Looking for a comprehensive SEO checklist to help you rank well?
We’ll be going through 50+ SEO requirements you need to tick off your task list as you prep your website and content for success on search engine results pages (SERPs).
SEO Tools Checklist
Before we dive into our SEO checklist, let’s quickly go over some SEO tools you’ll need to have in your toolbox. These are tools you can use to plan, design and implement your SEO campaigns.
1. Google Search Console
One of the first tools you need to add to your SEO tool stack is Google Search Console (GSC). FYI, Google is the largest search engine and processes over 3.5 billion searches per day. Investing more on optimizing for this platform is a no-brainer.
GSC is a free tool from Google designed to help web admins track their site’s performance in Google search results.
It has useful statistical data and features that help you rank better. In addition, Google Search Console helps you identify issues that hinder your website’s performance. Examples of what GSC can help you with include:
- Keyword analysis
- Submitting your sitemap
- Fixing website errors
- Checking your page experience scores
If you haven’t yet, go ahead and set up your Google Search Console. It will help you power your SEO campaigns with relevant data and insights.
2. Google Analytics
Another free tool from Google you need to add to your toolbox is Google Analytics (GA).
Is there a difference between GSC and GA?
There certainly is. While Google Search Console focuses on the performance of your website, Google Analytics was designed to give you insight into audience behavior.
The insights you get from analyzing audience behavior are important as they help you understand what your target audience needs from you. As a result, you can build tailored campaigns that ensure you attract the right traffic. It also helps improve your conversion rates. Some uses of GA include:
- Measure the traffic you get from Google
- Identify the pages that bring the most traffic
- Check if traffic increases or decreases before, during, and after SEO campaigns
- Identify websites and other platforms that send you traffic
- Monitor critical metrics like bounce rate, page views, time on site, and more
GA is an invaluable resource you should definitely have. What’s more, you can connect it to GSC for more in-depth and rich data, all from your GA dashboard.
3. Bing Webmaster Tools
While Bing may not be the biggest search engine (that honor belongs to Google), it still has a massive user base. With over 1 billion visitors each month, it certainly deserves your attention. To optimize for this group, you must set up Bing Webmaster Tools to help you.
A few features of Bing webmaster tools include:
- Track search performance (on Bing, of course)
- Upload sitemaps
- Site scan
- Keyword research
- Submit URLs
- Control crawling and block URLs
Besides the analytics tools mentioned above, you also need a tool that helps you optimize for on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. For a tool that does all that from within your WordPress dashboard, look no further than AIOSEO.
One of the most significant factors that make AIOSEO one of the most popular WordPress SEO tools (according to 3 million users) is that it’s a no-code tool. It makes it easy to implement SEO best practices, even if you’re not technically inclined.
What can you do with AIOSEO?
Here’s a preview:
- Manage internal and external links using Link Assistant
- Create sitemaps
- Implement schema markup
- Manage redirects easily
- Edit robots.txt files
- Optimize for on-page SEO
- Implement breadcrumbs
- Create SEO-friendly URLs
- IndexNow for instant indexing on select search engines
There’s so much you can do with AIOSEO it will probably be the only WordPress SEO tool you’ll ever need.
MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress.
Installing the plugin makes it easier to track the performance of your website right from within your WordPress dashboard. With Monster Insights, you get all the power of Google Analytics on your WordPress website, but with an easier dashboard to use.
Keyword Research Checklist
One of the foundational pillars of SEO is keyword research. Most on-page SEO efforts hinge on it. Here are some essentials you must get right to ensure you have better chances of ranking:
6. Invest in a Good Keyword Research Tool
Keywords are still relevant and will continue to be. Without them, SEO ranking wouldn’t exist. That’s why you must invest in a good keyword research tool. Examples of some excellent ones include:
Many more keyword research tools are on the market, but you can’t go wrong with these.
7. Focus on Long-tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are keywords that feature two or more words. These usually have lower competition, convert better, and are more targeted, among other benefits. Easy ways of finding long-tail keywords include:
- Google’s auto-suggest feature
- Blog comments, especially questions
- Answer the Public
Besides these, long-tail keywords are also an excellent way for ranking one piece of content for many keywords.
8. Focus on User Intent
As you conduct your keyword research, make sure to include user intent (the reason for the search) in the equation. Understanding user intent helps you:
- Create content that users find valuable
- Drive quality traffic to your website
- Improves the quality of your leads
- Results in higher conversion rates
- Reduces bounce rates
Neglecting user intent will cripple your SEO efforts. As such, put in the extra effort and time to dig deeper as you do your keyword research.
