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Complete On-Page SEO Checklist

Complete On-Page SEO Checklist

Contents:

SEO Basics - Complete On-Page SEO Checklist

On-Page SEO components form the foundation of your SEO endeavours, a well optimise site not only warms the heart but makes for an easier platform from which to improve organic visibility. Some components need to be optimised, some simply need to be present, and others should simply be implemented correctly if used.

In this guide we set out all of the on-page elements, we provide a brief description of the component, but all of these elements have been described in great detail in other guides. For more information on any of the topics below, please follow the links provided.

For the purpose of this guide we provide a brief description of either the issue or solution.
The table below summarises all of the components listed in this guide, you can download a spreadsheet version of this by clicking the link: Download Complete On-Page SEO Checklist.

Issue

Category

Importance

Best Practice Summary

Canonical Duplication

Duplicate Content & Canonicalization

High

Resolve issue with canonical tags.

Canonical Tags

Duplicate Content & Canonicalization

Medium

Add a canonical tag to all pages.

Cached URLs

Duplicate Content & Canonicalization

Low

Resolve issue with canonical tags.

External Website Duplication

Duplicate Content & Canonicalization

High

Contact site owner and request that they remove the duplicate content or add a canonical tag to the page where it exists.

Internal Website Duplication

Duplicate Content & Canonicalization

Medium

Produce unique content, implement canonical tags; remove duplicate pages from Google’s index.

HTTP / HTTPS Duplication

Duplicate Content & Canonicalization

Medium

Use canonical tags, control access through robots.txt and forced redirects.

Session ID Duplication

Duplicate Content & Canonicalization

Medium

Use cookies instead of session id’s, implement canonical tags.

Sub-Domain Duplication

Duplicate Content & Canonicalization

Medium

Use robots.txt to restrict user agent access, add nofollow and noindex meta tags, implement canonical tags, remove links to the sub-domain

Trailing Slashes

Duplicate Content & Canonicalization

Low

Force URL’s to use trailing slashes or not use them (based on preference) or implement canonical tags.

Uppercase & Lowercase Duplication

Duplicate Content & Canonicalization

Low

Do not use uppercase characters in URLs

Pagination

Duplicate Content & Canonicalization

Medium

Use rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags or a view all page with all sub pages having a canonical tag pointing to the view all page

Meta Descriptions

Meta Data

High

Be relevant, do not exceed maximum length, optimise for target keywords, ensure they are unique, create a strong sales message & CTA (Call to Action).

Page Titles

Meta Data

V High

Be relevant, do not exceed maximum length, optimise for target keywords, ensure they are unique.

Meta Robots

Meta Data

Low

Implement correctly and only where relevant.

Meta Keywords

Meta Data

V Low

Use sparingly, not essential, do not keyword stuff

GEO Tags

Meta Data

Low

Use to target geographical locations where relevant.

Open Graph Tags

Meta Data

Low

Use on relevant pages, ensure correct implementation to avoid errors.

XML Sitemaps

Sitemaps

V High

List all pages that you want to be indexed, set priority, change frequency and all other attributes for optimal performance, do not exceed recommended size (create multiple sitemaps where necessary)

HTML Sitemaps

Sitemaps

High

List all pages that you want to be indexed, reflect site architecture and structure within sitemap

Page Content (Text)

Content

V High

Create unique, engaging and relevant content to improve the user experience and optimise it to target keyword/s.

Header Tags

Content

Medium

Keep them relevant, keyword optimised and do use H tags for styling, head relevant sections of content with headers.

Image Optimisation

Content

Medium

Optimise the file name, alt tag and add mark-up data to increase visibility.

Video Optimisation

Content

Medium

Optimise the file name, alt tag and add mark-up data to increase visibility. Add transcripts, subtitles and avoid iFrames.

Breadcrumbs

Structured Data

Medium

Mark-up breadcrumb navigation with micro data to make the most out of them

Products

Structured Data

Medium

Mark-up products to improve their visibility in the SERPs

Video

Structured Data

Medium

Mark-up videos all videos on your site

Organisations

Structured Data

Low

Where relevant mark-up your organisational information with micro data

Schema.org

Structured Data

Medium

Apply micro data to webpages where relevant and useful to do so

Website Navigation

Navigation

High

Create easy to use website navigation, URL consistency, Navigation consistency, absolute URLs, optimise anchor text, avoid JS and Flash menus

Breadcrumbs

Navigation

Low

Use breadcrumb navigation!

