The organization is critical if you tend to manage an SEO program that directs an enterprise towards becoming a more prominent brand. You’ll juggle various projects simultaneously, including on-page SEO, technical SEO, keyword research, content strategy, link building, etc. If you do not wish to get buried in tasks and miss essential deliverables, you will be required to get your ducks in one row with a vital SEO checklist.
Whether a beginner or a professional, checklists offer precise, consistent guidelines that can be transferred immediately to all collaborators and stakeholders. They also allow better cross-departmental collaboration, ensuring all teams are aligned. So, let’s start with the SEO checklist you can’t miss out on. Refer to the rundown and enjoy the read.
Check for Google penalties.
One of the primary SEO checks you need to perform from the beginning is ensuring that the website isn’t under Google penalties. Google has multiple penalties (algorithmic and manual) imposed as forms of ‘punishment’ to sites that tend to violate the stringent guidelines. If your site is getting hit by some Google penalties, you might have to focus on different routes to recover from the penalties if possible and then continue with the rest of your SEO checklist.
Your objective with technical SEO is to assist search engines in locating, accessing, interpreting, crawling, and even indexing your site without prior problems. It is called technical since it has nothing to do with actual content pieces of the site or with any of your web promotions.
Make your URLs SEO Friendly
Since this one is one of the technical ones on the list, a permalink is a web page URL. As the name signifies, it’s called permalink since it isn’t expected to make a shift throughout the page’s lifetime. Based on SEO, you must check and ensure that all the web pages have SEO-friendly URLs.
SEO-friendly URLs comprise the following characteristics:
- They include keywords
- They are descriptive and short
- They use hyphens (-) to separate the words
Install SSL and make the website HTTPS
Having the SSL downloaded on your site is a reckoned ranking factor. Moreover, an SSL ensures that any insight shared between your site and server is always protected. If you have not migrated your site to the secured HTTPS till now, this has to be one of the top priority items on the to-do list. Adding the SSL to a website is not enough for optimization purposes. In reality, you must ensure that you do everything right to avoid losing the current rankings.
No matter which tools and dashboards you utilize, setting up your Google Analytics account is a good idea. Install this ASAP on your website to have plenty of historical data available before you. You can even configure several profiles to allow your team to run fast analyses of multiple views of the data. For instance, you might configure profiles to check traffic by geography, source, or URL.
Google Search Console
Search Console is yet another element you need to be well-versed with. It is like peanut butter to Analytics’ jelly. Speaking of which, the search console tracks the anchor texts that bring people to your website and monitors for errors, such as 404s or duplicate metadata. Furthermore, Google Analytics tends to measure what users do on a website, like bounce rate. As a result, consider connecting the tool to the Analytics dashboard and submit the sitemap within Search Console. If you need another perspective, check out Bing Webmaster Tools.
Google Tag Manager
The Tag Manager is an easy and quick way to monitor all third-party and Google tags in one place. And Google Tag Manager allows you to work efficiently and seamlessly with IT professionals. Consider using it for testing, campaign and event tracking, troubleshooting, QA, and integration amongst organic and paid campaigns.
SEO tools are an essential component of any efficient SEO checklist. You will have to use them for competitive analysis, keyword research, site crawls, and many more. Consequently, look for full-suite options like Ahrefs, Moz, SEMrush, or Majestic.
Optimize and check your robots.txt file
Robots.txt is one of the files that reside in a root folder of your website and provides instructions to search engines. A misconfiguration found in the robots.txt files can cause major errors or de-index the website from various search engine results.
Check WordPress visibility settings.
The point is, if you happen to use WordPress as your content management system, it would be best to check the visibility setting of the platform and not just the robot.txt files. This ensures you are not accidentally stopping search engines from checking your content.
Check your comment settings.
Another routine check you can perform is to ensure any links within the comments section have the no-follow attribute equipped. Remember, comments are ideal for search engine optimization and must be allowed on the blog. However, to avoid getting a penalty by Google, ensure to keep all the outgoing links to no-follow. A no-follow link can instruct various search engines like Google not to pass any link juice or PageRank to the target site.
The most straightforward way to monitor this is to use the INSPECT option from the Google developers’ tools.
Optimize the menu and site structure
If a user wants to be a true SEO expert while examining their website, they should not forget about optimizing its structure. It could be a mistake or an error while performing an SEO audit. Ask any expert, and they will guide you through it. A suitable site structure does not have more than three levels and allows for any site link to be accessed from your homepage in three clicks or even less.
When it comes to the XML sitemap, it is a combination of URLs directing various search engines to what they must crawl on your site. If the content is indexable, a search engine like Google will locate it and build sitemaps of its own. However, this might take considerable time and offer you zero control over the content. So, do not wait for Google to build the sitemap. Instead, submit yours through Search Console as a part of your checklist. In the end, keep it thoroughly organized and away from every outdated URL and broken page.
It’s pretty common for sites to come up with a single domain, www.example.com, along with several subdomains, such as support.example.com or blog.example.com. As an SEO practice, experts generally think that subfolders are relatively better than subdomains. But, some situations call for subdomains.
For instance, you might have robust careers sections that function like microsites. On the other hand, a subdomain could assist Google in distinguishing the topical relevance between the career-related content and core business content.
Standard user-friendly site options, such as pagination, faceted navigation, in-site search, product variants, and more, can unintentionally develop duplicate versions of a single parent page.
Moreover, the duplication does not stop there. If you are managing older domains, there may be several versions of your website indexed on Google, comprising:
- and so on..