Performing the SEO of any website can be a daunting task. While the ultimate goal of SEO is to increase organic traffic to your website, it requires a number of steps to be taken in the right manner. If you don’t have a proper checklist in place, it’s quite easy to lose track of all that needs to be done for the SEO of your site, no matter how new or old it is.
That’s why we decided to make this SEO checklist outlining the basics of everything that needs to be done to optimize your website for search engines. Just stick with it till the end, and this will become your ultimate resource for all SEO needs.
SEO Checklist: In A Nutshell
Overall, there are 30 things you need to take care of while doing the SEO of your website. These tasks can be organized into 5 categories, as shown below:
- Google Search Console setup
- Google Analytics setup
- SEO Plugin Installation
- Sitemap Submission
- Robots.txt File Submission
- Crawlability and Indexability Check
- Identify competitors
- Find long-tail keywords
- Assess search intent
- Identify keyword gap
- Make a keyword map
- Enable HTTPS (if not enabled already)
- Find out and eliminate duplicates
- Improve site speed
- Make your site mobile-friendly
- Fix broken links
Content and On-page Optimization
- Fix your Title tags
- Fix your Meta descriptions
- Fix H1 tags
- Audit your existing content
- Add Alt tags to all images
- Improve internal linking
- Fix Keyword cannibalization
- Remove orphan pages
- Make sure your content is up-to-date
Link Building and Off-page Optimization
- Analyze the link profiles of your competitors
- Backlink gap analysis
- Check for unlinked mentions
- Find Link Building Opportunities
- Optimize Google My Business Profile
Now let’s take a detailed look at each of these components.
Before you can start your SEO, there are a couple of basic things you need to set up to guide your SEO journey. Here they are:
#1. Google Search Console Setup
Google Search Console is a free tool from Google that acts as a bridge between your site and Google. It allows you to monitor and optimize your website’s performance on Google by performing a variety of tasks, such as submitting your sitemap, checking for crawl errors, and finding out how Google is indexing your website. This is an essential tool for any website owner, so your first SEO step should be to set it up for your site.
#2. Google Analytics Setup
Google Analytics is another free tool from Google, but this one allows you to track the traffic on your website. By setting up Google Analytics on your site, you can easily and reliably track how many visitors you are getting, where they are coming from, and how they are interacting with your website. This information can be used to improve your website’s performance and make data-driven decisions about your content, monetization, and user interface.
#3. SEO Plugin Installation (If Using WordPress)
If your website is built on WordPress, there are a number of SEO plugins that can be installed to help with its SEO. Some of the popular options among them include Yoast SEO, All in One SEO, and SEOPress. These plugins provide all the necessary SEO features such as keyword optimization, meta descriptions generation, sitemap submission, schema markup generation, etc. Once you’ve set up an SEO plugin, you can easily add all the on-page SEO data to your WordPress site.
#4. Sitemap Submission
A sitemap, as its name suggests, is a map of all the links on your website. It’s an XML file that’s used by search engines to crawl your site. By submitting your sitemap to Google, you are telling it that your website is active, crawlable, indexable, and up-to-date. This can help improve the indexability and, thus, the rankings of your site.
In case you don’t know, a sitemap can be generated using your SEO plugin (if your site is WordPress based) or an online service (if it’s based on other platforms). Once generated, it can be submitted from Google Search Console.
#5. Robots.txt File Submission
The robots.txt file is a file that tells search engines which pages on your website they should and should not crawl. It’s safe to say that after your sitemap.xml, this is the second most important resource you need to submit to search engines for the correct crawling and indexation of your website. It can be easily generated using your WordPress SEO plugin or a 3rd party robots.txt generator (like this one from Small SEO tools), and submitted to Google from Search Console.
#6. Crawlability And Indexability Check
Crawlability and indexability refer to whether or not search engines can access and index your website. By checking your website’s crawlability and indexability, you can ensure that your website is being indexed correctly and that there are no issues that are preventing search engines from finding your website. This information can be found easily either by using the site audit tool of your SEO suite (i.e. Semrush, Ahrefs, Moz, etc.) or from Google Search Console’s Coverage section.
