The simple SEO Checklist
Every time I start a new website, I typically find myself doing the same things over and over, in order to lay the foundation for solid on page-optimization. I originally wrote this checklist for my SEO training course. Ironically, it now ranks quite well for “ SEO Checklist”, and gets a few hundred unique visitors a day..
There’s one thing I want to reiterate before you embark on your SEO checklist journey: On-page optimization is best thought about as incrementally beneficial. The big mistake people tend to make is that they find a checklist, they go through every thing on it, they read every single one line-by-line and say “Oh no! I’m missing one thing – now I can’t rank and everything is ruined!”. Meh – that’s not really the way to think about it.
If you can get everything on this list, that’s great! If you can only get most, that’s okay too. You want to make your site as SEO-friendly as possible, but in general, it’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to do all these things. That said, try your best!
The VERY simple SEO Checklist
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There’s a post in this blog called the starter for ten post. It’s a simple SEO checklist. However in the spirit of our plain English approach here’s another take on this old favourite using what and why.
On page analysis from the top down:
Make sure your title element (tag) describes the page and uses keywords. Every page needs its own title tag, site wide title tags are a bad idea. Remember Google will display 66 (although I’ve seen 70) characters and Yahoo 120 characters.
The text in the title tag is used by search engines for indexing your page. It’s also used in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) as the text in the link that links to your page. Make your title tag something worth clicking. More on title tags.
Make your URL’s human readable or Search Engine Friendly (SEF).
Making your URL’s human readable means they can help to describe the page and use keywords. Keywords in URL’s can help you rank for a keyword or phrase.
The text snippet displayed in the SERPs under the blue link text can either be taken from the page (by the search engine spider) or from the meta description. If you write good meta descriptions and Google’s spiders use them you can be in control of the words that appear in the SERPs. Google will highlight keywords that match the search and this could mean the difference between getting a click and not getting a click.
Use the meta keywords element (tag) for important keywords. Only add keywords that describe the page, don’t add unrelated keywords.
Although Google doesn’t use the meta keywords information other search engines do.
Use a CSS based design and adopt web design best practices for styling your page.
search engine spidesr don’t see what users see. They have to parse all the code that makes up a page including all your HTML. Make it easier for them.
Make sure your page content is Correctly Tagged for SEO . For example if you have a main header make it an H1.
By tagging your content you are providing the search engine spiders with a clue about what’s important on the page and what isn’t so important.
To make sure the search engines can find all your pages.
So you can measure and see what’s working and what’s not.
Sort out any canonical issues.
So there is only one version of each of your sites web pages.
- Have you created a new Google Account and Email address for your site? This isn’t necessary, but always makes things easier for me.
- Have you installed Google Analytics? This is not optional!
- Have you installed >Google Webmaster Tools? Again, not optional.
- Have you installed >Bing Webmaster Tools ? Do this too.
- Using WordPress? Have you installed Google Analytics for WordPress and SEO for WordPress? These plugins will make your life 100x easier.
- 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 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 used Xenu to find any broken links you might have? This is a free, easy way to check.
- ave you used Google’s Keyword Research Tool ? 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.
- 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. Input competitor domains at Link Diagnosis, Open Site Explorer, Ahrefs, Majestic SEO and LipperHey
- Have you incorporated your primary keyword (or something close) into your page URL?
- Have you incorporated your primary keyword (or something close) into your page URL?
- Are all of your title tags ~65 characters or less? Title tags over this will be truncated in results.
- Are all of your meta description tags ~155 characters or less? Meta description tags over this will be truncated in results.
- Have you used an H1 tag? Is your keyword in the tag? Is it before any (H2, H3, H4…) tags? Are you only using 1 H1?
- 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. 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? 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! Check out the ClickMinded Link Building Strategy Guide to get started.
- Have you made sure your site isn’t creating any duplicate content? Utilize 301 redirects, canonical tags or use Google Webmaster Tools to fix any duplicate content that might be indexing and penalizing your site.
