SEO Checklist Template

Written By Fraser McCulloch

Traditional marketer specialising in keyword research, SEO content plans, and content briefs. Has-been Scottish golfer. 

This SEO checklist template will help you check off all the things you need to do to rank higher on search engines.

It includes everything from keyword research to link building.

So, this checklist will be perfect for you if you don’t know where to start or what to do next.

Basic SEO

So you’ve launched your new website or redesigned or rebranded. 

Now is not the time to pat yourself on the back; now, the real hard work starts.

XML Sitemap

A sitemap is a list of your page URLs that tells search engines and its crawler which pages to crawl and index in the search engines.

Most content management systems generate an XML sitemap automatically; check their documentation for the location of the sitemap.

Failing that, you can always use a sitemap generation tool and upload it to your server.

With your sitemap, now you can add it to Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

Robots.txt

With a robots.txt file installed on your website server, you can add instructions to tell Google and search engine crawlers to ignore pages and files.

For example, you may wish to hide PDFs and documents, not for public consumption.

Yoast SEO Plugin provides easy access to the robots.txt file, whereas Shopify currently generates the file but does not let you edit it.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the market’s default and most popular website analytics tool.

Make sure you set up a free account and give access to key personnel.

It’s an excellent tool for tracking organic search traffic and lead or sales conversion data.

Once Google Analytics is set up, you want to connect the account to Search Console.

Google Search Console

Connecting Google Analytics with Search Console ensures that both reporting tools make organic traffic information available.

But Search Console has several other features that are useless for online marketers.

  • Internal link reports
  • External link reports
  • Add or edit your sitemap
  • Core Web Vitals
  • Mobile Usability report

Earlier, you identified your sitemap; make sure you add it to Search Console.

Download : SEO Checklist Template

Citations (if a local business)

Citations are mentions of your business online that Google uses to signal your business accuracy.

Gather the company name, address and postcode (NAP) and use a tool such as BrightLocal or WhiteSpark to establish citations.

Right, that’s the boring items on the list complete; let’s run through the keyword research checklist next.

Keyword Research

Provided you can verify your website with Search Console; you can use Ahrefs Webmaster Tool for free as part of this keyword research checklist.

Top Keyword/Query

Go to the top pages report, ensure your country is selected, and look for pages where the top keyword has a position greater than 10.

  • Write down the URL.
  • Write down the keyword.

Impressions or Search Volume

Now write down the monthly search volume – in my training course, you can do this keyword research checklist with Ahrefs and Search Console.

Keyword Position

Write down the current position of the keyword you’ve chosen.

Page Traffic

The top pages report will provide the estimated traffic to this page; write down that number.

Traffic to top pages

Copy the top keyword, and select the organic keywords item on the left menu.

Paste the keyword into the include box.

Check the SERP button to reveal the SERP data.

Add up and average the traffic of the top pages.

Write the number down.

Checking the traffic to the top pages in the search engine results allows you to compare it with your traffic.

So now you can see the traffic opportunities if you can improve your page rankings.

Do top pages have a similar domain rating?

Look at the DR column for the top pages; do they have a similar domain rating score?

If they do, there’s a good possibility of breaking into the top 10 results.

For a new website, it can be difficult to outrank highly authoritative websites in the top results.

Download : SEO Checklist Template

Do top pages have more links than your page?

Look at the domains column and compare the links to your page with those to the top pages.

If the top pages have hundreds of links to their page and you have none, it is harder and takes longer to achieve a page 1 position.

Do you have internal links to your page?

Now you want to check how many links point to this page.

Select the URL and check the internal links menu to display the links to the page.

Write down that number.

Now find out how many pages on your website are indexed in Google.

Type site:domain.com into Google and write that number down.

So that completes the keyword research checklist.

Now let’s check the on-page SEO elements.

On-Page SEO 

Is the keyword in the URL?

Having the keyword you are targeting in the page URL is good practice.

The URL is one of the strongest on-page ranking factors.

Is the keyword near the start of the URL?

Ideally, the keyword should be near the start of the URL.

The keyword in your URL you are targeting is not only a signal to Google; it’s also a signal to the user.

Avoid the following URLs

  • Dates, Months and Years in the URL
  • More than 3 words

Is the target keyword near the start of page title tags?

Copy and paste the URL into a tool such as MetaTags.io or use the on-page SEO feature of SEO Minion to display the page title.

Ensure the target keyword is near the start of the title tag.

Is the title too long or too short?

You can use 50 to 60 characters when writing the page title.

Is the page title displayed too long or short?

Look at the keywords’ top results in the search engines and write down any words missing from your page title.

Is the page serving user intent?

Compare page format with the format of top pages to ensure your page is serving the right user intent.

Download : SEO Checklist Template

Are you using features such as numbers and brackets in the page title?

Are you using numbers or brackets in the title tag?

These characters can encourage a higher click-through rate as they signal to users what content your page contains.

Have I written a meta description?

Although Google rewrites most page descriptions, manually writing them is still good practice.

Are the pages using Open Graph tags?

Open Graph tags are snippets of code that display information about your page when it is displayed or shared on social media channels.

It’s not essential to use Open Graph tags, but it does give a better impression and click-through possibility than without.

User Experience or mobile-friendly check

With the mobile version of your website being a ranking factor, this is a very simple checklist.