Footer

Navigation

Medium

Avoid over optimisation, include links to relevant pages only, this is not a place to add your complete sitemap

Internal Links

Links

High

Use keyword rich anchor text, improve the user experience, assist in navigation of your web content

External Links

Links

Medium

Avoid using too many, link to trustworthy & relevant sites only, use nofollow tags where relevant.

Broken Links

Links

High

Fix links or use redirects

Best Practices

Best Practices

High

No 'one page websites'

Best Practices

High

Do not build one page websites

Favicons

Best Practices

V Low

Use a Favicon by creating a link to it on each page

Social Media Integration

Best Practices

Low

Social Sharing & Bookmarking Buttons, Social Media Account Links, Facebook Open graph tags, Twitter Cards

Eror Handling

Best Practices

Medium

Create custom error 404 pages

Website Design Types

Best Practices

High

Create websites that are accessible across a growing range of devices and screen sizes.

Mobile SEO and UX

Best Practices

High

Create websites that are accessible across a growing range of devices and screen sizes.

Redirections

Technical SEO

Medium

Use where necessary, avoid large numbers as this can affect site speed.

Robots.txt

Technical SEO

High

Control how your site is accessed based on what you want to be accessed.

Tracking

Technical SEO

V High

Track as much data as possible!

Page Speed

Technical SEO

High

Ensure page speed is not negatively effecting website performance

URL Structure

Technical SEO

Medium

Use logical consistent structures that reflect site hierarchy, avoid uppercase letters and random character strings, use keywords where relevant.

HTML & CSS

Technical SEO

Medium

Avoid / fix any HTML & CSS errors

Hidden Text

Technical SEO

Medium

Do not hide text

The ‘Importance’ column above is a broad indication of importance, this will vary depending on the scale of the problem but this should provide a good rule of thumb guide to on-site issues.

Duplicate Content & Canonicalization Issues

Google does not value duplicate content and as such any type of duplicate content or canonicalization issue could be limiting your organic visibility. These issues can range from simple to complex, small to all encompassing, and depending on the type of issue or scale of the problem the impact of this could be anything from negligible to extreme.

Cached URLs

A cached webpage is essentially a picture (or a saved version) of a webpage that has been stored by a web server as a backup or copy of the original. When a webpage is accessible from multiple URL’s as is the case with cached URLs this can cause a duplicate content problem.

Best Practice: Resolve issue with canonical tags.

Importance: Low

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to cached URLs.

Canonical Duplication

A canonical issue is characterised by; the same piece of content being accessible from multiple URLs. Where a page can be accessed from multiple URL’s, a risk emerges that Google will perceive these pages to be duplicates. This can also occur when a page contains some unique content but too much duplicate content; consequently Google can remove it from its index.

Best Practice: Resolve issue with canonical tags.

Importance: High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Canonical Duplication.

Canonical Tags

Canonical tags stipulate to search engines what the canonical URL (preferred URL) is for a page. For example; if a page can be accessed from several different URL’s, you will want to stipulate which of those you want to be shown in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPS).

Best Practice: Add a canonical tag to all pages.

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Canonical Tags.

External Website Duplication

External website content duplication can be one of the most frustrating and potentially litigious for of content duplication issues. This is where your website’s content has either; in part, or in its entirety been duplicated / copied and then uploaded to another website / webpage on the Internet.

Best Practice: Contact site owner and request that they remove the duplicate content or add a canonical tag to the page where it exist.

Importance: High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to External Website Duplication.

HTTP & HTTPS Duplication

HTTP / HTTPS Duplication, like almost all duplication issues, is characterised by content being accessible from more than a single URL. In the case of HTTP / HTTPS the content will be accessible by crawlers / bots and users from both a HTTP URL and a HTTPS URL.

Best Practice: Use canonical tags, control access through robots.txt and forced redirects.

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to HTTP & HTTPS Duplication.

Internal Website Duplication

Unlike External website content duplication this issue can be easily resolved by your own web admins. Internal Website Duplication refers to content that is duplicated within your own website.

Best Practice: Produce unique content, implement canonical tags, remove duplicate pages from Google’s index.

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Internal Website Duplication.

Session ID Duplication

A ‘session’ can be defined as the server-side storage of data that you want to keep throughout the user's interaction with the website.