All SEO starts with keyword research, so the following steps should be your first steps while kickstarting an SEO campaign:
#7. Identify Competitors and Their Keywords
One of the first steps in keyword research is to identify your competitors. In any industry, there will be a couple of players who will be quite successful, so it makes sense to start by understanding what they are doing right. By analyzing the keywords your competitors are ranking for, you can get a sense of what kind of content is needed to bring a serious amount of traffic to your website. Fortunately, this kind of analysis can be done easily with tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz.
#8. Find long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are longer than the standard two or three words long search keywords, often being more specific phrases that are searched by people looking for a highly specific type of information. They can be questions, comparison-related keywords, or maybe something else. Such keywords are often less competitive than shorter, more generic keywords. By focusing on long-tail keywords, you can target a more specific audience and increase your chances of ranking for those keywords, as competition is low for them.
#9. Assess Search Intent
Search intent refers to what the user is looking for when they search for a particular keyword. As we said above, long-tail keywords may be in the form of questions, comparisons, lists, etc. By assessing the search intent behind those keywords, you can generate your content in such a manner that it provides precisely the kind of information that a user is looking for. This can increase your chances of ranking higher and also the chances of you acquiring an authority status within your niche.
#10. Identity Keyword Gap
Keyword gap analysis is the process of identifying the keywords that your competitors are ranking for but your website is not. By identifying these gaps, you can create content that targets those keywords and improve your website’s visibility in search results without necessarily having to compete with the pre-existing players in your niche. And again, tools like Moz, Semrush, and Ahrefs can come in handy for this as they include built-in keyword gap analysis tools.
#11. Make A Keyword Map
A keyword map is a way to organize your keywords and the pages on your website that they should be targeting. This can help you ensure that your content is optimized for the right keywords and that you are not duplicating efforts. So once you have identified keywords based on your competition and keyword gaps, you should create a keyword map. It can be as simple as an excel sheet, or you can use more sophisticated software for the same purpose — just as you wish!
A lot of technical factors go into making a website SEO-friendly. These factors are usually site-wide and affect all of your web pages. Here they are:
#12. Enable HTTPS (If Not Enabled Already)
When the internet was born, HTTP was the default protocol for delivering webpages and information over the web. However, as time passed, HTTP became particularly vulnerable to certain kinds of cyber attacks. As a result, a new and more secure version of the HTTP protocol, known as HTTPS, was developed.
Now, this protocol drives most of the websites on the web (or at least the most accessible and popular websites). Google is also quite concerned about the safety and security of its users, which is why it made this protocol a ranking factor in 2014. If your website does not have HTTPS enabled, it will struggle to rank on the first page of Google, even if all other ranking factors are in your favor. So if it’s not enabled already on your site, you should enable it by installing an SSL certificate.
#13. Find Out And Eliminate Duplicates
Duplicate content (duplicate pages, to be more precise) are pages on your site that include the same content that’s already available on another page of your site. Such pages, if present in search results, can hurt your rankings quite badly because Google doesn’t want multiple search results on a page providing the same information. Duplicate content can occur for a variety of reasons, but the most common reason among them is a faulty implementation of HTTPS, leading to both HTTP as well as HTTPS-based versions of your pages available on the site (and therefore also in SERPs).
Fortunately, Google makes it easy to find and eliminate duplicate content. Just perform a “Site:” search on your domain and if you see multiple instances of your webpages showing identical content in SERPs (especially because of HTTP or WWW-based versions), you have this issue. Fix it by setting up a 301 redirect from HTTP and WWW-based versions of your site.
#14. Improve Site Speed
How fast your website loads is another crucial ranking factor in SEO. By improving your website’s load time (also known as site speed), you can make sure that your website is providing a good user experience to everyone, which will make it rank higher in SERPs. You can use Google’s Pagespeed Insights tool to make check your site speed and get tips on how to increase it.
#15. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
More and more people are accessing the internet on mobile devices. Therefore, it’s extremely important that your site looks good not only on computers but also on mobile devices. By making your website mobile-friendly, you can ensure that it’s accessible to everyone, and since mobile-friendliness is also a ranking factor, your website will then have a better chance to rank higher in mobile search results.
