SEO On-Page Tips With Free Downloadable SEO Checklist

May 3, 2024
Blog post featuring on-page SEO tips and a free downloadable SEO checklist.

Guide to Effective
On-page Search Engine Optimization

This comprehensive SEO guide provides an array of tips and a free downloadable checklist tailored to enhance your website’s search engine optimization. From setting up essential tools like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools to detailed on-page strategies such as keyword optimization and link building, the checklist covers all bases to ensure your site is fully optimized. It includes actionable steps like ensuring mobile responsiveness, improving site speed, and regular content updates. With this guide, you can systematically address and implement SEO best practices, aiming for increased visibility and traffic growth. For personalized assistance or further inquiries, reach out to us at contact@artofmediadesign.com.

↗Scroll to the bottom for our FREE on-page SEO checklist 

1. Set up Google Search Console

Google Search Console helps measure site traffic and performance.

https://search.google.com/search-console

Set-up in three simple steps:

Step 1 – Sign in to Search Console with the Google Account

Step 2 – Enter the site’s Domain (or URL-Prefix)
to “Add a Property”

Step 3 – Verify the site

2. Set up Bing Webmaster Tools

Ensure the site’s presence in the Bing Search Engine
by following these steps.

https://www.bing.com/webmasters/home

Step 1 – Open a free Bing Webmaster Tools account

Step 2 – Add & Verify the site

Step 3 – Create and upload the sitemaps

*Optional* Step 4: Create a ‘Search Optimization
Plan’ inside ‘Webmaster Tools’

3. Set up Google Analytics

Providing real-time stats and analysis of user engagement, use Google Analytics to optimize the site’s performance and gauge the effectiveness of your marketing and SEO efforts.

Google Analytics

Step 1 – Set up Google Tag Manager
Step 2 – Create Google Analytics account
Step 3 – Set up analytics tag with Google Tag Manager
Step 4 – Set up goals
Step 5 – Link to Google Search Console

4. Install Google Analytics

After creating a Google Analytics account, you would have received a unique tracking code. To install it, simply copy and paste this tracking code into either the header or footer file of your website. It’s important to ensure that the code is added to every page of the site to enable optimal analysis and accurate data collection across your entire online presence.

5. Install All-In-One SEO Plugin

If you’re running a WordPress site, install All-in-One SEO
by following these steps.

Step 1 – Log in to the WordPress site Dashboard
Step 2 – Click on “Plug-Ins” and search for All-in-One SEO
Step 3 – Click “Add New”
Step 4 – Install the plugin
Step 5 – Activate the plugin

Here is a link to their site https://aioseo.com/

6. Create a sitemap (XML)

An XML sitemap is crucial for search engine bots as it directs them to the pages that need to be rechecked for updates since their last visit. This sitemap facilitates the discovery and indexing of deep pages within your site, enhancing the speed of the process. Conversely, an HTML sitemap is designed for human visitors. It displays all major sections and their respective subpages, providing a comprehensive breakdown of the site’s content, thereby making it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for.

To verify if your site has a sitemap, simply navigate to either YOURDOMAIN.COM/SITEMAP.XML or YOURDOMAIN.COM/SITEMAP.HTML. If your site lacks a sitemap, creating one is straightforward. Visit https://www.xmlsitemaps.com and follow the simple four-step instructions to build your sitemap.

7. Submit the sitemap

Step 1 – Sign in to Google Search Console

Step 2 – Select the site in the sidebar

Step 3 – Click on “Sitemaps”

Step 4 – Remove outdated or invalid sitemaps

Step 5 – In the ‘Add a new sitemap’ field enter
‘sitemap_index.xml’

Step 6 – Click ‘submit’

8. Make sure ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’ is not selected

This step is straightforward and clear. Simply ensure that this box remains unchecked!

9. Create a Robots.txt file

Creating a Robots.txt file is a crucial SEO strategy that instructs web robots on which pages of your site to crawl and which to avoid.

You can check if a Robots.txt file exists on your site by visiting YOURDOMAIN.COM/robots.txt.

