If you want to boost organic traffic, grab potential customers’ attention, and rank highly on search engine results pages (SERPs), you’ll need to invest in on-page SEO. While Google’s algorithms remain a secret, we know that on-page SEO impacts your rankings – and it’s something you have control over.
That’s why we’ve put together this definitive on-page SEO checklist so that you can optimize your website step-by-step. To help you find your way through this article, here’s a table of contents – just click on a link to jump to the section you need.
On-page SEO is the process of optimizing content on your website to improve your SERP ranking. It involves editing individual pages, blog posts, and your website as a whole and covers elements such as:
On-page SEO isn’t a magic wand for your website’s SERP ranking. It’s part of a three-ingredient SEO recipe: on-page, off-page, and technical ranking factors. Off-page ranking concerns links to your website from external websites, which is why link building should be an essential part of any business’s SEO strategy. Technical ranking covers factors like page loading speed and mobile accessibility.
Search engine bots, also known as “crawlers”, assess the content of your website and help them decide how relevant your website is to search engine users. On-page SEO can ensure these ‘crawlers’ view your website as relevant, useful, and high-ranking.
Now that you understand what on-page SEO is, let’s dive into the on-page SEO checklist. You can use this checklist to update your current website pages and every time you create a new page or upload a blog post.
Before you start updating your content and writing blog posts, you need to perform keyword research. There are many tools that can help with this, including the free option of Google Keyword Planner. Register your business and start researching keywords that are relevant to your website and to your target audience.
When it comes to moving up that first result page, you might want to work with an expert. For instance, our keyword research process differentiates between highly competitive, low conversion keywords from low competition, and high conversion, meaning you can target your efforts more effectively.
While keywords like “t-shirts” may get a lot of hits, you’ll find it hard to compete with other websites selling t-shirts. By opting for low competition keywords and phrases, you’ll rank better and see better conversions as a result.
Once you’ve performed your keyword research, choose one primary keyword for your page or blog post and 3-5 secondary keywords. Keep these in mind as you work through the rest of the checklist.
Let’s talk about URLs. The best URLs are short and sweet and should contain your primary keyword. Avoid using SEO stop words – extremely common words that search engine crawlers often skip like “and”, “of”, “in”, and so on.
Take a look at our blog post about tactical SEO. The blog post is called “Tactical SEO 101: Keywords, topic clusters and internal links”. Did we make the URL “accelerateagency.ai/tactical-SEO-101-keywords-topic-clusters-and-internal-links”? No. We keep it short and sweet and focus on the blog post’s primary keyword “tactical SEO”.
Your primary keyword should be included in three other important places: the meta-description, headline, and title tag. Search engine crawler bots look to these places to figure out what your web page is about, so make sure that the primary keyword is in there.
Remember, your meta-descriptions and headlines will also be the first thing that users see when they see your web page on a SERP. Including the primary keyword is essential, but don’t forget to make these texts appealing and interesting too.
All good-quality content management systems (CMS) let you format your content with headings, using functions like H1, H2, H3, and so on. If you’re optimizing your on-page SEO, make the most of these headings.
Your headings should include your primary and secondary keywords where possible. They also improve the overall readability of the content for your audience. To make things especially easy for search engines and users, consider adding a table of contents to web pages and blog posts too.
Originality is key when it comes to creating SEO-friendly on-page content for your website. That means no duplicate content from either your website or others. Search engines penalize websites that contain duplicate content, so don’t even think about it.
Sometimes, creating truly original content is difficult, especially if you’re replicating similar information across your website. Luckily there are plenty of duplicate content checkers you can use to make sure you’re not accidentally repeating yourself!
Your content needs to be easy to read. Even for more technical topics, like marketing strategies for SaaS, it should be clear and understandable. Many readers tend to skim, rather than read thoroughly, and the more complex your content, the less they’ll pay attention.
This isn’t just about the language used, either. Readers like to be able to scan content easily and find what they need. That’s why we recommend using short paragraphs, varied sentence structures, useful headings and titles, and a table of contents in your content.
After doing your keyword research, you might be tempted to stuff your content with those keywords. This is another no-no in on-page SEO and could lead to your website being penalized by search engine crawlers. The ideal keyword density is 1-2% – that’s about once or twice every 100 words.
Internal linking is part of your website’s information architecture. This helps search engines crawl your website and find all of its pages.
The structure and layout of links in menus and navigation bars tick lots of on-page and technical ranking factors, but internal links within the content itself are often forgotten about. Use your content to link to relevant pages using targeted anchor text – the text that contains the hyperlink.
Relevant links to high-quality websites help search engines understand the context of your web page. Finding sources for your blog posts is a great way to add high-quality outbound links to relevant web pages. Ideally, these web pages will have a high domain rating/authority, which you can check using tools like Ahrefs & SEMrush.
Search engines like images, so make sure your blog post or web page has at least one. Just as you optimize text content for SEO, you can optimize images as well. This is done by adding your primary keyword to the image’s file name, title, and alt tag.
Including at least one call to action (CTA) in your blog post and on each web page is essential to driving conversions. It also gives you an opportunity to include a relevant internal link that contains a keyword related to your business.
CTAs are especially useful for SaaS content marketing and other digital retailers as they encourage users to request demos, sign up for free trials, and send direct inquiries to sales teams.
Schema markup, or structured data markup, is additional code that you can add to your web page or blog post to make it more appealing when it appears in the SERPs. It also helps search engines recognize specific content that you want to highlight.
To do this, simply head over to Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. Here, you can tag content data for a specific URL according to what sort of data it is – such as author, title, and individual sections of content – and create a custom HTML. This HTML can then be pasted into your CMS so that you have markup optimised content ready for search engines.
This on-page SEO checklist has all the tools and tips you need to optimize your on-page SEO yourself. Appearing high in the SERPs, driving organic traffic, and boosting conversions require effective on-page SEO in combination with other SEO and content marketing strategies. accelerate agency works with SaaS companies of all sizes. Utilizing varying SEO & content approaches, we pride ourselves on our ability to expand our clients digital footprints quickly and at scale.
To find out more about the results that we have achieved for our clients, take a look at our SaaS case study page.
James Deverick is a senior SEO that has been working in the field for over 11 years.
Working in SEO has taken James across the globe, working in a variety of high-profile agencies and in-house positions and has had great successes in regions including the US, UK, Australia, Japan, and Thailand.
Over the years James has grown his expertise and began specialising in Enterprise level SEO projects, often at an international scale and has played key roles in his clients growing their businesses to IPO level and beyond.