Seo Step By Step Guid
July 19, 2021
by Jason

Your SEO Step By Step Guide 2021
(Checklist For Super Easy SEO Success)

On Page SEO Checklist - SEO Step By Step Guide

Okay, so what do we mean we we talk about On-Page Optimization?

On Page SEO Optimization is everything we do to help search engines understand our content, what our content includes, it's quality and if it is a good fit for people’s queries.   
Why is it important that search engines know what our content is about? Because that's the only way people find your pages. The more relevant your content, the more often search engines will direct people to your page and not your competitions.

1. Start With Keywords & URL Structure

The reason that we start with a keyword optimised URL, rather than the main "meat" of the posting is because your URL is what Google and the other search engines "see" before anything else.  

Note:  for the sake of your reading comfort and my typing fingers I will use Google as a reference to all search engines.  So if I mention Google, please read it as me meaning Google plus Bing, plus Yandex plus all of the others.

The first action in the SEO Step by Step Guide is to include your keyword in your URL, and preferably at the very start of the URL. Doing this sends Google a direct and very clear message: "This is what my content is about"

Let's use this post as the example.  You can see the URL slug is /seo-step-by-step-guide/.   Google straight away can see the content will include SEO, a guide and delivered step by step.

Many website owners don't know about the SLUG / KEYWORD / TITLE match technique.  Some figure it out months or years later.  Others never do.  Their website sits using plain permalink settings that look something like "https://example.com/?=123"

The problem with using plain permalink URLs is they tell Google absolutely nothing about the content on the page.  

A related and potentially bigger problem is website age.  Over time other sites may start linking to your content.  These are known as "backlinks" and would normally be a cause for celebration, however if you are using a plain permalink and want to change to the SEO preferred slug/keyword/title URL you would loose the backlink and any generated link juice.

SEO Step by Step Guide Tip 1 - Set "/post-name/" permalinks immediately, and add the target keyword to the URL.

2. Keep Your URLs Short & Clear

While you may consider cramming your URL with as many keyword combinations as possible please don't!  You won't gain more rank juice. You are more likely to get positive attention from Google when your URL keyword gives a clear signal about your contents topic. 

Plus Research​ done by RadiumOne, suggests that shorter URLs often rank faster and rank better than posts with longer URLs.

Let's see what we mean by using this post and generating the URL Slug from the h1 Title 

"Your SEO Step by Step Guide 2021 (Checklist For Super Easy SEO Success)"

www.jasonbaigent.com/SEO-step-by-step-guide    GOOD

This URL wins the prize, and hopefully the traffic,  as it follows 3 golden SEO rules.  

Short (less than 70 characters), 

Uses keyword 

Matches the keyword element in the title. - Your SEO Step by Step Guide 2021 (Checklist For Super Easy SEO Success)

www.jasonbaigent.com/SEO-step-by-step-guide-2021-checklist-for-super-easy-seo-success    BORDERLINE

Often bloggers try to use the full H1 title in their URL. While it is accepted a URL matching the H1 title and keyword is positive, if it is purely repeated word for word with 100+ characters it makes the URL look untidy, unwieldy and spammy!

Stick with the short - You still match your H1 Title using the start of the slug ie SEO Step by Step Guide 

www.jasonbaigent.com/blog/?=238464=UTM#urh3akw73657    NASTY! 

Noone wins with these URLs.  Google doesn't know what the content is about and neither do the people searching online.  It doesn't matter how fantastic the content is, as no-one is likely ever to see it!  Plus these URLs run the risk of doing more damage than good. 

You can break some servers and crawlers using "unsafe characters" in URLs if not encoded i.e. {  }     ^ ~  ` and if you use # then you may find the hash creates seperate unique content or might send your reader to a linked navigation element on the page.