- Have you checked your site speed with Google Page Speed Tools?
- Have you created an XML sitemap and submitted it to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools? Use XML-Sitemaps.com or the Google XML Sitemaps WordPress Plugin.
- Have you created a Robots.txt file and submitted it in Google and Bing Webmaster Tools?
- 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 (I’ve avoided linking directly to sign up pages because they keep changing):
- Is your site mobile friendly? Have you checked it on multiple browsers with BrowserStack?
- Have you setup social media accounts on Facebook ,Twitter,LinkedIn, and Google+?
- Have you added Authorship Markup to your site? Use the .Authorship Markup Walkthrough
- Have you used the My Site Auditor Report to double-check everything once you’re live?
- 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 (don’t worry, it can be tough!), have you reviewed the Beginner’s Guide to SEO?
KIPZER believes in simple workable solution providing full user satisfaction and value for money. Here is a checklist of the factors that affect your rankings with Google, Bing, Yahoo! and the other search engines. The list contains positive, negative and neutral factors because all of them exist. Most of the factors in the checklist apply mainly to Google and partially to Bing, Yahoo! and all the other search engines of lesser importance. If you need more information on particular sections of the checklist, you may want to read our SEO tutorial, which gives more detailed explanations of Keywords, Links, Metatags, Visual Extras, etc.
Checklist of the factors that affect website rankings
- Keywords in title tag This is one of the most important places to have a keyword because what is written inside the title tag shows in search results as your page title. The title tag must be short (6 or 7 words at most) and the the keyword must be near the beginning.
- Keywords in URL Keywords in URLs help a lot - e.g. - http://domainname.com/seo-services.html, where “SEO services” is the keyword phrase you attempt to rank well for. But if you don't have the keywords in other parts of the document, don't rely on having them in the URL.
- Keyword density in document text Another very important factor you need to check. 3-7 % for major keywords is best, 1-2 for minor. Keyword density of over 10% is suspicious and looks more like keyword stuffing, than a naturally written text.
- Keywords in anchor text Also very important, especially for the anchor text of inbound links, because if you have the keyword in the anchor text in a link from another site, this is regarded as getting a vote from this site not only about your site in general, but about the keyword in particular.
- Keywords in headings (h1 , h2 , etc. tags) One more place where keywords count a lot. But beware that your page has actual text about the particular keyword.
- Keywords in the beginning of a document Also counts, though not as much as anchor text, title tag or headings. However, have in mind that the beginning of a document does not necessarily mean the first paragraph – for instance if you use tables, the first paragraph of text might be in the second half of the table.
- Keywords in alt tags Spiders don't read images but they do read their textual descriptions in the alt tag, so if you have images on your page, fill in the alt tag with some keywords about them.
- Keywords in metatags Less and less important, especially for Google. Yahoo! and Bing still rely on them, so if you are optimizing for Yahoo! or Bing, fill these tags properly. In any case, filling these tags properly will not hurt, so do it.
- Keyword proximity Keyword proximity measures how close in the text the keywords are. It is best if they are immediately one after the other (e.g. “dog food”), with no other words between them. For instance, if you have “dog” in the first paragraph and “food” in the third paragraph, this also counts but not as much as having the phrase “dog food” without any other words in between. Keyword proximity is applicable for keyword phrases that consist of 2 or more words.
- Keyword phrases In addition to keywords, you can optimize for keyword phrases that consist of several words – e.g. “SEO services”. It is best when the keyword phrases you optimize for are popular ones, so you can get a lot of exact matches of the search string but sometimes it makes sense to optimize for 2 or 3 separate keywords (“SEO” and “services”) than for one phrase that might occasionally get an exact match.
- Secondary keywords Optimizing for secondary keywords can be a golden mine because when everybody else is optimizing for the most popular keywords, there will be less competition (and probably more hits) for pages that are optimized for the minor words. For instance, “real estate new jersey” might have thousand times less hits than “real estate” only but if you are operating in New Jersey, you will get less but considerably better targeted traffic.
