The era of digitalization requires a steady online presence from entrepreneurs, retailers, corporations, and other parties. The best way to promote, provide, sell services and goods on the Internet is to create a website. According to the Manifest statistics, about 81% of business representatives introduce themselves online. About 66% of entrepreneurs are using Internet channels for advertising in 2021.
There are various types of sites to take into consideration. It can be a blog website, online resume or portfolio, e-commerce platform, corporate landing page, etc. Note that well-designed and SEO-friendly websites are the superior business card and the opportunity to address any audience segment.
Feel free to get insights about the SEO checklist in 2021. With the help of the step-by-step guide on how to make your new website SEO-friendly, you will be able to rank on Google and get organic traffic really soon.
Basic SEO checklist
For the early stage of your SEO practice, set up the basic tools and plugins you will need regularly. Explore helpful software and be ready for ongoing search engine optimization tasks. Note that the basic SEO checklist includes digital solutions that will come in handy not only once, but in a week, in a month, in a quarter. Among the most essential tools and plugins you need are:
- Google Tag Manager (GTM) — this is a management platform for adding scripts to track visitors on your website without a need to involve a web developer in the process. The range of diversified options makes Google Track Manager the essential SEO tool. You can see how many users visited your website, count on event tracking (triggers and tags), dynamic Schema implementation (automatically-done marking up of assets), and metadata optimization (titles, descriptions, meta robots, pagination, etc.). Additionally, you can use Google Analytics for similar purposes.
- Google Search Console — is the basic tool for your website performance insights to generate organic traffic and improve your site’s visibility on the Internet. Google Search Console is free software that is used for tracking Google search data (search ranking of your web pages, information about the most sound queries, CTR, etc), indexation of your website (checking the indexing status of a particular web page, sending it for re-indexing if you have changed it, checking its canonical tags, etc), mobile usability and user experience, implementation of new website elements to structure your content, and other data.
- Google Analytics — this platform is used to process your website data and analyze it in the context of the site performance. It is considered as the Tag Manager alternative for tracking. Compare both analytical tools to pick sides with the best one in the context of your goals. Google Analytics provides detailed reports for better understanding any issue that takes place and harms your website wealth. The main benefit of this SEO tool is intelligent-based data collection. The marketer or the SEO specialist can find out about the number of visitors, the most popular web pages, type of interactions with your site, the time users spend on your website, etc.
- Yoast SEO — if you have a new WordPress site, this SEO plugin will come in handy for many tasks. So, it is considered a basic tool for your new website. There are free and premium packages to choose from. The standard version of the plugin allows SEO specialists to improve meta tags and URLs automatically, select templated brand-focused titles and descriptions, integrate Schema, control breadcrumbs of the website, and increase the site’s loading times. The premium package includes setting up additional extensions for WooCommerce and video SEO practices.
- Sitemap — this is the file that determines the website elements (text, video, pages) and their relationships. This is a basic tool because Google uses sitemaps to crawl any site on the Internet. So, having a sitemap which is submitted to Search Console, will help for better indexing and crawling. According to Google’s sitemap guide, the sitemap is needed if the website is large if: there are unlinked or isolated pages; the site contains external links; the website obtains comprehensive content (different videos, infographics, imagery, long-reads).
- Robots.txt is the file that is essential for the navigation of search engines through your website. For example, when you want Google not to crawl some pages on your website. You add a user-agent, which pages you want to disallow and upload it to the top-level directory of your site.
This basic SEO checklist can be complemented with other tools and plugins (Rank Math,SEO Framework) that meet your search engine optimization requirements.
Checklist for initial research
Start your SEO and marketing strategy by identifying your competitors and keyword research. These are the core steps in the context of the initial research. With the help of the timely analytical approach, you will gather important data for website optimization and monitor your competitors and their updates, hacks, SEO weak spots.
1. Identifying competitors
Your website SEO practice should begin with spying on your opponents in the market niche of your interest. To do this, pick sides with the most convenient analytical tools for you. For example, SE Ranking will come in handy for the comprehensive competitive analysis that includes:
- Discovery of the biggest rivals (organic competitors);
- Uncovering competitors’ SEO and PPC campaigns;
- Review of the targeted pages and subdomains in the rivals’ campaigns;
- Analysis of the most profitable ads in your niche.
To identify your competitors, you need to sign up and add the domain to start the analytical research. The system will provide your top organic rivals to take into consideration. Additionally, there is an Added Competitors option to discover newcomers in your niche.