#16. Fix Broken Links
Links on your site that point to non-existing pages and generate a 404 error are called broken links. Such links do not add any value to the content because the pages they are pointing to have either been moved to some other URL or there is a mistake in the URL. As a result, Google doesn’t like them, and they can hurt your website’s search rankings badly. By finding and fixing broken links, you can ensure that your website is providing a good user experience and search engines have one less reason to rank it lower.
Content And On-Page Optimization
After you have fixed the site-wide technical SEO factors, it’s time to take a deeper look at your content and optimize each of your individual web pages for SEO. Here’s what you need to do for that:
#17. Fix Your Title Tags
Title tags refer to the titles of your web pages – the text that appears in the browser tab when someone visits your website. Since the title is the first thing someone sees about your website, make sure it is catchy and it has your primary keyword. By optimizing your title tags for all pages in that manner, you can significantly increase the chances of your site ranking higher.
#18. Fix Your Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are the short summaries of your web page that appear under the page title in the search engine results pages. It’s important to include your target keywords in them if you want to rank high in SERPs. So if your meta descriptions are non-existent or if they are missing the target keywords, it’s important to optimize them. Again, your SEO plugin can help with this.
#19. Fix H1 Tags
H1 tags are the most important heading tags on your website. Including your primary keyword in them is an essential SEO best practice. If your H1 tags are missing the target keyword, you should try to optimize them by adding the keyword. Doing so is easy – if your website is based on WordPress and you have installed an SEO plugin, often the plugin itself can let you know if your primary keyword is missing from the H1 tag. You can also use tools like Ahrefs and Semrush to check this.
#20. Audit Your Existing Content
Content audit is the process of reviewing your existing content to identify any issues or areas of improvement. By auditing your content, you can identify any duplicates, broken links, or other issues that need to be fixed. Almost all modern SEO suites like Moz, Ahrefs, and Semrush come with a content audit tool to make this task simple. So if you use any of them, fire the content audit tool and see which pages on your site can be improved easily.
#21. Add Alt Tags To All Images
Alt tags are used to describe images and give search engines more information about them. If all the images on your site do not have alt tags, you are missing out on a lot of potential traffic that you could have received from Google Image Search. So check all the images on your site for alt tags, and if some of them are missing, then add the alt tags to make them rank in Google Image Search results.
#22. Improve Internal linking
Internal linking is the process of linking to other pages on your website. Not only it helps in fixing the issue of orphan pages (described below), but also in creating a web of related pages within your website. By improving your internal linking, you can not only help search engines find all the pages on your site but also make your visitors spend more time on your site as they browse through your linked pages.
#23. Fix Keyword Cannibalization
When multiple pages on your site are targeting the same keyword and search intent, that’s known as Keyword cannibalization. In this situation, your own pages compete against each other, affecting the ability of high-quality pages to rank higher. It can be detected easily by using Semrush, Ahrefs, or Moz. All these tools include in-built keyword cannibalization trackers to detect this issue and can also provide you with steps that you can take to fix the issue. By fixing keyword cannibalization, you can ensure that each page on your website is targeting unique keywords, thus attracting more traffic to your site.
#24. Remove Orphan Pages
Orphan pages are pages on your website that are not linked to any other pages. Basically, they can’t be accessed by browsing your site unless someone has a direct link to them. Such pages can be difficult for search engines to find and can hurt your website’s rankings. So you should try to find out such pages and either remove them or link to them from some other page on your site. By removing orphan pages, you can ensure that your website is providing a good user experience and that search engines are more likely to find and index all your pages.
#25. Make Sure Your Content is Up-To-Date
Google places a lot of emphasis on content freshness and relevance. Its algorithms also understand which topics require content to be updated more frequently than the others (i.e. news and trending topics). Content that provides outdated information can hurt your search engine rankings quite badly. So you should make sure that your content is always providing up-to-date information, and if not, then you should update it. It will make your website more likely to rank higher.
