The Ultimate On-Page SEO Checklist for 2024

Do you want more organic traffic to your website? Our on-page SEO checklist can help you in ranking higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).

SEO (search engine optimization) is continuously changing, but on-page SEO will always be a crucial component of getting seen online.

In this guide, we’ll share the exact on-page SEO checklist that we use to optimize our own blog posts.

Let’s get started!

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO, also known as on-site SEO, is the practice of optimizing individual web pages in order to rank better in search engine results and attract more relevant visitors. It includes optimizing on-page elements such as content, title tags, meta descriptions, URLs, etc.

On-page SEO aims to give search engines clear signals about a website’s content and structure, making it easy for them to read and index the site’s pages.

Why is On-Page Important?

On-page SEO is important for several reasons, including:

  • Improves Search Engine Ranking: On-page SEO helps search engines understand the content and relevance of a web page. By optimizing on-page elements, search engines can easily crawl, index, and rank a web page higher in search results.
  • Improved User Experience: A well-optimized web page not only ranks higher in search results. But also delivers a positive user experience by providing relevant and informative content that matches the user’s search intent.
  • Higher Click-Through Rates (CTR): Optimizing the page title, meta description, and URL can increase the possibility of users clicking through to your website from search results. As a result, increase in traffic and potential conversions.
  • Competitive Edge: With millions of websites fighting for the same keywords, optimizing your on-page SEO can give you a competitive advantage by making your website stand out from the other sites and attract more traffic.
  • Cost Effective: Unlike paid advertising, which requires ongoing investment, on-page SEO is a one-time investment that can yield long-term benefits for your website’s visibility and traffic.

Now, let’s dive into our list of on-page SEO checklists.

On-Page SEO Checklist

Here are some on-page SEO best practices that you can use to optimize our blog posts for higher ranking.

1. Identify Target Keywords

Identifying target keywords is the first step in any on-page SEO checklist.

Target keywords are the words or phrases users enter into search engines when they are looking for specific information or solutions. By identifying the right target keywords for your website, you can optimize your content to rank better in search results for those keywords.

You may use keyword research tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs, etc., to find what terms and phrases people use to find pages like yours.

For example, you can use SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool, which has a large keyword database of over 24.6 billion keywords. This means you can find a lot of good keyword suggestions for your website.

Those data include:

  • Intent: The type of search intent or motivation behind each search.
  • Volume: Keyword search volume, the average number of monthly searches.
  • Keyword Difficulty: A measure of how difficult it will be to rank in the top 10 Google results.

SEMrush Keyword Magic Tool

Let’s say you owned a cake shop. The keyword “vanilla cakes” might seem like a great keyword to target.

But is it?

The keyword gets a lot of search interest—2400 searches per month. However, it also has a keyword difficulty of 73%. This means it is difficult to rank for.

Volume and Keyword Difficulty

In addition to all of this, the search engine results page (SERP) is dominated by transactional products. This means most searchers are looking to buy vanilla cakes—not to learn more about cakes.

SERP Results for Vanilla Cakes

So if you want to increase sales, then “vanilla cakes” might be the keyword for you.

You can find the right keywords by conducting keyword research and analyzing search intent. Then, you can optimize every page accordingly.

2. Write Optimize Title Tag

The title tag is the page title that shows in the SERP. It should tell Google and users what your page is about. And entice users to click through.

This is how it appears in the SERP:

Title Tag in SERP

And this is in the HTML code:

HTML Title Tag

The title tag is one of the important elements for on-page optimization. So make sure to include the target keywords (the main search term you want to rank for) at the beginning of your page title. This allows search engines to understand what keywords the page is targeting.

You can also add secondary keywords, too. But it is important to avoid unnatural “keyword stuffing.” This might look spammy to Google and its users.

Furthermore, your page title doesn’t have to be very long. You should keep it below 60 characters because Google cuts title tags that are too long. Like this:

Truncated Title Tag in SERP

Lastly, you should add numbers as well as power words like “Ultimate, actionable, checklist, etc.”. This makes your titles more interesting and increases your click-through rate (CTR).

3. Write Optimize Meta Description

A meta description is a snippet of text that appears below the page title in search engine results pages (SERPs).