Here, you’ll either find the file, encounter a 404 error message, or see a blank page. For detailed instructions on how to create a Robots.txt file, refer to this Google Guide.

Google Robots

10. See if the site has any manual actions issued against it, using the Google search console

If your site is subject to manual action, it may be partially or completely excluded from Google search results. Google will inform you of any manual actions through the Manual Actions report and notifications in the Search Console message center. For detailed guidance on locating the Manual Actions report and addressing any issues it highlights, follow these steps.

https://search.google.com/search-console/about

11. Create a keyword list

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes and compile a list of at least 100 keywords, incorporating a mix of high, medium, and low-volume keywords. Starting with a minimum of 100 keywords is essential.

Click here to explore our other blog post on how to create an effective keyword list.

12. Use Google intuitive search to find new keywords

Google’s autocomplete and autosuggest features can help you discover what others are searching for by suggesting keywords. Spend some time experimenting and getting creative with this tool—you might uncover some hidden keyword gems that Google can reveal.

13. Find question keywords

The “People also ask” section on Google’s search results page is an excellent resource for uncovering question keywords at no cost. The questions related to your search terms can help expand and enhance your site’s keyword list.

For more in-depth research, tools like Answer The Public and Alsoasked offer both free and premium services to generate questions around your keywords, though you will need to assess their relevance and search volume.

Additionally, exploring forums such as Quora and Reddit can provide insights into what questions users are asking. The goal is to generate question keywords through thorough research and identify opportunities where your site’s content can meet users’ needs.

14. Pull monthly statistics for the new keyword list

It’s crucial to regularly monitor your site’s performance by tracking keyword rankings and their changes over time. Conduct competitive analyses to spot opportunities, scrutinize specific keywords that have shifted, and engage in thorough keyword research. This includes pulling monthly statistics for your site’s keyword list to stay informed about trends and adjustments.

15. Utilize the competitors keyword list along with stats

Identify the top three to five competitors and aim to surpass them. Keep it simple—don’t overthink the strategy. Reverse engineer their success by analyzing who ranks higher than your site and strive to outperform them.

16. Include low, medium, and high volume keywords on the keyword list

Consider the keywords you want your site to rank for—there’s no right or wrong approach. Aim high with challenging, high-volume keywords, but also include more attainable ones for quick wins. SEO is a marathon, not a sprint, so your keyword strategy should encompass both established and emerging trends. Incorporating a variety of keyword volumes from the start will not only help you monitor your site’s growth but also provide insights into areas that may require more focus.

17. All H1 & H2 headers to include keyword + location

H1 and H2 tags are the most prominent on a page and carry significant weight in SEO as they signal relevance to Google. Don’t overlook this straightforward method to highlight your keywords and location, effectively communicating to both Google and your site’s visitors what is important.

18. Main keyword within first 100 words on page

This strategy is crucial not just for web crawling bots, but also considering the short attention spans of site visitors who tend to scan rather than read thoroughly. By placing the site’s main keywords prominently and early in the text, you ensure that both humans and bots quickly understand the focus of your site’s content.

19. Anchor text must include keyword. No more ‘click here’

Using ‘click here’ as anchor text or a call to action (CTA) is a missed opportunity since no one searches for these terms. Instead, anchor your CTAs around your keywords and location—for example, ‘Seattle Organic Bakery’—to make them more relevant and effective.

20. Image file name and alt tag must include keyword

Optimizing image files and alt tags with keywords and location details is an effective strategy to communicate your site’s focus to search engines. By transforming a non-descriptive file name like ‘7659.jpeg’ into something more meaningful, such as ‘fresh seafood Miami,’ you clearly highlight the relevance of your content. This change can significantly impact how search engines understand and rank your site.

21. Install SSL certificate

This certificate is the SSL certificate issued for your domain by a Certificate Authority (CA). To locate it, check the dashboard or account where the certificate was issued. The installation process for an SSL certificate varies depending on the provider, so you may need to consult with them for assistance if you encounter any issues.

