Having a business is all about reaching your target audience and getting more leads through your branding. But how do you stay at the top in this competitive world? To be #1 among thousands of others is a challenge. But by implementing the right techniques your website can stay #1 in SERP (Search Engine Results Page) results. You must be thinking about how to do it. The answer is knowing and implementing the correct SEO practices for your web pages.
But how do you implement the right SEO practices? To know that, read our ultimate SEO checklist and stay on top of SERP rankings.
Why SEO is Important in 2022?
Why is SEO important and what does it have to do with search engines? In layman’s language, SEO optimizes your website’s visibility in search engines. The increased visibility of your website in SERPs will bring more visitors to your website, leading to more attention and a better chance of getting leads and conversions.
The competition for ranking at the top is high. Google has only 10 places on page 1. Staying updated with Google algorithms and updates is an important factor in website ranking. There are many factors that help a website rank higher. These include the subject relevancy, users’ expectations, website’s authority, etc.
Let’s dive into the world of different SEO checklists you need to know for boosting your website.
SEO Basics Checklist
Before starting the checklist of ranking your website, it is more important to set the basic tools and applications to measure and rank in the search engines. We’ll start with setting up your Google Search Console (GSC) account.
Setting Up Your GSC Account
The first step to ranking your website in the search engines is by setting up a GSC account. Google Search Console is a free service provided by Google and is one of the most powerful free SEO tools. GSC opens a variety of options for webmasters to measure and optimize their websites.
Webmasters can use GSC for the following options:
- To analyze your Google rankings
- To check which keywords and search queries are doing well
- To learn about indexing status for articles
- To identify and fix errors
- To submit and analyze the website’s sitemap, etc.
Set up Google Analytics (GA)
Another powerful analytical tool by Google is Google Analytics (GA). Without any metrics and data, it is tough to understand customers’ behavior toward your website. Google Analytics provides an in-depth analysis of a website’s web performance.
The right step on the way to ranking your website is to track the key metrics of your business. GA offers a plethora of different features from customer behavior, demographic segmentation, device usage, etc.
Webmasters can use GA for the following options:
- To understand and analyze online website traffic
- To understand customer behavior
- To get data reports and customization, etc.
Install SEO plugins in Your CMS
Having a good Content Management System (CMS) takes out a lot of stress in managing your website. WordPress is one of the popular website builders powering more than 41% of websites on the web. Installing an SEO plugin will optimize and enhance your functionality. SEO plugins provide SEO suggestions and scores which optimize your meta tag, XML sitemaps, URL slug, etc, and help to rank higher in search engines.
Different CMS require different plugins. What is best for WordPress might not work well for other CMS. Ask your website developer to check for SEO plugins or different modules to incorporate into your Content Management System.
Some of the most commonly used SEO plugins are:
Submitting a Sitemap
A sitemap is a roadmap for your website. A good sitemap helps Google to crawl and navigate all the pages on your website instantly. An ideal sitemap helps understand a website’s structure for search engines to crawl every page.
The two most common sitemap designs are XML for the web crawlers and HTML for users. You can find these at, https://www.domain.com/sitemap.xml. Though it is important to include all the pages in the sitemap, do not include the below-mentioned pages:
- Duplicate pages
- Non-canonical pages
- Archive pages
- 3xx, 4xx, or 5xx pages
- Robots.txt blocked pages, etc.
Another important factor to tick off is to create a robots.txt file for your website to help crawlers know which page to index on your website.
On-page SEO checklist
On-Page SEO refers to the SEO work that you perform on your website pages. This involves mostly frontend work such as content addition, deletion, and optimization. Under search engine optimization, keywords, images, and even pieces of content are considered. The on-page SEO checklist is to help to improve a site’s visibility and authority. The various methods that you implement through On-Page SEO help in improving site ranking which invariably leads to better market presence.
Here are some of the best practices for your On-Page SEO checklist that you can implement in your content:
Optimize Title Tag
The first on-page SEO checklist is to optimize your article titles with power words, numbers, and catchy lines. This makes it attractive to users and helps in increasing page traffic.
