Check out the Ultimate SEO Checklist will help you boost your website traffic and increase your search engine rankings.
Websites now need to optimize their search engine results. It’s no longer optional.
Apart from all the elements that make a website good, SEO (or “organic search”) is essential for any digital marketing plan.
In terms of website design, we are well beyond the age of “if they build it, they will follow.”
However, I also know that many website owners, from small businesses to startups to non-profits and large corporations, have trouble with SEO implementation or have limited budgets for SEO.
You don’t have to worry if you are a novice in Search Engine Optimization. This SEO checklist will ensure that you don’t make any mistakes in your initial SEO efforts and allow you to master SEO as a whole.
Due to the competition and focus, I have created a checklist for website owners to help them identify the most critical aspects of SEO and build upon them.
I have divided the SEO aspects into those that I do traditionally in my SEO process.
- Technical SEO
While indexing and other on-page items can be controlled within the website, external factors should not be overlooked. They must be considered as part of a larger search engine optimization strategy.
Technical SEO Cheat Sheet
You must ensure that your site is indexed and crawled before focusing on the content you want to rank in search engines.
All of this falls under the technical SEO category.
Free Reporting platforms
First, make sure that Google Search Engine, Bing Webmaster tools, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and Google Search Console are all connected to your site.
These tools will provide you with necessary diagnostic and analytical data and will be of great assistance.
Installation of Google Analytics (and Setting up Goals)
Web counters can be handy in almost any situation. It’s better to have several than one. Google Analytics can be installed online, but you should also consider other web counter services. Google Analytics
Add Your Website to the Google Search Console
If you want to achieve great success, it is essential to add your website to Google Search Console. These search engine optimization tools may have a feature that will do this for you and help you identify and correct errors. Search Console – Bing Webmaster Tools
Connect Your Google Analytics and Google Search console
You can use Google Analytics to access “Acquisitions (Search Engine Optimization – Queries”) and see all the helpful tips. This will enable you to obtain the most precise SEO numbers by linking these two services.
Google Maps allows you to add information about your company or website Google Maps.
Google Maps will be a huge benefit to local businesses. It’s easy for people to search your business online and find an address. You can even offer coupons to people who find you via Google Maps.
Make sure your domain is registered for several years!
You will need to protect your domain if you plan to conduct a lot of business via your website. It’s worth spending a few years to secure a legitimate domain. Doorway domains are available for use on an annual basis.
File “robots.txt” and save it into the root of your domain
Your robots.txt will be extremely important as it is the engine that Google uses to index your website. The “User-agent” rule allows the entire website to become indexable. It is possible to block certain links from appearing on Google. This is useful for getting rid of spam generated by competitors. You can also use the GSC (Google Search Console) to crawl, block URLs, and test your robots.txt files.
Create an XML sitemap and ensure it’s saved to the root of your domain
Sitemaps are great because Google won’t automatically find every page on your site. An XML sitemap allows Google to index many pages simultaneously, rather than going through each page individually. You’ll need to divide up XML Sitemaps if you have more than a thousand pages to index.
This table of contents is for your website. This sitemap HTML file is the modern method of “submitting” your pages to search engines.
Many website platforms have this feature built-in or plugins/add-ons that can create dynamic sitemaps that sync your pages. You should have at most a static sitemap that you can create using a variety of free tools.
This file gives instructions to search engines about which pages and parts of the site they should not index. Search engines will default look for all content that they can find.
This file should be included even if you don’t want search engines to index any pages from your site.
- It is accurate.
- Validates in Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools
- It is important not to block any critical content (or your entire site) from being indexed.
You should know the purpose of each domain name if you have more than one domain name. They can be parked but not used.
You should verify that the redirects to your site are 301 redirects and not mirroring or doing a 302 redirect. While this could be an accessible area to check and forget, it can lead to duplicate content and confusion about the original domain.
Your navigation section and sections will benefit from the more structure and hierarchy you can create. This will benefit users and search engines and present organized topics and content (more later). It is essential to get your directory structure and URLs to match what you are publishing.
It is a good idea to take a step back and map out your site structure. This forces you to consider the content and prioritized areas of your site. It also helps you think about how to direct your users (as a matter of fact, search engines) through your site.
