The best bloggers don’t only have amazing writing skills but they also take responsibility for their content’s performance in search engines. They’ve learned one simple trick and use this On Page SEO Checklist: Blogging for People and Search Engines.
As I mentioned in my previous article, Content Marketing Best Practices, I’m typically against writing content “just” for search engines. The simple trick is to put people first.
Write for humans, while optimizing for search engines the best you can.
You have to write for both, people and search engines.
As search engine algorithms become more intelligent, they have learned to understand the context and search intent of users. Here’s the thing, search engine optimization isn’t going anywhere. The good thing is, it is becoming easier to promote a website now than it was a few years ago because there are a lot of tools that do all the boring work for you.
In this article, we’ve collected the complete list of the tools that can be used for content optimization of your page. Step by step, following the logic of SERP anatomy, I’ll explain how to make each detail of your article attractive to both users and search engines.
On Page SEO Checklist: Blogging for People and Search Engines
On-Page SEO Checklist
As a writer, you probably already understand the power of a good title. It’s highly important for attracting the user’s attention and increasing the page CTR: they will see your title on the SERP, and if they don’t like it, they will most probably not read your article.
From the SEO point of view it makes sense to put your keyword in the title only if it is short and high-volume: the recent SEMrush research on ranking factors confirmed it. If you are trying to promote for a long-tail keyword, it will be quite tricky to put all of it into the title, so better focus on the quality of the content, Google and social shares will do the rest for you.
The title should be there not only for users but for crawlers as well. So make sure you have title tags on your page. Also notice that while your H1 tag and title should not necessarily be repeating each other, you would still want them to be related.
On Page SEO Checker gathers information about the correct H1 and title tags and checks keyword stuffing there.
Before anything else, your URL has to be descriptive and meaningful (please avoid weird number and random letter combinations!). And of course, the URL is a very good place for your keywords.
Also, don’t forget that in a year you may want to update your content (including the title), so make sure your URL is evergreen and can be later applied to slightly or even drastically different content. If you decide to change the URL, do not forget about redirection in order to avoid 404 mistakes.
Your URL length matters — it’s best to keep it around 3 to 5 words long. Also, when it comes to URL structure, using underscores as word separators is not recommended.
Want to learn more? Check out this article: On-Page SEO Basics.
Our Web Site Audit checks all the URLs on your website for length, for underscores and helps you make sure none of the URLs has too many parameters in them.
Meta description does not impact your rankings in any way, but as I said earlier, you have to think about your users as well. Well-written meta description will help them better understand what your article or page is about.
Also do not just let Google choose the meta description for you: if you do, you may find a random phrase from your page residing there. And avoid duplicate meta descriptions across different pages.
Our On Page SEO Checker — the group of Content ideas provides you with all the tips you need to make your content better from the SEO standpoint. For example, it will help you make sure that you put tags to all the right places, and it will show you if your SEO agency or web design groups resorts to bad keyword stuffing in their <meta> tags.
Keywords and Semantically Related Words
To provide users with the most relevant results for their particular search terms, use your target keywords within the first 100-150 words of your text and add some additional weight by placing semantically related words.
H1, H2, H3 Title Tag Structure
Structured text is easy to read and navigate through. There are plenty of methods for text structuring. If you are dealing with a lot of information, you can use a list with numbered bullet points – it’s easy to perceive and allows you to include plenty of information in the article without sacrificing the user’s attention.
<h1>Example Title</h1><br/><p>Your text</p><br/><h2>Example Subtitle</h2><br/><p>Your text</p><br/><h3>Example Subtitle</h3><br/><p>Your text</p><br/><br/><br/><br/><br/>
The second way is more ‘classic’ – write an introduction pointing to the problem and then divide the text into 3 to 5 main points and title them with descriptive subheads. In my experience, 3-5 statements within one article is more than enough to prove your point. (Fewer might not look like enough to convince a reader, more might make the article difficult to read.)
In SEO language – don’t forget to use H1-H6 tags for your subheads (and place your target keywords in the subheads, of course). Learn How To Use H1-H6 HTML Elements Properly.
The Spade Design SEO Audit helps you avoid a lot of troubles with H1 tags: it will tell you if any of them are duplicated, missing, or in abundance on the page. Any of these things can become an issue in the eyes of Google.
Adding video content to your page can also help you structure it and get more attention. It also attracts the audience that prefers visual content.
Although it hardly benefits you from the SEO point of view, the absence of videos can harm your visits, especially if everyone else in the niche has them. Also, having a script besides the video has become a common practice, because it helps both, users and crawlers, notice your content.
If you are placing your own videos, don’t forget to optimize them as well.
It’s been proven that “content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images. However, we didn’t find that adding additional images influenced rankings.” And, as we mentioned above, it’s a great way to structure your article and customize it. Some experts recommend inserting an image in the text in depth of one scroll, so the user would always have an image on the page while reading. We think it’s optional if you have some other eye-catching elements on the page like subheads or quotes.
Do not forget that the image format changes from platform to platform (they are cropped differently on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social network or search engine), so pay attention to microformats. Make sure that links to your domain and header images will look good on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and any other platform.