  • Currently the recommended URL length is between 60-70 characters.  This doesn't mean that Google will ignore them if they are longer, in fact a short URL is preferred by humans and is what they choose to click and share.  Shorter links with clear informative keywords are much more likely to be selected, visited and shared by web searchers than any other URL combination.  

    And finally always stick with Lowe case URLs.  You can use Upper and Lower case in URLS and you can use spaces rather than hyphens.  That work 95% of the time.  However  5% of the time www.site.com/abcDEF/ and www.site.com/ABCdef/ will go to 2 different addresses (meaning 1 will be a broken link.  

    Using www.site.com/here is my link will work and send traffic to the right place but looks unattractive as it renders on the screen link as www.site.com/here%20is%20my%20link.  I'm sure you've seen those %20 before.  They are a gap.  so my suggestion for keeping your links clean and clickable is lowercase and hyphen, ie www.site.com/here-is-my-link/

SEO Step by Step Guide Tip 2 -  Less Than 70 Characters & Matched With Title (H1) For Maximum Impact!

3. Add Your Keyword To Your H1 Title Tag

There has been a lot of discussion about the best use of keywords and title tag combinations among SEOs and content specialists for years.  We include it at number 3 in the SEO Step by step guide because what is agreed on by all the experts is that Title Tags are one of the most important and powerful ranking features of all On-Page SEO strategies.  

The title tag is the first thing people see of your content when searching on Google

Seo Step By Step Guide - Title Tags

That is why you should include your keyword in your title tag.  It gives Google and online searchers the best possible understanding of your content and it give you the best possible opportunity for someone to click on your URL link!

If you are using WordPress for your website, there are a number of SEO plugins that make this a lot easier.  I use RankMath Pro.  Others include Yoast, All In One SEO etc.  Whatever option you choose it makes adding a keyword, your title tag and structured URL easy!  

Seo Step By Step Guide - Keywords In Title Tags

Title Tag and Length

Ideally you want to keep the length of your title under 70 characters. However, what any people don't realise, and what is most important is not number of characters but the pixel width.  It's just a easier way to "best guess" pixel width.

However it's not an exact science, some fonts and letters are wider and others narrower. So it may be you can get any with 72 someday and only 66 on others!

The SEO plugins mentioned above such, like RankMath Pro, calculate it for you.  If you don't have a plugin no need for panic.  Stick to 70 Characters and you'll be fine!

When you start to draft your title try to have your keyword at the start.   There are some SEO's who argue for placing the keyword anywhere in the title and others who say it is better at the end of the title.   But of the split testing I have done, my posts rank consistently better when the keyword is placed at the front of the title.

Of course, as with all strategies in our SEO Step By Step Guide, make sure it is human friendly to read.  If placing the keyword at the start makes the title confused or clumsy then it's better using it elsewhere in the title.  You want your title to be human friendly above everything else!

Title tags should also be unique for every single title you write.  Always keep in mind as you are crafting your SEO titles the objective is for every URL on your website to have a unique title tag that informs what content to expect on the page.

SEO Step by Step Guide Tip 3 -  Titles Should Be 65-70 characters maximum (prior to this the maximum was 60!) 

4. Optimize For Organic Traffic - Focus On CTR

The next in our On-Page SEO step by step guide is to optimize the title tag for high CTR.  

CTR stands for  "Click Through Rate".  This simply means the number of times someone clicks your link and visits your page. 

The more optimized your title is, the more people will choose to visit your page than the others offered.  If this happens then your title and URL are doing the business and are well optimized for CTR.

The CTR tells Google your page is probably providing people with better answers, ideas or solutions than the other sites listed on the same search results page. Good CTR comes with its own reward, because Google starts to offer your page to more people seeking similar solutions.  

This is how your page rank increases.  The better your CTR the more likely it is you'll be on the front page for your keyword search term.  The goal is for your content to be Number 1 on Page 1 when searching for your keyword.

This is our organic clickthrough rate (CTR).  Your CTR score equates to the percentage of people who actually click your link divided by the total of people who see it.

