Ok, So I am assuming you have got a keyword in your mind which you want to rank in Google! (more precisely first page of Google)
But to rank on Google’s #1 page, you need to craft and optimize your blog post in such a way that Google will not only understand & recognize what your content is all about but also realizes that it deserves to be on the first page of Google.
But how to do that?
Well, for that you need to follow a step-by-step (Straight Forward) process. And to help you throughout that process, I have created this ultimate on-page SEO checklist.
This simple (but effective) checklist will make sure that you never miss an opportunity to optimize your blog post and make them deserving to rank on Google’s first page.
But before that, let’s make sure you fully understand what on-page SEO is all about.
(However, you can skip this part and directly jump to SEO checklist)
- 1 On-page SEO Introduction
- 2 What is On-Page SEO
- 3 Why should you work on the on-page SEO?
- 4 What are on-page SEO factors?
- 5 Initial (But Necessary) Checklists
- 6 01. Have you Verified your site with Google Search Console?
- 7 02. Is your page crawlable?
- 8 03. Is your page Indexable?
- 9 04. Have you installed an SEO plugin on your site?
- 10 Optimizing Web Page for Target Keywords
- 11 05. Are you targeting the right keyword in your blog post?
- 12 06. Is your primary keyword assigned to another piece of content?
- 13 07. Is your primary keyword appearing in Title?
- 14 08. Is your Title Tag Optimized for CTR?
- 15 09. Is your Blog Post Title Wrapped in an H1 Tag?
- 16 10. Are you using unique, Keyword-Rich Meta Descriptions?
- 17 11. Is your Blog Post URL optimized for SEO?
- 18 12. Have you Used Your Primary Keyword Once In The First 150 Words?
- 19 13. Have you used variations of your primary keyword into the copy?
- 20 14. Have you used Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords in Your Copy?
- 21 Content Optimization Checklist
- 22 15. Have you written a kick-ass intro?
- 23 16. Is Your Content Unique?
- 24 17. Is Your Content satisfy search intent?
- 25 18. Is your content free of spelling and grammatical errors?
- 26 19. Is your copy longer (on average) than your competitors?
- 27 20. Does your blog post use short paragraphs?
- 28 21. Is your post optimized for Google sitelinks?
- 29 22. Are your headings structured logically?
- 30 22. Is your content scannable?
- 31 Optimize your Image For Search Engine
- 32 23. Does your page have as many (or more) images than your competitors?
- 33 24. Are you using original images in your post?
- 34 25. Are you using the right image format?
- 35 26. Have you compressed your images?
- 36 27. Do your images have descriptive file names?
- 37 28. Are you using descriptive “alt” tags for your images?
- 38 Checklist For Link In Your Post
- 39 29. Does your page have internal links?
- 40 30. Are you using descriptive Keywords in anchor text?
- 41 31. Are you linking to other authority sites from your post (External linking)?
- 42 32. Do all your external links sets to open in new tab?
- 43 33. Are your all affiliate and sponsored link using No-follow & sponsored tag?
- 44 34. Have you formatted your link properly?
- 45 Checklist for User Experience (UX)
- 46 35. Does your page load under 3 seconds?
- 47 36. Is your page responsive and mobile friendly?
- 48 37. Does your website have an SSL certificate installed?
- 49 38. Have you added Social sharing Button?
- 50 39. Is Your blog design modern and updated?
- 51 Bonus: Advance On-Page SEO checklist
- 52 40. Is your post optimized For Google Featured snippet?
- 53 41. Is your post define a canonical URL?
- 54 42. Are you using Schema markup (where appropriate) to increase CTR?
- 55 43. Is Your Content Optimized For E-A-T?
- 56 44. Does your post have a detailed author box/bio?
- 57 45. Is your page have a clear call-to-action?
- 58 Final Thoughts
On-page SEO Introduction
Before jumping to the SEO checklist, let’s have a quick look at what On-page SEO is all about:
What is On-Page SEO
On-page SEO refers to the process of optimizing the content and structure of a web-page. The ultimate goal of On-page SEO is to speak the ‘search engines’ language’ and help their crawler understand the meaning and context of your web page (i.e blog post)
Why should you work on the on-page SEO?
Just creating and publishing new content for your website and blog is not enough – you have to optimize it for Google and other search engines in order to rank in the top of their search result (for your target and related search term) and drive free organic traffic to your website and blog.
