Millions of websites are started each year. Most of the entrepreneurs who start their websites are new. Without a complete SEO checklist, they are bound to fail in their quest.
However, close to 40% of those that start new websites already have other online businesses, thus, have some knowledge about how to earn online business, particularly websites.
Whether you are new to these things or you have had other online businesses, then you know that commanding online presence is key. Yes, increasing your website’s organic traffic and subsequently ranking on Google, are important things to put in mind.
To achieve that, we’ve gone ahead to do a comprehensive SEO checklist that seeks to help you not just to rank your website, but also to increase your conversions.
This perfect 2022 SEO checklist is all you need to ensure your business stands out. Be sure to follow all these well-thought SEO practices that have taken our experts several months to pile together.
How to Use This Checklist
To help you have a better understanding of this perfect SEO checklist, we have broken down the article into various sections. Further, we’ve gone ahead to explain each point using simple language. Therefore, be rest assured that we have your best interests at heart.
Although there are several sections on this post, we’ve picked the various aspects from the following points:
- SEO basics
- Keyword research
- On-page SEO
- Technical SEO
- Off-page SEO
For a holistic analysis of your website, you will need to focus on all the points mentioned above.
In addition, there will be more pointers, which our experts believe go a long way in helping you take your online business on an upward trajectory.
I want to believe that you now know how to use this SEO checklist. If so, it is time to look at the very first point.
Whether you are an expert or just started to learn SEO, it is important to know that your website’s online performance depends on best SEO practices.
That means, if you do not employ good SEO practices (some of which we recommend on this SEO checklist), it’d be difficult for your site to rank for target or competitive keywords.
Although some people think that some points on this guide are basic, the truth is they carry a huge difference when implemented properly. Therefore, go ahead and do the following simple tasks. You will start to see good results soon or later.
Set Up Google Search Console
Google Search Console or GSC as many experts refer it to, is one of the basic yet fundamental tools. GSC is free to use and quick to install. The tool gives you essential and invaluable insights on how your website performs.
GSC presents data using numbers and graphs, something that makes it easy to understand. The data presented on the GSC page will help you assess your website and know what you can adjust in order to increase your site’s online visibility, traffic, and conversion.
The other good thing about GSC is it comes with accompanying features (Google properties), such as Google Analytics (GA), Google Insights, and Google AdSense, which you connect via the Google Site Kit.
When properly connected, the Google Site Kit provides you with comprehensive insights that will help you improve your site’s online presence.
Install Bing Webmaster Tools
By now, I’m sure you know that Bing is the world’s second largest search engine. As such, perhaps, you’ve gone ahead and installed it. Don’t worry if you haven’t. You will learn how to install it. Keep reading.
Why should you even trouble yourself by installing Bing? Well, the main reason why you should install Bing is to increase SEO traffic to your website. Even so, let’s answer some of the important questions.
What is Bing Webmaster Tools?
Bing Webmaster Tools or Bing WMT is a Microsoft service. The tool is free to use thus you do not have to worry of spending any penny.
The tool allows webmasters like you to add their websites to the Bing crawler with the aim of the sites showing up in the Bing search engine.
Bing WMT also helps monitor the site’s performance and maintain its various functions online. In short, Bing WMT helps your site to appear in the Bing search engine just as Google Search Console (GSC) is to Google.
You shouldn’t even for a second think that Bing is useless because as mentioned earlier, it is number two after Google. In fact, when Google unleashes its various updates (at times, it releases up to four in one year), some sites depend on Bing traffic.
Therefore, it is important that you install Bing Webmaster Tools and you can do so whether you are a site admin, owner, developer, or even website marketer.
Here are some of the facts you need to know about Bing:
- It has over 12 billion monthly search volume worldwide
- Out of these, 1.3 billion are monthly unique visitors
- In the US alone, Bing has over 500 million unique visitors each month
If those are not enough reasons to install Bing Webmaster Tools then you are lacking a lot.
Like the Google Search Console, once set up, Bing Webmaster Tools helps you monitor your website’s overall health.
Besides, it enables you see how people are finding your website. The tool’s features come in handy in showing detailed reports on what keywords are driving traffic to your website.
The report also shows page/post clicks and impressions; things that help you understand your site’s performance.
Setup Google Analytics
Here is another truth you need to know; without the right facts that come at the right time, it’ll be hard to make the right decisions and Google Analytics (GA) will help you do just that.
To be honest, no other free tool that gives you rich data as GA that will help you make the right decisions.
Among the important statistics, Google Analytics will help you with include:
- Daily/weekly/monthly pageviews
- Number of users on your website at any given time
- The source of traffic
- Returning vs new visitors
- How visitors are finding your site (referral, organic, social media)
- Gadgets visitors are using (desktop, tablet or phone)
The good thing with Google Analytics is it’s a free tool and is among the core features of the Google Site Kit that I mentioned earlier.
Install and Configure a Yoast SEO Plugin (If You’re Using WordPress)
If you are using WordPress as your Content Management System (CMS), it will be easy for you to install and configure Yoast SEO plugin.
Thanks to the plugin, you are able to monitor how your webpages and posts are performing in the SERPs.
Yoast comes in two forms – basic and premium. Even with the basic version, you are able to configure many important things on your site.
Some of the things Yoast SEO plugin will help you configure include:
- Readability score (how hard or easy it is for clients to read and understand your posts)
- SEO score
- Meta description and meta tags
- Basic post formatting among other things
Do not panic if you are using a different CMS. Your developer may be able to help you setup Yoast SEO plugin.