22. Use HTTPS

HTTP, or Hypertext Transfer Protocol, sets the standard rules for communication between web servers and browsers. However, a major drawback of HTTP is that it does not encrypt data exchanged between servers and browsers.

Google highlights this security risk by displaying an open lock icon on HTTP web addresses and may warn users that the site they are visiting is not secure.

To enhance user trust and security, consider upgrading your site to HTTPS by purchasing and installing an SSL certificate. HTTPS encrypts the data transmitted between servers and browsers, safeguarding user information.

23. Make sure the site is crawlable using URL Inspection Tool on GSC

Google Search Console offers a variety of useful tools that you should consider utilizing. At a minimum, use the ‘URL Inspection Tool’ in Google Search Console to ensure that your site is healthy and fully crawlable.

Google URL Inspection Tool

24. Fix any broken images

If a picture on your site isn’t displaying or appears to be missing, it indicates a broken image. There are several reasons why images can break and multiple methods to fix them. It’s important to address and resolve these issues promptly.

25. Eliminate 404s or broken pages and links

You wouldn’t want a customer navigating your site only to encounter a 404 error message.

Fortunately, Google Search Console simplifies the process of identifying 404 errors and broken links. Additional tools, such as certain WordPress plugins, can also detect broken pages or links.

Similar to fixing a broken image, there are various methods to resolve broken links, but first, you need to diagnose the issue to implement the appropriate (and typically straightforward) solution.

26. Find and fix any crawl errors

Fortunately, Google Search Console (GSC) will send you an email notification when issues are detected on your site. It’s important to proactively review the GSC Coverage Report and address any errors as soon as you are notified of them.

27. Make the site fast or faster

The average user will make a quick judgment about a site’s value, typically spending less than a minute to do so. If the site fails to load quickly, users will spend even less time before moving on, given their expectations for fast performance. If you’re experiencing issues with your WordPress site speed, click here to contact us. We have a team ready to boost your speeds right away.

28. Score above 80 on Desktop using Google PageSpeed Insights

Regularly evaluate your site’s speed. What qualifies as fast? Aim for a score of 80 or above on ‘Desktop’ when using Google Speed Insights to ensure your site meets performance standards.

https://pagespeed.web.dev/

29. Score above 70 on ‘Mobile’ using Google PageSpeed Insights

Google PageSpeed Insights provides detailed information on your site’s loading times for both desktop and mobile, along with suggestions for enhancing speed and overall performance. Make it a routine practice to regularly assess your site’s mobile speed score using Google PageSpeed Insights.

https://pagespeed.web.dev/

30. Disavow toxic backlinks using ‘disavow links to page’ on GSC

If you have a manual action against the site, toxic backlinks, or low quality, spam links to the site, use GSC to disavow links.

31. Ensure the site is accessible at one domain

There are various strategies to enhance your site’s accessibility. Although it may not be necessary to fulfill every accessibility standard, it is crucial to ensure that your site is highly accessible and hosted on a single domain to maintain quality.

32. Make sure the site is ‘mobile’ friendly and responsive

Mobile devices generate more than 50% of global web traffic. If you’re managing an older website that isn’t optimized for mobile usage, you risk losing out on at least half of all potential traffic worldwide.

33. Use short, descriptive URL’s targeting one keyword + location

Craft URLs that are user-friendly and search engine-friendly by keeping them short, descriptive, and inclusive of targeted keywords. This approach not only simplifies navigation for busy users but also enhances the ease with which bots can crawl your site.

34. Create title & description using All in One SEO plugin

If you manage a WordPress website, consider using the All-in-One SEO plugin to create titles and descriptions for your pages. This tool aids search engines in understanding the content of your site and aligning it with relevant search queries.

35. Write a catchy title tag targeting one keyword + location

Catchy title tags that target specific keywords can significantly boost traffic and impact. An attention-grabbing title tag with compelling copy encourages users to click through to your site, signaling its value to Google.

