On Page SEO Checklist 2021

Author - armstrong-admin

This on page SEO checklist for 2021 covers the important areas to focus on to make sure your website is set up to perform well in search results.   

SEO covers a multitude of tasks to help your website rank better on Google search results and not all of these tasks will take place on the website itself. SEO tasks are divided up roughly into two categories – on-page and off page. For the purposes of this checklist, the focus is on-page

Are your web pages crawlable and indexable?

SEO might sound easy but it requires a lot of focus to get it right. Things change with websites all the time and these changes can sometimes lead to SEO issues if they are missed. A common mistake made when building a website is to leave the site set to no index when it goes live. This example from a WordPress website I worked on recently illustrates how one small checkbox can lead to a website being de-indexed.

Are you targeting keywords?

All too often business websites are heavily optimised for their brand name rather than the products or services they sell. This can result in the business missing out on hundreds or even thousands of potential visitors looking for particular products and services.    

Are your keywords in the content of your web pages?

I see many web pages where the writer has done everything possible not to mention keywords. This is a mystery when adding keywords into the content of the page improves the relevancy of the page for that keyword.

Are the right keywords being targeted?

Success in SEO depends on choosing the right keywords. This requires some research into the keywords potential customers are going to use when searching online. This should be done with user intent in mind. It is always important to ask yourself, would a potential client or customer type in this keyword?

Keywords that are used in high volumes also come with high competition and certainly those with high profit potential. So it is important to target those keywords a website is capable of competing for so as not to waste time targeting keywords where competition is too hot.

Have you optimised your title tags?

It is often said ‘content is king’ when it comes to SEO. But that content won’t be king if it isn’t clearly signposted on your website. The title tag tells Google and people searching what each page is about. 

Have you used all the title tag space available?

If you have done your keyword research well enough, you should have many different keywords to target and often more than you may have space for. So it is important to use up all that space you have in your title tags. It is fine to target more than one keyword in a title tag and include your brand name so people searching can easily recognise your business in the search results and increase click throughs.

Do web pages have their own unique keyword targets?

Another mistake often made when optimising a website is targeting the same keyword(s) on multiple pages. This tends to dilute the SEO strength of those pages and leads to different pages competing for the same keyword. As a result, the Google ranking for keywords will often fluctuate depending on which page the search engine chooses to rank for the query. 

Are your h1 tags optimised for your keyword targets?

Having your keywords in your title tag and h1 tags will improve the targeting of your web pages. Header tags help signpost to Google what the content on the page is about.

Have you mentioned the same keyword too often?

Keyword stuffing is the opposite of keyword avoidance. Using the same keyword multiple times can be irritating for those having to read through it which in turn can have a negative impact on SEO. Keywords should be included where they naturally belong.

Is there enough text on your web pages?

With websites becoming much more about images video and fancy graphics, text seems to have gone out of fashion on some websites. A better ranking on Google is only achievable if a page has enough text on it to satisfy the search engines that it offers enough info on a topic to satisfy users. 

Have you added keywords to meta descriptions?

Having keywords in your meta descriptions is important because it helps users recognise what a web page is about. The keywords used in meta descriptions should match those used in the title tags. It is also important to make sure your meta descriptions encourage searchers to click. Your meta description is the snippet they will read in Google search results so it needs to stand out to grab the attention.

Are your urls free from clutter?

Urls on some websites are full of this _ and this .asp and this / to the point that the url looks like it belongs to a vintage website. Url’s should ideally be nice and clean and this will ultimately come from a polished website structure.

Is your keyword in the url?

This is another important checkbox to tick. If the url contains the keyword target of the page this will send a further signal to search engines to tell them what the page is about. 

Do your images have alt tags?

Image alt tags are another way to signpost keywords on web pages.

Does your page have internal links?

It is important to add internal links to related content within a website. This helps search engines and users either find more information on a subject or navigate quickly between pages.

Does your website use breadcrumbs?

Remember the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel when they left a trail of breadcrumbs to help find their way home after being left in a forest? Breadcrumbs on websites do much the same thing virtually. They make it easier for users to find their way around a website and not get lost in a forest of web pages. Websites using breadcrumbs are better optimised for search results.

Does your website have broken links?

Broken links often spring up on websites when pages are updated or removed. Suddenly some of the carefully laid trails through the website end up as dead ends. This creates a poor user experience and makes it harder for search engines to crawl the website.

Are you linking out to other websites as a favour?

Linking out to external websites is fine but be wary of link building schemes where you supply a link in return for a link on another website. These links are often spammy and provide no value and can in some cases result in a penalty if you link out to spam websites. Links to external content should be relevant to the themes of your website and if any of the links are passing commercial benefit, they should be have a “NoFollow” tag attached.

Is your page responsive and mobile friendly?

Having a responsive mobile friendly website is essential these days so it is definitely worth checking to see whether or not search engines view your website as mobile friendly. Google has a tool that checks this here

Does your page load in less than 3 seconds?

There are various tools online to measure your page load time. Pingdom provides a free tool to analyse speed from various locations in the world If your website takes longer than 3 seconds to load it will lose traffic and it may also not perform well in search results. Large image files are a common reason for a website loading slow but there can also be other more technical reasons such as slow servers or too many plugins on WordPress websites.

Is your address on the website?

Displaying an address on your website helps build trust and also helps with local search results.

Does your website use schema markup?

As search results have become richer over time it is essential to use schema markup on pages to help search engines pick out useful content to display in search results. Websites that use structured data and schema markup stand a better chance of appearing in rich results. Content contained in areas such as the knowledge panel at the top of search results can help increase traffic to your website.

This checklist covers most of the basic SEO tasks required for a website to perform well in organic search results. If all of the tasks in this checklist have been covered then it is time to look at what’s happening off page and we’ll cover that in our next blog.