With all the On-page SEO best practices, you can optimize your web page in such a way that it will give a number of signals to Google to help them understand what your content is all about.
In addition, On-page SEO is called “On page” because all the changes and tweak you made occurs on your own website and everything is fully under your control, Unlike Off-page SEO refers to actions taken outside of your site, like getting links from another site, content promotion, etc.
What are on-page SEO factors?
The majority of people think On-page SEO is all about adding exact-match keywords on your web page – keyword in the title, keyword in the meta description, keyword in H1, etc.
There’s no denying that keywords are critical for on-page optimization, but there’s much more to the process.
As you go through this guide, you’ll soon understand, on-page optimization includes:
- Crawlable web page – the web page is crawlable and indexed by search engine robot.
- Well-targeted content – the page targets a specific search intent
- Completing search intent – The page completing the intent of search query
- Site architecture – there is a clear and logical architecture if the pages.
- User-friendly URL – URL of the web page should be simple, descriptive and clean
- Image optimization – the images are optimized for search engines
- Click-through rate – the page has optimized title tag and meta description
- Readability and UX – the text is well-optimized, readable and UX-friendly
- and many more.
In this On page SEO checklist, we’ll go step by step through all of these factors. So, Just follow this checklist and you’ll achieve a perfectly optimized page.
Initial (But Necessary) Checklists
First, let’s go over some mandatory technical checklist which is very very important if you want your on page optimization to drive result.
01. Have you Verified your site with Google Search Console?
Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a free online tool provided by Google to website owners.
It allows you to access wide range of useful data about your website search engine ranking and traffic.
For example, you can:
- Discover which keyword and pages driving the most traffic to your site
- see how your blog post is performing in the search result for various keywords
- check out what sites are linking to your content
- Submit a sitemap or ask for recrawls
Plus, Search Console is also a medium through which Google communicate with you about:
- Your website errors (indexation problem, crawl ability issue, mobile-friendliness issue, etc.)
- Manual penalties (If your site receive any penalty)
The bottom line is that Search Console is a must for everyone owning a website and want to rank their site in Google.
Here are some resources to help you set up Google Search Console:
- How to add and verify your website with the new Google Search Console (By Alex Chris from ReliableSoft)
- An Ultimate Guide to Learn using Google search Console (Kinsta Blog)
02. Is your page crawlable?
You simply can’t rank in Google Search result if Google spider or crawling Bots can’t access your page.
Your robots.txt file and robot meta tag like “NoIndex” or “No follow” are two of the common thing that could prevent Google from crawling your website:
Ranksider is a good tool that can help you check the crawlability of an URL against robots.txt, metatags, x-robots, and canonical URLs.
Just enter your web page URL and click “Submit”.
On the next screen, the tool will show you everything that is or isn’t blocking search engine crawlers to access your page. As long as it shows 200 status code, you should not be worried about your web page crawlability.
03. Is your page Indexable?
Having a crawlable web page is the first step to ranking in Google search result. The second step is making sure that your page is actually indexed in Google’s database.
Though you can get full information about this from Your Search console account, but an easiest way to check whether your page is properly indexed is to copy your web page URL and paste it into Google.
If you web page is indexed, Google will automatically show it in the search result. But in case if it is not appearing in search result then you have to take some additional steps.
The very first thing you should do is check whether your page is using No-index tag. For that you can make use of a free tool like SEO Site Checkup.
If there is no issue with the robot meta tag (No Index) you should further use your search console account to request Google to reindex your page.
To do that, open you search console account and enter your page URL in the top URL inspection search bar.
Now click Request indexing on the inspection result page for the URL.
If your page passes a quick check to test for immediate indexing errors, it will be submitted to the indexing queue.
04. Have you installed an SEO plugin on your site?
Having an SEO plugin installed on your site is must for further On page Optimization technique i am going to share with you.
Rank Math and Yoast SEO are two of the most popular SEO plugin available right now.
I personally use Rank Math for my blog but you can use Yoast too, both are equally useful.
Optimizing Web Page for Target Keywords
No matter how some SEO expert denies the fact that Keyword doesn’t matter at all in 2020. But still, Keyword is an important element that helps Google decide the context of a web page.
In fact, Google’s own “How Search Works” report states that:
Even though Google is MUCH smarter than it was back in the day, they still use old school stuff like looking for a specific search term in your web page.
