Are you ready to optimize your blog posts to rank well on search engines? Did you know that your posts have the potential to rank as the first search result on Google?
Well, did you also know that ranking in the first position will not happen unless you ensure that Google knows exactly what keywords your posts are trying to rank for? The good news is, this blog post is going to take you through our bullet-proof on-page SEO checklist that we use to optimize our posts so that they appear in search results.
So, What is On-Page SEO?
On-page SEO is the steps you take to ensure Google knows exactly what the topic of your post is about and the search terms that it should rank for. We’ll explain exactly what the steps are in this blog post.
Setting Up Your Website
Before you begin optimising your posts for on-page SEO, you need to make sure that the initial setup is complete and functioning. Let’s go through the setup and if there are any steps that you haven’t completed, now is a good time to fix it, then you’ll be good to go.
1. Install Google Analytics
It’s a digital crime to have a website without Google Analytics. Google Analytics (or ‘GA’ as we call it internally) needs to be installed to monitor and tweak your SEO efforts.
Using Google Analytics will enable you to collect visitor data from your website. This data can then be used to generate reports that will give you insight into how site visitors use your website, and how you can improve this.
Google Analytics is a great tool to include in your healthcare marketing toolkit because you can track the total number of search traffic you get, while filtering out other channels like direct, social, paid, referrals or other. You can also monitor an individual page’s bounce rate, or the bounce rate of your website as a whole. This is very important as bounce rate can hugely affect your rankings.
Read our post on the: 7 Ways To Reduce Bounce Rate and Increase Conversions
Finally, (there are plenty of other reasons to have GA installed, but for the sake of this blog post – and time – we’ll list one final reason why you need to have it setup) Google Analytics helps you to determine whether your on-page SEO efforts are actually effective at increasing your organic traffic.
2. Install Google Search Console
Now that you have Google Analytics set up and can see how visitors interact with your website, the next tool you need to install on your site is the Google Search Console.
Google Search Console, or Search Console, will show you how your website is being seen by the Google search engine.
Search Console enables you to submit your website’s sitemap, it gives you access to important data such as the number of pages that searched return to your website, the click-through rate of a particular keyword, your average search position, and so much more.
You can also use Search Console to find and fix any errors that can greatly affect your SEO.
3. Install Yoast SEO
If your website is built through WordPress, we recommend installing Yoast SEO. Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that gives you access to on-page SEO features.
Here is an article written by Yoast themselves that explains how Yoast is a must-have SEO tool for your website.
4. Create an XML Sitemap and Submit it to Google Search Console
AnXML sitemap is the roadmap of your website which tells Google about all your important pages. XML sitemaps can be good for SEO, as they allow Google to quickly find your essential website pages and how frequently you update your site.
Sitemaps don’t have a great effect on your site rankings, however, they are still very important for SEO, because they ensure that all your website pages can be found and indexed properly.
5. Create a Robots.txt File and Submit it to Google Search Console
Robots.txt is a text file that gives specific instructions to web crawling bots.
You can use it to tell search engines which pages you want them to index, and which you want them to ignore.
The robots.txt file is also where search engines will look to find your XML sitemap if you haven’t submitted it to Search Console.
6. Install Schema.org Rich Snippets
Rich snippets is a great tool that you can use to add extra information about your website, that you would like to appear in search engine results.
Rich snippets help your search listing to stand out, therefore increasing your click-through rate for your website, which improves your search rankings in the long run.
If your website is built on WordPress, you can use the All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets plugin.
Before We Continue…
So, the initial setup is complete and we are ready to optimize all your posts that you have published.
We have put together a handy ‘to-do list’ that you can use before you publish your post:
7. Use Google Keyword Planner For Keyword Research
Google Keyword Planner is a handy and free tool that you can use to find keywords that you would like your post to rank for.
Google Keyword Planner gives you the monthly search volume for any keyword that you search for. It also gives you insight into how competitive a keyword is.
We recommend using Google Keyword Planner as a research tool for Keywords. You will also be given handy keyword suggestions to go after, based on the topic that you choose.
To access Google Keyword Planner, you will need a Google Adwords account. This is completely free to setup, and by this we mean that you will need to input your billing details, but long as you are not running any ads, your account will not be billed.
