An On-Page SEO Checklist For Any Website
As I work with small business owners to give their digital marketing a boost, I often need to have a demystifying conversation about SEO. Just about anyone knows what social media marketing is, because they see the ads.
They can figure out what a content strategy is, because they’ve read the blogs and listened to the podcasts.
But how do you get search engines to read your site better and push it higher up in the search results? One way to do this is by addressing all of the critical items when building a new page on your website.
This post is designed to act as a checklist that you can refer to allowing you to be confident your on-page SEO is in good shape so that you don’t have to go back and “clean up” the back end of your site when you want to devote more time to steady and free stream of visitors to your site.
Do you want a printable 1-Page version of this Checklist?
The URL for any of your pages should tell visitors what the page is about. For landing pages, the URL should be similar to the page title and the first heading (H1).
For example, on this website, the Testimonials page uses the word “testimonials” for the slug in the URL, the link on the menu, and the first heading at the top of the page.
This helps with communicating to web crawlers what the page is about. People also like looking at a clean URL as opposed to an unrecognizable string of letters and symbols. This is akin to crossing all your t’s, or making sure that your shirt is freshly ironed to make a good impression.
(2) Title Tag
The title tag is the text that appears in the tab at the top of your browser, and works best when it answers a question that people may be looking to answer. Depending on the website builder you use, the title tag may also be automatically used on the site menu and as H1.
So, make sure you use a word or phase that will mean something to your readers. It is also a good idea to make sure that your title tag contains your business name.
In many site builders you can set it up so that there is a naming convention for every page of your site. I use Squarespace for this site, and it allows me so set up the SEO title tag for each page to be Page Title | Site Title.
(3) Headings Tags
The headings in the form of H1, H2, H3… H6 tags allow a reader to scan your content more easily, and they also inform search engines of the main points of your content. These headings allow you to rank more highly for what content you emphasize, so use keywords here.
You should also be sure that each page has only one H1 tag, or your site will be demoted in search engines. You can have as many sub-heading tags as make sense, but you also need to make sure that your headings are concise and digestible.
There is no hard and fast cut off for heading character count, but a general suggestion is to have the H1 tag be 20-70 characters.
Remember The Advice In This Post
(4) Meta Description
The meta description may not be visible anywhere on your site, but it will be the preview text when anyone shares that page on social media or in a text message. So many times people are so busy that this and the title are the only things people will read.
If this text isn’t compelling, then people will not click on the link to visit your site. This is why it’s important to have an impactful and complete message in the meta description. Do not make the description longer than 155 characters, because the preview text cuts off after this point.
You also need to ideally write two sentences. The first is to answer the who, what, when, where, and why questions that a reader may have. The second sentence is a call to action to get readers to click to open the page.
(5) Image Title
You need an image-rich website to effectively communicate your messages. If you aren’t sure that this is necessary, imagine the New York Times or National Geographic being text-only publications.
Or you can read my post on How To Use Images In Your Content. You need to give a descriptive title to your image so that Google will know the content of the image. You can make the title of the image describe what the image is of or you can give a title that describes the content of your page.
(6) Image Alt Text
The alt text is what will show up in place of your image when the bandwidth will not allow for the loading of the photo. So, the alt text should describe what the photo is actually of, and every single image on your site should contain alt text.
The more descriptive the alt text, the easier it will be for someone to make sense of what you want to communicate. Google’s latest algorithms are semantic-based, so if someone can understand what you write, then so will Google.
Checking Your Content
This post is designed to be an overview of what SEO items you need to check as you build pages to your website. In this post, I addressed (1) URL, (2) title tag, (3) heading tags, (4) meta description, (5) image title, and (6) image alt text.
But what do you do if you have already been building your site and you want to check what you have against this list? There are a few options you can use. You can go into your site builder and check every item mentioned above. But that might take a while.
You can use MozBar extension to look behind the scenes of any page on any site. But what do you do if you need to analyze dozens of pages? This is when you need you use Screaming Frog. This is software that helps you analyzed the SEO of up to 50 pages for free.
HanG the downloadable checklist next to your computer while you check your SEO
With the above checklist and resources, you will be in good shape for solid on-page SEO. I got some of the facts for this post and checked my information using other content. To access that content, check out these links: