26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

Succeeding in organic search today requires optimizing for a combination of factors that search engines consider important – technical, on-page and off-page.

Over the years, we’ve seen increased focus toward off-page techniques – such as link building – and other technical elements.

But the reality is, off-page SEO won’t do much good if you don’t pay attention to the fundamentals – on-page SEO.

Smart SEO practitioners know that on-page optimization should be constantly prioritized.

And because the search landscape is ever-evolving, it’s important to make sure your on-page SEO knowledge is up to date.

In this post, we will cover what on-page SEO is, why it matters, and 10 of the most important on-page SEO considerations today.

What Is On-Page SEO?

On-page SEO (also known as on-site SEO) refers to the practice of optimizing web pages to improve a website’s search engine rankings and earn organic traffic.

In addition to publishing relevant, high-quality content, on-page SEO includes optimizing your headlines, HTML tags (title, meta, and header), and images. It also means making sure your website has a high level of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

It takes into account various aspects of the webpage that, when added together, will improve your website’s visibility in the search results.

Why On-Page SEO Is Important

On-page SEO is important because it helps search engines understand your website and its content, as well as identify whether it is relevant to a searcher’s query.

As search engines become more sophisticated, there is a greater focus toward relevance and semantics in search engine results pages (SERPs).

Google, with its plethora of complex algorithms, is now much better at:

  • Understanding what users are actually searching for when they type a query.
  • Delivering search results that meet user intent (informational, shopping, navigational).

Adapting to this development is essential, and you can do it by ensuring that your website and its content – both what is visible to users on your webpages (i.e., text, images, video, or audio) and elements that are only visible to search engines (i.e., HTML tags, structured data) – are well-optimized according to the latest best practices.

Additionally, you can’t simply ignore on-page SEO because you have more control when optimizing for on-site elements – as opposed to off-page SEO that consists of external signals (i.e., backlinks).

If you put effort into on-page strategies, you’ll see a boost in traffic and a rise in your search presence.

This guide will walk you through the most important elements of on-page SEO.

Paying close attention to these 10 areas will help improve your content and authority – and increase your rankings, traffic, and conversions.

26 On Page SEO Ranking Factors 2021

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:

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

On Page SEO Checklist

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 Rank Math 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:

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

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

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

03: Keyword In Your URL

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:

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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

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

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.

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

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.

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

Check this: Learn Google SEO Factors & Ranked 2021

ou 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.
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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.

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

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) to get a look at your reading level now

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

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.

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

Also read: How to Promote Your Blogand Hostgator $1

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.

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

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…

Google Adsense and Best plugin google adsense 2021 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 best plugin adsense 2021 terms.

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

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 How to Improve Your Keyword Rankings page

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

When I wrote a section about how keywords signal intent, it made sense to link to my on-page seo and off-page seo 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.

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.

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.

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

Alseo read: Mobile SEO Guide: Introduction & Optimization

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.

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

 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 pork roast”.

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

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

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.

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.

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

23: Length Of Content

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

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.

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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:

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

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.


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26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021

26 The Ultimate On Page SEO Checklist For 2021


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