This is the reason you need human friendly terms.  Your keyword tells searchers what topic to expect in your content. But that alone is not enough.  You need a title tag that is crafted to catch people eyes, to entice them, to tease them and to make sure it is so compelling that they have no choice but to click your link before all others.  

How To Optimize Titles For CTR.

First, check out the competition...

Head to Google an do a search for your chosen keyword.  Then do a search for the title tag you are considering using.  Why can you see?  Which is most appealing? Which would you choose to click?

Then Do This
Make Yours Better!
Use Active Voice
Write In The Second Person
Add Emotive Words
Use Power Words
Numbers, Brackets, parentheses

A Great Tool To Check Your Title Tag Optimization - SEO Step By Step Guide Tip!

There is any even easier way to test your title tag.  This handy tool includes analysis of your keyword, how clickable the enticement and compares you to the competition!  Best of all it has a free plan with low cost upgrades.  It is CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer.

Two Scores Are Generated When You Add Your Title

The headline score - in this example you can see my initial score is 87 for how clickable it is (the chart to the right show my title compared to current top rated posts of competitors.

The second score is Overall Optimization - 76 (so I have some work to do!)

Coschedule's Headline Analyzer

CTR Optimization Check

Currently my headline score (we call title tag for SEO purposes) is 87 

The list below my score is the current top competition in the Search Results on July 17th 2021.

You can see the top ranking post is valued at 77 points.  

In the Apps logic my title tag scores 87 so I should see better CTR and get more site visits than the current Number 1 post.  

Watch this space...

I will report back to update you on results!


Coschedule's Competitor Headline Analyzer

SEO Step by Step Guide Tip 4 -  Use CoSchedule's Headline Analyzer To Compare Title Tags With Your Competitors

5. Use The Keyword In Your Meta Description And Make It Enticing

We know that the content used in our post or page meta description no longer is used as a ranking signal by the Search Engines.

  1. However, it is used as a click motivator for the humans doing the searching, and that most definitely is a factor that influences your page rank! 

    Therefore your meta description, or post excerpt, should still remain firmly a focus for your On Page SEO Optimization.  Make it enticing and compelling, character limited  description that makes fingers twitch and want to click.  This enticement factor along with a clear and well optimised keyword will enhance your CTR.

    It is number 5 in the SEO Step by Step Guide because we know Google pays attention to the keyword being in the meta description.  How do we know this? Do a Google search for your keyword and you will see on the results page that the keyword is highlighted in the meta description. So while search engines may not use the meta description as an independent factor for rank, it is used through it adding value to your potential CTR!

SEO Step by Step Guide Tip 5 -  Use Keyword In Your Meta Description And Craft It To Be Clickable And Compelling 

6. Use The Keyword In Your H1 Tag And Only Use It Once

Most, if not all, SEOs will agree that the use of h2 -h6 tags have little direct page rank influence.  However in the same way that the keyword used within your meta description can help online search traffic click through to you page, the use of h-tags helps to keep them there.

When used to structure your content, you can break large text chunks down into clear topics, key themes and a learning sequence.  These headings allow Google to understand in more detail the content of your post allowing them to direct much more targeted traffic to your site.

These same headings assist us humans as well.  When used to break up content into sensible stages and clear themes you make it more likely that the people who arrive on your page will stay there! 

After all your hard work with On Page SEO you really want to make sure you keep people on your page when they appear.  If visitors can scan your page and see straight away a sensible structure and salient points they will stay. And this is how your headings (h2-h6) definitely help SEO page rank and why they are at number 6 in our SEO Step by Step Guide.  

  1. If your content is complex, disorganised and lacks structure, you run the risk of people hitting the back button and moving to the next search result.  When people leave your site within a few seconds of arriving we call it a "Bounce".  

