On-Page SEO is a set of strategies and rules designed to optimize your site to bring in or increase traffic. I like to break this down into three categories:
- Sitewide Enhancements
- Technical Enhancements
- User Experience Enhancements
I’ll cover each of these in detail below.
Note: A lot of these tips assume you’re using WordPress.
Sitewide SEO Enhancements
Sitewide SEO Enhancements deal with how your website operates. You’ll want to make sure these are set up and functioning properly before you start to create content, though it’s important to keep them in mind as you review each post you write.
Here are the key steps I take for each site I build:
Make sure that your site is mobile optimized or responsive (your site changes layout based on the device your visitor is using). This makes sure that you’re showing the perfect layout no matter what your readers are using to access your site, whether it’s a desktop, tablet, or phone.
You can see examples of how this site loads on various devices in the images below:
Nobody likes a slow site, especially Google. Aside from this being a user experience factor, it’s also a factor that Google uses to rank websites in the search engine results.
I like to use GTmetrix to check my site speed. They analyze your site and give you a good breakdown of what is slowing down your site.
Your site needs a site map. This tells the search engines the full layout of your site so they can crawl your blog and get it into their search engine results.
Site uses clean urls
In your WordPress dashboard go to Settings > Permalinks. Here you can set your url structure. I prefer to go with Post name, as it turns my post title into the url string.
If you’ve already been blogging for a while, don’t be quick to change these settings as anyone who tries to navigate to your page through an existing link won’t find your page. I won’t cover this in detail here but reach out to me if you have this issue.
Use a plugin like ShortPixel to optimize images
Shortpixel can improve your website performance by reducing the size of your images without changing the quality of the original. The free option lets you optimize up to 100 images a month.
Use a cache plugin
A cache plugin works by creating a temporary storage (caching) of your webpages and images in order to reduce server lag. W3 Total Cache can increase your website performance and reduce download times via features like content delivery network (CDN) integration.
Use A Related Posts Plugin
Your theme may have this built in already, so check there first. If not, find a plugin that fits your style and taste in order to show readers related posts at the end of each blog post.
Use Sharing Buttons
Depending on your theme, your website may have this built in. If not, look for a well reviewed plugin to provide social media sharing buttons for each post. You want your readers to be able to easily share the great content your putting out.
Technical SEO Enhancements
Use your keyword in the beginning of the title and in the title tag
If you’re using a plugin like Yoast (mentioned above), you can set your title tag (SEO Title) for each post. Otherwise, it defaults to your post title.
Make sure your title tag is less than 70 characters
This is also easily configured in the Yoast plugin.
Make sure your meta description is less than 150 characters
Like the title tag, you can set your meta description from within the Yoast plugin. Otherwise, it will default to text from your first paragraph.
Use your keyword in the first 100 words of your post
This applies to both the first 100 words of the post and your meta description.
Use section headers and structure them properly (H1 for title followed by H2, H3, etc)
With headers, remember that the lower the number to more important the header. Post title should always be H1 (the default with WordPress). Section headers should be H2. H3 headers can be used to break up content within sections.
Use your keyword, as well as variants, synonyms, and related keywords in your content.
DO NOT FORCE YOUR KEYWORD INTO YOUR CONTENT! Mix it up. Google is smart and they know to look for synonyms, variants, and related keywords.
Use images properly (keyword in filename, alt tag added, uploaded at the size they will be used)
You want to make sure you have your keyword in both your image filename and in your alt text / alt tag. Also, size your image before you upload it. This will help keep your site nice and speedy.
Use internal links to related content with appropriate anchor text
Link to related content on your blog from within your post. If you mention “Keyword Research” and you have an article on that subject, go ahead and link to it.
Use external links to sources and reputable websites with appropriate anchor text
Link to other reputable sites if you can. If you learned an awesome SEO tip from a nice blog such as Playing In Traffic, you should mention that and link to them. Google rewards sites when they link to their sources or reputable sites.
Make sure your content is unique
This one should be pretty easy. Your content should be unique, meaning it is original content that you have written and not something you copied from another post or page.
Make sure your content is long
Longer content has been getting a lot of google love lately. This is part technical and part user experience. Best practice is 2000 words, that is, if your topic can support it. Don’t look to fluff up a shorter post if you’ve already covered everything.
Use blog categories (no more than two) and tags
Categories should be a high level segregation of your content, so you really shouldn’t use more than one or two. Tags should be used minimally also, but should cover big topics that may not get their own category or for subjects/tools/types that you may cover in multiple posts.
Use a short url with your keyword in it
Keep it short and effective. I don’t have a number target that I live by, but I try to trim the fat whenever I can.
User Experience SEO Enhancements
Use Modifiers in Title
Using modifiers such as “Best”, “2018”, or “Review” can make your article more appealing to visitors. This can also help your rankings as it can help you rank for more keyword variations.
Provide an overview of the post
This is more applicable for longer content, but it’s always a good idea to give your visitors an idea of what they’ll be reading.
This allows readers to see if your content will provide the information they’re looking for and also gives them an idea of where to look for specific content if they’re just going to skim your post.
Limit paragraphs to 2 to 3 short sentences
Shorter paragraphs are easier for your visitors to read or skim through.
Use headers to break up and structure your content
A well structured site is easier to read or skim. Plus, keywords used in headers can help improve your rankings.
Use images and videos to break up content
This is great for engagement and for improving time spent on your site. This could also help improve your search engine rankings.
Link to related posts in your closing
This will help keep visitors on your site longer, which will help to improve your search engine rankings. It’s best to link to posts that are a natural extension of the content you’re linking from.
In this article, I’ve covered some great On-Page SEO Tips! If you’d like a PDF of these in a checklist, fill out the form below. These tips should help to improve your site rankings and user experience.