Having said that just placing exact match keyword in your web page doesn’t guarantee that your page will rank in Top of the search result. There is more into On-page SEO (Which we will discuss further.)
05. Are you targeting the right keyword in your blog post?
It is the fact that you can’t rank for every single keyword. So, before selecting a keyword, You need to go through extensive keyword qualification and competitor analysis processes to ensure that you’re targeting the right keywords in your blog post.
I am not going to share everything about Keyword research in this post as I have already written an in-depth guide on Keyword research.
Still, here is a quick overview of how to validate your keyword ideas:
First, run your keyword through the SEMrush Keyword overview tool or any other SEO tool of your choice.
You can quickly eliminate keyword based on the Keyword difficulty (KD) score shown by SEMrush. For example, if your website is relatively new, you shouldn’t target a keyword greater than 50 KD.
Once you think Keyword difficulty score is achievable for you, further compare your website against top 10 website ranking for the same search term in search result.
You should gather the following data point for each of your competitor:
- Site age, Domain Rating (DR), Total backlinks that web page has received, Total domain linking to Root Domain URL,
- Word Count and structure of the web page
By now you’ll have a clear road-map of what you’ll need to do to compete for your target keyword.
06. Is your primary keyword assigned to another piece of content?
You should never target your primary keyword across multiple posts or pages on your site.
Assigning the same keywords to more than one page can cause keyword cannibalization issue, wherein search engines don’t know which page is more important and, therefore, rank neither page (or devalue the most relevant page).
The simple way to keep tabs on your blog and make sure you don’t cannibalize your own content is to create a spreadsheet that lists each of your blog posts and pages URLs and their corresponding focus keywords.
07. Is your primary keyword appearing in Title?
Having your target keyword present in your title tag helps you gain favor in search engines.
This is widely considered as one of the most important on page SEO factor.
Because it allows search crawlers to get an idea of what the main topic is going to be about, within the first few milliseconds of crawling your new page.
And there’s data to back this up.
Backlinko’s analysis of 1 million Google search results found a strong correlation between keyword-rich title tags and first page rankings.
PRO TIP: Try to include your keyword closer to the beginning of your title tag and keep the entire title under 55 characters.
08. Is your Title Tag Optimized for CTR?
Optimizing your title tag for CTR is very important for two main reasons.
First, higher click-through-rate=more traffic.
For example, If you increase your Organic CTR from 15 to 30% that means you just doubled your organic traffic without higher ranking.
Second, many SEO professionals believe that CTR is a key search engine ranking signal.
For example, In one of their experiment, Larry Kim found a strong correlation between “expected CTR” and search rankings. (Source)
In fact, Google itself has made statement several time that suggest CTR is part of their search engine ranking algorithim.
For example, A Google engineer Paul Haahr, who spoke at SMX said that they use CTR to figure out what type of results users want to see in SERP.
So it’s clear that a higher CTR can lead to higher rankings as well as more traffic.
With that being said, here are few best practices for optimizing your title tag for CTR.
- Add modifiers to your Title tag. Using modifiers like “The” “best”, “guide”, “checklist”, “fast” and “review” “2020” will not only get you more click but also helps you rank for Long tail keywords.
- Use Brackets In Your Title Tag. Example : How to start a Blog (Ultimate Guide)
- Include Numbers In Your Title. Example : The 16 Best Wireless Headphones for Everyone
- Put the Current Year In Your Title. Example : How to learn Coding in 2020
- Use Emotional Words in your title. Example : 12 Super Easy Ways To Keep Your Taxes Organized All Year.
09. Is your Blog Post Title Wrapped in an H1 Tag?
The H1 tag is like a mini title tag.
Your every blog post should have only one H1 tag and your main title should be wrapped in an H1 tag.
In fact, Google itself has stated that using an H1 tag “helps their crawler understand the structure of the page”.
In most cases, WordPress website automatically assigns your main title with an H1 tag. But that’s not always the case (Because of theme and structure issue).
You should check your site’s code to make sure your title is wrapped in an H1.
10. Are you using unique, Keyword-Rich Meta Descriptions?
Though , Google often rewrites meta descriptions with first few sentences of your post, but it’s a still good idea to write a descriptive one that includes your primary keyword.
In fact, Google also recommends that you should write your own meta description as you know the context of your content best.