    A high bounce rate can seriously harm your page and site rank, because it sends Google the very clear message "Don't send people to this page, it doesn't offer what it claims"

    A point all SEOs do recommend is to include your primary keyword in your H1 heading tag. Often this is already done and we discussed it when we talked about title tag text.  WordPress has the h1 tags set to be the post title and page title.  If you have already written your title tag and you use WordPress go to Step 7.

    Other web builders, especially for landing pages and funnels allow you to choose the placement of your h1 tags.  In this case you should ensure you include your keyword in the h1 tag heading,  You must also only use h1 tags once on a page and it must be the first h tag used on the page.

Where To Use Header Tags

SEO Step by Step Guide Tip 6 -  Use keyword in the h1 tag and ensure it is the main headline and the first h-tag on the page.  

7. Use The Keyword In Your Content

  1. There is no hard and fast rule for how many times you should have your exact match keyword in the body copy of your page.  It really depends on the keyword itself and how long your final content posting will be.  Below are guidelines that have some flexibility but will keep your content safe and not stuffed!

    1) How naturally would the keyword be used in writing or in spoken conversation if you were NOT targeting it as a keyword.  If your keyword was "how I lost my belly fat" you could potentially get away with using exact match more often than if you were targeting "Belly Fat Buster 607b Vibration Plate".   The first is a naturally occurring statement and the second isn't.

    2) At least 3 times in content over 300 words long and then add it once again in for each new 300 words you add. Be sensible.  It depends on the term you are targeting.  Read your copy back to yourself.  If you start to cringe on the sentences that include your keyword so will you audience. Remember there are equally effective and much more natural sounding methods that still gets traffic searching for your keyword.

    The only rule I think is a must, but plenty will disagree, is that you should always use your exact keyword term in the first 100 words (which usually lands in the first, possibly second, paragraph).  This helps Google to confirm to its "computer-bot self"- Yes! I know what this content is about!

    The second rule is for every content post you publish you should be aiming for at least 1000 words.   Once upon a marketing time ago you could rate and get great traffic with 100 words on a URL.  But no longer! 100 words does not offer your readers value.  It offers a statement and probably a selling point or affiliate link.  

    It's false economy.  If you write short posts you will end up constantly having to write new posts because you'll need to re-target and build new traffic sources, plus your sales and return visits is likely to be nought! And the traffic you get will most likely bounce and definitely will not share your content socially.   

    When you write longer, more detailed and helpful content it will take more of your time initially, but you will be rewarded by evergreen posts, consistent rates of traffic and people who buy your products and share your content, which spreads your reach even wider.   

    The only posts that can get away with being less than 1000 words, and I almost hesitate because if its a good product and you want to stand out in the market place you'll need all 1000 words, are high volume eCommerce stores or highly specific and non-competitive niches - think "toothbrush bristles for elderly mountain goats".

SEO Step by Step Guide Tip 7 -  Use the keyword in your copy, with the first placement being within the first 100 words

8. Use Keyword Synonyms With Caution In Your Copy

  1. Yes, I said it.  While there absolutely is a place for synonyms in your copy, you run the risk of simply replacing keyword stuffing with synonym stuffing.  No matter how you dress it up stuffing is stuffing and stuffing only ever works for Turkeys.

    Use the same style of approach that you used for exact match keywords.  Not the number of uses, as that will absolutely make your post suffer.  It will at worst sound stuffed and at best like a broken record.

    Use a keyword, or a synonym for the keyword, when it makes sense and when it sounds natural.  Also be careful not to use auto generated content.  While synonyms can be added to spinners for rinse and repeat posts, they don't very sound natural. And some words have meanings best to left to chance, for example if you are targeting "Liquid Laxatives" your probably want to stick with that term rather than "watery bowel release".

    The takeaway is that Synonyms are an excellent method to boost your copy, to send clear content signals to Google and to boost your on page SEO without over using the same words time and again.  But they only help your site when they add value, sound natural and relate to your targeted keyword term.

