The 15-point SEO Checklist
SEO is a lot of hard work and there is no shortcut to top ranking. Agree? But, don’t worry! This handy checklist will help you make sure you’ve covered all important and essential aspects of a good SEO strategy.
It goes without saying that nothing beats good, relevant, unique, and useful content on the website coupled with the right keyword optimization for ranking on SERP. However, there are some things that can help the crawlers discover, understand, and ultimately get your pages the rank they deserve.
Are you new to the world of SEO? If yes, you have come to the right place! The Google specific checklist is a starter guide on the essential things to check-off while working on SEO. On the other hand, for a seasoned professional, this is a back to basics checklist that can help review the smaller, but important things we often miss in the pursuit of bigger goals.
- Robots.txt file – In order for Google to rank your website, it needs to be able to crawl through it. And, robots.txt file is the guide it looks for to communicate with your page. It is the first file Google looks at when it encounters your URL. This is the file that can help you allow or disallow the crawler from your website. As Google has a limited crawl budget, you might benefit from asking Google not to crawl any out-of-date pages, provided your site is huge.
- Sitemap – A sitemap, as the name suggests is a document that tells Google about all the assets (files, videos, text, etc.) on your website and the relationship between them. Though Google can crawl your website without a sitemap, having one can benefit your website a lot, especially if your website has a lot of pages that might not be linked internally or if it contains a lot of media files such as videos. Also, having a sitemap will help you analyse the Google bot activity better via the Search Console. Once you create a sitemap, add it to your robots.txt to help Google discover it better. If you are using a CMS such as Wordpress, chances are that it has already created a sitemap for you.
- Keywords- Keywords that align with the searchers’ intent and provide value to the end user by being a natural addition to your content are the absolute must haves for making Google rank you higher for related queries. Also, make sure to leverage long tail keywords and their variations in the natural flow of your content to make it more discoverable and relevant.
- Mobile-Friendly Test– With more and more traffic moving to mobile, it’s absolutely important to know if Google finds your website mobile-friendly, and this simple test can help in giving you feedback on things you can improve to make your site more mobile friendly.
- SSL certificate for your page– In 2014 Google announced that it will be using SSL certificates as one of the signals for ranking. So, don’t hold back and make sure your website has an SSL certificate.
- URL– A clean URL with right keywords gives the overview of content on your site and prompts people to trust on and click on it, increasing the chances of your URL being ranked even better.
- Page Speed– Slow internet connections and diminishing attention spans coupled with the range of alternatives to choose from makes a slow loading page a target for higher bounce rates and consequentially lower rankings. But this can be solved if you run a simple page speed test on your pages using Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool to make sure your page is loading at an acceptable speed and to get the valuable insights on the areas of improvements if any.
- Title Tag– Title tag is the first thing a user will see on SERP. This can be a deciding factor whether the user clicks on it or not. So, don’t forget to make sure your title tags are relevant to the content and the searchers’ intent to improve your chances of getting the click.
- Meta description– A close second to the Title Tag, a relevant meta description highlighting the areas from the searchers’ intent that your website/content fulfill increases the chances of your URL getting that valuable click.
- Image Alt Attributes– Alt text on the images help Google understand what the images on your page are about. In addition to helping Google determine the relevancy of the content, an appropriate Alt text description might help your images rank independently on the image search and might help you get valuable mentions and backlinks from others giving you credits for your images.
- Internal links– If you’re writing multiple pieces of content for your website, it’s highly likely that these pieces of content have some common attributes. Make sure to leverage this aspect to link your content internally in a way that is helpful for the user and ultimately Google bot to understand the structure and content on your site better. Wikipedia does an amazing job at this. It not only makes the site easier to navigate but also helps you keep the bounce rate really low.
- Inbound links and mentions– Inbound links are the backlinks that other sites/domains provide to your content. Getting backlinks from trustworthy sites automatically improves your trust from Google’s perspective as well. Even unlinked brand mentions can send positive signals to Google indicating that your brand/website is relevant for a particular group of keywords of searchers’ intent.
- Social media– Social signals for your brand on social channels such as number of likes, share, comments, and the reach of your content on social media gives positive SEO juice to help rank your content higher. Make sure while you generate content for your website, you’re also optimizing it for your social channels to help you rank better.
- Competitor analysis– Reverse engineering your competitors’ success and failures in terms of SEO can be a powerhouse of knowledge to fuel your SEO strategy and avoid mistakes already being made in your industry. The right place to start this will be doing a detailed competitor keyword analysis to find out opportunities you might be missing at and maybe explore potential long tail keywords that can help you outrank your competitors. Doing a through competitor comparative study of the keywords can change your traffic exponentially.
Setting up Google alerts for key terms can help you keep a track on not just the content that you competitor is publishing but also see who is mentioning them online to boost your own link building activities.
15. Using the right tools- If you’re not already doing it, configure and start using the range of free Google tools including Google Console, Google Analytics, Google Alerts and Google Trends. Using these tools right can have a direct impact on the baseline goals of creating and promoting content online. So, what are you waiting for? Go and try them out today itself.
Google Search console offers the best insights on how Google crawls, indexes and ranks your pages. Google Analytics helps you analyse and understand the behavior of your audience on your website. It can provide you with tons of important data such as the demographic and the source of your audience along with the source of traffic to help you improve you with your conversion and acquisition goals.
Google Trends can be a great tool to help you discover the trending topics around your business and get your audience to notice your brand by publishing useful content around that. Apart from the trending topics, you can also discover seasonal trends around the keywords of your choice to improve your content strategy and plan.
This brings us to the end of the article. The 15-point SEO checklist has been compiled to help you effectively optimize your website and perform better than your competitors. Though not exhaustive, it will give you an insight into the absolute essentials of a good SEO strategy. Let us know what has worked best for you out of the above listed options.