7 Elements of a Perfectly SEO Optimized Blog Post (+Checklist)

onpage seo post
June 18, 2018 Leanne Wong 22 Comments

A perfectly optimised page is well structured in content and code to rank well on search engines.

Also known as on-page SEO, which optimises for both the reader and the search engine.

This helps develop every article on you publish SEO-friendly and to best match a given query.

In this post, I’ll break down the 7 most important elements of a perfectly optimised page for SEO.

Bonus Content: Download my On-Page SEO Checklist that’ll show you how to effectively leverage the strategies listed here to rank well on search engines.

ONPAGE SEO checklist

1. Title tag optimisation

Your title tag is the most important part of your page as it outlines what your page content is about.

When somebody searchers for a given query, the top 10 most relevant results are shown on the first page of Google.

An enticing and relevant title that answers the query will get people to click through.

Guess what – click through rate (CTR) is a ranking signal for Google.

Makes sense, the title is also the first thing people see on search results and what Google sees when crawling your page.

title tag seo

Structure of a title tag:

Your title summarises your blog post and should contain your brand name (company name, your name if your blog is your personal brand).

The brand name should be separated with a pipe (I) or a dash (-).

title | brand name

title – brand name

Examples:

7 elements of a perfectly optimised page | Leanne Wong

The ultimate guide to blogging for beginners – Leanne Wong

Characteristics of a good title tag:

  • targeted keyword used, preferably in the beginning
  • under 70 characters
  • contains a call-to-action word
  • catchy, evokes emotional response
  • accurately summarises the content of your blog post

Further reading: Here are my best picks for writing great titles

100+ Blog Post Templates That Grab Attention
How to Craft the Perfect SEO Title Tag (Our 4-Step Process)
How to Write Magnetic Headlines (Copyblogger)

2. Meta description optimisation

Meta description is the snippet of information below the link of a search result.

It summarises your article and persuades people to click. The higher your CTR, the more relevant and trustworthy search engines perceive your site.

metadata-example-seo

Any words that match the search term will be bolded. For example I searched for “keyword research” and those two words were bolded (above).

Why is meta description important?

A meta description optimised with keywords will help Google understand what your page is about and whether or not your page is relevant to a given query.

Your meta description is kinda like ad copy – summary of your page’s content that entice users to care and take action.

Google dynamically generates meta description snippets

If you don’t have a meta description present on your page, Google will automatically ‘extract’ texts from within your page and display them on search results.

But even if your page has a meta description in place, Google may or may not display it. This is something the search engine decides, despite our best efforts to craft a perfect meta description.

SEO best practices for meta description

Method 1: Create an optimised meta description 

  • at least 165 characters long
  • targets 1 main keyword and 2-3 long tail keywords
  • contains a call-to-action word in the beginning

Method 2: Be prepared for Google to extract text to display on meta description snippets.

Ideally, your blog post should contain sufficient content (800 words) and rich with keywords that answers a given search query.

Now if you don’t know, Google dynamically generates meta description snippets on search results. Meaning Google may or may not show your actual meta description, but instead extract parts of your blog content and show on search result snippets what it believes that will better answer the search query.

Google’s interest is always in the searcher, and it will serve up content it deems to best match the searcher’s query.

So the best way to optimise for your meta description is to optimie your page/blog post’s content.

For example, if i type in the query “copywriting”

copywriting-example

The top 2 results from Wikipedia and Copyblogger. Note that the meta description from Copyblogger is different from Google displays on SERPs and whats actually in its meta description tag.

You can look at the meta description tag by checking a page’s source code:

copyblogger-meta

It’s totally different from what Google displays in SERPs!

metadata seo

Bottomline: The best way to optimise for your meta description is to optimise your page content.

Your meta description should summarise what your post is about. If you’re offering a service, it should explain your unique value proposition.

The above example shows us that Google will display snippets it deems the most relevant to a searcher’s query.

It looks into your page’s actual content and determines if it will best match a query, then display it on SERPs.

How to optimise your meta description for search query

Use Google Search Console to find what are the top search queries leading to your page. These are hints of searcher intent and what users are looking for when they’re finding your page.

Step 1: Check your search console and look into Search Analytics.

Step 2: See what are the top queries leading users to your page / blog post.

Step 3: Try to use those queries into your meta description and see if the change helps improve your click through rate (CTR).

Pro tip: Type a keyword or query into Google, and see what the top result pages are. Analyse the meta description style of those top 10 ranking pages, and incorporate them into your own posts wherever necessary.