- Keyword stemming For English this is not so much of a factor because words that stem from the same root (e.g. dog, dogs, doggy, etc.) are considered related and if you have “dog” on your page, you will get hits for “dogs” and “doggy” as well, but for other languages keywords stemming could be an issue because different words that stem from the same root are considered as not related and you might need to optimize for all of them.
- Synonyms Optimizing for synonyms of the target keywords, in addition to the main keywords. This is good for sites in English, for which search engines are smart enough to use synonyms as well, when ranking sites but for many other languages synonyms are not taken into account, when calculating rankings and relevancy.
- Keyword Mistypes Spelling errors are very frequent and if you know that your target keywords have popular misspellings or alternative spellings (i.e. Christmas and Xmas), you might be tempted to optimize for them. Yes, this might get you some more traffic but having spelling mistakes on your site does
- Keyword dilution When you are optimizing for an excessive amount of keywords, especially unrelated ones, this will affect the performance of all your keywords and even the major ones will be lost (diluted) in the text.
- Keyword stuffing Any artificially inflated keyword density (10% and over) is keyword stuffing and you risk getting banned from search engines.
- Anchor text of inbound links As discussed in the Keywords section, this is one of the most important factors for good rankings. It is best if you have a keyword in the anchor text but even if you don't, it is still OK. However, don't use the same anchor text all the time because this is also penalized by Google. Try to use synonyms, keyword stemming, or simply the name of your site instead
- Origin of inbound links Besides the anchor text, it is important if the site that links to you is a reputable one or not. Generally sites with greater Google PR are considered reputable. Links from poor sites and link farms can do real harm to you, so avoid them at all costs.
- Links from similar sites Generally the more, the better. But the reputation of the sites that link to you is more important than their number. Also important is their anchor text (and its diversity), the lack/presence of keyword(s) in it, the link age, etc.
- Links from .edu and .gov sites These links are precious because .edu and .gov sites are more reputable than .com. .biz, .info, etc. domains. Additionally, such links are hard to obtain.
- Number of backlinks Generally the more, the better. But the reputation of the sites that link to you is more important than their number. Also important is their anchor text, is there a keyword in it, how old are they, etc.
- Anchor text of internal links This also matters, though not as much as the anchor text of inbound links.
- Around-the-anchor text The text that is immediately before and after the anchor text also matters because it further indicates the relevance of the link – i.e. if the link is artificial or it naturally flows in the text.
- Age of inbound links The older, the better. Getting many new links in a short time suggests buying them.
- Links from directories Could work, though it strongly depends on which directories. Being listed in DMOZ, Yahoo Directory and similar directories is a great boost for your ranking but having tons of links from PR0 directories is useless or even harmful because it can even be regarded as link spamming, if you have hundreds or thousands of such links.
- Number of outgoing links on the page that links to you The fewer, the better for you because this way your link looks more important.
- Named anchors Named anchors (the target place of internal links) are useful for internal navigation but are also useful for SEO because you stress additionally that a particular page, paragraph or text is important. In the code, named anchors look like this: Read about dogs and “#dogs” is the named anchor.
- IP address of inbound link Google denies that they discriminate against links that come from the same IP address or C class of addresses, so for Google the IP address can be considered neutral to the weight of inbound links. However, Bing and Yahoo! may discard links from the same IPs or IP classes, so it is always better to get links from different IPs.
- Inbound links from link farms and other suspicious sites Presumably, this does not affect you, provided the links are not reciprocal. The idea is that it is beyond your control to define what a link farm links to, so you don't get penalized when such sites link to you because this is not your fault. However, some recent changes to the Google algorithm suggest the opposite. This is why, you must always stay away from link farms and other suspicious sites or if you see they link to you, contact their webmaster and ask the link to be removed.
- Many outgoing links Google does not like pages that consists mainly of links, so you'd better keep them under 100 per page. Having many outgoing links does not get you any benefits in terms of ranking and could even make your situation worse.