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How to Rank: The SEO Checklist

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If you’re trying to find a step-by-step SEO checklist that you can use immediately, you’re going to love this blog post. It is a very direct, straightforward process that will help you drive more traffic and more customers to your website as quickly and effectively as possible. 

SEO is a vast topic, and if you are doing SEO for a new website or SEO audit of a website, it’s important to maintain an SEO checklist, so that you can quickly see how well your site is optimized. Because maintaining a list can be tough, We are creating this list which will help you check your site’s SEO requirements.

How to use this checklist:

You should think about everything on this SEO checklist as essential. Try to get as many of them as you can, but don’t worry too much if you miss a few. 

So Let’s Begin:

Firstly be sure to check for Google penalties.

Let’s go over the mandatory tools and plugins you’ll need to install and set up inorder to increase your organic traffic.

1. Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager is a free tool that allows you to manage and deploy marketing tags on your website without having to modify the code.

2. Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the best way to see how customers use and find your site. 

It will also help you to monitor your SEO performance. The first step is to install the Google Analytics code on your website and familiarize yourself with basic SEO reports.

With Google Analytics: 

  • You can view how much traffic you get from Google.
  • Determine the pages on your site that bring you the most traffic.
  • See if your traffic is increasing and by how much.
  • Identify other sites and search engines that send you traffic
  • Your average bounce rate, page views, and time on site. 

3. Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free and very powerful SEO tool provided by Google to website owners.You can use the Google search console to:

  • Find out what Google knows about your website. 
  • Analyze your Google rankings, identify and fix errors related to crawling and indexing.
  • Inform Google about changes made to your site.
  • Discover which keywords and pages give you the most site traffic. 
  • Fix any website errors.
  • Check your rankings and get keyword ideas.
  • Ask for recrawls or Submit a sitemap.

Tip: If you connect Google Analytics with the Google Search Console, you’ll see helpful SEO information from inside of your Google Analytics account.

1. Keyword Research Checklist

Keyword Research is perhaps the most essential piece of the SEO puzzle.

After all, if you don’t know what people are searching for, how can you possibly enhance your content for search engines?

Keyword research is the process of discovering keyword opportunities that can generate massive traffic and sales for your business. 

  • Understand the Searcher Intent.
    It is essential to get a positive ROI for your business from  SEO. In order to have any hope of ranking for a particular keyword, you must understand the search intent behind the keyword you’re targeting because Google understands what the user is looking for when they type some words into their search engine.
  • Understand how these keywords fit into your sales funnel.
    There are some keywords that will attract more traffic, but others will be more likely to convert users. You should look for a healthy balance between the two.
  • Understand the search volumes.
    Pick out a keyword research tool that you like and don’t take the search volume numbers literally as you should consider search volumes as relative metrics and not absolute.
  • Understand the difference between long-tail keywords and head terms.
    People search for the same thing in different ways. So much so, that almost 15% of Google searches are new and have never been searched before. That is why it is important to optimize for long-tail keyword variations. The easiest way to find such keywords is to use Google autocomplete. Type your primary keyword into Google Search, and you’ll see long-tail keyword suggestions.
    Head Terms on the other hand are keywords that have a high search volume and are broader in nature so they are closer to the top of the sales funnel.
    So it is suggested to incorporate both head terms and well as long-tail keywords for best results.
  • Try using a keyword research tool such as The Google Keyword Planner.
    You can also try other third-party keyword research tools such as Ahrefs and KWfinder. 

2. On-Page SEO Checklist

On-page SEO refers to the optimization of website structure and content, basically anything that is on the page. Since search engines can’t understand content as easily as humans can, On-page optimization is everything you do to help search engines understand that your content is a relevant answer to people’s searches. On-page SEO has two aspects: Good Content and Technical SEO. Some factors to keep in mind while working on on-page SEO are: 

