SEO Basics: On-Page SEO Checklist

On-Page SEO Checklist

In this post I will identify and explain the main on-page ranking factors and how they affect SEO. Optimising these elements on your page will help you on your way to creating the perfectly optimised page!

What is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO refers to the factors of your web page that can affect search engine rankings. Whereas off-page SEO refers to things that can be done away from your site to boost rankings, on-page would be things that can be done on your site. See below the main on-page ranking factors.

1. Body Text

Body text is undoubtably the most important on-page SEO ranking factor. This is what makes search engines understand the meaning and purpose of the page; without it you’d have little to no chance of ranking and bounce rates would be through the roof.

So what makes up good body text?

Well there are many aspects and theories about this. Studies show that longer content between 2000-3000 words have a much better chance of ranking and are more likely to be shared and therefore linked to. But it’s not just about creating long content, it’s about making engaging content that users will find helpful. Writing a blog post 2000 words long about “How to boil an egg” would be too long and tedious, as there is only so much you could write on the topic. In this case it would be sufficient to write say 500 words.

How many times should I repeat my keyword?

Back in the day, SEO’s would calculate how many times they could repeat a keyword to keep it under 5%, the magic number. However, with search engine updates like Google Panda it is becoming easier for search engines to identify “thin content”. You shouldn’t try to spam a keyword into your text if it hinders readability, you should weave keyword/terms into your content where it would make sense to. There are more advanced concepts of keyword placement, check out Moz’s blog post on 7 advanced concepts of on-page SEO if you want to do some further reading.

2. Title Tag

The title tag is the second most important on-page SEO factor behind content. Technically called the “title element”, title tags define the title of a document. It sits in between the <head> elements of the page and can be edited differently depending on what CMS you are using. We use WordPress with the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast which allows us to edit and update the title tag, as well as giving a SERP preview.

The title tag should include the main keyword/terms of the page as this is what will output into the search engine’s results page.

Title Tag

This is an SEO optimised title tag. It should be places within the head tags of the webpage


3. Meta Description

The meta description is becoming a less valuable ranking factor but it is still important to fill out as it can improve click-through-rate. Similar to the title tag, the meta description sits in between the <head> elements of the document and is output in the SERPs. The maximum length for a meta description is 156 characters (including spaces) and should contain a summary of the page.

Meta Description

4. H1

H1’s should be wrapped around the title or main heading of your page and should include keywords pertaining to the nature of the post. Depending on how your website is built – h1s may be generated automatically.  It is best to check the source code of your site to make sure there is only one h1 per page.


5. H2-H6

Similar to the h1 tag, h2-h6 elements indicate hierarchal structure of the page. For example, in this document you will notice that the title of the page is wrapped in h1 tags with sub headings wrapped in h2 or h3 tags. Words that are wrapped in heading elements will be seen as more important than paragraph text, so it is best on-page SEO practise to include your target keyword at least once in a h2-h6 element.


6. Image Alt Attributes

Image alt attributes, more commonly known as “alt tags” define the alternate text for images placed on the page. This was originally created for users with screen readers but is used by search engines as another factor to determine the content of your page.

Alt Tag

7. Anchor Text

Linking to relevant content on your page can also improve on-page SEO especially if you include keywords/terms in the anchor text of the hyperlink. I wouldn’t go too overboard with this as linking to hundreds of pages from a single page would be seen as spam.

Make sure you link to relevant pages and choose anchor text that summarises that page.

Anchor Text

8. Bold/Italic Text

Wrapping important text in <strong> or <em> tags will indicate that the words carry more value than others. Search engines will notice this when crawling your site and can have a positive effect on rankings. It may only be a small ranking factor so I would try to use these sparingly where it would make sense to.

Bold/Italic Text

9. URL

It is important to generate SEO-friendly permalink URLs that are short and keyword rich. For example, this post has the slug “/on-page-seo-checklist” which adds more value to the page from an on-page SEO and user experience perspective.

SEO Friendly URL


If you’d like to learn more advanced on-page SEO concepts, be sure to check out the links below.


Here are some tools you can use to help optimise your pages better.

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