Here’s a step-by-step SEO checklist for a successful web project. This list covers the top things you should consider when it comes to getting a new site live and into the search index successfully.
Every time you start a new SEO project for a website, you´ll typically find yourself doing the same steps over and over again, in order to lay the foundation for solid on and off page-optimization, I created this SEO Checklist that I change regularly according to the changes constantly made in the SEO world and search engines today.
There are some important things you should keep in mind before embark on your SEO project. As you go through the checklist make sure to give equal importance to both on-page and off-page SEO.
If you cannot complete all the steps on this list, it will not harm your project. All you need to keep in mind is to make your site as SEO-friendly as possible, as in general, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to do all these things.
Good luck and for any questions please don´t hesitate to ask me.
SEO 2.2 Checklist
Checklist is Constantantly updating as the SEO is quickly changing
Not all of these may apply to your situation.
Start by synchronised your site with the dominating search engines?
- Have you setup Gmail filters for your new site, or setup a new email address in Google and Microsoft?
- Have you installed Google Analytics? This is not optional!
- Have you installed Google Search Console (Previously known as Google Webmaster Tools)? Again, not optional.
- Check Google’s Search Console for crawl errors, duplicate content errors, missing titles and other technical errors.
- Use Screaming frog to check for any broken links, errors, and crawl problems.
- Find data about search rankings, visibility, and CTR.
- Use Browseo to check if any redirect problems that can harm your site (specifically, 302 errors that should be 301 permanent redirects).
- Have you installed Bing Webmaster Tools? (optional).
Using Drupal or WordPress?
- Drupal: Have you installed SEO Checklist and Checklist API? These module will walk you through the important SEO steps.
- WordPress: Have you installed Google Analytics for WordPress? These plugins will make your life 10x easier.
Is your website mobile-friendly?
Use the mobile-friendly test to check if your website is responsive according to Google´s standards. (With more and more people using mobile phones for searches, Google is taking into consideration how mobile-friendly your website is when ranking your site in its search engine.). Similarly, Bing offers a Mobile Friendliness Test Tool.
Check how your site is performing on mobile devices with the Mobile Usability Report, located within the Search Traffic section of Google Search Console. You can also use Fetch as Google within the Crawl section of Google Search Console to render your website the way Google sees it on different mobile devices.
Also have you checked it on multiple browsers with BrowserStack?
Install SEO tools
Install one or more of the below recommended tools for better managing your SEO campaigns.
- SEMRush: The leading and most powerful and versatile competitive intelligence suite for online marketing, from SEO and PPC to social media, keyword analysis and video advertising research.
- Positionly: Powerful and easy to use tool to monitor keyword positioning in multiple countries.
- Advance Web Ranking: one of the best applications, with many parameters to control. It has a trial version 30 days.
- Traffic Travis: excellent, especially for errors in web pages. Free trial.
- Market Samurai: very powerful, especially for analysing keywords and for brainstorming. Trial of 14 days, more than enough for a study of the most appropriate keywords.
Have you checked for any onsite errors?
- Have you checked Google Webmaster Tools 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.
- Have you checked for any technical errors? Have you used Browseo to find even more technical errors? The most common detrimental errors people tend to make are 302 redirects that should be 301 redirects.
- Have you checked the broken links on your website? Use Screaming Frog to find broken links, errors, and crawl problems?
Have you analysed the best keyword for your website?
Use Google’s Keyword Research Tool, Adwords Keyword Planner, KWFinder, KeywordTool.io or SEMRush to find and analyse the best keyword competitiveness. Be sure to consider searcher intent and difficulty, pick 1 keyword per page, and you’ll generally want to start with lower-volume keywords first.
Choose keyword popularity and competitiveness
- Google Trends allows us, among other functions, the evolution in time of certain keywords, to know their seasonal nature, if they are fashionable …
- Übersuggest: to analyse the suggested searches by Google, organised alphabetically…
- Keyword Density Analyser: to study the density of keywords on a web page.
- Snippet Optimization Tool: Allows preview how your page will appear in Google searches.
