On-page SEO

Search engine optimisation (SEO) work can be divided into two areas: on-page SEO and off-page SEO. Here's a checklist of the most important elements to keep in mind when working with on-page SEO.


What is On-page SEO?

On-page SEO (also called Onsite SEO and On-site search engine optimisation) is a term used to describe the SEO work that takes place on your website itself. It contrasts with off-page SEO, which mainly includes linkbuilding (which is an activity that takes place on other websites).

In this checklist, I'll go through a few things you need to know if you want to succeed with on-page SEO. If you haven't worked with SEO before, I recommend you start by reading our guide to SEO - it is more understandable than this On-page checklist, which is very technical in some points. You can also read more about how we work with search engine optimization and get a free copy of our new SEO book.

1) Keyword analysis

If you want to succeed with organic traffic from search engines, it's a good idea to start by doing a keyword analysis that highlights which keywords are used in your industry and are relevant to your business. It's a process that never ends because the world and user search behaviour is in constant transformation, but it's a vital guide for all the content you have and produce for your site if you want customers to find one. Read more about creating a keyword analysis.

2) Order in header

When it comes to a page's header, it is good practice that the website's so-called Meta Tags follow the hierarchical order. The order is as follows: Meta Title, Meta Description and Meta Keywords (the latter should not be used anymore).

3) Title Tag

A page's Title Tag is one of the most important parts of on-page optimization and therefore important for you to complete to the best of your ability. It is in the title that you should include the page's most important keywords (with the most important as far to the left of the title as possible) at approximately 512 pixels, or what equates to between 55-65 characters including spaces. If it gets too long, Google will automatically cut it off and you will see "...". Read more about title tags.

4) Meta Description

A Meta Description does not have the SEO impact of a Title Tag. However, it does determine whether users click on your page rather than your competitor's in the search results. It is in the Meta Description of the page that you should write a good and sellable text that matches the content of the page you are landing on. Read more about meta descriptions.

5) Meta Keywords

Meta Keywords are no longer something Google cares about, and they are therefore completely irrelevant in SEO terms. On the other hand, they can be important for internal functions of the website, such as the search function. Therefore, always ask whether you use Meta Keywords on your site and for what.

6) Headings (headings and subheadings)

Headings are the Internet's answer to headings and subheadings. As well as being important for the readability of a text, they also have an SEO impact, which is why it's a good idea to include your most important keywords in some of the headings.

Headings follow a hierarchy, with H1 being the first and most important - it is used as the heading of the page, not to be confused with a Title Tag. Next are H2, H3, H4, H5, H6 etc. It is good practice to follow the natural hierarchy of your text. Read more about headings.

7) Number of words on the page

Google likes words. The more the merrier, provided it's not indifferent text, but useful and well-written. According to Searchmetrics Ranking Factors report from 2015 the length of the content that ranks best has increased continuously. Failure to write good, unique copy can result in losing visibility for producing duplicate and thin content. Read more about texts and use of keywords.

8) Alt tags

An alt tag or alternative text is the text that appears when you move your mouse over an image. This text is usually filled in when uploading the image. The alt tag serves three purposes:

  1. This helps Google understand what the image shows.
  2. It is used when users perform image searches.
  3. It gives blind and partially sighted people a way to know what's in the picture.

Read more about image optimization. Image optimization is only an important part of your on-page SEO if you have many images on your website that you want to be visible in Google Image Search.

9) Hyphens vs. hyphens in URLs

When naming urls, aim to use hyphens rather than hyphens. The hyphen acts as a natural word divider, whereas the underscore does not. Too many hyphens can look spammy, though, so do it in moderation. Read more about URLs.

10) Relative URLs

There's nothing wrong with using relative URLs in internal links on a page, as long as you do it correctly. There can actually be advantages to it, including shorter HTML. A relative URL means that you omit the domain itself from the link. That is, instead of writing <a href="/en/”https://inboundcph.dk/seo-bureau/”/"> you simply write <a href="/en/”/seo-bureau/”/">.

11) External JavaScript and CSS

Make sure the most important code is the first thing search engine crawlers find. You can help them along by minimising the amount of code that is not highly necessary above the body text, and placing this code in an external file. Read more about scripts.

12) Sitemap

A website can have an HTML sitemap, and each subpage can refer to that sitemap in, for example, a footer. It is a good idea to create an XML sitemap, which is beneficial for search engines and their ability to crawl the whole page. Read more about sitemaps.