8. Make Sure Your URLs Are SEO-Friendly
It’s very important to make sure your URLs are SEO-friendly. The general rule is to have an easy to read url .
Where possible, make sure that your blog post URL matched your blog post title. Keep your URLS at least 50 – 60 characters in length.
9. Include the Main Keyword Phrase in the URL
It’s still important to include the keywords that you are targeting in your URL.
Keywords in the URL help those who see it to get an idea of what to expect if they click on the link. URLs also get shared often, therefore a URL with a keyword included serves as an anchor text which is a powerful indicator for search rankings.
Keywords in the URL also show up in search results. Research has proven that URLs are the most prominent indicator for users when considering whether to click on link.
10. Include Your Keyword Phrase in the Post Title
The post title is the most influential place to have your keyword phrase as Google pays the most attention to this. It’s important to make sure your phrase is at the beginning of the title, and not towards the end – the position of your keyword phrase truly matters.
The character length for post titles is around 100 characters, including punctuation and spaces, but only 65 characters will appear in a Google search.
Google often replaces your chosen post title with whatever the search engine feels is appropriate to display, so bear this in mind when searching for your post on Google.
11. Include Your Keyword Phrase at Least Once in an H1 Tag
Each page or post can have multiple headings ranging from <h1> HTML tag to <h6>. The <h1> tag is usually used for the title of a page or post and is the first heading visible on a page.
H1 tags are also formatted differently compared to the rest of the header tags.
Here is an example of an h1 tag on one of our services pages:
12. Include Your Keyword Phrase in the First Paragraph
When writing your blog posts, make sure that your first paragraph includes your most important keyword phrase. We recommend including it in the first sentence, if possible.
Keywords inclusion is very important for ranking on Google, however, use them sparingly as ‘keyword stuffing; can hurt your on-page SEO.
13 Include Your Keyword Phrase at Least Once in Subheader Tags
As mentioned, your subheading tags range from <h2> to <h6>. Be sure to include your keyword phrase at least once in one of these subheader tags.
Include your keyword phrase at least once in one of these subheadings. Google counts all of them as the same, even though they are often formatted differently.
14. Include Keyword Several Times Within the Body Copy
The body is the main part of the post. Google will use the text in the body to determine what your post is about.
You do not need to repeat your keyword phrase several times in your text. Avoid stuffing your text with keywords, not only will it decrease readability, a factor Google takes into account, it will also hurt your blog post’s ranking capability on the search engine.
15. Use Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords
Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a concept used by search engines to discover how a particular search term and content work together to mean the same thing, even if the search term and content do not share keywords.
Here are 5 reasons why you should be using LSI keywords in your content:
1. Preventing your content from being marked as spam by search engines
LSI keywords provide various keyword phrases that are related to your primary keyword phrase, increasing your content’s credibility.
For example, if someone finds your blog post through a Google search result but doesn’t find the content that he or she is expecting, they can report your content as spam.
2. LSI keywords also help you reduce bounce rates
This is because LSI Keywords prevent your blog post from ranking for the wrong search terms.
For example, if you are selling eyewear ‘glasses’, you do not want the search engine traffic from those seeking information about drinking ‘glasses’.
3. LSI keywords will help you retain site visitors by improving the flow of your content
A natural flowing blog post provides better readability for your readers.
4. LSI can help your site rank for related searches
Search engine bots automatically crawl your blog post to gather information about its content. Using LSI keywords will help to rank your blog post for semantically related searches, no matter what your target keyword.
For example, if you include LSI keywords for an optician selling custom glasses at a premium price, your LSI keywords should allow you to skip searches for “inexpensive” or “cheap” glasses.
5. LSI keywords can increase sales by helping your business rank higher with less competition
Ultimately, LSI keywords help you get your blog content in front of an even larger audience.
16. Include Internal Links Early in Your Post
Before your content can rank on Google, it needs links. Google finds your blog posts when they’re linked to and from other pages on the internet.
Internal links also help to give Google an idea of the structure of your website. Search engines can establish a hierarchy on your website, giving you the opportunity to display the most important pages and blog posts by adding more link value, than other less important pages.
Having the right internal linking strategy will greatly boost your SEO.
