Let’s get started with the first steps in the checklist.
- Meta Description
- Keywords, semantically related words, and entities
- Heading tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6)
- Internal linking to passages with fragment links
- Duplicate content
- Content length and TF-IDF
Creating well-defined URL structure helps search engines understand a page topic
Keywords in URLs and URIs are a good thing and a small ranking factor (debatable regarding how much impact keywords have on the domain name, URLs, and URIs; we have tested this, and the output is that it depends on many factors).
User preference combined with best practices and the art of on-page SEO is a solid strategic mindset for developing winning URLs and website structure.
URL Structure Checklist:
- Use keywords in category structure.
- Precise keywords when defining the URI.
- Don’t add dates (year) in the URL/URI; this is limiting your efforts.
- Be consistent with trailing slash or not trailing slash; one or the other.
- Be consistent with lowercase or Camel-Case; one or the other (preference is lowercase).
- Be consistent with hyphens or underscores; primarily a UX consideration, one or the other.
Create title tags for users and search engines
First, let’s dispel a myth about title tag length in characters or pixels. There is no limit to the length of a title tag. Recommendations regurgitated by SEO agencies and their marketing-degreed minions are garbage.
Please read this article with quotes from Google’s Chief of Sunshine and Happiness, Gary Illyes, and pay attention to what he says about title tag length. When we do SEO audits, there is no reporting section for title tag length and never will be.
Now that’s out of the way, let’s continue with the title tag checklist.
The title tag is in the document head
Page titles are wrapped with the meta title tags
<title>SEO Audit Expert</title>
Why are title tags important?
Page title tags are one of the most significant on-page ranking factors and are viewable in search results and web browsers.
How to write a great title tag?
- Every page must have a unique title tag. Either manually typed or dynamic title tags, each one should be different from any page title on the website.
- Don’t keyword stuff the title tag. This is a consideration if your domain name is branded with primary keywords, and that is also your site title in the CMS (content management system).
- Make it different from the H1, even if a few words differentiate the title and H1.
- Make title tags relevant to the heading structure in the page content.
- As a best practice, keywords should go to the left, not necessarily furthest to the left, but on the left of the tag to be crawled as one of the first words and displayed in the browser tab. On the flip-side of this, moving the target keyword to the right with powerful sentiment phrase leasing up to the keyword is helpful when the page targets long-tail traffic and deeper into the URL structure. Test both ways to determine which works for you.
- Add an emotional word or descriptive and helpful word to the reader. Including words that are powerful and psychologically appealing is valid.
- Using numbers is beneficial for title tags in terms of click-through rate.
Meta descriptions can improve CTR (Click-through rate)
Meta Descriptions can be helpful when it comes down to improving click-through rates when Internet searchers view a list of top-10 organic results and choose the best one to visit. On the SEO-value side of meta descriptions, there is no value.
Google will change the description text from the webpage to display whatever it wants in the search results. This is to provide the best content available to people searching a specific keyword term.
The description Google uses in search results can change depending on the user intent and keyword used. When we optimize pages, we do not provide a meta description until a page displays on page two of SERPs, but that’s how we do things.
After the page ranks, we test meta descriptions related to text Google has chosen from the body content. Time is money, and there’s no sense in doing tasks that waste time and money.
Tips for keyword research and choosing the best keywords for content
When creating a list of keywords, think about the search intent. Imagine yourself as an individual in their shoes, and what would make sense for them to search? That way, your focus stays clear on identifying low-volume but highly targeted phrases rather than stretching out into long-tail searches where competition may be less relevant.
The main rule is that competitor websites and search results are constantly changing. Still, one thing remains constant: user experience comes down to what makes a good keyword selection, and search engines have continued refining their algorithms, which means even with the best keyword research, you can’t guarantee a top position in the SERPs.
Why you should structure heading tags to create a content hierarchy
Heading structure is directly related to information architecture and website categories. Web page headings and the keywords in heading tags help determine the future content strategy and internal linking plan.
Choosing layout and structure is often overlooked, and some SEO companies over-think this.
Fragment Passage Links
Improving user experience with internal fragment links to passages
Using fragments to internally link sections of the webpage will make content beneath headings more accessible for users’ eyes when first scrolling to a content heading section rather than jumping between different chunks throughout an article.
Duplicate & Thin Content
Duplicate and thin content issues and what to do about them
Duplicate, thin, and boilerplate content have always been a problem for webmasters. Sometimes, reducing footer and sidebar content or creating new and unique content snippets can quickly change this dynamic with little effort.
The magic of term frequency & inverse document frequency and how to determine the content length
Many people say there must be a specific number of words per article. We’ve heard repeatedly about how each page should contain 500 or 1000 words.
This is not true. Check the TF-IDF of the top 10 ranking pages for a keyword, and you will see it’s different for a wide range of dynamics.
The ever-changing dynamics include keyword length, user intent, size of websites, age of domains, content topic, and most importantly, the industry niche related to the search term. Take this into consideration: if all webmasters add content and improve the user experience of their webpages targeting the same keyword, the dynamics have now changed regarding search engine ranking algorithms.
Every title tag change, new heading, new image, modified image title, or any modification to a web page changes the ranking dynamics. TF-IDF is significant for planning the length of content and the number of words on a page.
How to improve readability for on-page SEO
The answer to how to improve a web page’s readability can be found by asking questions in this content readability FAQ checklist.
- Who will read this content?
- What is the educational level of the target demographic?
- Can the user quickly scan headings while scrolling
- Is there a table of contents?
- Does the content have a simple flow and make sense to the user while they scroll?
- When writing content, read it aloud, and if something doesn’t make sense to you, it won’t make sense to the reader.
Checklist for optimizing videos to maximize on-page content
- Make a video transcript to have unique content on-page
- Select an aesthetically pleasing thumbnail image and don’t load the video until clicked to improve speed.
- Video titles should include long-tail keywords and be very descriptive of video content
- Embed video on one page; don’t embed video on multiple pages.
- Is video self-hosted or on a video hosting platform? There are considerations for both choices.
- Use structured data to organize web page metadata and highlight video as a vital part of content.
Checklist for image optimization and how it helps SEO
- Use keywords in the image filename.
- ALT tags should be a short and accurate summary of the page topic and heading content passage; ALT tags are also used as anchor text when the image is clickable and leads to another page.
- Image titles are a technique to add relevant keywords to the image metadata.
- Image captions are critical in some cases because they add clarification to the reader about the image.