The premium version comes with comprehensive features that help you turn around your content to meet with clients’ and the search engine’s needs.
Generate and Submit a Sitemap
There are people who at this time of digital age who argue that it is not necessary to create and submit a sitemap. That is backward thinking! It is not only necessary to create and submit a sitemap but also important.
Submitting a proper sitemap will help the search engine to conduct a proper crawling of your website. The search engine will then identify which pages should be indexed or not.
When you create and submit a sitemap, it becomes easy for the search engine to know when you make a new post, when you create a new page, and category.
The search engine also gets to know when you update a live page or post. It is also easy for the search engine to translate the page whenever the need arises.
Although Google supports various sitemap formats, the most common is XML format. If you are using WordPress as your preferred CMS, it becomes very easy to create and submit a sitemap.
Even if you are not using WordPress, it is still easy to create and submit a sitemap using the available free or premium tools.
NB: Once you create your XML sitemap, do not forget to submit it to the Google Search Console (GSC) and the Bing Webmaster Tools (Bing WMT).
Create a Robots.txt File
Robots.txt file is another important thing that you need to do to improve your website’s online performance.
The file does its work by informing the search engine what pages on your website that needs crawling. In addition, it is the Robots.txt file that determines what pages on your website cannot be crawled.
However, for many people who prefer creating a Robots.txt file, they intend it to prevent the search engine not to crawl certain pages.
Nonetheless, that does not mean that the Robots.txt file can be used to direct the search engine from de-indexing certain pages.
In some instances, it is possible for the Robots.txt file to be generated automatically. Therefore, before you decide whether you need the file, check whether your site already has an automated Robots.txt file.
If upon checking, you find out that your website does not have a Robots.txt file, create one. That is even if you currently don’t need to prevent the search engine from crawling some of your webpages.
If you are using WordPress CMS, you’ll find an array of free SEO tools that can help in the creation of the Robots.txt file.
However, if you are using a different CMS, you will need to create the file manually using a text editor before uploading it to the site’s domain root.
Check Search Console for Manual Actions
Although rare, Google imposes manual actions that affect some sites negatively. However, you may still ask, what brings manual actions? Google imposes manual actions on sites that deliberately violate a number of Google’s elaborate regulations.
Some of the specific reasons why Google may impose manual actions on your site include:
- Thin content
- Structured data issues
- User-generated spam
- Unnatural links to and from your site
- Pure spam
- Hidden text
The beauty is most sites may never be affected by Google’s manual action because many webmasters know and observe Google’s elaborate rules.
In many cases, if and when a site is affected by a manual action, Google sends a message notifying the site admin of a possible violation of Google’s elaborate regulation.
When need be, Google gives suggestions on what needs to be done. Failure to implement Google recommendations may result in imposing the manual action.
Make Sure That Google Can Index Your Website
Making sure your site is indexed or can be indexed by Google or any other search engine for that matter, is imperative.
Although uncommon, some sites may not be indexed. However, a simple mistake by your website developer or an error during manual setup of certain things on your site can cause your site’s de-indexing.
Therefore, be careful when working on your site. Otherwise, do not just give your site’s logins to anybody unless it’s your developer who after making an error, can try hard to rectify.
One of the tools that stand out in ensuring your site is crawled and indexed is the Site Audit Tool. Setting up the Site Audit Tool is pretty simple.
Check for Google Penalties
Google penalties are similar to manual actions. When they take place, they are bound to change many things in your website including reducing traffic and your site’s performance in the SERPs.
You may still ask…
What is a Google Penalty?
Google penalty refers to partial or complete removal of a website from the Google index. It may also refer to the significant drop of a website’s rankings in the SERPs.
While there are many reasons why Google imposes a penalty on a site, the usual reason is a manual or automatic spam.
Decrease in a site’s rankings can occur on the whole website, several pages, or a few isolated keywords.
How to Identify a Penalized Site?
In order to check whether your site has been penalized, you need to login to your Webmaster Tools account. While there, press the ‘Search Traffic’ tab.
The next step would be to open the ‘Manual Actions’ under the ‘Search Traffic’.
If Google has imposed a penalty on your site, you will find a message inside the tab telling you that your site has been affected by a certain Google penalty
Besides, you can also check whether there is a significant drop in the site’s traffic, something that suggests there was a penalty.
If you have a tendency of monitoring your site’s performance, chances are you will know when your site started recording a decrease in traffic.
Checking your site’s page rank is also another way to identify the date, which your site started to record a decrease in not just traffic but also ranking.
For partial penalty, all you need to do is to type the name of the domain and the keyword you intend to probe.
If the intended keyword or page does not show up in the search line, then chances of your site suffering from partial penalty are inevitable.
In short, to check whether your site has been affected by a Google penalty, you need to do the following six things:
- Check your rankings
- Monitor your Google Analytics
- Check your page rank
- Inspect your Robots.txt file
- Inspect if your domain is still present in the Google index
- Review your SEO practices to see if they are up to date
Plan Your Website Structure
As the name suggests, planning website structure involves a systematic and elaborate way you pan to format your site.
If you plan your site nicely, it will attract many readers. People will not just visit your site when they need something but they would want to come back because it has a nice structure.
The opposite is also true. A website with messy webpages will not only send away readers but also lose the search engine’s attention.
Therefore, it is important to have a clean website, which has ideal arrangement of pages and categories.
