Blog/SEO
4 April 2023
26 min read

Free SEO checklist: everything you need to optimize your website for search engines

Want to know how to rank on the search engine results pages and hit those top spots for your target keywords? We've shared the best tips for SEO success with this free SEO checklist.

Key Takeaways:

  • Optimizing your website for search engines will make your content more visible on the results pages, increasing your traffic and your opportunities to convert visitors into customers.
  • In this guide, you'll learn the best on-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical SEO, and other SEO practices for your website.
  • We've also shared some of the best tools at your disposal for improving your website's search engine optimization.

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Types of SEO

SEO is far from just a single practice. There are numerous types of SEO that all work together in a large, complex strategy to help you get to page 1 of the SERPs and get more organic traffic.

The types of SEO that we'll be discussing in this article are:

  • On-page SEO
  • Off-page SEO
  • Technical SEO

We’ve shared a different checklist for each of these SEO types because they all have their own specific requirements. Let’s quickly look at the difference between on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. 

On-page SEO is all the SEO work that you do to your actual web content, which you have control over and can do manually. This includes your web pages and blog, your images, video, and other digital media, and your meta descriptions and title tags. Any content that visitors see on your website, including what they see on search results pages, is considered on-page SEO. 

Off-page SEO is everything that you do for your website that’s beyond the website itself. You may or may not have control over your off-page SEO. For instance, backlinks are considered off-page SEO because they come from other websites, and while you can pay to place your links on certain sites, your site might also get linked to simply because it offers valuable content. PR, guest posts, and social promotion are other examples of off-page SEO. 

Technical SEO is the rest of the SEO work on your website that doesn’t involve the content itself. This involves optimizing your website and server to help search engines crawl, read, and understand your website more effectively. There are numerous technical aspects of your website that you may need to improve, including your site’s loading speed and responsiveness, crawl depth, and site structure and sitemap. 

We've shared the process and strategies involved in each of these SEO types later in this guide.

Why use an SEO checklist?

You might be wondering whether it's really necessary to spend your time following a complete SEO checklist. We say yes, because ticking as many boxes for SEO as possible gives you the best chance of ranking.

There might be tens of factors that go into SEO success, but we strongly recommend learning and implementing as many of them as possible. SEO is like a recipe - often, the more ingredients you combine, the better the end results.

Using an SEO checklist will help you to learn about new SEO practices and make sure you don't forget any important steps while you're building your website and working on improving your presence on the SERPs.

You might not have to manually work on all the items on the list. If you've made a new website, many of the technical SEO items might already be done for you, and you'll simply need to check them off the list.

But having a list to review means you won't accidentally fail to do something important, simply because you didn't know that you needed to do it.

Once you become an expert at all the SEO practices in this guide, they'll come to you naturally, and you can abandon the list. But in the meantime, having an easy-access SEO checklist means you don't have to stab in the dark. You'll know exactly what to do to get your website ranking on the search results pages.

SEO Checklist Highlights

We've looked in detail at the specific items on our recommended SEO checklists later, but if you just want a list that you can scan through quickly, you'll find it here.

SEO basics checklist:

  • Set up SEO tracking tools
  • Install an SEO plugin
  • Create your sitemap
  • Make sure your website can be indexed
  • Check for and resolve manual actions

On-page SEO checklist:

  • Improve your page content
  • Build out your blog
  • Check your URLs
  • Analyze your keyword use
  • Optimize title tags and meta descriptions
  • Add internal links
  • Optimize your images

Off-page SEO checklist:

  • Perform a competitor analysis
  • Build backlinks to your website
  • Set up a Google Business profile
  • Respond to HARO requests
  • Add your business to online directories
  • Fix broken links and reclaim lost links
  • Publish guest blogs
  • Build a social presence
  • Use paid ads

Technical SEO checklist:

  • Use HTTPS
  • Check for and fix crawl errors
  • Improve your site load speed
  • Redirect any site duplicates
  • Fix internal HTTP links
  • Add schema markup
  • Make your website responsive
  • Check and update 302 page redirects
  • Evaluate website crawl depth

Ultimate SEO checklist: step-by-step

We've divided this SEO checklist into three segments: on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.

Initial SEO checklist

Before you move on to more specific SEO practices, make sure you've got the basics covered first.

In this SEO basics checklist, we've shared all the steps you should take to hit the main SEO requirements. This is a good checklist to use if you've never paid attention to SEO before or you're optimizing a new website.

