2020 SEO Checklist

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Whenever I’m working on a new website or improving SEO on an existing site, I find myself doing many of the same things over and over again in order to build a solid SEO foundation. I’ve created this list as a way to cover most of the important things that should be done from an SEO perspective to make sure you are getting the most out of your site when it comes to search engines.

Keep in mind that SEO is about Incremental Change. You don’t need to do every single thing on this list, but each item offers an opportunity for a slight improvement, and they all compound each other to create the best SEO foundation possible for your site.

SEO Checklist

    Basic Setup

  1. (optional) Install Google Tag Manager
  2. Install Google Analytics
  3. Install Google Search Console
  4. Using WordPress? Install Yoast SEO
  5. Check your website’s speed
  6. Keyword Research

  7. Identify keywords you want to rank for
  8. Discover long tail keywords using Google Suggest
  9. Find related and similar searches
  10. On-page SEO

  11. Crawl your website with Screaming Frog SEO Spider
  12. Check for broken links, errors, and crawl problems
  13. Check for duplicate content and remove it
  14. Check your URL structure for pages
  15. Optimize Titles for search using Keywords
  16. Meta Description tags
  17. Avoid Meta Keyword tags
  18. H1 tags
  19. High quality, readable content
  20. Optimize Images
  21. Internal links
  22. External links
  23. Technical SEO

  24. Robots.txt
  25. Make sure your site is Mobile Friendly
  26. Use HTTPS
  27. Speed up your site
  28. Create an XML sitemap
  29. Use Schema markup to create Rich Snippets
  30. Check for crawl errors in Google Search Console
  31. Check for broken links
  32. Check for broken redirects
  33. Fix missing or duplicate Meta tags
  34. Other Stuff

  35. Claim your brand name on social sites
  36. Rank Tracking
  37. Double-check everything with an SEO audit tool

Free tools we are going to use

Basic Setup

  • (optional) Install Google Tag Manager – Google Tag Manager is a script management tool that lets you house other scripts like Google Analytics, tracking scripts, and more.
  • Install Google Analytics – Make sure Google Analytics is installed and functioning properly on your site. Google Analytics is a free and very powerful tool to let you see how people are interacting with your website, what’s working and what isn’t.
  • Install Google Search Console – Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) monitors your website and gives you a look into how search engines see it. You can use it to check for page errors, make sure your sitemap is searchable, and more.
  • Using WordPress? Install Yoast SEO
  • Check your website’s speed with GTMetrix or Google PageSpeed Tools

Keyword Research

Keyword research can be daunting, and for a large, well-established website it can be a major undertaking. But the basics can be quite simple, and just having a general idea of what keywords people are searching for can improve your SEO efforts greatly. For a comprehensive guide, check out https://www.pageonepower.com/keyword-research-guide

  • Identify keywords you want to rank for, as well as specific keywords for each of your site’s most important pages. These are the search terms that you expect people to search for, and that you want to rank highly for.
  • Use a tool such as https://lsigraph.com to find related and similar searches.
  • Use these keywords naturally while working on your site’s Onpage SEO.

On Page SEO

  • Use Screaming Frog SEO Spider to crawl your website like a search engine would
    • Check for broken links, errors, and crawl problems.
    • Check for duplicate content and remove it
    • Check your URL structure for pages –
      1. short and to the point
      2. Use keywords in url
      3. Use “-” to separate words.
      4. Good example: (yoursite.com/
    • Optimize Titles for organic search, using Keywords
  • Meta Description tags – Are your meta description tags approximately ~160 characters and using keywords?
  • Avoid Meta Keyword tags – An outdated search factor, it’s no longer useful to stuff keywords into the Meta Keywords tag.
  • H1 tags – Make sure there is exactly 1 H1 tag per page, generally appearing as the title of the page, and that your target keywords are used in it.
  • High quality, readable content:
    1. More content on a page is generally good, as long as it’s high quality and not repetitive.
    2. Include keywords naturally in the body of the page
    3. Use synonyms and related terms in the content.
    4. Optimize readability for users.
  • Optimize Images
    1. Size should be decreased to the smallest necessary file size
    2. Alt text should be present and describe the image
    3. Url structure of the image should describe the image, and use “-” to separate words.
  • Internal links – Inside your page content, include links to other relevant pages on your site.
  • External links – Linking to high authority external sites (related to the topic at hand) is also a positive indicator to search engines.

Technical SEO

  • Robots.txt – Make sure your site is not disallowed from search engines
  • Mobile Friendly – Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to make sure site is mobile friendly and responsive on any device
  • Use HTTPS – Install an SSL certificate so that you can use https (instead of http) and browsers recognize your site as secure
  • Speed up your site – Improving your site’s speed makes for a better user experience, and therefore helps your SEO.
    1. Check your page speed with GTmetrix
    2. Read this Guide to speeding up your site.
  • Create an XML sitemap
    1. Create a sitemap using Yoast SEO
    2. Submit it to Search Console
  • Use Schema markup to create Rich Snippets for your business address, hours, reviews, etc
  • Check for crawl errors using Google Search Console
  • Check for 404/500 errors, duplicate content, missing titles and other technical errors that Google Search Console has found
  • Fix broken linkshttps://www.drlinkcheck.com/
  • Fix missing or duplicate Meta tags
  • Fix broken redirects

Other Stuff

  • Claim your brand name on social sites – Even for social media sites you don’t plan to use, it can be useful to claim your brand name, both to avoid having someone else take it, and in case you decide to use that platform in the future.
  • Link Monitoring – Regularly checking your site’s internal and external links for errors using Screaming Frog SEO Spider can ensure that Google doesn’t penalize you for broken or outdated links.
  • Search Rank Tracking – Tracking your search engine rankings for key phrases will help you know if your SEO improvements are working.
  • Double-check everything with an SEO audit tool