  1. Include your target keyword in the URL.
    When you include your target keyword in the URL, you’re sending Google a hint of what your page is about and what it entails.
  2. Keep your URLs short and crisp.
    There are several research studies that have shown that shorter URLs tend to rank higher than long ones.
  3. Include your keyword in your Title Tag.
    Title tags are one of the most important elements of on-page SEO. The title tag is what people will see when they search on Google that is why it is important to include your keyword in the title tag.
  4. Optimize your Title Tag to improve your organic CTR.
    If more people click on your page rather than other websites in the search engine results page, it gives Google an understanding that your page is a better answer to people’s queries rather than other sites. This is called Organic Clickthrough Rate. That’s why it’s not enough to just include the keyword in your title tag but also ensure that your title tag is interesting and entices searchers to click on it.
  5. Add Your Keyword to Your Meta Description and Meta Title to make it compelling.
    Adding your keyword to your meta description won’t help in ranking your website but it can help with your organic CTR. Additionally, Google highlights the keyword that the user has searched for if it’s included in the meta description.
  6. Include your selected keywords in the body content of the page.
    Using keywords in the content of your page especially in the beginning can aid in ranking. 
  7. Use synonyms or Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords in your copy.
    Since search engines have become more equipped in understanding human language you can use more natural language and still stay relevant to the keywords you are attempting to rank for. Also including keywords that are thematically related to your primary keyword can also help search engines understand the content of your page.
  8. Optimize the readability of your content as well as the viewability of your images.
    Keeping your website visitors engaged in reading, viewing your content, and also clicking on additional pages on your website suggests to Google that your content is relevant to the search queries and helps give you a better ranking. Search engines view images on your site by reading the Alt Tag and looking at file names hence it is necessary to provide a descriptive name to your images. 
  9. Build internal links
    When a page on your site gets linked from another site, maybe an external link, or backlink, its authority increases. If you add a link from say page A to another on your site, say page B which is an internal link, some of the authority from page A passes to page B. That is why it is a good idea to add links to other pages of your site whenever it is possible. 

 3. Technical SEO Checklist

  • Fix Crawl Errors
    Crawl errors mean that Google is having trouble viewing the content that is on your site and if they cannot view it then they won’t rank it. Hence it is of utmost importance that you should fix such issues as soon as possible. You can find crawl errors in Google Search console.
  • Fix Broken Links
    Broken links are bad for user experience and user experience is something that Google cares about deeply. Broken internal links waste link juice which can have a direct adverse effect on rankings.
  • Ensure your site doesn’t have duplicate content
    Duplicate content occurs when you have two or more similar or identical pages on your website, this can cause problems as Google may not know which of the pages or if any should rank.
  • Switch to HTTPS
    HTTPs is a ranking factor. It protects your visitors’ data which is especially important if you have any contact forms on your site such as passwords or payment information, then it’s not just important, it’s an absolute must.
  • Fix missing or duplicate Meta Tags
    Missing or duplicate meta tags, titles, and meta descriptions can hurt your rankings. Identify the URLs with issues and fix them.
  • Ensure that your site is friendly to all devices
    As an increasing amount of web traffic comes from mobile devices, having a site that is not responsive to different screen sizes and shapes will negatively impact the usability, especially for local searches. In addition to that, Google recently deployed the mobile-first index, which means they’ll use the mobile and not the desktop version of your site to crawl and index it. They are literally saying: “that if your site is not mobile-friendly then it won’t rank highly on Google”.
  • Create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google Search Console
    An XML sitemap helps search engines understand the structure of your site and find all the pages that you want to be indexed. You can use Google Search Console to submit your sitemap to Google.

4. Off-Page Optimization Checklist

Off-page SEO is about everything that doesn’t happen directly on your website.It is one of the most important and effective things you can do to increase your website rankings. Since Off-page SEO refers to activities that you can perform outside the boundaries of your website. The most important of them are:

  • Link Building
    Link building is the most popular and effective off-Page SEO technique.  Basically, by building links to your website, you are trying to gather as many backlinks as you possibly can, so that you can be one step ahead of your competitors and rank higher.
    For example, if someone likes this article and references it from his/her blog or website, then this is basically telling search engines that this page has good and relevant information.
    Some of the ways to increase link count are:
  1. Blogs
  2. Directory listings
  3. Classified Ads
  4. Business Listings
  5. Quora Submissions
  6. Article Submissions
  7. Social Bookmarking
  • Broken Link Building
    The purpose of Broken link building is to find broken links and contact the owner of the site that has a broken link. The broken link could be one of your own pages that you would then provide an update for, or it could be an outdated competitor’s link that you would then offer to replace with one of your links that has similar content. This will help in reducing the number of redirects and 404 pages, resulting in a better user experience.
  • Social Networking
    A good off-page SEO strategy is to use social networking platforms to increase the reach of your content. When your content gets clicks from multiple IP addresses it appears more authoritative by sending a signal to Google that multiple visitors are accessing the content.


As you can see there are a lot of SEO factors to consider when running your website. It definitely can be overwhelming at times especially if you are just starting out because not everything with SEO is black and white. Hopefully, this checklist will help you get further along!

You can get yourself a Free Website Audit at Social Pill, The Holistic Digital Marketing Agency.