Here’s a checklist of SEO tasks to complete when you setup a website. It’ll help you optimize your website to increase visibility on Google and other search engines.
Pre-Launch & Strategy
Install Google Analytics (GA) And Setup Goals – This is super easy and quick to do. It helps to know who your website visitors are, where there’re from (geographic location), how they found your website, etc. This is also a good time to figure out the goals of your website and track them on Google Analytics.
Add the website to Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) – Again super quick and easy to do. I normally add a txt record for the verification.
Link Google Analytics with Google Search Console – Once Google Analytics & Google Search Console are setup, there’s an option on Google Analytics to link the two services for detailed information on search queries, landing pages, etc from organic visitors. This linkage can be found under Admin – Product Linking – All Products – Search Console on Google Analytics.
Add your company info & website to Google Maps to target users and search queries in a specific geographic region – Visit business.google.com to get started. Be sure to use the same Name, Address, Map location & Phone number universally on all websites where you’re listed. More on how to rank higher on Google Maps.
Register your domain name for multiple years in the future – This helps users know that you’re serious about being in business for a long time.
Create a robots.txt file & save it to the root directory of the domain – A robot.txt file provides guidelines for search engines such as Google on what to index from your website. It’s extremely important to set this up correctly to avoid any issues with pages not showing up on Google down the road. You can use the Yoast plugin to do this automatically if you’re on WordPress.
Create a XML sitemap and save it to the root directory of the domain – A XML sitemap lists all the URLs for a website & helps link data and pages across your website for Google and other search engines. Yoast can help you with this, just select which types of pages you want to index and it’ll create a sitemap for your site.
Keyword Research & Implementation
Deciding the Perfect Keyword Strategy for your website – It’s important to look at keywords and cement a strategy that you will apply for all content generation and keyword targeting. This includes looking at keyword variations, long tail keywords, etc
Competitor Keyword Research – Look at what your competitors are doing, what keywords are they targeting, what content do they push out for those keywords, how easy or hard is it to beat them at their own game, etc.
Make a list of your selected keywords that you will target – It’s crucial that you keep a list of your selected keywords and track in realtime as your rankings fluctuate based on social signals, content generation tactics, on-page optimization, backlinks, etc.
Site Structuring – This will set the foundations for your url structuring and navigation. Try to use a clean design that incorporates easy navigation. You want to make it easier for users and search engines to find content on your website. Users want this content to engage with you and Google wants this content to crawl and index on its database.
Unique titles for pages on your website – It’s super important to use unique title that translate to meta titles on websites to make your website more appealing for search engines on relevant topics. Use 60-65 characters to describe the contents of the page to users and search engines alike.
Unique meta descriptions for each page – Use 320 characters to your advantage by describing the benefits for a user to visit your page. This improves CTR (click-though rate) on Google.
SEO Friendly URLs – Setup urls in a neat format such as domain.com/topic as opposed to domain.com/32u3239hrd
Use Canonical URL’s – Just indicate it with (rel=”canonical”) for your preferred URL
Optimize Heading tags – H1, H2, H3, etc – This should follow the flow of a story or a book with chapters & sub-chapters.
All images should carry ALT tags – ALT tags help search engines understand the contents of an image so it’s super useful to use this to rank your images on Google search.
Monitor & Remove broken links – Monitor your website for pages that have either been deleted or moved. Reduce and remove any 404 errors on your website that you find. At the very least, provide breadcrumbs and other ways for users and search engines to find their way back from 404 errors.
Run Speed tests & optimize/improve Your Website Load Speed – Speed is an important element of Google search rankings so reduce load times and increase page load speed.
Don’t overuse outbound links on a page – Max 100 per page
Cross link pages in a SEO friendly fashion
301 Redirects – Setup 301 Redirects correctly for pages that have moved
Verify the HTML & CSS markup – This helps reduce errors & incompatibility with certain web browsers
Breadcrumbs Usage – Helpful for users to find their way across a website. Breadcrumbs ruin the clean design IMO so only use for certain page/post types.
Study the content put out by the competition in your niche
Optimize your content
Put out content on a regular basis on your website
Setup a blog to share interesting information
Create engaging content such as videos, webinars & infographics
Invite industry experts to guest post on your blog
Don’t stuff keywords on posts/pages – Keyword Stuffing does not improve search rankings
Ensure that your website looks & works perfect on a mobile devices – With over 50% of searches originating from mobile devices, it’s imperative to optimize your website for mobile devices.
While optimizing for Search Engines, don’t forget to provide a clean user experience for humans – The first screen to load should portray the relevance of the page in relation with the search query used by the visitor to find the page on search engines such as Google.
Analyze the backlinks for your website – You can use a tool like as ahrefs or majestic to get this information. You are specifically looking for websites that could hurt your website rankings.
Competitor backlinks analysis – It always helps to know where your competitors are sourcing out their backlinks from. It’s always possible to get a link from the same sources for your own website. This is probably the easiest way to get backlinks.
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