SEO is vast and constantly changing. Google’s frequent algorithm updates require you to be up-to-date if you want to stay ahead of your competitors. That said, there are some core elements that will get you ahead and lead to noticeable improvements in your website’s ranking.
This SEO checklist will provide you insight into those core elements and help you understand what SEO is all about.
- Google Analytics
- Crawl Errors
- Meta Title Length
- Meta Description Length
- Broken Links (404)
- Index / No-index
- Canonical links
- Core Web Vitals
- Loading Speed
- URL Structure Naming
- SSL Certificate
- Suggested WordPress Plugins
- Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions
- H1 Tags
Make sure to connect Google Analytics to be able to track user activity as well as the traffic sources.
Google’s bots regularly crawl your website to collect as much information about it as possible to then be able to understand if there are any keywords that you should be ranking for and how high you deserve to be ranked.
There are many different types of errors that can occur as the bot crawls your website.
You have the ability to perform a crawl using Google Search Console, Moz, or any other similar tool to identify those errors and fix them.
The next time Google’s bot crawls your website it will find less errors and will deem you worthy of ranking higher.
Meta Title Length
The length should ideally be between 50 and 60 symbols to be fully displayed on all devices.
Meta Description Length
The length should ideally be between 120 and 140 symbols to be fully displayed on all devices.
Broken Links (404)
Identify broken links and then either find the right destination for that link or remove it.
Index / No-index
Use a no-index meta tag for pages that should not be indexable by Google. Any pages that don’t provide value, for example, thank you pages, should not be indexed.
Canonical link tags should be used on pages with similar content to avoid Google from perceiving them as duplicates and to transfer the SEO “power” to just one page. This can also be used on subcategories or pages with low traffic to boost relevant higher-level pages.
The best formats are JPG, PNG, GIF, and WEBP.
Reduce the size as much as possible while keeping decent image quality. Photoshop has a useful “Save for Web” feature.
Use representative names for your images as it allows Google to better understand the contents of your website.
For example, instead of IMG_20210322_015249.jpg use sports_car_blue_audi_tt.jpg
Describe what is displayed on the image in alt-text for search engines to be able to understand what is displayed in the image and get those images indexed on image searches.
Core Web Vitals
Use Google Search Console to identify and fix Core Web Vitals errors.
Largest Content Paint (LCP): this metric measures the perceived load speed. It marks the point in the page load timeline when the page’s main content has likely loaded. The ideal loading speed shouldn’t exceed 2.5 seconds.
First Input Delay (FID): this metric measures responsiveness and quantifies the experience users feel when trying to first interact with the page. Ideally, the first interaction should happen within 100 microseconds.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability and quantifies the amount of unexpected layout shift of visible page content.
Use the Google Page Speed Insight Tool to identify opportunities to speed up the loading speed of the website.
URL structure naming
Use short slugs that are efficient and in accordance with the designed web structure.
Long URLs may hide important keywords and hinder viewers from visiting your website and are generally associated with not being trustworthy.
Instead of /offer/offer-samsung/offer-samsung-galaxy-s10 use /offer/samsung/galaxy-s10.
Keep blog article slugs short and only use relevant keywords.
For example, we have a post called “UX: Google’s latest ranking factor” with this URL: https://ogno.io/ux-and-google/. So, the slug is /ux-and-google instead of /how_does_ux_play_a_role_in_the_latest_googles_ranking_factor_update. It uses the main keywords in it “UX” and “Google” while remaining short.
A slightly longer slug like /ux_googles_latest_ranking_factor would still be ok as it only features relevant keywords.
Use Google Search Console to upload the sitemap as a guide for Google to better understand the site structure.
Use an SSL certificate to move from the HTTP to the HTTPS protocol and make the website more secure.
Suggested WordPress Plugins
The plugins suggested below can speed up the website and/or make your life easier by providing insight into your SEO performance. That said, having too many WordPress plugins will slow down your website and hurt your SEO, so choose wisely.
Helps you implement the tags listed above (Meta Title, Meta Description, Indexing, etc.) as well as has a lot of other useful features.
A3 Lazy Load
Reduces the page load speed by lazy loading elements.
Helps reduce the size of the images. Offers different compression options as well as an option to change the images in bulk.
W3 Total Cache
- CDN support
- Combining Scripts
- Browser Caching
WP Job Manager
A lightweight job listing plugin for adding job-board-like functionality to your WordPress site.
Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions
Every web page should have a meta title and meta description,these will be used as the title and description of your page in the search results. Use relevant keywords to help you rank higher and to get the benefit of bolded text in the search results, as shown in the image below.
Meta Title Length
As mentioned in the technical section, for it to be displayed properly on all devices the length of your meta titles should be between 50 and 60 characters.
Meta Description Length
Also mentioned above, the ideal length for a Meta Description is between 120 and 140 characters.
Using targeted keywords is beneficial but even more powerful when considered together with user intent.
For example, if you Google “SEO for beginners”, you will find this meta title: “SEO Starter Guide: The Basics | Google Search Central”. It does not contain the keyword “beginners”, yet it is in its rightful place as it provides valuable information that is relevant to the user’s intent. Moreover, Google is smart enough to identify synonyms.
For every page, you should have 1 <H1> tag as the main header. Use the focus keyword for that page inside the H1 tag as it increases your chances to rank that page higher for the focus keyword.
Content is key as that is what users came to your website for. Good content will make users stay on your website longer, reduce the bounce rate and hopefully get them to take the desired action.
Every single web page should have at least 300 words of content (500 for blog posts).
Otherwise, Google will view your content as “thin content” and the chances of you ranking on the top 10 are slim to none.
On average, the content length of the top 10 URLs ranking on high volume keywords is between 1200 and 1800 words.
The sole purpose of Google is to help people find the information they are looking for in a way that best suits them.So, when working on your content make sure to prioritize delivering value with user experience in mind.
An important part of user experience is readability. By making sure the content is easy to comprehend you increase the chances of users spending their time reading the content as large blocks of text are discouraging to read.
- Split your content into easily digestible pieces
- Use visuals to deliver information when it could make the user experience better
- Use anchor links to help people easily navigate to the desired content
- Use accordions to hide content that might not be useful to everyone while at the same time increasing your
Moreover, interactive features such as anchor links and accordions are a good sign for Google as they suggest that users are willing to interact with your content.
Make sure you pick relevant keywords and synonyms for each web page and use them throughout the content. This helps Google associate your page content with the intended keywords.
Ensure that the keywords you picked have enough search volume using Google’s Keyword Planner.
Use synonyms as Google is smart enough to understand it. Moreover, Google prefers it when you don’t overuse keywords and phrases.
Analyze the top-ranking websites for the search queries that interest you to find the average number of times the keywords are being used. This will give you an estimate of what you should be aiming for.
Moreover, this will help you better understand the search intent behind the search queries and help you write better content.
Reference other websites in your content wherever possible and don’t forget to link your own relevant blog posts and other pages.
Get as many high-quality and respectable blogs and websites to link to your website as this increases Google’s “trust” in your authority and value.
To Sum Up
As you can see SEO is a complex, yet extremely useful marketing technique that will yield long term results. From On-Page to Off-Page SEO, keyword planning and page load speed, the experts at Ogno are sure to help your every concern.