WHAT YOU WILL LEARN
Everyone’s on a mission to drive more traffic to their website.
Whether you run an e-commerce business, local company, or an affiliate marketing website, it’s imperative that your site ranks well in search engine results if you want to cut through the noise and get visitors to click through your page.
Search engines crawl the web, scouring content, trying to understand and recognise it, before ranking it in their results. And not all pages are optimised to rank well.
Think of it as being picked for a team. You want to be picked first. Or, if not first, at least not last.
But not everyone is going to fit the bill when it comes to the qualities that make a good sportsperson, whether that’s endurance or mindset. However, you can boost your chances of being picked if you train harder.
Similarly, there are certain activities you can undertake to prove your relevance to search engines, boosting your SEO rankings and driving traffic to your site.
Here’s a fool-proof SEO checklist so you can execute SEO more effectively and successfully, making sure you’re doing everything that’s feasibly possible to optimise traffic flow to your site.
Your Most Reliable SEO Checklist: 16 Easy-To-Follow Steps
Install and properly configure RankMath plugin
An SEO plugin for WordPress like RankMath can make the challenge of on-page SEO a little less overwhelming. RankMath’s SEO tool runs tests on your website, analysing it in seconds for the SEO activities that you need to be performing if you want to guarantee traffic to your site.
The tool isn’t configured for every single SEO factor ever – that would be impossible. But it includes all the basic and most important factors and can tell you where you have issues that need attention and where there’s room for improvement.
Determine your keywords
The next step in optimising your page or website for SEO is to determine which keywords you want to rank for. Identifying high-volume search terms that relate to your particular niche and including them in your content will help search engines determine the relevance of your page.
Keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner can help you to choose keywords by the search volume. You can also check out forums including Reddit and Quora for ideas on what questions your target audience is asking, as well as Answer The Public and Ahref’s Keyword Explorer.
But it’s not as simple as targeting the most popular keywords. Some are far too competitive. You want to identify those keywords where you stand a chance of getting noticed. Use KWFinder to see which long-tail keywords are low competition or Google Suggest to see the kinds of searches people are conducting relating to your niche. Long-tail keywords are more descriptive than seed keywords and easier to rank for.
Ensure your keywords feature in your text regularly – but beware of keyword stuffing. To avoid this, use synonyms or LSI keywords – those search terms that are similar or related.
Identify search intent
Search intent is the reason why someone is making a certain search. Maybe they want to learn something (informational search intent) or are looking to buy something (commercial search intent).
If you want Google to recognise your content, it needs to be clear that your content answers this why aligning with search intent and providing a solution to the query.
There are different ways to identify search intent. One simple way is to look at keywords that include modifiers such as ‘how’, ‘what’, or ‘why’. This signals ‘informational’ search intent.
You can also look for featured snippets when you search for a certain keyword. These snippets often appear when people are seeking an answer to a question.
Content matters as much as keywords
The quality of your content has a major impact on how high you rank in search engine results. And the most important part of your content? The introduction.
Your introduction should be:
- engaging, and
- get straight to the point
You should also include your keyword in the first 100 to 150 words.
As for the rest of your content, you should prioritise readability, using short sentences and short paragraphs to break up blocks of text. Consider bolding certain key phrases to make the text more scannable.
Your content should aim to be comprehensive, covering all the most important aspects of a particular topic. It should also appear trustworthy, so back up claims with evidence when possible. Case studies and real-life examples help you to seem trustworthy.
Finally, ensure all your content is up-to-date, as this will help search engines determine relevance.
Make use of headers
Make sure that each header helps search engines understand what your content is about. Headers can help structure your content and break up text to make the page more visually appealing and easier to scan (which leads to readers spending more time on the page).
You can include keywords in your headers but it’s not always necessary. It’s more important that it remains readable and communicates clearly what your content is about.
However, including a long-tail search keyword in a header and then answering it directly in the text below is a good way to increase your chances of appearing as a Google featured snippet.
Include internal links
Internal links point to another page on your site and can help readers navigate around as well as establish what your most important content is i.e. that content that everything links back to.
Add any internal links that help your reader move around your site and also link within a single article to help them jump to the section that’s most relevant to them.
You can also link from high-authority pages to those pages whose authority you want to boost. Make sure to use the keyword of the page you’re linking to in your link text.
Optimise your URL
URLs are one of the ranking factors used by search engines to determine the relevance of your page to a search query.
SEO best practices suggest keeping your URL short, simple, and accurate so readers and search engines can recognise what your page is all about.
Use hyphens to separate words, and, if you can, try to include a keyword near the beginning.
Maximise the impact of your title tag
Title tags are the HTML code that determines how search engines read your title. Title tags should include your keyword as close to the start as possible and should be between 55 and 65 characters long (up to 612px to be more precise).
Ensure your title tags are accurate and reflect what your content is about. You can also use your brand’s name at the end of the tag if it will help boost credibility.
Pay attention to your meta description
Meta descriptions help people to decide whether to click on your link or not.
While meta descriptions aren’t used in ranking algorithms, click-through-rate (CTR) seems to be a factor. The more people that click on your link, the higher up the rankings you’ll appear. So, you want your meta description to be effective at driving traffic.
