The Only On Page SEO Checklist You Will Ever Need

on page seo gifBelow are the 27 ranking factors you need to pay the closest attention to for on page SEO.

All of these factors either:

  • Directly influence your page
  • Impact a factor that does affect your page

I’ve left out anything you could consider not actionable, or outside of your control.

At the end of the list, you’ll find the five most important factors to pay attention to, but here’s a quick preview:


27 On Page SEO Ranking Factors

Let’s dive straight in…

01: Keyword At The Start Of Your Title Tag

Putting your keyword at the start of your title tag helps you gain favour in search engines:

keyword at start of title tag example

 This is widely considered as one of the most important on page SEO factors.


Because it allows search engine crawlers to see what the main topic is going to be about, within the first few milliseconds of crawling your page.

If you worried that it may not be the best headline to send to your audience…

You can use Yoast to help you set up different title tags for readers and search engines.

02: Page Title In H1 Tags

“<H1>” tags ensure that your keyword-rich title is crawled effectively by Google.

Google crawlers look for what is contained within HTML.

When the page title isn’t inside these tags, it can be overlooked.

You don’t want that to happen.

WordPress websites should do this for you, but see if your theme is compatible. If you’re using another platform you’ll have to do this manually.

So in order to format this title tag:

h1 example

You’d add it into your blog posts code editing area and add the “<H1>” heading tags.

That should look like this:

h1 title code

You can learn more about heading tags over in this guide from W3Schools.

03: Keyword In Your URL

A Google roundtable session in 2016 revealed…

 Having a keyword in your URL is a ranking factor.

Although it’s considered a “very small” ranking factor, I’d consider it part of your SEO best practices to add your primary keyword to all of your pages URLs from now on.

You can see that I do this for all of my URLs:

keyword in url

Because every little helps when you’re trying to get to the top.

04: Length Of URL

The shorter and clearer your content’s URL is the more favourable it is to a search engine.


This is useful to a search engines crawlers because…

  • It adds clarity to your page
  • It requires less time to crawl through your site map

length of url

You’ll also see a user experience benefit because it’s easy to remember.

05: Keyword In Your Meta Description

Your meta description tag is a factor Google pays attention to.

keyword in meta description
Optimising it to:

  • Give an honest overview of what your page is about
  • Include your keyword

…Can help you boost your page’s overall rankings.

06: User Experience Focused Content Structure

Your website content should be focused on user experience.

This means your layout and formatting should allow someone to quickly and easily navigates their way through your content to find the answer to their query.

Factors which influence user experience are:

  • Clear headings and subheadings
  • Visuals like images or visuals
  • Breaking your text up into paragraphs
  • Using bullet points and text boxes

You should then aim to create a layout for your content that is easy to read and navigate.

Help users find the answer to their question as quickly and obstruction-free as possible.

Take a look at the image below:

user experience focused content

You can see my content contains…

  • Lots of white space
  • Easy to read headings
  • Bullet points
  • Images
  • Links

This makes the content easy on the eye and easy for a reader to work their way through.

As you saw in the What Is On Page SEO? section


User experience is one of the major focuses of on-page SEO.

07: Unique Content

Search engines work hard to reduce the amount of duplicate content in their results. This ensures the same content can’t rank for the same keyword twice.

If it detects the exact same content is being used on multiple sites or pages…

Only one of those pages containing the content will rank for it.

 It’s impossible to predict which one.

avoid duplicate content

You need as little duplicate content on your site as possible to avoid canonicalization.

(Where your site turns cannibal and eats its own rankings, in essence)

And as Rand Fishkin points out over on Moz

It shouldn’t just be unique…  It should add unique value.

For example if your content is teaching people how to cook rice, it should show them a new way to cook rice and not the way every other article on the internet is showing them.

08: Content Reading Level

Google used to tag content as:

  • Basic
  • Intermediate
  • Advanced

…based on its reading level.

From a copywriting point of view, a lower reading level as close to basic as possible is advised for most websites. This makes your content accessible to the most amount of people.

Download Here

But depending on your niche this could change.

A scientific journal would be expected to have a higher reading level than other sites. The same goes for a broadsheet newspaper and a tabloid newspaper.

Now it used to be that Google allowed us to get a break down of our reading level-

content reading level

That was removed as an option but it does mean that it’s something Google is paying attention to.

