more traffic and brand recognition. It will also send signals to search engines that your content is insightful.
Adding social sharing buttons helps improve customer experience. If your readers want to share your blog post, having this feature will increase the likelihood that they will do so.
24. Improve your Page Loading Speed to 3 Seconds
Admit it or not, no one likes a slow loading website.
Make your visitors happy when they are on your site by speeding up your website as much as you can. Google is also using the loading speed as a ranking factor, so make sure to optimize your page speed. The faster your page loads, the higher your page ranks.
You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to check your site’s loading speed and to look for other factors that affect your website’s loading speed.
25. Mobile-First Indexing and Responsive Design
Mobile-first indexing means that Google will likely use the mobile version of your page for indexing and ranking.
Thus, optimizing your site for mobile is a necessity. Also, a lot of users are on mobile when using search engines, so optimizing your site for smartphones and tablets can and will improve your website’s traffic and rank in SERPs.
If your website has a responsive design, it can easily adapt its layout depending on the user’s device for browsing.
26. Place a Reviews and Comment Section
You may also add a comment box on your pages, especially blog pages, to engage with your readers and know if they find your content useful.
It will also increase dwell time in the site as readers will browse through the comments before giving their opinion. Do not forget to reply to your reader’s comments!
Ticking all the boxes in this SEO on-page optimization checklist will optimize your website for 2020. Here are some key takeaways to keep in mind with on-page SEO:
- You can have cost-effective marketing that will help you have a greater return on your investment (ROI).
- Having an optimized website will help you create buzz due to the specific and targeted keywords that are related to your business.
- With good SEO practices, consumers will be encouraged to visit the site more often if your website has a cleaner, faster page speed.
Optimizing your website for the succeeding year may be overwhelming. If you find yourself lacking time to do so, you can always hire a data-driven digital marketing company to do the work for you and make sure that you optimize your site the right way for 2020.