231 SEO Checklist

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231 SEO Checklist

SEO is not only about On-page and Off-Page elements, it’s a lot more. Implementing correct analytics, monitoring the relevant data and constantly adapting your strategy to keep the improvement going it’s a never ending task. This requires constant tweaking and adjusting of many different elements like Meta data, CTA etc. With so many elements and changes, monitoring becomes difficult, and sometimes the simplest of the thing like a Copyscape check, gets missed out.

After facing one too many such hiccups, I created a SEO checklist for my team to follow. Slowly the list expanded to include items like Local SEO checklist, Mobile SEO Checklist, Site Migration SEO checklist and some others. Many checklists ended up overlapping each other, but over time we found that creating more focused and area specific checklist helped us handle clients better in longer run as we didn’t miss out on any element inadvertently. We hardly ever use any checklist exclusively; it is usually a combination of some or all of them.

For instance when handling a new International SEO project we end up using all the checklists with focus on the International SEO checklist. On other hand when one of our current client implements site migration, we head over to our Site Migration SEO checklist.

We revise this list regularly to include and exclude items as the SEO landscape changes. With latest revision, my team suggested to make this list live for everybody, so that everybody can have access to our amazing work 🙂 Nah! We are not such narcissist. Since me and my team keep working on this all the time, so have developed certain degree of blindness to it, which is not healthy.

To make things better we wanted to get in inputs on these checklists from all of you amazing SEOes, out there. Our goal is that together as a community we could create and have access to comprehensive SEO checklists. Something that all of us can rely on to organizes our SEO efforts.

So go through the checklists, feel free to call us out on something we have missed out. Also do point out if we are stressing too much on something irrelevant. Looking forward to creating a community resource that benefits us all :

Here’s a list of our checklists, to keep things organized!

SEO Checklists

  1. On page SEO Checklist
  2. Content Checklist
  3. Accessibility & Indexing Checklist
  4. Site Structure & Internal Linking Checklist
  5. Technical SEO Checklist
  6. Site Speed Optimization Checklist
  7. Off page SEO Checklist
  8. Google Analytics Checklist
  9. Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Checklist
  10. Mobile SEO Checklist
  11. International SEO Checklist
  12. Local SEO Checklist
  13. Site Migration SEO Checklist

On Page Checklist

  1. Meta Tags
    • Meta Description, Title Tag and other Meta Tags are present for all pages.
    • Length specification is met. Meta Description ~150 characters. Title Tag ~60 characters
    • All meta data is optimized to include relevant keywords
    • All meta data is unique
    • Brand name is included in meta data wherever possible
  2. Navigation
    • Proper navigation is implemented across the website for ease of access of users
    • Menu bar is in place and relevant navigation links are added to it
    • Breadcrumbs have been implemented
    • Navigation is coded in HTML format, and not hidden within Flash/JavaScript (Although Googlebot’s ability to read both Flash & JavaScript has evolved significantly with times, it is still considered best practice, even by Google to code navigation in HTML format)
  3. Page wise content check
    • Each page content includes targeted (primary keyword)
    • Secondary keywords are included in each page
    • Synonyms for primary keyword are used in page content
    • Each web page content is at least 300-400 words in length (Blog Post need to be 700 words+)
    • Every page has unique content.
  4. H Tag
    • Primary keyword is contained in H1 tag
    • Secondary keyword is contained in H2 and subsequent tags
    • Tags are correctly implemented
  5. Image files
    • Have been optimized for minimum load size
    • ‘Alt’ tag has been added
    • Relevant primary keyword has been used in alt tag
  6. URL
    • Is descriptive & optimized
    • Include keyword/key phrase. (In case of already live and established site, if keywords are not included in URL, let the status quo remain. Implementing 301 redirect might seem like an option, but this will cause more loss of traffic than gain. Let the old URL structure remain in place)
    • Has clean structure, without additional parameters/ID.
    • As far as possible URL are static
    • Length is 115 characters or less (Try to keep URL length to minimum)