Types of Website Structures
There are three main types of website structures. The first type of website structure is linear. This type of structure is also referred to as sequential.
In this type of website structure, webpages are arranged in a linear manner.
All the pages in a linear structure follow a logical path. A perfect example of a linear structured website is that with the Home page, followed by a service page, then something like a Sign up or requests a quote page.
Linear or sequential website structure works well with small websites that seek to sell a product, service or even a brand to its clients.
The second type of website structure is called network or web-linked structure.
This type of structure is rare. However, some small sites with fewer pages still use it. In this structure, readers can access each webpage from any other page.
Something you might love about this type of structure is each page is connected to another, something that makes it easy to access web pages when you and on any page.
The third type is hierarchical or tree-like website structure. This structure is the widely used.
It can be applied on any website, but it does well for established websites that have many pages. This format follows a certain hierarchy, with a website having pages and categories.
A website may start with a typical home page, before it breaks down into a few main sections (categories) and then sub categories.
Large websites that often contain many pages have no option than to implement a hierarchal structure, something that makes it possible to do what is called siloing.
The Importance of Website Structure to SEO
Proper site SEO plus smart interlinking will always go a long way in ensuring readers find your site and improve your site’s performance in the SERPs. But there is more. An elaborate site structure will help you achieve the following:
The search engine cares about user experience – the site’s ranking is the SERPs have a strong connection on how easy it is for readers find, use, and navigate your site. Transitions between pages should be smooth.
It should not take more than three clicks for readers to find a particular page.
The Search engine evaluates the whole website structure – although the search serves page-based rankings, it goes beyond that. Sometimes, it digs deeper to find how a certain webpage stands in the website structure.
Proper website structure yields to proper page crawling – the idea behind website structure and proper interlinking makes the website crawling exercise easier.
Besides, a nice structure minimizes the number of pages search engines craw at a given time, something that is referred to as the ‘crawling budget’.
Solid structure aids in perfect technical SEO practice – yes, there is no way you can achieve website technical SEO without first setting up an elaborate website structure.
A nice structure aids in making website content appealing and relevant for search intent – with a good website structure, it is easy to have better content distribution on your website. That way, you are able to arrange your content according to related topics and search queries.
Good web structure increases the chances of getting sitelinks as well as other SERP features – in the SERP, sitelinks are the real block. These blocks show how your domain along with various internal urls, is grouped.
Further, blocks help differentiate your site from the rest in the search engine. The entire process also aids in increasing site CTR.
Ostensibly, Google pulls all relevant information from your site to generate sitelinks. However, for Google to do this, you need to help it by building a robust website structure.
Secrets of Building a Site Structure
While you can build a site structure from the scratch, there is no doubt that you will do better with a few secrets.
The following are some of the top secrets various webmasters have found beneficial:
- Spy on your competitor(s)
- Collect your site’s keywords and divide them into two groups
- Categorize all pages
- Connect all your pages by interlinking them
- Start and maintain a clear URL site structure
- Build a simple and easy to use navigation
- Remember to create a sitemap
- Check your sitelinks
- Test your site for usability from time to time
Keyword Research Checklist
Now that you’ve done the basics of setting up your website and perhaps it is now live, it is time to plan your content.
In fact, because this is a complete SEO checklist, you should endeavor strive to optimize your website for the reader and the search engine.
Your foremost focus should be when writing blog posts. Yes, the ‘how to’ or ‘What’ blogs bring massive traffic to your website, thus you should strive to give them your best.
Therefore, to get the right results, you need to have and implement a proper keyword strategy.
Thankfully, this keyword research checklist will help you do just that.
Here are a few important pointers you need to put in mind as you embark on your keyword research strategy:
Find Keywords Relevant to Your Business
There is no one straight way to find relevant keywords for your business. SEO experts propose several SEO tools that can help in finding the right keywords for your business. Whatever tool you prefer, find keywords that among other things have:
- Decent search volume
- Low keyword difficulty
On the first point, you must know that some keywords are more popular than others. Therefore, finding keywords is not a simple thing, as some may think.
Other things that affect how the keyword will fair once live include topical relevance, term awareness, and other factors.
Some webpreneurs argue that keywords with massive search volume are bound to bring a lot of traffic to your site.
That is not true! While this may be a possibility to some sites, it is not always the case with small sites.
Therefore, if you are just starting, do not attempt to use such keywords; it will take you many years before you get a breakthrough.
My expert advice is: go for keywords that have a decent volume (<500) and a low keyword difficulty.
Make Sure of the Search Intent
It is one thing to find easy to rank keywords and quite another to go for keywords that have ‘search intent’. Clients who align their thoughts with your business may know where to find the information they are looking for.
It might not be easy for those that do not know your business, to locate your site organically. Nonetheless, with good keyword strategy, you can achieve your goals.
Understanding search intent is not easy but critical. For instance, if a client is seeking to buy a new puppy, he or she might want to know training tips beforehand.
In that case, they may be looking up for search queries as ‘puppy house training tips’ or simply ‘puppy training tips’.
With such understanding beforehand, you can go ahead in your quest of finding such keywords that will help householders who intend to purchase a puppy for the first time.
At the back of their mind, these clients do not want their new puppy to run into accidents, thus you have the opportunity to help them.
Even if your client is not planning to buy a new puppy, they could know of a friend or relative who intends to get one.
Therefore, they want to help the friend get rid of some home incidents that may be easily avoided. Whichever way, you’d have played a huge role in helping someone get crucial information.