Here’s what makes for a good meta description:
- Keep it under 160 characters.
- Include your entire keyword or keyword phrase.
- Use a complete, compelling sentence (or two).
- Avoid alphanumeric characters like —, &, or +.
11. Is your Blog Post URL optimized for SEO?
Though Google recently started using a weird version of URLs format in the search results, even then the terms that you use in your Blog Post URL show up in the SERP.
Plus, URLs in the mobile and desktop SERPs are now shown above the title tag.
So, it makes sense to have an SEO optimized URL for your blog post.
With that, here is what makes a SEO friendly URL:
- Keep your URL short
- Include your primary keyword in the URL
Seriously. That’s it.
For example, my guide to Top 10 WordPress hosting is optimized around the primary keyword “Best WordPress hosting”. So I used that keyword in my URL.
12. Have you Used Your Primary Keyword Once In The First 150 Words?
Though it is an old school on-page optimization tactic, it still makes a dent.
Because Google puts more weight on the first 100-150 words of your body content.
So, all you need to do is drop your primary keyword once in the first 100-150 words of your blog post.
For example, In one of my article optimized around the keyword “WordPress SEO“, I mentioned the exact keyword in the very first sentence.
NOTE: If the exact match keyword is not naturally appearing in the first 100-150 words, then please don’t unnaturally place it.
13. Have you used variations of your primary keyword into the copy?
Do you know the average top 20 ranking articles rank for thousands of other keywords (other than primary keyword).
This means that most of the time, the bulk of your traffic won’t come from your primary keyword – it’ll come from hundreds of different long-tail variations.
So, how to find other variation of your primary keyword.
Well, just enter your primary keyword in the SEMrush keyword magic tool and the tool will show it’s magic.
For example, I entered the key phrase “Keto Diet” in keyword magic tool and it shewed me total 108,891 keywords related to my primary key phrase.
You can further play with SEMrush filters to get only relevant keyword ideas.
14. Have you used Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords in Your Copy?
I personally never specifically advise anyone to sprinkle synonyms and LSI keywords throughout their content.
Because I believe any decent writer will use synonyms naturally as they write.
Similarly one never has to made a conscious effort to include LSI keyword in their content. if you’re a decent writer, these words will appear naturally. No extra effort needed.
LSI keywords are words and phrases with a high degree of correlation to your target topic
But still, it is an SEO checklist, so I have mentioned about this in this guide.
Content Optimization Checklist
As I said earlier On-page SEO is beyond placing some keywords in your blog post. All your on page optimization efforts will be in vain if your content isn’t up to scratch…
15. Have you written a kick-ass intro?
If you fail to convince your readers that your post offers what they want within the first few seconds, they will for sure hit that back button and land on one of your competitor’s posts.
Your best defense against this is a compelling intro.
A Good Blog post introductions should do three things:
- Resonate with the reader;
- Build trust;
- Promise a solution to the user’s problem.
Here are some great resources on how to like a compelling intro:
- 10 Ways To Write An Irresistible Intro To Your Blog Post (WriteToDone)
- How to Write a Killer Blog Intro (Express Writer)
16. Is Your Content Unique?
When I say ‘unique‘, I am not just talking about duplicate content.
It is obvious that your content should not be copy paste of another existing article on the same topic.
But here I am mainly trying to say that you should publish something that doesn’t just regurgitate the same stuff that’s already out there.
In other words, every page on your website (that you want to rank) needs to bring something new and fresh to the table.
That something new can be:
- A new tip or strategy
- A better list of curated resources
- Strong design and UX
- New case study
- Streamlined step-by-step process
17. Is Your Content satisfy search intent?
How often do you Google something and are unable to find what you were looking for within the first few results in SERPs?
Hardly ever, right?
That’s simply because Google is very smart at figuring out search intent behind a searcher’s queries. In other words, what a user want when they type a specific key phrase in Google.
That means a unique, valuable and SEO optimized content can get you to the first page of Google. But if your post/page doesn’t satisfy search intent, your page will eventually be buried on the 3rd page of Google.
How to understand search intent behind you target keyword?
Do a quick search on Google with your target keyphrase and analyze all the top 10 results in SERP.