Set up SEO tracking tools

Start by installing or setting up a few of the tools that will help you to track your website's performance.

You can use these tools to see how your website is currently performing and track changes as you implement SEO techniques.

At the very least, we recommend installing Google Analytics and Google Search Console, which will provide you with essential data for your website's clicks, impressions, traffic, time on site, page views, bounce rate, and more.

We've discussed these tools in more detail at the end of this guide.

Install an SEO plugin

If you're using a WordPress site, this is the next step to move on to.

An SEO plugin, such as Yoast or Semrush SEO Writing Assistant, will make it easy for you to optimize certain elements of your website's code for search engines, and can make technical aspects, like implementing XML sitemaps and robots.txt, much easier.

Not every type of content management system needs an SEO plugin, so if you're using a different system to WordPress, find out whether or not your system already includes the features you need.

Create your sitemap

A sitemap is a list of all the pages within your website, and helps search engines to find, crawl, and index your content.

WordPress automatically creates sitemaps for its users, but if you're not a WordPress user, you will need to create your own sitemap using a sitemap generator.

You will then need to submit the sitemap to Google Search Console. Just click the "Add a new sitemap" button and enter the sitemap URL.

Make sure your website can be indexed

Google and other search engines need to be able to index your website to analyze your content for meaning and meet user intent by showcasing your relevant content in the search result pages.

If your website has a good indexability, it means that a search engine can get a proper grasp of your website content and display it when necessary in the search results for your target keyword.

There are a few different ways to help Google to index your site:

  • By removing crawl blocks in your robots.txt file
  • By including the page in your sitemap
  • By adding valuable internal links
  • By ensuring the web content is unique and valuable

Getting search engines to index your website is essential for SEO, since your site will be invisible and won't show up on the SERPs without indexing.

You can check to see whether or not your site is already indexed by Google by heading to Google Search and searching: site:yourwebsite.com (or .co, .co.uk, or any of the other extensions you might use for your website).

We've shared an example below:

You could do the same to check the index status of a specific web page. Just search: site:yourwebsite.com/web-page-slug

If the page isn't indexed, no results will show.

Check for & resolve manual actions

If Google has noted a clear attempt to manipulate or violate its Webmaster Guidelines, a manual action will be produced. Manual actions are temporary penalties that Google imposes on your website, which will reduce the website's visibility on the SERPs and potentially lead to a drop in the site's organic traffic.

You can check Google Search Console to see if you have any manual actions that could affect your website's SEO.

Possible manual actions are:

  • Issues with structured data/schema markup
  • Unnatural links to your website
  • Hidden text and keyword stuffing
  • Sneaky redirects

If your site ever receives a manual action, you should be notified by Google via a GSC report. But if you're taking over a website or starting a new project, you should check for manual actions before you do anything else.

On-page SEO checklist

Now let's move onto on-page SEO, including your website content.

Optimizing your on-page SEO will give your visitors a better experience on your website and provide high-value content: two essential ranking factors on Google.

Your on-page SEO should be tailored to search engines and your target audience.

Make sure to check off the following on-page SEO items:

Improve Your page content

Your page content - or the words that you use on your web pages - is one of the most essential elements of on-page SEO.

The quality of your written content will have a big impact on your website's value, and, therefore, the quality of the user experience.

Not only should your written content be optimized for Google search results, with suitable use of keywords, headings, and images, but it should also be well-written and meet the search intent as closely as possible.

If it's been a while since you've refreshed your web content and you think it's affecting your website's performance, start here.

Hire a professional SEO content writer who can optimize your existing content with the best on-page SEO strategies. The writer may choose to refresh your content or rewrite it completely, depending on their knowledge of what Google looks for in the best-performing content today.

Build out your blog

Don't stop once the content on your web pages has been sorted. You can also massively boost your on-page SEO by building out your blog.

Blogging helps SEO by allowing you to target relevant keywords that your potential customers are using in their search queries.

Building out your blog also tells Google that you're an expert in your industry, and Google is more likely to favor topical authorities that can be trusted to reliably and accurately respond to users' search queries.

We recommend posting at least one blog post per week, or, if you're serious about growing your blog for SEO, upload 5-10 articles per week.

Check your URLs

URLs are a part of on-page SEO that are easy to forget about. Every page of your website has its own unique URL, which you can find at the top of your desktop browser in the search bar.

