SEO ChecklistProcesses and checklists are an important part of my daily routine. I'm a very process oriented individual. Give me a checklist and I get things done. Give me a job without a checklist and I'll create one. Give me a job that falls outside of the routine or is difficult to put into a checklist and I'm screwed!

I like to create systems for everything that I do and SEO is no exception. While not every aspect of search engine marketing can be programmed, categorized or easily referenced, (I have a mighty team to handle that stuff!) the bulk of the work can at least be outlined into a handy check list. With no further ado, I give you...

The Best Damn On-Page Optimization Checklist, Period

Choose the core term

It all starts with keyword research. By this point we've already gone through the site and performed extensive core term research. You can learn more about the keyword research process by reading Keyword Research And Selection document.

Selecting which core term to optimize "next" doesn't have to be difficult but a few things need to be considered:

  • Relevance: Core term must be very relevant to the business
  • Importance: How important is this core term in relation to the other yet-to-be-optimized core terms
  • Audience targeting: Will this bring in highly targeted traffic in comparison to the other core terms?
  • Search volume: Will this bring in solid volumes of traffic in relation to the other core terms?

Evaluate page/core term legitimacy

Here we then take a closer look at the core term/page relationship to ensure that they are a solid match. With some sites, certain pages and core terms could be interchangeable. What we want to do here is to make sure that the page being optimized for any core term is the best possible fit. We want to be sure that the keywords can fit naturally into the content and are the best words to represent the message being conveyed.

Core term/key phrase research

Now that we've settled the core term/page issue, we can complete the keyword research process for this core term. This process requires a great deal of research, editing, analyzing, etc. Again, the "how-to" can be found in the Keyword Research and Selection document linked above. By the end of this process we'll have found all relevant supporting phrases and have selected fifteen or so that we'll be optimizing into the page.

Develop / rework page content

Once all the keywords are finalized, it's time to start working on the on-page content. It's the role of the copywriter to develop the first round of content, working in keywords naturally. But with any written document, the first draft is rarely the last. We analyze a number of factors before moving the text to the next stage of review:

  • Keyword usage: Ensuring natural flow of copy while maintaining a proper keyword balance
  • Headings: Using headings that are compelling and informative
  • Title tag: Create a compelling, keyword rich title for the page
  • Description tag: Build a description that is both compelling and reinforces the keyword relevance of the page
  • Voice: The site should use a consistent voice from page to page
  • Active words: Using words that do more than inform but compel action
  • Features & Benefits: Be sure to list out not just features but benefits. Bullets are great for this kind of information
  • Skimming & Scanning: Make the document easy to skim and scan while giving the reader the important information as they do so
  • Calls to Action: Work in textual calls that drive the visitor to the point of conversion

Text usability review

Once the text is hammered out, we then send it to a third party for a "usability review". Their job is to look at the text from a customer standpoint and see if they can find any place where the text breaks down in the conversion process. This includes finding poorly worded sentences, titles or headings that may fail at their jobs, and ensuring that the reader absolutely knows what they are expected to do next and/or drives them to the information they came for in the first place.

Page usability review

At this stage we go ahead and add the content to a development version of the page being optimized and review the page as a whole for usability. We want to make sure the page is able to convey its purpose visually, both with images, formatting, etc. We'll add or change things as necessary to ensure the page provides the reader with the best possible visual representation.

We also take a look at coding issues to ensure there are no potential spidering issues from malformed HTML. If we can streamline the code in any way. By reducing code bloat we can facilitate faster download times, and ensure the relevant information loads first.

SEO review

Next we send the text onto the SEO to go over and analyze to ensure the page maintains proper keyword balance between titles, headings, and body content. The SEO also looks at proper usage of alt tags and does any other minor adjusting as is necessary, without destroying any of the copy flow.

Final approval

The page is now ready for final approval. Whether that means sending the optimized (development) version to the client for review, or submitting it to the boss, we want to get that final stamp of approval before it goes live. Just like anything, we do expect more minor changes to be made until the page is "perfect".