Things you should might look for:
- Content type (Blog post, landing page, Blog post, Category page or Product page)
- Content format (How-to guides, Step-by-step tutorials, List posts, Opinion pieces, Reviews, Comparisons)
- Content angle (in other words, unique selling point of the top-ranking posts and pages)
18. Is your content free of spelling and grammatical errors?
It’s very common to overlook simple grammar mistakes, especially if you are a self writer for your blog, but these simple errors will not only irritate your readers and damage your credibility but also negatively affect SEO.
Yes, Google isn’t fond of spelling and Grammatical error in a copy. In their Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, they have clearly specified that grammartical and spelling mistakes are a strong sign of a low-quality page.
One way to catch grammar errors before you publish your content is to read slowly, word by word.
You can also use a free tool like Grammarly to identify spelling and grammatical errors before you publish your post.
19. Is your copy longer (on average) than your competitors?
Many studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between content length and search engine ranking.
In other word, pages with more words tend to perform better in Google compared to pages with a lower word count.
But it’s important that you don’t take this out of context. Not every post needs to be too lengthy (i.e 2500-5000 words)
It all comes down to searcher intent and how detailed they expect the answer to be. It just so happens that long-form content tends to answer the searcher’s query comprehensively.
20. Does your blog post use short paragraphs?
One of the common mistake that both newbie and veteran writers commit, is writing too long paragraphs.
There’s really nothing bad about long paragraphs as long as they are exceptionally engaging and interesting.
But let’s face it, this isn’t always the case.
Most likely you’ll bore readers with long paragraphs. I personally wouldn’t go beyond three sentences per paragraph.
Not just homepage, Google shows sitelinks for your individual post too.
Post site-links makes your search snippet more attractive to click in SERPs. The ultimate goal of On-page SEO is to speak the ‘search engines’ language’ and help their crawler understand the meaning and context of your web page (i.e blog post).
For example, look at the post sitelinks for one of the post of Laptop Mag.
To help Google show sitelinks for your posts, you can name the different sub-headings or sections of your post using the ID attribute or using named anchors.
Additionally, having a table of content present in your blog post can also help you get sitelinks in SERP for your post.
22. Are your headings structured logically?
Having a logical page structure is not only important from the SEO point of view, but it also leads to a good page UX (which we will discuss in a moment)
Every page should have only one H1 tag which should be further followed by H2, H3, H4, etc.
Look at the post you’re reading now as an example.
- I use H1 for the title of this post
- H2 for the main headings (On-page SEO basics, Content optimization checklist, etc.)
- H3 for the individual list items
PRO TIP: If you are using Gutenberg editor, Click on (ⓘ) icon to check your content structure.
22. Is your content scannable?
In today’s time, anyone will rarely read every word on your page.
Which is why you want to make your content super easy to skim.
This is something I spent a lot of time on here at NerdBlogging.
I break content into different sections with descriptive subheadings.
Use lots of bullet points for lists of information.
and customized screenshots for making the content easy to consume.
Optimize your Image For Search Engine
Whether you are a blogger or you write articles for publications, chances are you’ll find yourself asking whether your post or articles need images or not.
The answer is always “YES“.
Images not only bring an article to life but also contribute to your content’s SEO. Here’s all the checklist for utilizing full potential of images in your content and SEO.
23. Does your page have as many (or more) images than your competitors?
Remember what I told you in checklist no 16 – “Your post should be better in every possible way than already existing post on that topic.
And images are one of the best things that can make your post more interesting and engaging.
You should aim to have at least as many unique images as your competitors or more in your post.
24. Are you using original images in your post?
If you use stock images in your content, you are likely hurting your SEO.
Shai Aharony recently tested the impact of stock images on Google rankings.
In his experiment, he found that “Using original images on your website does have a positive impact on Google ranking as well as image rankings.”
So if you are using stock photos, then consider creating custom images for your post.
Most importantly your images need to be relevant to its subject. If you’re choosing a random photo just to break the large block of text, then you are doing it all wrong.
Your images should reflect the topic of the post or have illustrative purposes within the post of course.
This is something I do at NerdBlogging, I hardly use stock photos in my blog post.
I personally use Photoshop software to create these images. But it is a very advance photo editing tool which requires some basic knowledge of graphic designing to create these types of images.
However, you can always hire a graphic designer or photographer from Fiverr at a very minimal cost who will design interesting photos as per your need.
25. Are you using the right image format?
While there are many image formats to choose from, JPEG, PNG, and GIF are the most common on the web
Each of the file format use a different compression method. That means the file size between the three different format can vary dramatically.
