Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for driving organic traffic, leads, and sales to your website. But with Google’s algorithms changing constantly, it can be tricky to keep up with best practices.
This comprehensive SEO checklist for covers both on-page optimization and broader technical and content recommendations. Follow this step-by-step guide to improve your website’s discoverability and ranking in search engines like Google.
Whether you’re new to SEO or looking to brush up on the basics, this checklist will help you identify gaps and opportunities to boost your performance. Let’s get started!
How Often Should You Do SEO?
The first question many have is: how often should you actually be doing SEO?
The short answer is: as often as feasible. SEO is an ongoing process that requires regular upkeep and maintenance. At a minimum, you should audit and optimize your SEO 1-2 times per year.
However, the best practice is to monitor and tweak your SEO on a quarterly basis. Set aside time every 3 months to review your website’s SEO and make improvements.
You’ll also want to adapt your tactics whenever Google releases a new algorithm update.
Finally, remember that content creation, link building, technical SEO, and UX optimization should be baked into your regular marketing strategy. SEO is most effective when done consistently over time.
On-Page SEO Checklist
Let’s start with the basic SEO checklist – optimizing individual web pages. This on-page SEO checklist covers key elements for your website’s content, HTML tags, site speed, and more.
- Use targeted keywords in headings – Focus on your primary and secondary keywords, and include them in your H1 and H2 headings where possible.
- Optimize page titles – Your page title tags appear in search engine results, so ensure they include your target keyword and compelling page-specific content.
- Implement metadata descriptions – Well-written meta descriptions that include keywords can improve click-through rates (CTRs) for individual pages.
- Enhance image SEO – Include keyword-optimized ALT text and file names for all images on your site. This improves accessibility too!
- Optimize content – Aim for long-form, in-depth content organized around selected keywords. Include related keywords throughout your content.
- Improve page speed – Faster page load times improve user experience and can boost rankings. Compress images, cache assets, and remove unnecessary code.
- Check internal linking – Link out to related content on your own site. This helps search engines crawl new pages.
- Update site architecture – Ensure your information architecture and internal linking facilitate SEO best practices.
- Fix technical errors – Eliminate 404 pages, broken links, formatting issues, duplicate content, and other errors.
- Enhance UX – Improving site navigation, loading speed, and usability enhances user experience (UX), a positive ranking factor.
- Include structured data – Use schema.org structured data to highlight key page information for search engines.
- Check mobile optimization – Google favors mobile-friendly pages. Ensure your site looks and functions well on mobile devices.
- Monitor page performance – Use Google Search Console and analytics to identify high-performing pages as well as issues to fix.
SEO Checklist for New Websites
Launching a new website? Focus on these key elements from day one to build a solid SEO foundation:
- Conduct keyword research – Identify topics and keywords that align with your business goals and have a decent search volume. This informs your content strategy.
- Choose an SEO-friendly domain – Opt for a .com domain with your brand name if available. Avoid overstuffing keywords.
- Select a mobile-responsive site design – A site that functions well on mobile is now a requirement, not a perk.
- Ensure technical SEO basics are covered – Set up Google Search Console, structured data, sitemaps, page speed optimizations, etc.
- Create targeted title tags and meta descriptions – Research competitors to find ideas, but make your titles and descriptions unique.
- Launch your blog – Regular educational blog content boosts your domain authority over time. Prioritize topics around your target keywords.
- Build high-quality backlinks – Focus on guest posting on relevant sites to build natural links and raise awareness pre-launch.
- Develop an ongoing content strategy – Plan out content upgrades, new blog posts, videos, etc. that align with your keywords.
- Monitor analytics and search performance – Use tools like Google Search Console to identify quick wins and issues to improve.
SEO Checklist for Web Designers
If you design websites for clients, include these SEO deliverables as part of your web design service:
- Keyword research report – Provide a list of recommended target keywords based on the client’s business goals, industry research, and keyword data.
