The Essential SEO Checklist

SEO Checklist

This is a top-level SEO checklist that provides the framework for measuring your online business’ current state of optimization, diagnosing trouble areas and taking action to correct the issues that are identified. 

SEO Basics Setup


Before you start, you should set yourself up with software that will provide insight into the state of your business’s SEO.


  1. Setup Google Analytics
  2. Google Search Console
  3. Bing Webmaster Tools
  4. Google Business Listing
  5. SEO Software such as Semrush, Moz or Ahrefs
  6. Website SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO for WordPress and SEO add-ons for ecommerce sites

These SEO software tools will provide great insight into the current state of your business, identify opportunities and create reports that measure your progress on a regular basis (weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually).

Has Google Indexed Your Site’s Pages? 


First things first, have your web pages been indexed by Google? If not, you can’t rank! You can check if your web pages are indexed a few ways.


  1. Google Search. For a quick check you can type into a Google search and Google will list the pages they have listed and will show the total number of pages they have listed.
  2. Google Search Console. Use Google Search Console to get a list of the pages Google has indexed. You can also check on an individual page by using their URL Inspection Tool.
  3. SEO Software such as Semrush, MOZ and others.

Some reasons for not having your web page indexed by Google include a faulty Robot.txt file that is blocking indexing, orphaned pages that have no links to the page and no follow internal links. You may have also inadvertently set the page to not be seen by robots in the backend of your website. WordPress and ecommerce websites have this setting and you should confirm that everything is set to be crawled.


If your website pages are not getting indexed by Google you can use Google Search Console to submit them by using the Google Search Console URL Inspection Tool, although there is no obligation on Google’s part to index anything.


Also, add non-indexed pages to your sitemap.xml file and submit it to Google. A sitemap.xml file provides search engines with the structure of your website by listing the URL’s of your pages, which makes it much easier for their robots to crawl your website and not miss anything.

Keyword research on man's laptop computer

Keyword Research


Proper keyword research is the most important aspect of SEO, and the following lists the basics.


Everything begins with keyword research, and you can’t rank properly without it. It is a must for any SEO checklist.


  1. Research potential search terms for your page and use the most searched terms that are most relevant and attainable.
  2. Using Semrush’s Keyword Magic tool or the Google keyword tool you can see the most popular and relevant search terms.
  3. Optimize your web page for the selected term.

Read more about keyword research and analysis.



There are many things to consider when optimizing website content. The content itself must provide some value to the reader or shopper so that they engage in a purchase or complete some other goal. Content is king, and it must be professionally optimized to realize its benefits to the fullest.


You can read our article Winning Website Content for ideas on creating rich informational content that satisfies Google, your visitors and presents a professional image.

Website development team sketching content wireframe layout
Man enjoying making purchase on computer

Optimize for Users


Break up the content with relevant images. 


Headlines provide information at a glance and encourage visitors to engage with your content.


Keep word count at about 500 to 1,000 words per page, so that you provide a complete answer to the visitors search queries.

Optimize for Search Engines


Include keywords in the content about twice every 100 words. They should appear naturally in the content without being forced into the copy.


Images need to have alt tags that refer to the image’s subject.


Use an h1 headline tag for the targeted keyword once at the beginning of the page and h2 and h3 headlines for the rest.


Your keyword should appear in title tag at or very near the front and the title tag should be about 60 characters in length. Description meta tags should be about 150 characters in length.

Searching browsing Internet concept
Internal linking on computer keyboard

Internal Linking


Internal linking is simply linking from one of your website pages to another page. Common internal links are found within your website’s menu navigation and links within the footer of the website. Contextual links are another form of internal links that link a specific thought, keyword or phrase from one page to another page.


For example, you may have the sentence ‘our blue rubber ducks are uniquely different than our yellow rubber ducks’. If you have a page for blue rubber ducks, you could link the words ‘blue rubber duck’ to that page. Contextual links are great for SEO.

URL Optimization


URL structure is an important factor to your websites ability to rank well. URL structure is one of the factors, in addition to content and meta tags, that Google uses to figure out what your website is about.


URL’s need to be SEO friendly and user friendly, so keep your URL’s short and relevant to your keywords for the page. Do not repeat your keywords in the URL because it could get flagged as spamming.

Man searching the Internet on his phone
Web browser closeup on LCD screen with depth of field and focus on https word

Good URL Structure


This is an example of a good URL structure:


This URL is simple and straight to the point. You have the home page / category / sub-category.


The keywords are only used once, Google can easily crawl your website and everything is three clicks or less away from the home page.

Site Audit


Website’s in today’s world are dynamic entities that engage with users, administrators, search engines, shipping and tax software, credit card processing and more. Each of these factors contribute to errors and issues that can cause difficulty in ranking.


You need to identify these issues on a regular basis and resolve them so that your website’s health doesn’t falter and impact its ability to rank.


There is software that will help to identify these issues such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, Botify, Deepcrawl, Screaming Frog and WooRank.

SEO audit on laptop computer
404 website page not found error graphic



Some of the issues that routinely arise and need to be addressed are:


  • Duplicate and missing meta tags
  • Duplicate content on pages
  • Titles or descriptions that are too long
  • Broken URL’s
  • Broken internal links
  • Issues with the robot text file
  • Issues with your schema markup

The need to identify and resolve these issues on a regular basis is a great example of why SEO is an ongoing process.

Page Speed


Page speed has become more important. In June 2021 Google rolled out an algorithm update that was called the “Page Experience Update” which focused on websites providing the user with best experience, and the update focuses on page speed and mobile-friendliness among other things.


You can check your page speed score and view suggested actions on how to improve your page speed by using Google’s Page Speed Insights tool and the GTmetrix page speed tool.

Page speed optimization on computer concept
business strategy concept with wood blocks

Structured Data


Structured data helps search engines to figure out the context of your content and how to interpret it.


Meta tags and alt tags are an example of providing some structure to content, because they let the search engines figure out the content easier, but truly structured data is more detailed and broader in scope.


Most ecommerce software will automatically provide the structured data code for price, availability and stock.


The article What is structured data for SEO is a great resource for learning about the basics of structured data.

Citations and Link Building


Citations are references from other websites that list your business name, address, phone number, website address and other basic information. Inbound links are links that are in other websites that link directly to your website, preferably with good domain authority.


Citations and link building help to build your website’s domain authority. Domain authority is a measure of how popular or important your website is. It’s basically like trying to get the best reputation for your website.

Link building on digital media concept
Getting backlinks on a laptop computer

Check Your Backlinks


You can use SEO software like Semrush, MOZ and others to view the backlinks you have and whether any of them are toxic.


You can disavow toxic links via Google Search Console. Good SEO software can also help you understand your competitor’s linking strategy so that you can secure the good backlinks they have.

This Essential SEO Checklist provides a framework for optimizing any website, regardless of size or industry. Good rankings are on the way!


Our core specialty is SEO, and our results have helped to develop many successful long-term relationships with our clients, many of whom have been with us for over a decade, and we hope to add you to our long list of satisfied customers.


Contact us now for a free consultation.

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