• wordpress on-page optimization guide seo checklist

WordPress On-Page SEO Checklist – Example Optimization Guide

^ For most WordPress themes, the title of the post/page is automatically applied as the H1 Tag.

The H1 tag is the most important heading tag for on-page optimization because it is the primary heading of a page. Since your post/page title should already be optimized, it’s generally not a problem that WordPress auto-assigns it as the H1 tag. You should have no further H1 tags used within the content though, as there is only one H1 tag allowed per page.

Meta Title and Meta Description

^ example of an H2 Tag

The meta title and meta description that you set for the page are used for its search engine listing, seen below. Meta titles are not the same as page titles. Meta details are used exclusively for search engine listings. However, your meta title may match the page title, but it does not have to.

Google Snapshot of WordPress On-Page SEO Organic Listing

By installing Yoast SEO or the All in One SEO Pack for WordPress, you can easily change the meta title and meta description for any page/post. WordPress does not have this functionality built-in, so it’s absolutely necessary to install a plugin.

Both the meta title and meta description should be optimized for a high CTR (click through rate). This is just a fancy way of saying – entice the reader to click your listing.

Although not recommended, some meta descriptions have a call to action such as a phone number, to generate leads straight through the search engine listing.

Formatting your meta title and description:

You can target several keyword phrases on a single page, such as on this page we are targeting:

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Notice in our title, every keyword within these phrases is present, but they don’t all appear in order. It would be impossible to target all of these keyword phrases in the exact order they are written within the same meta title. You can move keywords around as needed to optimize your title for readability and still be able to target all of your phrases.

Here is what Yoast SEO looks like when editing the meta title and meta description for a page:

Yoast SEO Editor for WordPress On-Page SEO

Scondary Headings (H2, H3, etc.)

^ this is an example of another H2 tag

Each page should have only one H1 heading but there can be multiple H2, H3, and H4 heading tags.

How you wish to use them is up to you. Most authors choose to make their major sections H2 tags, with H3 and H4 tags used for headings within those content sections.

Your secondary headings should be optimized as you did the meta title, but these headings are specific to your content sections, and not the page as a whole. That means it’s trickier to optimize these handings with your target keywords, as you want to use your headings to improve the flow of the content and make it easier to understand for readers. Try to work your target keywords into H2 and H3 tags as it makes sense, but don’t overdo it.

Formatting headings

^ example of an H3 tag

When you apply text as a heading tag in WordPress, you will notice that you don’t have to individually select the text. This makes it easier to add heading tags to your content because you can click anywhere within the text and it will apply to the entire line. Rather than having to be precise and make a specific selection of text with your mouse, you can just click once and easily make changes to headings.

Image ALT text

Each page should have at least one image, preferably more, optimized with image ALT text (alternative text). You can set the primary image of the post/page as the “featured image” within WordPress. Image ALT text is an HTML element that is applied as such: <img src=”example.gif” alt=”Example of optimized image ALT text”>. In WordPress, you can simply edit the image and you will find an image ALT text field.

ALT text should be optimized for the particular image you are editing. If that image is relevant to a specific section of your content, then name it as such. If it’s a featured image for the entire page, optimize it using your page’s target keywords just as you did the meta title.

Bolded Keywords

You should bold keywords based off what’s important to the reader, not necessarily your target keywords. This makes the page easier to skim and read. It’s important that the content flows well and bolding can detract from the user experience if you bold the wrong phrases. However, bolding is believed to have an effect on search engine rankings, albeit a less prominent one than other on-page factors. Try to find ways you can bold your target keywords throughout the content while still enhancing the content’s ability to be skimmed and easily understood.

Content Optimization

Within the body of the content of the page, there should be a variety of keywords used. This includes synonyms of your target keywords and other closely related phrases.

Make sure the content reads naturally and the keywords never sound forced or injected. Better keyword optimization increases the relevancy of the content and makes it more likely that search engines will rank the page higher.

LSI or latent semantic indexing is a method that determines relationships between terms. It’s a fancy way of referring to keyword phrases that are related to your target phrases. These are not just synonyms, but phrases that might take some extra digging to uncover. For instance, “inbound marketing” could be an LSI keyword of “content marketing.” Be sure to rephrase your target keywords in ways that your audience may better understand.

Keyword density is the percentage of times your target keyword appears in comparison to the total number of words on the page. There’s no magic number here, but anything over 4-5% would be a dead giveaway that the page has been over-optimized and was not produced naturally.