You can use the Rank Math (see my Rank Math review) or Yoast SEO plugins to get a look at your reading level now-

readability score

And irrespective of whether this is an active ranking factor or not – it’s a deciding factor for your visitors which have a direct impact on ranking factors like dwell time or bounce rates.

09: Keyword In First 50 to 100 Words

The sooner your keyword appears in your content…

The sooner a search engine’s crawlers can determine what your content is about.

keyword usage example

Many new SEO copywriters and bloggers forget about this…

They put the keyword right near the end of their introduction or even later in their article.

Be sure to check before you publish your article if it’s within in the first 50 to 100 words.

10: Subheadings In H2 Tags

Using header tags for your subheadings allows search engine crawlers to build a clear picture of your page, and the sub-topics you’ve written about.

headings for seo

Not only does this add structure to your page for search engines, but all of your human visitors will also love it as well.

11: LSI Keywords In Content

LSI Keywords help give context to your content which basically just means words and phrases that are related to the topic you’re talking about.

There is much debate about whether they are still useful or not but they are still baked into my processes as I write this.

Let’s say you’re targeting “Podcast Microphones”. Your LSI keywords may be:

  • Best podcast microphone
  • Podcast microphone setup
  • Cheap podcast microphone
  • The Blue Yeti microphone

Sprinkling these LSI keywords throughout your content will make it feel more relevant.

Which may also give you a boost of traffic from other related keywords.

12: Synonym Rich Content

It’s possible for pages to rank for keywords that aren’t even used on their page.

This is a byproduct of “Semantic Search”.

 This is where a page ranks for a synonym of the main topic of the page.

This often happens for topics which are closely related to each other or which have different dialectical sayings or spellings.

For example…

“Hoover” and “Vacuum Cleaner” are two words that relate to the same topic. But Google could choose to rank a piece of content focused on Hoovers to also rank for Vacuum cleaner terms.

synonym rich content

Optimising for synonyms can help you gain more traffic through multiple keywords.

13: Keyword Order

The order a keyword is searched for and where it appears on your page affects rankings.

People often use variations of a search term although they have the same intent.

So it’s important to cover your bases.

Let me give you an example:

A group of people are looking to buy the book – Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. If four people search for it, they may use the keywords in any of these four forms:

  • Tribe of mentors tim ferriss
  • Tim ferriss tribe of mentors
  • Tribe of mentors by tim ferriss
  • Tim ferriss tribe mentors

Despite the fact they all want the same thing…

 This word order can affect where you show up in a search ranking.

Especially in a highly competitive niche.

To combat this you should contain a mixture of keywords and their orders throughout your content to ensure you maximise the reach of your page.

14: Use Of Outbound Links

Outbound links can help a search engine determine the overall value of your content.

Citations, quotes and links back to research articles about the topic you’re discussing help add authority to your page and show you’re trying to add value.

Note: Place links to trusted authority sites in your niche.

15: Internal Linking

Internal link building is one of the most under utilised strategies in SEO, but it’s something you should pay attention to.

An internal link is a link from one page on your site, to another relevant page on your site.

Take a look at this example from my what are keywords page-

internal linking example

When I wrote a section about how keywords signal intent, it made sense to link to my types of keywords page.

This adds extra value to the reader because it gives them an extra resource to read.

But it does something else too.

It helps make my site much easier for crawlers by giving a new access point to another part of my site.

And if that page has some good link juice, that power can be shared between pages.

increase your search traffic

16: Working Links

Make sure that all of the internal and external links across your site are working and not leading to 404 pages.

Not only does this waste link juice, but it also does serious damage to your user experience which has a knock-on effect to many other metrics.

17: Optimised Image Alt Tags

Alt tags help Google to interpret the images on your page.

Because image crawlers can’t identify every image with 100% accuracy, it’s better to help them figure out by adding alt tags to your images.

Take the below image as an example:

optimised image alt tags

Most website image uploaders would give this image a default alt tag like:


But this is hard for a crawler to understand.

Instead it’s better to use descriptive alt tags to explain what the image is. Such as:

  • My personal workspace
  • Macbook and coffee cup
  • Old wooden table with modern laptop

You get the picture. (Literally.)

These alt tags can also contain keywords to help add relevance to your page.

You can sprinkle them throughout the images on your page but don’t stuff them.

18: Mobile Responsive Website

In 2015 Google began to penalise sites which aren’t mobile friendly.

Meaning if your site doesn’t format on a mobile device, you’ll struggle to rank highly.

