You’ve read thousands of SEO articles on the internet. You’ve digested countless tips and tricks for improving your website’s on-page optimization. You’ve even (over)paid that self-proclaimed “expert” to help you develop an SEO strategy that aligns with your business’ goals.
But after all of the research and spending and loss of sleep, it dawns on you: You haven’t actually gotten any where yet.
When it comes to SEO, when applied correctly, you get to dictate what each page of your site is going to explain to your audience and position yourself in front of your target marketplace. You also get to choose what keyword or search phrases will suit you best and focus on driving traffic to your site from your rank position for these search terms.
The difficult part, no doubt, is coming up with a method for organizing and tracking all of those various on-page SEO elements.
In the rest of this post, we’ll be using these tips as a guide to walk you through the process of your on-page SEO management, step by step.
Follow this On-Page Optimization Checklist
Step 1: Crawl Your Site
Start by getting an overview of all of the pages on your website that search engines have indexed. For FMS customers, we will take care of this for you. If you’re not using FMS, you can try using a free tool like Xenu’s link crawler.
Step 2: Do an SEO Audit and Define Your Site Architecture
Now that you have a basic index of your site, you’ll want to start organizing and prioritizing your web pages. You can start by defining where within your site architecture your existing pages currently sit.
Step 3: Update URLs, Page Titles, and Meta Descriptions
Review your current URLs, page titles, and page descriptions to see if they need updating.
The recommended length for page meta descriptions is 150 characters. Make sure you’re not too repetitive with keywords in this space. Ideally, your description will be a sentence that you could use to describe that page to a person in conversation, too.
Step 4: Establish a Value Proposition
A very important next step, which is often overlooked, is establishing a value proposition. The page itself should have a goal aside from just ranking for a particular term.
Step 5: Define Your Target Audience
You have the opportunity to define your page’s target audience. Is it a single buyer persona or multiple persons? Keep this person in mind as you optimize your site’s pages. (Remember, you are optimizing for humans, too — not just bots)
Step 6: Plan New Page Titles
Now that you’ve documented your existing page titles and have established value propositions and target audiences for each of your pages, write new page titles (if necessary) to reflect your findings. People usually follow the formula of “Keyword Phrase | Context.” The goal of the page title is to lay out the purpose of the page without being redundant.
Step 7: Add Your New Meta Description
Your meta description should be a short, declarative sentence that incorporates the same keyword as your page’s title. It should not have content verbatim as it appears on the page itself.
Step 8: Track Keywords and Topics for Each Page
Think of your target keyword as the designated topic for a particular page. Define just one topic per page — this allows you to go more in-depth and provide more detailed information about that topic. This also means that you are only optimizing for one keyword per page.
There are, of course, a few exceptions to this rule. Your homepage is a classic example. The goal of your homepage is to explain what your entire website is about, and thus you’ll need a few keywords to do that. Another exception is overview pages like services and product pages, which outline what all of your products and services may be.
Step 9: Review and Edit Page Content as Needed
Good content needs to be thorough, clear, and provide solutions. Be Engaging! Write for your target audience. Write about how you can help them. Compelling content is also error-free, so double check your spelling and grammar.
Aim to have at least 500 words per page, and format content to make it easier to read and digest with the use of headers and sub-headers.
Step 10: Incorporate Visual Content
Content can be more than just text, so think about what kind of visual content you can incorporate into a page (if it adds value and serves a purpose, of course).
Step 11: Link It Up
Incorporating a couple links throughout your pages can be very useful, but is something that’s easily overlooked.
Make sure that your anchor text includes more than just your keywords. The goal isn’t to stuff in as many keywords as possible, but to make it easy for people to navigate your site.
Step 12: Optimize for Conversions
If you’re also not optimizing your site to increase the number of leads, subscribers, and/or fans you’re attracting, you’re doing it wrong.
Remember that each page of your website presents a conversion opportunity. That means every page of your website should include at least one call-to-action (CTA), though many pages may have multiple CTAs. Be sure that your site has a mix of CTAs for different stages of the buying funnel — top of the funnel, middle of the funnel, and bottom of the funnel.
Also, as you add, edit, or update CTAs, be sure to note conversion rate changes.
Once you finalize your SEO plans, implement these changes on your website or pass them along to someone to implement for you. This will take time to complete, so aim to work on 5 to 10 pages per week.
SEO is not a get-ranked-fast service. Real SEO takes time and patience. It also has a price tag when applied by a professional. But if you’re serious about building your online presence and set realistic expectations from the get go the results will exceed your expectations.