Have you noticed that after you create a new website there are several steps that you repeatedly do, in order to lay the foundation for solid SEO optimization?
Also if you are doing SEO as a job when you get a new customer there are several steps that you do for every project to make sure everything is set up right.
If you don’t have a solid SEO foundation for your site you can build hundreds of backlinks and you still will not rank well, especially if you are in a competitive niche.
That’s why I decided to write this SITE SEO checklist.
SEO Checklist – Why you need one?
This list covers the top 35 things you should consider when it comes to getting a new site live and into the search index.
The big mistake people tend to make is that they find a checklist, they go through everything on it and say “Oh no! I’m missing one thing – now I can’t rank and everything is ruined!”. That’s not really the way to think about it.
If you can get everything on this list, that’s great! If you can only get the most, that’s okay too.
35 Must-Do SEO Actions Checklist
Please keep in mind that not all of these may apply to your situation. Check off the items as you go along.
Technical and general steps
- Have you used SEMrush [our review], Screaming Frog, WooRank or Website Auditor [our review] to find broken links, errors, and crawl problems?
- Is your HTML code clean and error-free? Check it with W3C Validation tool.
- Have you installed Google Analytics? This is not optional! [Guide: How to track your SEO results with Google Analytics]
- Have you added the site to Google Search Console? Again, not optional. [Guide: Google Search Console]
- Have you added the site to Bing Webmaster Tools? You may also add it to Yandex Webmaster.
- Do you use WordPress? Install Yoast SEO / RankMath / SEOPress and follow instructions?
- Have you created an XML sitemap and submitted it to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools? Use XML-Sitemaps.com or the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin.
- Have you created a robots.txt file and submitted it to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools?
- Have you checked Google’s Search Console for 404 / 500 errors, duplicate content, missing titles and other technical errors that Google has found? Make sure to keep up with any messages Google is sending you.
- Is your site mobile friendly? Test it in Google Mobile-friendly tool. Have you checked it on multiple browsers with BrowserStack?
- Have you installed a valid SSL Certificate? Test on SSLShopper and SSLlabs. Does your website redirect to its https version? Test on RedirectCheck.com.
- Have you checked your site’s speed with Google PageSpeed Tool and GTMetrix.com? Try to follow as many of their recommendations as possible. If you’re on WordPress, check this speed up guide.
- Does your hosting account support loads of traffic? Do a load test on LoadView-Testing.com and a stress test on LoadImpact.com
- Have you done proper keyword research? Consider searcher intent and difficulty, pick 1 keyword per page, and you’ll generally want to start with lower-volume keywords first.
- Have you incorporated your primary keyword into your page URL? Try to shorten your URLs keeping them keyword-friendly.
- Are all of your title tags ~65 characters or less? Title tags over this will be truncated in results.
- Are all of your meta description tags ~155 characters or less? Meta description tags over this will be truncated in results.
- Have you used an H1 tag? Is your primary keyword included at the beginning of the H1 tag? Is it before any (H2, H3, H4…) tags? Are you only using 1 H1?
- Do you have a healthy amount of text content on your site? My recommendation is at least 600 words so the crawlers will understand the topic of your page. Check serpIQ study on how 2000+ words content rank better.
- Did you use synonyms and LSI keywords in your copy? Synonyms are great, and using natural language that’s influenced by keyword research (rather than just pure keywords) is highly encouraged!
- Do your images have descriptive ALT tags and filenames? Search engines “see” images by reading the ALT tag and looking at file names, among other factors. Try to be descriptive when you name your images. Don’t overdo it though.
- Is your content error-free? Use Grammarly to check it or hire someone to proofread it.
- Have you made sure your site isn’t creating any duplicate content? Utilize 301 redirects, canonical tags or use Google Webmaster Tools to fix any duplicate content. Also, check it on Copyscape.com
- Does your website content have correct Structured Data Markup? Check it on Google Structured Data Testing Tool. Use WordPress? Install the Schema plugin then. The Schema Complete Guide here.
- Are you linking to your internal pages in a SEO-friendly way? Are you describing the page you’re linking to in the anchor text, so that both users and search engines understand what it’s about?
- Do your pages have authority outbound links? Include at least 2 relevant, high authority links if possible.
- Have you looked at competitor link profiles? This is the easiest way to get started with link building. Use SemRush, Ahrefs or SpyGlass [review here].
- Have you started off-page optimization and began building links? This is the hardest but one of the most important aspects of SEO!
Social Media, Branding & Local SEO
- Have you added your site to Google Business?
- Have you added social media sharing buttons?
- Have you used an SEO Audit Tool to double-check everything once you go live? SEO Power Suite or SEM Rush.
- Have you reviewed all of the free SEO tools at your disposal before completing this audit?
- Have you set up social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Google+ and added them to your site?
- Have you claimed your business/website username on other major networks for reputation management reasons? Not only do you want to make sure no one else gets your account name, but you can often “own” all the results on the first page of a search for your brand if you’re a new website or company.
- Use NameChk.com to find available ones. Here is the URL structure of some of the major networks: Youtube.com, WordPress.com, tumblr.com, Scribd.com, Academia.edu, Quora.com, SlideShare.net, Medium.com, Etsy.com, About.me, Gravatar.com, Flickr.com
Ok, now you simply built a foundation that will help you optimize and grow your website in a healthy and profitable way. You should print this SEO Checklist and use it every time you launch a website or you do SEO for your customers.
SEO is a vast topic, however, I recommend these articles if you want to dig more into this matter. I predict that on-page SEO importance will rise, overcoming backlinks so invest in yourself now, learn it well and you will be able to rank your sites in SERPS.