Check for mobile and voice-related keywords
Search engines are constantly improving to facilitate the search tasks for users, and as the mobile traffic is constantly growing, the need for a quick search methods are growing in importance as well. With more than 50% of searches coming from mobile devices today, the voice related keywords search are even so important. Try to find your business and competitors as your customer would with a voice search. Are your website optimized for relevant voice search terms/keywords? Are you accounting for searches formed as questions and in sentence structure, more and more common with the advance of voice queries?
Is your website AMP optimized?
Accelerated Mobile Page (or AMP, for short) is a project from Google and Twitter designed to make really fast mobile pages. At its essence, it’s basically a stripped-down form of HTML to make websites super lightweight and load very quickly.
To validate your AMP pages, you use a tool that’s built into Chrome. Open the developer tools in Chrome, there’s a system there — and you can look it up on the AMP project website — where you can go to a page and you can ask it to validate, “Is this an AMP page,” and it will tell you any problems with that page.
Have you looked at competitor link profiles?
This is the easiest way to get started with link building. This way, you can see what kind of anchor text they’re using, as well as how and where they’ve been getting their links. My favorite is Ahrefs – but you can also use Link Diagnosis, Open Site Explorer, SEMRush and Majestic SEO. Use the tool that suite you best.
Have you analysed your BackLinks?
- Ahrefs: application online to study external links to a web page. Lets you compare up to 5 pages at a time.
- Open Site Explorer: available free version (limited) or payment. Excellent tool for analyzing the structure of backlinks from the competition.
Have you incorporated your primary keyword into your page URL (if possible)?
Adding your primary keyword to the URL give the site that unique boost in the Search engines. For example if the site is about a local dentist in Zurich (Switzerland) have the keyword dentalcliniczurich in the domain name should boost your ranking locally.
Are all of your title tags ~65 characters or less?
Title tags over this will be truncated in results. Make sure to never exceed the maximum amount of characters.
Are all of your meta description tags ~155 characters or less?
Meta description tags over this will be truncated in results. Make sure to never exceed the maximum amount of characters.
Have you used an H1 tag?
Is your keyword in the tag? Is it before any (H2, H3, H4…) tags? Have your used H1, H2 and when needed H3? Have you followed the recommend heading structure, head section order, title tags, description tags, keyword tags, heading tags when writing your content with ?
Do you have a healthy amount of search engine-accessible text on your site?
My recommendation is at least 100 words, because you want to give search engines an opportunity to understand what the topic of your page is all about. You can still rank with less, and you don’t ever want to put unnecessary text on your site, but I recommend not creating a new page unless you have roughly ~100 words worth of content.
Did you use synonyms in your copy?
Remember: 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!
Are you linking to your internal pages in an SEO-friendly way (internal linking)?
Are you describing the page your linking to in the anchor text, so that both users and search engines understand what it’s about? I recommend not using anchor text in your global navigation because it can look like over-optimization. Stick to in-content links instead.
Have you started off-page optimization and began building links? This is the hardest, most important aspect of SEO!
Content Marketing and Guest Blogging
- Vertical Guest Blogging – Finding people in your industry, creating great content for them and incorporating a way to naturally include a link back to yourself.
- Horizontal Guest Blogging – Finding topics that aren’t in your industry or niche directly, but find a way to relate, incorporate your content and link back to yourself.
Now, I’ll target themes where I can work my keyword in:
- Study Blogs – An article titled “7 ways to prevent dental loss while studying dentistry”. Include 6 proven issue prevention, and make the 7th tip a few sentences on your new supplement linked to your site.
- Video Websites – Create a comprehensive list of 100 foods, drinks, exercises,products supplements and stimulants that improve your immune system and provide you better teeth and smile. Include your service as one of the list items, as well as a link.
- Music Blogs – Write a post on 7 musicians and how successful they are due to their beautiful smile. You include a number of tactics, including good food, constant cleaning, and your new service (with a link of course!)…
Think of the 3 Types of User Intent before creating your content
Transactional – These queries happen when a user has an intention to buy something now. For example, the exact brand and model of a product suggest the intention to buy.
