SEO (search engine optimization) involves a range of strategies that fall into two major categories: on-page and off-page.
On-page optimization is the practice of optimizing your web pages to ensure that it follows search engine best practices, improve its ranking for related key terms in search engine results pages (SERP) for greater visibility, and earn organic traffic. This includes optimizing your metadata (title tags, descriptions, header tags, and alt tags), improving site speed, fixing internal errors (404 errors, non-canonical pages, sitemap issues, etc.), internal linking, and updating your sitemap.
Off-page optimization, on the other hand, leans more towards external factors that affect a site’s authority such as link acquisition. Link building, the process of acquiring backlinks, is the digital way of getting referrals. Whenever you acquire a high authority link from a credible website, it almost instantaneously boosts your site’s authority (or at least helps it move a notch above your competitor).
But as compared to on-page, there’s a risk that comes with off-page due to its nature – it’s coming from a third-party website of which you have no control. If that site gets flagged by a Google algorithm update, or if you gain a link from shady websites, you can lose authority. As we’ve mentioned, link building works as a referral. If you get referred to by a site that promotes porn or spam, your reputation gets tainted.
And besides, no amount of off-page efforts can fix the damage of having a poorly optimized website. The number of links you’ve gained is just one of the many factors that search engines like Google considers. Without a good internal structure, it’s still a struggle to get your site to perform at its best over competitors organically.
Why On-page Optimization Important
On-page optimization helps search engines analyze your website and its content so they can identify if your pages are relevant to users’ queries.
Google’s algorithm is designed to deliver results that cater to their users’ search intent. They constantly update their technology, making it smarter, enabling it to understand user behavior better, and meet their needs. It just makes sense that as the Google algorithm develops, so should your website.
Just recently, we’ve had the opportunity to work with USA Firebowls – an upcoming business in Murrieta, CA that offers hand-crafted swimming pool fire bowls and accessories. From the ground up, we’ve helped USA Firebowls turn an idea into a brand.
Our design department helped develop their brand guidelines, logo, and graphics. Afterwhich, our web development team took over and created a WordPress website with eCommerce functionality including the custom bowl builder, a product database, and custom shipping rules.
Alongside its development, the SEO team has dipped their toes into the waters and have started optimization efforts before the launch to ensure best practices are implemented. SEO campaign officially kicked off August 2020 but after some time with another SEO company, we were asked to completely take over optimization efforts in March 2021.
We’ve implemented the following:
- Implemented 301 redirects for crawl anomalies found in Google Search Console – as older content pages and products were replaced by new ones, there was a glut of abandoned pages. We inspected each page to ensure that proper redirects were in place for 404 pages.
- Reviewed crawl blocked pages – we inspected the page relevance and improved indexing for relevant pages.
- Updated meta descriptions – we’ve provided missing meta descriptions, optimized those that exceeded character count, and created unique ones for duplicate pages.
- Added missing Alt Tags for Images – Google can’t read images; therefore, having an optimized alt tag can help bots identify what the image is about. This also is important for accessibility purposes.
- Improved pagination handling – reduced crawl budget and prevented search engines from indexing irrelevant content.
The main challenge with USA Firebowls is that they’re not getting enough traffic to the site. Through on-page optimization efforts including fixing errors and adding content, we’ve managed to increase organic clicks by 49% in the last 3 months compared to the previous period, and organic impressions increased by 25.48%.
This is clear evidence of how important on-page optimization is even before you start thinking of off-page. You want to impress Google right off the bat. If your site does not follow SEO guidelines and fails to meet Google standards, then it would be difficult if not impossible to gain visibility where you need it.
Quick On-page SEO Checklist 2021
From the SEO basics to must-knows, this quick on-page checklist can help you unleash your site’s full potential on search. Here’s what you need to check to ensure your website is optimized for Google, Bing, and other search engines.
On-page Optimization Checklist
- Setup Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools
- Setup Google Analytics
- Generate and submit your sitemap to Search Console
- Create a Robots.txt file that allows crawlers to access your website’s most relevant pages
- Check if your site is indexed
- Make sure your website is secure by using HTTPS
- Check Search Console for manual actions
- Ensure your website is responsive and mobile-friendly
- Check your site speed
- Inspect for any crawl errors/anomalies and fix them
- Identify and fix broken links
- Check canonical tags
- Add structured data (Schema)
- Fix duplicate, missing, and truncated meta tags, header tags (h1, h2)
- Optimize images and add alt tags
- Check on keyword density and inspect for cannibalization
Work through these points, compare them against your site, fix issues, and maximize opportunities where you can. While there is no one checklist to ensure SEO success but to outrank competition; you need to at least cover most of these points.