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Your Go-to On-Page SEO Checklist for 2022

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On-page search engine optimization, also known as on-site SEO, is one of the 4 pillars of SEO.

It focuses on the elements of the content on a page that affect how search engines see, index, and rank it.

In this article, we provide a practical on-page SEO checklist that you can leverage in your content strategy in 2022.

When implemented together with the three other pillars of SEO – technical SEO, off-page SEO, and content – this list can help you increase your online visibility, boost your digital presence, and bring more organic traffic to your pages.

You can use the checklist below when creating new pages, and when auditing your existing content.

Here’s what to focus on:

Your Go-To On-Page SEO Checklist for 2022

Your Go-To On-Page SEO Checklist for 2022
1. Write Engaging Title Tags
2. Research Your Main and Secondary Keywords
3. Build a Strong Content Structure
4. Add Internal and External Links
5. Optimize Your Images and Alt Tags
6. Write Compelling Meta Descriptions
7. Optimize your URLs

1. Write Engaging Title Tags

The first element of our on-page SEO checklist is the title tag. It is not only the headline of your article but the first thing the user sees when looking at your link in the SERPs.

When writing your title tag, try to stay within 70 characters – everything beyond this will most probably be cropped from the SERP link and will stay behind an ellipsis. Or, if your title is too long, Google may decide to provide its own slightly different version to the user.

That said, according to Google’s John Mueller (mark 2:57), officially, there’s no limit to title length and it doesn’t actually affect your ranking.

Still, if you want to have control over what text is associated with your website, you should keep down the number of characters.

Aside from being concise and informative, your title should be compelling and engaging so that it attracts the user’s attention.

However, abstain from clickbait and unnecessary sensationalism. This can not only disappoint readers but it is a red flag to search engines. Misleading headlines can cause you to be penalized and lose your rankings and credibility.

Check out our guide on writing engaging and catchy blog titles here:

12 Simple Steps to Writing Engaging, Catchy Blog Titles

2. Research Your Main and Secondary Keywords

After you create effective title tags, it’s time for the next step of our on-page SEO checklist – keywords. Every page should be optimized with one main keyword. It’s best to use it in the title tag, in the first 100 words of the intro, the headings and subheadings, the meta description, the URL, and across the text.

However, be careful not to overuse it as keyword stuffing is long out of fashion, and can only hurt your SEO.

Finding the right keyword density may be challenging, but it’s worth it. By using search term variations (synonyms), you can increase the readability of your text and improve UX – after all, repetition is as annoying to people, as it is to search engines.

However, keyword research doesn’t end with your main keyword.

Diversifying your content with relevant secondary keywords will show search engines that you are a source that can also provide exhaustive information.

While researching them, you can find new ideas and subtopics that improve your content’s value. This way you can better engage users and show search engines that you are a competent expert.

To that end, you should dig a bit deeper when conducting your research and look for semantic and LSI keywords.

These types of search terms provide more context to your content and help search engines better understand what you are about.

You can research these by using tools such as Semrush, the LSIgraph, or any other of your favorite SEO tools that provide a list of related keywords.

Research Your Main and Secondary Keywords

3. Build a Strong Content Structure

A well-built content structure contributes to both UX and SEO.

By using headings and subheadings to break down your text into topical sections, you can increase readability and provide an easy-to-follow outline, especially if users are in a hurry and only have time to quickly scan your content.

This reduces the risk of confusion, and can potentially increase dwell time and engagement, thus, sending a positive signal to search engines.

At the same time, it can help the bots as well.

Search engines rely on h-tags in order to better understand and pin the most important topics and subtopics on the page.

To that end, the h-tags need to be keyword-rich and include not only the main search term but relevant long-tail question keywords that your audience is interested in.

Search engines also use headings and subheadings to create featured snippets – the information in this type of SERP feature is not compiled manually, but is borrowed directly from websites.

It can also be pulled from bullet points and numbered lists, which are two content structures that are great at presenting information t it in a clear and concise manner.

4. Add Internal and External Links

Add Internal and External Links

When it comes to building links, many marketers and website owners who are new to SEO think of backlinks and leave it to it.

However, the links on the page – both internal and external – are also very important, which is why we made a special place for them in the middle of our on-page SEO checklist!