  • Can you see the page title on the mobile device above the fold?
  • Can you read the first sentence of the page on a mobile device above the fold?
  • Is there a benefit above the page’s fold on a mobile device before scrolling?
  • Does the first sentence include the target keyword and a benefit to reading the page?

Now, look at the first sentence in the page’s body copy.

It should contain the target keyword and have some persuasive copy or benefit for the user to read down the page.

SEO Content

Are page headers wrapped in H1 tags?

Ideally, you should wrap the page header in an H1 tag.

H1 tags are important as they are an excellent way to structure pages under headings of different importance.

Is the page easy to read?

Scroll down and read the page from start to finish.

Only you know if the page is easy to rank.

Or do you find yourself scrolling through lots and lots of paragraphs?

H2 sub-headers

An excellent way to structure a page is with subheadings.

In addition, subheadings also improve readability as the user scrolls through different text sizes.

Short sentences

Stop writing long sentences.

Short paragraphs

You are writing for the web, not a book.

After the full stop, enter return and put the next sentence onto a new paragraph.

It’s difficult to read when 3 or 4 sentences are combined into one paragraph.

Body font size of at least 18 pixels

Check your body font size; the bigger, the better, as it’s easier for those over 40 years of age to read.

Line and paragraph spacing

Use your eyes and judgement regarding the space between lines and paragraphs; your web designer can advise.

Bullet points and numbered lists

Using bullet points and lists helps summarise information, but they can also serve several other purposes.

Google frequently scrape numbered lists for some featured snippets you see in the top results.

So this format can help with rankings.

Additionally, bullet points and lists make it easier to read a page.

Internal links

Does your page link to other pages within the body of your page?

Download : SEO Checklist Template

Outbound links

Do you link to an external website which can help Google understand the page’s context?

Images, Photographs

Are you using images, illustrations and photographs to help answer the user’s search question?

Image Alt Tags

Did you describe images on your page using image ALT Tags?

Facts and data

Sometimes you need to add factual information or data as supporting evidence and help Google understand the context of your page.

Write for skimming and scanning.

People are busy looking for the answer to their questions on your page, so they skim and scan the page.

If page elements don’t catch their eye, they’ll leave.

Use BLUF – this stands for “bottom line up front”.

Put the most important details of your page at the top.

Copy length

If in doubt about the number of words per page, check how many words the top pages have written.

Call to action

A call to action comes after a benefit statement on a page.

  • Benefit – Free Template
  • Call to Action: Click to download

Try to ensure every page on your website either offers a benefit to taking action, viewing another product or page or downloading something.

Is there duplicate content?

Duplicate content occurs when different pages on your website cover the same topics.

So don’t write one page for every keyword you find in your research.

Find a topic with many related, similar keywords that one single page can earn traffic.

However, duplicate content is more likely to arise when products are added to multiple categories.

And you can overcome this problem by using canonical URLs to tell Google the most important URL.

Link Building

Links from other websites are similar to votes; if you don’t earn the popular links or votes, you’ll struggle to rank your pages high up in the search engines.

Does my site have other websites linking?

Go to the links section of Google Search Console and double-check the top linked pages report shows pages have links.

Have you added your website to your social profiles?

Go to your social media accounts’ profile or address section and add your website address.

These links are signals your website exists.

Are you a member of associations or trade bodies?

If you are an accountant, link from your professional body website profile page to your website; and vice versa.

Most professionals have accreditation bodies; use them as these websites are relevant, authoritative and have strong link juice.

Technical SEO Audit

Whilst this is primarily a checklist for web developers and SEO experts, it’s good for business owners to know that their website is in good shape.

How to check Health Score

Using Ahrefs webmaster tools, you get a simple health score; it should be at least 90%.

Are my pages indexed?

Type site:domain.com into Google.

If you see the message “Your search – site:domain.com – did not match any documents, “ your website is not indexed yet.

To solve that problem, link to the website from any social media channel or add a sitemap to Search Console.

Then try site:domain.com again.

Any crawl errors?

Go to the coverage report of Search Console to identify issues.

If there are issues, Google tells you how to solve the problems.

Speed and performance check

Enter a page URL into PageSpeed Insights.

This tool gives your page a score out of 100, along with issues and how to solve them.

Download : SEO Checklist Template

404 errors and broken links

A 404 error means a page is not found after crawling your website.

The Ahrefs site audit will display the 404 pages; after that, you can fix these errors.

Redirect the 404 pages using a 301 redirect to pages that don’t exist anymore.

Or update the link with the correct URL.

Orphan pages

Orphan pages of a website are sad little pages with no parents and no incoming internal links.

The search engine can only find pages from the sitemap file or external backlinks.

Check your site architecture for your internal link structure or manually add links to and from orphan pages.

Redirects

You should replace links to internal redirected URLs on your website with the direct links to the new page URL where possible.

You can view such errors in the Site Audit tool from Ahrefs.

301 and 302 errors

Check the errors in the Ahrefs site audit and make the necessary changes to solve these 2 problems.

HTTP to HTTPS redirects

Use the HTTPS versions of the pages on your website to avoid unnecessary redirects to HTTP pages.

Again, Ahrefs will display these issues in the site audit.

Final thoughts

This checklist template will help you identify what needs to be done after launching a website. It includes all the steps you need to follow when optimizing your website for search engines.

You’ll find this checklist very useful in identifying what needs to be improved on your current site.