Best Practice: Use cookies instead of session id’s, implement canonical tags.

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Session ID Duplication.

Sub-Domain Duplication

Sub domain duplication refers to the duplication of a website or pages of its content on a sub domain. Often this is the result of a development site being held temporarily on a sub domain.

Best Practice: Use robots.txt to restrict user agent access, add nofollow and noindex meta tags, implement canonical tags, remove links to the sub-domain

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Sub-Domain Duplication.

Trailing Slashes

A common issue on sites, especially those that remove the document type suffix (.html .aspx .php) from URL’s is that trailing slashes can be present at the end of a URL. If a webpage is accessible with and without the trailing slash, this could have a negative impact on your website’s content.

Best Practice: Force URL’s to use trailing slashes or not use them (based on preference) or implement canonical tags.

Importance: Low

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Trailing Slashes.

Uppercase & Lowercase

The URL to any webpage should be created in lowercase characters and should include no uppercase characters.

Best Practice: Do not use uppercase characters in URLs

Importance: Low

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Uppercase & Lowercase.

Pagination

Pagination strategies are requires when a single piece of content spans several pages / URLs and you need to tell Google to consolidate this content. Using rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags can hint to Google as to how this content is structured. It is also possible to have a ‘view all’ page, which contains all of the paginated content across multiple URLs into a single page.

Best Practice: Use rel=”next” and rel=”prev” tags or a view all page with all sub pages having a canonical tag pointing to the view all page

Importance: Low to Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Pagination.

Meta Data

Meta data is not visible to website users when on a website, but it can be shown in the SERPs in addition to providing ‘meta data’ about a page to search engines.

Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are your sales message to the world for a web page; they are an indirect ranking factor and a very powerful one. As such there is lots you can do to utilise your Meta descriptions to full advantage.

Best Practice: Be relevant, do not exceed maximum length, optimise for target keywords, ensure they are unique, create a strong sales message & CTA (Call to Action).

Importance: High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Meta Descriptions.

Page Titles

Title tags are arguably the single most important ranking factor that can be edited on page. The title tag can be seen in your Internet browser tab & also appears as the headline in your organic search listing.

Best Practice: Be relevant, do not exceed maximum length, optimise for target keywords, ensure they are unique.

Importance: V High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Page Titles.

Meta Robots

This sets / specifies crawler access at page level, allowing you to stipulate how the page should be crawled and indexed.

Best Practice: Implement correctly and only where relevant.

Importance: Low

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Meta Robots.

Meta Keywords

Meta keyword tags are no longer used by Google as a ranking factor, but they are used by Bing for the time being. Consequently they are a mostly redundant page component and one that has been highly abused by spam artists in the past.

Best Practice: Use sparingly, not essential, do not keyword stuff

Importance: V Low

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Meta Keywords.

GEO Tags

GEO tags enable Search Engines to determine the location that any given page targets; this is particularly useful on store location pages and for local businesses.

Best Practice: Use to target geographical locations where relevant.

Importance: Low

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to GEO Tags.

OG (Open Graph) Tags

The Open Graph (OG) protocol enables all web pages to become rich objects in the social graph. By implementing Open Graph meta tags on each page of the site it is possible to control how those pages appear in social media channels when shared.

Best Practice: Use on relevant pages, ensure correct implementation to avoid errors.
Importance: Low

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to OG (Open Graph) Tags.

Sitemaps

A website should have two types of sitemap and a minimum of one of each.

XML Sitemaps

XML sitemaps are vital for indexation by search engines, especially after a website migration has occurred having concise XML sitemaps allows search engines to identify the new site structure. XML sitemaps can and should be submitted to Google Webmaster Tools to help with indexing.

Best Practice: List all pages that you want to be indexed, set priority, change frequency and all other attributes for optimal performance, do not exceed recommended size (create multiple sitemaps where necessary)

Importance: V High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to XML Sitemaps.

HTML Sitemaps

A HTML Sitemap should contain a link to every page on the website that you want people to find. If however the site is particularly large it s often better to have several sitemaps broken into relevant sections / categories should be used to link (collectively) to every page on the site.

Best Practice: List all pages that you want to be indexed, reflect site architecture and structure within sitemap

Importance: High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to HTML Sitemaps.

Content

This is the very core of a website, it’s the reason people visit it and as such is unarguably the most important component of a website. Content comes in many forms, all of which can be optimised to improve organic visibility.