17. Include at least 3-4, Internal Links to Other Blog Posts
Following on from the previous point, internal links in your blog posts is a great way to highlight the topics of your posts as well as the value of that content to search engines that crawl your content.
Make sure you include at least 3 to 4 links to previously published blog posts of the same topic, every time you write new content.
Google uses links to find out what content on your site is related and the value of that content.
18. Link to Relevant, Authority Sites
External links are just as important as internal links as external links help to give your content more credibility.
Make sure that your external links are pointing to high authority sites that also share content that is relevant to yours.
For example, if your post is about heart conditions, you could link to a high authority charity organisation that specialises in heart conditions.
19. Be sure to Use Correct Spelling and Grammar
Not only is the use of correct spelling and grammar important for the readability of your post, but search engines also place great importance on it by penalising sites with writing errors.
If your website is built on WordPress, you can use a WordPress plugin like TinyMCE Spellcheck. This adds a spellcheck button to the editor, so you can check your posts while yotu write them, or you can use an online tool like Grammarly, which automatically checks your spelling and grammer as you write.
20. Use Long-Form Content
Simply put, long-form content allows you to provide your reader with more value. The purpose of a long-form blog post is not to reach a particular word count for the sake of it, but instead to provide so much valuable information to the reader, while reaching or exceeding the word count.
The key benefit of long-form content is an increase in dwell time, which positively affects your search ranking.
Your blog post should be long enough to offer real value to your audience but short enough to get to the point without unecessary fluff.
21. Create High-Quality Content
It is very important that you write high-quality blog posts. To help you with this, we have put together 6 key tips to writing a high-quality blog post:
- Make sure you define the “why”. You must know what your objective is for writing the post and then work your way backwards.
- Understand your audience. Before work begins with writing your blog posts, you need to know what your audience wants to read and not what you think they want to read. Defining your buyer personas will help you to understand what they are interested in, and most importantly what their problems are so that you can provide solutions within your blog post.
- Be original, or find a new approach. To create high-quality blog posts that stand out from your competitors, you should include an original take to an existing subject.
- Be informative and address your audience’s questions. The majority of people searching online are looking for help with something. Most searches are focused on looking for answers to a particular question. Answering those questions by providing solutions in your blog content will attract more visitors to your website. This will signal to search engines that your content provides the best answer for that search term, and will, therefore, rank your blog post higher than others.
- Use long-form content.
- Use the right tone of voice and language for your audience. There have been a few times where we have reviewed a company’s website and found that the language used is not appropriate for their target audience. You can refer to your Buyer Persona document to understand how your audience consumes information, where they are likely to go for information and the language used by those particular sources.
Remember, Google’s goal is to return the best search results for their users, therefore you need to make sure that your blog posts address all six points to stand a chance.
22. Reduce the File Size of the Images Used
Page load speed is a major factor in SEO, so be sure to optimise all images used before you upload them to your blog post.
If your website is built on WordPress, you can set it up to automatically reduce the side of your image. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do it.
So be sure to rename the title of the file to include your keyword phrase.
23. Rename Your Image File to Include Your Keyword Phrase
You guessed it. Google also looks at the file name of the images you use,
24. Use Alt Text to describe Your Images
As well as the file name, make sure you include a descriptive alt tag in your image to describe what the image is about.
Alt text (or alt tags) is the written copy that appears in place of an image on a webpage if the image doesn’t load. The text is used to help on-screen reading tools to describe the images to visually impaired readers. It also helps search engines to better crawl your website which is important for ranking.
Again, include your keyword phrase in this, if possible.
25. Front-Load the Title Tag
Your title tag is the blue text that appears in Google search results. It is one of the most important pieces of SEO, although often overlooked.
If it makes sense to, include your keyword phrase at the beginning of your Title tag for your post – also knows as ‘Front-loading’ – as this will help with SEO.
If your website is built on WordPress and you have the Yoast plugin installed, you can do this very simply inside the SEO title field:
26. Write an Enticing SEO Title for Your Blog
As well as front-loading your Title Tag, you need to make sure that your title tag is enticing to encourage click-throughs.
The more searchers click on your post over other ranking posts, the high your post will rank. Therefore, your title is very important.
