When creating new landing pages – or looking to improve existing ones – consider this On-Page SEO Checklist, which can help you boost the SEO effectiveness of your site without impacting the ability of your pages to convert. All in all, it’s a win win – and it’s well worth the time!
Architecture & HTML
1. Enhance visibility with SEO-Friendly URLs:
First off, when creating your new page (or modifying an existing one), be sure to have an SEO-friendly URLthat uses keyword phrases naturally while demonstrating what the page is about. This is good for both search engines (to assign SEO value) and users (to establish trust by making the URL understandable).
The key is to keep it simple, easy to read, and recognizable yet keyword rich as in Google search results, the keywords in permalink url are bold which means they still carry some weight.
a) Experiment with Keyword-only url’s as they’ve shown signs of getting rank higher. ( I think might be because resource pages consists of 2-4 words only).
b) Avoid ugly default urls generated by your Content Management System.
c) Make sure to check to see if you’re using only one version of your URL – if not, you should be, as you may run into some confusion on both the user and search engine end. Serve up the www version of your URL if possible and check your Robots.txt file to make sure that your URL (once live) is going to be indexable.
2. Title – Always Include Keywords:
The title tag is the most important on-page SEO factor and we’ve seen pages ranking when used keywords properly in the title tag. Google’s algorithm places a lot of weight to Title tag to identify what the web page is about and it not only shows on top of your browser but also in the SERP results.
That is why it is recommended to include the keyword you are trying to rank for, however, ensure to not only use keyword wisely, but that the title is compelling. Use the principles of writing good headlines by writing title tags that are understandable, simple, and get right to the point.
Tip: The closer you have the keyword at the beginning of the title, the more weight it carries in search engines
3. Wrap your Titles in H1 Tags:
H1 tags are meant for the Headline and therefore your Title should be wrapped around this tag. However don’t over optimize your page by adding keywords to sub-headings which are H2, H3, and H4.
The purpose of H tags is to tell Google how the content is structured for readability. E.g. Our title describes the topic of this post, followed by sub-headings which further explains and goes into detail about On-Page SEO.
As you work down the page, notice the headings and subheadings of your content and utilize the same principles that you would for title tags.
Do the heads and subheads use keywords naturally? Do they add to the flow of the page? Do they compel and engage? These are the questions you should be asking yourself at every step of the on-page SEO process, but they really come into play when you look at how to utilize h tags effectively.
4. Use Structured Data Markup:
Giving search engines as much information as possible about your site and the information it offers can only enhance your performance, so it’s become key for pages that want to outrank their competition to use structured data markup (also known as rich snippets) to enhance their search engine listings.
This does not apply for every content type, however, one should make full use of it where it does. Below is a screenshot from search result for Za’atar Recipe and we see the difference where structured data markup was use.
We have an example of a traditional simple search result, one with star rating, one with an image and lastly a result with both star and image with recipe ingredients.
Structured data can have a multitude of benefits, ranging from improved CTR in the SERPs to better SEO performance overall. Here’s what you need to know about adding structured data markup to your site.
Tools for Adding Structured Data:
- Schema Creator by Raven – http://schema-creator.org/
- Schema Generator by 51 Blocks – http://www.51blocks.com/tools/schema-generator/
- microDATAgenerator by 630 Marketing – http://www.microdatagenerator.com/
Reference Guides on How Rich Snippets/Structured Data Markup Work:
- Google Support Documentation: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/99170?hl=en
- The BuiltVisibile.com Guide to Generating Rich Snippets: http://builtvisible.com/micro-data-schema-org-guide-generating-rich-snippets/
- The SEO’s Guide to Schema by Raven: http://blog.raventools.com/an-seos-guide-to-schema-org/
5. Write Feature Focused Meta Description:
Clocking in at around 150 characters, the meta description is one of the most powerful tools you have in the SERPs, as it’s the only place in the search engine where you can essentially get ad copy for free. Make those 150 characters count by utilizing the space to make a call to action, note unique value propositions, your brand name, any geographic locations/featured details about your business, etc.
Here are some examples of meta descriptions done right:
It doesn’t matter if you are a startup or just a service provider in your area, you can use the meta description to feature your USP. One thing you should make sure is to check that you don’t exceed the words limit and utilize the space effectively like the examples above.
6. Internal Linking with Anchor Text:
The goal is to always keep search engines and users moving deeper into the site, so if you’re referencing specific pages or sources, be sure to link to them using anchor text that uses calls to action (e.g. “learn more”, “sign up now”, etc.) or keyword phrases naturally.
Don’t overwhelm the user with links – keep it focused and only drive off the landing page when it makes sense.
7. Add Outbound Links:
Outbound links have their place in world of SEO and it is believed that linking out to other sites in your industry for reference or citation has a positive on SEO.
But even more than the ranking factor, it is a relevancy signal that helps Google figure out your content, what it is about, and also shows that you are adding value for the readers by linking out to useful resources as we’ve done it on this post too.
The purpose is to provide users with the research you’ve carried out for them, let them dig deeper on the content you are writing with research, evidence and references and ears you credibility points.
8. Use Natural Language:
The body content itself should use keyword phrases naturally several times throughout, as well as utilize contextual variations. This is also known as LSI (Latent semantic indexing), this means synonyms and closed variant keywords which Google uses to better determine the page’s relevancy.
