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SEO Checklist: Effective Strategy for Website Optimization

Last updated: Jun 03, 2022

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The SEO strategy applied to your site may face some failure. It can happen if you don't understand SEO best practices. However, you don't have to worry because your site has the opportunity to improve its SEO implementation. We've summed up the SEO best practices you need in the following SEO checklist.

This SEO checklist will help you determine the effective strategies to improve your site's performance in organic search. This guideline displayed several checklist categories from basic, technical, keyword research, on-page, and off-page SEO.

What is an SEO Checklist?

An SEO checklist is a list of essential steps that you can take to optimize a website. Start with the most basic, technical, and on-page content optimization.

The SEO checklist will help you determine which components of your website still need improvement. If you want to improve your site's performance in organic search results, make sure you follow each point in this SEO checklist.

Basic SEO Checklist

It will be difficult for you to compete in search engines if you do not understand the basics of SEO. This Basic SEO checklist contains what you need to know to start making fundamental improvements for SEO implementation on your site.

1. Set up GSC and Bing webmaster tools

google search console dashboard
Figure 2: The illustration above illustrates the appearance of the Google Search Console Dashboard. The information available in the dashboard includes the number of clicks, number of impressions, average CTR, and the average rank of the site on the search page. In addition, more complete information is available in the Queries, Pages, Countries, Devices, Search Appearance, etc. sub-menus

One way to monitor organic performance on your site is to use webmaster tools. Several search engines have provided webmaster tools such as Google with Google Search Console, Bing with Bing Webmaster Tools, and other search engines may have special webmaster tools.

The tool provides data such as the number of impressions, the number of traffic, and the site's performance that is useful for measuring the implementation of SEO on your site. With this tool, you can also submit a sitemap to search engines and identify crawling and indexing errors on your site.

2. Install SEO plugin

SEO implementation is not easy for beginners. To avoid missing important things in SEO, you can install a plugin that makes it easier to implement SEO, such as Yoast SEO for WordPress or SEO Plugin for Shopify. In this way, you can apply SEO best practices more practically.

If you don't use either CMS, discuss the modules or tools you can use to optimize your website with your developer.

3. Generate Sitemap

A sitemap is a file containing a list of URLs that describe the structure of a web page, usually HTML or XML based. A sitemap makes it easier for crawlers to find content information, crawl, and index your site.

Creating a sitemap manually takes a long time and is quite complicated. You can use the Sitemap Generator by cmlabs to make it easier for developers to create or update Sitemaps.

4. Add robot.txt file

Similar to the sitemap, the robot.txt file is also important for page crawling and indexing. This file will tell the crawler which areas are currently allowed and not allowed to be crawled.

If you don't have a robot.txt file, you can use the Robot.txt Generator tool provided by cmlabs. You just need to enter the required data parameters, then cmlabs Robot.txt Generator will create a robot.txt file.

Technical SEO Checklist

The Technical SEO checklist part will discuss a list of strategies for optimizing the technical side of the website. This strategy ensures no obstacles in the crawling and indexing process and ensures that the website already has good performance for both users and search engines.

Technical SEO checklists for improving site performance on organic search include:

1. Make sure the site is using HTTPS.

Since 2014, Google has added HTTPS as one of the website ranking factors. Web owners need to ensure secure communication between websites and users. A website is safe if it has an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate.

Therefore, web owners need to know the validity of their site’s SSL. You can check the expired date of the SSL certificate on your site using the SSL Checker tool from cmlabs.

You need to add SSL immediately if your site is still running on HTTP. If the first point in this technical SEO checklist is optimized, you are one step closer to successful SEO implementation results.

2. Use canonical URL

Google will consider a page as a duplicate version if there is a page that can be accessed via multiple URLs or multiple pages on your site and have the same content.

You can provide a canonical URL so that search engines will crawl and index that URL, not the other URLs. Completing this second point of the technical SEO checklist can prevent content plagiarism on your page.

3. Speed up your site

Page speed is one of the metrics that affect user experience. You can check your page speed with the Pagespeed Test tool from cmlabs to determine the optimization steps according to the provided recommendations.

When your site takes much time to load, it can draw a bad experience for users and cause them to leave your site.

Check every link on your web page and find out if there are any broken links. Broken links are links that redirect users to unavailable pages.

If there are broken links, it indicates your site has a bad user experience. No one is happy if they click a link, and it doesn't redirect them to their expected page.

5. Make sure there are no redirect loops

Redirect occurs when there are redirects between the initial URL and the destination URL. If you need to redirect URLs, implement them appropriately. You can check and get reports regarding page redirects with cmlabs Redirect Checker.

Make sure the redirects are not too long (redirect chain) and that there are no redirects leading to the initial URL (redirect loops) as this can cause visitors to have difficulty in reaching the destination URL. Excessive page redirection has a negative impact on the crawling and indexing process. If it is left unchecked, it can decrease your site's ranking.

6. Add Google structured data

Implementing structured data on your website can help Google understand the content on your site. Schema markup is structured data commonly used to display content in snippet form in organic search results.

You can use the cmlabs JSON-LD Schema Generator to make schema markup easier. It will increase traffic and content visibility if you implemented it well because content snippets are displayed in the organic search results.

7. Use an SEO-Friendly URL structure

SEO-friendly URLs are simple, clear, and contain keywords. Make a URL that is not too long but easy to understand by both users and search engines.

8. Make sure the site is mobile-friendly.

Most internet users use mobile devices to access information on the internet. Therefore, web owners need to provide mobile-friendly sites to make them more accessible.