3. Create long-form content

My final tip for on-page SEO is to create long form content.

It’s one of those things that require sheer will power and discipline to work on a HUGE content piece diligently.

Here’s a study by Ahrefs showing that longer content ranks better. By analyzing rankings across 2 million keywords, they found that content with 2,000+ words dominated search engine result pages.

Here are 4 simple strategies to make your content longer

blogging content creation

(i) Add more depth to your article

Sometimes you’ve already written a pretty lengthy blog post, perhaps reviewing top 18 romantic destinations for newlyweds.

But these types of long articles in list-style rarely add much depth, because they don’t add value.

In my experience, adding value is when you can:

  • provide explanations – how and why
  • give examples
  • write about the valuable and important aspects

(ii) Always ask, “so what?”

Yup, I’m asked that question a zillion times by clients and my readers all the time.

Answering “so what?” forces you to go another level deeper and think about what really matters.

If you’re also in the blogging niche, perhaps email marketing. Your “so what” would be goals such as list growth, creating lead magnets and converting subscribers into customers.

Try to tie your articles back to answering those goals to add more value.

(iii) Make it actionable

Content that is actionable provides the most value. It brings an immediate benefit to the reader.

Actionable content are practical and easy to do.

Characteristics of actionable content:

  • Not complex and spelled out for the reader
  • Contains as many examples as possible, preferably real case studies
  • Listicles – “7 tips for…”

Usually, this type of content are targeted at beginners and are easy to digest. Such as:

  • tips and tricks
  • beginner’s guide
  • tutorials

(iv) Add images for every large block of text

Do you know that only 20% of an article gets read?

If you have 1,000 words on your blog post, only 200 words will get digested by the reader.

This means that people usually just scan content, and give up pretty soon after the first few paragraphs.

To make it easier for people to scan and read your content, break them up into shorter sentences and use visuals.

Resources for creating blog graphics:

Canva

BeFunky

Icon Finder

Creative Market

4. H1 tag

h1 tag seo

The H1 element is the main heading for your article after the title tag.

Why is the H1 tag important?

Header tags have always been important in search engine optimisation.

In a Moz study, “Page-Level Keyword & Content-Based Metrics” it seems that H1 element is the third most important ranking factor in Google’s ranking algorithm.

How to create great H1:

  • Use one H1 tag on each blog post/page.
  • Summarise your post’s content in the h1, resembling a headline.
  • Length: 20-70 characters in length
  • Contains at least one long-tailed keyword in your H1.
  • Style: H1 font size should be 2x bigger than your paragraph font.

5. URL Structure

Your site’s URL structure is both important for user experience and search engine optimisation.

In SEO, a URL should just be really simple and easy to understand. So making them human-readable and as short as possible.

For example, if you’re searching for information about sauna, a URL like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/sauna will help you decide whether to click to that link.

A URL like http://www.example.com/index.php id_sezione=360&sid=3a5bnd843f41daa6f849f730f1 is much less appealing to users.

Tips for creating SEO-friendly URLs:

  • Use keywords in URLs but don’t keyword-stuff the url.
  • Use hyphens (-) for word separation. Not underscores ( _ ), not the pound symbol, not anything else.
  • Have only one URL for each page.

How to improve URL structure:

  • Use a canonical tag or 301 redirect for duplicated URLs to point to the original version
  • Use a robots.txt file to block googlebot’s access to problematic URLs
  • Wherever possible, shorten URLs by trimming unnecessary parameters
  • If your URLs are riddled with symbols, question marks, exclamation marks and other nonsense, work towards a static solution for a more identifiable and clean URL.

6. Image Optimisation

Optimising your images can have a huge difference in SEO and content quality.

In terms of SEO, here are three key image optimisation tactics:

  • alt text: make sure your images have keyword-ed alt text associated with them so web crawlers know what your images are about.
  • image size: large image sizes increases the load speed of your site. Keep them under 100kb with image compression solutions.
  • image file names: you want google to know what your image is about. If you image is about lip balm, then it should be properly named “lip balm.jpg” instead of 1324DS.jpg

Image optimisation audit with Screaming Frog

  • In the ‘Images’ tab, filter for ‘missing alt text’ to find images without alt text associated with them.
  • In the ‘Images’ tab, filter for ‘over 100kb’ to find overly large image sizes. These can be compressed, as smaller image sizes help to improve your site speed.

How to compress image size:

Use WP Smush or Imagify plugin for WordPress to compress any picture you upload automatically. ShortPixel is also a good WordPress plugin to compress multiple images in one click.