Content Checklist

  1. Quantity
    • Should be at least 200 words on homepage
    • 400 words on each internal page to help SEO, give search engine idea of page purpose.
  2. Quality
    • Grammar & punctuations are correct
    • Is it organized well for ease of reading
    • Relevant H tags are used
    • Relevant images are used to emphasize points
    • Writing style is easy to read and is presented in short paragraphs. Use Readability Score Tool to check
  3. Optimized
    • Proper use of H1 tag, and keyword included in it
    • Primary keyword is interspersed amongst the content.
    • Long & mid tail keywords are incorporated in the content
    • Keyword cannibalization is not happening
  4. Duplicate
    • Check page content as well as Meta data for duplicates (Duplicate issues often creep up with larger sites). Use Copyscape to find duplicates
    • If tracking parameter set it can cause same content to show up on many different URL, indicate Google to ignore these tracking parameter to avoid duplicate issue
    • In case of any duplicate content found on own domain, pull it down immediately. Replace with unique content.
    • In case of duplicate content on other domains, check whose version is older. In some cases your content writer might have mislead you by adding scraped content to your website. If your version of content is older, then it’s your unique content) If your content has been scraped, file removal request with Google
  5. Blog check
    • Posts are high on readability score. Use The Readability Test Tool
    • Each post is unique, no duplicates exists
    • No link stuffing
    • All outbound links are no-follow
    • If AdSense is being used on blog, check text to Ad ratio is high
    • Content is displayed above fold

Accessibility& Indexing Checklist

  1. Robots.txt
    • Is configured correctly. To check log into Google Webmaster & use Robots.txt tester or use SEO Book’s Robots.txt Analyzer
    • Allows access to entire site with exception to blocked pages/directories ( When blocking a page/element be sure to block both the HTTP & HTPPS version of the element)
    • Correct pages/directories have been blocked (At times due to human error, pages you may not want to block, might also end up in blocked list. Do verify the blocked list twice to ensure its error free)
  2. GoogleBot check
    • Use Fetch as Google tool via Search Console to check if all pages are being rendered correctly.
    • In case of any error do a deeper Fetch & render view
    • Debug for error
    • Fetch & render again to check if issue resolved
  3. Cloaking check
    • Change user-agent to Googlebot using User agent Switcher addon in Firefox
    • Does site look same as it looked to you with default user-agent? If yes you are good to go. If no, cloaking might be happening
    • In case of cloaking talk to site management. Resolve issue.
  4. XML Sitemap
    • Is created and submitted to Google/ Bing/ Yahoo Webmaster. Check via webmaster of site on respective search engine.
    • If not, create one for free using XML Sitemap generator
    • To submit follow process as outlined on respective search engines. Google submission process
  5. Meta Robots NOINDEX/NOFOLLOW tag
    • Has been applied to right pages ( Under default setting Google considers all pages as Do Index & Follow)
    • Goal pages have NOINDEX tag, to prevent organic traffic from showing up in analytics.
    • Tags/category pages ( other pages with thin content) have NOINDEX tag
  6. Browser Compatibility
    • Website is compatible with all browsers. Use Browser Shots to check how site shows up on different browsers
    • In case of problems, use a more advance tool like Browser Stack to locate the problems and address them.

Site Structure & Internal Linking Checklist

  1. Links on Pages
    • Internal pages should not have more than 100 links per page.
    • Important links are placed on homepage
    • Too much link dilution is not happening. Low authority pages have less links, whereas higher authority pages can have more links.
    • On internal pages, links are interspersed amongst text, not in massive chunks.
  2. Link Structure
    • Correct Vertical linking structure has been implemented (homepage –category-sub-category-product-category)
    • Horizontal linking structure is in place (Category – Category/ Product – product)
    • Site and linking structure are designed in Silo format for enhanced user experience and improved Google authority. Bruce Clay on Silo Format
  3. Footer Link
    • Properly organized and neatly presented
    • No keyword stuffing has been done. Footer links designed with users, not Googlebot in mind
    • Is not stuffed up with all links of the website. Only essential links are included (A common assumption is that since footer link appears on all pages so entire website links should be included in it to enable link juice distribution. But this tactic is detrimental to user experience and will result in more harm than benefit in long run)
  4. Anchor Text
    • As far as possible use keywords (primary/secondary) as anchor text. (See more Dining tables here is better than See more of this product here)
    • Keyword based anchor text are not being overused. (Mix keyword anchor text with generic anchor text as and when required keeping user experience in mind)
  5. Broken Link
    • Check for broken links. Use Screaming Frog or Xenu Link Sleuth for this.
    • Follow up on those found
    • Recheck to ensure all broken links are eliminated
    • Set up a alert for broken links, to know and respond to them ASAP
  6. Navigation link
    • Are in place, preferably in site header, or sidebar.
    • Is in HTML format so all search engine bots as well readers can read it easily. (Should not be in Flash / JavaScript)