This was compounded further by the rollout of mobile first indexing in 2018.

mobile responsive website

You can check if your site is mobile friendly by using this mobile friendly test tool.

19: Site Speed

In 2010 Google announced it would use website speed as an official ranking factor.

take site speed seriously

 A slow website can cost you both rankings and money in the long term.

It’s a factor you should be taking seriously because it’s in your full control and you can usually increase your websites speed significantly in a couple of hours.

20: HTTPS Security

In 2014 Google announced websites with HTTPS encryption would be given priority.

And that this signal may get stronger over time.

If your website isn’t HTTPS yet, now is the time to switch.

21: Length Of Dwell Time

Dwell Time is the amount of time someone spends on your page consuming your content after finding you through a search result.

Let’s say I want to search for “How to cook jasmine rice”.

I pop that into Google and because I’m human, I click the top result:

jasmine rich search example

What’s going to happen when I land on that page is one of three possible outcomes:

  1. I’ll leave immediately: I’ll take one look at the content and say, “Nah, not for me”
  2. I’ll spend a few minutes there: I’ll read the content and think, “Okay, this is helpful”
  3. I’ll spend a long time there: I’ll read the content and think, “Yes! This is perfect”

This can help Google or any other search engine determine the quality of the content.

If the majority of people leave immediately, it’ll be tagged as poor content.

If people spend a few minutes it’ll be tagged as average.

And if people spend a long time there it’ll be excellent.

You can improve your dwell time by improving the quality of content and using different SEO copywriting techniques throughout your writing.

22: Bounce Rate

The official line from Google is that bounce rate doesn’t affect rankings.

But Moz has some interesting data to show that it correlates with higher rankings.

If you don’t know what bounce rate is…

It’s how many people come to your page and leave before visiting another page.

bounce rate

You can improve your bounce rate by-

23: Length Of Content

Long-form content consistently outperforms short-form content in search rankings.

In fact, Brian Dean at Backlinko found the average length of articles that ranked number on the first page was 1,890 words.

If you take a look around my blog too, you’ll find that most of my articles start at 1,000 words and even go all the way up to 10,000 words.

importance of content length

What counts as “long” will change between niches.

 But try to aim for as long and in-depth as possible.

24: Depth Of Content

Depth of content is my way of saying your content shouldn’t be “thin”.

Whilst your content should be long, it should also contain a depth of relevant information which helps people get the answers they need.

Let’s say there are two articles about cooking jasmine rice. The first one says:

  • Step #1: Boil water
  • Step #2: Put rice in water
  • Step #3: Wait until rice is soft
  • Step #4: Eat rice

Whereas the second one says:

  • Step #1: Boil the water and add two pinches of salt
  • Step #2: Rinse the rice before you add it to the water
  • Step #3: Put the rice in the water and stir for the first two minutes
  • Step #4: Begin to…

…You get the picture.

The more depth of information there is…

The more valuable it will be perceived by a search engine’s crawlers.

25: Use Of Multimedia

Using images and videos in your content can help to…

  • Increase dwell time
  • Decrease bounce rate
  • Increase your social shares

It can also increase the perceived value of your content, and attract backlinks.

26: Freshness Of Content

Having fresh, up-to-date content can help you improve your rankings. It can also breathe life into content you’ve written in the past.

Google shows the date of the latest update for an article in its search results:

content freshness

This means that Google (and your readers) cares about how up-to-date your content is.

From personal experience, I know that I’m more likely to click on a more recent link. So it could help to improve your click-through rates too.

27: Spelling And Grammar

Google have pointed out, you should pay attention to your spelling and grammar.

spelling and grammar

Whilst the odd mistake and error won’t destroy your website…

Illegible content that doesn’t make much sense will be perceived as low value.

The Top 5 On-Page SEO Factors

Not all ranking factors are created equal.

And some on-page SEO factors have stronger weights in the algorithm than others.

So here are the top 5x on-page factors for you to focus on (click the link to jump to that section of the guide):

  1. Mobile responsive: Ensure your site is optimised for mobile devices.
  2. Site speed: Make sure your site loads quickly and efficiently for users.
  3. Keyword at the start of your title tag: Get your keyword into your headline, preferably towards the start.
  4. Internal linking: Create links between this page and the other relevant pages of your site.
  5. Length of content: Make your content as long and as in-depth as possible.