For example, if you were working on a landing page all about the band The Rolling Stones, SEO best practices would indicate that you would use the phrase “Rolling Stones” throughout, as well as related phrases such as “rock n roll”, “Mick Jagger”, and “Keith Richards”.
A good litmus test is to read your content out loud – does it sound like something that would occur naturally in conversation? If not, consider skimming down your keyword usage or adjusting your wording to make it flow.
9. Increase Content Length:
Length can mean strength in SEO so try to aim for a lengthier content piece if you can. In theory, the more valuable content you’re providing, the better, but that doesn’t always hold true. To optimize a page, it’s about finding the right balance between word count and value offered.
SERPIQ.com conducted an industry study which found that longer content tends to rank significantly higher on Google’s first page.
Pieces of content that are rich in information don’t have to be thousands upon thousands of words, so use your best judgment to determine if you’re meeting the needs of your visitors with content that delivers what they need to learn/be entertained by/etc.
10. Optimize Images:
If you’re using images on your pages, be sure that they are relevant to the topic (a jarring image that’s not connected to your content can drive up bounce rate), are attractive, and are using relevant alt text and captions.
a) Rename your images with descriptive name as it is crucial for Image SEO. Let’s use the image as an example:
By default most cameras give a generic name to your images such as DCMIMG1.jpg. However, when uploading your images, make sure to name the file with product name: Nike-air-max-blue-2014.jpg
b) Optimize ALT Text when uploading images, these are text alternative to images which Google reads to learn about the Image, though their algorithm has evolved however we should get the basics right as it helps your pages achieve better ranking in the search results by associating keywords with images.
As a matter of fact, using alt tags is probably the best way for your eCommerce products to show up in Google image and web search because search engines read alt text.
11. Write Quality Content:
The quality of your content is king, so be sure that it’s free of spelling and grammatical errors. It needs to engage and keep people on the page (so that the time on site shows relevancy/receipt of value).
The truth is Google has no direct way of determining the quality of content but metrics like time spent on site, repeat visitors, bookmarks and shares all count towards a content that Google would love showing it to its searchers on Page #1.
Need help writing better copy for SEO? Want inspiration for content marketing initiatives? Dive into these resources before you start planning your onsite SEO optimization calendar:
Also, be sure that your content is completely unique as duplicate content – or plagiarized content – can cost you in both the search engines and in your user experience.
A note on duplicate content: We’ve heard about duplicate content and its dangers for years. Looking ahead, we’re predicting that search engines will only continue to get better with handing duplicate content, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be conscious of it now. Avoid it if you can and if you can’t, utilize canonical tags to show search engines which version of a page to look at. If you’re not sure how canonicalization works, check out this resource from Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
12. Add Social Sharing Buttons:
Make it easy for people to share your content. Social sharing buttons encourage distribution of your content across multiple platforms, which can send signals to search engines that your content is valuable and worth noticing.
Additionally, it creates additional touch points with your brand, which can result in greater brand recognition, traffic, and improved sentiment (hey, it’s easier for people to like you if they can find you!).
Trust us: SEO + Social Media = a perfect match.
13. Increase Site Speed:
The faster your site loads, the friendlier it is to your users. You’ll often find better on-page user metrics with a fast site, plus there’s a correlation with having a fast website and good rankings.
Site speed can occasionally be limited to your platform, but if you’re not sure how to optimize your speed, start off first by investigating your load time with a tool and then contacting your hosting provider. From there, you can look at ways to make your site faster within the parameters of your platform.
You can increase your website speed using a CDN, however in most cases we’ve found the hosting to be the main cause of slow loading sites which is we see companies like, which offered generic shared hosting started focusing on Managed WordPress Hosting as it is such an important element of your site speed.
While they are fairly affordable but if you are looking for some serious performance, make sure to select a top-notch hosting company for your website. We’ve covered this topic in more detail in our guide about Increasing website speed.
14. Responsive Design:
There’s a fundamental shift occurring in web design today that has sites moving to a responsive design – a huge improvement for both users and search engines. Responsive design enables a page to adapt its layout according to whatever device a user is browsing on, making for an easier to navigate and more attractive user experience.
This is now more important than ever because Google has rolled out mobile-friendly label in search resultswhich will increase the click-through rates of sites which are mobile friendly.
Furthermore they’ve even introduced a label for non-mobile friendly websites which should tell that Google is focusing on mobile users as the number is on the rise due to smartphones and tablets.
Search engines have already noted that responsive design will only enhance your site’s SEO performance, but perhaps more importantly, you’ll find increased time on site.
15. Better Readability:
Is the font too small? Is the font too difficult to read?
Believe it or not, these factors play into SEO more than you’d think. Be sure that your content is able to engage and be easily read, otherwise, you may see a high bounce rate, which can signal to search engines that your page isn’t offering value.
Is your content well organized? Can a reader easily skim and get the general idea of what you’re trying to convey? While it may be tempting to write a dissertation on your product, keep things trim and well organized so that someone reading quickly can still gain insight.
With this checklist of essentials, optimizing for on-page SEO can be easier for you. Now the trick is to blend these tactics with your off-site strategy for SEO Success.