We continue to see statistics showing users spending less time before they bounce.
You can use various developer tools to help you find the best areas in your website to improve page load times and make it more competitive.
Mobile-friendly is a given. But, even though your site was built in a responsive mobile design framework, ensure that it validates.
Make sure you run it through Google’s mobile-friendly test. You should also test it on as many user experiences (UX) and quality assurance (QA) devices that your users will be using.
Make sure to add helpful information and create a custom 404 page. It is not a good idea to have a default browser error pop up on your site.
A 404 page should include helpful links, navigation, site-search functionality, and contact options.
Secure sites are essential, just like site speed and mobile-friendly. Your website may not have an SSL certificate, and users could be turned away from your site if they see a warning in Chrome or another browser.
You can instill trust by implementing an SSL certificate on your website.
Plugins, add-ons, and extensions
You are likely already using plugins and other code extensions if you use a content management platform. Many platforms offer tools that can be added to your site to control SEO and other analytics functions.
Trusted plugins are best for Drupal, Magento, and other SEO plugins.
Are you carrying baggage from an older site? Or are you using outdated SEO techniques? You might have legitimate reasons for duplicate content on your website and elsewhere.
Before you start on-page optimization, it is essential to understand your current situation is. You should consider a canonical strategy or how you plan to use robots to index duplicate pages.
It is crucial to understand and address these issues before investing time and effort in page-level optimization. Copyscape, along with Screaming Frog, is my favorite tool for finding duplicate content and analyzing it before diving into the on-page stuff.
When SEO is discussed, most people think of on-page factors (e.g., keywords, content, and title tags). The days of optimizing only a few pages or websites are over.
Search engines pay more attention to context than keywords, so don’t just update meta tags and body copy and move on.
Context is created by looking at all the elements on a page, then considering how they relate within sections and navigation.
Keywords and Topics
Before you can focus on building context, it is essential to understand who you are making it for. You should do keyword research and broader research on your target audience before you can start building context.
It is long past the time when you could stuff terms into pages or tags.
We must use SEO tools to find the keywords, phrases, and topics compatible with our work. We can then drill down to individual words that we can use within the site architecture.
You need to identify the essential terms, map them to your content, then work on the other on-page factors.
Finding the right keywords (and how to apply them)
Selecting the right strategy
You don’t want to settle with less when it comes to setting goals in your online projects. You will need to choose more competitive keywords than the traditional ones if you want long-term goals. Long-tail and LSI keywords are also options. When selecting keywords, you should always consider search volume and competition levels. This will determine the quality of your keywords.
Analyzing Keywords in the Competition
Many tools allow you to check the keywords your competitors use. This will enable you to identify what keywords are working well for your competitors and also will enable you to incorporate the keywords into your SEO process. This will enable you to create a successful PPC campaign or search queries as a whole. This is why the best tool to do this kind of thing is the Keyword finder.
Make your final list of keywords to target
It takes some effort to create the final list you will be targeting. But it is worth it. You should take all the keywords you have chosen to use and run them through your search engine optimization tools. Take note of how much traffic each keyword can bring in. You should also group keywords for each page on your website. However, avoid duplicate keywords. The following keywords can be used: Keyword finder tool.
Relevance requires content.
It is difficult to compete with websites that have many words and other aspects. High quality is better than high quantity. If you can do both, you will be in a better place.
Rich content that is relevant to users and clear to search engines is what you need. Avoid falling for old tactics which can harm user experience and place you at risk in search engines.
This is the page’s first element and is often overlooked. Search engines can index faceted URLs that are not well-structured and readable by search engines just fine.
The URL allows you to create a clean directory structure with keywords and context. You can modify the URL paths for your site.
The title is not enough to help you. You must have a unique, relevant tag for each page.
Use the best practices to determine the length of the page and the keywords most relevant to it. Write and implement static tags, or use dynamic formulas to populate the title.
We need a unique and relevant meta description for each page, just like the title tag. It can be static or dynamic. Make sure it’s helpful to the user and contains keywords that are relevant to the content.
Heading tags or “H” tags are essential for SEO. I am not focusing on one element but instead on how they all work together to create context.
Use heading tags if you are allowed to. Make sure that they are well-organized and include relevant keywords. Use only one H1 tag, and make it the first.
