SEO Checklist: 35 Proven Steps to Increase Traffic Instantly
This SEO checklist highlights the most important things you should do when starting a new website or performing an SEO Audit. It covers SEO basics, on-page SEO, technical SEO, keyword research, content optimization, and link building.
Search engine optimization is an evolving process. It's embedded in best practices and trending tactics. Whether you're taking your startup site public or 'polishing' on-site search engine optimization (SEO) post-launch, it's crucial to have a process in place to ensure you aren't missing anything.Therefore, our SEO gurus collected 35 factors, recommended for incorporating into your checklists and processes to ensure that your SEO stays ahead of the game. The following checklist considers SEO factors related to your:
- Basic SEO checklist;
- On-page SEO checklist;
- Content SEO checklist;
- Keyword research checklist;
- Link building checklist;
- Technical SEO checklist.
Basic SEO Checklist
Let's start with the SEO fundaments that you should apply before doing anything else. Remember that these factors are unlikely to have a direct effect on rankings. They're the basics that every SEO practitioner should take into account.
1. Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free tool powered by Google. It enables you to see how many people visit your site and how they interact with it. To install this tool, sign up and paste the tracking code to your site.
2. Setup Google Search Console
Google Search Console is forceful, the necessary means for all webmasters. It allows you to track your performance in search and check the keyword for which you rank. It'll also inform you about the on-site improvements you can make.
3. Install Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a free WordPress SEO plugin and can be used for some other content management systems (CMS). It creates sitemaps, optimizes metadata, applies "noindex" attributes to specific areas of your website, and more.
4. Install Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing Webmaster Tools isn't popular as Google Search Console, but up to a third of all searches are done in Bing, especially in the USA. Therefore, it's worth optimizing for. Also, it has some useful features, like its built-in keyword research tool.
Technical SEO Checklist
It's everything you do to make it easier for search engines to find your site. Technical issues can prevent your site from higher ranking and getting organic traffic.Below are a few technical SEO tips that you need to have in website optimization checklist.
5. Create an XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap assists search engines to understand the structure of the site and find all the pages you want to be indexed. As one of the best Google SEO practices, you can utilize Google Search Console to submit a sitemap to Google:Also, if you're using Yoast SEO, the plugin will maintain your sitemap and update it automatically. If you aren't using Yoast, you can crawl your site with other crawler software and use it to generate a sitemap. Here're some resources you can use to create and submit a sitemap:
- Google Search Console;
- Yoast SEO;
- Screaming Frog.
6. Create a robots.txt File
The robots.txt file will determine what activities crawlers are allowed to do in relation to each page on your site.Including one activity in the top-level directory that permits you to maintain the method that a search engine crawls and indexes the website. For instance, you can block Google from crawling the WordPress login URL. These directions can be established for different types of crawlers, letting you determine different protocols for various search engines. Below are some systems you can use to create and test your robots.txt file:
- Yoast SEO;
- Google's robots.txt tester.
7. Fix Crawl Errors
Crawl errors are those preventing Google's algorithm from seeing your content. You can locate them using the Coverage report in Google Search Console. Repair all the errors you find and supervise the Search Console to fix new issues as they occur.
8. Fix Broken Links
Broken links on your site send a weak signal to Google. A website with many broken backlinks is probably not up-to-date and unlikely to deliver a valuable answer to searchers.You should avoid having broken links on your site. To find them, you can use many available online tools such as WordPress Plugins For Broken Link Check, Google Search Console, or Online Broken Link Checker.
9. Avoid duplicate content
Duplicate content occurs when two or more URLs on your site are very similar or identical. It can decrease the SEO value of your content among several URLs.Use canonical tags, 301 redirects, or Google Search Console to fix any duplicate content that could be indexing and penalizing your website.
10. Site's Fast Loading
You must be sure that your site loads fast. Why? Because users don't want to wait for ages to see your content. They just click the back button and select a different result.Not only does this result in losing out on visitors, but it'll wreak havoc on engagement metrics like dwell time and time on page. It’s especially importing when you start with new website SEO. Therefore, as a general rule, keep the fully loaded time under 3 seconds.
11. Mobile-Friendly Optimization
Most searches happen on mobile devices as opposed to desktop. Hence, having a mobile-friendly website is more important than ever. Check if your site needs work with Google's Mobile-Friendly Test tool.
12. Switch to HTTPS
HTTPs is a ranking factor. Google claim so. But, 75% of top-ranking sites are still not secure. Therefore, more and more websites are switching to HTTPs.Beside the boosting of webpage ranking, HTTPs also protects your visitors' data. It's especially crucial if you've any contact forms on the website. If you're working with passwords or payment information, then it's an absolute must-have.
On-Page SEO Checklist
On-page SEO is everything you do to help search engines understand that your content is a relevant answer to user's queries. Here's how to do it.
13. Include Your Keyword In Your URL
URL helps Google's search algorithm understand what your page is all about. Therefore, you want to add the main keyword in your URL. For example, the target keyword for this page is ‘SEO checklist.’ So, we made the URL for this page: https://organiksoft.com/ultimate-seo-checklist. And that's it.
14. Use Short URLs
Keep the URLs as short as possible. Why? A recent analysis of 2 million Google search results found that short URLs rank better in SERPs.
15. Front-Load the Keyword In Your Title Tag
Yes, almost everybody knows that main keyword goes in the title tag. But not everyone knows that where you place your keyword matters. Explicitly, you want to put your keyword in front of the title tag.For instance, my main keyword for this post (as you can see) is ‘SEO checklist’.
16. Embed Title Tag Modifiers
They are words and phrases that add to the title tag. When you do it, your page can potentially rank for lots of long-tail keywords.