Informational – These are research-oriented queries. Sometimes research is done in advance of a future transaction. For example, if someone searches for the best electric toothbrushes, there’s a good chance that a purchase in the near future.
Navigational – These are queries done to help a searcher get somewhere, whether online or in the physical world. Searching for the name of a dental clinic will get the user to that dental clinic’s web presence or physical address.
More great blog content ideas:
- Writing a “how-to” walk-through guide
- Patch together a number of different strategies into one post (what do you think you’re reading? 🙂 )
- Develop a top 7, top 10, top 50, top 100 list
- Write something controversial
- Debunk a myth!
Great places to find guest blog opportunities:
- Blogger LinkUp
Find relevant blogs, contribute to the conversation, place a link back to your site. Don’t worry as much about no-follow/do-follow, just contribute to relevant topics, and mention your site in way that helps the reader! (don’t over-do it!). Here is a list of over 1,000 “do-follow’ blogs:
- iTechCode: List of Enabled Blogs for 2012 – Approximately 200+ blogs
- Traffic Generation Cafe: Enabled Blog List – Approximately 150+ blogs
- Jamie Northrup: Over 100 Blogs to Comment On – Approximately 100+ blogs
- KeywordLuv: A list of Blogs with High PR – Approximately 100+ blogs
- ITCSE: 50 Enabled Blogs – Approximately 50+ blogs
- Exceptional Blogger: 50+ Enabled Blogs – Approximately 50+ blogs
- Exclusive Bloggers: Exclusive List of Enabled Blogs for 2012 – Approximately 50+ blogs
- Area 51 Blog: List of 40+ High PR blogs – Approximately 50+ blogs
- YoungBlah: List of High PR Blogs – Approximately 25+ blogs
- BlogName: 20 High PR Dofollow Enabled Blogs – Approximately 20+ blogs
Link Building with Social Media
Social Media is a factor in search engine rankings because it’s a quality signal.
Answering Questions in Q&A Forums
There are a growing number of Q&A sites that can be great linking opportunities. While not all of them may affect your rankings, (many are no-follow links), they’re a great way to obtain quality, qualified traffic. Here are a few:
- Stack Overflow
- Amazon Askville
- Wiki Answers
- Yahoo Answers
Write down all the products, services or tools you’ve used in the last 3 months that you really liked. Contact them, give them a great review / testimonial , and don’t forget to include a link to your site in it!
Many people seem to be very stingy with their linking, particularly when it’s a competitor that’s creating great content. Creating a “resource” for your users is a great way to link out, as well as a way to signal to major search engines which kind of “link neighborhood” you’re in.
Asking Your Customers
If you have customers you’re close with, talk about link opportunities! Even if you’re not in the exact same vertical, there are always ways to find chances to link to each other. I’m a huge fan of leveraging offline relationships for my link building plans.
Create a Widget
While I won’t go into the technical challenges here, creating a widget is a very scalable way to build links. Try WidgetBox.
Advanced Search Parameters for Link Building
- Find websites that are asking for guest bloggers
- Keyword + intitle:“write for us”
- Keyword + intitle:“contribute to”
- Keyword + intitle:“submit” + inurl:blog
- Find websites that have a large number of guest posters already
- inpostauthor:guest + keyword
- inpostauthor:”guest blog” + keyword
- inpostauthor:”guest post” + keyword
- Find college clubs (with .edu domains) for linking opportunities
- inurl:.edu keyword club
- inurl:.edu keyword group
- inurl:.edu keyword organization
- Find university resource lists
- inurl:.edu helpful sites + keyword
- inurl:.edu keyword + resources
- inurl:.edu useful sites + keyword
- Find non-profits that accept donations (and put links to donors!)
- inurl:.org donors + keyword
- inurl:.org supporters + keyword
- inurl.org contributors + keyword
- Find country-specific links “keyword + inurl:cc.tld”
- Create a contest intitle:submit your contest
Competitive Link Analysis
- Link Diagnosis – For FireFox only. One of my favorite link analysis tools.
- Open Site Explorer – The gold standard of link analysis. Free version still gives you great data.
