SEO Checklist : The Complete Guide for 2021
If your tired of wondering around from blog to blog to find a little bit of information here and a little there, worry no more, as below we have compiled a Complete SEO Checklist For 2021.
Simply follow these steps if you want to achieve higher Search Engine Rankings in 2021.
Not everything on this checklist will be mandatory for a beneficial result, just know the more you implement the better chance you have, make sure your plan is tailored to your business’ needs.
So first of all, before you begin optimizing your website, there a few things we need to take care of to ensure we get off to a good start.
SEO Basics Checklist
Setting Up Google Analytics
Google analytics is something no one can afford to miss, its simply a must have.
The analytics lets you track things such as how much traffic your website is getting and what pages are working the best, along with many other metrics including setting your own goals and checking your revenue.
You can find an in-depth article here: How To: Set up Google Analytics
Setting Up Google Search Console
The console lets you understand how Google sees your pages and gives you the opportunity to optimize and fix any alerts your site has.
Googles Search Console also tracks your sites performance, lets you submit sitemaps, and even notifies you of any website errors or penalties you may have.
This is an incredibly powerful tool considering it’s free, one you should consider a necessity.
You should first start off by adding your URL into the search console, this while bring up all the metrics we have spoken about.
Continue by adding your tag and verifying your domain.
Even if you aren’t familiar with GSC, Google offers a help page for you to easily follow.
All this and more can be found here.
Install Your SEO Plugin
This can prove difficult if your using anything other than WordPress.
Wix for example do offer similar alternatives but there less of a plugin and more of an app. If your using WordPress you will want to install Yoast SEO.
Yoast SEO is an excellent plugin that makes it much easier for you to create SEO-friendly content.
It will take care of a lot of aspects such as sitemaps, robots.txt, canonical tags and a whole array of tasks.
For Wix users I personally recommend Rabbit SEO, this may not be as advanced as Yoast but unfortunately its one of the very few Wix has to offer, and it will still certainly help you in your SEO efforts.
Now that you have your free tools setup and are ready to start your SEO campaign, the first step you should take is to research your keywords. Google keyword planner is a great way to start.
Keyword research is a very critical step and the basic foundations of your content, so you must ensure that it is done correctly.
Neil Patel has a great article on keyword research.
Use URL Keywords
After all the process of planning is completed you will want to focus your efforts on On-Page Optimization.
Make sure that one of your keywords, preferably your most targeted one (Primary Keyword), is included in your sites URL.
A websites URL is known to be a ranking factor, and shorter ones generally outperform the longer.
That being said, if you’re already bounds ahead of this step make sure not to change your URL.
Changing your domain can have serious implications if your site already has a reasonable backlink profile and authority.
Optimize Your Title Tags
Your title tag has always been an incremental step to on-page SEO, it may not be as important as it once was but it is still something you should do.
A lot of people seem to misuse the title tag and not properly include their targeted keywords. Your keyword; if possible should be included at the front of the title.
For example, if you are writing a post on Optimizing Your Holiday SEO, this will need to go at the front of your title – simple.
Title Tag Modifiers
A title tag modifier is simply a word you add to your title in order to increase the long tail visibility.
For example, here I have written a post for the Top 10 SEO Tips, notice at the end I have included the phrase “for 2018”
These don’t necessarily always show up on tools such as Googles Keyword Planner but are super useful for traffic.
Optimize Your Images
When you add any image to your site you need to make sure Google can understand it correctly.
You do this by adding alt tags.
An alt tag is basically a short written description of what the image is, and there are two ways you can go about adding such tags.
The first one being; when you save your image on your smartphone or PC the name you give that file will then be used as the alt tag when you upload it to your site.
Secondly, you can edit the image directly on your chosen website editor and add the tag straight from there.
You can usually do this by opening the image properties.
Pretty straightforward right?
Optimize Your Meta Data
Header tags…e.g H2, H3, H4 etc. are key to on-page optimization, however, others debate their impact at all.
There is no written rule to tip the scales of debate so it’s really down to you whether you decide to implement them or not.
As we mentioned above your keyword should be included in your title tag tag and this shouldn’t change for the rest of the header tags.
Header Tags, are simply your subheading tags that you must optimize just like your title, but with essentially less value.
Include your keywords – not specifically your primary keyword, but others you are targeting for.
The clearer your headings are the easier it is for google to map your site.
But from an SEO perspective, it also acts as a way to increase the number of times you can fit your keywords on the page. Which is never a bad thing.
Create Amazing Content
This step may be obvious to a lot of readers but it is without a doubt, a game changer.
We, as SEO’s, cant stress enough how important it is for your site to have excellent content. Some say – and I will agree, that it is the backbone of your site.
Without going too much into the value of content on this post, you will want to make sure each of your pages have enough content for you to be ranked.
For your homepage I recommend around 200 words at the very least, pushing around 500 if you can.
Although I recommend a certain minimal amount of words on your page, there is no correct answer.
Of course, the more content you have the better, but at the end of the day it is all done to how your site is designed, particularly for the homepage. As 500 words for me is acceptable, it may be way too much for yourself.