However, you may ask, what is the best way to determine the keyword’s search intent? Well, the simplest and perhaps fastest way is to type the keyword on Google search tab and see the results yourself.
For many years, Google, the world’s largest search engine has figured how people search for different queries online. As such, you’ll be sure it will help you identify which keywords match your readers’ intent.
Therefore, if upon looking at the search engine’s results and realize that they do not match your business, just move on to finding another keyword.
If you continue doing this on a regular basis, chances are you will finally find the keywords that match your readers’ intent thus bring massive traffic to your site.
Check on the Competitive Difficulty of Your Keywords
Finding the right keywords does not stop at relevance, topicality or just because the searched keywords have decent volume.
The other thing that you need to ensure is competitive difficulty. In other words, you need to ascertain how easy or difficult it would be to rank for the keyword you’ve chosen.
It is good to know that a keyword would not be ideal for a small site if a few established sites have devoted a substantive amount of pages or posts for it.
Besides, a keyword that ‘everybody’ is targeting will not be a good fit not just for young sites but also for any site.
Therefore, it is prudent to go for keywords that only a few websites are targeting, or whose keyword difficulty is below nine.
Go for Zero Search Volume Keywords (ZSV)
I know this is debatable, but there are keywords that the search engine tells you ‘nobody is searching for.’ That is not true.
In most cases, a few people would be looking for the keyword, but the statistics are not enough for the search engine to show.
Some keyword research tools, such as the Chrome Extension keyword research tool are good in identifying ZSV keywords.
The keywords are a gem for smaller sites. Many people have taken advantage of these keywords to build robust keywords.
It is a nice thing to have a starting point as you look forward to building an established site. After which, you can go for keywords with a higher keyword difficulty without the fear of losing traffic or authority.
Understand What SEO Keywords Are
As the name suggests, SEO keywords are those keywords sites are targeting to rank for. Such keywords have a special place in the SERPs and for you to rank for them, you need to place them strategically on your website.
Besides, you need to place the SEO keywords a specific number of times, lest you’d be stuffing the keyword.
As mentioned earlier, you need to identify the specific places and number of times you pace SEO keywords on your site.
Some of the places you need to pace your SEO keywords include:
- Post title;
- At the intro (preferably first paragraph);
- H2, H3, and H4 tags
- Several times in the body (depending on the length of the article);
- At the conclusion
Identify Your Competitors
Identifying your competitors is not an option but a must. Like any other offline business, you need to know who your competitors are and what they sell.
Spying on your competitors from time to time helps you know what keywords are bringing visitors to their site.
You will be able to identify the target keywords, semantic keywords, and other strategies they use to ensure their content stands out.
In addition, you will get content ideas, something that reduces your keyword research budget.
If you have a tendency to check what your competitors are, chances are you will find many keywords and content ideas, some of which you wouldn’t find otherwise.
Find Your Top-ranking “Money” Keywords
If you are targeting Amazon Associates or any other affiliate program, you have no otherwise but to find top-ranking keywords that will bring readers to your website.
Top-ranking money keywords are those that clients are looking for whenever they want to buy something.
For instance, a keyword such as ‘best blender for the elderly’ may be a better option for seniors interested in finding a perfect kitchen appliance.
Discover Long Tail Keywords
Leveraging on semantic (long-tail keywords), is another ingenious way of ensuring your site stands out.
The good thing about semantic keywords is you are bound to get clients to your site on the keywords that you did not target.
The other good thing is in case the target keyword fails to attract the intended traffic, semantic keywords that have been spread throughout the article can help save the situation.
However, you need to check out those keywords that relate to the main or target keyword.
Thankfully, the market offers a variety of SEO tools that will help in the identification of the right semantic keywords.
Create a Schema Markup Where Possible
Where possible, create and add a schema markup. The world’s major search engines often develop schema markups to help webmasters present their websites the best way possible to those search engines.
With a proper schema markup, it becomes easy for the search engine to understand a site well thanks to the stipulated arrangement/format of a particular website.
Thanks to a proper schema markup, the search engine is able to catalogue the information more precisely and accurately.
In other words, if a website has more top-level keywords as opposed to low-level or ordinary keywords, the search engine digs deeper to find other keywords.
One of the most common schema markup formats is when websites use FAQ Schemas at the tail end of their sites. Some sites make the Frequently Asked Questions at the bottom their usual way of winding up blogs.
Once the search engine realizes that, it becomes easy to crawl the site well, something that improves rankings and the site’s position in the SERPs.
Link to Authoritative Sites
As you may beware, SEO checklist will not be complete without the mention of linking to authority websites. Linking to sites that have a higher domain authority than yours is like an adult pulling a toddler from a deep hole.
By linking to authority sites, you are telling Google and any other search engine that they should also remember to check on your site when they crawl on those authority sites.
Besides, when readers visit your site, they tend to develop trust because they will get relevant statistics and data, which they can confirm from authority sites.
Linking to authority sites makes you an expert in your niche because, like other authority sites, you brush shoulders with the mighty by referring to sites that people trust.
In the end, linking to authority sites improves your rankings and the site’s position on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
Mind the Keyword Difficulty
As mentioned earlier, not any keyword can work for your site especially if you are starting. For established websites, there is not really a lot to worry about.
Such sites have already taken root. Many readers have seen and visited the sites for years thus they have build trust.
Still, readers may visit the site for specific information but they end up lingering around way too longer. As for young sites, it is imperative to watch keyword difficulty. The lesser the difficulty, the faster you would rank for most keywords.
