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Your Step-by-Step SEO Checklist
Able to increase visibility, improve credibility and build long-term success, SEO is vital for businesses in the digital sphere.
However, achieving success is not simply a one-task, one-time thing – it is an ongoing process that involves different steps at different stages.
So to help, our comprehensive step-by-step SEO checklist details the actions you need to take and when to take them.
Download your PDF copy of the SEO Checklist.
SEO Tasks Prior to Website Build
Before building a website, there are several steps to perform as part of a pre-live SEO checklist. These are:
Understanding the keywords most relevant to your business is vital for targeting the right customer base. A keyword research tool, such as Uber Suggest, AHRefs or Google Keyword Planner, allows you to research and evaluate keyword search volumes and SEO difficulty.
Keywords that typically see the most success are those with a reasonable volume and low-moderate or low SEO difficulty.
Keyword mapping gives a straightforward overview of the website and its unique pages, making navigation much easier to comprehend alongside providing direction for the copy and design.
As a part of the keyword mapping process, each unique page should be briefed, with relevant keywords, header titles and internal links laid out.
Write, Design & Build the Website
Well-written, compelling and keyword-implemented copy is essential for a website. You will also want to design the web pages themselves.
Having built up several keywords to target, these will need to be implemented into well-written and compelling copy for the website. Then, all you need to do is build your website.
Pre-live SEO Checklist
By this stage, you should have your website built and ready to launch. However, before you do, there are several pre-live SEO checklist steps to perform.
Add an SEO Plugin to Your Website
Check Title Tags & Meta Descriptions for Each Page
A vital component of SEO yet easy to perform, title tags and meta descriptions provide search engines with information on the overall topic of a page.
A title tag should typically include the target keyword and be no longer than 65 – 70 characters. Meta descriptions should be an overview of the subject matter with relevant keywords and be no more than 155 – 160 characters. Ensuring the correct length is vital, as short title tags and meta descriptions lack detail, while overly long title tags and descriptions risk becoming diluted and cut off in SERPs.
You can use a website crawler, like Screaming Frog, to check your pages en-masse, or a browser plugin like SEO Pro Extension to quickly interrogate each page.
Check Page Titles & Headings
Titles and headings also impact the SEO of a webpage. Each page should feature a single H1 title and two to three H2 headings, which include targeted keywords. However, repeating headers within the same page should be avoided, with a focus on the unique copy instead.
The address of a specific resource on the internet, such as a webpage, URLs provide a search engine with an indication of what it’s about. When creating URLs, they should be short and include the leading keyword of the page.
Good imagery is vital for breaking up reams of text and bringing life to a webpage. However, images can also play an integral role in SEO. Images should have their file resized for optimisation purposes and include alt tags, which add textual descriptions of the image to improve SEO and accessibility.
Often overlooked, internal links perform a vital job in helping users and search engines navigate a website. Adding hyperlinks anchored to relevant descriptive terms can help reinforce the intended use and keyword effectiveness.
A robots.txt is a file designed to highlight to a search engine which pages to crawl. Installing a robots.txt. is essential for any website featuring pages, such as a cart page on an eCommerce site, that does not want crawling.
Checking your website’s robots.txt file can be done simply by adding /robots.txt. to the end of your URL. A simple robots.txt file is shown below.
If your new website is a redesigned version of an old, pre-existing one, you will need to ensure the old URLs redirect to the new website to carry over the SEO of the former page and ensure users are directed to the correct location.
Schema markup helps a search engine better understand a page’s content and can include reviews and pricing. Adding schema can better present your website when it appears in a search engine results page, with information, like the aforementioned reviews and prices, appearing alongside.
Check Mobile Friendliness
Today, most web searches take place on mobile, making it a key factor for ranking on a search engine results page. As a result, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is essential and can be easily checked with Google’s mobile-friendly test tool.
Check Site Load Speed
As with mobile friendliness, user experience is an essential aspect of SEO, and another part of this is website loading speed. Slow performance is often off-putting to users and can impact their overall interactions with a website. Tools, such as PageSpeed Insights, track the loading speed of a website to allow you to make amends if it’s not reaching maximum performance.
Keyword tracking tools, like SERanking and Serpstat, allow you to monitor and analyse keyword performance over time. Adding relevant keywords to tracking tools can be a real help in understanding how your website ranks alongside your competitors.
Set Up Google Business Profile
An up-to-date and accurate Google Business Profile is an integral part of local SEO. With a profile, a business can reach new users through other apps like Google Maps and Google Search. It is also required to feature in the Google Maps Pack for local searches.
Go-live SEO Activities
Having built your website and followed the above SEO steps, your website is ready to enter the world. However, when launching your website, there are several go-live SEO checklist steps to tick off.
Add to the Appropriate Tools
Once your website has launched, we recommend installing the relevant tools to help track and improve website health and performance. These tools include:
Check Website is Crawlable
If your website is not crawlable, search engines will not index it, leading to issues from the very start. Google Search Console will typically highlight any issues preventing a page from being indexed. However, should you have a page on your website you wish to block from being indexed, then listing it as noindex will prevent it.
Add Sitemap to Google Search Console
Once Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster are installed as a part of your go-live SEO, you will want to add your sitemap, as this helps search engines when they crawl your website. This process is relatively straightforward and involves finding and adding the URL to the relevant form on Google Search Console.
Check Pages for Broken Links
Whether due to a page being deleted or moved without a correct redirect, broken links can impact SEO. Webmaster tools, such as AHRefs, will crawl a website to highlight any broken links which might be appearing.
Post-live SEO Activities
Even when your website has been live for some time, there are still many post-live tasks and strategies that are necessary to ensure continued good performance.
Off-site SEO & Link Building
Once you are happy with the on-site SEO, it is time to start on the off-site aspect of your website. Off-site SEO helps build website authority, which is a critical ranking factor and a way to improve rankings long term.
Submitting to the key online directories, such as Facebook, Yelp, Thompson Local, Brownbook, Hot Frog, Cylex and My Local Services, can all improve SEO and user perceptions. While over time, this strategy of off-site SEO can start to entail more advanced link-building techniques, such as guest blogging or media appearances.
Having previously created a Google Business profile as part of the pre-live SEO process, it is essential to continue maintaining it through updates and replying to positive and negative reviews.
Periodically Check Google Search Console
Ensuring the pages of your website are indexed correctly can take time, but essential to do periodically through Google Search Console. Any errors picked up during this process, such as poor mobile-friendliness or index changes, should be highlighted and resolved as soon as possible. You can also set up alerts, so any issues are flagged straight to your inbox.
Introduce Content Marketing
When performed well, content marketing can be an essential tool for building expertise and authority, ultimately resulting in improved SEO. Through publishing regular, informative content on your website, you can continue to target new and relevant keywords while improving chances of backlinks from other websites.
Check Keyword Rankings
Regularly checking keyword rankings is vital for ensuring the progression of your SEO strategy. If keyword rankings are not performing as well as you hoped, examine the work of your competitors and run through the SEO checklist again to see if there are any areas you can improve upon.
Websites that continue to grow and update with relevant, quality content will typically appear higher within search results than those that don’t. By continually revisiting the steps highlighted in our SEO checklist and performing regular updates, your website’s SEO will continue to improve and rank higher in those areas most relevant to you.
SEO Checklist: Final Thoughts
We hope our SEO checklist has helped you understand the essential SEO tasks required at each stage of a website’s life cycle.
If you would like to find out how we can put your business on the front page of Google and in the process gain a significant increase in traffic and actionable leads, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
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