SEO is not difficult; it's easier than you think. All you need to do is Proper SEO.
When it comes to On Page SEO, it's all about improving readers' experience as well as making your blog posts SEO friendly. I know you are tired of hearing about meta tags, keywords density, etc.
It sounds so complicated. But it will be easier if you follow a checklist.
If you are looking for an On-Page SEO Checklist to make your blog posts SEO friendly, then you'll love this post.
In this post, I will be sharing a step-by-step checklist to make your posts optimized for SEO and boost your ranking.
Note: If you haven’t started using Yoast SEO yet, please set up Yoast SEO plugin before reading this post. It’s a must have plugin for On-Page SEO.
There is no Ultimate On-Page SEO Checklist. Everything you do to increase user's experience is On-Page SEO (Click to Tweet). But there are some practical On-Page SEO strategies and techniques that can help you to get more search engine traffic.
Here's the On-Page SEO Checklist that I follow before publishing a blog post:
1. Select A Focus Keyword
Before doing anything else, you need to choose a focus keyword.
Focus keyword is the keyword for which you want to rank on Google. It could be a short tail keyword or long tail keyword. Here’s an example of two types of keywords.
- Short Tail Keyword: On Page SEO
- Long Tail Keyword: On Page SEO Checklist 2016
It’s comparatively easy to rank a long tail keyword than a short tail keyword. But it mainly depends on the competitiveness of the keyword.
Now let’s see how to choose the focus keyword.
To find the perfect focus keyword, you need to do Keyword Research. It’s a kind of market research. It tells you what people are searching for and in what relative numbers.
Keyword Research starts when you type something on Search Box, and it starts showing possible search terms. If it happens, that means people are searching for the term, and it can be a potential keyword.
Though this is not the ultimate Keyword Research tool, it can help you to understand what’s your audience are looking for. Google Keyword Planner was the most used SEO Keyword Research Tool. But the problem is, it has stopped showing Average monthly searches for a keyword for those who don’t have a running campaign.
Now you can use SEMrush to see the search volume and related keywords. Just enter the keywords in the below box and press Enter.
By using SEMrush, I found that “on page SEO” got more monthly searches than “on page SEO checklist.”
The keyword “on page SEO” has more potentiality of attracting traffic. But the problem is, sites like Moz, Backlinko, NeilPatel.com, etc are ranking for the keyword “On Page SEO”. It’s almost impossible for me to outrank those sites.
It’s better to go with the second keyword. It’s less competitive.
When it comes to choosing the perfect focus keyword, there is no exact rule. You should choose a keyword that has search potentiality and fit to your audience. And then optimize your post for that keyword.
2. Write A Catchy Post Title
No matter how good your post is, it is useless unless people read the post.
A study on CopyBlogger found that 8 out of 10 people will read the Post Title, but only 2 out of 10 will read the post.
But if you have a catchy post title, it will surely invite your readers to check the post. The title is a kind of advertisement for your post, and certainly the best place where you want to impress your readers.
Another important thing to consider is Click-Through Rate (CTR). CTR is the number of clicks that your post receives against the impressions. If you have a catchy title, people will click on your link from SERP. It sends a signal to Google that your post is relevant to the keyword, and you will get a ranking boost.
So post title matters a lot. Spend some times to write a catchy headline.
Here are few things you need to consider to make your post title SEO friendly:
- Make sure you have the focus keyword in your post title. A Moz.com study found that titles that started with targeted keyword ranked higher than others.
- Finish your post title within 60-70 characters.
- Use numbers. (Top 10, 15 Best, etc)
- Use interesting adjectives. (Like Awesome, Incredible, Best, Top, Essential, etc.)
- You can also use two different titles for readers and Search Engines.
3. Make Post URL SEO-Friendly
You might have noticed that Google bolds keywords in a URL in SERP. That means it takes it as a clue to figure out the relevancy of a page for the target keywords.
John Mueller of Google said that “Keywords In URLs” is a very small ranking factor. So it’s a good idea to make your URLs SEO-Friendly. Here are some actionable tips.
- Keep your URL short and sweet.
- Make sure it contains focus keyword.
- Avoid stop words. (Like to, for, your, etc)
A good example is URL of this post – https://roadtoblogging.com/on-page-seo-checklist/
WordPress automatically generates a post permalink based on your post title. You can change it by clicking on “Edit” beside Permalink.
Note: Don’t change the post URL later. If you need to change the URL later, follow these steps to keep your ranking stable.
4. Use Heading Tags Properly
Using heading tags is the best way to make your blog post scannable.
Heading Tags (H1 – H6), as the name suggests are the heading and subheading of a blog post. These tags are also known as SEO Header Tags.
The most important heading tag is H1. Normally H1 Tag refers to the Post Title. WordPress automatically adds H1 tag to your post title. Having only one H1 tag on a blog post is good.
If you are going to use other tags like H2 or H3, try to add focus keyword on those tags.
Don’t repeat same tags too many times. It’s not a good SEO practice.
