When developing an SEO strategy for a website, it’s important to methodically analyze as many factors related to web optimization and ranking as possible.
An SEO checklist can be the easiest way to perform this comprehensive review. Here, we suggest a checklist that you can customize depending on your project needs. It’s structured in the following blocks:
First of all, setup or review the existing configuration of your website for both the analysis and monitoring platforms and your own server.
1. Google Analytics
Take advantage of the Google Analytics system from the beginning to measure a complete evolution of your site visits. Make sure the tracking code is well inserted and reflects visits in real time.
In addition, you can implement the full goal and conversion tracking system to see the value of each visit to your website.
2. Search Console
Search Console is the essential tool for every SEO professional. With this tool, you can have access to a comprehensive monitoring of your website and its status on the search engine.
And if you love data, you can’t miss the SEO Software we have launched.
3. Check Multiple URL Versions
A website may have different versions:
- http:// www.myweb.com
- https:// www.myweb.com
It’s important that none of these URLs lead to an error page, and all URLs should come together as one (the one you decide), in order to prevent errors. You also need to verify that this redirect is done with 301 redirect.
4. Keyword Research
The keyword analysis is the cornerstone of any SEO strategy. With the following tasks, you can develop a strategy with high profitability potential and a down-to-earth growth plan.
Having a detailed keyword analysis allows you to identify:
- Core words for business
- Long-tail words to target immediately
- Words ranked by the competition
- and more…
5. Identifying the main competitors
There are two ways to analyze competition on the Internet. On one hand, the real competition– companies that are part of the industry on your same market niche, and that you are likely to know already. You need to find out their current position on the search engine.
On the other hand, the brands at the top ranking for key searches. They may not represent industrial competition, but they are organic competition, so they have to be included in your SEO goals.
You can perform the search for competition using different tools:
- Your industry knowledge
- Direct searches on the search engine
- Market analysis on platforms like comScore
6. Identifying industry leaders
It’s easy to identify business industry leaders. They’re often well-known and international brands.
Matching them may be difficult but they are useful to set goals. And they allow you to see what the industry can offer at both business and SEO level while taking some ideas that can be tailored to your own business.
7. Determining the core keywords for a project
The most difficult task is identifying the main keywords (core keywords) for your project. Once established, you need to set an optimization based on these keywords. This process is critical because success, and probably business revenues too, depend on them. You may have a lot of keywords ranked, but business workflow and conversions are likely to come from a set of specific keywords. That’s why we call them core keywords.
On the other hand, you also need to go from these keywords to new secondary keywords, which can offer us profitability too.
The choice of main keywords must be done taking advantage of all resources available. Here are some of the most useful resources:
- Again, your industry knowledge
- Keyword tools like the one offered by Google Keyword Planner
- Keyword comparison tools such as Google Trends
- Keyword analysis SEO tools including Ahrefs, Semrush, Sistrix, keywordtool.io, etc
8. Initial picture. Starting point
With all these parameters, we can set what is known as an “initial picture“. It’s like a picture at the start of a racing event.
At which position is your company? Does it have implemented any improvements regarding optimization or ranking? Did it overtake any competitor in the industry for the time being? Determine the starting point and, from that, set the first SEO goals.
Note: Connecting your project to our SEO Software, allows you to see immediately the detailed performance evolution of the last 12-16 months.
The on-page SEO is the optimization performed on parameters of your own project. Therefore, it’s just up to you analyzing and improving it whenever possible.
Ensure indexing your website as quickly and comprehensively as possible with a Sitemap.xml file. You can do it manually if you have programming skills or use different plug-ins that make this type of files with just one click.
Once you make sure it’s created and uploaded, you need to link it from Search Console. Although not compulsory, it’s a really useful practice to guarantee a seamless and effective communication between your website and the search engine.
More often than not, Robots.txt file is only used to tell the search engine which pages on the website are indexable. A correct configuration helps you prevent tracking issues of pages with low SEO value or even potentially dangerous pages.
Whether in these cases or when your project requires a more complex Robots.txt file, having and uploading it correctly is critical.
11. Web Architecture
On-page SEO relies a lot on usability, and this factor changes as navigation standards and technology evolve.
Today, an optimal web architecture needs to have:
- Clear and accessible menu
- Content reached at the smallest number of clicks (a maximum of 4)
- Seamless and intuitive access to all sections of the web
From an SEO perspective, architecture should be focused on the established goals, highlighting most relevant products or services. And it should prevent sections of low value getting areas where Google puts more weight. It’s also essential for the architecture to be as straightforward as possible, constantly making clear to crawlers the importance of each section of the architecture.
