Traffic is the lifeblood of every online business. But is your website well optimized to outrank your competitors? Regardless of the answer to the question, you are reading this SEO checklist because you’re searching for SEO best practices and techniques to improve your site’s current search rankings.
Of course, every online business owner hopes to see their website on the first pages of popular search engines like Google and Bing. That’s because being visible on search engines guarantees a ton of organic traffic, which can be converted into leads and eventually sales.
However, the sad truth is that not every business owner is lucky enough to be at the forefront of search results for their keywords. Many websites suffer this fate.
You might think it’s okay having your website on either the second or third pages of Google. But several reports from HubSpot show that 75% of people who use Google search do not go past the first page.
There’s a popular joke among SEO experts that says: if you want to hide a dead body, the best place to do so is on Google’s second page. This joke is passing one message to every serious business owner: Google’s first page matters.
But enough of all of that. The real question is: how can you improve the organic traffic coming to your website? The good news is that there’s always an opportunity to generate more traffic, no matter how dead you think your site has become, as long as you have SEO by your side.
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This SEO checklist is designed to help you solve your website’s search engine optimization issues. We’ll look at different key areas of SEO best practices, including on-page SEO checklist, off-page SEO checklist, technical SEO checklist, and SEO audit checklist.
What is SEO?
For website owners who are new to the term, SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. SEO is the processing of optimizing your site’s visibility on relevant search results. And as mentioned earlier, the more your site becomes visible search engines, the more traffic, and potential customers you will attract to your business.
Now that you know what SEO is, let’s take a deep dive into this SEO checklist and see how you can improve your site’s ranking using different techniques and SEO best practices.
Basic SEO Checklist
We recommend getting a few things ready before you begin your journey to Google’s first page. This includes installing some essential SEO plugins and tools that you need for optimizing content and monitoring your website’s performance.
Install Yoast SEO
This is a free but powerful SEO plugin that will help make your website meet the highest SEO standard. It also has a premium version for more features. Yoast SEO is compatible with WordPress and some other CMS. Those familiar with SEO plugins can also install Yoast alternatives like RankMath.
Create a sitemap
After installing an SEO plugin, the next step is to create a sitemap for your website. A sitemap helps search engines to find all the pages of your site for easy crawling and indexing. You can use Yoast or any sitemap generator to create one for your site.
Install Google Analytics
This is a freemium service from Google. You can use it to monitor your website performance and see how your audience interacts with your site. Simply install it and sign up, then copy and paste the provided tracking code on your website.
Google Console and Bing Webmaster Tools
These are additional tools that provide data and insight that you can use to improve your site’s performance on Google and Bing.
Create a Robots.txt file
This file tells search engine bots or crawlers what pages and files that they can or can’t crawl on your site. This is important because there are some sections on your website that don’t need to be crawled. You can create a robots.txt file using an SEO plugin.
SEO Keyword Research Checklist
What is SEO without keyword research? When people search on Google or Bing, they use keywords. So if you don’t do keyword research to find out what your audience is searching for, then you’re as well wasting your time.
Here’s the SEO checklist for keyword research.
Find your main keywords
These are those keywords that will drive more traffic to your website and ultimately increase sales. What are those things your target audience is always searching for? Find and leverage them. But keep in mind that these are high competition keywords, so you wouldn’t just rank for them overnight. You can use Google Planner or other keyword research tools for this purpose.
These are longer keywords. You’ll rank better with Long-tail keywords because of their low search volumes compared to your main keywords. This is why it is crucial to add longer keywords as part of your SEO keyword strategy.
For example, “SEO” is a short-tail keyword while “SEO best practice 2020” is a long-tail keyword because it has more words.
Spy your competitors
You’re not ready for business until you identify your competitors. Find out what keywords are ranking best for your competitors and use them to improve your SEO.
What people also ask
If you search for a keyword on Google, you’ll see suggestions about related keywords or topics. You can leverage this and gain more insight into other things people in your audience are searching for.
On-page SEO Checklist
With SEO basics and keyword research checked, it’s time to get started with the items in our on-page SEO checklist. For clarity, it is called on-page because it focuses on the content and pages that are actually on your website.
So shall we?
Good content is an essential recipe needed for on-page SEO if you want to be on Google’s first page. Publish quality content that provides value for readers with your keywords strategically used throughout the article.
Google loves long-form articles. They will help you rank above your competitors for a particular keyword because it is believed that longer content provides more value and information.
Here are SEO best practices to follow when writing content for ranking.
- Write long and engaging articles.
- Use more active voices.