So, it is important to choose the right file type as Images are often the largest contributor to overall page size, which makes your website slow.
Here is an example of same image in three different format:
As you can see among the 3 different file formats, JPEG has the smallest file size.
So is JPEG always the right choice? Not at all.
|This is an ideal image format for all types of photographs.||This file format is good for screenshots and other type of images where there’s a lot of color data.||Only uses 256 colors. It’s the best choice for animated images.|
26. Have you compressed your images?
As I mentioned above, larger image sizes are often the biggest culprits of the slow loading page.
Compressing your images size to serve them in the smallest file size possible is the key to preventing this issue.
For example, take a look at these two images:
Both of them are in same file format, yet the second one (compressed version) is 68% smaller than the first one.
So, how to compress your image size?
Well, I personally use a web based tool called TinyPNG.
But if you are a WordPress user then I’ll recommend you use ShortPixel WordPress plugin. The reason why I am recommending this plugin is because it gives you the option to compress all of the images that you already have on your WordPress site.
27. Do your images have descriptive file names?
When it comes to SEO, having a descriptive and keyword-rich file names for your every image is absolutely crucial.
Because Image file name alerts Google as to the subject matter of the image.
Typically, your image file name will look like “IMG_82590” or something very similar.
So, better replace the default name with a key phrase that is relevant to the context of your image.
Alt text (alternative text) describes an image. It is what browser display to the user on screen, when there’s a problem in rendering images.
So be sure to add alt text to every image you use in your post and make sure the alt text includes the SEO key phrase related to your post.
Most importantly, alt text should describes what’s in the image so both Google and people can make sense of it.
How to add alt text?
Well, whenever you upload an image in WordPress media library, it gives you a separate box for Title, Description, Caption and alt tag for your image.
Checklist For Link In Your Post
A webpage can have two types of links. The first type is what we call internal links – these are the links that point to pages on the same domain.
The second type of link is called External links – These are links pointing to pages outside the boundaries of the web site.
Both the links are very – very important from SEO point of view. Let’s discuss, how you can SEO optimize your post with both types of links:
Internal linking is important for two main reasons:
First, it helps search engine crawler in understanding which pages on your site is more important so that they can index and rank them accordingly.
Secondly, If you use them strategically, internal links can send page authority (also known as PageRank) to important pages.
For example, When Page A of your site get links (backlinks) from another site, its authority increases.
Now, if you add an internal link from Page A to your another Page B, some of the authority from page A passes to page B.
That’s why it’s a good On-page SEO practice to add links to other pages of your site whenever it makes sense.
Here are some resources to help you with internal linking:
- Why should you focus on internal linking? (Unamo)
- The Internal Link Building Strategy That Increases Search Traffic (Matthew Woodward)
30. Are you using descriptive Keywords in anchor text?
Are you just using generic anchor text like “page”, “article”, or “click here” for your internal links?
If yes, then you are doing it all wrong.
Google itself recommends that you should use descriptive and keyword-rich anchor text for your internal links:
From descriptive, i don’t mean you should link a lengthy sentence or short paragraph of text. You should aim for short but descriptive text-usually a few words or a short phrase.
For example, here’s an internal link on a blog post from my site:
That anchor text helps both Google and readers understand that the page I’m linking to is about “Keyword research”.
External links also known as outbound links direct visitor from pages on your site to other site on the internet.
By linking to other high-quality relevant sites, you increase the the trustworthiness of your content in both Google’s and real user’s eyes.
Also, Google uses external links as a medium to figure out your page’s topic.
And this isn’t just a theory.
Shai Aharony from Reboot online ran an experiment to see if external links impact organic search ranking.
He and his team created 10 brand new websites. Half of the sites linked out to various authority sites and the other half had no external links.
And the website with external links outranked the websites without any link.
Here are some resources to help you with External linking:
- External Linking for SEO: Learn How to Get Value Out of Everything You Give
- How Outbound Links helps you SEO directly and Indirectly?
Though adding external links in your content is a good SEO practice, yet your goal should be to keep users on your site as long as possible.
Opening external links in a new tab will allows your user to visit the link without having to leave your site.
If you are using Gutenberg editor, setting external links to open in a new tab is pretty simple and straight-froward.
Simply select the text you want to link and then click on the insert link button.