12. Friendly URLs
The URL is today one of the most important elements of on-page SEO optimization, so its analysis and continuous improvement need to get a lot of effort.
A friendly URL needs to include core and secondary keywords, related to the page content and framed in your keyword strategy.
The following tasks are related to this optimization:
- Review of non-friendly URLs
- Optimization of existing friendly URLs
- Creation of new friendly URLs
- Wrong: example.com/blog/category/post?=34645
- Right: example.com/blog/trips/andalusia-2-days
The Title refers to the title of the page that appears on the search results when a website is displayed by a specific keyword.
Title optimization is more complex than it may seem at first glance, as it should meet SEO goals, promote the brand and respect the limits imposed by Google.
Descriptions of all pages follow the same rules, but they have more options for optimization and creativity because they have more characters available.
Make the most of the full potential of meta descriptions– they can make you get really good rankings for a wide variety of keywords.
For title, meta-description, Alt, and headers tags which we will discuss below, we recommend using SEO meta in one click, a Google Chrome extension. It really does a good job identifying the values of each URL we are surfing.
Breadcrumbs are the navigation links on a site, revealing the user’s location and enabling the user to switch between previous sections or categories.
SEO breadcrumbs offer both usability and keyword optimization, since each breadcrumb enables the addition of a keyword.
Additionally, breadcrums allow you to enter the specific data markup of schema.org breadcrumbs, in order to help Google fully understand the hierarchies of your architecture.
16. ALT Tags
When it comes to search engine optimization, every factor is important but the sum of all factors is what really sets the best optimized web apart from others. That’s why you should also pay attention to ALT tags, an attribute that can be optimized with the keywords that work best for you.
Some SEO tools can help you spot the lack of ALTs tags in certain areas of the web for a much faster optimization, including Screaming Frog tracking program and others alike.
17. Appropriate Header Hierarchy
Headings are not only useful at user level but also at web design level. Users increasingly “scan” texts, looking for the paragraph that best matches the exact information they need.
Use headings correctly, that is:
- Just one H1 per page that defines the main idea
- Several H2 supporting relevant semantic kws
- H3 offering additional information
That way you are not only helping the user, but also Google to fully understand your site content.
Analyze your website and be sure to have a proper implementation in place, as it’s very common to make mistakes at this step due to design reasons, often finding a lot of H1s per page that can mislead Google spiders.
Images are graphical resources that visually enrich a page– its optimization needs to be taken into account.
On one hand, you need to reduce the weight of an image as much as possible, without impacting its quality. On the other hand, you need to take advantage of its optimization, as images include alternative texts and titles, can be linked, coded dimensions, etc.
Finally, avoid failing into the trap of image overcrowding, as this will impact the website load, cutting down its usability.
19. Internal Links
The internal link juice is used to power the main pages ranking. To do this, you need to establish an appropriate internal linking strategy. And guarantee all links are dofollow so the search engine will take them into account.
Prioritize main pages and use a strategy for internal link distribution. This is essential to make sure the main pages are given as much authority as possible, thus preventing less relevant pages from having more weight than them.
20. Mobile Friendly
A current website needs to be multidevice, meaning mobile friendly. It should be accessible, usable and functional from any mobile device, at a time in which SEO is focused on this type of developments.
The Search Console allows checking it all. It can be done too using the Google mobile friendly test tool.
The Hreflang tags tell Google that different versions of a website exist for multiple languages. These tags are required for multilanguage sites, and need to be correctly implemented, based on Google guidelines.
Making implementation mistakes of Hreflang tags is really common, and in the case of very similar languages like Spanish from Spain and languages from Latinoamerica, it may even lead to duplicate content.
To check these tags, we suggest using hreflang tag checker, an extension of Google Chrome.
22. A Proper Use of Pagination
Pagination is one of on-page elements less taken care of by SEO professionals, even though it’s a really important element.
A correct pagination is not only functional but also optimized. The following mistakes are very common:
- Using canonical from the entire pagination to the first page– this is a serious mistake since the content of each page is different
- Avoiding Google from tracking them correctly
- Add them using JS code– they will not be readable, among other issues
Filters can turn into the cornerstone of a site SEO, particularly in ecommerce. When filters can be used in a webpage, you need to consider the correct optimization of filters, and decide whether to implement SEO on the page or choose not to index it and prioritize pages with more convenient categories or products.
This is an important decision but, in any case, we recommend you to optimize each page properly, so it has the potential to index and is engaging to the user.
Misuse of filters can generate hundreds of thousands of combinations between them, and time wasted by Google tracking and indexing them above your main products.