Go through your URLs and check that they're optimized for Google search results. You should also make sure to optimize any new URLs for additional content that you upload to your site.

What makes a good URL? It should be short, simple, and informative, giving Google the context of your web page.

An example URL for a blog post about the 7 benefits of digital marketing would be:

https://www.yourbusinessname/blog/7-benefits-of-digital-marketing

URLs that are short and concise work best, but make sure to still clearly outline the main gist of the web page in question.

Avoid numbers, icons, codes, and unnecessary words that don't explain the web content or are simply irrelevant.

Using a Google-friendly URL structure is also considered a technical SEO item, so you might find this mentioned on other technical SEO checklists.

Analyze your keyword use

If you want any chance of competing with other top-performing websites in your industry, it's essential that you're ranking for the same keywords as them.

You should be using a combination of short-tail and long-tail keywords to help meet search intent and improve your website visibility.

There are a lot of tools that you can use for keyword research nowadays, so there's certainly no reason to spend hours conducting manual keyword research.

You can even bypass the keyword research process altogether and use a tool like Surfer SEO, which gives you article outlines - including a list of all the short- and long-tail keywords you should be using in your content - based on an evaluation of the top-competing articles.

If you hire a professional copywriter to manage your written content for you, there's a good chance that they use Surfer SEO to produce your articles.

Optimize your title tags & meta descriptions

Title tags are the article titles that you see when you search for a topic on Google.

So, let's say you searched "best electric drills" on Google. Google would display a list of web pages for you to choose from, and each of these would have its own dedicated title tag, likely using "best electric drills" as the main key phrase.

A good title tag contains the target keyword or phrase, similar to the article's H1. You'll notice that a lot of websites also use their title tags as an opportunity for branding by adding their name to the end of the tag.

So, using the same 'digital marketing benefits' example, your title tag could look like this:

7 Top Digital Marketing Benefits - Yourbusinessname

There are a few ways to encourage clicks with your title tags:

  • Match the title to the user intent
  • Include numbers in the title
  • Limit the title to within 40 characters
  • Avoid spam or repetition

Underneath a title tag, you'll see a meta description.

Meta descriptions allow you to give more context about your article and further encourage users to click the link to your article.

A good meta description expands on the information provided in the title tag and tells the reader what they should expect if they visit the web page.

To optimize your meta descriptions, you should:

  • Use active voice and make the descriptions actionable
  • Make sure the content matches the content on the page
  • Use your focus keyphrase
  • Include a call to action
  • Keep descriptions within 155 characters

Make sure to update any title tags and meta descriptions that could be affecting your web page SEO, and follow the tips above when writing new title tags and meta descriptions for additional content for your website.

Internal links might be only a very small part of your web content, but they're an on-page SEO must-have.

Using internal links in your web content is integral for SEO because it helps Google to find and index your website, and makes your content even more valuable because you're sending users to another helpful resource when they might want to learn more.

Try to add 2-5 quality links for every 500-1,000 words of written content on your website. Too many internal links looks spammy, so don't force it - this could overwhelm your reader.

Optimize your images

Images are another overlooked aspect of on-page SEO.

Try to include between 4 and 6 images per 1,000 words. This number may vary depending on what you're writing about.

Sometimes, adding more images will improve the article's value and better meet the search intent. For example, a "how-to" article will probably benefit from one image per step of the process you're explaining.

How do images affect SEO? A properly optimized image, with a descriptive file name and alt-text, will help search engines understand what the image displays and will also help users to find your website through Google image search.

Here's what to keep in mind when writing alt-texts for your images:

  • Use the alt-text to concisely describe the image
  • Make sure the alt-text is relevant to the written page content
  • Focus on the main target keyword, but don't keyword-stuff
  • Don't exceed 125 characters

Off-page SEO checklist

We've covered the basics of on-page SEO, so now let's move on to our off-page SEO checklist.

Perform a competitor analysis

Before you start work on improving your own off-page SEO, it's worth looking at how your competitors are performing, which will give you something to aim towards.

This is especially key when planning your backlink strategy: an essential part of any off-page SEO strategy.

You can conduct a competitor analysis by simply Googling your target keywords and noting down the websites that are taking the top spots on the SERPs for these keywords.

If you want to do this on a bigger scale, use an SEO tool to get an overview of all your top competitors based on common keywords.