9. Leverage Question-based Keywords
Most search queries are made in the form of a question. Leveraging question-based keywords will help you:
- Create content that meets user intent
- Rank for Google’s SERP features like featured snippets
- Help rank in voice search
As much as you can and where applicable, find question-based keywords and answer the question comprehensively in your content.
On-page SEO Checklist
Now that keyword research is done, we can now move on to the on-page SEO factors you must get right.
10. Nail Your Headline
One of the first things people see when looking for content online is the headline. It’s your first shot (and usually the only shot) to convince readers to delve deeper into your content.
That’s why you must ensure every headline you write is expertly crafted. It must:
- Encourage readers to click through
- Contain your keyword, preferably at the beginning
- Satisfy user intent
- Be short enough not to be truncated on SERPs
- Long enough to prove the value of your content
To craft the perfect headline, you must try out several iterations and test to see which is more effective. Thankfully, our Headline Analyzer can help you with this.
11. Include Your Keyword in the SEO Title
One of the most important places to include your keyword is in your SEO title. This is the title search engines use to display your post on SERPs. Therefore, make sure to include your keyword in the SEO title, preferably as close to the beginning as possible. This will help users and search engines quickly know what your post is about.
If you’re an AIOSEO user, this is super easy to do. All you have to do is head over to your post settings and add it under the “Post Title” section.
12. Ensure Your Keyword is in Your Subheadings
Your subheadings, or heading tags, play a critical role in on-page SEO. They help structure your content and give search engines context about the central message of your page. That’s why you must use your keyword and its synonyms in your heading tags.
13. Use Your Keyword in the First and Last Paragraphs
Search engines put more weight on your page’s first and last paragraphs because these usually sum up what the post is about. To help them, include your keyword in these two critical sections of your post.
14. Include Your Keyword in the Meta Description
Your meta description is a summary that describes your post. Including your keyword helps search engines know that your post is relevant to display for the search term. It also helps users determine if your post will answer their questions.
15. Customize Your URLs to Include Your Keyword
WordPress assigns default URLs to all pages and posts. Always customize your URLs to make them descriptive. Also, ensure your URL includes your keyword. Doing so helps boost your SEO and clickthrough rates.
16. Use Your Keyword Strategically in Your Content
Use your keywords naturally in your content and avoid keyword stuffing. To avoid keyword stuffing, use synonyms of your keyword.
17. Build Internal Links Strategically
Internal links play a crucial role in SEO because they help search engines better understand your website structure and the relationship between pages. Internal links also help users get more value from your content as they point them to other pages with more context.
- To build a strategic internal linking strategy:
- Decide on the ideal structure of your website
- Determine which pages are the most important
- Prioritize linking to high-value pages
We get it. Building internal links, especially when you’ve got hundreds of pages, can be quite taxing. That’s why we decided to develop a tool to help you effortlessly do so. It’s called Link Assistant, and you’ll find it in the Feature Manager section of our plugin.
Link Assistant offers internal linking suggestions and automatically adds the links you choose without opening the individual pages.
Building internal links has never been easier.
18. Build Strategic Outbound Links
Outbound links are links that point from your domain to another domain. They are great for giving more context to your content. They’re also a great way of building authority. To build outbound links effectively:
- Only link out to authoritative sites
- Link to recent content (no older than three years)
- Only link when it makes sense
- Ensure your outbound link opens in a new tab
Again, Link Assistant is an invaluable tool in this regard. It gives you an overview of all your outbound links and enables you to edit them easily.
19. Use as Many Header Tags as Necessary
Header tags are HTML tags used to structure a webpage and indicate the hierarchical importance of the sections of a page. Headers rank in order of importance, starting with the H1 tag (the title) to H6, which is the least important. Besides adding structure to your web pages, headers tags also:
- Give search engines more context as to what your page is about
- Improve the readability of your page
- Are a great opportunity to use your keywords strategically
Header tags are an important element of your page that, used wisely, can help boost your SEO. For example, best practice dictates that there be no more than 300 words between each header tag.
20. Craft Compelling Meta Descriptions
A meta description is a short blurb or summary that appears underneath your page’s title on the SERPs. Its purpose is to provide users with an overview of the content to expect on that particular page. To craft compelling meta descriptions:
- Include your keyword
- Be as descriptive as possible
- Keep it within 160 characters
With the limited space you have available, you must make sure that your meta description does an excellent of selling your content.
21. Don’t Forget Tags and Categories
Tags and categories are often overlooked when working on on-page optimization. Check out this article for an in-depth look at what tags and categories are and how they differ.
