Whether you are starting a new website or performing an audit, SEO checklist plays an important role in analyzing the website. It helps in improving the organic traffic and finally drives the conversion. Let’s check the key points one by one helpful in auditing the website.
SEO Technical Checklist
1. Crawling errors
A crawl error means that Google has trouble to crawl the web pages. You can easily check the crawl errors in the Google Search Console under “Crawl>Crawl Errors”. Fix the crawl errors by checking the robots.txt file.
2. Tracking Codes
Add all tracking codes first up in the SEO checklist. This can be event tracking code such as phone or email. Add Google Analytics code for checking the audience, acquisition, behavior and conversions for the site. Add the Google webmasters or search console for technical details and resolving errors such as crawling errors, 500, 404, etc.
It is a file used by crawlers to index or non-index pages based on allow and disallow feature. All secured and non-indexable pages should be blocked.
301- Moved permanently
Whenever a domain or URL is changed then it should be redirected to 301 to a new domain or optimized URL for the convenience of users and crawlers.
302- Moved Temporarily
Whenever there is a maintenance then the URL should be temporarily moved.
301 vs 302
The difference between 301 and 302 redirections is 301 passes the authority and link juice so should be used if you already decided your preferred URL version or domain.
5. Broken Links
This is an important point when it comes to SEO Audit checklist. It gives 404 errors as the page or image has been deleted, so should be fixed by permanent redirection as it gives an error of page not found and not good for user experience. Hence it should be fixed on priority in the SEO checklist.
6. Speed Test
The website should load in less than 5 seconds otherwise you have to minify css & js scripts by using a plugin for WordPress. Also, don’t forget to test the speed in the gtmetrix free tool or page speed test by Google.
7. XML and HTML Sitemap
The Sitemap is the list of web pages for all the content on your website. XML Sitemap is for search engines and HTML sitemap is for the users. This is the modern way of submitting the web pages to the search engines. You can easily generate the sitemap with the free tool.
8. Plugins, Add-ons, Extensions
These tools make the work faster and easier. If you’re using the Content Management system then you already know some of the plugins. Most of the platforms have the tools to perform the SEO and analytics.
9. Mobile Friendly Site
The website should be mobile friendly to be ranked high for the increasing number of mobile users day by day. Optimize mobile site separately or use responsive design. With mobile first indexing, it is vital to have the mobile-optimized site. Use accelerated mobile pages for better user experience for the mobile users.
On page SEO checklist
10. Meta Title
Title tags are the main indicators of what the web page is all about. The Title is the blue color line that appears in the search engine results pages. It is clickable only when it explains the terms in the search query. You must check title optimization tips if you need to optimize title tags as they are responsible for ranking your keywords.
This is the crucial step in the SEO audit checklist. It is important to fix the titles by using the tool screaming frog spider by running the report of the target URL. Following are some of the key areas that need to be fixed.
Duplicate Tags: It confuses the search engine to set relevancy of the page. It can be duplicate title, duplicate tags & categories.
Missing Titles: Search engines and users understand from the title that what the page is all about so make sure to have the title for all web pages. Create the title for the missing tags.
Long/Short Title Tags: The ideal title length is 65-70 characters. Fix the title length more or less than that.
11. Meta Descriptions
Meta Description is the text that is written below the Meta title and required to describe what the landing page is all about. If the user finds that information useful then only he will click the page. It should include all the targeted keywords. The length of Meta description should be up to 320 characters. Run the URL in screaming frog spider and identify the missing or duplicate description tags and fix them.
12. Keyword Research
Keyword Research is a crucial step of SEO checklist. Keywords play an important role in identifying the search terms and optimizing them to appear higher in the search engine results pages. It is essential to find the list of keywords user may type in the search engine to find the relevant information. You should find the keywords based on topic and user intent.
You can include related keywords to fulfill the LSI or latent semantic indexing which favors the search engine ranking. Keyword Density refers to the occurrence of a number of words per article. Avoid keyword stuffing and maintain the keyword density to be 1-2%. It is not mandatory to include Keywords in the Meta tags. Only put 1-2 keywords in the Meta tags. Remember to add one focus keyword or main keyword in the Yoast SEO Plugin. You can use SEMrush for keyword research. You may find useful information on the below-mentioned articles.
13. URL Optimization
Add the main keyword in the URL as search engines read the URLs to connect in a better way to the users with the relevant content. Add 301 permanent redirections to the broken links in order to provide great user experience to the visitors. Find the duplicate content web pages URL and add canonical URL to avoid the penalty and let search engines to know the preferred web pages or URLs. You should block the bad URLs in the robots.txt or add the canonical tag to dynamic URLs. Avoid underscore and use the hyphen in the URL. It is important to have the clean and readable URL with 110 characters.