Once you know who you're competing against, you can look in more detail at their site content and links, which will give you a benchmark for your own site.

This type of comparison will help you to understand your site's current competitiveness and give you a clearer idea of how your links strategy could be improved upon.

A backlink is a link on another website that points back to your own. Websites with a lot of backlinks generally perform better on Google because they're essentially votes of confidence from other websites, proving to search engines that you're a reliable, valuable source.

The more backlinks your website has, the better its rankability. Backlinking is considered an off-page SEO strategy because you can't generate backlinks by editing your own website - they come from outside sources.

The easiest way to increase the number of quality backlinks to your site is to hire a professional link-building company. Link-builders reach out to other websites to secure a link on their site to your page.

Doing your own link-building takes hours and can be quite unproductive, so it's usually better to hire a professional, who will already have a log of potential websites that can be contacted to build your link profile.

Set up a Google Business profile

If you haven't already created a Google Business (formerly Google My Business) profile, do so now.

Google Business lets your potential visitors and customers easily find you through Google Search and Google Maps.

This is particularly beneficial if you have a dedicated service range or you run your business in a particular area.

When setting up your Google Business profile, make sure:

  • Your information is accurate
  • You upload (and update) images and videos
  • You highlight your business's unique selling points

Knowing how to create an optimized Google Business profile will prove to be a key tool in your off-page SEO efforts.

Respond To HARO Requests

One of the simplest link building methods, which gives you the opportunity to build links from high-authority websites, is to use HARO.

HARO, or Help A Reporter, is a website that journalists use to find expert quotes for their articles.

You can sign up on HARO to act as a source for relevant questions in your industry. You'll be able to look through content requests from website owners and journalists and answer the questions that apply to you.

Building links using HARO is easy: just respond to a few requests every day, and if your answers are high-quality and useful, they'll be published by the author of the article. Your published quote will include a link back to your website, effectively acting as a free link-building strategy.

Keep in mind that HARO requests are time-sensitive, so you will usually need to deliver a response within 48 hours of the question being posted. Another setback of this method is that you'll usually only be able to include your homepage link, so you can't build links site-wide.

Add your business to online directories & review sites

Another easy way to get backlinks to your website is to add your business to online directories and review sites, such as Yellow Pages and Yelp. This is particularly beneficial if you're a small business looking to boost your local SEO strategy.

These directories will usually publish the basic information about your business, including:

  • Your business name
  • Your address and phone number
  • Your website URL

Make sure to only submit your details to websites that customers can trust. As well as the more generic websites, try looking for directories specifically for businesses in your industry.

The information in these directories should be accurate and should match up with the information on your website. Update your listings as your business grows and makes changes to your service.

Each directory and review site will contain a link back to your website, which helps to build your backlink profile without much effort on your part.

A small but important part of your off-page SEO strategy should be to prevent broken links and lost links from hindering your success in this area.

Before you can fix broken links, you need to know how to find them. Use Google Search Console Tools and check under "Crawl Errors" to find broken links to internal pages on your website, or set up a custom filter on Google Analytics to track the number of hits that your Error 404 page is receiving.

To fix a broken external link (a link from your website to another website), either remove the link completely or replace it with a link that's valid.

To fix a broken internal link, check for typos and fix them if applicable, recreate the problem page, use 301 redirects to send users to a page with relevant content, or delete the broken link entirely.

You can sometimes reclaim lost links, depending on the reason why the link has been lost:

  • If the linking page has been deleted, you can't do much about it.
  • If the linking page has been updated, it's possible that your link was deleted by mistake, and you can contact the site owner to see if they'll remedy the issue.

Certain SEO tools allow you to set up link trackers, which let you know if any of your links have been lost without the need for manually tracking your links.

Consider guest blogging

Guest blogging is an effective way to promote your brand and build more backlinks to your website.

This off-page SEO method involves reaching out to other blogs and websites in your niche and producing a blog post for the site that contains a link back to your own content or resources, usually in the article body or your author bio.

A high-quality guest blog will encourage a whole new audience to visit your website and show Google that you're a credible, valued source of information - essential for SEO.

Some blog editors place no-follow tags on guest post content, which, in the past, meant that these links carried no authority and were seen as less valuable. Now, recent Google updates mean that no-follow links are also seen as ranking signals in Google's ranking algorithm, so this is no longer a concern.

