SEO Checklist: Everything You Need to Know

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If you would have told me a month ago that I was going to put together an SEO Checklist, I would have thought you were nuts. I’ve never considered myself an “SEO guy,” even though I am a Web designer. I have always thought the idea of relying on an SEO strategy to be extremely risky. After all, Google could wake up tomorrow and decide to change one little thing that ruins your whole business.

But it seems that more and more my prospects have this worm in their heads about SEO that they just can’t get out. I’ve known the basics of SEO, of course, but I thought it would be helpful for myself and my clients if I put that SEO knowledge and research into checklist form.

So here you go! The Beginner’s Basic SEO Checklist.

DON’T Use Registration Information Blocking Services.

  • Your domain registrar/host will often try to upsell you services that will block your personal or company information from showing up as the registered owner of your domain. Don’t do it. It makes you seem like a spammer to Google.

DO Include Meta Description Tags that Attract Visitors from the Search Results Page

  • If you are using WordPress, you can change these using Yoast SEO (a plug-in I highly recommend).
  • Include keyword phrases that describe the page’s content.
  • Keep it to under 160 characters to avoid it being truncated.

DO Use “Long Tail” Keywords in Your Title Tag, Body Copy, and URL.

  • “Long Tail” keyword phrases are keyword phrases that contain at least three words, and are usually more specific and “niched down.”
  • Only focus on ONE key phrase for a page.
  • Optimize your home page for your brand, and focus on keywords for other pages/posts.
  • Use the page’s designated keyword phrase at least once near the beginning of the content, and anywhere else it makes sense. Don’t use it more than 4-5 times on a page.
  • DON’T stuff your content with keywords.

DO Use Keywords in the Titles, Alt Tags, Captions, and File Names of Images.

DO Research Your Competitors.

  • Find the keywords Google attributes to your Website (and your competitor’s sites) using Google’s Keyword Planner tool.
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  • Steal your competitor’s keywords once you know them.

DO Include One (AND ONLY ONE) H1 Tag Per Page.

DO Get Linked to By Other Quality Websites.

  • Quality over quantity.
  • You can do this by guest posting, or by submitting your content to be reviewed/linked on another site.
  • Being featured on a .edu site carries a lot of weight.
  • Figure out who is linking to your competitors and try to get linked to on these same sites.

DO Surround Links with Descriptive Text Instead of Linking “Click Here.”

DO Get Involved In Social Media.

  • Link Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to Your Website.
  • Be consistent across platforms – same titles, same descriptions, same hours of operation, etc.
  • Getting reviews on these sites carries weight and may show up in search results.

DO Get Listed On Any or All of the Following Sites with Links to Your Website:

  • Google Profiles
  • Google Places
  • Linkedin
  • Foursquare
  • Stumbleupon
  • Yelp
  • Youtube
  • Wikipedia
  • Hubpages
  • Dotporch
  • Reddit
  • Industry specific sites/directories (for example, healthgrades for doctor Websites)
  • Write testimonials for sites that you use with links to your Website to get linked.
  • Donate to nonprofits in your niche that link back to sites who have donated.
  • Get interviewed in the media and have them link to your Website.

DO Make Sure Your Site is Mobile Friendly.

DO Boost the Speed of your Website.

DO Include a Privacy Policy and An About Page

DO Submit Your Site to Google/Yahoo/Bing

DO Write Like a Human

  • It can be hard to sound human when trying to include key phrases and so on, but it’s so important. If you sound robotic, it hurts your results (and makes it less likely that your content will be read).

DO Realize that SEO Results Are not Instant, and Take Time to Work.

DO Include Breadcrumbs.

  • Breadcrumbs are the little navigational hierarchy things that show up at the top of many pages of your Website. For example, Home > Posts > The Beginner’s SEO Checklist.

DO Analyze Broken Links.

  • Do this using a Chrome extension or even a WordPress plugin.

DO Make Sure You Have a Custom 404 Page.

DO Let Me Know What You Thought of this SEO Checklist:

There you have it! Not the most advanced stuff, but this SEO Checklist will get you started on the basics, and for most people, that’s all you really need.

Did I forget anything? Have any tips you would like to share? Comment below!

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