SEO Checklist: A Complete Guide to Improve Your Google Ranking

Abuzar Khan
The views of contributors are their own, and not necessarily those of SEOBlog.com

An SEO checklist is very important to create an effective SEO campaign in 2019. Gone are the days of starting a business online and just needing a website to see leads coming into your inboxes and money transferring into your bank accounts.

The game of digital marketing has evolved to a whole new level in 2019. There are so many website owners, agencies and marketers who engage in SEO activities.

To help you build a solid SEO campaign, you need a great strategy and plan in place. Here’s the SEO checklist you should follow to improve your search engine ranking position:

Install an SEO Plugin

A plugin is a tool that adds a feature to your website. For WordPress, you must install the Yoast SEO plugin to streamline all your SEO tasks efficiently.

Yoast SEO is the best SEO plugin that provides an easy user interface and seamless execution of your search engine optimization tasks.

You can flawlessly edit title, URL, description, slug, internal linking, etc., with the help of the Yoast SEO plugin.

If you are using another content management system other than WordPress, then you must search what the popular SEO plugins are for your CMS.

Create a Sitemap

This is the fundamental step to optimize the website’s search ranking position. Developing a sitemap for your website will enable search engine bots to find and crawl your web pages effectively.

Whenever the bots come to your website, they look for sitemaps. If they don’t find a sitemap, the bots will index pages on their own.

Hence, it is a good practice to create an XML sitemap and submit it through Google search console for better indexation of your website.

Usually webmasters use online tools such as XML-sitemap.com that automatically create sitemaps based on the URL.

Add Robots.txt

Your website may have a few pages that are not required to be ranked in the search engine results.

To restrict those particular pages coming in SERP, you must include them in the robots.txt file, which tells the bots to exclude crawling those pages.

If you don’t use robot.txt on your website, you will see unnecessary pages of your website being ranked in search engine results. This will negatively impact your brand’s reputation and restrict other essential pages to rank higher in Google.

Apply 301 Redirection

A 301 redirection is crucial when you have permanently changed the address of a particular online resource to a new web resource.

In case of an SSL certificate, you must ensure all the versions of the URL redirect to the same format.

For example, after installing the SSL certificate, there would be four versions of your URL:

http://yourdomain.com

http://www.yourdomain.com

https://yourdomain.com

https://www.yourdomain.com

All of these versions must redirect to “https.” So, you need to apply 301 redirections to redirect all the combinations of URLs to a single home page URL.

Check Broken Links

Broken links are the 404 pages that have nothing to offer users, and they show up as error 404 pages not found.

Whenever a user lands on 404 pages, it affects the user experience of your website and negatively impacts your search engine rankings.

Moreover, the bounce rate of your website will rise since the user would not engage further with your site and quickly leave the tab.

Use https://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/ to identify the dead links on your web pages that have no destination.

Improve Page Speed

Page speed is one of the ranking factors Google considers to rank web pages. (source)

If your loading speed is slow, your website’s user experience will be affected since the users are forced to wait to enter your site.

You can use GTMetrix or Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to get granular understanding about loading speed.

These tools also let you know which CSS, JavaScript and HTML files are not allowing the website to load instantly.

Install Google Analytics Code

Google Analytics is an analysis tool provided by Google to understand user behavior on a website.

Even though you have written great content and are getting several leads, you can’t anticipate what happens on your website whenever the user reaches the landing page.

Google Analytics will give you enhanced data and information about the traffic, conversions and user behavior on your website.

With the help of the analytics, you will know more about the user engagement on your website and can make adjustments as needed to help enhance user experience and SEO rankings.

Setup Google Search Console

Google search console is another must-have tool for webmasters to manage and analyze SEO activities of their website.

It has similar features as Google Analytics. Moreover, it also covers the technical SEO of a website by letting you know about crawl errors, website errors and traffic analysis.

You can also submit sitemaps of your website and exclude irrelevant backlinks by disavowing them from search console.

On-Page SEO

An SEO checklist couldn’t be complete without adding on-page SEO to it.

The success of any SEO campaign heavily depends on how well the on-page parameters are optimized.

You must consider every on-site variable to ensure higher rankings for search engine results.:

  • Meta Tags
  • Titles
  • Image ALT text
  • URL Structure
  • Internal Linking
  • Unique Content
  • Keyword Research

All of these must be rigorously executed and aggressively covered and optimized for search rankings.

Keyword Research

Keyword research should be in your SEO checklist, too. Keyword research is the foundation of your SEO activities. Keywords are word phrases that will become an identity of your website.

You must brainstorm and research a lot about the ideal keywords of your website to get maximum relevant traffic on your landing pages.

You can use tools such as UbserSuggest, Google Keyword Planner or Google’s related searches (as shown below) at the end of the SERPs to take keyword inspirations.

Internal Linking

Just like backlinks on other websites, you must also focus on citing your relevant web pages on a landing page.

The internal linking structure of your website will make your website easier to navigate and more accessible to not only bots but also users.

Internal linking will ensure better user experience as the visitors can easily switch to relevant and vital pages whenever they want.

Write Killer Content

Needless to say, content is the ultimate driving force that determines the success and failure of a digital marketing campaign.

Your SEO content should take users on a journey and educate, entertain and convert them to customers or whatever desired action you want them to follow.

The on-page SEO factors and loading speed will give you a significant boost in rankings. However, if the users don’t find the website content engaging they will quickly bounce to another site.

Write content on your website based on thorough research and keep in mind that most of the web pages that show up on the first page of the SERPs have an average length of 1,800 words.

Mobile Friendliness

In today’s day and age, mobile has become our constant companion for internet surfing and instant communication.

Google also loves websites that are mobile friendly. (Source) So, ensure your landing pages are mobile friendly and load appropriately on small-screen devices to give concurrent user experience to your visitors.

You can use this tool to verify whether your landing pages are mobile friendly or not. Enter your site URL and click on the button below.

Install SSL

An SSL certificate enables secure transfer protocol and end-to-end encryption on your website.

The https on your website tells visitors they are on a secured channel.

Google also confirms that https is a ranking factor. An SSL certificate gives complete security and robustness on your website to restrict hackers from entering.

Checkout SSL For Free, Let’s Encrypt and FreeSSL to get an SSL certificate for free.

Competitors’ Research

You must perform competitors’ research while building an SEO strategy for your website. Your inquiry will let you know how your competitors are targeting prospects and how they have implemented SEO activities.

No, you shouldn’t copy what your competitors have already done. Instead, it’s more of a process of understanding how others are interacting with visitors and allowing you to improve the quality of your website and serve your users better.

At the end of the day, SEO is all about how well you can serve your visitors.

Develop an Off-Page SEO Strategy

Off-page SEO also must be added to any SEO checklist. Off-page SEO complements on-page SEO parameters. With the help of SEO activities, you are building a reputation for your website and indirectly informing the search engines that your website is an authority of a niche.

As part of off-page SEO, you can do social media marketing, email marketing, PPC, linkbuilding and guest blogging to elevate your search engine position and get more relevant traffic on your website.

Conclusion

Do let us know what you think about our SEO checklist discussed above in this post.

If you are already doing SEO for a particular website and have covered any of these topics that have impacted your SEO value, please share your experiences in the comments below.

Written by Abuzar Khan

Abuzar Khan
Abuzar Khan is a web developer, SEO expert and the founder of SEO Basics. He has more than 8 years of web development and SEO experience, working across various businesses.

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