People often think that checklists are for beginners. That’s actually not true (per se).
It’s also for important tasks for which you simply can’t afford to make mistakes.
Pilots are very proficient in flying airplanes (lucky for us) but they still rely on checklists to be absolutely sure they have not overlooked anything. The same goes for doctors, scientists, and many others.
After you’ve spent all those resources on writing your article, would you be ok with rushing to publish it without doing an SEO check? Knowing that you’ll spend a lot of effort in promoting your piece of content in the hopes that it will rank number one in Google.
An On-Page SEO Checklist can help you to make sure that you did not overlook anything and increases your chances of obtaining that top position in SERP.
Our mission at StoryLab.ai, is to help you reach your goals through Growth Storytelling. Making sure that your content is being read by people searching for what you have to offer is a big part of that.
Check out the On-Page SEO Checklist we use for our content. It’s time-tested and easy to understand so everyone can get started with improving their rankings today.
You can use it when writing new content and also optimize your existing content.
1. Do your keyword research and pick your main keyword
The person chasing two rabbits, catches none.
You need to choose one main keyword that you want to focus your article around. For this article, we’re focusing on the keyword ‘On-Page SEO Checklist’. Why?
- Because the keyword ‘On-Page SEO’ is too competitive for us to try to rank for;
- If it would be our core offering, we would be ok with competing, but it’s not;
- We’re actually offering a checklist;
- This keyword has a decent search volume compared to the competition;
How did we even get to this topic?
We wanted to offer our SEO knowledge to our audience because we know that a lot of writers or content marketers are not per se SEO experts. After we decided on the topic we hopped over to SEMRush and did a little keyword research starting with the broad keyword ‘on page SEO’.
If you don’t know yet what you would like to write about, check out our Content Idea Generator.
2 Find out what the search intent is for your main keyword
For most keywords, Google already did thousands of a/b tests to find out what people searching for a particular keyword would like to see. It’s your job to offer better value compared to what’s already out there.
An example I oftentimes use is for the keyword ‘how to get rid of pimples’.
After thousands of a/b tests Google found out that people searching for that term want to get rid of pimples FAST!
Meaning, if you would write an article about how to get rid of pimples with a six weeks plan, you’re going to have a tough time.
You need to understand the intent of the searcher.
For this article, it’s pretty straightforward. An on-page SEO checklist.
If everyone else on the first page of Google created great looking tools, visuals, spreadsheets, etc, we can’t just write our top 5 tips and do a bunch of link building.
It’s not what the searcher is looking for. So you won’t be able to keep your page one position. No matter the number of links.
3. What are your secondary keywords
We are strong advocates for creating a blog outline. It helps to get your thoughts on paper and also to figure out what your sub topics are and do some additional keyword research to find additional ranking opportunities.
Check out how our Blog Intro Generator can help you out.
4. Pay attention to your url
In general, shorter urls tend to do better and you should include your main keyword. You want to be constantly updating your content. So avoid numbers like: 12-on-page-seo-tips-2022.
The article will still be relevant in 2023 and might give a wrong impression to users and search engines.
What if we add a tip in 2022? Do we change the url and add redirects?
It’s best to just avoid it from the get go.
5. Create great Title Tags
What you often read on the internet is that you should include your main keyword at the start of your title tag. And that’s true. You should definitely do that.
But take your title tag to the next level by getting people to click.
By having a catchy, value driven title tag, more people will click on your result (more visitors) but Google also rewards you with better rankings because they see people prefer your content (as long as they don’t click the back button within a few seconds).
Check out how our Blog Title Generator can help you create catchy Title Tags.
6. Let your Description Tag help improve your CTR and Rankings
Be sure to use your description tag to compliment your title tag and boost your click through rates.
7. There is only one… H1
To be honest, we often time just use the Title Tag for our H1. Sometimes we shrink it down and sometimes we totally re-write it. The most important thing is that your main keyword is in there, that it shows people they landed on the right article and that you use the H1 tag only once in your article.
8. Great introductions get people excited to read on
Google hates pogo-sticking. They hate it when people click the back button within seconds. Your introduction should excite people to read your article and forget that there might be others out there.
Check out how our Blog Intro Generator can help you create exciting intros.
As an SEO best-practice, you should also include your main keyword in the first 150 characters of your body text.
9. Subheadings help your reader find relevant information faster
Don’t think that every site visitor will read your article from start to finish. Chances are you already knew about a couple of the tips we’re providing. The Subheadings might have helped you to consume value faster.
Be sure to make the subheadings descriptive enough that they could act as standalone mini articles and Google might index them as such.
That means that this is a great place to add your secondary keywords as well.
10. SEO Optimize your images
This is also a pretty straightforward check from the On-Page SEO Checklist. Be sure your images are compressed. Check out tools like Compressor.io which can help you out.
Make sure the name of the image, description and alt tag are SEO Optimized. Meaning, describing the image and adding relevant keywords when possible.
11. External links are great. Link out to your sources
Google and your readers will love it when you link out to credible sources. Be sure to do it when applicable, but don’t overdo it. It’s not a thesis. You don’t need a source for every claim you make. For instance, this article was written mainly based on our years of experience and has just a few external links. Other articles have a lot more external links because we want to showcase how we acquired our findings.
Oh yeah. Don’t forget to always open external links in a new tab so people don’t leave your site without clicking that x in the top corner.
12. Finish strong with internal links
Internal links are great for boosting articles you want to rank without acquiring external links. But there is a right and a wrong way to make use of internal links. Here are some tips:
- Don’t add too many internal links. The authority that flows from one page linking to 10 articles is less than when linking to 5 articles.
- Preferably, only link to articles that you want to rank. You might have web pages that just need a small boost to reach that top 1 position. Try to link to such articles over random articles that in 2 years never even saw page 20 of Google.
- Link to highly relevant pages with the right anchor text.
- Build hubs and link articles to one another. We do that with our Marketing Copy Generators for instance. The Title Generator Links to the Intro Generator which links to the Outline Generator, etc.
- When you publish an article, check from which pages you can get internal links.
- Pro tip! Go back and delete internal links if you see that articles don’t rank.
So there you have it.
A Checklist to write a SEO friendly articles. It might look like a lot, but constantly writing articles without seeing any results is more work than optimizing the articles that you already have.
How to start SEO optimizing your content today?
If you have just a couple of articles written, you can simply start and optimize them all.
If you have a ton of articles written, I would:
- Check which articles show the most potential and start running them through this checklist. Step-by-step.
- For the rest of the articles, focus on:
- Understanding the search intent;
- Finding your primary and secondary keyword;
- Optimize your title tag and H1;
- Check which articles deserve some internal links.
- When you’re finished with those actions, check which articles are getting a bump and run those through the entire checklist.
- Run every article you write from now on through this checklist. Step-by-step.
- Be sure to make use of our AI Marketing Copy Generators to help you write better content. Fast.