Website developers or platforms often use these tags for CSS purposes. You might not have an H1 tag on a particular page but a lot of H6 tags. These tags are often woven into code and content.
Copy for the Body
Although much of the older school’s focus was on semantic indexing and keyword density, these formulas are irrelevant. However, it is essential to remember that the largest block of indexable content on a page is often found in the body copy.
Do not forget to include your focus keywords in the body copy. They will tie in with the context you have created in other areas.
But don’t obsess about using a keyword 37x. Focus on the bigger picture, and do what is natural. You’ll be fine.
Image Alt Attributes
Missing alt is one of the most common red flags inaccessibility and on-page auditing reporting tools. Search engines can use alt text to help them understand the meaning of an image.
Another opportunity to incorporate keywords into pages. It would help if you also considered the accessibility of your site for those with screen readers.
Schema.org is a ranking factor, but it does not always have to be. It goes directly to the heart and soul of building context.
The search engines can use structured data markup to help you determine the category or segment in which your subject matter falls.
If there is no way to add it on your website platform, or if it is expensive or takes a lot of time, you can put it behind the other items. Keep it in your mind.
SEO Optimization on-Page
Structuring Your Website (Page Architecture)
A website pyramid that is well-constructed can help you get more traffic. However, the term “pyramid” is not a description of the organization of your website assets. This includes the navigation section of your page and the structure of the URL.
For SEO purposes, create optimized URLs
It is essential to ensure that URLs are designed with SEO optimism. You won’t get the results you want if you don’t have the right URLs. These are some obvious tips to help you get started.
- The search engines will see your URL and pick up the target keyword.
- You can do everything you can to keep your URL short and to the point. Avoid symbols and signs like! $ or!.
- Use an underscore to your URL. If you have to make a space, use the hyphen
- Do not split URLs too many times. Keep the number of folders you use to a minimum.
If your URLs follow every rule of the SEO-friendly variety, it is a sign that you are taking every step to be successful in this department.
Removing duplicate pages from Index/Canonical URLs
It is always recommended that your URLs use a canonical type to maximize their effectiveness. This allows search engines to identify the preferred URL for your URL. It can be updated or not. It is possible to make any URL into a canonical page. Just remember the phrase (rel= “canonical”) that can be used to modify the value.
Writing Unique Titles for Each Page
A unique title for each page adds creativity and is essential for on-page optimization. Here are some tips to help you create the best titles possible:
- Make sure every title you write is unique.
- You should add one keyword to every title that you write. Search engines will only display the first 70 characters.
- Do not use more than two keywords.
- The title should be as brief as possible but as informative as you can.
- Avoid using spammy keywords. Some examples of such keywords would include “cheap” and “free.”
- Do not duplicate titles.
- You are free to use any type of brand name in your title. However, you should not apply it to every title on your website. Users may be annoyed.
Creating Unique Meta Descriptions for Every Single Page
Meta descriptions are small pieces of information that appear under a search result. It will tell the user what a page is about, but, most importantly, it will entice them to click on your site. These are some of the most effective ways to create meta descriptions that are as descriptive as possible:
- Limit your meta descriptions to 160 characters. This is the maximum that Google search engines will display.
- Use at least one keyword for your meta description. Avoid keyword stuffing
- Meta descriptions should be clear and informative to help the user understand the purpose of a particular page.
- You can use your brand name in the meta descriptions, but not in every meta description.
- Spam-like words (free or cheap, etc.) should be avoided.
You can use the GSC (Google Search Console) to check your meta descriptions and any content that may appear duplicated. Go to Search Appearance > HTML Improvements > Duplicate Meta Descriptions.
Proper Heading Types
Many website owners don’t know how to use the correct header. Many website owners fail to use the right headers. This is why there are many content writing services available. You can change the header values yourself, even if you have multiple titles and headings. You’ll need to use H2 and H6 tags for headers with various titles. The H1 tag is reserved for the first title. If you don’t have any “extra titles,” the best combination for header tags will be H1 to H3.
Any H tags that include an additional term such as strong or EM should be avoided. You will be considered spam if you insert a header tag in one of your images.