It’s important not to stuff your content.
When writing out your content you should make sure your keyword is included towards the top, as Google puts more focus on to the first 150 words of your page more than anything else.
Try to be creative and fit in as much content as you can without stuffing.
Remember, you don’t ever want to ramble on with completely unnecessary information on your site as this can only hurt your rankings.
Stick to what you need to display and fill your content elsewhere on your site.
Unless of course your writing a blog post, then write your heart out! As its no secret longer posts almost always perform better.
Google just cant get enough of them.
Google has no doubt evolved over the years and is coming to a great understanding of how human language works. Google is smart.
Synonyms come in very handy when your writing longer more detailed posts.
It gives you the opportunity to avoid keyword stuffing and influence your rankings with a wider range of natural (keyword researched) language.
Internal links are simply pages that are linking to other pages in your website.
Linking to other internal pages is incredibly straight forward and very beneficial.
Whenever you create a new page on your site or write a new post, always try to link to 3-4 other internal pages.
You will notice I have done this a couple of times already in this post.
The most important part of internal linking is to make sure your links are natural and relevant. If you mention website loading times on your post and you have another post solely purposed on information for increasing your websites loading times, make sure to link it.
Remember to regularly check your links too to make sure they aren’t broken or linked to the wrong page.
Having an FAQ on your site is opening up the potential to being featured on a search engine snippet.
Answers like these are most often pulled from a sites FAQ section.
If your site is displayed in a featured snippet you can see how this appears at “position 0” – above all the other results. This is a great way to rank higher on the SERP’s
Here is what a Google snippet looks like:
Fetch and Render
Fetch and Render is a Google Search Console tool that lets you see how Googlebot views your page.
I’m sure it doesn’t need to be said, but if google cant see your page, it wont rank at all.
This is how Googlebot sees our website:
Analyze Google Search Console
Check Google Search Console for errors such as crawl errors, duplicated content and missing titles.
As mentioned above this is a free tool so is VERY useful to be able to check any errors your site has.
Make sure any errors google is having trouble with are fixed stat! You don’t want to leave them lying around.
Duplicated content can impact the whole value of your site.
Use Google Webmaster Tools to fix this issue.
Check For Broken Links
It is always important to make sure you have no broken links on your site as they can seriously hurt your SEO.
The larger your site the more imperative this is.
Having broken links on your page is not only bad for your visitors but also for search engines. It will make it increasingly difficult for them to find your content and index it, resulting in lower traffic.
The best way for you to check for these errors would be to use a program to identify them – such as Screaming Frogs SEO Spider.
Check For Duplicated Meta Tags
Another Google Search Console use is to check for duplicated tags.
This will show you any improvements you need to make to fix your tags.
Keep Your Site Mobile-Friendly
It’s no secret that a lot of web traffic comes from mobile devices.
In fact according to Statista in 2018 alone, around 52% of traffic was conducted from a mobile phone.
One key point to keep in mind when optimizing for mobile devices is that a lot of users have different screen sizes and shapes.
To avoid your site looking a bit of a mess to the user make sure it is responsive to these differences.
There are a few tools out there that can identify whether your site is mobile-friendly for you.
Speed Up Your Website
If your site is slow and unresponsive it isn’t going to rank well in Google, it’s a simple fact.
Also not to mention the implications this will have on user experience.
Google have an official page speed insights as well as a few handy third party chrome extensions. Use these to your advantage and see if your webpage could use a little fine-tuning.
See one of our recent posts for more on Speeding Up Your Websites Loading Time.
Optimize Anchor Text
We have already talked about internally linking your pages to spread the “link juice” but we didn’t cover the anchor text that should be used for these links.
As with any external link, Google always looks at the anchor text used in the link itself.
When your setting up your internal and external links make sure to include your keywords in the anchor text so Google can recognise the content it is being linked to.
Again, remember not to stuff your anchor text.
Create 'Evergreen' Content
Evergreen content is content that provides value for the foreseeable future.
Specifically articles that aren’t direct copies or spins offs of something else on the web.
To create an evergreen article it needs to be completely unique, written to a high quality standard and generally just be a bad ass piece of content.
Doing this will no doubt take an insane amount of time and effort on your part, but will it be worth it? Absolutely.
Writing something so original and authoritative will naturally bring in a lot of backlinks and exposure because people just can’t help but share it.
Using multimedia on or off your site is always a good idea. It just makes great content.
According to multiple studies: on average 90% of customers say videos are helpful when it comes to the decision making process.
Cisco state that by 2020 online videos will make up at least 80% of consumer traffic, this is definitely something you’ll want to capitalize on.
Your videos don’t have to be 40 minutes long or include a massive amount of detail, it can be something simple, short and sweet; such as talking about a new product release, or letting people know what your business is up to.
However, videos do play a very important role in your content, but they aren’t the only aspect of multimedia.
There are many other forms of content you can include on your site:
Infographics, and even
Optimize Your CTR
This is a pretty simple step, but difficult to pull off as its sort out of your hands.