Link Building And Off-Page Optimization
The final element of any SEO campaign is link building because links are what bring authority to your website. Here are the steps you need to take for that:
#26. Analyze The Link Profiles Of Your Competitors
Link profile analysis is the process of analyzing the backlinks that are helping a webpage rank in SERPs. By analyzing your competitor’s link profiles, you can get an idea of how much work you need to do for link building to make your website rank on the front page. This is the crucial first step for your off-page SEO.
#27. Backlink Gap Analysis
Backlink gap analysis is the process of identifying the links that your competitors have pointing to their website but your website does not. Basically, what you are doing is identifying the websites that link to your competitors but not to you. By identifying these gaps, you can create content and outreach campaigns to generate similar backlinks for your website and improve your search rankings.
#28. Check For Unlinked Mentions
Unlinked mentions are instances where your website or brand is mentioned on another website, but no link is included. By finding and requesting links for these unlinked mentions, you can improve your website’s link profile, which in turn will improve your search visibility and search engine rankings. You can easily find and monitor such mentions by setting up Google Alerts about your brand name.
#29. Find Link Building Opportunities
Modern 360-degree SEO tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, and Moz also include the functionality to suggest link-building opportunities that can boost your backlink profile. You should tap into that feature to find out promising link-building opportunities for your website and start outreach campaigns to build your backlinks in order to rank higher.
Bonus: Hire these high-rated link-building services that can handle diverse link building needs.
#30. Optimize Google My Business Profile
Lastly, if your website represents a business, it’s very important to claim your Google My Business profile. Google Business profile acts as your business identity in all of Google’s services, like Maps, local search, etc. By optimizing your Google My Business profile, you can improve your business’s visibility in local search results, Maps search results, and other Google services, making it easier for potential customers to find your business.
Note: You will need to have access to some of the best SEO tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, Surfer SEO, etc. to complete all the tasks from the checklist. It can be pricey to have subscription to these tools, but you can wait till November and purchase annual subscriptions of SEO services at huge discounted prices during the SEO Black Friday sale.
Conclusion: SEO Checklist (2024)
As you can see, there’s a lot that needs to be done for the SEO of any website. This SEO checklist will ensure that you stay on track while taking the necessary steps to improve your search visibility and rankings. Remember, SEO is a continuous process, and you should constantly monitor and adjust your website’s performance to ensure that you achieve the best possible results. Now bookmark this page so you can return to it later whenever you need guidance, and thank us later!
Moreover, you can also get professional help and get your SEO done. We have researched, reviewed and listed some of the top SEO agencies in different regions of the world. You can pick the one that suits you the best.
An SEO checklist is a list of key tasks and best practices to optimize a website for better rankings and visibility in search engines. It serves as a guideline to cover all important elements of on-page and off-page SEO, such as keyword optimization, site speed, quality backlinks, mobile-friendliness, content creation, technical fixes, and more.
The five core pillars of SEO are:
On-page optimization – Optimizing title tags, headings, content, URL structure, alt text, etc.
Technical SEO – Site speed, mobile optimization, structured data, security, etc.
Content creation – Unique, relevant, and consistent content.
Link building – Earning backlinks from authority sites to boost rankings.
Authority and trust – Building expertise, reputation, and trust to rank better.
Focusing on these foundational areas creates a solid SEO strategy to improve organic search visibility and traffic.
Common SEO mistakes to avoid include thin content, outdated content, spammy tactics, poor internal linking, slow page speed, low-quality links, excessive ads, ignoring local SEO, chasing trends without an SEO foundation, not reviewing analytics, and failing to optimize images/video. Focus on quality White Hat SEO over risky shortcuts.
You should audit your website’s SEO at least every 3-6 months. SEO is an ongoing process as algorithms, best practices, and competitors constantly change. Regularly check keyword rankings, site speed, new backlinks gained or lost, content opportunities, technical issues, local listings, and search console/analytics data. Frequent spot checks of key metrics also help you stay updated.
Essential free SEO tools include Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Pagespeed Insights, MozBar/SEMRush, Google Keyword Planner, Screaming Frog, and Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. Optional paid tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, and Moz provide more data for research, backlinks, rankings, and opportunities.