- Blekko (type in: website.com /inbound) – A search engine with a number of great techniques oriented towards the SEO industry
Even More Resources
- Link Building Strategies – from Point Blank SEO. Honestly I think this is the best list of link building ideas I’ve ever seen.
- A List of Link Building Lists – by Peter Attita, another great list
- 101 Ways to Build Link Popularity – Aaron Wall just crushing it as always
Have you made sure your site isn’t creating any duplicate content?
- Virante: online tool to detect duplicate content on the web.
Utilize 301 redirects, canonical tags or use Google Webmaster Tools to fix any duplicate content that might be indexing and penalizing your site. Are you using absolute URLs in your code? Some CMS platforms give you the option. Use absolute URLs instead of relative ones.
Have you checked your site speed
- Google Page Speed Tools: Google application to measure the load time of a web page.
- WebPagesTest: Provide the same purpose as above, but adds more information and recommendations.
- Pingdom: Fastest and most accurate tool to measure the load time of a web page.
- GTmetrix: As above but provides more details, recommendations and you can also compare a web page to another URL.
Have you created an XML sitemap and submitted it to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools?
I cannot stress enough the importance of a well structured sitemap for a website. This step is key for any well organized business online. Use XML-Sitemaps.com, Drupal XML Sitemaps or the Google XML Sitemaps WordPress Plugin.
Have you created a Robots.txt file and submitted it in Google and Bing Webmaster Tools?
Use Robots module for Drupal or Yoast plugin for WordPress.
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. Here is the URL structure of some of the major networks:
Is your site social?
Have you setup social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, tumblr, reddit ? Make sure to share the create pages on your site as much as possible, engage users to share your content in all the social medias possible.
- Use addthis to implemente sharing tools in a site.
- Use slacksocial or buffer to schedule your sharing. It both fast and simple. These tool can quickly publish your content on both groups and sites on a social media. So make sure to get good groups with quality engagement first.
Have you used the any of the online auditor reports to double-check everything once you’re live?
here are my 5 Free Website Audit Tools: MySiteAuditor, Screaming Frog, SEO Report Card, WooRank, Marketing Grader.
White hat SEO only
Make sure your SEO strategy is a white-hat SEO following Google Webmaster Guidelines and Bing Webmaster Guidelines. If you would need any more information, you can always refer to what Google accepts for SEO.
Have you reviewed all of the free SEO tools at your disposal before completing this audit?
If you don’t understand some of the high-level concepts:
- Google Analytics: Definitely the most valuable analytics package out there. World-class enterprise grade analytics for free. The first thing you should install.
- Google Webmaster Tools: This one isn’t optional folks. You have to install Google Webmaster Tools in order to ‘communicate’ with Google about your site.
- Bing Webmaster Tools: Bing’s version of webmaster tools.
- Google Adwords Keyword Tool: This is the defacto starting point for your keyword research in SEO. Everything starts here!
SEOBook SEO Tools (These are both free and paid): Check some of these SEOBook tools out.
- SEO Site Tools (Google Chrome Plugin): This is a great chrome plugin.
- Google Trends: Google Trends is a great additional tool to check query volume.
- Xenu: Find broken links and errors with Xenu.
- SEM Rush (SEM Data and Organic Ranking Information): Get a better view of the competitive SERP landscape.
- Browseo.net: See how search engines view your site with Browseo.
- Internet Marketing Ninjas On-Page Optimization Analysis: An on-page analysis tool to check internal and external links.
- XML Sitemap Generator: You can create an XML sitemap here.
- Rich Snippets Testing Tool: Use this tool to check how Google views your structured data markup. It’s particularly useful if you have a G+ profile and you want to verify authorship for your blog posts.
- Virante Duplicate Content Checker: Use this to determine wether or not you have duplicate content problems.
- Advanced Link Manager: Manage your links. This tool is awesome.
- Link Research Tools: Compiles link data from lots of sources into one dashboard.
- Majestic SEO: One of the best link explorers in the industry.
- Open Site Explorer: THE best link explorer in the industry.
- Ahrefs: A great link analysis tool.