Prerequisites Before You Start This SEO Checklist
Tracking, Plugins & Mandatory Tools
- Google Tag Manager Setup: Google Tag Manager is a great tool for adding and managing multiple pixels and tracking codes without editing a site’s code.
- Google Analytics Setup: A must-have is Google Analytics. For SEO, you can track things like how much traffic you get from search engines, which pages get the most organic traffic, what’s the bounce rate, and many other important metrics.
- Google Search Console Setup: Search Console is a free webmaster tool that Google provides. This is how you communicate with Google directly and get data and feedback on how your website is doing.
- Yoast SEO for WordPress: Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that makes creating SEO-friendly content incredibly easy for you. It cares for you about things such as canonical tags, noindex tags and sitemaps.
Off-Page SEO Checklist
- Check the Google Search Console for crawl errors, duplicate content errors, missing titles and more: this is the free Google tool for website owners to get data on their website search performance. You can use it to identify technical issues with your site such as duplicate content, find search ranking data, visibility, CTR and more.
- Identify bad redirects (302s that should be 301s): A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect, passing nearly all SEO values from the old page to the new one. That’s a nice redirect. A 302 is an interim redirection. It is used for site maintenance or promotions that are timely. The redirected page’s SEO value will not be passed to the new destination.
- Look for broken links, errors, and troubleshooting issues: the bigger your site, the more important it is. Broken links, errors, and crawl errors make finding your content, indexing it, and driving traffic to it more difficult for search engines.
- Make sure you don’t have duplicate content: duplicate content can dilute content value across multiple URLs. Use 301 redirects, canonical tags or use Google Webmaster Tools to fix any duplicate content which could index on your site and penalize it.
- Check the speed of your site and keep it quick!: Search engines value sites that offer a good user experience and your site’s speed is an enormous factor. As visitors lose patience and leave, a slow loading site will increase your bounce rate.
- Make sure your site is mobile-friendly: As web traffic is increasing from mobile devices, having a site that is not responsive to different screen sizes and shapes will have a negative impact on usability, especially for local searches.
- Create an XML sitemap and submit it to the Google Search Console: an XML sitemap helps search engines understand your site’s structure and find all the pages you want to index on your site.
- Create a robots.txt file and submit it to the Google Search Console: a robots.txt file will be used in conjunction with an XML sitemap to determine what activity crawlers are allowed to perform in relation to each page. Including one in the directory at the top level allows you to control how your site is crawled and indexed by a search engine.
On-Page SEO Checklist
- Keyword research: understanding the terms people use when searching and the intent behind them is critical to your SEO strategy. Be sure to consider search intent and difficulty, choose 1 keyword per page, and generally start with lower-volume keywords first.
- Try to include your keyword in your URL: Keywords in the URL are known to be a ranking signal. However, stuffing your URL with keywords should be avoided: research has shown that shorter URLs tend to rank higher than long ones. To change a URL that already has authority, there are very serious consequences. So don’t do this if your page already has links!
- Add your keyword and make it compelling to your title tag: Although it is still important to include keywords in the title tag, it is not enough to get you to rank high. Search engines now also weigh on the results when determining rankings in the clickthrough rate, so compelling and attractive titles will help you get more people to click on your page.
- Add your keyword and make it compelling to your meta description: Search engines do not use the content of the meta description as a ranking signal. However, it can help with your CTR to include your keywords and write a compelling meta description.
- Add your keyword to your H1 tag and make sure that you only use one: Although the value of the H2, H3, …, SEO H6 tags is debatable, it is still generally a good idea to include your primary keyword in your H1 tag, make sure that there is one H1 throughout the page and that it appears before any other heading tag.
- Use your keyword 3 times and make sure that you have at least 100 words per page but 500 + is ideal: Use your keyword 3 times and make sure that you have at least 100 words per URL as a minimum. You can still rank with less, and you don’t want to put unnecessary text on your site, but I recommend that you don’t create a new page unless you have about 100 words of content worth it.
- Use synonyms in your copy: As search engines gain a more complex understanding of human language, content creators can use more natural language and remain relevant to the keywords they attempt to rank for. Synonyms are great, and it is highly encouraged to use natural language influenced by keyword research (instead of pure keywords).
- In your copy, use Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI): Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) is a method used to determine context. Including thematically related keywords to your primary keyword can help the search engines understand what your page content is about.
- Add descriptive ALT tags and filenames to your pages: By reading the ALT tag and looking at the file names, search engines will “see” images among other factors. When you name your pictures, try to be descriptive.
Additional information: Google looks at the language used in the hyperlink itself besides including links to relevant and authoritative sites in your content. By including internal text links that are relevant to the page you link to, including your keywords, you indicate what the linked content is about.
- Claim your brand name on as many social networking sites as possible: not only do you want to make sure that no one else gets your account name, but you can often own all the results on the first page of a brand search if you’re a new website or business.
- To double-check everything, use a SEO audit tool: manually performing a SEO audit is time-consuming and complicated. Luckily, SEO auditing tools are available that can help with the process. These will accelerate the process, identify errors and provide solutions. Instead of weaving out broken links, this allows you to spend more time working on overall strategy.
- U.S. search engine market think it matters? Setup Bing Webmaster Tools: This is the equivalent of Microsoft’s search engine search console for Google. Bing is the default Internet Explorer and Edge browsers search engine. Some reports say Bing now owns 33 percent of the U.S. market.
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