Page Content

The main purpose of Search Engine Optimised copy is to develop content that is relevant to the theme or subject of the site. For this reason, each page should be written around a single central theme.

Best Practice: Create unique, engaging and relevant content to improve the user experience and optimise it to target keyword/s.

Importance: V High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Page Content.

Header Tags (H1, H2, H3, etc)

Heading tags are used to reinforce a page’s most important theme, which is why keywords should be placed within heading tags. Search engine robots generally place the most weight on an H1 tag followed by H2, H3 and so on.

Best Practice: Keep them relevant, keyword optimised and do use H tags for styling, head relevant sections of content with headers.

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Header Tags (H1, H2, H3, etc).

Image Optimisation

Images are a great way to punctuate long content and enhance the site in addition to being intrinsic components of the look and feel of the site. Used in headers, menus, boarders, footers, hero images and many more locations, images like everything else need to be optimised.

Best Practice: Optimise the file name, alt tag and add mark-up data to increase visibility.

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Image Optimisation.

Video Optimisation

Video content has become hugely popular over the past five years, with around 35 hours of video being uploaded to YouTube every second and most companies producing it regularly. Like any web based content or resource it can be optimised for increase performance on the web.

Best Practice: Optimise the file name, alt tag and add mark-up data to increase visibility. Add transcripts, subtitles and avoid iframes.

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Video Optimisation.

Structured Data

Structured data allows you to mark up pages and objects on a page with code that defines attributes. This helps inform crawlers what something is about, whether its an event, a video, organisation, etc. In many cases Google and other Search Engines will be unable to determine exactly what some objects are, structured data allows us to provide this information in a format that they understand.

Breadcrumbs

Using structured data to mark-up breadcrumb navigation enhances the way pages appear within the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) which can positively affect (Click Through Rates) CTRs and thus rankings.

Best Practice: Mark-up breadcrumb navigation with micro data to make the most out of them

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Breadcrumbs.

Products

If your site is setup for eCommerce and sells products online, marking up those products with micro data can help Google to identify what those products are and a range of properties around them.

Best Practice: Mark-up products to improve their visibility in the SERPs

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Products.

Video

Google cannot determine the content of videos, so marking up your videos with micro data will enable Google to know more information about the video / movie on your site.

Best Practice: Mark-up videos all videos on your site

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Video.

Organisations

Almost every website belongs to an organization of some kind, whether it is a charity, business, educational institute, brand or government property. Schema can assist in telling Google what the different components of your organization are.

Best Practice: Where relevant mark-up your organisational information with micro data

Importance: Low

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Organisations.

Schema

Schema is the standard for mark-up data and is used to mark-up a huge range of components with attributes. Correct usage can help Google identify what your content is about with greater granularity than without Schema.

Best Practice: Apply micro data to webpages where relevant and useful to do so

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Schema.

Navigation

Navigation allow users to move around a website, finding what they need to find and this should be made as clear and easy as possible for them. This can also have a massive impact on PageRank and rankings.

Website Navigation

Website navigation should reflect the site’s structure and hierarchy promoting the most important pages and providing a great user experience to site visitors.

Best Practice: Create easy to use website navigation, URL consistency, Navigation consistency, absolute URLs, optimise anchor text, avoid JS and Flash menus

Importance: High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Website Navigation.

Breadcrumbs

‘Breadcrumbs’ are a navigation path that illustrates to the site visitors where they are within the website's hierarchical structure. This is useful for navigation to other relevant pages higher up in the hierarchy.

Best Practice: Use breadcrumb navigation!

Importance: Low

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Breadcrumbs.

Footer

The footer provides an opportunity for the site to link to internal website pages and primarily should be targeted towards improving the user experience. For example; links to the terms & conditions, sitemap, contact, privacy, and ‘find us’ pages are all valuable links to put into the footer for the user.

Best Practice: Avoid over optimisation, include links to relevant pages only, this is not a place to add your complete sitemap

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Footer.

Links

Internal links form the backbone of website navigation and allow PageRank to flow between webpages, as such it helps to determine the priority of pages on any website.

Internal Links

Internal links deliver PageRank and relevancy to target pages and are vital to internal website navigation, the user experience and also to demonstrate what the most important pages on a website are.