2. Keyword research
This step will bring you visits and conversion to a new website if you pay focused attention to comprehensive keyword research. The relevant keys will bring you sales and conversions together with well-driven leads. The keyword research checklist in 2021 looks like this:
Point #1. Search/user intent
- Start with the queries. Type “SaaS” and look at the search results.
- Modify queries with the help of synonyms, locations, prefixes to find the search intent. Analyze the pages that are highly ranked with the query of your interest.
- Use intent modifiers (best, top, vs, near me, buy, order) to get the most relevant search results.
- Segment the first keyword list according to the intent type.
- Pay attention to search questions users ask (Google, Bing) or generate the list of queries on the special-purpose software like AlsoAsked.
- Use keyword search tool and Google Analytics/Search Console (research the SERPs) to add more relevant suggestions. This way you can also determine the keys that have low search volume and do not meet user intent in your niche.
Point #2. Metrics
- Use a keyword research tool to analyze your keywords according to such parameters as difficulty score and search volume.
- The report on the difficulty score will demonstrate how competitive the keyword is.
- The search volume means a number of monthly searches. It will be presented in the form of infographics with organic searches by the period of time and search volume dynamics rates.
- Analyze these metrics to optimize your keyword list. Find keywords with the highest search volume and the lowest difficulty score.
Point #3. Keyword grouping
- Segment all your keywords according to their difficulty rates, search volume, CPC, competition.
- It is easy to do with the help of keyword research tools like SE Ranking, Allintitle, Keyword Overview by SEMRUSH.
Note that your keyword research tool should be convenient for you and brings relevant search results together with unlimited analytical opportunities. Your SEO efficiency (site ranking, conversions, traffic) depends on the keywords you use on your new website. Select the software with an improved filtering option to group your keywords and make your analysis easier.
Technical SEO checklist
The tech practices matter much to SEO. Here is a technical SEO checklist to take into consideration for the best ranking of your new website:
1. Check the sites’ crawlability and indexability. Start with the Coverage option in the Google Search Console. This way you can be sure that your website is crawlable. The tool will show you statistics of your web pages (errors, valid, excluded pages). At the bottom, you will see the Details section. All the pages unavailable for crawling will be shown there.
If you would like to switch off the robots.txt block, remove this block in the Search Console. To check the indexability of your website, go to Coverage in the Google Search Console as well. Optimize your indexation settings here in the Details section.
2. Check the website loading speed. An exciting experiment was held by the marketer Geoff Kenyon in the context of the page loading speed. According to his results, those sites that are loaded 0.8 seconds are faster than 94% of other websites on the Internet. If the speed rate is about 1.7 seconds, this website is loaded quicker than 75% of other sites. The website loading speed matters for SEO because modern visitors do not prefer to wait. To check and improve your page loads, you can find an online tool like PageSpeedInsights.
3. Make your website mobile-friendly. According to the Search Engine Land research, about 60% of people worldwide surf the net and do shopping online via their pocket screens. Today, it is critically important to make your website 100% mobile-friendly. Test your site in the context of this parameter in the Google Search Console. There are other free websites with this option (BrowserStack, KeyNote, etc.). Enter the URL of your purpose and wait for test results. You will be informed about your mobile-friendliness status and issues if they take place on your site.
4. Check Core Web Vitals. This parameter plays a critical role in your website’s user experience. That is why it is necessary to check Core Web Vitals to exclude poor UX. You can use the Search Console service to see the report and fix all the issues to improve the user experience of your site. There are three scores for Core Web Vitals — poor, need-to-be-improved, good. Your task is to get a Good score.
5. Fix website errors. Your SEO success depends on the availability of tech errors as well. Some pages can be broken and harm your search engine optimization. Use website audit tools to find all the issues. For example, SE Ranking health checkup includes the reporting on technical problems of the site. Additionally, each issue is categorized according to the type (warnings, errors, notices). Having found out all the errors and their origination, you may fix them faster.
On-page SEO checklist
When the basic SEO and tech practices are successfully activated and have brought their first result, it is high time to set about the on-page optimization. It includes the creation of eye-catching and keyword-friendly content, work with tags, imagery, meta tags, markup, and headings. It is recommended to pay attention to each aspect because even one irrelevant title can decrease the efficiency of your SEO campaign.
