A comprehensive SEO strategy has many moving pieces, which makes it easy to get bogged down in the details and lose sight of the big picture. To help you manage the process of improving your search visibility, we’ve made a complete (and achievable!) website SEO checklist that anyone can follow — whether you’re just getting started with SEO or looking to boost your SEO knowledge.
SEO Checklist & Planning Tools
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How To Use the Victorious SEO Checklist
This comprehensive and actionable SEO checklist template includes insights from every member of Victorious’ SEO strategy team. They’ve weighed in with their SEO must-dos and provided lists of favorite tools and tactics for keyword research, technical SEO, link building, and more so you can confidently implement their recommendations. Really, this is a compilation of multiple SEO checklists — if you only need an on-page SEO checklist or a technical SEO checklist, just use our anchor links to jump to what matters to you most. If you need a an SEO checklist for new websites, start at the top and work your way down.
If you’re a lone marketer or managing a small team, I recommend you consider everything on this SEO checklist incrementally beneficial and use it as a framework to build your SEO strategy over time. Moving through it at a sustainable pace will save you from overwhelm while you enjoy the cumulative benefits of committing to a data-driven SEO plan.
SEO Analytics Checklist
Before making changes to your site, set up reporting tools, install plugins, and check whether your site is indexed so you can measure the impact of your work. Everything in this part of the SEO checklist represents the price of admission if you’re serious about optimizing your site for search.
Let’s get started!
1. Set Up Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is a free tool that provides data about your site’s performance in Google searches.
GSC allows you to:
- Uncover what search terms your pages show up for.
- See which keywords and pages generate the most click-throughs.
- Submit a sitemap or ask for recrawls.
- Find and fix technical site errors.
- Receive messages from the Google Search team.
GSC is instrumental for SEO. Not only will it help you tick off more items on this SEO best practices checklist, but the data it provides will help inform and improve your SEO strategy over time.
2. Set Up a Google Analytics Account
Google Analytics is a free marketing analytics tool that tracks how visitors interact with your website. Simply put, Google Analytics will help you link your SEO efforts to your business goals and, subsequently, your bottom line. It’s how you’ll measure the ROI of your SEO strategy and compare the impact of different marketing channels, like SEO vs. PPC.
Use Google Analytics to answer questions like:
- What sources are driving traffic to your website?
- Which pages on your site are visitors landing on?
- How long is the average visitor session, and how many pages are people viewing per visit?
- What is the primary conversion point on your website?
- How many visitors have completed an action that helps you meet your goals?
3. Link Google Search Console to Google Analytics
Get even more out of these free tools by linking Analytics to Search Console. Enabling data sharing between the two allows you to access additional reports and insights.
4. Install & Configure an SEO Plugin
An SEO plugin can improve the functionality of your content management system (CMS) and provide you with the features needed to better optimize your site for search.
If you’re using WordPress as your CMS — like 43% of websites — there are several SEO plugin options available, though Yoast outranks them all as the most popular plugin on the planet.
Yoast makes optimizing your WordPress site for search easier by generating a dynamic XML sitemap, helping you update page titles and meta descriptions, and identifying duplicate content. Plus, it earns high marks for simplifying technical SEO.
For Shopify users, we recommend Plug In SEO.
5. Generate & Submit an XML Sitemap
If you’re using the Yoast SEO plugin, it’ll generate and update your sitemap automatically.
If you’re not using Yoast, a tool like Screaming Frog can help you create a sitemap. There are also free resources for sitemap generation, such as XML Sitemaps Generator. Ideally, you want to be able to customize what appears in your sitemap, but it’s better to have an auto-generated version than none at all.
Once you’ve created your sitemap, submit it through Google Search Console.
6. Create a Robots.txt File
A robots.txt file is a plain text file that tells search engines where they can and can’t go on your website. You can use this file to disallow crawl bots from indexing pages that aren’t useful to search results — such as thank you pages for forms, your shopping cart page, and internal search results. Make sure there’s nothing in your robots.txt file blocking search engines from crawling and indexing valuable content. Otherwise, Googlebot won’t crawl those pages!
Even if you don’t have directories you want to disallow from indexing, having a robots.txt file is a best practice since it also points crawl bots to your sitemap.
Not sure if you already have a robots.txt file? Go to yourdomain.com/robots.txt. If you see a file, you’re all set. If not, Yoast can help you generate one, or you can manually create one using a text editor and upload it to the root of your domain. Once your file is in place, use Google’s tester tool to verify everything works correctly.
7. Check for Manual Actions
According to Google, they issue manual actions against a site when:
…a human reviewer at Google has determined that pages on the site are not compliant with Google’s webmaster quality guidelines.”Search Console Help Center
Things like structured data issues, unnatural (spammy) links to or from your site, hidden text, and thin content can result in a manual action by Google. Once imposed, a manual action can prevent parts of your site or even the whole thing from being returned in search results.
Check the manual actions tab in Google Search Console for any notifications about penalties. If Google has levied a manual action against your site, that’s the first thing you need to address.
8. Make Sure Google Is Indexing Your Site
A “noindex” tag tells search engine crawlers like Googlebot that you don’t want them to return the tagged content in search results. It makes sense to use them when something is in development, but once that content is published, errant noindex tags render it invisible to search engines. It might surprise you how often a site is de-indexed because developers accidentally left noindex meta tags in place when moving code from a staging server into live production!
