On-Page SEO Guidelines

 

I’m often asked how to best optimize blog articles for on-page SEO, so I thought I’d send the guidelines we send to our writers.

How to Optimize Blog Articles for On-Page SEO

Every article you publish should always have a focus keyword to get the most out of your SEO.  In this article, we’ll review best practices for on-page SEO.

 

Primary Keyword

The primary keyword should appear in the…

 

  • URL slug (Example” For the article How to Compost for Beginners, the URL might be www.website.com/how-to-compost.  /how-to-compost is the URL slug.)

 

  • Meta Title (Title Tag)

 

A meta(page) title  is an HTML element that specifies the title of a web page.Every article gets two titles—the meta title and the on-page title (H1). These two titles can be exactly the same.

 

    1. Meta Titles should not be over 48 characters long. You can test here: https://technicalseo.com/seo-tools/google-serp-simulator/
    2. Where possible…
      1. Start the meta title tag with your primary keyword.
      2. Add modifiers to your meta titles.  Read more about title modifiers.
    3. For existing articles, you can edit the meta-title for SEO purposes. For instance, to include primary and other keywords if they were not included.  
      1. For example:
        • KW: Workflow Automation.  
        • Existing Meta Title: Would you like to Automate your Workflows?
        • New Meta Title: Leverage Workflow Automation to Improve Productivity

 

  • Meta description

 

      1. Up to 230 character description of the article. Please include the primary keyword as close to the beginning of the meta description.  If you were given LSI keywords, please also include one or two (making sure it’s natural, readable, and attractive to readers).  
        1. Example meta description:
          • KW: advanced task management tool
          • Description: With Gryffin, you can set up an advanced task management tool to track projects, tasks, and deadlines.

 

  • The first heading of your article is the title

 

      1. This should be an H1 heading!

 

  • First paragraph

 

      1. When you start your article, you should include the keyword in the first paragraph of your article, ideally within the first 100 words.

 

  • Anchor text

 

    1. Please include the primary keyword in at least one outbound link (that is, a link to another webpage or website).
      1. Example anchor text:
        • KW: on page seo best practices
        • Outbound anchor: Many writers struggle to use on page seo best practices when developing content for websites.  

LSI Keywords

LSI keywords (Latent Semantic Indexing), are related or supportive keywords.  If the primary keyword of a page is “Project Management”, then potential LSI keywords could be “advanced project management tool”, “Project Management tools for writers”, “project management software for teams”, etc.  Essentially, these words are relevant to the primary term and help Google further understand context.

  1. All LSI keywords should be incorporated naturally into the article.
  2. Subtitles should go in H2 headings. These subtitles should include related keywords, so even though you’re answering the question, there is more related info in your articles.
    1. Example of H2 heading:
      • KW: project management
      • LSI keywords: how to pick a project management tool, project management tool for writers
      • Title: The best project management tool for writers
      • H1: The best project management tool for writers
      • H2: How to pick a project management tool
    2. Please leave a space before and after every H2 heading, so that the blog does not look cramped.

Content Formatting

 

  • Be succinct—keep your paragraphs short and your sentences shorter.  People don’t like to read anymore – they SCAN. Make your content easy for people to read quickly.  

 

 

  • Avoid giant walls of text, and give information in short micro paragraphs and succinct sentences. We know this can be counter-intuitive, as we are taught to have 3-4 sentences at least in a paragraph.  However, new research indicates that on the internet, people SCAN and prefer short paragraphs that are fast and easy to read and scan.

 

 

 

  • Utilize Lists:

 

    1. To help keep content short and succinct, try using bullet points often.
      1. Example: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ketogenic-diet-101#faq
      2. This article is mostly formatted as Header + Bullet List, Header + Bullet List, etc. Even though it doesn’t have many images to break it up, it is still very easy to read and digest.
    1. Here is another example featuring a numbered list. Aim for at least 6 items, as Google may grab this content for a featured snippet:

      https://learn.eartheasy.com/guides/composting/

 

 

  • List Do’s and Do Not’s

 

      1. While lists are great, there are some formatting options that exist in Google docs that do not translate well to the web!
        1. DO use Google doc’s own bullet point formatting. The bullet points below just utilize indents and spaces, which is incorrect:

 

    Bullet point one

    Bullet point one

        1. Do not add periods at the end of a bullet point.  
        1. Do not use more than one layer (aka, this text is three layers deep, 1., c., i., 2. — do not go beyond the initial numbers or bullet points).
        1. Do not put multiple paragraphs under one bullet point. For example, if you decide to make a paragraph break in the middle of a bullet point…

…it would look like this. This formatting can be achieved, but it looks terrible and does not do well for mobile responsive design. So don’t do it! This text should be another bullet point.