Keep your meta description short and snappy—preferably under 150 characters. It should also inspire people to click with a call-to-action and contain your focus keyword. Finally, it should be different from your meta descriptions for all other pages.
Don’t forget about images
Images should be used to illustrate the point you’re making in your text. An image with related text will rank better.
Name your image file to help Google identify it. Ensure the alt text includes your keyword and describes what the image is in case the reader can’t see it. And use captions to help people to scan your text.
If your images are slow to load, resize accordingly and compress the images if necessary. Always make sure that your images display correctly on mobile.
Prioritise site security
You want your website to be secure for users, especially if they are sharing personal data. HTTPS offers a guarantee of a secure connection with an SSL that operates as a padlock.
Without HTTPS, visitors will get a warning when they arrive on your page. This may cause them to abandon. Google has also suggested that, if all other factors are equal, HTTPS can be the deciding factor when choosing where to rank your website.
Fix crawl errors
Search engine bots crawl every page of every website on the Internet trying to understand, organise, and index information.
If they try to reach a page on your website and can’t, this becomes a crawl error. A site error is when the bot is unable to access your entire site while a URL error is when it can’t access a specific page.
Make it a practice to check for crawl errors on a weekly basis to keep them under control. You can use Google Search Console to tell you about any errors so you can go about fixing them.
Ensure your site is mobile-friendly
With mobile now more popular than desktop for Internet usage, you need to ensure people can use your site effectively from their phones. Many users will become frustrated if a site doesn’t load properly on mobile.
So, either create a mobile version of your current site or use mobile plugins to make your site mobile-friendly. Another option is a complete site overhaul, using responsive design to allow your site to adapt to any screen size or device. A CMS like WordPress is a no-brainer these days.
Don’t forget to use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to see where your website currently stands.
Track down unlinked mentions of your brand
One nifty trick for boosting SEO is looking for mentions of your brand and making sure that they’re linked.
You can track down online mentions using tools like Ahref’s Content Explorer and then a tool like Screaming Frog SEO Spider to find out which of these pages contains unlinked, rather than linked, mentions.
Then reach out and ask if they can turn it into a link. Prioritise links from high-quality pages to help improve your authority and rankings.
Generate a sitemap
A sitemap, or XML sitemap, is basically a map or list of URLs on a website.
Having one can make it easier for search engine crawlers to read and organise the content on your site by telling them its location, when it was updated, how regularly, and its importance relative to the other pages on your site.
Search engine bots can then index accordingly.
Use Google Analytics
Google Analytics is one of the most valuable weapons in your SEO arsenal. You can use it to compare conversions between different time periods and discover what content could do with an update to get it driving traffic again.
From discovering your highest converting pages and optimising them for SEO to using the ‘Assisted Conversions’ feature to see what pages are contributing to conversions, Google Analytics provides vital metrics for tracking your SEO performance.
You can also set up customisable goals to measure data alongside the specific outcomes you want and see how you’re progressing.
The SEO Checklist by SEO Buddy: Your Go-To Resource
This SEO tool kit is designed to help you understand exactly what you need to do to improve your SEO and how to do it.
Given that 95% of searchers only check the first page of Google, not appearing there is tantamount to not existing. SEO Buddy’s collection of resources and proven SEO methods are dedicated to helping you get onto this first page.
The step-by-step guide will help you navigate the complex world of SEO in easy-to-follow strategies that deliver real results. What you’ll get:
- Access to a Google Sheet with more than 100 actionable steps in an intuitive and easy-to-understand format. It includes the difficulty of each step, its impact, cost, and the tool you require to do it, plus links to extra resources to help you complete it. You can save an editable version of the Google Sheet to your Google Drive and customise it to your own needs and preferences while the web version allows you to assign steps to different team members.
- For 47 of the steps, there’s a unique SOP (standard operating procedure) that details the entire process, step-by-step, with screenshots.
- A 62-page e-book detailing, in-depth, each step of the SEO Checklist.
- A 12-page guide to content planning and creating 52 weeks of content for your business.
- A content distribution checklist to help you boost engagement after you publish your content, getting more backlinks, likes, and leads.
A few of the many bonuses of using the SEO checklist?
- You can find exact instructions for specific SEO tasks rather than have to trawl the Internet yourself to find the answers you want.
- It covers everything from the basics to more advanced stuff, from setting up Google Analytics to submitting sitemaps to optimising local listings in search engines and major directories.
- It makes training new recruits simple as you already have all the materials you need.
- SEO is always changing and the SEO Checklist will be updated as Google evolves so the processes remain relevant and effective. When you buy, you get free updates and lifetime access.
These are fool-proof instructions that are designed to be accessible to all. If you’re an SEO newbie, this is the perfect introduction.
And if you’re a veteran SEO specialist, this gives you a great resource for trainees or to keep your team on track.
How To Nail SEO: The Long and Short Of It
You need to constantly be updating your content to ensure it’s as SEO friendly as possible. This checklist is the best place to start and a reliable resource to check against your content to ensure you haven’t forgotten anything.
But even better than this checklist is an expertly crafted guide like The SEO Checklist by SEO Buddy. It transforms SEO from overwhelmingly complex jargon into clear and easily actionable steps, simplifying the processes needed to boost your SEO in a steady and consistent way.