If you want to compress your images beforehand, check out TinyPNG or Optimizilla.

Another tip is to use JPEG files as they are smaller but not as high quality as PNG. The best option is to use SVG files which can scale image sizes without loss of quality.

7. Page Speed Optimisation

The faster your website loads, the better its user experience. Think about the last time you visited a slow loading page… did you wait till the page finished loading?

Probably closed the tab right away, huh.

We often neglect page speed because SEO has always focused on content and backlinks.

But improving your website’s overall load time can drastically improve your SEO performance.

Google announced in 2010 that site speed is a factor in their ranking algorithm.

Diagnose your site speed with free tools

First, check your site speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

  • Enter your URL and voila. It evaluates your website’s performance and provides suggestions to improve.
  • The score indicates how well your site is optimised for speed. Generally, anything above 80 is fantastic.
  • But don’t be alarmed if your page speed score is “low” or “medium”, because the most important metric to look out for is ‘Server Response Time’. If your server responded in under 2 seconds, that is acceptable.

Pro tip: Each page of your website may not have the same page speed. Make sure to test at least 10 pages of you website, especially key pages to test for load time.

(Optional) For advanced SEO tactics, use these additional tools:

GTMetrix

  • Performance report on your website’s page speed. Look at the waterfall chart to see which request took the longest time to fulfil.

Pingdom

  • Analyses your website’s overall load time, number of requests, size and score on YSlow performance metric

WebPage Test

  • Provides a waterfall chart of your page’s load time performance and an speed optimisation checklist.

These are agency-level tools used by professionals to increase site speed. If you’ve got a developer, it’ll be a good idea to send them these links too.

How to skyrocket your page speed with simple fixes

Increasing page speed is one of the hardest and complex aspects of On-Page SEO.

But here are some easy fixes that can improve your site loading time:

1. Reduce Image Sizes

Use WP Smush or Imagify plugin for WordPress to compress any picture you upload automatically. If you want to compress your images beforehand, check out TinyPNG or Optimizilla.

Another tip is to use JPEG files as they are smaller but not as high quality as PNG. The best option is to use SVG files which can scale image sizes without loss of quality.

2. Leverage Browser Caching

A popular free caching plugin is W3 Total Cache. If you have some budget, investing in a premium caching plugin is worth it – I highly recommended WP Rocket.

3. Minify CSS and JavaScript

Omg, what is minification?!

Basically, minification removes unnecessary white spaces and characters from your CSS and JavaScript files.

To fix this, install Gulpjs on your server and you could also refer this Google guide to your developer.

If you’re using WordPress, Autoptimize is a free plugin that works really well too.

4. Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN)

Using a CDN can greatly improve your site load speed.

The CDN delivers cached version of your website’s static content on its own servers based on the geographic location of the user.

So when somebody visits your web page, the static content is loaded from the sever closest to their location.

Static versions of your site are like images, CSS and Javascript files.

For example, if your website is hosted in USA and when a visitor from Finland visits your site, without a CDN, that user will have to wait for the server to load all the way from USA.

With a CDN, your website will be loaded from the server closest to the user.

Engage a developer to move static files from your website to a CDN and keep only the HTML file on your main server.

If you’re using WordPress, simply install a plugin like MaxCDN (Premium) or set up Cloudflare (Free CDN) on your WordPress site.

Useful info on how to set up Cloudflare on WordPress: How to Setup CloudFlare Free CDN in WordPress – WP Beginner

Further reading on Page Speed Optimisation

7 Best WordPress CDN Services in 2018

How to Achieve 100/100 with the Google Page Speed Test Tool

How Website Speed Actually Impacts Search Ranking

There you have it, 7 on-page SEO elements to optimise every blog post you publish. How did the strategies work for you? Let me know below 🙂

22 People reacted on this

  1. Love the wealth of specific details and actionable information in this article. I’ve read many articles on SEO, but you go above and beyond. You certainly practice what you preach!

  2. This is such a great SEO breakdown! I love it! The only thing to keep in mind is that not all niches will have long content pieces. For food bloggers 500-800 words may be absolutely perfect. It’s the amount of content needed to describe a recipe, address frequently asked questions, etc. Providing the best user experience is the goal.

  3. I’ve started incorporating these techniques into my blog posts and have noticed an improvement in my page rankings. I think many people overlook the importance of meta tags and descriptions. They are so valuable.

    1. That’s really awesome, Cindy! Absolutely – metadata optimization can make such a huge difference for your SEO. Glad you found these strategies helpful 🙂

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