SEO CHECKLIST: The only checklist you’ll need for SEO.
Here's a step by step checklist that you can start using immediately to see the effects of SEO. It does get a little technical in between, but I’ve tried to keep it pretty straight forward.
This checklist will guide you through different ways one can check and optimize their SEO efforts. If you are new to SEO, I highly recommend going through the SEO guide to start with.
We’ll be covering quite a lot this time, so you can use the below links to navigate through the sections easily.
Quick Tip: Always think of SEO as incrementally beneficial, what this means is that it takes time to get results and it’s okay if you miss out on a few things here and there, you can get back to them later.
When it comes to search engine optimization for a new website or business, it can get intimidating with all the information present out there. So here I’ll be helping you with the most basic and recommended steps that can get you going with SEO.
The basic setup
Let’s start with setting up Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is a collection of tools and resources for the webmaster or SEO specialist, to keep track of website performance.
Now why use google’s services? First things, it’s free unlike other 3rd party providers and the tool provides access to a ton of data. So it's an obvious choice.
Once this is done, your GSC is good to go.
With GSC in place, you can do a lot of things and some of them are
Finding out which keywords and pages contribute the highest number of clicks.
Connecting with other Google tools like Google Analytics and Google Ads to get better insights.
Sitemap - For website crawling.
Moving on to setting up Google Analytics
Google Analytics is probably one of the most well-equipped web applications available today. It’s a powerful application to track the traffic patterns on the website. Just like GSC, this is also given entirely free of cost, once you log in and set up the property, you are ready to go.
This set-up process is similar to that of Google Search Console. Where a property has to be created and added, so the website can be tracked. You can read more regarding this here.
Google Analytics helps with
Getting real-time information about the website like the number of users who are currently live on the website and much more.
Understanding your audience like age, gender, interest, device, and location of your audience.
Finding the flow of how the user reached your website.
Easily, the best thing would be the reports and the data that is available at your disposal.
WordPress powers 39% of all the websites on the internet. So it’s obvious that there is a need for SEO to be present. WordPress has a huge base of plugins available just for this.
If you’re in a pickle to selecting a plugin, I’d recommend Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. It takes care of the SEO effort and much more.
Google is getting better every day with its complex algorithms and how it identifies users'
For instance, when a user searches for - “Dell XPS”, Google knows and understands the intent behind it and shows the appropriate results.
I’ve tried classifying this in 3 broad spectrums
Searching for Information - “Reviews Dell XPS”
Searching for something or some page - “One Plus website”
Search with a buying intent - “Buy laptops or Phone”
So understanding the intent before writing anything can be really helpful to target your audience.
Keep an eye on these On-Page SEO optimizations
The next thing that can be done is keeping the URL short. You might wonder how does that make a difference? Believe it or not, it actually does.
Google recommends having shorter urls can be more user friendly and recommends not using lengthy URLs as they can be intimidating to the user.
Usage of Tags
When a website is designed it needs some sort of order and that can be achieved by tags.
One of the most used tags on the webpage. Heading tags are to be used in nested orders from H1 to H6. It helps give your content more structure for example
The H1 tag can be used as the general heading and H2 for a sub-heading and so on. (Hope you saw where that was going)
These are clickable headlines on the result pages of a search. This is the first line that the user reads so it’s important to be concise and give a description of the page. The title tag displays the first 40-60 characters of the content.
This will be used to describe the website content. It’s displayed below the title tag and it can show up to 140-160 characters. So try to make it descriptive enough to capture the attention of the user.
Google does not see images as we humans do. So to make google understand what the image is about we will need descriptive tags.
Check for Keywords
Are keywords important for the website? Yes, they definitely are!! Keywords are the backbone of SEO.
Keyword research can be thought of as market research in today’s time.
Google Keyword Planner
One of the easiest ways to discover long-tail keywords.
Login into Google Keyword Planner
Navigate to keyword planner
Put in the topic
And Boom!! You can see the list of keywords with their search competition.
You can find all the data here and use it to make the content more effective.
3rd Party Tools
Alternatively, there are other 3rd party tools present, that can also help
The one I find most useful is Moz. It gives 1000 keyword suggestions which are quite sufficient to start off with and you can get up to 10 free searches in a month.
Keyword Shitter is another alternative that can help with the keyword volume.
While on-page SEO is all about, how content is present on the website. Off-page SEO is more about how to promote the website on the internet.
Off-page SEO comes down to one thing and that is high quality and fresh content which in return results in authoritative backlinks.
Backlinks are nothing but links from one website to another. For example, someone links to your website or blog, then that’s a backlink to the website/blog.
One important thing to keep in mind is, it’s the quality of the backlinks rather than the quantity.
Putting it in simpler words, when websites with good authority link's to your blog/website, Google understands that this is good and engaging content present and will push it higher in the search engine result pages (SERPs).
There are a lot of ways of getting backlinks, some of the easiest ways are
Generating fresh and engaging content from surveys and research to name a few.
Find broken links on the internet related to your topic or domain and let the webmaster (person who takes care of the website) know to link that to your website or article.
Guest blogging is where you write a post for other websites and in return, they link to your content.
The SkyScraper Technique (highly recommended) where you find loads of links related to a certain topic and make something great out of it.
If your brand already has a presence and if there were previous mentions of your brand you can get in touch with the webmaster and let them know to backlink to your website/blog.
Social Media Marketing
It’s not completely proven that social media shares or likes affect off-page SEO but it does give a compelling reason to engage with users and build your brand.
A strong social presence is always good for a brand and in addition to that social media gives a great platform to connect with your audience and interact with them directly.
These aren’t just some tactics that are one-off things, these should be continuously monitored and measure the effectiveness of the strategy.
Technical SEO is all about optimizing the website so it’s easy for the bot/crawler to go through the web pages and index them more effectively.
Site maps are necessary for bots/crawlers to know the website so it can be indexed.
Sitemaps can be easily made with the help of an online tool. If you are using a WordPress website, using Yoast SEO can help or any other sitemap plugin can solve this.
Once the site map is ready, upload it to the Google Search Console.
Make the website mobile friendly
Majority of people who use the internet prefer a mobile device, so this is of paramount importance that the website should be optimized for mobile devices. If this is not optimized you could be missing out on a major chunk of traffic.
Google again has a handy tool that helps with page insights and other important details like page speeds and other optimizations that can be done.
Avoid duplicate content
It's a big no-no for duplicate content from google.
And if you think about it, it's not a good experience altogether. I would not enjoy reading the same content again and again, so yes. This should be avoided at all costs.
If this is not done google will not consider indexing the content.
Having an SSL certificate
It gets very complicated when someone googles “SSL Certificate”.
So I’ll spare you all the technicalities, and put this in simple terms
SSL certificates are required in order to keep user data secure, verify ownership of the website, prevent attackers from creating a fake version of the site, and gain user trust.
Google considers this as one of its ranking factors, so if this is not done yet, then get it done. You can use let’s encrypt to get a free SSL and get it installed.
Fix broken links if any
Personally speaking, broken links are not a good experience and google thinks the same. Keeping a check of which links on the website are working and which ones are not is a good practice.
Usually, this happens when the blog link or permalinks are changed. Dr Link Check is something that I use to keep a check on this.
SEO is fairly simple, when broken down into different segments and worked on individually.
Remember, SEO is a time-consuming process and it takes months together to show results.
Content is meant for users and not the search engine, so focus more on how to make the content more legible and easy to digest. Use images and videos wherever necessary to explain things.
Working on content that is not present out there can help with backlinks and guest blogging is a great way to get traffic to your website/blog.