This is how it appears in the SERP:

Meta Description in SERP

And this is in the HTML code:

HTML Meta Description Tag

However, meta-description is not a direct ranking factor. It is included in our on-page optimization checklist since it is essential to standing out on the SERP and attracting more clicks.

Use it to explain what users can expect from your page and why they should visit it. Also, make sure it includes your targeted keyword.

Furthermore, your meta description should be a maximum of 140 characters. If it is longer than 140 characters, Google truncates them in desktop and mobile SERPs.

4. Create User-Friendly URLs

Creating SEO-friendly URLs is important for maximum SEO. It is divided into two parts. The first is URL optimization, while the second is URL structure.

A permanent link (also called a slug) is the unique URL of each page.

Furthermore, good URLs should be less than 255 characters and include hyphens ‘-‘ to separate the different parts.

An SEO-friendly URL, like the page title, is short, descriptive, and contains your targeted keyword.

SEO Friendly URL

These are some examples of good URLs:

5. Pay Attention to Headings

Each page on your site should contain only one H1 tag. If you’re using WordPress, the title of a page is automatically wrapped in H1 tags.

You can use the same title and h1 tag or provide a different title for the heading.

Remember that search engines display what they find in the title tag in their results, not the h1 tag.

Heading Structure

In terms of the other headings (h2, h3), keep the following in mind:

  • Avoid using a single word as a heading, but make the headings engaging and informative for users who like to skim-read an article.
  • Use headings in a hierarchical manner, with the first heading tag as the h1, followed by h2, h3, h4, etc.
  • Subheadings are a good place to include primary keywords in your content.

6. Add Targeted Keywords in Your Body Content

Google uses keywords and context to see if a website is relevant to a certain keyword. If your body content does not include your target keyword, Google might think your page is irrelevant to the search.

When performing on-page optimization, add your primary keyword in the first paragraph. Then, repeat primary or secondary keywords throughout.

However, avoid keyword stuffing—i.e., repeatedly use the same keywords (or phrases) in your website’s content.

Here’s an example of keyword stuffing:

Keyword Stuffing Example

Remember that you’re writing for users. Not just search engines.

7. Add Internal Links

Internal links are hyperlinks that connect one page of a website to another page on the same website. It helps Google find, index, and understand all of the important pages on your website.

Further, if you use them properly, internal links can send page authority (also known as PageRank) to important pages.

In short: internal links are important if you want higher rankings in Google. So, always add internal links from other relevant pages whenever you publish new content.

For example, here is how we use the anchor text “Free SEO Tool” in this internal link:

Add Internal Link to Free SEO Tool

This tells search engines that the page we are linking to is about: “Free SEO Tool.”

8. Add External Links

An external link is one that leads to a page that is not on your website but on another domain. It is the opposite of an internal link, which links to URLs within the same domain.

In terms of SEO, an external link on one site counts as a backlink to another site, and backlinks are one of Google’s most essential ranking factors. External links pass link equity and help connected pages rank higher.

Furthermore, linking to trustworthy websites might boost your page authority and trustworthiness in Google’s eyes.

Make sure to link out to 2-3 authority sites in your article.

For example, in our blogging tips article, we link to trusted websites like Backlinko.

Add External Link to Backlinko

And those links show Google that our content is well-referenced and trustworthy.

9. Optimize Your Images

Content is more than just text. That is why images are an important on-page SEO factor.

Remember that each image on your website should have an alt text.

It’s a description of what’s in the image. It is handy for visually impaired users as well as Google robots.

Moreover, alt text is also shown when the image doesn’t load properly. Plus, your image description should include keywords that explain the content of your website or image.

Lastly, make sure that your images aren’t too big. Otherwise, they may slow down page loading time. It is better to compress the images before uploading.

Recommended reading: Optimize Images for WordPress.

10. Review Your Content Quality

The type of your content is mostly determined by search intent. For example, a short description may satisfy someone shopping for products. However, someone looking for information might want an in-depth guide.

In any case, your content must fulfill high standards in order to compete on the SERPs and keep users engaged. As a result, when completing your on-page SEO checklist, you should consider content quality.