Technical SEO Checklist

  1. Redirects
    • Keep down to minimum
    • Wherever implemented, check if it’s done right. Pages to and from which redirect is happening are correct. 404 are not occurring.
    • If 302 being used, check if essential or switch to 301
    • Eliminate 302, 307, Meta refresh, JavaScript redirect as far as possible
    • Implement 301 redirect from non www to www version of the site
    • Is clean and precise. Should not be too lengthy or Googlebot will not be able to follow it.
  2. JavaScript/ IFrames/ Flash
  3. Crawl Error
    • Check using Google Search Console tool Crawl Error Tool
    • Setup alert to be notified if crawl error occurs
    • In case of error, check for cause and eliminate it

4. XML Sitemap

5. Canonical

    • Has been setup correctly using the rel=”canonical” element
    • Has been added to HTTP header
    • Canonical has been added to the sitemap
    • In case of HTTP vs. HTTPS, Google gives preference is given to HTTPS, so set the canonical accordingly
    • In case of many URL’s, use 301 redirect to send traffic from other URL’s to the preferred (canonical) URL
    • Absolute URL has been used instead of relative URL. ( Google Webmaster explanation about why they prefer absolute over relative URL)

6. Schema

    • Check if relevant schema has been implemented. At least include schema for logo, address, and contact info.
    • If not create and implement. Use Schema creator to create schema
    • Test all schema for accuracy against Google Structured Data Testing Tool
    • For WordPress based sites, use Schema Plugin to ensure correct implementation and ease of use.

7.404 Error

    • Check regularly, to keep it down to minimum
    • Setup alert for new 404 reports
    • Create a customized 404 page, with right navigation links in place. (Custom 404 pages often help in brand building, as interesting pages get shared by readers)

 

Site Speed Optimization Checklist

  1. Speed Test
  • Use Google tool Page Speed Insights to check page speed and get suggestion to improve it on both mobile and desktop. Also test via Pingdom Website Speed test tool to confirm results.
  • Gzip compression
    • Check if Gzip compression is enabled to cut down on bandwidth usage. Use Gzip Compression tool to check.
  • Caching
    • Is enabled. If not enable right away.
    • For WordPress based sites or blog use caching plugins. W3 Total Cache is most popular caching plugin.
  • Optimize Image
    • All images are compressed losslessley, or in lossless manner as relevant.
    • If not compressed, use Compressor.io to compress individual files. In case of WordPress based site, add image compression plugin like EWWW Image optimizer
    • Images are being served in scaled format. ( If you have a 367×367 image, but display it as 20×20 image, then resize your original image to 20×20, this will save you on site speed by reducing your load time)
  • Minify
    • JSS/CS/HTML
  • CDN
    • For very large site consider CDN to minimize load on your server, and increase load time
    • In case of medium site, but image heavy consider CDN for images only to make loading faster
  • Indexed pages
    • Check all site pages are indexed. Except for those blocked by robots.txt
    • If fewer pages indexed, check for duplicates, non-canonical, and Meta NOINDEX issue. Also some pages might be considered by Google as less useful.
    • Make sure homepage is on indexed list
    • Track Index Status Report for steady increase. In case of sudden drop or spike check for problems like server overload, automatically generated pages, or even hacking problems.

Off Page SEO Checklist

  1. Alert
    • Setup for brand terms. Competitor reference, social media mentions, targeted keywords. Use Google Alerts, Talkwalker, Mention to set alerts.
    • Monitor for unlinked mentions & URL
  2. Competitor Research
    • Conduct through research using tools like Majestic.com to get insights into what competitors are doing.
  3. Social Media
    • Profile exists on all relevant and leading social media. Use Knowem.com to check and book brand/product/personal name on all relevant social media sites
    • Profiles are updated regularly
    • Profiles are monitored and regular interaction is done on them
  4. Link building
    • Is relevant, targeted, non-spammy
    • Is in line with Google guidelines
    • Suggestion – blog commenting, guest post, relevant business directory, sponsor events, submit to curating sites, Q& A sites,
    • Competitor links are being monitored and replicated as far as possible

Google Analytics Checklist

  1. Code
    • Is implemented on every page, with exception to blocked pages
  2. Internal Search
    • Analytics tracking is implemented for the same
  3. Demographic
    • Tracking is setup ( This helps in understanding users and customizing website to increase conversion)
  4. AdWords/AdSense
    • Is either being used on site?
    • If yes are they are properly linked up to GA for tracking and enhanced data collection
  5. UTM
    • Have been setup correctly
    • Are being used for marketing and conversion tracking
    • Use Google UTM builder for creating UTM
  6. Event tracking
    • Has been setup for key user interactions (Event tracking allows you to measure how users interact with the content of your website. For example, you might want to measure how many times a button was pressed, or how many times a particular item was used in a web game)