Alt-Tags for your Images
Alt-tags are essentially a way of getting more SEO from the images you use on your website. It’s not apparent, but it is crucial to your online success. Here are some tips:
- Alt-tags can improve the accessibility and user ability of your website. It generates potential traffic through the use of a picture.
- Alt-tags are more critical than titles images for search engines (for images).
- Your description of your photos should not exceed 5 words.
- Use only one keyword, and do not keyword-stuff at any time.
Broken Links / Nofollow Deletion
Broken links can permanently harm your SEO presence. It’s why it is essential to remove them as soon as possible. These are some helpful little pieces of information to help you understand why broken links happen.
- When a user enters a domain, a 404 error is displayed.
- The download links you offer on your website do not work anymore.
- Administrators have removed articles you’ve published.
You can use many tools/plugins to find and remove broken links. Google Search Engine Console is the most used tool. You can also use the Crawl errors options to locate them.
Website Speeds: Improving and Monitoring the Load Speed
Your website’s load speed will determine how long users have to wait to access your content. These days people are impatient and will not wait for your website to load. The faster your website can load, the better chance you have of getting traffic. Slow-loading websites will not bring in as much traffic because people don’t have the time to wait.
Outbound Links: Limit to 100 per Page
While outbound links can be helpful for SEO, you should not use too many. You don’t want to overload your outbound links with too many. If you exceed that limit, Google may flag your entire site.
Inner Cross-Linking (Internal Link/External Link)
The act of linking your website to another site is organizing the whole project. These are some helpful tips to assist you in the interlinking process.
- Sitemaps in HTML format are essential for search engines to index. This will make it easier for users to find your site and allow them to navigate it easily.
- You can add backlinks to articles on your website. Simply do this at the bottom of the page.
- Your articles’ internal links should link to other blog posts or sections of your website.
- Backlinks can be added to your images whenever you need them, but make sure you do it correctly.
- To avoid duplicate content, add a sidebar to each page that contains your latest articles. However, it must be blocked from the indexing process.
You can use many tools/plugins to find and remove broken links. Google Search Engine Console is the most used tool. You can also use the Crawl errors options to locate them.
Use a 301 redirect
These are the types of redirect/status codes you will use to move a page (permanently) to another spot. These can be created directly in your htaccess file. You must understand how to apply your redirect pages.
Markup Validity: Using HTML to Check Your Documents
You will have a list/syntax that contains HTML codes that will help you identify potential issues. This will allow you to view how your website behaves in different browsers and impact page loading speeds. Many validation tools are available online, so it is just a matter of finding one that you feel is worth your time.
External SEO Factors
External factors are not things you can control and do not necessarily fit into a checklist. It would be remiss of me to suggest that the only things you need to do to get to the top in search engines are the indexing and the on-page stuff.
On-page factors influence relevance and trust in your content to search engines. External factors can affect your “authority” status and validate your site’s position as the subject matter authority.
Backlinks from authoritative and credible websites to your website play an important role in SEO. Unlinked brand mentions are also noteworthy (a.k.a. citations), as well as how often your website is mentioned on the internet.
It’s essential to create great content people want to link to. It’s a good idea to search for quality links that complement your content through accreditation, natural relationships, and other sources within your industry.
Focus your efforts on quality resources that are relevant to what you’re looking for. Never pay for links that don’t conform to search engine guidelines.
Local directories and search site citations can be significant if you own a physical business.
Although claiming and properly owning your listing can protect your brand at a fundamental level, it is essential to ensure that your name, address, and phone number (NAP) are consistent across all relevant local and social directories.
You can start to build a solid foundation by tackling NAP data.
Even though it doesn’t directly affect your rankings, social media can help you with SEO and other digital marketing efforts.
It is essential to ensure that your website links to active and owned social media accounts and vice versa.
You must also ensure that you are engaging at the same level as your top-ranking peers. Although this is an imperfect scale, it is possible to understand the activities of your competitors and ensure that you are addressing the SEO aspect.
It’s not easy or quick to optimize your website. You have to start somewhere.
Your website will be successful if you master technical SEO and on-page optimization.
I’m Alexios Papaioannou, an experienced affiliate marketer and content creator. With a decade of expertise, I excel in crafting engaging blog posts to boost your brand. My love for running fuels my creativity. Let’s create exceptional content together!