Are you looking for a complete SEO checklist that will help you increase traffic and visibility on your website? Whether you are performing local or eCommerce Search Engine Optimization, this basic guide to Search Engine Optimization will help you sustain these strategies in your bag as a marketer.
The following 21-point checklist below is based on the metrics we emphasize most. For instance, at Intricate Digital Marketing, we value having relevant website traffic, with that being said, the following checklist is based on getting relevant organic traffic so you can achieve your goals in the future.
Basic SEO Checklist
Let’s begin this SEO checklist so you can start initiating your efforts to get more traffic to your site. Please note that the tactics listed below are not necessarily going to directly benefit your Search Engine Rankings, but these steps if you will are necessary for every marketing expert out there.
1. Install Yoast SEO (or other SEO plugin)
Yoast SEO is by far the best and most effective SEO plugin available for every WordPress website.
Yoast features the most effective search rankings.
Yoast SEO is the best WordPress SEO plugin on the market. It offers a complete website optimization tool that helps you improve your website.WP Beginner
2. Sitemap Creation
The great thing about an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO is that it does all the heavy lifting. With a swift click, you can create a sitemap where you can later submit the site to google.
The reason for a sitemap is so you can simply tell Google or other search engines what to crawl and what not to crawl. Also, having a sitemap on a blog publication makes it easy so google can crawl new blogs that come out without having to manually submit the URL for indexing. Below is an image of my sitemap on this site.
3. Get Google Analytics
Google Analytics is by far the best analytical number you’ll get from your site. Ahrefs & SEMrush can estimate how much organic traffic you get, but your direct google analytics will directly correlate how many visitors visited your site.
There are numerous modules within google analytics, the most used section I use is the audience, behavior and acquisition modules. Each module will show you in-depth analytics from your current analytics account.
If you are looking at how to install google analytics watch the video below or click here to learn more about it.
4. Google Search Console Setup
Google Search Console is under-estimated by many people. If you have a Google Search Console account setup correctly you already have a massive advantage on many websites. The benefits of having an account here is that you can manually submit URLs to Google, Validate Errors & Mobile Friendliness, Sitemap Submission, and more.
The following image is pulled directly from my google search console where you can see relevant keywords users searched and clicked on my site.
Pro Tip: If you use keyword analysis to determine the target keyword for your site, blog or article. Use these keyword research studies and implement on-site optimization in accordance, you will experience much better results in the future if you do that.
5. Find Target Keyword
Finding your target keyword or very important. Whether you are writing a blog article or optimizing your homepage, keeping a target keyword in mind will always reward you in the end.
You must implement optimization strategies to get results, whether you leave time and money for keyword analysis or not, you are still theoretically doing these research studies whether you are consciously thinking of it or not.
6. Understanding Searchers-Intent
Understanding the searchers intent will get you a long ways. Take a look at TechRadar for example. They have established them selves as experts in many fields they go beyond just answering the first question.
If your article topic is “What is SEO?” Write a thorough response on what search engine optimization is, then answer sub-questions some may have, such as what are keywords and whatnot.
Pro Tip: Create short and descriptive permalinks, optimize your title and meta tags, just have a killer content structure and submit your site to google, you will get results.
7. Permalink Structure
You should have a permalink structure that is user-friendly and helps the user determine if your content is relevant. Therefore, use short and descriptive permalinks, for example, if you have a blog about what SEO is, your permalink should be as follows: https://domain.com/guide/what-is-seo/
Using custom permalinks will help your user better understand what your content is all about and since it’s better for the user, Google and other Search Engines will reward you with better rankings. Although it isn’t a ranking factor, it will indirectly help your overall SEO rankings, especially with blogs.
8. Change Title & Meta Description
The main reason to change your title and meta description tags is to get a better CTR or click-through rate. This is the percentage of users that click on your site when they see your site in the search results. If you have a short yet eye-appealing Title and Meta Description, you are doomed to better rankings.
It’s important to note that the user needs to be taken care of, so let’s say you have irrelevant title and meta descriptions…google will notice that the user bounces from the site almost instantly as they see the irrelevant content, therefore you will most likely get a degrade in SEO rankings for that article or page.
If you are in WordPress & using Yoast SEO, all you have to do is go to the page or post that you want to customize and scroll down to the featured snippet box for Yoast SEO, this is where you can fully customize what you see in the SERPs.
9. Header Tag Structure
Organizing your content primarily in blogs is very important. You must think of it as an order in hierarchy. For example, if your blog is mostly about SEO, then your Header 1 should be something including SEO, then if your subheading is about How SEO Works, put that as your Header 2…so on and so forth.
10. Internal & External Linking
If you utilize internal and external linking when necessary, you will not only achieve more authority, but will also get better rankings because you are helping the user learn more about the given topic and providing tremendous navigation.
11. Use Schema Markup
Schema Markup is not very popular yet. I try to use schema markup in every blog I write but sometimes it doesn’t make sense. Only use schema where it makes sense and where it will help the user within the Search Engine Results Page.
