SEO On-Page Guidelines


  1. SERP – Search Engine Ranking Page
  2. Click-Through-Rate – the percentage of users who saw your website in SERP and decided to open it (click) highly varies for different niches/keywords/intent.
  3. CMS – Content management system

General guidelines

  • Title: The title visible in Google SERP is ~60 characters OR 568 pixels, but it can be shorter or longer if required. According to Google’s latest (Feb 2021) data, titles could be longer. The limit shown here is a visible part of it. The title should also be interesting, attracting the reader’s attention. This does not mean using caps, hyperbolic phrases, or exclamation points. Instead, use powerful words that make an impact, such as “supercharge” rather than “improve.” in Google snippets. Longer titles will get truncated but still will provide <a href="" data-wpel-link="internal">SEO</a> value.
    • The title should be clear. 
    • The title should not be the same as H1. 
    • Primary keywords should be added closer to the beginning. 
    • It should be unique between site pages.
  • Meta description: Each page should have a meta description, which is also visible in Google SERP. Length approximately 160 characters OR 940 pixels.
    • Primary keywords should be added closer to the beginning. 
    • The description should be a short intro on what the page is about
    • The Description should not be copied from the article body (it should be unique)
    • It should be unique between site pages
  • H1: Each page should have one first-level heading (H1) with relevant keywords
    • Should not be a copy of <title>
    • Main keywords should be added closer to the beginning. 
    • It should be unique between site pages.
  • H2-H6: The article should have a few second and third-level headings (H2/H3) with relevant (secondary) keywords. The H2 tag is used to indicate the main sections of content; an adequately optimized page can have anywhere between 2 and 30 H2 tags, depending on how much content it contains. However, having at least two H2s that include the targeted keywords is crucial. An H3 indicates the subtopics within each H2 section and can be used if needed. Although keywords aren’t vital in H3 headings, they aren’t necessary. There is little SEO value in H4 and H6 headings. Excessive use may result in hard-to-read content. H4s are best used sparingly. If you are creating an article with deep research or a lot of information, consider using H4/H5/H6.
    • Headings should not be used in the site template/design. Use <div> or <span>
    • Headings should keep the strong hierarchy
      • h2->h3->h3->h4->h3->h4->h2 IS OK
      • h2->h3->h4->h3->h2->h4 is NOT OK (because you jump from H2 to H4 without H3 at the middle)
  • Table of contents: Articles having more than three headings/subheadings should have a “Table of Contents” at the beginning, which links to each header inside the article, helping a user to navigate inside a page
  • Images
    • It should have alt text with a keyword that describes the picture and adds SEO value to the page. Check “An alt decision tree
    • It should have a meaningful file name
      • share-data.jpg is OK
      • Photo01.png is NOT OK
      • Imagekadjaskldjaklsdl.jpg is NOT OK
  • Structured data: If the article replies to any question, has a video, or provides step-by-step instructions – consider using appropriate schema markup. You can check the Google Rich Results library with samples. Usually, it’s easily done with additional plugins added to your CMS. If not – ask your developers team to implement this feature. 
  • Links: A link is an essential part of on-page SEO, and there are two types of links: internal and external.
    • External: It is best to link to reputable, high-authority sites that relate to the topic you are writing about. These links direct users to other websites. In Brian Dean’s SEO techniques article, he recommends linking to at least three high-quality domains to enhance your page’s credibility in Google’s eyes. This improves your page’s credibility.
    • Internal: The purpose of internal links is to direct readers to other pages within your website. Therefore, your page should include a link to another page on your website and be linked to another page. The more links that use the targeted keyword as anchor text, the greater the chance of ranking well. Use keyword-rich anchor text specific to the linked page for a better user experience.

General tips

  • To help Google truncate your title and description, use Vertical Bar |  as a delimiter rather than commas, dashes, etc.
  • Google/SEO title and description should be human and differentiate from other google search results, as they directly influence Click-Through-Rate in Google SERP.
  • Use the Google Workspace (Paid) version of Google Docs for the content write-up. Google automatically fills words or sentences (suggesting them) while you type. Use those suggestions as much as possible because the algorithm for natural language processing used by Google Bot and suggestions in Google Docs is pretty much the same.

Quality Audit Criteria

It is thin content that fails to deliver on its promises to users and search engines. It is defined as unauthentic content and provides little value, including auto-generated copy, thin affiliate pages, scraped content, and doorway pages. Search engines typically rank a website higher for specific keywords when it has thin content but does not provide actual value to the user.

You should create trustworthy and valuable content to avoid having thin content. The information users find when searching for a keyword should provide the information they are looking for. A reliable source is accurate and delivers on what is stated in its headline. All “what” should be accompanied by “hows” that help the user better understand the information, even if this means linking to an external tool.

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Good content needs to be well-organized, scannable via headers, readable, and include images, bullets, and call-out quotes to make it easy to read. It is essential to remember that the best blog posts provide value to users and don’t contain any fluff, typically ranging between 1,500 and 2,400 words in length. They should, therefore, use only a few words for a small message.

A successful SEO strategy needs to develop trustworthy and valuable content. Thin content can hurt a website’s search engine rankings and lead to a poor user experience. Conversely, you can ensure that your website ranks higher in search engines and provides a better visitor experience by focusing on creating content that is valuable to users.