- Use simple words and short sentences and paragraphs.
- Avoid unnecessary repetitions and jargon.
- Remember to update your content regularly to stay relevant.
- Ensure that your content is free from plagiarism and errors. Use Grammarly and Copyscape for this task.
Headings (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6)
Headings not only keep your content organized but also help search engines and users to understand the published text. They also highlight the vital sections of your content while showing how texts are connected. Use at least one H1 on your pages and several smaller headings.
A short, descriptive URL is the way
How you structure your URL matters a lot in SEO.
URL 1: bluewavesdigital.com/seo-checklist
URL 2: bluewavesdigital.com/the-complete-seo-checklist-to-improve-your-website-ranking
From the samples above, URL 1 is more optimized than URL 2 and will rank better on search results. Short and descriptive URLs also improve users’ experience since they are easier to type.
Improve meta titles, meta tags, and meta descriptions
Don’t ignore these. They could make a big difference in search engine ranking. Improve your meta titles, tags, and descriptions by adding your keywords to the metadata of each page on your website.
Image ALT tag and description
Image alt tags are also important. Ensure that you add an alt tag to your images alongside proper description, especially to the main images of each page on your site.
Still on images, avoid using heavy photos as they can cause your site to load slowly, which is terrible for SEO. You can use image compression plugins like reSmush.it or simply compress images at compressjpeg.com before uploading them to your site.
Internal and external links
This is another SEO best practice that helps to boost on-page optimization. When publishing content, ensure you link to relevant external resources and web pages. However, ensure that the website you want to link has a high domain rating and is relevant to your content.
For internal links, whenever you publish new content or page, make sure you link to old and relevant pages on your website.
Off-page SEO checklist
Off-page SEO checklist consists of things you need to do outside your website. These activities help to increase your site authority and domain rating. And search engines consider DA and PA when deciding what page to rank first.
Building backlinks is considered one of the SEO best practices for increasing a website’s authority. Always look for new opportunities to build links. Find out which websites link to your competitors and try to get them to link to you too.
Records show that 97% of people used social networks in January, indicating that social media plays an integral role in our everyday lives. Social media is not a direct ranking factor on Google, but you can use it as a customer service platform, where you, as a site owner, can connect with your customers.
Share your content on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., depending on which platform your target audience uses the most.
Guest posting is an essential item on any off-page SRO checklist. Find high DR websites that accept guest authors and publish content while linking your website as a resource. It is best to publish guest posts on sites that are not your direct competitors.
Don’t think links last forever. Make sure you monitor your backlinks from time to time to reclaim lost links.
Technical SEO Checklist
Sometimes, what’s stopping your website from ranking well could be technical SEO errors. Many people get discouraged thinking technical SEO is a complicated task, but it is not as daunting as they think.
Improve site speed
Time is precious, and nobody likes staying on a site that takes forever to load. When your website loads slowly, your bounce rate will increase, which isn’t good for SEO. Use Google’s Test My Site to monitor your site’s speed and find ways to improve it.
Build a mobile-friendly site
These days, most people browse the internet with their mobile devices. So ensure that your site is well optimized for mobile users.
Secure your site with HTTPS
Most people don’t feel secure visiting a website that does not use HTTPS. Give your audience a sense of safety by switching from HTTP to HTTPS. Aside from that, Google also uses HTTPS as a lightweight factor for ranking websites.
Fixing crawl errors will allow Google to access the content on your with ease. Remember, if search engines can’t crawl your web pages, then they can’t rank them. Use Google console to find crawl errors and fix them.
SEO Audit Checklist
Just like a regular medical checkup, conducting a regular SEO audit on your website is important. The audit will give you insight into your site’s SEO performance while also showing what needs improvement.
- Find and fix broken links
- Fix indexing problems
- Ensure your site is optimized for mobile users
- Check and improve your webpage speed
- Conduct competitor analysis.
- Conduct on-page and off-page SEO checks
Other SEO Best Practices
Besides checking the items on your SEO checklist, some other SEO best practices to keep in mind for optimal results include:
- Avoid duplicating contents
- Use one keyword per title
- Write compelling and shareable content
- Research what users want
- Long-form content should be at least 1,800 words
So there you have it, the complete SEO checklist for improving your website’s ranking. Continue to follow these SEO best practices, and your website will become more visible in search results.
However, keep in mind that ranking on Google is not a day’s job; after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It takes continuous and persistent effort to reach the promised land of Google’s first page. But in the end, it will be worth it.
Or is there anything better than being on the first pages of search results with traffic flowing into your site like an endless stream? Let us know.