In short, however, tags and categories offer a way to help you group similar content. This makes it easier for users to find content on your website. On the SEO side of things, they also help search engines better understand what your page is about.
If you’re prone to forgetting to assign tags and categories to your content, you probably need a tool like AIOSEO. We include tags and categories in our pre-publish checklist.
22. Image SEO Still Carries Some Weight
Images play an essential role in readability and add to your content’s aesthetics. But more than making your posts look pretty, images also contribute to your SEO. Here are a few image SEO tips:
- Resize your images as images with large dimensions load slower
- Compress images to make the file size “lighter”
- Add alt tags to all images, ensuring to include your keyword
- Name your images descriptively
Image SEO aids in ensuring your pages load faster. It also helps provide users with a good experience.
23. Ensure You’re Not Using Interstitial Ads
Interstitial ads are interactive, full-screen ads that cover their host app or site’s interface. Because of this, they reduce a web page’s accessibility. Google penalizes websites that use these as they go against their page experience guidelines.
Off-page SEO Checklist
Off-page SEO refers to the activities that take place away from your website and yet impact your SEO. Here are a few you must invest in to help you rank higher:
24. Evaluate Your Backlink Profile
Backlinks are one of the core elements that give weight to off-page SEO. Before you start building them, first evaluate your backlink profile. This will help you better plan your link-building strategy. To check your backlink profile, you can use tools like Google Search Console, Ahrefs Backlink Checker, Screaming Frog, and more.
25. Check Your Competitors’ Backlink Profiles
Besides checking your backlink profile, you should also do the same for your competitors. Competitor analysis serves two purposes:
- It gives you an idea of the strength of your backlink profile
- It shows you potential sites to get backlinks from
Start by checking the backlink profiles of your direct competitors, then move on to indirect competitors who rank for the same keywords as you do.
26. Build Relevant Backlinks
With the foundation laid, you can now start building backlinks to your site. A few ways you can do this include:
- Fixing broken links
- Run outreach campaigns
- Find backlink opportunities from your and your competitors’ top referrers
- Participate in roundup posts
- Create link-worthy content (original reports are an excellent example)
For more tips and strategies for building backlinks, check out this guide from our friends over at Monster Insights.
27. Leverage Guest Posting
Guest posting is the practice of publishing content on sites that are not yours. It serves a two-fold purpose:
- Helps build your authority
- Earns you backlinks from the sites you publish on
Guest posting also has the added advantage of helping you tap into new audiences. You generate relevant traffic from the host sites. For it to work, however, you must ensure you target websites with similar audiences to yours. You must also create value-packed content that the readers will find helpful.
28. Generate Conversations Around Your Brand
Backlinks aren’t the only way to get search engines to notice you. When your brand is mentioned on other websites or platforms like social media, search engines also pay notice.
Sometimes called linkless backlinks, these mentions are trust signals that add to your credibility and authority. A few ways to boost mentions of your brand include:
- Be active on social media
- Don’t shy away from controversial issues
- Monitor mentions of your brand and participate in the conversations
- Have a reputation management plan in place to combat negative mentions
The more buzz you can build around your brand, the more search engines view you as an authority. As a result, your rankings will improve.
29. Turn Mentions into Backlinks
While most mentions of your brand are linkless, it shouldn’t always end that way. Instead, you should try and turn mentions of your brand into backlinks. To do so, reach out to the publication that mentioned you and ask them to include a link back to your website in the mention. Since they already know you, they’re more likely to respond positively.
30. Are You Using Barnacle SEO?
Barnacle SEO is a strategy in which a smaller website attaches itself to a larger website that ranks well. For this strategy to work, the larger website must rank for keywords you’re targeting. A great example of barnacle SEO is leveraging business directories and listings. For example, if you’re a B2B brand, you can find ways of being featured on partner pages and review sites like G2.
31. Use PR to Boost SEO
Public relations (PR) campaigns are another SEO practice you should apply regularly. You don’t always need breaking-news level stories to run a PR campaign. Simply leverage any changes in your organization, like new hires, a new office, e.t.c to write about. Other PR strategies that can help you boost your SEO include:
- Regularly publish in industry-centric or local publications
- Book speaking engagements
Often an overlooked strategy, PR can be a powerful tactic to help you boost your SEO.
32. Create a Free Tool and Use it as a Link Magnet
One of the best ways to earn backlinks is by creating a free tool your target audience finds valuable. This can be something as simple as a spreadsheet to a more complicated tool like a niche-specific calculator. Other publishers will link to the page your tool is on to help add value to their posts, resulting in you earning tons of backlinks.
