When I first start with SEO, I would search for things like how to get higher Google rankings, and how to SEO my site. Despite following all the advice that I read, my traffic did not budge. It was really frustrating. Today, I am going to show you my complete SEO checklist. In fact, this is the same checklist I have used to get first page Google rankings for competitive keywords.
- Setup SEO tools and plugins – Make sure that you have the following three important SEO tools set up and ready to go:
- Google Search Console – This tool makes it super easy to track your site’s performance in Google. It can also help you find technical SEO problems that are holding you back. Most importantly, the search console shows you the exact keywords that you rank for, and where you rank for them. Unlike third party tools this data comes straight from Google, so you know it is legit.
- Google Analytics – It is the best way to see how people find and use your website, but that is just scratching the surface. With Google Analytics, you can do all sorts of cool stuff like find pages on your site that bring you traffic, identify the exact websites that send you traffic, your site’s bounce rate, page views and lots more.
- Yoast SEO plugin – If your site runs on WordPress this is a must have. Yoast makes it super easy to make your site SEO friendly right out of the box.
- Find keywords that customers search for – It is no secret that keyword research is super important. The question is, how to do you find keywords that your customers search for? Here are three simple techniques:
- Find long tail keywords with Google Suggest – Type the keyword into Google, but don’t press enter or the search button. Instead, take a look at the keywords that Google shows you. Google only suggests keywords that people are actually search for. So when you see a Google search suggestion, you know that lots of people are looking for that term.
- Use Google Keyword Planner – This is Google’s official keyword research tool. This tool is technically designed for Google ads, but it is still super useful for SEO keyword research. To use it, just enter a seed keyword, and check out the suggestions that the tool provides. Pick keywords that have high search volume with medium to low competition.
- Spy on online communities – Read threads like Quora, Reedit and online forums. Head over the the community and find questions that appear frequently.
- Keyword optimize your content – Use your keyword in the first 100 words of your page. Google puts more weight on terms that show up at the top of your page. So make sure to use your keyword once here. Next, use your keyword at the beginning of your title tag. Google puts a bit of extra weight on terms that show up early in your title tag. Third, use short URLs that include your target keyword. Short and sweet URLs were noticed to have a higher Google ranking in recent studies. Lastly, you should use your keyword in H1, H2 or H3 tag. This will add value especially when you target highly competitive keywords.
- Fix technical SEO issues – Technical SEO problems can tank your rankings. So, if your website has technical SEO problems you should find and fix them right away.
- Make sure that your site is mobile-friendly – Google now runs on a mobile-first index. This means if your site is not optimized for mobile devices, it won’t rank. You can easily see your site’s mobile-friendliness with the Google Mobile Friendly Test tool. Just enter a page from your site, and Google will tell you weather or not your page is mobile-friendly.
- Crawl errors – It means Google is having trouble crawling your site. If it cannot crawl your pages then it won’t index your website. If your site’s pages are not indexed they cannot rank. You can easily find crawl errors in the Google Search Console using the coverage report.
- Page speed – Your site’s loading speed is a confirmed Google ranking factor. The faster your site loads, the better. To evaluate your site’s loading speed, use Google Page Speed Insights tool. It gives you a benchmark of how quickly your site loads. They also provide recommendations to help you speed up your site.
- Create content designed to rank in Google – First, use the Skyscraper technique to create great content by following the three steps process below:
- Find a piece of content that is popular in your industry.
- Next, create something even better.
- Finally, promote that content.
Second, break your content into chunks – No one like to read giant walls of text. Breaking content into chunks makes it easier to read and skim, therefore, reducing your bounce rate, which is a key Google ranking factor. Next, make sure to cover everything there is to know about your topic. Content that covers an entire topic in depth ranks above content that only covers part of a topic.
Besides making your content in depth, you also want to use multimedia on your page like images, videos, charts and infographics. Finally, you want to double down on content formats that are working best for you right now. Statistically, why posts, what posts and infographics tend to attract the most number of backlinks.
- Build links to your website – Backlinks are still one of Google’s most important ranking factor. The bottom line is that if you are serious about ranking in Google you need backlinks. A few techniques that work wonders include:
- Link roundups – link to the best best content in your nice.
- Strategic guest posting – place guest posts on only those websites that can bring in targeted traffic rather than those who offer a submit post option and are not associated with your business niche.
- Appear on podcasts as a guest – A highly underrated tactic, all you have to do is appear on a podcast related to your business niche, add value and enjoy a contextual backlink.
- Mention influencers in your content – First, mention influential bloggers in your post. Then, let them know about it. Seriously, that’s it.
- Delete zombie pages – These are pages on your site that don’t bring in any traffic. Google hates site’s with lots of zombie pages. It is better to have a small site with quality pages rather than a site that is bloated with lots of pages that don’t provide any value.
- Improve organic click through rate – Google pays close attention to how many people actually click through to your site from search engine results. If people skip over your site and click on other results, your rankings can drop. But, if lots of people click on your result, Google considers your page a great result for that keyword and you will get a rankings boost. Optimize your page title and meta description to match what the user has searched for and wants to see to boost your organic click through rate.
- Keep your content up to date – Have you created pages previously and forgot about them? This can make your content appear dated. Update old screenshots, facts in existing posts where you can to see a spike in your organic traffic.