On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

The is the same on-page SEO checklist 2021 I use to write every post on my blog. Most of it has nothing to do with Yoast, in fact I ignore most of Yoast’s (Yoast SEO vs Rank Math SEO Comparison) recommendations since they put too much emphasis on keyword density and not enough on real on-page SEO factors.

Instead, I focus on finding a long-tail keyword which has low competition in Google’s search results, then creating in-depth content that is organized with a table of contents and nice graphics. I also talk about lesser-known strategies like targeting variations of a keyword, optimizing your table of contents to get in Google’s featured snippets, and making content format properly on Facebook/Twitter. I don’t have an infographic, but these are all actionable tips that will improve your on-page SEO, especially for WordPress.

On-page SEO checklist 2021

I’m going to divide it into four broad categories:

  1. Find A Long-Tail Keyword
  2. Learn The Keyword’s Competition
  3. Find Keyword Variations
  4. Create A Post
  5. Write A Keyword-Rich Headline
  6. Write The SEO Title + Meta Description
  7. Create An HTML Table Of Contents
  8. Add FAQ Rich Snippets
  9. Drop Internal/External Links
  10. Optimize Images
  11. Assign A Category And Give It Some Tags
  12. Optimize For Social Sharing
  13. Test Load Times In GTmetrix
  14. Submit URL To Google
  15. Take It To Social Media
  16. Monitor The Post’s Performance
  17. SEO Basic 2021 (Update)
  18. Off-Page SEO 2021 (Update)
  19. Google Search Console: The Ultimate Guide & Training (Update)

If you use wordpress, read this: On Page SEO Techniques for WordPress in 2021

1. Find A Long-Tail Keyword

Use Google Autocomplete to find a long-tail keyword with  3+ words.

If you start Googling the keyword and it has lots of Autocomplete results below it, that keyword is probably too competitive and in most cases, you should choose one of the more specific (long-tail) phrases. The only time you should consider choosing a broad, competitive keyword is if you plan on creating in-depth content, and if your site has high domain authority.

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

2. Learn The Keyword’s Competition

Google the keyword and review the content in the top results.

A keyword is more competitive if:

  • It’s broad
  • Top results have strong content
  • Top results have high DA/PA in MozBar
  • It has high competition in Keywords Everywhere
  • Top results are populated with authority websites
  • You see lots of advertisements from Google AdWords
  • Top results have strong signals (links, comments, shares)
  • There are lots of search results (11.6 million is a lot, but I’m giving it a shot)

Tools I Use:

MozBar – Google any keyword and see each search result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). Choose keywords with lower PA, and compete within your own DA range.

Future read:

3. Find Keyword Variations

These are synonyms (or very closely related) keywords.

Try looking at the different Autocomplete results or searching for a similar keyword. You can use the underline character _ to have Google fill-in-the-blank (a neat little trick I like to use). You can target multiple keyword variations in the post title, SEO title, and meta description

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

Keyword Variations

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

Keyword Variations


  • Keyword #1: on-page SEO checklist (primary)
  • Keyword #2: on-page SEO guide
  • Keyword #3: on-page SEO 2021
  • Keyword #4: on-page SEO process
  • Keyword #5: content SEO checklist

Tools I Use:
Keywords Suggestion Tool – Keyword Suggestion Tool from JasaSEO.be Tools is a freemium tool which allows you to generate an unlimited stream of keywords for your online marketing campaigns.

It offers you an endless stream of highly relevant, traffic-driving keyword suggestions. All you have to do is enter a seed keyword and choose the country where you want to based your search on.

Our free Keyword Analysis Tool will automatically tap from our industry-leading database of billions of keywords to provide you with a list of suggested keywords for the seed keyword you entered.

With these, you can expect an extensive, unique, and actionable keyword suggestions for free to grow your search traffic and expand your reach.

This SEO tool suggests keywords that people are actually searching for on Google just as “Google Suggest” does.

Who can benefit from this tool? Content writers, SEO experts, webmasters, website owners, bloggers, blog managers. As long as you work with digital content, this tool is for you… because choosing the right keywords to use in your content can lead to better things

Example: On page SEO

Suggest Queries On page SEO
Keyword Suggestion On Page Seo
Keyword Suggestion On Page Seo Definition
Keyword Suggestion On Page Seo Factors
Keyword Suggestion On Page Seo Optimization
Keyword Suggestion On Page Seo Techniques
Keyword Suggestion On Page Seo Audit
Keyword Suggestion On Page Seo 2021
Keyword Suggestion On Page Seo Steps
Keyword Suggestion On Page Seo And Off Page Seo
Keyword Suggestion On Page Seo Grader

Future read:

4. Create A Post

In case you didn’t know how:

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

Create A Post

5. Write A Keyword-Rich Headline

Qualities of a good headline:

  • Makes people want to read (duh)
  • Primary keyword is ideally in front
  • Keyword variations sprinkled throughout title

This emphasizes your keyword to search engines.

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

Shorten The Permalink

Should I Remove Stop Words?
Yoast recommends removing stop words, but this can make URLs ready funny and is NOT always good. Take a look at the examples below. If you can shorten the permalink to include your keyword and read nicely, do it. But if it butchers the URL and doesn’t make sense, don’t.

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

Remove Stop Words

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

Shorten The Permalink

7. Write The SEO Title + Meta Description

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

These are the forefront of your SEO and determine the post’s click-through rate. You should include your keyword (ideally in the front), target multiple keyword variations, and follow the character limits. It’s also a good idea to include a number or modifier like “2020, 2021” or “checklist, guide.