This will bring up the insert link popup. Simply enter your link and then click on the down arrow appearing in the right side. This will reveal the option to open the link new tab.
Just toggle on the option and press enter.
Either way, you can also use a WordPress plugin like Open External Links in a New Window to automatically open all External Links in New Window.
A NoFollow tag is supposed to prevent PageRank from flowing through the link.
So, if you are linking to a low-quality page then better use No-follow tag for them.
Similarly, last year Google introduced rel=”sponsored” tag- For links created as part of advertisements, sponsorships or other compensation agreements.
More precisely, if you add links to your affiliate partner or sponsored site, make use of new rel=sponsored tag.
Here’s what Google’s John Mueller said about this:
Links are made to be click, your content will become less useful if user either miss the links or accidentally clicks on them.
So, make it easy for your users to distinguish between regular text and anchor text of your links.
For example, all the links present on my blog is rightly formatted ( at-least I believe so)
Firstly, all of my links are “Red” in color whereas other text and sections are in “blue” color.
Secondly, all the links are styled bold as well as get underlined when you hover over them.
All these styling helps my blog readers in distinguish between regular text and links.
Checklist for User Experience (UX)
With an aim to constantly improve its users’ experience, Google has rapidly evolved over the years.
To ensure users are provided with the best possible result among thousands pieces of content on the same topic, the search engine giant introduced numerous changes to the SERPs with strict algorithm updates.
Each and every update that Google has made in the last few years has been geared toward providing more user-focused and user-friendly results. RankBrain is just one of the numerous examples.
That means optimizing your site for good UX is truly important if you want to give yourself a better chance of landing on the first page of the search results. Here are some common SEO and content practices that influence UX:
35. Does your page load under 3 seconds?
Google is investing a huge amount of resources in making the web faster. In every Google I/O (an annual developer conference held by Google) someone will for sure talk about the importance of web speed and their desire to include the fastest website in their index.
In order to force website owners to take their site speed into account, they have officially declared Speed as an important ranking signal.
So, we know for sure that your website speed does matter when it to comes to ranking in the Google.
To improve your website speed, start by testing your site in the Pingdom or Google’s page speed insight tool. These tools will instantly tell you the average loading time of your site and also give you some optimization suggestions.
Google official data claims that 53% of users will abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. So, I would suggest aiming for 2 or 2 and half-second as a general rule.
From my past 4-5 years of experience in this industry, I can say Hosting and CDN are two important factors that influences your website speed.
For instance, my site loads under 1 second because I’ve made sure that my site is hosted on a good web hosting platform (I use Siteground managed hosting) along with the support of a powerful CDN (Stack Path).
36. Is your page responsive and mobile friendly?
Do you know more than 60 percent of search traffic globally now comes from mobile devices?
This means having a mobile-friendly site design is important than ever otherwise, you’ll lose half of the potential traffic.
First of all, check the mobile-friendliness status of your site with Google mobile-friendly tool and fix any potential problems.
Then go one step further and use this free tool to check how your site actually looks on different sizes of devices.
37. Does your website have an SSL certificate installed?
Google clearly stated a few years ago that SSL certificate (HTTPS certificate) will be part of their search algorithm and a ranking factor too.
Having an SSL certificate is in fact an absolute must if you are using a contact form on your site or asking for passwords or payment information.
If you have not yet installed SSL then further read this guide – How to migrate your website to https without loosing SEO.
38. Have you added Social sharing Button?
Social sharing buttons encourage the distribution of your content across different social platforms, which eventually sends positive signals to Google that your content is valuable and worth noticing.
Additionally, Social media is second most beneficial channel after organic search for driving free traffic to your site.
You can use a social sharing plugin like Social snap for placing social share buttons on different places of your sites.
If you want to go one step further, you can also include clickable tweets in your content to initiate your readers to share your content on twitter.
39. Is Your blog design modern and updated?
Your blog’s design can be one of the biggest distinguishing factors that separate you from the vast sea of other blogs out there.
Remember, the first impression count and making sure that your blog have all the element of a great web design can ensure that readers will enjoy the content your present.
Yes, I also know that a good design doesn’t necessarily equal great content. However, you need to understand that you 90% of blog visitor will judge your blog & content bu how it looks and play accordingly. So, if you don’t put extra effort into styling and designing your blog, you’ll for sure pay in the long run.