24. Indexing Analysis
From the very moment you allow indexing, you need to analyze how it evolves using Search Console. This Google tool will identify mistakes on some pages, detect low-quality indexed pages, etc.
The goal of indexing analysis is to verify that the chosen URLs are properly indexed, as well as trying to correct all errors or the lack of optimization that others pages may have.
25. 404 Errors
404 Errors have a very bad name (sometimes fully-deserved though), but they actually represent an opportunity to improve.
With tools like Search Console or any URL tracking plug-in, you can detect if your website has broken links directing to a 404 error page.
SEO optimization is about deciding whether to redirect this type of page to an equivalent or to create an optimized 404 page, giving the users many more input options and avoid losing their visit.
Having 404 errors on a website “is not so bad”. Google sees it as something natural. But not addressing it and let our site have an increasing amount of this type of errors can turn into a real problem.
26. Soft 404 Errors
Google mostly identifies this type of errors as incorrect redirects, i.e. redirecting old pages that no longer have value or exist massively to the home.
In the event of a redirect, Google wants it to be a redirect to an equivalent page. If the redirect is consistently to the home page, they will end up being considered as soft 404 errors.
Let’s say you are in a shoe store. You walk around looking for a particular model of shoes until you reach the end of the store empty-handed. Then, you are told the model you want is out of stock. But instead of offering you something similar, an employ takes you to the door so you can go back and look for it again. That doesn’t sound good, right? Well, on websites the scenario is similar.
27. Redirects – Redirects Strings
Be very careful with redirects strings, meaning redirects from other redirects. They increase the loading time of your site and can make the search engine stop tracking through them.
- http://example.com (redirect 1 with 301)
- https://example.com (redirect 2 with 301)
28. Optimized and Customized 404 Page
As we mentioned earlier, a 404 error page can be an opportunity when a user encounter any type of error visiting your website.
Deliver as much creativity as you can, take advantage of optimized SEO and promotional text, and offer a list of valid links for the users encouraging them to remain on your site.
29. Canonical URL/Link
Canonical URL or canonical link is used to avoid duplicate content. It’s a way to communicate Google which URL is the original one and which is a derived copy, for example in online stores.
Use canonical links correctly with the following structure and make sure your website doesn’t include duplicate content.
30. URL Cannibalizations
A URL cannibalization takes place when two or more URLs try to rank for the same keyword. This SEO scenario often represent the misuse of one of the two URLs, but it can lead to more serious consequences such as neither of them ranking or give a bad image to the user.
In our software, we explain some of the methods to detect URLs trying to rank for the same keywords so you can optimize them separately.
On this section of our SEO checklist, we have added some points that require a more advanced knowledge, but that represent a fundamental part once we have the other things well optimized.
Search Console allows you to check if the rendering of the webpages is correct. With this information, you can see if crawlers are having any problem in correctly loading and understanding your URL content. Particularly when starting to use JS-based technologies, it’s very common that spiders find it difficult to render a page content.
Using Search Console, tools like Screaming Frog or websites like technical SEO (fetch and render), you can compare code with what Google actually sees.
32. Rich Snippets
As the name suggests, Rich Snippets are enriched code snippets, based on data markup with Schema.org, that appear prominently in search results.
Not every URL can take advantage of Rich Snippets but URLs that can enjoy their potential benefits should not miss them.
The term AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. To create this type of pages, AMP HTML is used as the programming language.
This way a faster website load on mobile devices is attained, and you can enjoy the SEO benefits it implies.
Implementing AMP is not always necessary. But where it’s required –blogs and news webs– it’s important not only to implement them, but also to check everything is right using the official Google tool (AMP test Google) or Search Console.
34. Open Graph Tags
Open Graph tags have gained popularity thanks to social media. This type of tags are useful to identify elements sharable on social media platforms, meaning how you want them to be seen once the content is shared on social media.
35. Server Logs Analysis
Technical SEO goes until the server. Log analysis allows you to read what actually happens on a website – what Google spiders exactly do on a site, discovering issues of crawl budget, thin content, tracking, etc. It’s a really significant part, since crawling programs offer a simulation of what is happening on the website, but only by contrasting it with the logs a global picture of the site can be built.
Basically, Web Performance Optimization involves analyzing all elements affecting a web load time, and optimizing them to get a 100% efficiency.
Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that offers a lot of details and can help you with this important technical SEO task. Our recommendation is comparing it with others like GTMetrix in order to identify all aspects causing speed loss.
Content is king for Google and, by extension, for its search and indexation robot. That’s the reason why you should optimize the content on every page as much as possible if you want to beat your competitors.