Internal linking helps the bots figure out the hierarchy of the pages on your website, and how they are connected. The more often that internal links lead to a piece of content, the more important it is in the proverbial eyes of Google.

However, make sure to add only relevant links with adequate anchor texts, otherwise, the bots may become confused as to what your pages are about.

There is no limit to the number of internal links you can add, but it’s a good rule of thumb not to exceed 100. Still, as with everything else, try not to overdo it. Each link could be an invitation to the user to leave your page and never come back.

External, or outbound, links matter as well. It’s a good rule of thumb to link to information on high authority pages – such as industry research, statistics, and other credible sources.

Google uses this to put your page into context, and, yet again, to better understand what it is about.

Furthermore, external links to credible sources can, potentially, leak tiny amounts of link juice (a.k.a. equity) back to your page, and boost your own credibility.

For best results, consider including between 3-10 outbound links in your content.

5. Optimize Your Images and Alt Tags

Image size can be a major issue when it comes to loading speed and page responsiveness, and, as a result, can seriously hurt your Google score. Search engines do not favor slow-loading pages, as they provide an unpleasant UX and users tend to be quick to leave them.

To avoid this issue, make sure to compress your images and find the right balance between size and quality.

But that’s not all there is to image optimization.

Google can crawl images, but how well it understands them is still questionable.

That’s why, when it comes to following a solid on-page SEO checklist, you should focus on the meta-text that accompanies your images – the file name and the alt tag.

Both of these need to be concise, accurate, and descriptive.

If your file name is a string of gibberish, or random letters and numbers, the search engine bots will not be able to make anything of it. However, a description or a keyword, such as double_rainbow.jpg or SEO_checklist.jpg, will make sense.

The alt tag is used when:

  • An image can’t be loaded for one reason or another, so the text is displayed in its place.
  • An accessibility facilitating tool, such as a screen reader, processes the graphics.
  • A search engine bot crawls the image.

In all of these cases, the alt text explains what’s in the photo and replaces the visual information with words.

AltTag

The character limit for the alt tag is 140 (with spaces), so make it short and sweet, and use a keyword, if possible.

6. Write Compelling Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are shown in the SERPs right below the title tag. Their goal is to provide the user with a short snippet of information describing what the page is about.

Meta descriptions don’t directly affect rankings, but they can, potentially, increase the click-through rate of your links in the SERPs and this can positively affect your standing with the search algorithm.

In fact, Backlinko found that pages with meta descriptions have a 5.8% higher click-through rate than those that don’t have one.

While Google automatically generates meta descriptions for the pages that don’t provide them, it’s best to write your own. Generic descriptions are usually pulled from the first text on the page (the title tag excluded) and, as a result, aren’t that compelling and may not even make much sense.

That’s why Google strongly encourages writing your own unique meta descriptions.

The character limit for this SEO element is 155. Here, you should strive to include your main keyword, a concise summary of your content, and, if possible, a call to action.

This may be challenging to accomplish in such a limited space, so here’s a little trick – use your meta description as an expansion of the title. This provides you with more context to work with and more opportunities to engage the user’s attention.

7. Optimize your URLs

Last but not least in our on-page SEO checklist, you should always optimize the URLs of your pages to be unique, keyword-rich, and concise.

While it’s advisable that the slug (the text after the domain) is shorter rather than longer, you should abstain from using only the main search term, especially if it is a more general one and/or consists of only one word.

This way, you will avoid confusion when you publish content on related topics.

For example, when you are creating a topic cluster about blogging, you may have pages that talk about how to monetize blogging, blogging for business, niche blogging, best blogging niches, blogging trends, etc.

In this case, the slug of the pillar post shouldn’t be just “blogging”, but “blogging-101”, “blogging-ultimate-guide”, “blogging-starter-pack”, or something similar, depending on your title.

With the proper internal linking, these types of slugs will help search engines better understand how your pages are related.

Simply put, a descriptive URL provides another tiny snippet of information to the crawlers. At the same time, it is user-friendly and makes sense to website visitors as well.

Bottom Line

There you have it – your go-to on-page SEO checklist for 2022!

By following these steps, you can optimize your pages to match Google’s current criteria and improve how it sees and understands your pages.

However, even if you do everything by the book when creating your content, keep in mind that the rules of the SEO game are ever-changing.

That’s why you should regularly revisit and update your content in line with the newest SEO trends.

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