SEO Best Practices Checklist for 2017
Search engine optimization (SEO) has gone through many updates over the years. Yet, a lot of the on-page SEO best practices principles remain steadfast.
Yes, sites have come and gone, like private blog networks, article directories, and free hosting domains, to name a few.
The ones that have maintained their search rankings did so because they maintained SEO best practices. I’ve been doing SEO since 2006 and 10 years later, I’ve found that a lot of the recommended practices back then are still taught today.
In this post, I’ve compiled a list of long standing on-page SEO factors for you that you can easily apply to your blog immediately – without fear that these on-page factors will cease to have effect.
On-page SEO factors
Title Meta Tag
• Primary Keyword at the beginning
• Short, compelling title to increase the click through rate
• Wrapped in H1 tag
Description Meta Tag
• Include primary keyword
• Writing it like it like a good pay per click ad increases the click through rate
• 3 words
• Article page close to the domain
Title of article
• Wrapped in H1 tag
• Keyword in the first 100 words
• Minimum 1500 words to rank in page 1 for competitive keywords
• Keyword density 2-4%
• LSI keywords (synonyms)
• Supporting keywords
• Minimum frequency – publish 1 post per week
• Write at a readability level for 5th graders
• Image Alt tag – Include primary keyword
• Images, Infographics, video, audio, pdfs, documents
• Page should load in less than 4 seconds
• The lower the bounce rate the better
What SEO thought leaders have to say
Blogging Nuts posted a great list of on-page SEO factors. The article is sound with industry-accepted best practices. You will find that a lot of the factors they listed are mentioned above.
Neil Pate’s SEO Cheat Sheet – aside from mentioning technical SEO factors, Neil’s post emphasizes the importance of providing quality content for the reader. After all, good content is good SEO. It’s the original intent of how Google wants to display websites in their results pages.
Backlinko breaks down the on-page SEO factors in this easy-to-read infographic. One of the tips that I find most interesting is Brian’s mention of using modifiers with your target keyword. Your target keyword could be in a competitive market. To compete in that arena, you can creatively use modifiers such as “best”, “top”, “alternative”, “review”, etc. Your are turning your target keyword into a long-tail keyword phrase, but this is still effective for increased rankings, while also expanding the number of terms your page is ranked for.
SEO Pressor talks about readability. The more readable your content, the greater the likelihood of people staying on your website and engaging with it. No one wants to work hard to understand your content. You, the writer, are responsible for making yourself easily understood. This is the basis of good communication. SEO article by SEOPressor, updated for 2016
Moz is always an excellent resource if you want to go in-depth with SEO. In this article, you will find a great infographic on “Elements of an Optimized Page”. There’s a lot there, so I suggest you take a look when you have time to really focus and absorb the information. You can read more about On-Page Factors here.
Bruce Clay is a leader in implementing SEO using Website Silo Architecture. He approaches SEO on a highly technical side. If you’d like to learn more about it, you can search in his site. Here’s an article written on Siloing. I’ve also written an introduction to Website Silo Architecture here.
On-Page SEO is completely within your control
The main takeaway I’d like you to get from this post is that On-Page SEO is within your control. It’s your content, on your website, and you get to say how many of those on-page factors you want to implement.
If you are new to optimizing your content pages for the search engines, and you feel a bit overwhelmed about the topic, the first thing you should do is… take a deep breath. It’s going to be OK!
You’re doing the right thing by first recognizing the importance of optimizing your website pages. You don’t have to be an SEO genius to do these things mentioned above. You don’t need years of experience or have to keep a tight pulse on the latest news on search engine optimization.
YOU don’t have to do any of them yourself. Instead, you can hire a professional who is better at SEO than you. Would you try and perform brain surgery on yourself? Of course not! You would seek a professional with a track record.
Proficiency takes time, and if you are not already proficient at it, then don’t start now. Unless, of course, it’s what you desire to focus your time and energy on because it is something you will do long term.
Otherwise, if you are too busy being a different type of professional, such as a business owner or a solopreneur or an info product owner, then you already have your plate full.
Once you have designated someone to do the SEO of your site for you, then here are three action steps you can have them take.
On-Page SEO: 3 Steps You Can Take To Get Started
Take things one step at a time.
SEO Tip #1: Title and Description tags
First improve your Title and Description tags. These serve as your billboard on search engines so that people can find your site. By having optimized meta tags, your site will stand out more and that will increase your click-through rate.
If your website is built on WordPress, a popular SEO plugin is Yoast SEO. It guides you through on how to write those meta tags properly.
A great companion tool to Yoast SEO is a tool by Brian Dean of Backlinko called YoRocket SEO Tool. This lets you write kick-booty titles and description that can improve your organic traffic. Improving click-through rate from search engine traffic results in higher rankings.
SEO Tip #2: Install Google Analytics
The second step I recommend is to install an analytics tool, if your site does not have one already. The one most recommended is Google Analytics. You can get a Google Analytics account for free. Enter a few details, and then copy and paste the tracking code on all pages of your website.
Here are some resources that provide written tutorials on how to install Google Analytics:
- Set up Analytics tracking
- How to Install Google Analytics in WordPress for Beginners
- How To Set Up Google Analytics Tutorial: 3 Essential Steps For The Beginner
- How To Set Up And Use Google Analytics
- How To: Google Analytics Installation For Novices & Beginners
- How to Install Google Analytics Tracking Code on Your Website [Quick Tip]
Marketing Sheriff provides a great video tutorial on setting up Google Analytics:
SEO Tip #3: SEO-friendly URLs
The third step is to improve your URL structure. Simply put, create keyword-rich titles that are short and close to the root of your domain. This tells the search engines what the main topic of your article is. It also tells them that your post is important because you are not burying it deep inside your site.
- Infographic: The ultimate guide to SEO-friendly URLs
- 15 SEO Practices for Structuring URLs
- Ground rules for SEO friendly URLs
- What is a SEO Friendly URL Structure in WordPress
- A Guide to the Perfect SEO-Friendly URL Structure
Those three steps, although very important, are just the tip of the iceberg. However, if you do nothing else than those three, then you are at least practicing some of the factors that are important for search rankings.
If you are more ambitious than that and are interested in doing a full SEO audit on your site, here are some good SEO audit checklists.
- SEO Audit Checklist for 2016
- The 2016 SEO Checklist
- On-Site SEO Audit Checklist [Free PDF]
- The 2016 Professional SEO’s Website Audit Checklist
- How to Conduct Simple SEO Audits for Your Blog [+Checklist for 2016]
- The 2016 Essential SEO Audit Checklist