17. Use Your Keyword Once In The First 200 Words
Google focusses mostly on the first 200 words of your page. Therefore, make sure to use your keyword once here.
18. Use Keywords in H1, H2 or H3 Tags
Make sure to include keywords in H1, H2 or H3 tags. This method won't make an epic change in your Google rankings, but when it comes to search engine optimization, it'll help.
19. Optimize Images
The images you use describe your content. Today, Google requires more info about images. In order to help them understand your images, you need to optimize your image alt tags and filenames.SEO Optimized images help you rank in image search. Let's see how:
- When you save the image, write a filename that briefly describes what your image is;
- Let's say you took a picture of a fruit plate;
- Name that image something like fruit_plate.png;
- Then, when you add the image to the webpage, give it a descriptive alt tag. And that's all.
20. Utilize LSI Keywords and Synonyms
Back in the history, it made sense to 'keyword stuff' webpage. Not anymore. Today, Google is smarter. So instead of using the same keyword 100 times, employ LSI keywords and synonyms. For example, you want to rank for "how to start a business."Well, you want to mention that exact keyword a few times on your page and synonyms like:
- How to open a business;
- Starting a business;
- How to run a business;
- How to set up a business.
Also, add some LSI Keywords. They're terms that go along with your primary keyword. You can find a bunch of these online. Then, add a few of these LSI keywords to the page. And you're ready.
21. Use External Links
Always link out to 5-9 authority sites in the article. For example, try to link to trusted websites like Wikipedia. And those links show Google that your content is relevant and trustworthy.
22. Use Internal Links
This is ultra-simple. Whenever you publish a new article, link to 2-5 other pages on your site. This is great for website indexing, and can improve yours page overall ranking in SERPs.
Choosing a topic with high search traffic potential and doing some basic on-page SEO is paramount, but all your efforts will be wasted if your content isn't provided any value to the readers.Follow these quick tips to drive your content to the next level.
23. Powerful Intro
Fail to persuade readers that your page offers what they want within a few seconds and they'll push that back button faster than the blink of an eye.To attract links—you need to correlate heavily with rankings and traffic over the years . Also, the reader has to be engaged enough to read your content. That's why the introduction is arguably the most critical part of your page.
Nobody wants to read a King Kong block of text. So, you should always break up your content with subheadings, images, quotes, etc.—anything that will keep the reader on the page.
25. Short Sentences and Paragraphs
It's recommended by many SEO experts to write for 8-th grade reading level. So, unless you want to write about rocket science, don't overcomplicate things.It means using short sentences and paragraphs. Plus:
- Skip unnecessary jargon;
- Write simple words instead of complex ones;
- Avoid pointless adverbs.
26. EAT – Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness
That's what Google tells to be looking at in their official search quality evaluator guidelines. Here's a more in-depth look at the 3 critical attributes of E A-T, taken from those same guidelines:
- The expertise of the main content creator;
- The authoritativeness of the creator, the main content itself, and the website;
- The trustworthiness of the creator, the main content itself, and the website.
Recent industry studies show that using multimedia can help you rank in Google. First, it makes content visually better. Second, images and other multimedia forms help content rank better.So, it’s recommended to use these forms of multimedia in your content:
- Visual content;
- Interactive polls and quizzes.
Keyword Research Checklist
Keyword research is the cornerstone of SEO. Hence, it's crucial to do keyword research the right way. And in the following checklist, our SEO experts show you how to find keywords that your customers search for swiftly.
28. Choose a Primary Keyword
Each post or page on the site should target one main primary keyword. How do you find the proper primary keyword? Use tools such as KeywordTool.io, LongtailPro, or SEMrush.
29. Find Long-Tail Keywords
Folks search for the same thing in various ways. Insofar, that 10% of Google searches are new and have never been searched at all. That's why it's pivotal to optimize for long-tail keyword variations.The best method to find such keywords is to use Google autocomplete. Type your primary keyword, for example, primary keyword, and you'll see long-tail suggestions.
30. Join into Online Communities
Quora, Reddit, forums, and other online communities are fantastic places to find keywords.
31. Use SEO Keyword Tools
Finding the proper SEO keyword tool so you can distinguish between low competition and high competition keywords can be challenging.Still, there are some helpful resources to help analyze and find keywords with low competition. Here's a list of the best tools for keyword discovery and analysis:
- KeywordTool.io is a great and simple keyword tool. It can scrape Google Suggest results in an easy to follow and understandable way;
- SEMrush is one of the best SEO keyword tools on the market today. It has a variety of great features and allows you to generate an in-depth audit of your site;
- LongtailPro is excellent for keyword competition analysis. While it's pricey, chances are high, this tool will end up paying for itself in a short time.
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Link Building Checklist
Link building is one of the most powerful things you can do to boost your rankings. Naturally, it means convincing other websites to link to your pages. Links were the foundation of the original Google algorithm back in '98 – and they're just as relevant in today's algorithm.Here're a few tried and tested link building strategies you can apply.
32. Use competitor's links sources
You can build links by replicating the competitors' links.How? There're many different strategies. Still, a great tip is to look for websites that are linking to multiple competitors as the chance of them linking to you is high. Search for easy to replicate links, such as those from guest posts, forums, directories, link roundups, etc.
33. Guest Posting
Guest posting is a proven link building strategy. And, it's recommended to post on sites that will send you targeted traffic.But, there's a recommended and unrecommended method to guest post.
- Recommended method: Publish a guest post on respected sites in your niche;
- Unrecommended method: Publish guest posts on any site that has a 'write for us' page.