This is the ultimate SEO checklist for website owners. If you are looking for a comprehensive checklist to follow and optimize your website for Google, then you just found the right place.
Our SEO checklist is complete and covers all areas of SEO including technical SEO, on-page SEO, Off-Page SEO, Local SEO and mobile SEO.
How to use this checklist? The best way is to download the list, print it and start working through the items one-by-one.
When you do this the first time don’t try and fix things, go through the whole list first and group items into:
- Completed: You already done this.
- In-review: You need more information about this before making a decision if this is something you need to implement on your website or not.
- Pending: You know that this needs to be done but it’s not completed yet.
- In-Progress: You already started working on this.
Create a plan and specify when you plan to work on all items that are in-review or pending.
My recommendation is not to skip any item, even if it seems not so important. When it comes to SEO, sometimes it’s a lot of small things together that can make a difference in your Google rankings.
Tip: Everything that is included in the list below (and much more) is explained in detail in The Complete SEO Course, so if you are in doubt on how to implement something or want more information, check it out.
Download SEO Checklist as a PDF: You can download the checklist as a PDF or view online using the links below.
- Technical SEO Checklist
- On-Page SEO Checklist
- Off-Page SEO Checklist
- Local SEO Checklist
- Mobile SEO Checklist
Introduction to SEO for Beginners
To take advantage of this checklist and use it effectively to improve your SEO, you need to understand the different components that make up search engine optimization or SEO as it is widely known.
What is SEO? SEO is a process that has a set of rules you can apply to your website so that search engines can access, crawl and index your content without problems.
Your overall goal with SEO is create better websites both in terms of content and usability that will keep both users and search engines happy.
If you have read my previous post on how search engines work, you know that search engines are governed by complex algorithms that use a number of parameters before making a decision as to which websites to show in the top of the search results.
To be able to control the whole SEO process and give algorithms what they want, the various SEO rules are grouped into different categories and thus how other terms like technical SEO, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, local SEO, mobile SEO are born.
Technical SEO Checklist
Help Google and other search engines find your content
Your goal with technical SEO is to help search engines find, access, crawl, interpret and index your website without any problems.
It is called “technical”, because it has nothing to do with the actual content of the website or with website promotion (more on this later).
Here is your technical SEO checklist:
- Add and verify all your website variations with the Google Search Console
- Check your permalink structure and make your URLS SEO Friendly
- Set your preferred domain in Google Search Console and WordPress
- Install SSL and make sure that your website is https
- Check the ‘Blocked Resources’ report in Google search console and ensure that Search Engines can access all website resources without blockings
- Check ‘Fetch as Google option’ in Search Console
- Check and optimize your robots file
- Check WordPress visibility settings
- Check your comment settings and make sure that all comment links are ‘nofollow’
- Optimize your menu and site structure
- Create and optimize an XML Sitemap
- Check for sitemap errors in Google search Console
- Add structured data markup data to your homepage (website + organization, person or local business)
- Add relevant structured data markup to your articles or products
- Test your schema markup implementation using the ‘Google Structured Data Testing Tool’.
- Enable breadcrumb menus on all your posts and pages
- Check that your schema implementation for breadcrumbs is correct
- Check that all your pages define a canonical URL
- Implement hreflang if your website is available in more than one languages
- Use pagination SEO for multi-page posts
On-Page SEO Checklist
Help Search engines and users understand your content.
On-Page SEO is all about the content of your page and it has two major goals. To help you create content that satisfies the user intent and give you guidelines on how to create SEO friendly content that is easily understood by search engines.
Running a WordPress website? Then download this how to guide and learn how to optimize your website like a Pro.
As shown in the above diagram one of the major components of on-page SEO is content SEO.
Here is your on-page SEO checklist:
- Optimize your logo (name, alt text schema and size)
- Optimize the page titles of all website pages including the homepage
- Optimize the meta description tag of all website pages including the homepage
- Check how your website looks when you search for your brand name in Google (search result snippet) and optimize your site structure for sitelinks.
- Check and optimize the H1 tag for all websites pages including the homepage
- Check for proper usage of subheadings (needs to be in a hierarchical structure)
- Revise your internal linking strategy to ensure that they comply to best practices.
- Revise your external linking strategy and give credit to other high quality websites.
- Create content that satisfies the user intent
- Perform keyword research and enrich your content with long tail keywords and LSI keywords.
- Make sure that your target keyword is included in your opening paragraph
- Add text content to accompany non-text content
- Create long-form content
- Beautify your content (formatting and styling) and make it easy to read
- Optimize your images (file size, ALT text, caption below images)
- Create dedicated image sitemap and submit to Google
- Optimize your videos and other multimedia elements (with proper schemas)
- Create dedicated Video sitemap and submit to Google
- Optimize titles / description / content for your category pages
- Review ‘tag’ usage and noindex them if not needed
- Optimize candidate posts for Google’s featured snippets.
Off-Page SEO Checklist
Promote your website to get more links and increase your rankings
No SEO checklist is complete without mentioning Off-Page SEO.
Technical SEO and On-Page SEO (including content SEO), will help you create an SEO friendly website that users will enjoy but to rank higher in Google, you need more than that.