Identify Questions That Are Being Asked
Questions that people ask or Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that are usually at the end of most sites are key for SEO.
Identifying the right pace to find these questions and subsequent answers is a simple process but also requires good planning.
When looking for frequently asked questions, it is prudent to look for questions that are related to the topic of the day.
Do not place questions haphazardly on your website post just because you see they have easy-to-understand answers online.
Besides, when crafting FAQs, it is important to write questions that people ask frequently. Yes, do not alter the questions.
Copy the questions, as they are because that is exactly what readers are searching for.
However, when it comes to answers, do not copy and paste. Do your own research; give your readers the right and straight-to-the point answers.
Do not beat around the bush knowing that some readers may come to your site thanks to one frequently asked question.
Technical SEO Checklist
Unlike On-page and Off-page SEO, technical SEO helps you create a solid website that gives the search engine easy time to crawl and index.
As such, it is imperative to understand some of the common technical SEO practices that once implemented can go a long way in creating a robust site.
Make Sure You Are Using HTTPS
It was in 2014 when Google announced that HTTPs is one of the core ranking factors. Prior to that year, webmasters did not see the problem in using an earlier version of HTTP, which was later considered insecure.
Essentially, if you are using HTTP on your site, it is time to migrate. Do not hesitate. To check whether your site is on a secure HTTPS, check your website’s link on the search bar. If it is on HTTPS, the url will appear so.
Besides, there will be a padlock at the left of your URL, something that indicates your site is secure. That means, if you do not see HTTPS or the padlock sign, then your site is threading on an insecure territory.
Check for Duplicate Versions of Your Site in Google’s Index
While you may have one site, that does not mean Google or the search engine does not make a mistake.
At times, if you are not careful, the search engine can index different variations of your site.
Although this happens from time to time, often times, Google indexes your site using different variations. For instance, the search engine can index your site as:
All these are variations and are acceptable. However, you can see that one of the variations does not show the secure HTTPS version.
Make sure you check on that and fix the problem before it affects your site.
In other words, whether you choose your variation to have a www or without, there is no harm. The most important thing is for your site to have the secure HTTPS version.
Whatever the number of variations the search engine seeks to use, make sure you redirect them to the primary url version – https://www.domain.com
Find and Fix Crawl Errors
The Google Search Console (GSC), formerly Google Site Kit is a good tool in identifying some of the basic site errors.
For instance, on this tool, it is possible to check whether your site has crawl errors.
To identify crawl errors, just head to ‘Coverage Report’. While there, you can identify what kinds of errors your site is facing.
Some of the statistics you are likely to find include:
- Valid pages
- Excluded pages
- Crawl errors
- Other warnings if any
In the event you find errors in the Coverage Report page, take your time to resolve the problems.
Make sure you come back to the Coverage Report page some time later to check whether the changes you made were effected. If not, you can take the appropriate action.
Find Out How Google Views Your Page
There are times when users see everything you’ve posted on your site, even the smallest things but Google doesn’t.
If this happens, then you should know that it is unlikely for Google or the search engine for that matter to rank your site.
After all, how can Google rank a site, which it doesn’t see?
To check how Google views your page, you need to use Google Search Console and particularly the ‘Inspect URL’ section. That way, you will know if the post/page has been indexed or not.
If you notice that a page has not been crawled and indexed, give it some time, hoping that it will be indexed soon.
Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Friendly
Mobile-first indexing has been one of Google’s main ranking factors since 2019. If your site is not mobile friendly, you are missing many things.
Today, many people do not have time to sit on a computer to check on something online.
Instead, they use their mobile gadgets because it is convenient. Perhaps, you do so as well.
You use your phone to read breaking news, check on something online or even do shopping using your mobile phone. You can do it in the office, in your vehicle, while resting on bed or anywhere.
A mobile-friendly website has more traffic compared to a website that is not optimized for mobile users.
To ensure your site is mobile friendly, you can do a simple test by doing a Google Mobile-Friendly test.
Fix Broken Links
If your site has broken links, it means the site has poor or bad user-experience. The good thing is you can fix the problem.
You can find and fix broken links by doing Site Audit via the Google Search Console.
Once you locate a broken link, you can decide to update it or remove it completely.
Check Your Site’s Loading Speed
As mentioned earlier, and as you may prove, nobody will wait for two minutes for a site to load.
In fact, in a generation that has many things to attend to, people want a page that opens INSTANTLY.
Here is the thing: your site is not the only one. If it takes ages to load, visitors will leave immediately.
Once they find a site that loads faster, answers their questions, is mobile-friendly, and has other additional features, they will not come to you.
If your site is slow, it means your images are not optimized, are heavy or raw and unedited. You can use available tools to resize and edit the images.
The other thing you can do to increase site speed is to deactivate or delete plugins that are deemed less important.
Some experts argue that a theme can also cause a loading error. Therefore, it is important to talk to your developer to advise on which themes are good for faster loading.
Find and Fix HTTP Links on HTTPS Pages
We spoke about the importance of ensuring your site is on the secure HTTPs version. Since Google’s announcement in 2014, many websites have migrated from HTTP to HTTPS. That is a good thing.
However, that does not mean that there are no sites caught up in the mess. Some registrars even make it difficult for sites to have the secure HTTPs by retaining or opting to sell SSL certificate, which is a HTTPS requirement.
If your site is still showing HTTP, you need to act fast to fix the problem. You can do that by initiating a chat with your domain registrar.