If you focus on these five factors you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

top five onpage seo factors

But be sure not to neglect the other ranking factors for too long.

On Page SEO Checklist

If you’d like a more actionable way of applying these ranking factors to your site…

I’ve put together a free on-page SEO checklist for you to download.

It shows you all of the factors featured in this article, which you can use for reference when you’re preparing content for your site. (I print it off and keep it next to me).

on page seo checklist

Wrapping It Up

You’re able to control all of the on-page ranking factors in this list.

And some of the changes can be made to your site in as little as 60 seconds.

If you’re short on time you should focus mainly on:

  • Mobile responsiveness
  • Your site speed
  • Putting the keyword at the start of your title tag
  • Internal link building
  • The length of your content

 But you will have to address other factors at a later date.

When you’re editing your content to prepare it for your site, make sure you have a copy of my on page seo checklist handy.

This will help you adjust your content and ensure it’s fully optimised before you publish.

And if you are really struggling with on-page SEO you should take a look at my Surfer SEO review which takes the hard work out of it all.

Now you know which on-page SEO factors you should be focusing on, it’s time to complete an SEO audit.

70 Responses

  1. adolfo guerrero

    Really very helpful tips. This is an excellent summary of SEO factors. Appreciate your efforts.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 6th, 2019 at 5:13 am

      Cheers Adolfo – hope you can put it to use :)

  2. Abby Santiago

    Thank you for this list. I have been using probably just 10 out of 27. Time to use the other 17.

    • Matthew Woodward
      December 6th, 2019 at 5:17 am

      No problem Abby, never hurts to re-evaluate.

  3. Magical

    This is an awesome article about on page seo really like it.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 26th, 2019 at 8:21 am

      Glad you liked it, hope you can work some SEO magic :)

  4. Ahsan

    Thanks For Sharing

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 21st, 2019 at 2:33 am

      No problem – hope you find the checklist useful Ahsan.

  5. Ramaraj Subbiah

    Thanks, for your good information about on page SEO.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 14th, 2019 at 3:06 am

      No problem – hope it helps :)

  6. Arif Sarkar

    Wonderful Blog, It is really helpful for users. thanks for sharing

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 14th, 2019 at 3:18 am

      Thanks Arif – I hope this helps refresh and guide your on page SEO.

  7. Walter

    Thanks for sharing informative blog post. I have found here lots of interesting information for my knowledge I need.All the details you provide to us, it was very helpful and useful. Thanks for sharing this amazing post. Appreciate your efforts.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 12th, 2019 at 1:11 am

      You’re welcome Walter – I hope this helps give your on page SEO a boost.

  8. volio technologies

    Thanks for the article,
    It was very good article thanks for sharing your ideas with us ,it helps me a lot

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 12th, 2019 at 1:14 am

      Thanks! Glad you found it useful.

  9. BruceaMason

    Really very helpful tips.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 12th, 2019 at 1:17 am

      Glad to hear it :)

  10. Harsha s

    It was wonderful to read this detailed article so would apply all these points on my article to make SEO more bloggers friendly

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 7th, 2019 at 2:57 am

      Let me know how it goes Harsha

  11. Perry Stevens

    A solid checklist and a great reminder to us old marketing veterans.

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 7th, 2019 at 2:51 am

      Thanks Perry – always good to have a refresh every now and then :)

  12. Amit Kumar

    thnks for sharing such a great information, this is very helpfull for me, a lot of thnks for that

    • Matthew Woodward
      November 4th, 2019 at 11:27 pm

      Great news – hope this brings you further success :)

  13. Rama


    This is nice post for checklist and having right article to see you here. Thanks a lot for sharing with us.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 29th, 2019 at 3:08 am

      No problem Rama

  14. John Theobald

    This is an excellent summary of SEO factors, thank you for putting this together

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 25th, 2019 at 11:32 pm

      No problem John – it’s always great to take a step back and refresh these factors.

  15. Rihanshu

    awesome article about seo

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 25th, 2019 at 11:33 pm

      Thanks Rihanshu :)

  16. William Davies

    Great info and content to show us what to do to increase our sites on google and other search engines. Thanks Matthew

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 25th, 2019 at 11:33 pm

      Happy I could help William :)

  17. Milescent

    wow i will just apply all this stuff you said

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 25th, 2019 at 11:36 pm

      Let me know how you get on with it!

  18. Blessing

    God bless you for this post

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 25th, 2019 at 11:38 pm

      Hope it helps!

