This seo checklist template is intended for new websites to get them ranking in the search engines as fast as possible,
So you’ve launched your new website or redesigned or rebranded.
Now it not the time to pat yourself on the back; because now the real hard work starts.
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 to your server.
With your sitemap, now you can add it to Search Console and Bing WebMaster Tools.
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 is the default and most popular website analytics tools on the market.
Make sure you set up a free account and give access to key personnel.
It’s a great tool for tracking organic search traffic and lead or sales conversion data.
Once Google Analytics is set up then you want to connect the account to Search Console.
Google Search Console
Connecting Google Analytics with Search Console ensures that organic traffic information is available on both reporting tools.
But Search Console has a number of other features that are useless for online marketers.
- Intermal 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.
Citations (if local business)
Citations are mentions of your business online that Google use as a signal of 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 check list next.
Provided you can verify your website with Search Console, you can use Ahrefs Webmaster Tool for free as part of this keyword research checklist.
Go to the top pages report, make sure your country is selected and look for pages where the top keyword has a position of 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 both Ahrefs and Search Console.
Write down the current position of the keyword you’ve chosen.
The top pages report will provide the estimated traffic to this page; write down that number.
Traffic to top pages
Copy the top keyword, 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 similar domain rating ?
Look the the DR column for the top pages, do they have a similar domain rating score ?
If they do, then there’s a good possibilty of breaking into the top 10 results.
For a new website it can be difficult to outrank highly authorative websites in the top results.
Do top pages have more links than your page?
Look at the domains column and compare the links to your page with the links to the top pages.
If the top pages have hundreds of links to their page and you have none, it be harder and take 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?
It’s good practice to have the keyword you are targeting in the page URL.
The URL is on of the strongest on page ranking factors.
Is keyword near start of URL?
Ideally the keyword should be near the start of the URL.
Not only is the keyword in your URL you are targeting 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 use 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 top results in the search engines for the keywords and write down any words missing from your page title.
Is the page serving user intent ?
Compare page format with format of top pages to ensure your page is serving the right user intent.
Are you using features such as numbers, 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 provide a signal to users as to what content your page contains.
Have I written a meta description ?
Although Google rewrite most page descriptions it’s still good practice to manually write them.
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 share on social media channels.
I’ts not essential to use Open Graph tags but does given 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 page title on mobile device above the fold ?
- Can you read first sentence of page on mobile device above the fold?
- Is there a benefit above the fold of page on mobile device before scrolling?
- Does the first sentence include the target keyword and a benefit to read the page ?
Now look at the first sentence in the body copy of the page.
It should contain the target keyword and have some persuasive copy or benefit of the user to read down the page.
Are page headers wrapped in H1 tags ?
Ideally, the header of the page should be wrapped in an H1 tag.
H1 tags are important as they are a good 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?
A good way to structure a page is with subheadings.
In addition, subheadings also improve readability as the user scrolls through different text sizes.
Stop writing long sentences.
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 is bunched together into one paragraph.
Body font size at least 18 pixels
Check your body font size; the bigger the better as it’s easier for those of us over 40 years of age to read.
Line and paragraph spacing
Use your eyes and your own judgement regarding the space between lines and paragraphs; your web designer can advise.
Bullet points and numbered lists
Using bullet points and lists help to summarise information but they can also serve a couple of 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.
Does your page link to other pages within the body of your page?
Do you link to an external website as this can help Google understand the context of the page?
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 question 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.
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 and ensure every page on your website either offers a benefit to taking action; whether that’s to view another product or page or to download something.
Are 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 where there are lots of related, similar keywords that one single page can earn traffic to.
However, duplicate content is more likely to arise when products are added to multiple categories.
And you can overcome this problem using canonical URLs to tell Google the most important URL.
Links from other websites are similar to votes, and 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 the profile or address section of your social media accounts 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 then 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 tell you how to solve the problems.
Speed and performance check
Enter a page URL into PageSpeed Insights.
This tool gives your page score out of 100 along with issues and how to solve them.
404 errors and broken links
A 404 error means that a page is not found after crawling your website.
The Ahrefs site audit will display the 404 pages; thereafter 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 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 from external backlinks.
Check your site architecture for your internal link structure or manually add links to and from orphan pages
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 Site Audit tool from Ahrefs.
301 and 302 errors
Check the errors in 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.