SEO Checklist for new websites
We have put together the most comprehensive SEO checklist for new websites available on the internet. However, we do understand that SEO ranking factors change every once in a while. All depending on Google’s algorithm changes. As a result of this, we have focused solely on items that have been staple ranking items. This means, we have only emphasized the tried and true. As for future updates on the algorithms, we are also keeping an eye on Google’s changes. Should anything change, we will update this article.
The goal of this article is help you achieve the following
- Higher Google rankings
- Increased organic traffic
We have personally used this checklist to increase our own rankings and organic traffic. You don’t need to implement everything on this checklist however, just what you feel is necessary.
This SEO checklist is broken down into the following four sections;
Lets us dive deep and discuss each item in detail. The most important SEO checklist items have been highlighted.
- 1 SEO Checklist for Performance
- 2 SEO Checklist : Tools
- 2.1 Google Search Console – Important SEO Checklist item
- 2.2 The Dashboard
- 2.3 Google Analytics – Important SEO Checklist item
- 2.4 YOAST SEO Plugin – Important SEO Checklist item
- 3 3: SEO Checklist – Tips
- 3.1 Use Google suggest to get keyword ideas
- 3.2 Leverage online communities for keyword ideas
- 3.3 Include your chosen keyword in your title
- 3.4 Use Short URL whenever possible
- 3.5 Make sure your Keyword is front loaded in the main title tag
- 3.6 You need to use your keyword in the first 150 words
- 3.7 Use various heading tags, i.e H1, H2, H3
- 3.8 Optimize your images always
- 3.9 Synonyms are important
- 3.10 Always use external links
- 3.11 Always use internal links
- 3.12 Make sure your website is mobile friendly – Important SEO Checklist item
- 3.13 Fix broken links, pronto
- 3.14 Create Great content
- 3.15 Always Cover topics in depth
- 3.16 Focus on the types of content that actually work
- 3.17 Use multi media in your content always
SEO Checklist for Performance
The entire point of SEO is to get people on your website. However, if your website loads really slowly, people will leave your website as fast as they came in. Google in turn will notice that people leave your website too fast and will stop giving you traffic. Meaning, they will stop giving you the top ranking spots. Loading speed forms the basis of your website. Some would say it makes or breaks your website. It is a major ranking factor for Google’s algorithm. So it is imperative your website loads fast. Here is a speed checklist.
Get on a good hosting platform – Important SEO Checklist item
A hosting platform is essentially where your website lives on the internet. The hosting platform also performs the task of serving your website to everyone who navigates to your domain. If your web host serves your website slowly or if your website is now available when someone wants to visit it, it will negatively affect your rankings. Why? That unavailability is a bad user experience.
There are some good hosting platforms out there, we recommend the following;
For those of you on WordPress, Kinsta is a wonderful platform. It is a premium platform that costs extra but remember, sometimes the extra cost is worth it. It boasts of really fast server speeds and a friendly and useful customer support staff.
Dreamhost is also a really good platform. Not as expensive as Kinsta, it offers a wonderful alternative to those who cannot afford Kinsta. Robust, with good customer support, it is a good platform
Of course you don’t have to use the suggestions above. But take the time to research your chosen hosting platform. How fast are they? How is their support? Are they reliable? A fast web host is the first item on the checklist.
Good images make for good websites. However sometimes its difficult to balance quality of images and size of images. There is such a thing as your image files being too big. You need to make the extra effort of going through your images to ensure that they are no bigger than they ought to be.
You could use something like CSS sprites to create templates for frequently used images. This can include items such as buttons and icons. They combine your images into one large one. Instead of a myriad of images loading, you have just one. Your visitors won’t have to wait ages as they wait for all your images to load.
What this simply means is removing spaces, comments, commas or other unneeded characters in your code. It saves space and makes the serving of the files faster.
Always use a CDN
Essentially multiple copies of your website are stored at different locations. Your visitor gets a copy of your website that is stored closest to him/her. Naturally this results in a very fast website experience for your visitors.
So in summary, speed is the first item you should look at. A good website loads within 1.5seconds. Every half a second increase in loading speed, results in a SEO and ranking decrease.
SEO Checklist : Tools
These form part of the SEO fundamentals. To rank on Google there are a couple of tools and plugins that you need.