Technical SEO Checklist
For most marketers and website owners, the mention of technical SEO sends shivers down their spines. That’s because most see it as a difficult task they’d rather not dabble in. But with a powerful SEO plugin like AIOSEO, sorting out your technical SEO issues becomes a breeze. Here are some technical SEO areas you must always keep an eye on
33. Identify Crawl Errors
Crawling is the process search engines go through to discover and understand the content on your website. Sometimes, this process can be hindered, resulting in some of your pages not showing up on SERPs.
To identify crawl errors, check your Coverage report in Google Search Console. Make sure to fix any crawl errors you find ASAP.
34. Check for Indexing Issues
While crawling is the discovering process, indexing is the process by which search engines collect, sort, and store information of pages on your website. This facilitates fast retrieval of your URLs. Common indexing errors include:
- Duplicate content
- Soft 404 errors
- Crawl issues
- Insufficient crawl budget (for large sites)
Again you can use Google Search Console’s Coverage report for this. You can also use Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool to generate an Indexability report.
35. Fix Broken Links on Your Site
Broken links frustrate your visitors. They can also hurt your SEO.
That’s why you must find and fix all broken links on your site.
There are two primary types of broken links you’ll encounter on your website — external and internal.
The way you deal with your broken links is dependent on which type you find. A few common ways of fixing broken links include:
- Deleting the link (for external links)
- Applying a 301 redirect (for internal links)
- Updating old content
- In the case of a typo, correcting it
You can use a tool like Google Search Console to find broken links. You can also go the easier route and use AIOSEO’s Redirect Manager to find and fix them.
36. Implement HTTPS via an SSL Certificate
Have you switched to HTTPS?
Or are you still using the less secure HTTP protocol?
Google confirmed in a publication that HTTPS is a “lightweight” ranking factor, so you shouldn’t take it lightly.
Besides being a ranking factor, implementing HTTPS is also good for your users as it improves your website’s security. For you, it also helps you earn trust from your audience as it shows that you take website security seriously.
37. Use SEO-friendly URLs
URL structure plays a critical role in your SEO. That’s why you must take time to ensure that all your URLs are structured in an SEO-friendly manner. Tips for doing so include:
- Keep your URLs short and descriptive
- Include your keyword in permalinks
- Use hyphens (not underscores) to separate words
- Get rid of stop words
- Use lowercase letters
To optimize your URL, edit your URL slug under the post settings section.
Good URL structure helps your SEO and makes for good UX.
38. Ensure Your Website is Responsive
While the song’s been sung many times, it still needs to be put on repeat — mobile responsiveness is a key element of good SEO. With most searches being performed on mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly website is a no-brainer. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to test for any issues that can affect your site’s responsiveness.
39. Optimize for Speed
Page speed has been a ranking factor for a long time (from as far back as 2010). With Google’s Page Experience in effect, page speed has become more crucial than ever. Use a tool like PageSpeed Insights to check how your website fares in this department and other factors that affect Core Web Vitals.
You also get suggestions on the recommended steps to take to improve your speed.
40. Inspect Your Website for Redirect Chains and Loops
A redirect happens when you forward one URL to another. Therefore, a redirect chain happens when there are many redirects between the initially requested URL and the destination URL. In some cases, this can turn into a redirect loop. That happens when the last URL in the chain redirects to the original URL.
- Redirect chains and loops can hurt your SEO as they can:
- Make it harder for your website to crawl
- Reduce your page load speed
- Cause you to lose page rank
- Lead to poor UX
Again, AIOSEO can help you fix redirect chains and loops through the Redirect Manager feature.
41. Generate an XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is a file containing all the important pages on your website. Its purpose is to ensure that search engines can easily find and crawl them. It also includes information on any changes in your content. A sitemap also helps search engines understand your website’s structure.
One of the most significant SEO advantages of an XML sitemap is that it makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your most important pages. It also helps ensure search engines can find the orphan pages on your site.
Thankfully, setting up an XML sitemap is easy if you have an SEO tool like AIOSEO. Here’s our detailed guide on how to do so.
42. Fix any Duplicate Content Issues
Duplicate content is any content on your website that’s exactly or nearly the same. This can be a common problem on e-commerce websites as some product pages can be almost identical. One of the best tools you can use to find duplicate content is Ahrefs. Head over to “Site Audit” and select the “Duplicate Content” option. This will show you all pages that are considered to be duplicate content.
Once you’ve identified duplicate content on your site, you can canonicalize the affected URLs as you deem fit.