Use any standard formatting style but create unique subheadings that resonate with your keywords, and remember to include your unique subheadings as keywords.
Optimize Meta description
Make sure your meta descriptions are optimized and clear. A compelling meta description can do magic for your articles. These are the key elements for getting users to click your article. Add keywords and power words to the meta description to make it SEO worthy.
Optimize Target Keywords
Your target or focus keyword is what your blog is all about. If you deviate from this, your content will not resonate well with your readers. The target keyword will be based on your target audience and hence these deliver unique value to your content along with providing meaning. A good practice for keyword research is to choose keywords that have low keyword difficulty and good volume. Keyword research can also involve including long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords can be of less search traffic value but are higher user search query-specific. This will help you rank on SERPs better.
Make it Snippet Worthy
One of the most important SEO checklists is getting your content on SERP featured snippets or Position Zero (featured snippet) is an easy task if you have the know-how. Adding listicles to your content for necessary sections gives you a chance at achieving this position. Also, making your content extremely useful for the user helps you too.
Focus on Internal Links
Linking is the best way to increase your blog’s usefulness and relevance. This also lends authority to your blog in terms of technical depth. While external linking offers you authority, internal linking is the only way to achieve lead generation capabilities. This leads to conversion, thereby completing the buyer journey.
Link to your products, blogs, or services inside your articles to help users find your services sooner. When it comes to blog linking, these help your users explore your blog page for more such content.
Linking to external sites should be done carefully. You do not want to link to your competition and thereby lose valuable users. Always link to sites with high ranking and authority in the market. Also, linking to irrelevant sites can get you penalized by Google and other search engines.
Facts, statistics, and other data sourced from the internet should be properly linked to their sources. This is a general practice in SEO and maintains mutual respect between site owners.
Addition of Lists and Tables
Not all blogs are created the same. You will have blogs and articles that mention several products and services. These can be optimized heavily based on the data that you collect during your research. The products can be listed out in a tabular form for easy viewing and better description.
For instance, a mobile phone’s specifications will be easier to understand if it is mentioned in a tabular form with its processor, speed, and internal hardware listed in separate rows and columns. You can also list out the pricing in this manner.
Image SEO checklist
While this is an extensive topic, image SEO plays a huge part in your On-Page work. The quality, depth, and design of your images play a vital role in pulling traffic to your site. Add a logo wherever possible to brand your designs. Infographics play an important role in image SEO too.
While performing image SEO, the below pointers are to be noted.
- Always use high-quality images unless they affect your page speed.
- Use a uniform design strategy.
- Keep your designs clean and lucid.
- Use custom graphics and featured images wherever possible.
- Graphs and maps add value to your content.
- Create infographics to make it easier for the user.
Content SEO checklist
Now that we have seen the technical side of On-Page SEO, let’s focus on the content side of things. This is a much more extensive area since great content attracts your users more than designs or flashy graphics.
Content SEO is a combination of well-researched, analyzed, verified, and structured data. Without proper research and analysis, your content cannot be useful for your audience.
Expertise – Authority – Trust (E-A-T)
One of the building blocks of content, the EAT concept is the best way to attain content SEO greatness. EAT, simply put, is how you write and project your content to your target audience.
For instance, when a user wants to get medical advice online, their natural choice would be a medical blog written by a trusted medical authority. A blogger who writes about a variety of topics ranging from technology to lifestyle would not be taken seriously if he/she writes about a medical condition or cure. So keep your content to what you know.
Such differentiation is made using EAT. The expertise that you have in the field and the authority you hold over the same build trust around your content. This applies to all kinds of industries.
When you write content, be specific, precise, and confident. This confidence arises out of well-researched pieces of content.
Every piece of content is a world of its own. You cannot afford to jump from one topic to another within a single block of content. And in rare cases that you do, make sure you don’t leave your reader confused when you make the change. Make your transitions smooth and as unobtrusive as possible. Give out pointers, hints, and statements when doing so.