14. Anchor Text & Internal Linking Optimization
Anchor text is the text that is hyperlinked to another page on the same or other websites. It should be descriptive enough as it contributes in the relevancy. Internal linking optimization should be relevant including target keywords and point to pages optimized for it to increase the reach and reduce the bounce rate of the post or page. It also contributes to high traffic and increases the average time spent on the site.
15. Heading Tags (H1 /H2 /H3)
There are 6 heading tags in HTML but out of them H1, H2 & H3 are important from SEO perspective. H1 is used for main heading, H2 for sub-heading & H3 for another subheading. It is vital to use the main keyword once in the heading tag or H1 and H2. Heading Tags will improve the visibility of web pages in the search engines for your target keyword.
Use of H1 Tag: The title is the H1 tag of your web page. Ideally, there should be only one H1 tag and recommended not to use multiple H1 tags.
Use of H2 Tag: You can have more than one H2 tags in the post. Don’t uses the keywords in all the H2 tag instead use the keyword in only one or two heading tags. It is advisable to use LSI keywords in other heading tags.
Use of H3 Tag: The usage is same as explained for the H2 tag.
16. Image Optimization
Image relevancy and its optimization are crucial in SEO checklist. The other important image optimization factor is Image ALT tag where ALT stands for alternate text. Search engines can’t read the images but they can read the ALT tag and know what the image is all about. Image size is the crucial factor in the image optimization and loading faster for better user experience. The file size should be reduced without compromising the image quality. Provide the proper file name. For instance, DRU543.jpg is not recommended. It is advisable to give the proper file name separated by hyphens such as image-optimization-for-SEO.jpg. Optimize the image results for appearing higher in the search engine result pages. Use extra caution when using the content delivery network.
17. Schema Mark up Implementations
Increase the visibility in search engine result pages by enhancing the rich snippets that are displayed just beneath the page title. It can be the product, price rating, reviews, event, etc. This will provide better results, especially in local SEO.
18. Reduce Bounce Rate
Make the topic clear in first 100 words by including the target keyword. Provide the useful information and write the content for user and not for the search engines. For more details check, How to reduce bounce rate in Google Analytics?
19. Remove Google Penalty
Nobody likes the penalty. There can be many Google penalties including duplicate content, spammy backlinks, cloaking, keyword stuffing, sneaky redirects, thin content with no added value, user generated spam, etc. Check Google Penalties and How to recover for more details.
For User Experience
20. Website loading time should be less than 5 seconds.
21. Proper navigational menu following the website hierarchy.
22. Call to action in header and footer for conversions.
23. Mobile friendly site increases the user experience and engagement.
24. Ads and Popups should be unobstructed.
25. The Site should have a blog and press section to increase more awareness about product or service and it is crucial to update the fresh content regularly. You should also check the blog post checklist before hitting the publish button on your WordPress CMS.
26. Optimize the content with primary and secondary keywords by maintaining the proper keyword density and keyword proximity.
27. There should be static pages for main services and word count should be 300 or more for ranking well. Crawler needs at least 300 words to determine viability. So, target your page for more and relevant content justifying the Title.
SEO Checklist for Link Building or Off-page activities
28. Link Building
Links pointing to your website from the authoritative domain will be considered to be one of the ranking factors. This is vital in the SEO Checklist. Target low performing keywords as anchor text and do the regular link building activities to increase the domain and page authority of your website. For more details, check link building techniques.
29. Social Media Optimization
Share the link on social media channels regularly to increase visitors. As a result, you will get better results as social signals matter in the ranking of a website.
30. Reputation Management
This is crucial in SEO Checklist. It is important to improve the authority of domain. Create a business listing with Name address and phone number and website (NPA+W) also called citations as much as you can to increase the citation flow. Fix business listings for the wrong citations. Increase the trust flow of a website by doing link building on high authoritative websites. These all together will improve the online reputation of the business.
Also, check the important SEO factors and a step by step website analysis process.
Basic SEO Tools
Check the tools for performing SEO activities and for checking the above points in the SEO checklist.
1. Screaming frog spider
3. SEM Rush
4. Google Keyword Planner
5. Link Explorer
6. Google Page speed test
7. Structured Data testing tool by Google
8. Mobile Friendly test by Google
9. SEO Quake
10. Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress.
Over to You!
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