Google always wants to deliver the best possible content it can, and that means the more people that click on your site, the more likely it is for Google to move you up the rankings.
In other words CTR is a key metric.
Once again keywords play a crucial part in your Click-Through Rate and in this case longtail keywords are the road to success.
Sacrificing your broad keywords for something a little more niche and focused will significantly reduce the number of impressions you make but will surely increase your click rate due to a higher percentage of these impressions will be a much stronger audience.
There’s no real way to improve your CTR right from the word go other than rigorous testing, and eventually you’ll find your perfect ad.
Everything Must Be Awesome
Quality content always gives your site that extra push when it comes to ranking, but having low quality content amongst it can only hurt your rankings.
These are called dead-weight pages.
I have seen many many blogs recently talk about dead-weight pages and that’s why I’ve decided to include it in this SEO checklist.
It’s a simple mistake and one that is often ignored.
Dead-weight pages often include resources such as:
Outdated content (an article aimed at a previous year for example)
Low quality content.
Old services or products your business no longer provides
To avoid dead pages like these, provide the best possible content you can for everything you do, and don’t forget to audit your own site once in a while.
Check Bounce Rate
If people often click on your site to back off it seconds later, google in all likelihood will punish your rankings for it.
Your main goal here is to use content captivating enough to keep those visitors on your page for as long as possible.
You can find your bounce rate in your Google Analytics.
Finally, we finish off with the step we have all been waiting for, the mammoth of the SEO Checklist and online marketing in general.
We should all be aware by now that link building is one of the single most important factors to any SEO strategy.
Backlinks are key!
In your link building process the first thing you will want to do is evaluate your competitors backlink profile.
I have tried a fair few programs; and I have to say as I’m sure many others will agree, Ahrefs is by far the most intuitive.
It has everything you could possibly ask for when completing your SEO and is a crucial tool for our work.
Here you can simply add your competitor’s domain into the site explorer search bar.
And voila, all your competitors backlinks are revealed.
I recommend by starting to create a report of each step your going to take, you can export your competitors backlinks directly from the sight and sift through to see which ones you are planning to take action on.
The links DR is the most important factor to take into account but that doesn’t mean you should neglect all the other metrics.
Take everything into account to find those perfect links.
Although higher DR is super effective I wouldn’t get too caught up on those for now, especially if your just starting out, as most of them are developed from long term business relationships.
Essentially all you want to do at this stage is compile your list of quality links, explore how they are anchored, and see how you can gain a similar link.
Setting Up Google Analytics
Guest posting is an incredible way to earn high quality links, develop business relationships and position your self as an authority in the community.
I have recently published an article on The Benefits Of Guest Blogging here.
With using tools such as Ahrefs and simple Google search commands:
[your_niche] “write for us”
[your_niche] “guest post”
[your_niche] “guest article”
[your_niche] “write for us”
Finding ways to guest blog couldn’t be easier.
Of course, with any SEO technique it takes a lot of time and effort, but these are very simple ways to find those perfect guest blogging opportunities.
Most SEO’s focus on bigger blog sites that provide large amounts of traffic, which is perfectly fine, but tends to be a little harder if your just starting out.
The majority of your articles for the more popular blog sites will be rejected 99 times out of 100, but that being said, there’s no harm in trying right?
When your out looking for a blog to post an article on…traffic is definitely a must, like I just said you don’t have to tunnel vision super populated blogs but finding one with a steady supply of traffic is a must.
This way, you will get a decent backlink to add to your profile, and a fair amount of traffic to your site too.
Conduct Interviews and Podcasts
Conducting an interview with a well-known expert in your field of or even a social influencer is a great way to get a number of backlinks.
If for example you interviewed a top social media influencer in your field, firstly that interview would be shared by them almost immediately, an no doubt featured in various other places.
Even-though the interview is solely targeted at the influencers response and all your doing is answering questions, your name will still be featured in this post and thus results in a backlink.
You then simply include a transcript or a snippet in one of your articles, or even right a post about this interview directly, then sit back, and watch the natural backlinks roll in.
The same works for reversed roles, if you feature in anothers podcast, your name, and more than likely a link, will be mentioned.
This process works almost exactly the same as guest blogging just with a slightly different style.
Refresh Your Content
A number of posts, for example, this one I’m writing right now, includes the year of 2019.
Next year this content will be outdated, presumably the tips will remain useful and will mostly stay relevant, but people will no longer be searching for my content, and instead the current year.
This is the case with a lot of sites content, not just the year in question but many outdated pieces of information, services, and pages.
You will need to sort through your site on a regular basis to make sure nothing becomes outdated, because these will only produce dead-weight pages.
Refreshing your content is also a great way to revitalize an old piece of content bringing new backlinks and social presence into and already link built article, only strengthening your post.
Following this SEO Checklist will no doubt help your SEO efforts. Maximize your potential by capitalizing on all of the above points, and take as much time as you can perfecting them.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post, I hope you learned a few things and took away a solid strategy.
Have any questions or suggestions?
Let me know what you think of post by commenting below.