How to Use Your Keyword: An On-Page SEO Checklist

by Ashley Barnett
*Some of the links below may be from our sponsors. My full disclosure statement.*

Finding a keyword is only half the battle. Once you have your keyword you want to use it properly in your article, aka – do your on-page SEO. This on-page SEO checklist goes over how to use your keyword to encourage Google to send you traffic.

Using your keyword in strategic places in your post lets Google know what your article is about. If Google doesn't know what your article is about it can't send you relevant traffic!

The URL

The URL of your post is a big deal. It is a big indicator to Google for what your article is about. I personally think this is the most important thing to pay attention to in regards to on page SEO simply because everything else can be changed. However, once an article is published, the URL is there to stay!

When you start writing a blog post WordPress will automatically make the URL (aka – the slug) the same as the article title when you save your draft for the first time.

That's fine while you are working but before you actually publish the article you will want to change the URL to be the keywords.

To change the URL in the Gutenberg editor you will first have to save your draft. Once you do that, click on the title, which will bring up a box that will allow you to edit the URL.

Then click on the “edit' button and type in your keyword into the box

Then type your keywords into the box that appears at the end of your domain. You don't have to put the dashes between the words, WordPress will do that for you when you save it.

Note: if you are using the classic WordPress editor, the URL is directly under the title. Just click “edit”, make your changes, and then click “ok”.

Now your URL will be your keywords. This is great because you can update the blog post over time but it will always be targeting this same keyword. You can make any changes you want and the URL will always be appropriate to the topic of the article.

Related: Trouble Ranking? Here's the Part of SEO You're Missing

H2 Headings

As you plan out your article, try to include the keyword in your H2 headings when it makes sense. You shouldn't force it, but take the opportunity whenever you can.

H2 Headings are always a great way to incorporate any related keywords you have.

The same article can rank for more than one keyword. For example, an article about dog accessories might rank for “best dog accessories” but it could also rank for “best dog collar”, “best dog sweater”, and “best dog harness”. Each of those related keywords could be it's own H2 heading.

Sprinkled Throughout the Text

You don't have to go overboard when using your keyword in your text. You should ALWAYS write for your reader and not Google. Keeping your reader happy will make Google happy.

Natural language is more important than using your keyword a set number of times. If it feels forced it will turn your reader off and that will hurt SEO more than any optimization will ever make up for.

However, if you picked a good keyword it should be fairly easy to work it in a few times. One place you should aim to put your keyword is at the start of the article. Preferably in the first paragraph if you can pull it off.

Meta Description

The meta description is what shows up in Google under the link. Here's an example:

You can customize what shows up here. If you don't Google will choose something for you. It's easy to customize so it's best to choose what displays here, rather than hope Google chooses something good.

This is easily customizable through the Yoast plug in. If you don't have this plug in I highly recommend it. The free version will work fine when you are just getting started.

When you are finished writing your post simply scroll down to the Yoast plug in in WordPress. You'll see a section of Yoast called “Google Preview”. Here it shows you what your listing will look like in search results.

Just under your preview there is a button that says “Edit snippet”. Click on that.

This will open a box that will allow you to customize your meta description. Here's a screenshot.

Pretty neat, right? When creating your meta description make sure you use your keyword. This shouldn't be too hard to do if your article is relevant to your keyword.

SEO Title

Your SEO title is what shows up in search results and can be different than the title on your site. Again, you can modify this in the Yoast plug in just above where you just customized your meta description.

Here's a screenshot:

As you can see, the SEO title spot has those purple bubbles in it. If you'd like to modify one of those pieces (say… the title for example) you can just delete that bubble and type in whatever you want your SEO title to be.

One thing to keep in mind is that you'll want to get your keyword as close to the front of the title as possible. The first few words is optimal.

If you do nothing, the SEO title will be the same as the title on the site. That could be fine, but this comes in super handy when do you want a different title on Google.

Sticking with my best dog collar example, let's say on you have a post targeting the keyword “best dog collars”. On the site you want to call it “Spot's favorite dog collars” because your community knows Spot is your dog and maybe you even have a whole series of articles as “Spot's favorite [blank]”.

But that's not going to work on Google. Googlers don't know, or care, who Spot is. They just want to research dog collars.

So instead of having to choose between your readers and your SEO, you can name the article “Spot's Favorite Dog Collars” on the site and have “Best Dog Collars on the Market Today” as the title on Google.

Ta-da!

Hint: You also don't have to use the title you have on the site on your Pins. You could use a third title there. So for your dog collar article, your titles might be something like:

  • On the site: Spot's Favorite Collars
  • SEO Title: Best Dog Collars on the Market Today
  • Pinterest: I tried 30 Dog Collars in 30 Days — Here are my Favorites

Image Titles

Do you upload your images with titles like IMG103216? If so, stop it. You are missing an opportunity to use your keyword in a really non-intrusive way.

Plus, naming them as your keyword could cause your images to pop up in an image search for the keyword.

Before you upload your images to WordPress rename them on your computer with the keyword. You can actually do this as you are uploading them.

When you add an image to WordPress, you'll select “upload” to choose an image from your computer. A box will open where you can browse for your image. When you find it…right click on the image and select “rename” and you can rename it right there.

This is such an easy and often overlooked place to put your keyword.

Speaking of images — watch their size. And I don't mean the dimensions of the image. I mean how big the actual file is. Big images take longer to load and can really slow down the speed of your site.

If you are using Canva you can download them as a JPG instead of a PNG. This will give you a much smaller file.

You can also compress the images before you upload them to your site using services like tiny.png and imagecompressor.com. Aim to get your files under 100K. Here's more about that directly from WordPress.

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    Bonus: Link Out to Authoritative Sites

    Ok, this tip isn't keyword related, but it's still great on-page SEO so I want to mention it.

    Link out to authoritative sites in your article. The more authoritative the better. Ideally, we're talking about government and scientific websites, such as IRS or the CDC. The IRS is the authority on tax-related stuff. The CDC is the authority on public health stuff. No one can dispute that.

    Who are the authorities in your niche? Link to them whenever you can.

    For this article, a link or two to Google would be nice. I'm saying Google like this, Google likes that. Oh yeah? Says who? Google says it, that's who.

    Summary

    If you've picked a relevant keyword it should be fairly easy to do your on page SEO well. Write your article and then go back and take a look at this checklist. These little tweaks can go a long way to helping your articles rank.

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