Every time you start a new site, use this SEO checklist to take names and kick ass.
There are a number of things you should be doing every time you create a new page. This list covers the most important things.
Heads up: This SEO checklist, and on-page optimization in general, is best thought about as incrementally beneficial. The big mistake people tend to make is that they find a checklist, they go through everything on it, and the minute they realize they won’t be able to do one of them, they think they’re screwed. That’s not the right way to think about it.
Try to do as many as you can – but the vast majority of people aren’t able to get everything.
The 2017 SEO Checklist
Install Google Analytics.
Install Google Search Console.
Focusing on the US? Might want to install Bing Webmaster Tools.
Using WordPress? Get a WordPress Google Analytics plugin. Here’s one. Here’s another one.
Using WordPress? Install the free version of Yoast SEO.
Check Google’s Search Console for crawl errors, duplicate content errors, missing titles and other technical errors.
Use Browseo.net to spot-check redirect problems (specifically, 302 errors that should be 301s).
Use Screaming Frog to find broken links, errors, and crawl problems.
Use Google Adwords Keyword Planner for keyword research, along with KWFinder, KeywordTool.io and SEMRush. Be sure to consider searcher intent and difficulty, pick 1 keyword per page, and you’ll generally want to start with lower-volume keywords first.
Have you looked at competitor link profiles? This is the easiest way to get started with link building. This way, you can see what kind of anchor text they’re using, as well as how and where they’ve been getting their links. Something like the Ahrefs, Link Diagnosis, Open Site Explorer, or Majestic.
Try to get your primary keyword into your page URL (but there are very serious consequences to changing a URL that already has authority – don’t do this if your page already has links!).
Add your keyword to your title tag. Is your title tag compelling?
Add your keyword to your meta description. Is your meta description compelling?
Add your keyword to your H1 tag. Make sure to only use one H1 tag, and make sure it shows up in the document before H2, H3 etc.
Add crawl-able text to your page. Make sure to have at least 100 words on each URL (minimum – the more the better). You can still rank with less, and you don’t ever want to put unnecessary text on your site, but I recommend not creating a new page unless you have roughly ~100 words worth of content.
Use synonyms in your copy. Remember: synonyms are great, and using natural language that’s influenced by keyword research (rather than just pure keywords) is highly encouraged.
Use words discovered through latent semantic indexing in your copy – you can determine what keywords to add at LSIGraph.com.
Add descriptive ALT tags and filenames to your pages. Search engines “see” images by reading the ALT tag and looking at file names, among other factors. Try to be descriptive when you name your images.
Link to other pages on your site with SEO-friendly text (use the primary keyword in anchor text). We recommend not using anchor text in your global navigation because it can look like over-optimization. Stick to in-content links instead.
Make sure you don’t have duplicate content – use 301 redirects, canonical tags or use Google Webmaster Tools to fix any duplicate content that might be indexing and penalizing your site.
Use PageSpeed tools, Gift of Speed, GTMetrix and Pingdom to determine page speed – keep your site fast!
Make sure your site is mobile friendly – use Google’s mobile friendly testing tool.
Create an XML sitemap and submitted it to Google Search Console. Use XML-Sitemaps.com or Google XML Sitemaps WordPress Plugin – the Yoast SEO plugin also comes with this functionality by default.
Create a robots.txt file and submit it to Google Search Console.
Claim your brand name on as many social networking sites as possible for reputation management reasons. Namechk is a great resource to see if your name is taken on most major networks.
Use the SEO Audit Tool to double-check everything once you’re live.