Build a social presence

If you have a website but you don't yet use any social channels, your off-page SEO strategy still isn't complete - and you could be missing out on a potentially lucrative growth opportunity.

This is because web content can often take months to start ranking, and doesn't guarantee any traffic at all, while sharing content to your social pages allows you to get it in front of your audience instantly. With the right strategies for effective social media posting, you can attract a large, interested readership to your site.

There are a few different ways that social media can benefit your SEO:

  • Social posts that link to your website improve your authority through backlinking
  • You can use your social platforms to build brand awareness and bring in more organic traffic
  • Testing out different social posts will give you a better idea of what your audience wants to see, so you can adjust your content strategy for better results

Google continues to become more sophisticated, and now uses information from crawling social media sites to get a better understanding of your brand. This, in turn, should enable Google to better represent your brand on the SERPs.

There are a few essential elements to any social media strategy, including identifying and creating engaging, high-value content that's specific to your target audience, regularly sharing mini content pieces out of your website blog content, and tracking your content to learn what performs best.

Try Paid promotion

We don't recommend using paid promotion as your number-one off-page SEO method because it's costlier than a lof of the other items in this checklist.

However, don't discount paid promotion altogether. It's a great way to get your top-of-the-funnel content in front of your ideal target audience.

There are a few different ways you can promote your content, including:

  • On social media - An effective means of targeting your niche audience
  • Google Adsense - Not many other sites promote blog content with this method, so it could work to your advantage, especially since you're more likely to find potential customers with the desired search intent on the SERPs

It's important to have a clear goal in mind before you start using paid content promotion methods. Throwing money at ads with no definite aim might not produce results that are worth the investment in the long run.

Technical SEO checklist

Finally, let's look at the technical SEO checklist that you should use to rank your website or blog.

Use HTTPS

Using HTTPS is the simplest item to check off on your technical SEO checklist. HTTPS is one of Google's ranking signals, and has been since 2014.

Check your browser's URL to see if it uses HTTPS. On the left of the URL bar, you should see a padlock icon. This tells you that you're using HTTPS. No padlock means no HTTPS.

Not only is HTTPS a ranking factor - it also means that your readers can safely click on your website without being concerned about their security.

You can use an SEO tool with a site audit feature to learn more about potential HTTPS issues that might be affecting your website.

Check for crawl ERRORS & fix them if necessary

If a search engine can't crawl your site because it encounters an issue, this is known as a crawling error.

Crawling errors, like incorrectly canonicalized pages and 404 errors, can prevent search engines from properly reading your content, resulting in a reduced likelihood of ranking for the problem pages.

You can use Google Search Console to identify crawl errors: just visit "Indexing" and "Pages". Any pages listed under "Not Indexed" have a crawling error that you will need to resolve.

Improve your site loading speed

Your website loading speed affects user experience, and a poor user experience tells Google not to rank your website alongside websites that load instantly.

In a time of instant gratification, your potential customers simply won't wait around for your website to load. A study estimated that almost half of consumers expect a web page to load in two seconds or less - so if your website loads slower than this, you need to fix the issue.

A fast loading time gives your readers what they're looking for almost instantly, before they can lose patience and abandon their search or choose a different website.

You can gauge page performance and related web stats using the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. The tool will also offer recommendations to improve your site speed and other areas of performance.

A few ways to improve your site loading speed include:

  • Minimizing HTTP requests
  • Minifying and combining files
  • Reducing your server response time
  • Choosing a reliable hosting platform
  • Enabling compression and browser caching

The faster loading your website, the lower your likely bounce rate, which proves to Google that you're a valuable, credible source.

Make sure you have no site duplicates

Google should index only one version of your website.

There should also only be one accessible website location for customers. If not, you're likely to have issues with indexing, crawling, and security.

Here's an example of the different versions of your site that might exist:

  • https://www.websitename.com
  • https://websitename.com
  • http://www.websitename.com
  • http://websitename.com

The important thing is that all these versions should point to just one using a 301 redirect. The version that you choose shouldn't affect your SEO, so it's your decision.

How do you know if you have any site duplicates? Try searching each URL variation on your URL bar. As long as all variations redirect you back to one version, you should be fine.

We've mentioned the importance of using HTTPS rather than HTTP, and finding and fixing problem links.

Here, you need to combine these two to fix HTTP links on HTTPS pages.

Your website should have migrated to HTTPS from HTTP already, but some of your internal links might still direct to HTTP pages.