Best Practice: Use keyword rich anchor text, improve the user experience, assist in navigation of your web content

Importance: High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Internal Links.

External Links

External links or Outbound Links are links from within your site pointing to external domains (other websites) and are not to be confused with back links.

Best Practice: Avoid using too many, link to trustworthy & relevant sites only, use nofollow tags where relevant.

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to External Links.

Broken Links

Broken links are links to pages that do not exist or for some reason, or combination of reasons, are not accessible.

Best Practice: Fix links or use redirects

Importance: High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Broken Links.

Best Practices

There are several components that fall outside of other categories that we have grouped as ‘best practices’. These can all effect SEO performance or the user experience or both to some degree.

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to General Best Practices.

No ‘One Page Websites’

Some sites have been built to load all content onto a single URL; this is very poor practice and can significantly hamper organic visibility, as every target keyword will be targeted by just one page.

Best Practice: Do not build one page websites

Importance: High

Favicon

Favicons help to make the tab on which a website is being viewed stand out from other tabs; ideally it should contain the logo for your business. This is not an SEO ranking factor but is best practice.

Best Practice: Use a Favicon by creating a link to it on each page

Importance: V Low

Social Media Integration

Social media is more important than ever for many businesses, people expect to see links to your social channels and making it easy to share, like, etc helps you to reach new audiences. This is not an SEO ranking factor.

Best Practice: Social Sharing & Bookmarking Buttons, Social Media Account Links, Facebook Open graph tags, Twitter Cards

Importance: Low

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide on social media integration.

Error Handling

Error handling is only relevant once broken links come into play, as described in another article in the knowledge base. Handling these errors could be the difference between losing a user and keeping one.

Best Practice: Create custom error 404 pages

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Error Handling.

Website Design Types

Ensuring that a website is accessible from any device that could access it has meant that SEO’s need to understand the difference between RWD (Responsive Website Design) and AWD (Adaptive Website Design).

Best Practice: Create websites that are accessible across a growing range of devices and screen sizes.

Importance: High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Website Design Types.

Mobile SEO & UX

Nowadays there is a huge demand for mobile & tablet accessible content with most people now having smartphones and access to the Internet on them. In many niches more people access sites through mobile or tablet devices that through traditional desktop devices.

Best Practice: Create websites that are accessible across a growing range of devices and screen sizes.

Importance: High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Mobile SEO & UX.

Technical SEO

Technical considerations are plentiful and each one can have a very strong effect on a website if not managed properly.

Redirections

There are several different types of URL redirection available for web developers to implement and many more variants within each type.

Best Practice: Use where necessary, avoid large numbers as this can affect site speed.

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Redirections.

Robots.txt

'Robots' (also known as bots, crawlers and spiders), are programs that traverse the Web automatically in search of specified data. For example search engines like Google use them to index the content on websites.

Best Practice: Control how your site is accessed based on what you want to be accessed.

Importance: High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Robots.txt.

Tracking

Tracking is essential to any website that wants to monitor or improve performance. There are many solutions out there from free to paid which all facilitate this.

Best Practice: Track as much data as possible!

Importance: V High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Tracking.

Page Speed

Webpage speed and load times are direct ranking factors due to their impact on the user experience. Slow webpages can increase user frustration and can lead to lost leads, business, increased bounce rates, and in some cases data loss due to performance issues.

Best Practice: Ensure page speed is not negatively effecting website performance…

Importance: High

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to Page Speed.

URL Structure

Website URLs should be logical, consistent, in-line with the site structure & hierarchy, and relate to the page content. Hence you should reflect the site’s architecture within the site’s URL structure. This makes the site easier to crawl and helps build relevance between similar groups of content.

Best Practice: Use logical consistent structures that reflect site hierarchy, avoid uppercase letters and random character strings, use keywords where relevant.

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to URL Structure.

HTML & CSS

HTML & CSS errors can hinder crawlers, cause rendering problems in Internet browsers and can affect rankings if serious enough.

Best Practice: Avoid / fix any HTML & CSS errors

Importance: Medium

For more information on this topic, please follow the link to our guide to HTML & CSS.

Hidden Text

Hiding text with CSS or by any means is very bad practice and can be seen as a violation of Google’s guidelines. This (if detected) looks as though you are showing one thing to Google and another to users, this can lead to a loss of organic visibility and a penalty from Google.

Best Practice: Do not hide text

Importance: Medium

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