- SEO-friendly site architecture – Ensure your design facilitates SEO best practices like optimized page URLs, effective internal linking structure, breadcrumb navigation, etc.
- Optimized page elements – Page titles, meta descriptions, headings, image alt text, structured data, and HTML tags should all be optimized for the target keywords.
- Mobile-responsive design – The site must look great and function smoothly on smartphones and tablets in addition to desktops.
- Fast page speed – Test site speed and implement speed optimizations like compressed images, caching, lazy loading, etc. to hit target speeds.
- Accessibility – Design and develop the site to comply with ADA accessibility standards through elements like color contrast, image alt text, ARIA labels, etc. This aids SEO too.
- Google Search Console setup – Submit sitemaps, configure settings, and connect GSC to GA.
- Analytics integration – Install Google Analytics (or other analytics software) and connect it with Search Console.
- Link-building consultation – Provide tips and ideas for how the client can build high-quality backlinks to support organic growth.
- Website security – Ensure the site is built on secure infrastructure and leverage tools like SSL certificates to protect user data.
- SEO launch guide – Supply the client with a comprehensive SEO document detailing your recommendations to support ongoing optimization.
Checklist for On-Page SEO
Here is a condensed SEO checklist covering the most important on-page optimization elements:
- Used in the page title tag
- Appear in H1 and H2 tags
- Included in the meta description
- Used appropriately throughout the content
- Valuable, well-researched, and useful for users
- Includes related keywords and synonym variations
- Not duplicated elsewhere on site
- Links out to internal content where relevant
- Title tag optimized for the topic
- Unique meta description for each page
- Proper heading tags structure
- Alt text for all images
- Easy to navigate
- Effective internal linking structure
- Optimized page URLs (hyphenated, keywords where logical)
- No excessive pagination or subfolders
- Images compressed
- Caching implemented
- Minimal redirects
- Gzip compression enabled
- Minimal plugins/extensions
- CDN utilized
Fix Technical Issues:
- No 404 errors
- No broken links/images
- Valid HTML markup
- Minimal code bloat
- HTTPS enabled
SEO Step-By-Step Guide for Beginners
Here is an overview of the step-by-step process to optimize your site’s SEO from scratch:
- Conduct keyword research: Identify keywords and topics that align with your business goals. Use keyword research tools to assess search volume data.
- Perform an SEO audit: Review your existing content, site architecture, technical foundations, link profile, etc., and identify optimization opportunities.
- Address technical SEO: Ensure your site has a solid technical foundation before optimizing content: fast page speed, secure infrastructure, clean code, mobile responsiveness, etc. Utilize SEO tools and Google Search Console.
- Improve site architecture: Update site navigation, internal linking structure, URL formatting, and other architecture elements to follow SEO best practices.
- Optimize existing content: Expand thin content, edit page titles and meta descriptions, and add keywords throughout the content naturally.
- Create new content: Develop blog posts, videos, guides, etc. that target your focus keywords and provide value to readers.
- Enhance on-page elements: Structure content using headings, optimize images with alt text, add structured data where applicable, etc. Re-optimize as needed.
- Build high-quality backlinks: Earn links from other sites by creating resources people want to naturally link to, like blog posts and tools. Reach out to partners.
- Monitor and refine: Use Google Analytics, Search Console, and rank-tracking software to identify new opportunities. Expand keywords, fix issues, and optimize further. SEO is always evolving!
- Stay Up to Date: Adapt to Google algorithm updates, learn new skills, and watch for SEO trends to maintain your edge.
Following a comprehensive ultimate SEO checklist is crucial for maximizing your website’s organic visibility and traffic. Use this guide as your SEO roadmap, focusing on technical foundations, on-page optimizations, content, and backlinks.
Be sure to monitor your progress in Search Console and Analytics, and adjust your approach based on the data. SEO takes ongoing effort, but it’s worth it for the long-term payoff.
With this checklist in hand, you have all the elements in place to improve your SEO results. Best of luck! Let me know if you have any other questions.