Conversion Rate Optimization Checklist

  1. Analytics
    • Has been implemented correctly
    • Is being used to monitor and find best and worst performing pages and content
    • Find common thread amongst best performer and implement it in worst performers
  2. Speed
    • Check using tools like Pingdom & Google Page Insights
    • Aim for shortest load time. Compare against competitors site
    • Whenever any website change is implemented recheck speed and tweak for shortest load time.
  3. Goals
    • Setup goals you want to track
    • Setup alert for goals
    • Track goals on regular basis
  4. Bounce rate
    • Monitor via analytics for each page
    • Tweak to decrease. Check against Google Bounce Rate checklist
    • Check page with lowest/highest bounce rate and implement best practices
  5. Ranking
    • Is correct page ranking for correct term?(‘Dinning chair wooden’ should not rank dining chair metal, or only dining chair page)
    • Are high conversion pages ranking well
    • Is only homepage ranking for all search terms? ( This will hamper conversion, and increase bounce rate)
  6. CTA
    • Is prominently displayed
    • More than 1 present on each page
    • Tweak until you find perfect words and color combination which yield highest conversion
  7. Contact info
    • Phone number is correctly displayed with international code and included in schema markup
    • Call button on mobile version of site
    • Address is displayed correctly and schema is implemented for the same.
    • Add local map for customer reference
  8. Testimonial
    • Are collected and displayed on site ( Testimonials always leads to better conversion as it displays proof of your success and of others faith in your service/product)
    • Are genuine

Mobile SEO Checklist

  1. Site
    • Is the Mobile site setup?
    • How is it designed – Responsive Web design / Dynamic Serving / Separate URL
  2. Mobile Friendly
    • How mobile friendly is your site. Check using Mobile Friendliness Tool by Google.
    • For sites with access to Google Webmaster, log into search console and check consolidated mobile friendliness of all different pages under mobile usability section
  3. HTTP Header (For Dynamic Serving Mobile Design)
    • Ensure that HTTP header are setup correctly to ‘Vary Header’ in order to indicate to Googlebot as well as the browser that different content will be served based on the user agent. Read more on Google Support
    • The Vary HTTP header is part of the server’s response to a request, like this:
    • GET /page-1 HTTP/1.1
    • Host: www.example.com
    • (…rest of HTTP request headers…)
    • HTTP/1.1 200 OK
    • Content-Type: text/html
    • Vary: User-Agent
    • Content-Length: 5710
    • (… rest of HTTP response headers…)
  4. rel =”alternate” (For Separate URL Mobile Design)
    • If separate URL are being served for separate user agent (a separate mobile site has been created) On the desktop version of the site, add a special link rel=”alternate” tag pointing to the corresponding mobile version of the site. This helps Googlebot discover the location of your site’s mobile pages. Do this for all pages which have separate mobile URL.
    • On the mobile page, add a link rel=”canonical” tag pointing to the corresponding desktop URL.
  5. Analytics
    • Analytics code have been placed for mobile site
  6. Mobile site intent
    • Mobile site is configured for mobile user intent. This might call for bigger button, less emphasis on long text and more on call to actions.
    • Add a call us button, configured to dial call directly
    • In case of vastly different user intent, between desktop and mobile users, significant design element changes might be required, in such cases it is recommend to serve separate URL for mobile agent (Newspaper Desktop site www.timesofindia.com – Mobile site m.timesofindia.com)
  7. Read up

 

International SEO Checklist

  1. Site
  2. Country based targeting
    • Check if country wise targeting is enabled in Google Search Console
  3. hreflang=”x”
    • Is being used if the site is serving translated content or targeted content to users in a certain region. This attribute allows Google to serve correct language or regional URL in the search results.
  4. Localization
    • Currency and other settings are reflected as per local language
    • URLs are created in local language (This will enable ease of understanding for users, and improve conversion in display results)