Google Search Console – Important SEO Checklist item
This is the first item on the agenda. It is a very powerful arsenal in your war chest. The best part is that it’s free. The search console is a tool by Google that helps you check the Google index and optimize your website. For example you can submit your website pages for indexing on the search console. You can also check and submit sitemaps among other features as mentioned below.
Features of Google search console
Optimize your content
Google search console allows you to optimize your content. You get to see which queries bring users to your website. In addition to that, you get to see your website’s search position, the impressions your website gets and the all important clicks
Helps get your content on Google
Although Google will automatically index your web pages, the search console allows you to hasten this process a bit. This is because you can submit the different pages and sitemaps for Google to crawl through.
Alerts and issues
A nifty feature of the search console is that it helps you identify the issues with your website. You receive email alerts on the issues and you get to tell Google to recheck your website once you fix them.
Have you ever wondered how Google works? The search console allows you to understand, a little bit at least, how the crawling and ranking process works. Obviously this information is crucial to your ranking efforts.
Now that you know about the power of Google’s search console, lets talk about how to set it up.
The first thing you are going to need is to create an account; Navigate to The search console website. You will be greeted with the landing page which looks like this.
All you have to do is click on the start now button. After signing in you will be navigated to the following page.
You are going to need to verify you domain. The easiest option in my experience especially for beginners is the second URL prefix verification. All you do is just enter your domain name as is. Then click continue;
Naturally you are going to need to verify that you indeed own or have access to the domain. Hence this next page
There are several methods of verifying that you have full permissions and control of the domain name. The easiest option in my opinion is to add some HTML code to your website’s main page, however, this may have some performance issues. If you have no qualms with that, you can do that option.
The option I would recommend is the first option they give, essentially downloading a file and adding it to your website’s root public folder.
Secret SEO checklist tip
All that however may seem very complicated, so if you are on WordPress, there is an easier way to do this.
- Log in to your WordPress dashboard
- Download Google Sitekit Plugin
- Install it and activate
- Then follow the prompts to activate the Google console
Once you are able to verify your domain name, you will be able to see your Google Search Console dashboard.
Menu items explanation
Here is a quick explanation of the various menu items on the left side;
- Overview – As mentioned, the overview gives you the top level view of your Google Search Console Account
- Performance – On this tab is where you will get your performance data. You are able to see your performance per query, page, country or device.
- URL Inspection – This is the most important feature, from here you get to see if a certain page has been indexed. You just add the page address on the search bar, and Google will reference its index and give you its index data
- Coverage – On the coverage tab, you get to see the errors on your website
- Sitemap – On this section you can submit your sitemap
- Removals – In the off chance you want to remove a certain web page from Google’s index, you use this tab
Google Analytics – Important SEO Checklist item
Google Analytics is the second tool you require for SEO. Why? Analytics is the best way to see how people use your website. Analytics shows you where all your traffic is coming from. This allows you to analyze what is working and what needs to be improved. Analytics helps you with the following
Tracking the conversions on your website
Getting visitors to your website is nice, but how do you know if your website visitors are converting to real customers? Analytics allows you to track certain actions on your website. These can include
- Website purchases
- Email sign ups
- Account creation
This simply means how well users are interacting with your website. Analytics helps you measure the different aspects of the customer journey. You get to know for example the;
Bounce rate – this is the percentage of users who navigate away from your website without interaction, viewing one page only during the visit
Sessions – essentially the average number of pages a user has visited.
Average session duration – this is simply the average amount of time spent on the website by each individual, unique visitor.
With all the data mentioned above, you are able to plan your business goals better.
So how do you create a google analytics account?
Creating a Google analytics account
Navigate to https://analytics.google.com.
Enter the name you would like for the account
Enter the name you would like for your website. This falls under property name.
Then tell Google a little bit about your business
After you are done with that click next and finally you will be navigated to the Analytics Dashboard
Click on web to get this option
From there you will be given a Gtag to add onto your website. You can add this in the <head>section. Or to make life easier, you can use the Google Site Kit plugin if you are on WordPress
And you are done, after you add the G-tag section, you would have successfully added Analytics to your website.
