Onpage SEO quick checklist

Before you begin make sure that you have identified the “key phrase” (2-5 word phrase you want the page to rank highly in the search engines for) for each page then follow this onpage SEO quick checklist. The identification of the key phrases for your pages I think should be done quite early in the planning phrase rather than as a later after thought. At the bottom of this article I have a link to a keyword researching article that id definitely worth a read if you don’t know where to begin with key-phrases.

And while the order of importance of the items below are a hotly debated topic in regards to onpage SEO I think as a broad guideline each point below is within 3 spots of most SEO experts view of the importance if them in regards to a quick SEO onpage checklist. Also once you have the onpage SEO sorted you then have to think about the offpage SEO- but that is a topic for another post so off we go 🙂

Onpage SEO quick checklist

Title tag:

Key phrase in the meta title tag- you can have other words in the title tag but I would definitely have the phrase at the beginning and not go too over board with other text in your title tag.

H1 tag:

Key phrase in the first H1 of the page and the there is a debate about how important that it is that this H1 is as close to the opening body tag as possible. There is a school of thought that there should be only 1 H1 on any page but with the explosion of blogs and CMS systems this rule of only one h1 on a page has been watered down.

h2 and h3 tags:

Reuse your key-phrases individual words in different configurations in the h2 and h3 tags. This should be easy if you are writing good content and means that you making your page more relevant to the key-phrase that you have chosen for the page

Description meta tag:

Key phrase in the description meta tag. It is a well documented fact that Google ignores the description and keywords meta tags when it comes to SEO ranking factors but it does use the description field when it displays results so it can be the deciding factor for whether users click on your link on not so therefore has an effect on your traffic so in that sense it does affect your ranking.

Bold and italic key words/phrases:

Emphasis important key words and phrases with strong tag and em tags or the equivalent option in your CMS. This will not only indicate their importance on your page to the search engines but will also enhance your users/readers experience which is an important but hard to define ranking factor.

Keyword density/Body content and First paragraph:

Your key-phrase should appear in your liberally in your body content and especially in the first paragraph and some say also in the last. This is technically referred to as keyword density. And  this makes sense if your page is really about a topic then the topic will probably appear several times in the content. Exactly what is “liberal” is again highly debated and the damage done by overdoing it and looking like you are “spamming” the search engines can be disaster so I would say the rule of thumb is if it doesn’t read properly to a human then the search engines aren’t going to be happy either. Others have said that a keyword density of around 15% is a good number. So basically having your key-phrase appearing 15 times in every 100 words.

Incoming links:

Your links from other pages and other websites ideally will have the key-phrase in them– kinda makes sense if that is what your page is about.


Again this kinda of makes sense the key-phrase should be in file name- standard best practice to have meaningful file names. Or if your website utilises a CMS system then ensure that your key phrase is in the URL/ address of the page.

Page speed:

Ok so you have the actual content sorted so now you need to consider the technical considerations such as page speed. You can test your website and webpages page speed with with either the pingdom tool or googles page speed tool. And depending on your skill and background some of it may over your head and also out of your control but as general rule don’t include additional dynamic features if you don’t need them. For example if you have a WordPress website check if you really need all the plugins that you have installed. If it is a static html website then do you really need all the extra calls to JavaScript framework libraries such as jquery if you aren’t using them.

Optimised images:

This works with the page speed consideration and is definitely something that anyone developing or managing a website should be aware of. The simple rule is don’t upload that huge print quality image straight from your camera to your website!! Screen graphics do not need the same resolution and quality as printed graphics so optimise your images before using them on your website. and while your at it include your key-phase in the file name- this is a small consideration but every little bit can help. Also include your key-phrase in the alt text of the image.

Valid html and no errors:

If its possible at all then you pages should pass html validation. And yes I know many popular websites do not pass validation but when we are down to trying to squeeze every last bit of SEO juice from our pages then fixing simple validation errors is a good thing. Some webpages you won’t be able to get to pass the w3c validation but that should be for very real reasons not just because of sloppy work habits such as not bothering with alt text on images.

Mobile responsiveness:

As I have pointed out in another post “6 website factors that Google loves” your website must be responsive these days as Google is definitely considering this a key factor in its ranking algorithm.

External links:

I wrote about external links in the 6 website factors that Google loves post mentioned above but the general rule is that while you won’t be penalised if you don’t have any external links to quality websites it certainly won’t do you any harm if you do include them. So think about including some if they will enhance your users experience.

Ok well that’s it for now as I wanted this to be a quick checklist 🙂 And here is the link to a great article from Yoast the WordPress SEO plugin developers on keyword researching which if you haven’t already considered your key-phrases is a good article to read as they are the important first step in gettting the most from this onpage SEO quick checklist.

Tracking your website search engine placements

Once you have your website setup and your onpage optimisation done you need to track your SERP’s (Search Engine Results Placement) the first two tools you should setup to track your traffic and results are Google Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster Tools) and Google analytics.

Google Search Console

This is a free service from Google for webmasters which allows you to check the indexing status of your website. It also allows you to submit sitemaps and check them for faster and more accurate indexing, it lists pages that link to your website, lets you know if the Googlebot is having trouble “crawling” any of your pages, it will notify you if Google feels your website has been hacked or contains links to malware site which will definitely cause you issues in your search engine placement as well as other useful tools.

Google Analytics

This is another free service from Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google brought the web statistics utility Urchin and further developed it into Google Analytics. It is the most widely used web analytics service used on the web and has been integrated with Google Adwords so that you track your return on investment of adwords campaigns.

Google has also expanded Google Analytics to include additional subscription based (paid for)  services such as  Google Analytics 360 which is targeted at enterprise users and  Google Analytics for Mobile Apps, an SDK (Software Development Kit) that allows developers and marketers to gather usage data from iOS and Android Apps.

There are other tracking tools but these 2 I would consider that it is vital to have in your tool box.