43. Create/Optimize Your Robots.txt File
A robots.txt file is a file that contains instructions that tell search engines which pages they can and can’t crawl. This ensures that search engines focus on pages that are important to you. It also prevents server overload and prevents crawl waste for large websites.
Creating or optimizing your robots.txt file can easily be done using our plugin. Simply head over to the “Tools” tab in AIOSEO and you’ll be taken to the robots.txt file editor. Here are some instructions on how to edit your robots.txt file.
Content Creation Checklist
While we have touched on on-page SEO best practices in a previous section, we must also look at best practices for effective blog post SEO. After all, SEO and content are two sides of the same coin.
44. Conduct a Content Gap Analysis
A content gap analysis is a process of assessing your content to discover opportunities you’re missing out on. It helps you identify missing content pieces you could use to align users to the stages of your buyer journey. A content gap analysis enables you to create content that, among other things:
- Increases audiences engagement
- Drives more traffic
- Meets user intent
Conducting a content gap analysis is a great way to ensure that you create content that both search engines and users love.
45. Does Your Content Solve a Problem?
Creating content that solves a problem is critical to an effective SEO strategy. Otherwise, you won’t get any traffic to your site if it doesn’t. If you get any visitors, the chances of bouncing are quite high. Creating problem-solving content starts with keyword research and understanding search intent. It also involves:
- Audience research to understand who you’re writing for
- SERP research to discover the content formats your audience prefers
- Competitor research to find high ranking content
People are fed up with superficial content that just scratches the surface. They‘re looking for content that solves a problem and helps them reach their goals. Give it to them, and they’ll share it with their networks, resulting in more traffic to your website.
46. Work on Your Posts’ Readability
Another SEO element to get right as you create your content is readability. Create content that’s easy to scan and understand. A few ways to achieve this include:
- Avoid passive voice
- Keep your sentences short
- Avoid walls of text (each paragraph must be 300 words max)
Easy to read text results in more engagement, increased time on page, and more pageviews. All of which are indicators to search engines that your content is valuable and worth ranking higher.
Again, AIOSEO can help you improve your readability as our TruSEO analysis gives you a readability score and recommendations for improving it.
47. Craft Optimized Headlines
Your Headline is different from your SEO title. While the SEO title is displayed in SERPs, the headline, or H1 tag, is only displayed on the page. Like your SEO title, optimize your headline by front-loading your keyword. Also, make sure it’s as descriptive as possible.
48. Create High-quality In-depth Content
Before hitting the publish button on any blog post, ensure you’ve covered the topic as in-depth as you can.
Gone are the days when you could drive traffic and rank from thin content. Today’s users and search engines are too advanced to be hooked by flaky content. To hook them, you must create high-quality content that covers the topic.
49. Implement Schema Markup
Schema markup is a type of microdata used to describe a page’s contents to search engines. Implementing it results in more descriptive and visually appealing rich snippets on SERPs.
Implementing schema is super-easy with a tool like AIOSEO, as you don’t need to touch a single line of code to do so.
50. Write Engaging Intros
Your introduction is an opportunity to hook readers and convince them to read on. Poorly written, it results in high bounce rates, which are bad for SEO. On the other hand, engaging intros result in raiders spending more time on your site. That’s great for SEO as it signals search engines that your content is valuable.
51. Use Multimedia to Increase Engagement
The more people engage with your content, the more search engines consider it worth serving to users. This is why you must include multimedia in your content. It increases the engagement rates of your content. That’s because people love images, gifs, videos, and any other type of visual content. Multimedia content also gives you a chance to utilize your keywords as you can inject them into your alt tags.
52. Publish Content Regularly
Search engines love websites that are updated regularly. This signals that they are a resource of timely and relevant content. That’s why you must publish content regularly. To help you do this, create a content calendar that will help direct your content creation and keep you regular in your publishing.
53. Keep an Eye on Your Analytics
Use an analytics tool like Google Analytics, Monster Insights, or others to keep track of your SEO performance. This will help you know if you’re making headway or not. It will also help you know what to improve to build better iterations of your SEO campaigns.
Get a Head Start with this SEO Checklist
SEO is an ever-evolving discipline. While this post may not contain everything required to optimize your WordPress website for search engines and people, this SEO checklist will certainly give you a great head start. Go ahead and start making the changes you need to in your SEO strategy and on your website.
Need an SEO tool to help speed things up and make SEO easier?
AIOSEO is the original WordPress SEO plugin and has been around almost as long as WordPress has. It’s a pretty darn effective tool too, according to the over three million users who rely on it to optimize their sites.
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