YOAST SEO Plugin – Important SEO Checklist item
The final tool you will require is the YOAST SEO plugin. That is if you are on WordPress. Yoast helps you with all the technical stuff. Once you install it, all you need to do is just follow its prompts. It will handle all the heavy lifting.
3: SEO Checklist – Tips
Now let us dive in to the various tips that will amplify your SEO efforts.
Use Google suggest to get keyword ideas
This is one of the best ways to uncover keywords. And the best part? Its actually free. Just enter a keyword into the Google search but don’t press enter or search. Google will automatically give you suggestions. The suggestions are basically what people are searching for. Most common searches.
This simplifies the “coming up with keywords ideas” part.
Leverage online communities for keyword ideas
Online communities like Reddit, Quora are really great places to get keyword ideas. Keywords that are useful for content creation and further optimization.
We have a really good article on that here
Include your chosen keyword in your title
The URL helps Google understand what your page is all about. It is important thus, to make sure your keyword is added directly in the URL. Of course it has to be used in an organic manner. In addition to that, this helps increase your Click Through Rate.
Use Short URL whenever possible
Short URLs rank better in Google. This is just a plain fact.
Make sure your Keyword is front loaded in the main title tag
You should also use your keyword in your title. As a matter of fact, you need to put it at the very beginning of your title.
You need to use your keyword in the first 150 words
It is imperative that you use your keyword in the first 150 words of your article of blog content. Yes, you need to use it right off the bat. But make sure you use it in an organic manner. Remember you are creating your website for people.
Make sure your content is organized and laid out properly. Make sure to break up each 200 words with a heading or sub title. This will improve the usability of your website and Google will love it too.
Optimize your images always
The images you use, are representative of your website. But Google still can’t see image the way you and I can. You need to help Google understand your images by optimizing your alt tags an image names.
There are four items
Every time you upload an image, take the time to ensure the mentioned items above are filled out. Make sure to be very descriptive of your image and try to describe it succinctly.
Synonyms are important
Back in the day, Keyword stuffing was all the rage. Google wasn’t as smart then. Times have changed however. Instead of using the same keywords one thousand times, the smart thing to do is to use synonyms and organic variations of your keywords.
Lets say for example you want to rank for “Interior design cape town”
You would want to mention that keyword several times on your content. In addition you need other synonyms such as;
- Great home design ideas
- Cape town house design
- How to layout your Cape Town home
Links are the mechanism which Google finds other pages and websites. The more high quality links you use on your website, the better. This shows that your website is well referenced and researched. This indicates that your website is trustworthy.
As mentioned, links are important. They help Google discover new pages. Internal links on your pages, helps Google find new pages on your website and helps direct traffic to pieces of content on your website that are not yet ranking. They make navigation easier and improves the overall experience of your website.
Make sure your website is mobile friendly – Important SEO Checklist item
Mobile is the key. Everyone is on mobile. Your visitor most likely is going to be on mobile. Make sure the mobile experience on your website is good.
Also, if your website isn’t mobile optimized. It is not going to rank well.
I keep mentioning that links are how Google discovers pages. Not just Google, but everyone. If the links on your website are broken, the experience is going to be bad.
Bad usability experiences equals low rankings.
Create Great content
Content forms the basis of any modern day SEO strategy. It is the cornerstone of Google rankings. There is a great three step process, we call it the Ahadisoft Skyscraper strategy. Its simplicity will surprise you.
- Step One – Identify a great piece of content in your industry that is popular
- Second Step – Create something better and longer
- Step Three – Promote the said piece of content
It is that simple.
Always Cover topics in depth
As you know SEO is very competitive. You need to cover topics in great depth. Gone are the days of writing flimsy short content and having it rank. In the competitive days of today, you need to dive deep into what you are talking about. This is the only way to signal that you have domain expertise.
Focus on the types of content that actually work
Certain content formats perform better than others. This is the uncomfortable truth. The big winners in all this are websites that have taken the time to build strong reputations. This is for their original and authoritative content.
Use multi media in your content always
Images and videos make content easy to digest and understand.
Second they help your content rank better
I always recommend the following
- Good Images
- Informative Charts
- Well designed Infographics
- Amazing Videos
- Interactive polls and quizzes to maintain engagement
As you can see, SEO is no small matter, but with the SEO checklist and tips above, you are sure in for great results. You can get more tips here