 

  • Reading Level

 

    1. Keep the language at a 7th-grade reading level.  The best content is easy to read and understand, not dense and impregnable.

 

  • Bold key phrases throughout your article. This article has some great examples!  Also note, however, this is a guide, not an article. You can use it sparingly, one bold per section, and don’t bold anything longer than a line.

 

Example: https://blog.brilliance.com/diamonds/how-are-melee-diamonds-cut

Internal Links

 

  • Add 2-3 internal links to other relevant pages on the client’s site. If you are creating a blog post for healthline.com, find 2-3 other articles on healthline.com relevant to the one you’re writing and include links to those 2-3 pages.   

 

 

  • Please keep your hyperlinked text (“anchor text”) short. Do not link whole sentences—3-4 words at most. As mentioned above, ideally, one of these internal links should be the primary keyword.  

 

External Links

 

  • On average, you should include 2-3 external links citing authoritative sources.  If you use the Moz chrome extension, check that the pages you’re linking to have a DA of at least 50.

 

 

  • Where relevant, include an LSI keyword(s) in the anchor text for the outbound link.

 

Images

  1. Add multiple images for each article, depending on the final word count:
    1. 500-700 words: 1-2 images
    2. 750-1000 words: 2-3 images
    3. 1000-1500 words: 3-4 images
    4. 1500-2000 words: 4-5 images
  2. There should always be one image at the top of the article (the featured image). The rest of the images should be placed evenly throughout the article, where they will be added once the site goes live.
    1. On selecting images:
      1. Always use landscape images.
      2. Always use high-quality, editorial photos.

 

  • Do not use vector images

 

      1. Do not use images that are floating on a white background.
      2. Do not use images that have Lorem Ipsum text in them.
      3. Do not use images that are poorly edited.

 

EXAMPLE TEMPLATE

 

URL slug:

Primary Keyword:

LSI Keywords:

Meta Title:

Meta Description:

Primary KEYWORD

 

Add an image at the top, with the keyword in the alt text.

 

A paragraph with your <keyword> at the beginning.  Include at least 2 external citations with the keyword in the anchor text.

 

Add bullet points related to the topic of the primary keyword, where you discuss:

 

  • Point 1
  • Point 2
  • Point 3
  • Point 4
  • Point 5
  • Point 6

Heading

A section of text discussing the main topic. If you’ve been provided LSI keywords, the 1st keyword would be included here.

 

It would also be included in the H2, and the alt text of the image you’ll place in this section.

 

Include at least 1 external or internal citation.

Heading

Another section. Again, if you have LSI keywords, the 2nd LSI keyword would be optimized here.

 

  • Don’t forget to include bullet point lists.
  • They don’t have to be long.
  • But it does help make articles readable!

 

Include at least 1 external or internal citation.

Sub-heading

You can also break down a topic by using H3 sub-headings.

 

This may be a better formatting option if your “bullet points” are too long or need to be multiple paragraphs. You can always put a number in front of the heading text. For example…

2. Sub-heading

This is a better way to format if your bullet point list text is too long.

 

It’s also good if your article has a number in the title (although, if it is a listicle, you’d want the list to be at a higher level of Heading, H2s most likely).

3. Sub-heading

Thank you for joining our Ted Talk.  

Heading

You only need to use another H1 if the article is in very distinct sections. Otherwise, you can use that first H1 and then stick to H2s after that.

Conclusion Heading

Always, always add a conclusion to your article! It doesn’t have to be long, but please include some sort of call to action. (This is a great spot to add another internal link!)

 

This has been a long guide, but you made it to the end! Congrats.