Last thoughts

Each process mentioned above can (and does) have a checklist of it's own. Virtually all of the details for actual SEO work has been left our as the purpose here is to focus on the overall process of optimizing a page. I am a firm believer that the process is just as important as the work being done. While it's the details that bring success, the process ensures that no details get overlooked. In this business, overlooking any detail can result in less-than-stellar performance.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.


This is a great article, Stoney. Very informative and a detailed example of how the content process should should flow. However, I think the title may be a bit of a misnomer. I was fully expecting a navigational and technology optimization checklist as well. Perhaps two more parts are in order?

Great post. Love organic process ideas and details on how we think about it as process and art - it's both.

I love your point of view. It really helps when trying to involve colleges into the job.

Really it's great post, please explain about cpc in your next post.


A very good piece of work for the beginners. I surely agree with you on optimizing for long tail keywords. Their conversion potential is very strong - and long-lasting. Keep posting!!!

I'm forwarding this link to my friends who want to learn SEO

Wonderful information. Rep is given I need to add one or two more points to this:

Firstly, building too many backlinks in too little spans of time cna get you very bad in terms of SEO. You need to build quality backlinks and in very reasonable amount of time. Shouldn't overdo it.

Secondly, there are some points on on page SEO that I wish to speak about. You need to have a very good internal linking strategy and that should be through occasional revision of your older posts to include newer links. Also, linking out to relevant resources can give you some ranking weight.

It's more relevant links than high PR links that matter. However, a high PR link from a different category, can realy influence your pagerank, though not your site's search rankings.

Its Really Helpfull all of us, Onpoage optimization is important each and every websites, most webmasters, seo experts miss some important onpage optimization factors.

your arrticle very fruitfull and very clean. thanks for you sharing.

thanks for you sharing, very usefull information.

Excellent Post here !!!
I know On page optimization is better for SEO
Many other factor involved in On Page but define here is really very helpful to all.

Thanks for sharing..

Thanks for the great information, very useful information.
Thank You, Soo much.

Hey thats really so nice to read it ... Full of information .
Ya thats true that On page optimization is very important factor to get better SERP. After reading this article and so many other articles I came to know that my site which is based on cheap old cars for sale , there are many things which are not suitable for on page optimization, SO i wanted to confirm that can I change my on page keywords to get better results

Thanks for this valuable information, being organize is a must and we really need to evaluate things before we jump in, its applicable on SEO but its more applicable in real life.

Before doing off page SEO its better to focus and finish on page SEO first, as it will aid us to easily promote our website and gain traffic and page ranking easily, also by doing on page SEO it will be easier for our website to be indexed and rank well on any search engines.

It has been a very useful information

To make our website fully recognized by search engines, we must first need to know if it was search engine friendly, what you had said was all useful in checking our on page optimization process.

Great advice, so many people try to over-complicate on-page optimization. If you master the basics then your website should rank well with also some focus on relevant link building.

The link to the reference page is broken. Other than that, thanks for outlining the process.

Great change of tone and approach! Was about time to read something else besides the on page article cliché, namely the classic checklist: title tag is..., meta description does... !

To keep the discussion in the conceptual sphere I want to mention silo structuring as an on-page optimization method. This is a different approach from dealing with each individual factor separately.

What this structure gives is a good buoyancy level of your site in the SERP, saving, in the same time, considerable efforts for building back links - the core ingredient for good rankings.

If you're interested, see how it is possible to increase rankings without relying on the number of back links in this post I wrote 2 months ago:


Thanks Stoney for sharing! Very informative and a detailed.

I would say that putting keywords in your title tags is REALLY important. From my own experience, it has one of the greatest impacts upon ranking for your target terms of all the onpage elements. From a user experience and conversion perspective, it also makes a lot of sense. In the search results, the title stands out more than the other text (and I personally scan the search results by titles first, as I’m sure many people do), and people are more likely to click on results that contain words that match the words they typed into the search box. Of course, there’s more to writing a good title than using the right keywords. As you mention, the space is limited, so you you shouldn’t stuff it full of keywords- you need to choose carefully. Also, like other marketing copy, the page title needs to be compelling. This is what people are going to see in the search results– it needs to grab their attention. It needs to compel them to click on it. Think call to action and addressing your target audience’s needs.

i made sure to take notes while reading this and i will try this on my site. thanks for the valuable info

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