Search engine optimization is no easy feat. There’s a reason large companies have entire teams of full-time professionals dedicated to it. It’s a continuous process that needs to be part of your digital marketing strategy on a continuous basis.
As complex as SEO is, all you need to get started is a to-do list. Begin with this ultimate SEO checklist to get your site the attention and traffic it deserves.
1. Set Up a Monitoring System
To know what your site needs and see whether your efforts are producing results, you need a monitoring system. You need to establish a way to track specific metrics for your SEO.
There are plenty of tools available if you know where to look. One essential you need is Google Search Console. This free tool allows you to evaluate your SEO and see the best way to reach the top of those SERPs.
You’ll also find great data in your site’s Google Analytics. It shows you how each page is performing in traffic and other statistics, as well as where your traffic is coming from and more.
2. Establish Your Target Keyword List
Keywords play a powerful role in SEO. The first step is finding out which ones are best for your site.
Choose a keyword research tool and check out keywords related to your business. Find out which ones have the best balance between high search volume and low difficulty. Most keyword tools will offer suggested keywords for any topic you choose.
Don’t forget to optimize for localized keywords, like those with your city’s name in them. For example, an auto body shop would want to rank for “auto body shop Chicago” or wherever they’re located.
3. Fill In Your Metas
Each page on your site needs three meta tags for SEO: a title, a description, and keywords. Search engines use these tags to evaluate sites for any given search.
Be sure to include high-performing keywords in each of these tags. The tags should still be relevant and describe the content on the page, though.
4. Think Through Your URLs
As with meta tags, search engines use your URLs to determine what content each page holds. For that reason, your URLs should be easy to identify.
Make them simple and include the page title or other words that describe the content well. Ideally, include at least one keyword within that title. Avoid strings of random letters and numbers.
5. Create Your Google My Business Profile
SEO isn’t just about getting as much traffic as possible. It’s about getting traffic from the right users, like users in your local area.
One of the most essential steps for your local search engine optimization is a Google My Business profile. This is a profile for your physical location with all the basics about your business: hours, pictures, reviews, contact information, and so on.
There is a verification process for completing your profile. This tells Google that your physical location is where you say it is. With that in place, Google is more likely to show your result to local users because it knows that you are, in fact, local.
6. Find and Fix Broken URLs
Broken URLs are one of the most basic but important aspects of technical SEO. The fewer broken URLs, 404 error pages, and similar issues you have, the more organized and reliable your site looks for search engines.
This can happen if you change any URLs or if you move or delete any pages on your site. Resolve any issues you discover by redirecting the URL to the updated page, fixing the URL, or making other changes.
7. Master Your On-Page and Off-Page NAP
NAP stands for “name, address, phone number.” For your local SEO in particular, you need to have these three pieces consistent and correct everywhere they appear.
Your NAP on your site should match your NAP on your Google My Business profile to a tee. You also need to include that NAP on every page of your site. That consistency translates to validity in the eyes of a search engine.
8. Build Backlinks
A backlink is a link to your site from another website. This looks great for your SEO because it shows that other sites find your content unique and valuable enough to link to it.
Creating great content helps, but there are direct strategies you can use to build more backlinks too. For example, write guest posts for other sites if they allow you to include one link. They get free content and you get a free backlink.
The linking site matters, though. The more high-authority and popular the site is, the more that link will help your SEO.
9. Infuse Keywords Into Your Content
Using your list of target keywords as a guide, audit your site page-by-page and see how often your keywords appear and where they are.
On every page, you need a keyword in the title. You also need that keyword in at least one or two headers on the page, as well as in the introduction and conclusion.
Be sure to pepper your keyword throughout the content too. There are plenty of ways to write your keywords into your content while still sounding natural.
10. Be Mobile-Friendly
Starting a few years ago, mobile-friendliness became one of the most important criteria for technical SEO. Google will now actively lower your position on search result pages if your site isn’t mobile-friendly. This is true even for desktop searches.
11. Include Links in Your Content
Each page on your site needs internal links (links to other pages on your site) and external links (links to other sites). These two links serve different purposes but both are necessary for your SEO.
Internal links keep users moving throughout your site. They improve the traffic you get from each user and make those users more likely to become conversions.
External links make your content look more credible to search engines. It shows that you’ve taken the time to curate and gather information from other sources for your users’ benefit.
Jumpstarting Your SEO With an Essential SEO Checklist
Strong SEO is an ongoing project you can never truly take off your to-do list. With this SEO checklist, though, you can get all the essentials in place and start sending your site to the top of SERPs in no time.
If you don’t have loads of time on your hands and you’d prefer to hand off your SEO to a professional who can handle all of the above and more, we’re here to help. Contact us for your free SEO site audit today.