However, if it is a small number of pages that lack the secure HTTPS version, you can fix the problem.
The best way to do so is to fix them manually in your Content Management System (CMS). But if it is hard to do so, talk to your developer.
The expert will be the right person to fix the problem. If the developer has to talk to your registrar in your behalf, so be it.
Use an SEO-Friendly URL Structure
Simply put, Google loves simplicity. Yes, a simple and easy to read url is good not just to Google but also to the reader.
As mentioned earlier on this complete SEO checklist, no reader will be happy to share a long post url.
In other words, you should strive to keep your urls as short and sweet as possible. An example of a friendly SEO-friendly url is:
It is bad for the search engine and for the reader to use a non-SEO-friendly url such as:
As you can see, it is hard for the search engine to know what your post is talking about. To make it clear and easy for the search engine and reader, use simple and SEO-friendly url structure.
For best practice:
- Use hyphens (-) to separate words in the url
- Use short urls if possible
- Do not use underscores or dots
In fact, shorter urls tend to convert more than longer urls. They are also easy to share.
Check the Page Depth of Your Site
Ideally, it doesn’t have to take a visitor several clicks to find a page such as Service Page on your site.
In fact, a part from the Home page, other relevant pages such as the Service page, the Contact page, About Us, and the Our Team page should be easy to access.
In short, a page should not be more than three clicks away.
Check Temporary 302 Redirects
While 301 redirects tell your readers that the move is permanent, 302 redirects are temporal. Some web developers use 302s instead of 301s.
This is understandable. However, if you do so, make sure you redirect your readers to the right page ASAP.
From time to time, you need to check whether there’re any 302 redirects that have not been resolved.
On-Page SEO and Content Checklist
By the time we are talking about On-page SEO, you should have done a lot of work already.
For instance, your keywords should be ready; perhaps you have written a sketch of your post(s) or have even published a few articles.
At this point, you need to do serious/actual content creation. In order to ensure you do not miss on any of the things, you need to know the important and practical things to do. Check out some of them:
Fix Duplicate, Missing, and Truncated Title Tags
Another important SEO basic is how you optimize your title tags. In fact, any serious SEO expert would not continue with any crucial SEO audit on your site without first looking at missing, duplicate, and truncated title tags.
Once located and fixed properly there are high chances you will start to see an increase on your page and site rankings.
Nicely-crafted title tags send signals to the search engine, informing it what the page is all about.
By now, you know that you shouldn’t have duplicate content on your site.
In fact, if you are using an SEO tool such as Yoast, it will alert you that the article you are about to post appears somewhere on the site. The tool even warns you if you are targeting on a keyword that you have already targeted.
The other thing you need to avoid is title tags that appear too long. In some incidents, long title tags tend to be cut off when they appear on the SERPs.
Perhaps you have seen some dots on the title tags with missing letters or words when searching for something.
Generally, any title tags that are over 70 characters tend to be cut off from the SERPs.
Additionally, make sure nothing misses from your title tags.
Fix Duplicate and Missing Meta Descriptions
One thing you need to know about meta descriptions is they are not used as a ranking factor. However, when written properly, they help readers find what they are looking for. Meta descriptions appear just below the title.
Put simply, it is a clear meta description that will make a reader click on your site’s link and leave your competitor’s.
That is why, although meta descriptions are not used as ranking factors, they help the readers to get exactly what they are looking for.
In other words, if you do not craft your meta descriptions correctly, that will aid in bringing down your site’s organic CTR.
However, if you have quality content but do not have a meta description, Google will pick something from your site and show it to your readers. In turn, readers will click on your site as opposed to your competitor’s poorly written meta description.
The worst part would be if you have duplicate messages or elements on your post. If that happens, it’d be difficult for the search engine point out which text it will show your readers.
With that in mind, you know that it is important to come up with a nicely-summarized meta description, which Google will pick as the correct answer to a search query.
NB. Google rewrites over 70% of meta descriptions to make them readable to your visitors. However, it would be a best thing to always write one you with the searcher’s intent in mind.
Fix Multiple H1 Tags
Many people confuse a post title with H1 tag. Actually, this is the same thing. Therefore, H1 tag is the post’s or page’s main heading.
It is the title. As such, there should only be one H1 tag – the post title.
While you may say that it is illogical to have two H1 tags on one post, it is possible especially when you make a mistake during editing.
At this point, you may manually put a post’s headline on a place labeled ‘Add title here’ and at the same time, copy and paste your title below the title yet label it H1.
For best practice, make sure your H1 tag has full or part of the target keyword. That way, you are signaling to the search engine of what you are trying to talk about.
Run a Content Audit and Prune Content
Content auditing does not have a specific formula. In fact, some of the actions we’ve already talked of in this SEO checklist qualify for content auditing.
However, the aim of doing content auditing is not just to ensure the pages are optimized for the search engine but a complete overhaul that ensures your content is quality.
In other words, there are times you can prune content you feel is not at par with the kind of quality your site stands for.
Whenever necessary, remove content that has overstayed but has not ranked.
Any content that does not bring traffic to your site or has not shown any progress since you posted (you need to give it some time), is useless.
It doesn’t bring or add value to you. However, you need to know that the amount of time to carry out content auditing and pruning is a lot. So, be prepared.
Do not think, “But I used a lot of money in creating this content.” While that is true, the fact is content that does not add value to your site is useless and a waste of space. Take it off!