When analyzing your website, you need to check that the content meets these requirements:
37. Structure Text in Paragraphs
Read usability is an important SEO factor. Divide your page text into paragraphs– it will be more engaging and convenient for the user.
38. Answer the Main Question at the Beginning
This is not only an optimal resource in terms of information, but Google values it so much that has created a “zero position”, rewarding web pages that answer directly and concisely. And always remember to validate and mention your figures and data so that everything is as reliable and secure as possible.
39. Use Bold Letters
Bold letters are still a useful resource in SEO because they highlight key terms and increase the options to rank the URL in comparison with the rest of the content.
40. Answer Questions
Google’s “zero position” is also intended for pages that answer user questions. If you place this answer at the top of the page, you have a better chance to rank.
41. Use Multimedia Content
Without increasing the site weight, you should take advantage of multimedia content to enrich the whole page and have more optimized elements.
42. Thin Content
The thin content refers to poor quality content, usually due to the lack of enough textual content. Or maybe because the content on the page actually has very low informational value.
Identifying this type of pages is essential, as they can lead to penalty issues if Google thinks your site has too many of them.
On the analysis of the SEO ranking of your website, off-page SEO covers the influential elements outside your webpage. However, there are many optimization options that you can benefit from.
43. Incoming Toxic Links
You can take advantage of many tools to analyze incoming links to your site, including the official Google Search Console or the well-known Ahrefs, SEMRush, MOZ, Majestic SEO…
Having a significant number of internal links is important, but quality is more important than quantity in this case.
Toxic links stem from websites of unrelated or even inadequate content, which can negatively impact your SEO ranking. For that reason, you need to invalidate them as soon as they are detected.
Whether they are unwanted toxic links or the result of a failed SEO strategy, you should be aware that any link to your site should come from a site related to your topic, be valid for search engines and, wherever possible, come from a site with authority.
44. Is a Disavow File Uploaded?
The disavow file uploaded to Google tells it which of the incoming links you don’t want to be taken into account by the search engine. Notice that uploading a new disavow file erases the previous one, so it’s really important to always check if there is a previous file uploaded in order to update it instead of erasing it.
45. Anchor Text Profile
You need to create an anchor text profile for your link building strategy. This needs to include different terms and related keywords. Repeating both factors constantly can end up invalidating the links you get.
46. Natural Growth of Incoming Links
Our link building strategy should be “natural” for Google, meaning that abrupt growth in the achievement of incoming domains should be avoided. Let’s say we are developing a website from scratch. It’s not normal to get a large number of links as soon as the site is working. Rushing to increase authority in a short time might turn into a dangerous weapon. A more continued and steady growth without leaps is always a better path.
47. Checking Most Used Metrics (DA/PA, TF/CF, DR, UR)
In SEO ranking, some of the metrics based on the most contrasting tools globally are often used as a reference. We’re talking about MOZ, Majestic SEO, Ahrefs…
DR/UR, DA/PA, TF/CF are the metrics related to each of them:
- DR (Ahrefs): Domain Rating. Ahrefs provides this tool intended to reveal the link profile quality of a website by measuring the quality and quantity of external links on a website. It’s currently known as one of the most reliable ways to measure a link profile. It goes from 0 to 100.
- UR (Ahrefs): URL Rating. The first rating was related to the total authority of the domain, while this rating is about a specific URL. It goes from 0 to 100.
- DA (Moz): The Moz tool offers its own metrics, the “ Domain authority”, which measures the authority of a website looking at multiple factors, not just the quality and quantity of the links. It goes from 0 to 100.
- PA (Moz): Another Moz metric, known as “Page Authority”, allows you to know the authority of a specific page.
- TF/CF (Majestic): Majestic tool offers the so-called Trust Flow and Citation Flow, another way to measure the quantity (CF) and quality (TF) of the links. It’s recommended to always try to get links on websites where TF is bigger than CF.
48. Analyzing the Competitor Profile
In off-page SEO, analyzing the competitor profile comes into play as an important step. You need to keep monitoring and evolve as competitors do, looking for niches, opportunities and strategies to outrank them.
49. Correct Distribution of Links to Different Pages
Link building is the most important off-page SEO strategy, and also the most difficult one. You need to find incoming links from third-party sites for different pages, not always the same page. Otherwise, Google will spot an over-optimization.
With this comprehensive SEO checklist, you should be able to analyze your website and have it in its optimum condition to rocket at Google rankings. It’s essential to perform a deep analysis of each factor, develop the applicable correction measures where needed, and make a regular review of them.
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