Local SEO Checklist

  1. Citation
    • As many as possible are built. Build more citations using BrightLocal or Whitespark
    • Are relevant
    • Suggestion – Commercial directories, review sites, etc.
    • Top 50 citation sources – here
    • Local directories (U.S.A) – If your business has any unique feature then you can utilize it to get links from niche directories. For example Eco-friendly businesses can get links from directories like Green Pages , The Only Green Directory, Eco Business Links etc
  2. Schema
  3. Keyword
    • Local place keyword are included in all relevant places, and mentioned clearly in address.
  4. Link Juice
    • In case of big brands with own directory of location or stores, make sure link juice is pushed down to each location page
    • Each location page should have enough content and link for specific location
  5. Link building
    • Location specific links are built
    • Other relevant links are built
    • Organic rankings are improving (Organic ranking impact the local pack ranking as well, so ensure you focus on climbing them)
    • Focuses on authority creation (Local pack has shrunken from 7 results to 3 results, making site authority a important factor to be featured amongst the top 3)
  6. Google +
    • Profile has been created
    • Google my Business Page has been claimed
    • Google Local Profile has been merged with Google + page
    • Business Page has been updated it with all info accurately
    • At least 1 photo has been added to the page.
    • Page is regularly updated and maintained
  7. Reviews
    • Check existing
    • Respond to negative
    • Encourage users to post reviews(FaceBook reviews also displayed in local listing so encourage users to review wherever comfortable)
    • Use badges and handout to encourage customers with positive experience to post reviews. Use White Spark’s free Review Handout Generator to encourage users to post review on Google+

Site Migration SEO Checklist

  1. Redirect
    • Ensure all URL redirects are correct and accounted for
    • Create a redirect excel sheet (Keep this sheet available for both SEO & development team to minimize risk of 404 creation)
    • Are not leading to 404 errors. Check using tools like Redirect Checker
  2. Robots.txt
    • Check when migration completes to ensure that only required elements are blocked. (Many times during migration certain or all sections of site are blocked from crawlers, sometimes due to human error these blocks might still be in place when the site is made live)
    • Recheck for any modification, whether specified or unspecified. Test using Google Tester Tool
  3. On page SEO
    • All on page elements have been migrated and correctly. (Meta description, H tag usage etc)
    • In case of content change/modification recheck for keyword inclusion and keyword stuffing
  4. Internal Linking
  5. Code check
    • Essential codes like Twitter tagging are migrated from old to new site
    • Any unwanted codes like old CSS, JavaScript have not been migrated onto new site (Unwanted or dead codes increase load time and impact rankings)
  6. Compatibility
    • New site is compatible with all browsers. Use Browser Stack to check browser compatibility
    • Mobile site is being displayed correctly. Use Google Mobile Friendly Tool to check mobile status & issues if any
  7. Analytics/PPC
    • Tracking code for each page is in place
    • If URL structure has changed update it in goals section, events tracking, PPC ads etc
    • XML Sitemap been updated with the new links
  8. Speed check
    • New site load time is equal to or less than old site
    • Check using Google Page Insights tool and ensure all its recommendations have been implemented correctly
  9. Schema Markup
    • Check it has been correctly migrated from old to new site
    • In case of change of URL, update schema for the same
  10. Backlinks
    • Check for broken links
    • Contact the linking domain to modify the linking URL

Final Checklist for all Projects

  • Schedule regular server configuration check
  • Regular in depth on page check
  • Regular in depth backlinks profile check
  • Regular monitoring of mentions across web
  • Keep up to date with Google guidelines

That sums up our checklists. Here’s a quick lowdown on the tools I have mentioned across the various checklists


Toolbox

  1. Content
  2. Robots.txt tester – Robots.txt tester by Google or SEO Book’s Robots.txt Analyzer
  3. Google Search Console
  4. Addon/Extension
  5. SiteMap Generator – XML Sitemap generator or Small SEO Tools Sitemap Generator
  6. Browser Compatibility Testing – Browser Shots or Browser Stack
  7. Schema
  8. Website Speed Tester – Google Page Speed Insights or Pingdom Website Speed test
  9. Gzip Compression tester – Gzip Compression tool
  10. Caching Plugin for WordPress – W3 Total Cache
  11. Image Compression
  12. Mobile Friendliness Tester – Mobile Friendliness Tool
  13. UTM Builder – Google UTM builder
  14. Alerts – Google Alerts & Talkwalker & Mention
  15. Competitor Research – Majestic.com
  16. Social Media Profile check – Knowem.com
  17. Citation Building – BrightLocal or Whitespark
  18. Review HandOut Tool – White Spark’s free Review Handout Generator
  19. Redirect Checker – Redirect Checker or Google Tester Tool
  20. Broken Link Checker – Screaming Frog or Xenu Link Sleuth or DRKSpider tool

And that’s the end of our checklists. What’s you take on them? Are they too many or too few? What’s on your checklist that’s missing here? Let us know in the comments section below.

Extra Reading –

SEO for Beginners

Optimize for Search – Rescue Your Website By Martins

SEO TECHNIQUES FOR WEBSITES: WHAT BUSINESSES SHOULD KNOW

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