27. Keep Your SEO Title to 65 Characters or Less
Try to keep your SEO title to a maximum of 65 characters in length. Any longer and Google will cut off your title.
Although this isn’t a major factor for rankings, it can discourage click-throughs if the searcher isn’t able to determine what your post is about.
28. Include Modifiers in SEO Title
Modifiers are words that you add on to your keyword phrase when trying to rank for more relevant search results.
They include adjectives, verbs, questions and anything else that would help to return a more relevant search result.
Modifiers include words like “best”, “top”, “free”, “case study” or “reviews”. Users tend to include these modifiers when searching for things, so include them in your SEO titles to help increase your click-through rate.
29. Write an Enticing Meta Description
SEO titles are used to capture the attention of your readers, whereas meta descriptions are used to give the searcher more information on the contents of the blog post.
The more enticing the meta description, the more likely they are to click-through to read your blog post.
Adding a meta description is simple to do if you use Yoast SEO for WordPress:
30. Keep Your Meta Description to a Maximum of 160 Characters
Much like the length of the SEO title of your blog posts can be cut off by search engines, so too can your meta descriptions.
31. Include Your Keyword Phrase in the Meta Description
Make sure you include your keyword phrase in the meta description.
32. Include Power Words in Your SEO Title and Meta Description
Use power words to increase your click-through rate. Power words act as psychological triggers to compel searchers to take action by clicking through to your blog post.
There are 7 different types of power words that you can use. We will list a few examples from each category to give you an idea:
Fear Power Words:
Encouragement Power Words:
Lustful Power Words:
Anger Power Words:
Financial Power Words:
Safe Power Words:
33. Include Numbers in Your SEO Title
Did you know that including numbers to your blog post title increases the engagement levels by a staggering 73%!
Including numbers in your SEO title help you to come across as a more authoritative source of information.
Numbers also intrigue searchers. For example, if you include “Top 5 ways” in your post title, the searcher will want to know what the 5 elements are.
Take a look at the image below, you are more likely to click through to the top three results than the fourth result, right?
Therefore, including numbers in your SEO title can also help to increase your click-through rates.
Optimizing Your Blog Post
Now that your blog post is fully optimised, there are still a few things that you can do to boost your on-page SEO.
You can start by performing a thorough SEO audit to make sure that you don’t have any errors that could hurt your SEO efforts.
34. Make Sure You Include Social Sharing Buttons
Social sharing is a very important factor that Google takes into account when ranking your content. Even though the shares happen away from your website, you can still optimise your blog post page to encourage readers to share the article on their social channels by including social sharing buttons.
35. Check Your Page Speed
As mentioned earlier in the post, your page load speed is another important factor for SEO.
The easiest way to keep on top of your website’s speed is by using a Content Delivery Network (CDN). Review which CDN is best for you by reading through the CDN list put together by TechRadar.
36. Monitor Your Google Search Console for Errors
Now that you have installed Google Search Console, put it to good use by checking for 404/500 errors, missing titles, duplicate content, indexing issues or any other technical errors that could hurt your SEO ranking performance.
37. Make Your Website is Mobile Responsive
As 50% of internet browsing is done on smart phones, your website must be mobile responsive.
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check whether your website is mobile responsive.
38. Test Your Site on Multiple Browsers
As well as having a mobile-responsive site, your site needs to work well on all browsers. You may have your favourite browser of choice where your website loads properly, but this may not be the case for other browsers that your audience may use.
Phew! There we have it. If you have completed every step in this list, you should feel confident that your blog posts are fully optimized for SEO.
Search engines will know exactly what search terms your posts are aiming to rank for and you have eliminated any potential errors that could hurt your website from being crawled by search engine bots.
One final thing to note, it is very important to ensure that your blog post has good readbility. After all, the post is written to be read by your target audience, and Google considers this to be a really important factor for ranking blog content.
Write your blog posts for your audience first, then go through our SEO checklist to ensure that it’s optimized for search engines.
Always write your blog posts for people, while keeping the search engines in mind using the above tips.
To save you having to read through the post again when running your on-page SEO audit, we have created a free on-page SEO checklist for you. Just click on the link below to get your download.
If you have any questions or require a helping hand, leave a comment below and a member of our team will get back to you.