Mobile-friendly is a user experience metric that influences Google's ranking. If your site is still incompatible with mobile devices, this is an important thing to fix. Test your site responsiveness on mobile devices with cmlabs Mobile-Friendly Test.

9. Check page depth

Page depth (also known as click depth) is also a factor in Google's SEO assessment. The more difficult a user or search engine access a page, the lower the SEO score. Web owners need to create pages that are easily accessible from the main page.

Even Google has stated that it will stop the crawling process if a page requires more than five redirects to reach. If this happens, the page will not be crawled or indexed by search engines.

Keyword Research Checklist

Keyword research is needed to optimize page content. If you provide good page content and attract many visitors, your content's performance in search engines will also improve.

The following SEO checklists for the web are useful in keyword research and content creation:

1. Keyword research

Keyword research aims to find a list of keywords that suit your business. Do some research on the most searched keywords and compare them to your competitors. Choosing the right keywords will bring benefits to your site.

2. Define the main keyword

The main keyword is a word that represents the entire content on a web page. You can choose several main keywords based on the most searched keywords by internet users.

You can place main keywords in several parts of your content, such as the content title or meta title, URL structure, meta description, headings, image titles, inbound links, and inside the content. That way, Google can display your content according to the topic of these keywords.

3. Estimate keyword opportunities

You can use Google Search Console to view reports on the number of impressions, clicks, average CTR, and your site's average ranking. Use this data to determine which content optimization steps you should take.

For example, a site may have a fairly high number of impressions but low in total clicks. You can optimize your content by creating a more attractive title or adding a meta description that encourages users to visit your site.

There is always a chance that the keywords in your content will fail to appear according to the user's search intent. You have to keep researching to find the right keywords. Search engines have provided features such as “people also ask” or “related search” that you can use to define what keywords you should use in your content.

On-Page SEO Checklist

On-page SEO checklist is a practice used to optimize website internal factors such as content and other technical matters. Some strategies on the on-page SEO checklist that you can apply for web page optimization including:

1. Check and fix heading tags

The first on-page SEO checklist is to check the headings. Heading tags are used to make page content more structured. You can take this step by using the <h1> tag for the title. You can also use <h2>, <h3>, or other tags to mark important points.

That way, users will be more comfortable exploring the content, and search engines can understand the content well. You can also add the main keyword in the heading tag if possible.

2. Optimize article titles and meta tags

The next on-page SEO checklist is title and meta tag optimization. Include the main keyword in the article title, but don't overdo it. In that way, visitors will be interested in exploring the content on your website. Make the title about 50-60 characters long, so it doesn't get truncated when it appears in search results.

Also, add an informative and relevant meta description to your content to attract visitors to explore your content. The description should ideally be 50-160 characters long. Test the suitability of your meta and titles with the Title & Meta Length Checker tool from cmlabs.

3. Make sure the image uses the alt tag

Alt tags (alternative text) are used to describe the appearance and function of an image. The image's description in the alt tag will make it easier for crawlers to index the image so that the image can get a good organic performance on Google images.

Internal links make it easy for visitors to move from page to page on your site. If it is implemented correctly, internal links can improve the user experience by making site navigation easier. Visitors also don't need to look for other related articles because the articles they need are already in the internal links.

In addition, we can use internal links to attract users to take further actions, such as viewing the products or services offered and leading to conversions on your site. Internal links also make it easier for search engines to crawl and index pages.

5. Do a content audit

You can do an audit by checking the number of words in the article, keyword density, and readability index of your content to optimize the page content. All of these features are available in the free Word Counter tool at cmlabs.

Off-Page SEO Checklist

In addition to optimizing the on-page SEO checklist, you can also implement the off-page SEO checklist. Off-page SEO is an optimization effort that is carried out outside the website. You can do this activity to get high-quality links from relevant websites.

Keep in mind that off-page activities must be done carefully and follow the Google guidelines. Prioritize the interests of users over search engines. Some of the off-page SEO strategies that we can apply are:

Link building is a technique to get backlinks. Web owners can use it to redirect users from other websites to their websites. Make sure the backlinks are not from random webs; they should come from popular and trustworthy sites to improve the quality of backlinks.

We do the strategy in this off-page SEO checklist to increase Google's trust in your site so that we can get better site performance in organic search.

2. Publish Guest Post

The second off-page SEO checklist is publishing guest posts. Guest posting is a site promotion activity by being a guest writer and publishing articles on other sites. You also need to choose a relevant and high-quality guest post site. 

You can link your site address as a reference or writing source in the article. This strategy is similar to backlinks, suitable for bringing organic traffic to your site.

3. Promote your website using social media

promote website using social media
Figure 3: The image shows a person's hand typing on a keyboard with the addition of a blue graphic design. As an illustration of site promotion through social media. Based on the illustration, promotional activities can bring in more likes, comments, to followers, or people asking to connect to your account. This action can be used as a medium to introduce your brand to the general public.

Using social media for website promotion is the next off-page SEO checklist. Social media can reach a wider audience, so this marketing technique can be the strategy to bring in more traffic.

Google will assess site visits originating from social media as human visitors, not robots that infiltrate the web. In that way, the site's performance on organic search will also increase.

Hopefully, this SEO checklist for websites can help you identify the essential steps in implementing SEO. Find potential issues that could hold your site to compete on search pages and define strategies to dominate the SERPs.

Search engine optimization is a progressive process. You should conduct regular website maintenance and improvement to get the best results. With this way, you will be one step ahead of your competitors.

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