11. Apply Schema Markup

Schema markup, often known as structured data, is a coding language that “tells” Google more about your site’s different types of data. And the more Google knows your page, the more properly it can rank it.

Google also uses similar pieces of code to create rich results (or “rich snippets”).

For example, the “Recipe” schema helps RecipeTin Eats earn a valuable spot on the SERP. It gives users more information about the page content—ratings, time to make, and ingredients.

Recipe Schema Example for RecipeTin Eats

Furthermore, Google supports 32 different types of schema. This includes Articles, Events, FAQs, How-to, Local Businesses, Products, etc.

This is one of the more complicated tasks on this on-page SEO checklist. However, Google provides a Structured Data Markup Helper to help you add schema to your page.

Google Structure Data Markup Helper

Recommended reading: Best Schema Plugins for WordPress.

Bonus: Technical SEO Checklist

Since technical SEO is different from on-page SEO, you need both to rank high on Google.

1. Make Sure Your Page Is Indexed

In order for your page to appear in search results, Google web crawler must first add it to the Google index.

After that, you can check if your page is indexed via Google Search Console.

Read out how to Submit a Website to Google Search Console.

Simply check the URL of the website using the search bar. Then, look at the information it provided.

Inspect Page URL Using Google Search Console URL Inspection Alternatively, if you are using Semrush, then you can use the Site Audit tool to find all crawlability issues on your site. Simply click on the Category filter and select Crawlability to get a list of all issues.

Find Crawlability Issues in Semrush Site Audit Tool

2. Increase Page Speed

Users and Google both like pages that load quickly. The smallest delay might cause people to leave your page and go elsewhere.

To check your page speed, use a tool like Google PageSpeed Insights. Simply enter the URL of your page and click Analyze.

After that, it tells you how quickly your site loads for desktop and mobile users.

Google PageSpeed Insights Results for Pickup WP

It even tells you what you can do to speed things up.

3. Make Sure Your Page Is Mobile-Friendly

Mobile devices account for more than 60% of Google searches.

As a result, Google primarily considers the mobile version of a page when analyzing its quality (and deciding its ranks).

If your site is not mobile-optimized, it will not rank well.

Fortunately, you can easily check your site’s mobile friendliness with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.

Simply enter the URL of your page and click the TEST URL button.

Google Mobile Friendly Test Results for Pickup WP

After that, Google will provide a report indicating whether the website is mobile-friendly or not.

4. Fix Broken Links

Broken links may really hurt your SEO.

Therefore, you should find broken links and fix them.

The easiest way to find broken links is using Check My Links.

Check My Links

It’s a free SEO Chrome extension that scans your site for broken links:

5. Add Robots.txt and Sitemap

A robots.txt is a file that tells search engine robots (also known as crawlers or spiders) which pages or sections of a website should be crawled or not.

For example, if your site has a”privacy policy” page, you should prevent the search engine robots from indexing them. This will help you to save your crawl budget.

Sitemap, on the other hand, contains a list of all the pages on your website. It tells search engines which content on the website is the most important.

The pages at the top of the sitemap are crawled and indexed first. Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console helps the SEO process. Thanks to it, robots will index your pages faster.

This is a very important part of technical SEO, so make sure you add it to your website.

Conclusion

Optimizing your website for on-page SEO is essential for improving your search engine rankings and increasing organic traffic.

By following the on-page SEO checklist, you can ensure that your website is optimized for the right keywords, has high-quality content, a clear and structured layout, and meets all technical requirements.

Remember that search engines are continuously changing. As a result, it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest SEO best practices and regularly review and update your website’s on-page SEO.

We hope you find this ultimate on-page SEO checklist helpful.

For more, check out these other helpful resources:

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is On-Page SEO vs. Off-Page SEO?

On-page SEO and off-page SEO are two different approaches to improving a website’s search engine ranking. On-page SEO is the process of optimizing a website’s content and code to make it more search-engine friendly. Off-page SEO refers to the marketing of a website through other channels, such as social media and backlinks.

What Are the 3 Most Important On-Page SEO Factors?

Keyword research, content optimization, and technical SEO are the three most important on-page SEO factors.