  19. daniel

    love it, reaaally helpful article , thanks a lot …

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 22nd, 2019 at 7:40 am

      Glad I could help Daniel!

  20. Rohan Biswas

    1. Thank you for shareing the great blog with us This is a great article and very helpful for everyone keep it up and share more like this.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 15th, 2019 at 1:47 am

      Thanks Rohan – I got plenty more on the way :)

    • Tapas
      October 25th, 2019 at 9:42 am

      Today I learn all about” ON PAGE SEO”.This article helpful for seo .
      Thanku Matthewood

      • Matthew Woodward
        October 25th, 2019 at 11:30 pm

        You’re very welcome

  21. kumar

    nice article sir thanks for this information

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 15th, 2019 at 1:49 am

      Hope you found it useful Kumar :)

  22. sameer mane

    Nice article I had applied these technics on and its working.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 10th, 2019 at 12:07 pm

      Awesome news Sameer!

  23. Dharmendra Digital Marketer in Udaipur

    Great content I have to subscribe so i’ll update with your every post keep posting.
    Thank you

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 4th, 2019 at 10:36 am

      Thanks for subscribing, I’ve got plenty of interesting stuff on its way.

  24. Luuk Harleman

    Nice one, I personally think that the length of content creates a problem often when it is focused on too much. You should focus on writing for an audience instead of a search engine. User Experience for the win! Engagment is key. Thanks for refreshment of Onpage SEO, always good to go through these kind of articles every now and again! :)

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 4th, 2019 at 10:48 am

      And a happy user equals a happy search engine so it’s win-win.

  25. Babs

    Solid post mate.

    I’d say we checkout for almost all that’s listed here. Thanks for sharing.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 2nd, 2019 at 4:51 am

      Cheers Babs – glad to hear it.

  26. alex hales

    Thank you again!

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 2nd, 2019 at 5:01 am

      You’re welcome Alex :)

  27. Lisa Sicard

    H Matthew I love how you show us in the post how it is supposed to be done in plain easy to read language and with the graphics provided. Do you think table of contents make a difference now too? I see so many blogs with them today.
    Thank you!

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 2nd, 2019 at 5:04 am

      Hey Lisa – yes after some testing I found table of contents to be good for both users and SEO so I implemented it across most of my articles.

  28. Sameer

    Nice and Interesting, thank you Matthew for such type of article. Now definitely I ll check before post

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 2nd, 2019 at 5:05 am

      Hey Sameer – I hope you can use these factors to your SEO advantage :)

  29. Jonathan Nishikawa

    Always high quality, clear, concise and full of value your posts are Matthew.

    • Matthew Woodward
      October 2nd, 2019 at 5:06 am

      Thanks very much Jonathan – I certainly try to make them so

  30. sasirdd

    Your explanations of this stuff are the best on the web about SEO. Thanks so much, I always learn something new from these tutorials
    The amazing article was written over there,

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 21st, 2019 at 4:22 am

      Wow thanks! Glad to hear it :)

  31. Andreea

    It’s very helpful, thank you a lot! I’d share it but I don’t want many people know these awesome tricks haha.

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 14th, 2019 at 5:02 am

      Haha thanks Andreea!

  32. Imtiaz

    very nice and good post

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 12th, 2019 at 1:48 am

      I hope you can get working on the checklist right away!

  33. Roslia santamaria

    Very interesting! It looks extremely good! You’re doing a great job, Keep it. Thanks for sharing such amazing information and knowledge actually we are looking for this information since long time.

    • Matthew Woodward
      September 3rd, 2019 at 2:28 am

      Hey Roslia, glad you found what you’ve been looking for.

  34. Andreas Jorge

    Matthew, I think I speak for EVERYONE when I say… I can’t tell you how thankful I am that you share all of this information with us. I’m still in the incipient stages of my site, it’s currently under construction by a company that I trust to do a good job. But I’m reading up on your blog and all of your points on a daily basis to prepare myself for when it’s live.

    Before I gain full control of my website and have it up and running, what sort of work can I do in the meantime to really make sure things are ready to roll? Any help would be much appreciated as I want to work on my site, but it’s not ready yet.

    • Matthew Woodward
      August 27th, 2019 at 2:47 am

      Hey Andreas, I would recommend you get to know your audience, live where they live and spend time helping them. This could be forums like Quora or on social media.

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