If you feel that it is too early to remove a certain post, you can still try to improve it.
One way you can do so is by rewriting it or adding a section that you believe can create a change. After doing so, you will need to give it some time to see if there will be any positive impact.
Later, you will be able to make an informed choice depending on how the edited post behaves.
Ensure Images Use Alt Tags
An image alt tag is a writing or description behind an image that tells the reader what the image is all about.
Contrary to the opinion that image alt tags are useless, the truth is the search engine loves image alt tags.
What is more, image alt tags help identify or understand the post even when the image takes time to load or doesn’t load at all.
Screen blind readers can also benefit from image alt tags especially if you take your time to craft the description – evidently by including the target keyword.
NB: Image alt tags help those who are visually impaired understand what the post is about.
Improve Internal Linking
Internal linking is extremely important. By the way, internal linking is an ingenious way of ensuring that once a client visits your site, he or she does not leave soon.
In fact, chance are, if you do it properly, a client, who intended to look for one search query, will spend up to one hour on your site moving from one page to another.
Proper interlinking reduces bounce rate significantly and it is the best way to ensure readers linger longer. LinkWhisper is one of the premium tools that will help you identify topically-related posts to interlink.
Find and Fix Keyword Cannibalization Issues
Keyword cannibalization is a serious problem. It happens when multiple pages of the same website rank for the same target keyword(s).
In the end, the fight to rank for the same keyword happens from within.
If you do not keep a good record of the keywords you’ve written on your site, chances of redoing the keywords are inevitable.
For instance, let’s say you wrote a post way back January 2010 with ‘complete SEO checklist’ as the target keyword.
Nine years later, you wrote another post with the target keyword ‘SEO checklist’. These two are the same and they will compete to rank.
You see, one of the posts is old but chances are it has amassed substantive traffic thanks to its age.
However, the new post may come with latest data, refer to authority sites, or even have a better arrangement of ideas than the former.
If that happens, the two would have a fierce battle for ranking. Thankfully, you can find and fix the problem before it escalates.
It is also important to know that the search engine would prefer the old article. As it were, it might disregard the new page no matter how juicy and relevant the information it contains.
The best way to solve cannibalization is to combine the pages. Yes, put the ideas together and fold them into one page.
That way, Google will deem the page an update, something the search engine loves very much.
Do not take keyword cannibalization lightly. In fact, if your site has many of these issues, it will take years to rank for those keywords.
Sometimes, it will take forever. Simply, keyword cannibalization gives the search engine a hard time figuring out which of your duplicate keywords it will crawl and rank.
Find and Fix Orphaned Site Pages
Your site’s pages should not be stand-alone. They need to complement each other. In other words, in some way, a reader should be able to find the next page from the present page.
That way, it saves a lot of time.
Get this: if Google or the search engine is not able to crawl the next page after landing at a specific page, it would be hard for your site to rank in terms of authority.
In other words, the more productive pages there are and the elaborate interlinking they are, the easy for the search engine to crawl them.
If after doing auditing, you find that your pages are not linked to each other, go ahead and link at least one page from the other.
That way, it’ll be easy for the search engine to crawl to the second page or the others thus increase page and site authority.
Ensure Your Site’s Content is up to Date
Naturally, content becomes outdated as it ages. The good news is Google loves updated content.
When you update your posts, you are telling Google that you care about your readers and that you want to keep them up to speed with what is happening currently.
Updating content is not a hard task. You can update a sentence; add a paragraph, image(s), links, or even a section.
If it is a developing story, such as the number of casualties after a pandemic, you will do good to keep your readers updated with the latest information.
After all, outdated information is not only deceiving but also useless. That is why; updating old content is one of the perfect ways to ensuring your site remains at the top in the SERPs.
In this SEO checklist, we also feel that updating your content is one of the sure ways of remaining afloat.
Include Your Target Keyword in the Most Relevant Parts
For best results, make sure you include your target keyword in the most relevant parts. Some of the most relevant parts include the title, introduction (possibly the first paragraph), several times in the body, H2 and H3 tags, and in the conclusion.
By doing so, you are simply telling the search engine that you understand the topic and that you intend to stay in the topic.
Although there are different sections of the post, if you make sure the target keyword appears on the relevant parts, you tell the reader and the search engine you know what you are doing.
There is more ….
Include Your Keyword In Your URL
One of the important parts of the website where you need to include your target keyword is the url.
Yes, the post url is important because if it has a different search term, then it means you are confusing your readers.
Even when you are editing to improve your site, you need to make sure the post url has the target keyword.
Use Short URLs
The main reason why you should keep your urls short is for easy sharing. Nobody wants to click to share extremely long urls.
People want short and sweet links. Therefore, it is prudent to try as much as you can to keep your urls short but also make sure they contain the target keyword.
It is true that some social media platforms such as Twitter have in-house url shortener but the other social media platforms don’t.
Without a doubt, it’d be difficult for many readers, however loving they may be, to struggle with the shortening of the ink before sharing it.
Optimize Images for Speed
A website might load slowly for many reasons. However, the main reason is usually heavy images. Therefore, it is prudent to edit out your images. Besides, you need to optimize your images for the search engine.
Google, Bing or any other search engine for that matter, does not like slow websites.
In fact, no reader would waste his or her time on a site that takes ages to load. They’ll simply go to another website that tends to load faster, as long as it offers them the answers to the questions they are looking for.
NB. When readers visit your site but leave immediately thereafter for any reason, that increases bounce rate. Ostensibly, high bounce rate affects your site’s SEO rankings.