36. Confirm that every page has a unique title tag

In SEO, attention to detail is key. Review each page to ensure it has a unique title tag. Experiment with different formats, such as phrasing the title as a question or adjusting the placement of keywords, to optimize and refine your title tags for better performance.

37. Write a compelling page and description including keyword and city targeted

You might consider hiring a copywriter, someone skilled in creating content that drives sales, to craft compelling pages that convert visitors into customers. Whether you’re writing the content yourself or engaging a professional, it’s crucial to focus on targeting relevant keywords and specific locations.

38. Confirm that every page has a unique page description

Enhancing your site’s SEO potential involves crafting clear and distinctly unique page descriptions for each page. By dedicating time and attention to customize each description, you make it easier for users to distinguish between different pages, thereby improving user experience and SEO effectiveness.

39. Connect social icons to proper accounts

Facilitate easy sharing of your content and site to boost visibility and engagement. Ensure that social media icons are properly linked, making it straightforward for users to share your content across their networks.

40. Include 3 internal links per main page

To improve rankings, content must be well-linked. On your main page, aim to include at least three internal links that guide users to other pages on your site. This strategy not only enhances user navigation but also signals to Google that your page holds significant value.

41. Include 2 external links per main page

Similarly to internal linking, it’s beneficial to incorporate quality external links on all pages, aiming for at least two on each main page. External links enhance your site’s authority by connecting to reputable sites or by securing links from these sites back to your page.

42. All external links open into a new window

External links should open in new tabs to prevent slowing down your site, overloading it, and skewing your analytics. It’s best practice to configure all external links to open in new windows, ensuring a smoother user experience and more accurate analytic data.

43. 1000+ words of text per site page

Achieving a high SEO ranking involves surpassing your competitors in both the quality and quantity of your site’s content. To effectively compete, your site must excel in these areas.

44. Up to date and accurate information

Outdated or irrelevant content won’t benefit your site’s performance. Refreshing older content can often be straightforward—adding new links, updating dates, or revising the introduction or conclusion can breathe new life into your pages. Aim to maintain ‘Evergreen’ content, which is search-optimized and remains relevant over time, unaffected by changing trends.

45. Clear ‘Call to Action’ in hero

After all the effort you’ve put into ranking and attracting visitors to your site, it’s crucial to guide them on what to do next with a clear Call to Action (CTA). Whether you want them to explore more pages, subscribe to your email list, or take another specific action, ensure that each page of your site includes a well-defined CTA. This direction will help convert visitors into engaged users or customers.

46. Organized headers with spacing between sections

The cleaner and more organized your site is, with clear distinctions between sections, the more likely visitors are to spend extended time browsing. Ensuring the site is readable enhances user navigation, which directly improves their overall experience and satisfaction.

47. Reads like a human wrote it, not a robot

While you might utilize web writing tools and AI assistance to generate some of your site’s content, ensure it remains conversational. Infuse your personality into the content, maintain empathy, and opt for simple, clear sentences.

48. Image no wider than site page (1920px)

The user experience during site visits is important. If necessary, invest the time to resize and format the site’s images to seamlessly fit the page layout.

49. Images compressed

Compress images to reduce their file size, thereby optimizing page load times and user experience.

50. Make updates to the site every 30 days or sooner

SEO is a long-term strategy, and to excel at it, consistent addition and updating of content are essential. When users notice that a site isn’t regularly updated with fresh content, they may lose interest and stop visiting.

51. Add video(s) to the site

For many users, video is their preferred method of consuming content. With video, you can effectively communicate stories, evoke emotions, demonstrate product functionality, and simplify complex topics. Utilize video to enhance engagement, reach users who prefer video content, and boost the site’s SEO visibility.

52. Add new blogpost(s) this month

Regular blog posts offer ongoing value to your site’s audience. By consistently publishing content, you not only enhance the site’s authority but also provide users with something to anticipate and a compelling reason to return.

↗Click HERE  to download our SEO checklist

For personalized assistance or further inquiries, reach out to us at contact@artofmediadesign.com.

What do you think?

More notes