URL Structure

The URL structure are the permalinks or words that create your page URLs.

WordPress automatically uses the page title to create the permalink when you have your settings set to “Post Name” under (Settings > Permalinks). This means when your page titles are optimized, your URLs will be too but they may still require some removal of unnecessary words.

You want to keep the permalink short. For primary pages of the website, it should only be 1-3 words in length. For blog posts, it should be no more than 6 words in length, preferably 2-5.

The URL should be optimized with the target keywords of the page and other closely related keywords.

For example, the permalink for this page is: wordpress-on-page-optimization-checklist

The longer your keywords are, the fewer keywords you should include in the URL. For instance, because “optimization” is a longer keyword, I stopped where I did and didn’t add any additional keywords to the URL for this page.


Posts within WordPress should be categorized relevantly and also include several tags that describe the page. You should include the target keywords, synonyms and other closely related phrases as tags. A tag is just additional categorization. Don’t get tag happy and add hundreds of phrases, but think about what your audience might search to find your post and stick with those phrases.

Videos and Rich Media

The presence of rich media on a page can enhance its search engine rankings. This includes both video and audio.

To optimize the page further, you should transcribe video content and feature it as text on the page. A good way to do this is to use a “toggle” HTML element that hides the transcription text until the toggled content element is clicked on. This means the transcription text won’t occupy space on the page unless the user actively selects to view it. Captioning your video and audio is another way to further optimize these elements.

Internal Linking

An internal link is a link on a page of your website that points to another relevant page on your website.

Internal links pass some authority from the page they are on to the page being linked to.

Internally link to relevant pages

Many websites link blog posts and other supportive content to the primary pages of their website. These are generally the product or services pages that have been optimized for conversions. They are also likely to be the pages featured on the main menu or navigation of the website. By internally linking to these pages, some authority will be passed to them.

Use target keywords, snonyms, and other related phrases as the anchor text on internal links. This shows search engines that the page being linked to is relevant to those keywords.

Anchor text is simply the text used for the link. For instance, “SEO checklist” is the anchor text in this example: Checkout our SEO checklist.

Checklist Summary

checklist summary on-page seo for wordpress sites

  1. Title
  2. META Description
  3. H1 Tag (Header)
  4. H2 Tag (Subheader)
  5. H3 Tags (Section Headers)
  6. H4 Tags (Paragraph Headers)
  7. Images with ALT Text
  8. Bold Important Keywords
  9. Use the Target Keywords, Synonyms and Other Related Phrases in the Content
  10. URL Structure/Permalink
  11. Relevant Categories and Tags
  12. Video or Other Rich Media with Captions & Transcriptions
  13. Internally Link to the Most Important Relevant Pages of the Website

That’s it, folks.

If you need help sourcing quality keywords for your pages, see the below section.

Finding Relevant Keywords

Not sure what your target keywords are? Login to your Google account and access the Keyword Planner.

Note: Google now requires that you have an Adwords PPC campaign setup in order to access the Keyword Planner. It does not need to be an active campaign, meaning you won’t have to spend any money, but you will have to setup a dummy campaign.

Enter a keyword related to the page you’re creating in the “your product or service” box shown below.

The Keyword Planner will return related phrases that you can use to optimize your pages with.

Keep in mind, it doesn’t analyze organic competition so it’s not the best tool for SEO, but it does help you find keywords that are relevant to your pages.

keyword planner on-page optimization wordpress checklist guide

To take things a step further, you can search the keywords the Keyword Planner returns into Google, then scroll to the bottom.

Here, Google will display a list of related keywords that probably weren’t included in the Keyword Planner’s results. They are likely to be low search volume phrases. If you’re building blog content to target long-tail keywords you can easily rank for, these are ideal targets.

wordpress on-page seo checklist guide for optimization of posts and pages


On-page SEO for WordPress sites isn’t much different than SEO for another CMS or HTML website. Follow this guide and every post or page you create will have all of the important ingredients to rank well. Feel free to use it as a checklist before you publish anything live.

By | 2018-02-18T22:47:55+00:00 December 15th, 2017|SEO|0 Comments

About the Author:

Founder of Empowermented, software developer, and U.S. Marine, Dylan Bozeman is an avid learner with a diverse web development portfolio and an entrepreneurial drive.

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