Quick Tip: If you are writing about a recipe, use a review schema markup that will help the user figure out if it’s worth clicking on and viewing the article.
We use schema markups to help the user before they even click on our site. The following image will help you depict exactly what a schema markup may look like.
Pro Tip: Write compelling content that serves the user-intent, and if you format the compelling article correctly you should have no problem ranking for what you deserve.
12. Write Compelling Content
No one wants to read boring articles nowadays. Now that it’s 2020, video is a massive advantage to any industry, people want a video to go along with the article.
The more compelling and interesting an article is, the more shares that article will get and most likely the better rankings which ultimately results in more views.
Boagworld has a fantastic article that will help you write more compelling articles and content.
13. Use Numbers & Headings
If you write articles like Top 5 Best Something or related topics. Your article or blog will always rank higher…why…because it serves the user-intent. Articles that have Top # in the title and format accordingly have more authority because the user thinks these are the only concepts I need to understand, and therefore you get more clicks and google views your article superior.
Take this for example, if you have an article that has Top 5 SEO Tools and an article that has Best SEO Tools, the article with Top 5 serves the user-intent better because you got them curious as to what those top 5 are and it shows that you are unbiased in your perspective.
Pro Tip: Stay up to date on your google search console, check & fix crawling errors, make your site faster and you will be well on your way to dominating your industry in rankings.
14. Fix Crawl Issues
Within Google Search Console, there is a tab called “Coverage” Within this module you will see your site pages that have crawling errors. For example, recently I had an error on one of my pages – Indexed, though blocked by robots.txt – Therefore I went and fixed that error within my wordpress site and came back to google search console to validate the error. It will take a few days to validate but will notify you once the error is fixed.
Staying up to date on this part of your technical SEO is extremely important, use this as a resource to get more rankings.
15. Make Site Faster
Site Speed is definitely an important Search Engine Optimization ranking factor. Have you ever clicked on a site and it took too long to load so you clicked the back arrow? That’s exactly what I am talking about, you must have a fast website response time or else you will lose potential visitors and will lose rankings drastically.
If you are struggling to speed up your site, I would recommend using a Caching, Code Minification, Image Optimization Plugin. WP Rocket is my recommended plugin since I use this on all of my sites. There are free plugins that will help, but please note that paid plugins will always perform better, especially when it comes around speed optimization.
16. Mobile First Site
Mobile-First Websites will always rank higher than non-mobile friendly sites. Why- Sites that serve the user-intent and since 50% of google searches are from a mobile device.
You want to make sure your content and website is visible to every user on the internet or else you’re leaving money and views on the table.
“According to official Google statements, more than 50 percent of search queries globally now come from mobile devices. But we don’t know whether the number is 51 percent or 60 percent, or if it varies significantly by country.”Search Engine Land
17. Make Site Secure W/ HTTPS
This is the one tip that I really emphasize my efforts because I had direct ranking experience with this concept. I was working with a local SEO campaign and noticed that all the sites on page one were HTTPS, I was the only site ranking there with HTTP, Google knew I wanted to rank for the number one slot, so I narrowed down my opportunities and decided to secure the site, as soon as I did that, it was only weeks later when google could trust my site as the trusted advisor.
For those wondering what HTTPS is, read Https vs Http.
Pro Tip: I am not a massive proponent of backlink building and whatnot, but if you choose to do a little backlink building, focus on guest blogging and utilizing your social media and local directories.
19. Replicate Competitor Backlinks
Backlinks are essentially a vote from other websites telling google that your content is relevant and useful. White Hat Backlink building can be very hard and tedious. In my opinion, it’s worth your time to do some minor steps to build a couple two or three links so you can start getting initial traffic, from there you should get these links organically as you grow your business.
Brian Dean has a phenomenal video showing you exactly how you can get backlinks in 2020.
20. Guest Blog
Guest Blogging is my primary strategy to get relevant links. Submitting blogs across the internet are essentially your digital real estate across the internet, this is important because we want google to view you as an authoritarian so you can be trusted by more users.
Guest Blogging can be difficult to come around, it depends what industry your in, for me in the marketing industry…I am contributor to many different blog publications including Social Media Today, Business2Community & more. The goal is to write compelling content gain awareness in the industry, at the same time giving yourself a handful of relevant well respected links. Here are the Guest Blogging Best Practices.
21. Utilize Social Media Platforms
Social Media Platforms are under-rated by hundreds of marketers. I have first hand experience getting views, clicks and leads from social media. By no means am I a social media expert, but with my experience with LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Facebook. I have been able to grow a social media presence that I am able to entertain.
When you get a blog, post that blog on Medium.com and LinkedIn. Share a post that features the gist of the article and tell your audience to check it out. I promise you will get more awareness by doing this.
This 21-Point SEO Checklist is meant to give you a better understanding of how to structure your SEO strategy. I understand it’s not easy to implement these steps one-by-one. It will take time and practice and soon enough you’ll be an expert at Search Engine Optimization.
Are you interested in learning more about Search Engine Optimization? Here check out this guide on the Best SEO Tools in 2020.