Talking about SEO: images that are too large can slow down your site speed – one of the most powerful user experience constituents. So be sure to use the right file size and format, and use image compressors correctly to reduce image size while maintaining visual quality.
Descriptive image file names and the use of ALT tags can help images from your page appear in Google image search results.
You have to be sure that your content is long enough – it’s good for readers and search engines. But keep in mind that there is no exact ‘perfect’ content-length; it all depends on your goals and the content purpose.
The main point is: people love longer content because it implies deeper topic coverage.
And it’s a proven fact that longer content tends to rank higher.
There is another important content metric — readability, which shows if your content is easy or difficult to read. Readability level depends on a lot of factors. Not only grammar and syntax play an important role, but also the design and structure of the text — everything that can influence our perception. Basically, the secret is simple — know your audience (are they advanced specialists or beginners?), good writing skills and focus on the message will help find a balance. If you want to check your text’s readability score — there are some tools that can help.
Internal linking helps you enrich your content with additional useful information for readers while attracting attention to the related content you’ve created. Also, internal linking is one of the SEO essentials – it has a big influence on search engine bots’ behavior. Crawler starts visiting pages that could otherwise be lost. And in case you did not have time to dive deep into backlink building, internal linking may be a good place to start
Related Article: SEO vs Inbound Marketing
Social Sharing Buttons
Social shares don’t count as links, but they will help your content earn more SEO badges and cover bigger audience — add social sharing buttons and make them noticeable. And it seems that content with a lot of social shares is more likable and trustable in the eyes of random users. Also, if an opinion leader or someone with a big scope of followers likes or reblogs your content, it’s very likely that it will attract new readers to you.
Click to Tweet – use Click to Tweet tool for sharing the main statements of your article. Choose a quote, insert it into Click to Tweet; embed generated a link to your blog and you’ll get tweetable, noticeable quote with Twitter logo on it.
Duplicate content is one of the most common SEO problems. Our recent study shows that 50% of websites have some pages with duplicate content. It may not always result in a penalty, but it’s a signal to search engines that your website has little to no value for your readers. Needless to say – your readers won’t appreciate it either.
Can’t see your article in SERPs, although you think you did everything right? Make sure that your website was not blocked from crawling, otherwise, you did all your work in vain. Crawlability is a difficult technical question most content creators are probably not familiar with, so talk to your webmaster and find a solution.
Page Loading Speed
It’s not even a second – it’s a millisecond delay that can force a user to close your article and go to another website. Sometimes the reasons for delays can be simple, such as images with large file sizes on a page; sometimes they are more serious, including problems with your server. No matter the reason, it’s crucially important to be aware of any page speed issues.
One thing to note, there are many things that can impact these speed scores. Technical knowledge is required to use them properly and understand them. For instance, some websites use a CDN, meaning users never really hit the real website, they see a cached version of it that is much faster. These technical methods do come into play so please have a full understanding of them before jumping to conclusions.
Google Pagespeed Insights – the easiest way to check your page load time.
Pingdom – Test speeds from different areas of the world
If your company’s website is still not mobile-friendly, you are probably missing a part of traffic flow. No, let’s put it this way — you’re losing traffic. Of course, responsive design and mobile website development require time and effort. It’s not something you can do in a day but it is worth every second you spent on it. Mobile-friendly websites have a strong priority in mobile SERP (search engine result page).
Google Mobile Friendly Test – solution from Google for checking website mobile-friendliness.
We’ve already talked about the importance of your content’s SERP appearance. Markup implementations can increase your CTR in times, and the best thing of it, that microdata can be applied to different types of content no matter what topic you are covering.
Look at this great example. Their site is using Schema markups to provide a recipe and can be used to provide even more information to the user like a list of ingredients, reviews, and cooking time.
How does this influence your SERPs? Not in any way. Schema implementation has nothing to do with the direct impact on your ranking. But do you remember about CTR? Exactly! Everything that’s good for your reader is good for SEO.
Google Structured Data Testing Tool – will check if there are no mistakes in markup implementation on your page.
As you can see, Google is doing a lot in trying to help unique, informative content get better ranking. But it’s not just Google who decides if your content deserves a higher position – it’s your readers as well. Google doesn’t read your work and grade you with an “A” for excellent wording or exclusiveness of insights; it estimates a level of interest for your article by taking into account users’ behavior and your text’s availability.
You might be surprised to know that some on-page SEO issues have a little to no impact on rankings. At the same time, some issues which have nothing to do with SEO directly, but mostly with writing and content appearance, can have a giant impact on page CTR, time on page and bounce rate – user experience signals which Google relies on to determine page quality and SERP positions.
Which of these on-page and text elements do you think you might be sacrificing with your website? One? Two? Maybe even five or more? It’s ok, they can all be fixed.
Focus on creating a good story, great content, and information your users want. Then do as much as you can to make your text attractive and noticeable to readers and you’ll maximize your content’s impact.
If this is too time-consuming for you, or your time is more valuable and better spent doing other things, then you may consider working with a digital marketing agency. If you’d like to speak with an expert at Spade Design, it’s easy, just click here to contact us and tell us more.