I know, it’s not possible for everyone to hire a professional web designer’s team and spend $25-50k (yup that’s costly) on their blog design. In that case, you can self design your log with a combination of good WordPress theme like Generatepress Premium and Thrive Architect page builder.
Bonus: Advance On-Page SEO checklist
40. Is your post optimized For Google Featured snippet?
A featured snippet is the search response shown at the top of SERP (even before no#1 spot) designed to answer a searcher’s question quickly using a summary of the answer taken from the page.
Here’s a NerdBlogging’s featured snippet as an example:
Though there are many types of featured snippet, but the two which you should mainly focus on is Paragraph (Question based) and list snippet.
How to optimize for Paragraph based snippet?
Paragraph snippets are best suited search queries starting with Who is…, what is…, why is…. and how is…
Google is only going to include a short section of text from your post, so be sure to provide a concise answer to the question under 40-50 words.
For an even better chance, include the question as heading and answer the question directly below. Like the one Hubspot include in their articles.
How to optimize for list-based snippet?
To optimize your content for list snippet, you can follow the exact same process as for paragraphs featured snippet.
- Add an optimized H2 or H3 heading as the list title
- Create your list using <UL><LI> tags.
41. Is your post define a canonical URL?
Though canonicalization is an advanced SEO concept but something that is very important to get right.
The rel=canonical element often called the “canonical link”, is an HTML element that helps you solve duplicate content issues, protect your content when other websites use your content (with or without your concern).
If you are using an SEO plugin like Yoast or Rank Math, a canonical URL will be automatically generated by your SEO plugin.
To learn more about canonical URLs and how to use them correctly, further check out these guides:
- Canonicalization 101: Everything You Need to Know About Canonical URLs (HubSpot)
- SEO Best Practices for Canonical URLs + the Rel=Canonical Tag (YouTube Video by Rand Fishkin)
42. Are you using Schema markup (where appropriate) to increase CTR?
Schema markup (Structured data) gives Google a better understanding of content on your page.
I am sure you must have witnessed the effect of schema markup in Google search results. For example, have you ever seen a search result with star ratings, reviews, or images?
Yup, that’s the effect of proper schema implementation on a post.
I don’t think I need to explain why such markup has been proven to increase clickability of post in the SERPs. People tend to be drawn to visuals, so anything that helps your post stand out in hundreds of search result will give you a positive effect.
But you can do way more than just star rating with Schema…
For example, here is a review post by Hostingfacts and they are showing many details of that Hosting directly in SERP with schema markup.
So, whenever it makes sense, you should also utilize schema markup for your post.
43. Is Your Content Optimized For E-A-T?
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
How is this related to SEO?
Google has recently updated their Google’s search Quality Raters Guidelines with this new concept called E-A-T.
In simple language, Now Google is trying to rank higher only those content in search result which is published on a reputed site and written by an expert of that content niche.
Here are few resources to help you learn more about E-A-T:
- How to Use Google’s EAT and Quality Guidelines for Content SEO Success
- E-A-T and SEO: How to Create Content That Google Wants (MOZ)
Remember I just mentioned that your content should be written by a credible author offering genuinely helpful advice to your visitors.
An author bio with full transparency on your every page (usually blog post) can help you improve E-A-T of your site.
Here is an example of Author Bio appearing at Nerd Wallet:
If you notice, her author bio clearly specifies that she has special expertise in writing about ‘student loan’. Plus her worth has been appeared in many authority publications like The Newyork time and The Washington Post.
These comprise what I would call on-page trust signals; it’s all about authenticity.
45. Is your page have a clear call-to-action?
Does it make any sense to create a piece of content, if you readers are leaving your page without taking any action?
I don’t think so…
This is why your page should have a clear CTA which initiate your readers to take the action.
Your CTA will be completely depend on the goal behind creating that piece of content.
For example, if your page is Top of the Funnel (ToFu) then your CTA might be asking your readers to submit their email address.
Similarly, if you have written a product review, your CTA might be initiating users to visit your Affiliate partner’s site.
Wow! That was a super in-depth guide… Well, I’ve tried to share everything that makes a good on-page SEO strategy…
When you are editing or proofreading your content for final publishing, make sure to go through this 45 Points on page SEO checklist.
This will help you adjust your content and ensure it is fully SEO optimized before you hit the publish button.
Finally, if something is not clear, let me know in the comments and I will try to help you understand how to implement them on your site.