A picture speaks a thousand words. Break down your blocky paragraphs and try to add images and bullet points as much as possible. Most readers do not read your entire article. They skim and scan through the content and read-only what interests them. Ensure that your sentences are crisp and your paragraphs are as short as possible.
Optimize Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is measured by the amount of time a user spends on your page without jumping to another site from your blog. While there is no good or bad bounce rate, it is best to have your user linger on your site to ensure that they see your products and services.
Optimizing bounce rates is a tricky and sensitive process. Below are pointers that will help you start off right:
- Optimize your linking strategy. Users should not desert your article to check out a link.
- Ensure a return door for your users to come back.
- Create engaging content. Dull and unuseful content increases bounce rate.
- Add CTAs wherever possible. This helps in getting conversions.
- Link to your other blogs for better coverage.
- Do not plagiarize content. This will never help you win your audience.
Solve Your User’s Problem at Scale
This is the foundation of every great content. Your user comes to your site searching for answers. If they leave with more questions rather than answers, there is a high possibility that they might not return. Your content is your medium to connect with your audience. You cannot ignore the importance of great content that engages, excites, and offers value to your readers.
While writing engaging and useful content is essential, you should be able to solve problems at scale. Solutions that act like patches are usually not welcome in the online community. If you want to become an industry leader, your content should resonate the same. Be creative and inventive to ensure your content reaches your audience in the right manner.
Technical SEO Checklist
Let’s look at the technical SEO checklist now. On-page SEO checklist is important to understand the performance on the front end of your site and yield great results. But if there are backend issues in your site, you will be bogged down with broken links, XML sitemap issues, and other technical errors. Let’s look at the checklist you need to have when anticipating these issues.
Fix Crawl Errors
As mentioned earlier, you should have set up Google Search Console by now. You can use this to find crawl errors in your site that prevent Google bots from crawling your content. This could be 404 errors, incorrectly canonicalized pages, and such.
Optimize Page Speed
Nobody likes a slow-loading page. Trust us when we say this. Many great blogs and pages have lost millions of users due to slow loading pages. People do not have the patience to wait for your entire page to load even if you have great content within. Always remember, there are other blogs online that deal with the same content as yours.
Keep your site nimble and light for users to browse. Keep it mobile-friendly to retain mobile phone users. Image quality, user location, and browser type are some of the factors that influence page speeds. You can use Google Search Console to detect Mobile usability issues.
Perform a Site Audit
Performing a site audit brings out most of the issues that your site contains. Performing a site audit can be done using different site audit tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, spyFU, etc. You can fix them one by one and see how much it optimizes your site. Take screenshots of your core web vitals and compare them after every fix. This will help you understand the major problems that plague your site.
The difference between HTTP and HTTPS is that the latter offers greater security and encryption. Technically sound users always prefer HTTPS since it is modern and secure. If you are using HTTP, it is advised that you migrate soon.
Also, HTTPS is a very well-known ranking factor for pages
The padlock on the left in the browser bar indicates that you are using HTTPS.
Fix Broken links
Your user experience should be smooth and fluid. Everything has to just click. Broken links are one of the pitfalls that you might face when optimizing your page. They are simply links that do not work or lead to some other irrelevant website when clicked. These will directly affect your SEO and ranking if not fixed from time to time.
Broken links mostly occur only when external or outbound links are involved. The site might have expired or migrated which will result in a link that does not work anymore. So always check your pages for such broken links and fix them right away.
Optimize your URLs
Your URLs should be short and attractive. They should be easy to read and not contain jumbled data. Your user will remember your content based on the URLs too. Here is an example of how URLs are structured and how they can be optimized.
The second link is a classic example of how your URLs can be designed.
Great content is built with discipline. Your efforts to any extent will fail if you do not practice uniformity or Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness (EAT) in your content. These SEO checklists will help you achieve a style of your own with your target audience in mind. Cross verify these every time you create content to ensure that you are on the right track towards content greatness.
You need to understand that this is not an overnight process. It takes months and even years of work to perfect your content. Content marketing and link building can greatly help you increase this rate and get assured results. In case you wish to optimize your blogs with experts in the field, LinkDoctor can help you with that.