These links aren't necessary, even if the HTTP pages have redirects that send users to the current version. You can use an SEO tool to reveal HTTP linking issues, usually in the "site audit" tab.

Make sure to update these unnecessary links as soon as you detect them. You can do this manually in your CMS if you don't have a lot of links. Otherwise, you'll need to update your page templates or use "find and replace" to resolve a site-wide issue.

Add schema markup

Structured data provides information about a page to search engines in a standardized way.

Schema, a type of HTML vocabulary, is required for structured data and prevents information about web content that's easily digestible for search engines.

All sorts of content can be structured with schema, including events, reviews, recipes, books, and more. You can make your listings pop on search engine results pages by using structured data.

Here's an example of what schema markup looks like on this pancake recipe:

There's too much to say about structured data in this guide, but you can learn the essentials in Google's intro to structured data markup.

oPTIMIZE YOUR WEBSITE FOR MOBILE USE

A 2022 study found that on average, 60.67% of a website's traffic comes from mobile devices. So, if your website isn't optimized for mobile use, you could be at a serious disadvantage - especially since Google switched to mobile-first indexing for all websites in 2019.

There are a few key disadvantages to websites that don't offer a mobile-friendly experience:

  • Your font might be too small to read
  • The font might take up too much space width-ways, so readers have to zoom in and out to read your content
  • Your website might load slowly on mobile devices
  • And as a result, readers are more likely to become frustrated and abandon your website

You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to test your website's mobile-friendliness. Just enter the URL that you want to test and click the "Test URL" button, then wait a few seconds for Google to test the live URL.

If your website has good mobile compatibility, Google will tell you that the page is usable on mobile.

There are a few ways to ensure good website responsiveness across all devices, including picking a responsive theme, and making your site easy to navigate and read from mobile. Even your titles and meta descriptions can be optimized for SERPs viewed on a mobile device.

Check and update 302 page redirects

302 page redirects are temporary redirects that signal to Google that a page move is short-term. These redirects are often used in place of 301 redirects, even when a page move is permanent.

Check through your 302 redirects and update them to 301 redirects if the page move won't be reverted in the near future.

You can use SEO tools with a site audit function to check for 302 site redirects. Even though these pass Google's PageRank, we still recommend updating them to 301 redirects when appropriate.

Evaluate website crawl depth

Your website's page depth is how many clicks you need to make to travel from a specific page to the homepage. Google finds it easier to crawl websites with short paths from the homepage to the other pages.

The aim is to reduce crawl depth to three clicks or less, which makes it easier for search engines and their users to find your content.

If your page depth is more than three clicks, you should focus on restructuring your website to reduce the number of clicks needed.

Again, you can find crawl depth information by using the "site audit" function in your chosen SEO tool.

How to track your SEO progress

You won't know whether or not your SEO efforts have paid off unless you have some way of tracking your website traffic and growth.

Our top recommended tools for tracking SEO are:

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a tool that you can use to find out:

  • The number of monthly visitors your site attracts
  • The pages on your website that are the most popular
  • The average amount of time that visitors are spending on your site

We recommend Google Analytics because it's a free tool with almost unlimited functions, and can help you to learn a lot about the behaviors of your website visitors. Plus, it's easy to set up and use, even for somebody with limited SEO knowledge.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a webmaster tool that provides more information about your website's performance, including:

  • Which websites are linking to your site
  • Whether your site is experiencing issues that are affecting its performance
  • Which search terms visitors are using to end up on your website

Ultimately, using Google Search Console will give you the data you need to understand what you should be doing to improve your rankability and bring more relevant traffic to your website.

You can learn more about this helpful tool in this Hubspot Google Search Console Guide.

Semrush

Another tool that gives you a more in-depth analysis of your website's performance is Semrush.

The Semrush Position Tracking tool gives you information about your overall rankings, featured snippets, competitors, keyword cannibalization, and more.

You can view data including your ranking position and estimated daily traffic in numerical or graphical form, and there are premium versions of the tool that give you access to even more insights.

There are a few Semrush competitors that use similar functioning and offer similar features, including Moz and Ahrefs. You don't need to use them all - just use the tool that you find the easiest to navigate and understand.

How to maintain SEO rankings

Once you've implemented the items in this SEO checklist and you start to rank for your target keywords, what's next? How can you maintain your rankings and stay on page one of the search results pages?