13) Navigation

Navigation on a website should be in text form, not in JavaScript or Flash which Google and other search engines cannot understand. If the top navigation is in the form of JavaScript or Flash, you should make sure to have the same navigation in text form at the bottom of the page.

14) Robots.txt

It's good to have a robots.txt file, but it's not critical for SEO - unless you have a robots file that blocks access to crawl the page. The robots.txt file is used to tell search engines which areas of the page you don't want indexed, such as your backend. Read more about robots.txt.

15) Web analytics

Web analytics is one of the cornerstones of a SEO strategy and for your On-page SEO. Without it, you can't know how your site is doing and how it's evolving. Therefore, make sure that web analytics (e.g. Google Analytics) are set up and done correctly. Have some clear goals from the start about what kind of data you need from your tools, and which enriches your work with useful information - otherwise you can quickly find yourself confused with a lot of data you don't know what to think about or react to.

16) Link strategy

Link building is one of the most important parts of an SEO strategy and it can be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve your desired positions on Google without strategic use of them. It's not just about the links you get from other sites, but very much about how you link internally on your site.

All links - those you receive and those you send out - should be as natural as possible. Quality and relevance are some of the most important parameters for whether you are rewarded or penalised for your link profile. Read more about linkbuilding. Link building is strictly speaking not part of On-page/On site SEO, but it is such an important discipline that I feel the need to mention it anyway.

17) Server configuration

Keep a regular eye on response errors such as 404, 302 etc. to keep your website up to date and user-friendly for those who visit you. Read more about server error.

18) Privacy and use of cookies

Telling your users how you use the data about their movements on your site is not only good manners, it is also part of the cookie rules for Danish websites. Some reports also indicate that having this information available is viewed positively by Google.

19) Static pages

Static pages are always preferable to dynamic URLs with parameters when it comes to SEO. A good solution to this can be to add canonical-tagsto make sure search engines understand which page you want indexed.

20) Static index pages

A website where the content on the front page is constantly changing can make it difficult for search engines to find out exactly what the page is about. It is therefore a good idea to always have parts of the front page that remain the same.

21) Text over image

It is always better to use text to explain things rather than pictures. Search engines can't read what's written on an image, and if you have, say, a single page where all your important messages are explained in images - it's as if you hadn't written it at all, at least for the search engines.

22) No spam tactics

Abusing or cheating Google's guidelines in order to improve your rankings will never be successful in the long run - and is therefore a waste of time. If you're ever in doubt about whether your tactics comply with the rules, read Google's own guideline.

23) Duplicate content

Duplicate content occurs when you have the same content on more than one url. Google cracks down on duplicate content, so try to avoid it at all costs. You can use Copyscape.com to check whether content on your page is duplicated elsewhere - on your own site or on someone else's. Read more about duplicate content.

24) Google Search Console

You should set up a Google Search Console account if you don't already have one. It gives you insight into how search engines see your site and tells you what errors it's seeing. It's also where you can see if your site received any penalties from Google. This article shows how to create an account.

25) Check for crawl errors

When a page has a crawl error, it means that Google has not been able to access the page. It is extremely important that you find the cause and the solution, and you can do this using Google Search Console via the crawl section.

26) Mobile-friendly site

As more and more people use their mobiles to browse online, it's increasingly important that your website works in a mobile version. Google Search Console can tell you how your site works on mobile, with specific suggestions for fixes. Read more about mobile-friendliness.

27) Penalties from Google

If Google has issued a penalty for your site, you will be able to see it in Google Search Console, which can be viewed under "Manual Actions Report" under "Search Traffic".

28) Check the site's evolution in terms of algorithm updates

Has your site been affected by one of Google's algorithm updates? You can find out by using Panguin Toolwhich, in short, keeps your traffic levels up to date with the algorithm updates.

29) speed optimisation

A website speed is one of the important technical factors. A slow site means poorer user experience, and that's the exact opposite of what Google wants to provide to their users. Read more about speed optimization.

This was the last item in my On-page checklist. Read further in the text about search engine optimization to get a complete and easy-to-understand overview of the many disciplines of SEO.


Henning Madsen

Founder, CEO & Head of SEO

Se forfatter

Get help with SEO

Do you need help with search engine optimisation (SEO), or are you considering whether it makes sense for your business to focus on SEO? Contact Henning Madsen for a no-obligation discussion about your SEO project.

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