Off-Page SEO Checklist
You cannot speak about On-page SEO or technical SEO concepts yet turn a blind eye to Off-page SEO. These three work together to ensure you achieve great results in the SERPs.
When you speak of Off-page SEO, many people think that it simply refers to the link building checklist. There is more!
In this complete SEO checklist, we take you through the nitty gritties of what Off-page SEO means.
In the end, you will reap many benefits if you practice to the letter what you learn in this section.
Let’s start …
Analyze Your Competitor’s Link Profile and Reverse It
It is not easy to rank for a keyword that you simply researched and assessed its potential. You need to do more.
One of the things that can help you get greater results is to spy on your competitor. I’m sure this isn’t the first time I’m talking about spying on your competitor.
While it is important to focus on your competitor’s content strategy, do not underestimate his/her link profile.
By doing so, you will get to understand what sites refer you your competitor, their number, and the links’ authority.
With the right facts at hand, you will plan on how and from what end you will attack your competitor. After all, we are all in a battle (such as a boxing match).
The number of blows you direct to your competitor and on the right place will earn you points in the SERPs.
Conduct a Link Intersect Analysis
One of the smart ways your competitor might be having an edge over you is benefiting from high-profile links. However, you shouldn’t be left behind.
There is always a way to get yourself into the game.
To get your share of those high-profile links, you need to conduct link intersect analysis – a probe into high-profile links that will come with immense benefits.
Tools such as Backlink Analytics always come in handy. Therefore, you need to have one.
The good thing about Backlink Analytics is it gives you a chance to key in up to five domains, making it easy to find the number of domains linking to your competitors.
The knowledge on what domains are linking to your competitors will not only help you spy into your competitors’ content strategy but also see their link building ideas.
In the end, you might want to try to build links with those that link to your competitor.
Turn Unlinked Mentions Into Links
Big businesses that have a team of PR members always have an edge over those companies that do not have a PR team.
For such companies, the PR team, which is assigned to meet with the members of the public and the media, often market their companies indirectly.
Whenever a PR team meets with the media or members of the public, the media gets a chance to interrogate the PR team.
Members of the public get to hear about the company as well. In the end, the company gets featured in top newspapers, radio, and TV stations.
Although it is a good thing, mentions do not give links to the website or company. However, people get to hear and know of your website (some for the first time and a reminder to others).
The good thing with such mentions is now you have a basis. Yes, you have a chance to turn those mentions into credible links.
However, without enough experience, it might be hard to know where and when the mentions were made.
Thankfully, we have a tool to help you – The Brand Monitoring tool. The tool works by identifying media outlets that have mentioned your company in the past.
After garnering the information on where and when your website got the mentions, you can now act.
This is where the PR team comes in handy. The team can request for a link from the company, newspaper or media house that mentioned your website earlier.
Find New Link Building Opportunities
Mentions are not the only ways to get link building opportunities. There are always other ways you can leverage on. With the right SEO tools at your disposal, you can build a link building profile.
One of those tools is Link Building tool. The tool shows you potential link building opportunities that you can use.
Some of the opportunities you will get from this tool are those sites that you’ve never heard. However, most of the sites on the list have a higher authority than your site and have been around for many years.
After gathering a list of high-authority sites, you formulate a way to reach out to them, asking for link building opportunities. You’ll be shocked at the number of opportunities that will come your way if you continue with the probe.
Set Up and Optimize Google Business Profile
Although this complete SEO checklist gives emphasis on link building as the main target in Off-page SEO, it is not the only action. Several other things matter if you want your site to stand out.
Already, we have talked of a majority of the actions you need to carry out to be on the safe side. The other important thing you need to do is to set up and optimize your Google business profile.
Setting up and optimizing Google Business Profile is especially important if you are running a local business.
Therefore, it is important to ensure your local business is listed and is ranking among the Google Business Profile list. Failure to ensure this step means you are simply handing visits to your competitor.
Honestly speaking, it takes a lot of time to finally create and optimize Google Business Profile. It also requires a lot of time and effort to ensure your GBP remains up to date. However, your effort will pay off in the end.
If your company is serving clients at a certain location, you have no option but to ensure you command the area. Yes, you need to keep remaining at the top and the only best way to do this is to ensure your GBP is up to date.
You can start by visiting the Google Business Profile (formerly referred to as Google My Business). The guide will shed a lot of light on how you need to create and configure your profile.
Build Powerful Backlinks With Guest Posting
Guest posting is one of the most effective ways of making your site known to the right audience. That said, there is a right and a wrong way to approach the technique.
The right way to approach guest posting is by publishing your guest post(s) on reputable sites in your niche or industry.
The wrong approach is when you publish a guest post on any website as long as it has a Write for us’ tab.
When doing guest posting, target those sites that you are sure will bring traffic to your website. As you may beware, it would be difficult to say that you can get the required traffic if you guest post on a site in a different industry.
Become a Podcast Guest
Podcasting is similar to guest posting. However, the difference is this time; you do not contribute a post. Instead, you go as a guest. It is good to know that for you to be a podcast; you must create an authority in your niche.
It is one thing to start a website and it is quite another to be an authority in your niche. It is my hope that this complete SEO checklist has been of help to you in understanding some of the things you need to fix.
If you implement some of the things you’ve learnt on this SEO checklist, be sure that you will start to see your site perform incredibly well in the SERPs and later. And as you know, with improved rankings, conversions increase.