SEO Step by Step Guide Tip 8 -  Use synonyms in your copy if they sound natural and cannot cause your keyword to be confused 

9. Use Latent Semantic Indexing Keywords (LSI-k) In Your Copy

  1. This strategy is implemented in a similar way to synonyms, as SEO signals that deliver the same message while replacing exact keyword terms to avoid content stuffing.  Latent Semantic Indexing, or LSI, is a safer method of replacing keywords while retaining the meaning and context of your targeted keyword term. 

    For example,  LSI keywords if you were targeting “London City Sightseeing" could include:

    • ●  The Tower of London

    • ●  Big Ben and Houses Of Parliament

    • ●  Buckingham Palace

    • ●  Westminster Abbey 

      LSI keywords help reduce the possibility of repetitive copy because they use thematically similar phrases that directly relate to your primary keyword.  They sound natural to both humans and search engines.  And because they are highly descriptive and directly relate to your theme they help Google understand what the content of your page is about.  Best of all because LSI's are thematically related to your keyword they clearly signal what your content is about with little risk of confusion.

      A gentle reminder, if you are targeting "London City Sightseeing" and choose to use the LSI "Big Ben" you still need to be mindful of how many times "Big Ben" appears on the page and ensure the copy reads and sounds natural and normal.

      There are a number of tools available to help you discover great LSI keywords.  One of the best is LSI Graph.  It has a free starter option and is simple to use.  Just enter your target keyword, press return and you'll get a list of LSI keywords to use in your copy.

SEO Step by Step Guide Tip 9 -  Use Latent Semantic Indexing keywords to boost SEO without risking penalty or content stuffing. 

10. Optimize Readability By Sequencing Your Content

  1. As we discussed earlier we want to avoid page bounce.  A bounce is traffic that was offered your page by search engines, you page was then selected by a visitor but the visitor left your site without engaging.  This behaviour sends a clear but negative signal to the search engine.  The message is "whatever is on this page is not of interest or not relevant".

    The opposite of this story is,  traffic arrives at your page and engages with your content, they stay longer than a few seconds and may even click through more pages of your site.  In this instance the signal sent to the search engine is that your content is relevant and what the searcher was looking for.

    So to make sure you are sending Google signals of relevance, the first step is to make sure your content is top quality and absolutely addresses the keyword targeted.  

    If you are confident that your content is excellent and addresses the keyword you need to optimize your copy readability.  This can be done by sequencing:

    • 1. Organize your content using headings and subheadings (remember to keep them logical for both human readers and bot brains)

      Major heading for Theme A- h2

      content

      subheading related to Theme A - h3

      content

      subheading related to Theme A - h3

      content

      major heading for Theme B - h2

      etc

      2.  Write in short sentences and break them up as short paragraph.

      3.   Include relevant and related rich media - images, video, audio and ensure you optimize this media

      4.  Link out to useful and relevant resources

      Moz are leaders in this space and have a fantastic visual representation for optimizing content on page in their post, A Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting And On Page SEO

SEO Step by Step Guide Tip 10 -  Visitors should be able to scan your copy in a few seconds, know what to expect and want to stay. 

11. Optimize Your Images Using Accurate Filenames And Alt Text

  1. When adding images to your copy remember that Google and other Search engines “see” these images by reading the ALT text and looking at the filename.  Some also look at the image description.

    Therefore a huge advantage for your On Page SEO is to always upload your image file with a filename that accurately describes the image and the reason it is being included.  

    In the example shown on the right you can see an image that was uploaded using just the filename it was provided with.  However once online and part of a post what help describing the content does the image provide Google with a filename "1-scaled-e1626853495669.jpg"?  

    That's right.... None!  So upload your images after you have renamed them!

    Then make sure you add detailed and accurate ALT text and image descriptions. These details offer our image description that help crawlers “see” the images in our content.

    Even more importantly, these fields are needed by real people who are searching online.