1. Content writing and SEO optimization
The owners of new websites usually create content from scratch. It is even easier than rewriting existing blocks and adding new keywords. Note that your website requires qualitative texts that are relevant to your market niche and business goals. Here is a helpful content checklist:
- Think about people’s problems. Create texts that demonstrate the way you solve customers’ issues. Focus on pains and demands. You need to understand the search intent to create the most problem-solving content for your new website. If your target audience needs a step-by-step guide, provide them with all the tips and recommendations. For example, the query “How to configure custom domain DNS records?” requires a detailed blog article with easy instructions on how to do this in the easiest way.
- Think of the eye-catching introduction. Arouse interest in your content from the very beginning with the help of the intriguing intro. Make website visitors thirsty for your texts and provoke the desire to read more and more content. For example, Kajabi promotes the most responsible approach to each case from the first letters. The intro is short but very meaningful.
- Create content based on keywords & competitive research. Besides the relevancy of your text to the subject matter and your business niche, it is critical to use keywords that will improve your SEO. After keyword and competitor research, you will have a grouped key phrase map for your site’s content optimization. Use keywords for both helping search engines understand your website’s subject matter and ranking higher in search results.
- Remember that your content needs to meet your core business goals. If you have an e-commerce site, show your aspiration to provide good products from the very beginning. For instance, the young brand of beauty products Frank Body uses a catchy intro to promote body scrubs, well-structured content that meets business goals (sell products), and includes the most relevant keywords in the niche (“original coffee scrub“, “post-workout body scrub“, etc.).
2. Headings and meta tags
It is worth noting that you should not neglect the rule of the regular heading string. Do not place h5 before h4 or h3. You harm the clearness aspect of your website and break the hierarchy that improves search engine optimization rates.
Besides heading hierarchy, you need to pay attention to the presence of relevant keywords in h1-h6. The target search query should be included in your h1, h2, h3 tags to boost your SEO. To increase your opportunity for adding keyword-based headings, do not make them too short. Include your focus keyword in H1. Speaking about metatags, both title tag and meta description should meet SEO requirements. The metatags help Google to understand what your site is about. Check the main criteria for SEO-friendly titles and descriptions:
- The title tag should include the most target key phrase.
- Write down a description that will be the logical extension of your title.
- Pay attention to metatags length. A title should be 60-70 symbols and a description – about 120.
- Base the meta description on the search intent.
- Add 1-2 keywords to your description.
- Do not forget about the tone of voice. It should be friendly and active. Engage searchers to open the link to your website.
3. Image optimization
Images are essential for the SEO-friendliness of the website. First, visuals make content more vivid and catchy. Even the most complicated information presented in long-reads can be presented easier and more attractively with images. But sometimes your imagery can fail to load.
You need alt tags to describe this picture or infographics in a few words. Visitors of your website will see the descriptive text and understand the subject matter of the image. The same story is about search engines. They recognize imagery with the help of your alt tags. Add keywords to the alt tags to help Google understand what is depicted on your images.
4. Adding schema markup
To make your click-through rates higher, you need a Schema markup for your site. The pages are shown in the SERPs much better with the markup. Additionally, searches consider marked-up pages in search results the most trusted ones because they include additional information like:
- Time to read;
The on-page SEO checklist can also include other steps like internal link analysis, usability and tech analysis, etc.
Off-page SEO checklist
Focused attention should be paid to links. The off-page SEO checklist includes three main steps:
- Analyzing competitors’ backlinks – this way you will see how other companies in your niche are performing online, find out more about their guidelines and decide on what links will help your website to rank better.
- Link-building plan – create your linking map according to the metrics of authoritative and healthy websites. For this purpose, use backlink checkers that take into account Alexa rank, page, and domain trust rates. This way you will improve your link-building strategy.
- Building links – when you have picked sides with your link-building plan, it is time to build links that will boost your SEO. Write guest posts, promote your website through social media channels and via leaders of mind, create round-up posts.
One more approach to take into account is to join resource pages and ask other publishers to link your website. This way you will engage more traffic to your new site.
A new site will come in handy not only for startups that aim to make their projects known. Creation of the yet another digital platform is recommended for companies that have no reasons to redesign their former one (rather expensive to update the current site, improve its load speed, consistency, and user-friendliness rates). A new website will bring high conversion, increased mass media communication, a very competitive edge, and increased credibility if it is 100% search engine optimization friendly.
With the help of this SEO checklist, you will not miss any necessary steps for perfect search engine optimization in 2021. Stay pleased with your higher website rankings and make your new site unchallenged, with hands and shoulders above your competitors!