5. Use Multimedia in Blog Posts
Text based blogging still dominates the blogosphere. But this is the era of VISUALIZATION. To stand up from the crowd, you need to add engaging images, screenshots, videos to your blog posts.
Here at RoadToBlogging, I use a lot of images and screenshots to make things easier. While these are not going to boost your rankings, but these can help you to increase user interaction.
- Change the name of the image file with relevant keywords. (Like on-page-seo.jpg)
- Add alternate tags to images.
- Use caption if needed.
You can also consider adding Youtube video to your blog posts.
6. Use Internal & External Links
Internal linking decreases bounce rate and increases user engagement.
If you want to see how Internal linking affects SEO, check Wikipedia. They add a lot of internal links on every page and rank high for many terms.
I am not going to tell you to add too many links like Wikipedia. Just add some relevant links to your old posts. It will keep your visitors longer on your site. (More Pageviews = Less Bounce Rate = More Money)
What about External links?
We all know that getting links from high authority sites can boost SEO. But did you know that external links to authority sites can boost your page’s rank in Google?
Yes, it can. Whenever Search Engine bot finds authority links on your blog, it sends a signal to Search Engine that your site can be trusted. So add 2-3 relevant external links on your blog posts.
And try to reach out to those sites’ owners that you have mentioned in the post. They may share your post on social media.
7. Use LSI Keywords
Let’s say; you are going to write about “Apple”. It could be Apple – The Technology Company, Apple – The Fruit, Apple – The 1980’s Movie. How can Google bot understand what you are writing about?
The answer is LSI Keywords. LSI means Latent Semantic Indexing. It’s a part of Google algorithm. LSI Keywords are those keywords which are related to your main keyword.
You can easily find LSI Keywords from Google search. Just search for your main keyword in Google and scroll down to the bottom of the page. You will get some related keywords under “Searches related to”.
You can also use tools like LSIGraph to generate LSI Keywords.
Choose two or three keywords and sprinkle them into your blog post. Putting LSI Keywords in blog posts also increases the chance of getting Search engine traffic for different keywords.
8. Publish Long & Scannable Content
Longer posts usually rank high in Google. A study of SERPIQ.Com found that longer content significantly ranks higher in Google.
There is nothing wrong with short posts; they can rank high too. But when you try to rank for a competitive keyword, write a detailed post. It also helps you to rank for the long tail keywords.
Whenever you write a long post, make it scannable. People don’t read word by word. They scan. Here are few things you can do to make your posts scannable.
- Keep your paragraphs short.
- Use subheadings.
- Use lists.
- Use bullet points.
- Keep space.
9. Write a Killer Meta Description
Meta Description won’t help you to get high ranks. All it can do is, increase the CTR (Click Through Rate). I have already said that CTR can boost your rank.
A meta description is a meta tag that is used to describe a page. You can call it “Summary of your blog posts.” You can easily add meta description by using Yoast plugin.
Your meta description won’t be shown in SERP all the time. It depends on the search term. If your meta description contains the search term, it will be shown on the SERP.
Here are some tips to write a killer Meta description that increases CTR.
- Finish Meta Description within 150-160 words. Google shows maximum 159 characters in Meta description.
- Put target keywords in Meta Description so that Google shows meta tags in SERP.
- Make your description unique and relevant.
- Use Call to Action words like ‘Learn how to’, ‘Check this’ etc.
- Try to avoid same words.
10. Optimize Your Post For Social Sharing
Social Signal is a ranking factor. That means having a good amount of social shares can help you in ranking.
The best way to get social shares is to write high-quality contents. But it’s not enough if you don’t optimize your posts for social sharing. Here are few things you can do to get more social shares.
- Use An Eye-Catching Image: Social media sites pick an image randomly from the blog post if you don’t specify the image. You can upload specific images for Facebook & Twitter by using Yoast SEO box under the post editor. The recommended image size for Facebook is 1200*630px and Twitter is 1024*512px. You can use Canva to make an image quickly.
- Use Different Title & Meta Description: Social Networking sites show the same title and meta description that you set for search engines. But the same thing might not work in social media. You can set different title and meta description for Facebook & Twitter from Yoast SEO box.
- Use Social Sharing Buttons and Social Content Locker: Use floating social sharing buttons to make it easier for your readers to share your content.You can also use a social content locker. It works great for long content.
11. Make Your Blog Post Load Faster
Google has already confirmed that it considers page load time as a ranking factor. You can easily boost your page speed by using a faster hosting and CDN. Here at RoadToBlogging, I use HostGator WordPress Hosting and CloudFlare.
Another important thing is using a speed optimized WordPress theme. Currently, I am using FocusBlog of Thrive Themes on this blog. It has some amazing features like Image Optimization, Lazy Load Comments, Full Width/Narrow Blog Layout, etc to make your blog faster.
Recommended Reading: How to Speed Up WordPress Blog: 9 Easy Steps
It might seem to you that you’ve to do a lot of works to make your blog posts SEO friendly. But with the passage of time and practice, these will become your habit.
Hope this post will help you to make your blog posts SEO optimized. If you liked this post, please help me by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.