It would be great if you could sit at the top of the SERPs without any effort, but since search engine algorithms are constantly changing and your competitors are always working to catch you up, this sadly isn't the reality.

Here are a few ways you can continue to rank for your target keywords and keep your website fresh and relevant to search engines:

  • Continue to look for ways to grow your traffic - Tweak your page titles, update your content, and adjust your meta descriptions every few months and track any improvements you see from making these changes.
  • Build on what you already have - Unless you have a huge, established website, you probably still have plenty of opportunity to continue to build on your SEO efforts. Content marketing and link building are most successful when used in the long term. The bigger your blog and the more backlinks to your website, the more authoritative it becomes.
  • Track and compete with other websites - Keep an eye on your competitors' and copy their content marketing strategies. What works for them will most likely also work for you, so there's no need to completely reinvent the wheel.
  • Build your social media authority. Social media might have taken a backseat while you focused on launching your website, but now's the time to put your effort into growing a social following. A strong social media presence can bring thousands more visitors to your website who might have never found you on search engines.
  • Continue to improve your user experience - Could your website loading speed be even faster? Is it possible to make your web pages even more responsive? Could you improve your website design and layout for easier navigation? All these changes will further improve user experience on your website.
  • Be careful when changing your website's URL structure - If your website is large and you want to change your URL structure, make sure that all of your older pages 301 redirect to the new pages to avoid losing a lot of traffic from making these changes.
  • Resubmit your site map - If you're making major changes to your website structure, resubmit your XML sitemap so Google can still properly index your site.

Final Word

Some SEO practices, like optimizing URLs and improving your site speed, are simple and take just a couple of clicks.

But other SEO practices, like content production, are ongoing and time-consuming.

You might be able to admit to yourself that the reason why your site isn't performing as you want it to is because you simply don't have the time to commit to a long-term content writing plan, and your website's blog is significantly emptier than your competitors'.

Not all aspects of SEO are best carried out by yourself. If you want to improve your rankability without spending hours at the keyboard every week, outsource your content strategy at the very least to a reliable expert.

A professional content writing agency can provide as much SEO content as you need, increasing your chances of ranking for keywords within your niche.

Once you've got a content plan in place, you can then decide whether or not to hire additional support, such as a link-building company.

Take it slowly and keep your budget in mind. Aim to outsource the most time-consuming tasks first, since this will best free up your time to focus on other important jobs for your business.

FAQ

What is the basics of SEO?

The basics of SEO are on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. These three elements of SEO combine to determine the rankability of your website. If you only focus on one of these SEO basics and neglect the others, you'll probably find that your website doesn't reach the first page of the SERPs or attract the traffic that you expected it to.

Does Google have free SEO tools?

Yes, Google has several free SEO tools for tracking web traffic, monitoring your SEO strategy, and more. Our top recommended free Google tools for SEO are Google Search Console, Google Analytics, and Google Lighthouse. There's also Google Data Studio, Google Alerts, Keyword Planner, and Google My Business.

How can I get SEO advice for free?

The best place to get free SEO advice is Google. Simply search the question you need answering and you'll find plenty of good articles to teach you about the topic you're uncertain or concerned about. You can also find YouTube channels that are dedicated to SEO for specific purposes, such as affiliate marketing and eCommerce websites. Videos on YouTube are free to watch.

How do I create a SEO checklist?

To create an SEO checklist for your own website, read existing SEO checklists and copy-paste the main points onto a sheet that you can access every time you want to upload new content or analyze your site performance. Make sure you understand every checkbox on your checklist so that you can quickly and easily follow the steps when you sit down to do some website work.

What are current SEO best practices?

Currently, the best SEO practices are:

  • Use the right combination of keywords in your content and add the main keyword within the first paragraph
  • Optimize your meta descriptions, title tags, and URLs for your web pages
  • Use internal links and hire a link-building expert to build quality inbound links to your webpage
  • Use tools like Google Search Console to track your results
  • Continuously publish high-quality, valuable content

How do I do SEO on a new website?

To do SEO on a new website, craft content for your homepages and blog that contains appropriate keywords and phrases for your industry and target audience, and start building links - both internally and from outside sources. Optimize your code so that search engines can read your website. A new website takes around 4-6 months on average to start ranking after these SEO practices have been implemented.

Meta description: Want to give your website the best chances of ranking on search engines? Bookmark this free SEO checklist for on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.

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