SEO is complex, contradictory and just plain overwhelming at times.
So, to make your life (and rankings) better we have compiled a nice easy-to-follow Checklist of SEO best practices, chock full of tips, guidelines & recommendations straight from our agency.
This SEO Checklist is organized by category and sorted in alphabetical order, but everything that appears in this list is important and should not be overlooked.
Okay, let's get to the checklist of SEO Best Practices
Content Best Practices
- Create content optimized around one primary/main keyword.
- Use this "seed" keyword somewhere in the first paragraph of your content.
- Use variations of this primary keyword throughout your content.
- Monitor your keyword density.
- Repurpose your content into other platforms.
- Create unique content for different mediums.
- Keep paragraphs short & easily readable (scan-able).
- Use unordered lists (bullet points), ordered lists (numbered lists), italics, bold, etc. to visually break up large blocks of text.
- Avoid thin content.
- Write high quality, valuable content that provides good information to your users.
- Regularly publish & update your content.
- Use canonical tags on content that is potentially duplicate/cannibalizing.
- Include content upgrades within your content.
- Use natural language in your content - don't "write for seo".
- Submit your newly published content to Google Search Console.
- Cite your sources.
- Run your content through CopyScape to check for plagiarism before publishing.
- Run your content through Grammarly to check for spelling/grammar before publishing.
- Use your seed keyword in your H1 tag.
- Only have one H1 tag per page.
- Use H2 tags to separate multiple sections.
- Use keyword variations in your H2s.
- Use H2 tags to separate sub-sections of H2s.
- Use keyword variations within your H3s.
- Use descriptive (keyword rich) filenames for your image files.
- Use descriptive (keyword rich) alt texts on your images & properly describe the images.
- Make sure your images are small & optimized to load fast.
- Include relevant video embeds in your content.
- Host your videos on YouTube for a little extra SEO push.
Keyword Best Practices
- Do keyword research to create groups of keywords.
- Assign one primary keyword per page on your website.
- Create a group of secondary keywords that help make your content comprehensive.
- Avoid keyword cannibalization (Don’t assign the same primary keyword to multiple pages on your website).
- Don't over-optimize with too many keywords.
Link Building Best Practices
- Interlink from other relevant content on your site.
- Interlink to other relevant content on your site.
- Use descriptive (keyword rich) anchor text in your internal links.
- Keep your backlink anchor text ratio natural.
- Get backlinks from high quality sites.
- Get backlinks from highly relevant sites.
- Create relevant link hubs / link silos on your website to help pass link power.
- Keep track of your links - use this tool to monitor your links.
- Build links to your links.
- Get different types of links (guest posts, citations, blog comments, forums, social links, etc.).
- Open external links in a new tab.
- No follow links to websites you don't 100% trust.
- No follow your affiliate links.
- Reach out to industry relevant bloggers to get links from their website to your quality pieces of content.
Local SEO Tips
- Create & verify your business in Google My Business.
- GeoTag your Images.
- Fully fill out your directory profiles with descriptions, services, hours, etc.
- Add your website to relevant local specific business directories.
- Add your website to relevant industry specific business directories.
- Link to your website from all your social media profiles.
- Make sure your business Name, Address & Phone Number (aka "NAP") is consistent everywhere on the internet - you can do that here.
- Include your address in the footer of your website (single location websites).
- Include your address on a /locations/ page of your website (multi location websites).
- Put Google Map embeds on your local landers.
- Use driving directions on your local landers.
- Optimize local landers to rank for city + service terms.
- Have a separate page for each city + service term combination.
- Create a Google My Map for your business and the surrounding areas.
- Write meta descriptions for your important pages (Homepage, Contact Page, Local Landers, etc.)
- Avoid duplicate meta descriptions.
- Keep Meta Descriptions short enough so they fully show, and optimize the descriptions for CTR rather than keywords.
- Don't write meta descriptions for all your pages - Google likes to pull them naturally sometimes.
Page Titles (HTML Title Tags)
- Front-load your page titles with your keyword (like we do). Example = Primary Keyword: Secondary Keyword Variation With Enticingly Clickable CTA Words | Brand Name.
- Avoid duplicate page titles.
- Keep title tags at 55 characters or less in length, including spaces.
- Use your seed/primary keyword in your page title.
SEO Tracking & Campaign Management
- Track all the actions you take on your website, like adding new posts, building links, optimizing on-page, submitting citations, etc. - use this tool to track your website actions.
- Take (automated) regular backups of your website.
- Monitor your websites uptime - use this tool to monitor uptime.
- Use Google Alerts to monitor mentions of your website, and then reach out to those publications to turn those mentions into hyperlinks.
SEO Research Best Practices
- Map out your competitors & keep an on-going list to understand where they are getting their traffic & links from.
- Understand your audience & match the intent of their searches to your content strategy.
- Understand the buyer journey of your audience to create TOF MOF and BOF content.
- Make a list of influencers in your industry for outreach & content promotion purposes later on.
- Monitor your competitors actions - use this tool to monitor your competitors.
Technical SEO Best Practices
- Secure your website with an SSL certificate.
- Optimize your website's page speed so it loads quickly.
- Optimize your website for mobile-friendliness.
- Consider using AMP pages.
- Add an XML sitemap to your website.
- Create a Google Search Console account & submit your sitemap.
- Create a Bing Webmaster account & submit your sitemap.
- Add structured data (schema.org JSDON LD) markup to your web pages.
- 301 all your domain variations to load the same protocol.
- Track analytics to monitor user behavior & website activity.
- Utilize a concise, organized & straight-forward website architecture.
- Make sure you have a favicon.
- Optimize your Open Graph Protocol.
- Monitor your website for any errors in GSC.
- Use 301s when needed.
- Use pagination when needed.
- Keep your URLs short.
- Use the primary keyword in the page’s URL.
- Avoid stop words in URLs (and, but, so, the, etc.).
- Keep URLs folder depth as shallow as you can (while still making sense).