    The details you have added to your images will provide assistance to visitors who have requirements surrounding accessibility. 

    Visitors who are visually impaired or blind will most likely use special browsers that are designed to read images to them.  

    The image alt text and the file names you have added to your images will be what these browsers and readers use and what they will read.

    When you’re writing your alt text it is recommended that you stay within 125 characters.  Most important is that the descriptions you add accurately portray the visual and why the image is used in your content.

On Page Seo - Seo Step By Step Guide

SEO Step by Step Guide Tip 11 -  Use all image fields to accurately describe your image and why it has been included.

12. Internal Link Building And Anchor Text Strategy

  1. As you know link building is probably one of the most important factors of SEO and rank, if not the most important. However backlinks and link building are Off Page SEO and so we will look at external links in the Off Page SEO Post.   For this post all we need to know is that we encourage others to link to our site as it helps us to increase our page and site authority.

    In the same way we need to think about our internal linking strategy, which is most definitely On Page SEO and the final technique in our SEO Step by Step Guide.

    What we need to keep in mind when building intense links is the flow of authority.  Meaning when you create an internal link from PAGE 1 on your site to another page on your site (PAGE 2) some of the PAGE 1's authority passes to PAGE 2.

    For this reason it's a good idea to add internal links to other pages of your site.  But the same rule applies as for all SEO, if you add a link it needs to make sense.  If you built a link from an SEO page to a Goldfish adoption agency it makes no sense.  But if you linked from an SEO page to a page discussing optimising images it makes sense and would be link your visitors are likely to follow.

    For each post you publish try to add at lest 3 links to other relented posts on your site.

    Another important skill for internal link building is your anchor text.  Anchor text meaning the words on your page you have used to add the link.

    Types of Anchor Text

    Here are the various types of anchor text

    Exact-Match Anchor Text

    This is when your anchor text includes the title of the  page you want to link to, it is considered exact match anchor text.  For Internal linking you should try to include the keyword being targeted for your other page.  

    Let's say I have a post on my site about building an email list.  And I was writing a post about optimizing copy on pages to keep visitors on site. In the section that was describing the different techniques table to be used to keep people on site and engaged, I could refer to the give-away technique (often used in email list building).  And then I could say if they wanted to find out more about the giveaway technique thy should read my post "Design Subscriber Pulling Web Pages, plus 1 Free Gift To Seal The Deal".

    The words that I have linked to are the title of my email page and includes the target keyword of the email page.  This helps pass some authority to the 2nd page and keeps the authority on my site 

    Partial Anchor Text

    Use the same technique as the Exact Match but this time the link might not include the full title of the page being linked.  It might just include the targeted keyword of the page e.g. Read my post on how to Design Subscriber Pulling Web Pages to keep people on your page and build your On Page SEO.

    Image Anchors

    Image anchors can help with your CTR, however you need to make sure the image ALT text is the keyword being targeted.

    In this example  I could place an image of an optin form in the section of content where I was explaining the giveaway technique.  The image would be linked to my email page. The ALT text of the image would be the email pages target keyword. 

    Naked URLs

    In this case example there is no anchor text at all.  You instead are offering the direct link URL.

    example is - www.example.com/target-key-word-as-naked-url/

    Generic Anchor Text

    Try to avoid generic anchor text wherever possible.  Things like "click here" or "read post" don't give enough information about the topic of the link or the relevance to the reader.  This may lead to the visitor leaving your site.  

SEO Step by Step Guide Tip 12 -  Use internal links to build your authority and keep visitors on your site.

SEO Step By Step Guide Conclusion

  1. I hope this step by step guide to On Page SEO has helped your understanding of the methods and strategies you should use when optimising your content.  If you have any thoughts leave a comment below.  If you have other techniques that work for you and think others should use, please also add them to the comments section.  

    In the next post we will look specifically at Off Page SEO.  Hope to see you then! And lastly if you enjoyed this post please share with others!