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Content organization

  • Content heading structure is consistent and parallel
  • Content is easy to scan (no walls of text)
  • Content flows from the most important to the least important
  • Page elements, such as images, videos, and links, are used appropriately and consistently

Plain language, grammar & punctuation

  • Content contains no jargon
  • Content uses active voice
  • Content follows web writing best practices
  • Content avoids nominalizations, redundancies, cliches, and long sentences

Content focus, efficiency, effectiveness, and context

  • Content is focused on one topic and purpose per page
  • Content conveys information succinctly. No info dumps
  • Content is easy to understand
  • The user has sufficient context to understand the page if the page can be landed on via natural search or browsing. The user does not need to have visited previous pages to understand the current one.


  • Content is up to date
  • Content contains the correct information

Voice and tone

  • Content meets brand guidelines
  • The tone is appropriate for the audience, purpose, and channel

Calls to action or next steps

  • Content contains clear calls to action or next steps
  • The user knows what to do next

Steps to perform a quality audit

  • Spell-Check. Copy all article text, and paste it to Microsoft Word or Google Docs document. It is the easiest way to check authors’ skills and responsibilities quickly.
  • Check advanced grammar. Try to use Grammarly. It works perfectly with the English language and helps identify many quality issues listed above.
  • Check your slug (URL). If the main keyword (cluster) is in the URL slug (at the beginning)?
  • Check page title and meta description. Usually, CMS adds a brand (site name) to the end of each title. Make sure it’s split by a vertical bar. You also want to be sure it will not get truncated in a way that isn’t readable or perhaps offensive.
  • Check external links. Make sure all of the links in your post work. I’ve seen millions of broken links on clients’ sites because they were typing URLs manually or copying part of the URL only. Most common errors include URLs with “www” instead of “https://www.” or URLs starting with whitespace or ending with a comma… Use the Chrome extension called Check My Links by Paul Livingstone.
  • Publish post and view live page. Unfortunately, there are a few things you cannot test with a non-live page.
  • Check social networks: Facebook and Twitter. Test with the Facebook debugger and Twitter’s tester to ensure that the headline, description, image looks as you expected. If needed, fix Open Graph tags
  • Check structured data. If you created or edited a page, check structured data. Has it been added or modified? Use the Structured Data testing tool
  • Check sitemaps
    1. Ensure that the page URL is added to the appropriate sitemap after creation.
    2. Ensure <lastmod> date is updated in the appropriate sitemap after adding or editing the page

Additional ideas for content

Creating text without knowing actual keywords is some lottery, as you don’t know what and how exactly people are searching for the information you write about.

Before creating use-case content, I highly recommend checking what Google suggests.

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How to use additional ideas

  • Pay attention that there are words marked in “bold” for “Searches related to.” Google thinks those words are closely connected to our query “backup business data,” so pay attention to using them inside text.
  • A good idea is to reply to questions as a separate paragraph inside the article, questions could be taken from the “People also ask” section.
  • Ideally, such research should be done from the PC in the same country where customers are expected to come from and with the configured English language in the browser.
  • This information will help to get ideas about what people are searching for in terms of the topic you are writing about. And include more relevant words/phrases/sentences/paragraphs to an article.

Google suggestions when you type the query

On page SEO checklist

“People also ask” section, usually somewhere in the middle of SERP.

On page SEO checklist

“People also search for” section, usually above pagination in Google SERP.

On page SEO checklist

“Searches related to” section, usually at the bottom of Google SERP.

On page SEO checklist

Useful tools/software

  1. FREE and PAID – Grammarly – was mentioned above. It has great options in the free version and much more in paid. Highly recommend giving it a try.
  2. FREE Hemingway Editor – One more tool to check text quality, readability
  3. FREE Copyscape – Useful tool to check if there is any similar content to what you have published or to check overtime if somebody has copied and used your content


When and where keywords can be placed?

Keywords and related keywords should appear naturally in the body every time, when you write quality content. However, there are some places that you need to make sure you place your keyword intentionally, including:

  1. Title of the page: This is the title of the page.
  2. SERP title: This is the title of the page.
  3. Ensure this is incorporated naturally in the first 100 words of the page.
  4. Page headers should contain at least two H2.
  5. Your page’s meta description appears at the top of the SERPs.
  6. Alt text for an image is the alternative text for the image.
  7. Save your images as more than just “Screenshot-1” or “chart.”.

What are on page SEO activities?

On-page SEO activities refer to SEO techniques you apply directly to your web pages to rank and appear higher on search engine results pages. Among them are title tags and meta descriptions, header tags, creating awesome content, internal links, URL structure, keyword use, image optimizations, mobile optimizations, speed optimization, and usability. By creating a user-friendly, optimized, and relevant on-page experience for both users and search engines, on-page SEO can drive more organic traffic and improve rankings.

What are the top 5 on page SEO factors?

Top 5 on page SEO factors: title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, content quality, and keywords. The on-page SEO process involves optimizing title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, content quality, internal links, URL structure, keyword usage, image optimization, mobile optimization, and speed.

What are top 10 on page SEO factors?

Top 10 on page SEO factors include title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, content quality, internal links, URL structure, keyword usage, image optimization, mobile optimization, and speed. A website’s on-page SEO is a way to earn more search engine traffic and rank higher.

How do you do on page SEO step by step?

A step-by-step guide for on-page SEO:

  1. Research keywords to figure out what to target
  2. Include target keywords in title tags, meta descriptions, header tags, and content
  3. Use internal links to help search engines understand your website’s structure and make it easier to navigate
  4. Make sure your site loads fast and is mobile-friendly
  5. Image file names and alt tags should be descriptive and optimized
  6. Your URL structure should be clear and organized
  7. Make your website’s content more search engine friendly with schema markup
  8. Use Google Analytics and the search console to track organic traffic and rankings for your website.
About the author

SEO Strategist with 16 years of experience