Tips For Writing SEO Titles + Meta Descriptions

  • SEO title length: 600 pixels (about 58 characters)
  • Meta description length: 920 pixels (about 158 characters)
  • Do not use Yoast’s snippet variables (write them yourself!)
  • Primary keyword is in front, secondary keywords are sprinkled

8. Create An HTML Table Of Contents

I can’t stress how important this is.

A table of contents organizes the post, lets people jump (and link to) specific sections, and increases your chance of being awarded jump-to links and featured snippets by Google. It also encourages longer content (JasaSEO.be and most SEOs recommend at least 3,000+ words).

Why You Should Do It

  • Helps users navigate the post
  • People can link to specific sections
  • Encourages in-depth content (3,000+ words)
  • Chance of getting jump-to links in Google by using named anchors


<li><a href=”/permalink/#subheading-1″>Subheading 1</a></li>
<li><a href=”/permalink/#subheading-2″>Subheading 2</a></li><h3 id=”subheading-1″>1. Subheading 1</h3>

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

Featured snippets can be in the form of lists, paragraphs, or tables.

Since your table of contents is a list, make each item concise and actionable. Do not ask questions or give long answers – people want direct solutions to the problem for their query.

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

google rich snippet

How In Google’s Featured Snippets

  • Find a keyword where people want concise information (eg. a list)
  • Moz Keyword Explorer has a filter that helps find question keywords
  • Target existing keywords/featured snippets that don’t do a good job
  • Create a concise, logical table of contents to target ‘list’ featured snippets
  • Create fact-based content with quality references (links, graphics, etc)
  • Make sure you’re on the 1st page for the keyword, if not, improve the content
  • Design an image exactly describing the keyword and label the image file name + alt text as the exact keyword (this can get that image showing in your featured snippet as well)
  • Google ultimately determines whether they will show your result, or any result at all

10. Add FAQ Rich Snippets

FAQ rich snippets are great for standing out in search results:

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

google rich snippet

11. Drop Internal/External Links

These should provide helpful resources for specific topics not completely covered in the post, don’t just insert them for SEO or link to Wikipedia. If your visitors click it, it should be helpful.

Internal Links – natural ways to build links to your site while mentioning articles where visitors can more information on specific topics, while improving bounce rate and time on site.

External Links – similar to citing sources to Google. I always use internal links if I have content about the topic, otherwise I link to external sources where people can find more information.

12. Optimize Images

Alt Text – the Auto Image Alt Attribute plugin will automatically add alt text to images based on their file name. Just remember to write a descriptive file names before uploading images.

Resize Images To Correct Dimensions – my blog is 680px width so I crop/resize full width images to those dimensions. Otherwise I would see serve scaled images errors in GTmetrix.

Lossless Compression – ShortPixel, Smush, Imagify, and Kraken all do the same thing (lossless compression + EXIF data removal). I use ShortPixel which shows an unnoticeable quality loss.

13. Assign A Category And Give It Some Tags

Assign the post to 1 category, and give it a few tags. Don’t overdo the tags.

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021


14. Optimize For Social Sharing

This makes your content format properly when shared on Facebook/Twitter, specifically your image since both networks use custom dimensions to display it, otherwise it will look funny.

If using Yoast, go to the “Social” settings and enable Open Graph for both Facebook/Twitter:

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

Social Sharing

In Rank Math SEO:

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

15. Test Load Times and Speed

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021


If I didn’t embed the YouTube video or GitHub code it would be 100%. Make sure images are optimized, use fast hosting, a good cache plugin, PHP 7+, and see my article How To Fix Slow WordPress Hosting On GoDaddy or How to Speed up WordPress: Boost Speed & Performance.

16. Submit URL To Google

Next, submit the URL to Google using their URL Inspector in Search Console.

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

Submit URL To Google

17. Take It To Social Media

Without being spammy, share it in Facebook Groups and other places.

Future read: How to Promote Blog in 2021: Content Promotion Tactics

18. Respond To Comments

HubSpot did a study on comments and found this:

“There is no correlation between the number of comments on a post and the number of views that post got. There’s also no correlation between comments and the number of links that post got.


  • They’re where I get my most valuable feedback
  • People who receive feedback are more likely to sign up for my newsletter
  • Creates a two-way conversation (eg. you’re trying to get clients to contact you)


  • Spam, lots of it
  • Too many people trying to get a link
  • It’s basically free consulting (if you don’t have guidelines)

19. Monitor The Post’s Performance

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

After a couple weeks, check the performance report in Google Search Console which helps you see the post’s performance. It tells you it’s ranking position, clicks, and click-through rate.

If the post ranks high with lots of impressions, but has a low click-through rate, consider rewriting the SEO title + meta description. If it doesn’t rank well at all, improve the content.

Use Google Analytics to check the post’s average session duration and bounce rate.

If the post has bad bounce rates and average session duration, it could be anything from slow load times to poor web design, no internal links, or lack of well-designed, original graphics. Try listing your most popular tutorials in your sidebar (see mine).

Subscribe To My Newsletter: Subscribe to my newsletter if you liked this post! I continuously write new tutorials on WordPress SEO + speed optimization over 3,000 people read each day.


What is onpage SEO?

On-page SEO refers to tactics utilized on or within a page to assist it in ranking higher in the search engine. On page SEO includes both content and the HTML source code of a page image optimization, keyword optimization, Schema markup, and more, but not external links and other external signals.

On-Page SEO Guide: The Complete SEO Checklist For 2021

A complete step-by-step SEO checklist to help you rank in 2021. This expert-written guide will show you exactly how to do keyword research, on-page SEO, content, technical SEO and more.

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