This is where off-page SEO comes to the rescue. In simple terms, off-page SEO is about website promotion techniques and how to convince search engine algorithms that your website deserves a higher ranking in the search results than other websites.
Higher rankings will lead to more organic traffic and this is what all website owners want. Off-Page SEO is not optional but a necessary component of your SEO strategy.
Your overall goal with off-page SEO is to get high quality incoming links from other related websites on the Internet.
Links act as a ‘vote of trust’ and they are taken into account by search engine algorithms.
Make no mistake, it’s not a numbers game i.e. it’s not about having more links than your competitors but it’s about having the right type of links that can push your rankings up.
Mistakes with off-page SEO i.e. buying links, participating into link exchanges or other actions that violate Google webmaster guidelines, can get you in trouble.
A Google penalty (either manual or algorithmic) may be imposed on your website and you will lose your rankings and traffic.
Here is your off-page SEO checklist:
- Understand the difference between a good link and a bad link
- Understand the difference between white hat and black hat link building
- Understand the difference between normal links and ‘nofollow’ links
- Learn how to start link building for a new website
- Learn how to do link building for an established website
- Create a list of websites you can potentially get a link
- Understand how to use social media for link building purposes
- Read more about retargeting and how to use this for link building
- Understand how to email other bloggers asking for links (blogger outreach)
- Learn what is the best way to get incoming links from premium websites
- Regularly review your link profile to identify and remove bad links
- Use the Google disavow tool (when necessary) to get rid of bad links from your link profile
Local SEO checklist
Get found for location aware searches and get more people visiting your brick and mortar store.
In addition to the above techniques, there is a subset of SEO called Local SEO.
Local SEO is the process of optimizing your website so that it appears in the first positions of Google, Bing and Yahoo for searches that are related to your area / city / country.
Everything included in this post is beneficial for Local SEO as well but when it comes to optimizing your website for searches related to specific locations, there a few more optimizations to take into account.
Your overall goal with local SEO is to rank higher for location aware search queries like ‘Italian restaurants near me’ or ‘dentists in Pennsylvania’ or ‘wedding photographers in Montreal’.
Here is your Local SEO checklist:
- Optimize your logo (include your brand name and location in the alt text)
- Work on your titles, descriptions and URLS and make sure that they include your brand name and business location
- Add NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) on the home page
- Add NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) on the rest of the website pages (footer is a good place for this)
- Make sure that NAP information is consistent across all channels (website, Facebook, local directories, Google+, etc.)
- Add a Google map in the contact information page
- Register your company with Google My Business
- Register with Yahoo! Aabaco Small Business
- Use Schema (structured data markup) to give more information about your local business to Google
- Register your website with Bing Places for Business
- Register Your Business with Local directories
- Create a Local business page on Facebook
- Register your business with Yelp for Business Owners
- Register with Foursquare for Business
- Encourage and reply to every single review on all platforms
- Seek mentions (links) from local press
- Get Links from high quality websites
- Optimize your website for mobile
- Start a blog and publish content related to your local area
- Engage on Facebook, Google My Business, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube
Mobile SEO checklist
Get your website ready for Google’s ‘Mobile First Index’.
If you haven’t done this already, go and check your Google analytics statistics and in particular the Devices Report (that’s under Audience / Mobile).
Most probably you will notice that at least 60% of your traffic comes from mobile. The rise in mobile searches has been huge the last couple of years and it is expected to grow even more in the coming years.
This factor led Google into creating a mobile first index. In short with the introduction of the ‘mobile-first-index’, Google will use the mobile version of a website for ranking purposes.
This means that if your website is not optimized for mobile, your rankings will eventually decrease and this means great loss of traffic.
While going through the mobile SEO checklist, have in mind that your mobile website should include all the content found on your desktop site.
This includes having optimized titles, description, text content, images, video, internal links and everything that you show in the desktop version.
If you have a responsive website then you already made a big first step but mobile SEO is not just about having a responsive design.
Here is your Mobile SEO checklist:
- Make sure that your website passes the Google mobile friendly test
- Check your mobile speed using Google’s mobile speed test tool.
- Test your mobile website on different resolutions using the Chrome Device Emulator
- Make sure that your URLS, titles, descriptions and content are the same as desktop
- Check ‘Fetch as Google’ (mobile crawler) and ensure that Google can access your mobile pages without any problems
- Avoid using popups on mobile
- Check that your CTA on mobile are visible and easy to access
- Consider adding Accelerated Mobile Pages support for your blog pages
- Add Google Analytics support for AMP
- Add schema support for AMP Pages
- Check your AMP Implementation using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool
Having a checklist is a great way to work on your SEO. What you read in our SEO checklist above covers almost all areas of SEO.
If you manage to make your website compliant with all the above items, then you can feel confident that your website is in good SEO shape and this will eventually translate to higher rankings and more traffic.
For some of the list items you will have to do some further reading in order to get it right but as long as are in control of your list, sooner or later you will finish all tasks.
As mentioned in the introduction, don’t skip any of the items even if you feel that they are not very important.
Experienced SEO’s know two things about search engine optimization.
First, is that a lot of small optimization changes can bring big results. Second, besides knowledge another SEO success factor is patience. It takes time for SEO to work and you need to take that into account.
Don’t rush into conclusion too soon, work through the list items one by one and be patient, results will follow.