Google Search Console’s Index Pages Report will help you uncover and fix any indexing issues on your site. Check it regularly to identify problems quickly.
Keyword Research Checklist
Keywords might be the most critical component for SEO success. The keywords searchers use reveal essential details about them and how they find what they need and want. Identifying the keywords that reflect your customers’ search tendencies can increase your chances of appearing in search results when it counts.
Keyword research is a unique process for every business and industry, but building that bridge between yourself and your potential customers is well worth it. While each of the SEO best practices checklist steps outlined below warrants an article in its own right, I’ve tried to include enough information to get you started.
9. Find Content With Momentum
Do you have content with a clear theme that’s already driving traffic to your site? Anything ranking on at least page two of SERPs is the perfect place to start SEO improvements. Building on existing momentum will allow you a few quick wins while you dive into some of the more challenging aspects of implementing an SEO strategy.
Use Google Analytics to find pages that perform well, then check their keyword rankings with a tool like Ahrefs Site Explorer. If your budget doesn’t allow for a tool like Ahrefs, Google Search Console is a free option for insights into your keyword rankings.
10. Identify Your Competitors
Next, you’ll want to understand the competitive landscape. Ranking in SERPs is a zero-sum game, which means you’ll need to outperform your competitors to climb into first-page rankings. The quickest way to identify your search competitors is to use a domain SEO analysis tool.
When you analyze competing domains, you’ll see how your visibility compares to theirs and who’s ranking for which keywords. Knowing the strengths of your competitors will help inform your keyword strategy.
11. List Converting Keywords
When building a keyword strategy, you want to emphasize keywords that are most likely to generate the greatest return on your investment. That means choosing keywords that will directly contribute to revenue growth by driving leads, sales, and conversions. These keywords summarize your offer and are often high-volume, highly-competitive search terms. (More on keyword volume and difficulty below.)
After you’ve created your list of keywords, sort through them and prioritize the ones most closely related to your conversion goals.
12. Conduct a Competitive Keyword Analysis
A competitive keyword analysis (also known as a keyword gap analysis) is the process of identifying valuable keywords your competitors rank well for.
Some things to keep in mind:
- The keywords you analyze should be from the list of conversion keywords you identified above.
- They should be keywords you could rank for (or rank better for).
- The more competitors you include in your analysis, the more helpful it will be.
13. Include Question Keywords
Understanding the questions your prospective customers are asking will help you align your content with their needs. In short, question keywords are an ideal way to drive traffic to your blog posts.
The Moz Domain SEO Analysis Tool I mentioned above also includes a section for “top questions mined from People Also Ask boxes for relevant keywords” that provides some valuable insights on question keywords.
14. Target Search Intent
If keyword research answers the question of “what” potential customers are searching for, search intent answers the question of “why” they’re searching for it.
To increase your chances of ranking for specific keywords, analyze high-ranking pages and look at the intent they target. You’ll want to make sure any content you create around keyword themes (more on keyword groups below) aligns with the type of content you see in search results.
Why? The fact that those are the highest-ranking results for a given query indicates the type of content matching search intent for those keywords.
A common framework for evaluating intent is the 4 Cs:
- Content type: Do you see blog posts, product pages, landing pages, or product category pages?
- Content format: Are they lists, how-to guides, tutorials, opinion pieces, or reviews?
- Content length: How long is the content that tops the search results? Remember, a searcher’s intent will dictate how much content they want to consume. For example, someone looking to buy a bike doesn’t want to read a 7,000-word blog post about drive chains.
- Content angle: Is there a dominant theme that runs through the results? If you want to share a pancake recipe, are the top results for “fluffy pancakes” or “pancakes for beginners?”
15. Prioritize Keywords by Volume & Difficulty
Search volume is a metric that describes how many queries there are for a given keyword in a month. Keyword difficulty indicates how competitive it is to rank for a search term.
Most of the time, high-volume keywords are very difficult to rank for. Regardless, SEO novices flock toward them because they think search volume is the most critical metric.
I’ve found these coveted high-volume, high-difficulty keywords are also less focused on specific intent. When interpreting the intent of search queries, Google will return a wider range of results to cover its bases, making it even harder for content to rank.
Assessing keyword difficulty will help you decide if it’s worth the resources to try to rank for a particular term. While no keyword is impossible to rank for in the long term, some are so competitive that it’s nearly impossible to move the needle on them in the short-to-mid term.
If you can’t outrank large competitors for broad keywords, niching down with specific keywords can attract the people looking for exactly what you have. For example, long-tail keywords are a great way to attract searchers looking specifically for what you offer without having to compete directly against other businesses.
16. Build Keyword Groups
The research you’ve done up to this point should result in a list of keywords that:
- Can bring converting traffic to your site.
- Specifically targets search intent.
- Offers a reasonable opportunity to appear on page one of search results.
These keywords function as your primary keyword. With that in hand, you can now create a semantically-related group of secondary keywords for each term on your list.
Semantically related keywords are words or phrases that are conceptually related. For example, for a keyword like “increase conversion rate,” some semantically-related keywords might be:
- Ecommerce conversion rate
- Digital marketing conversion rate
- How to improve conversion rates on Shopify
Why include related keywords on a single page of content? Because it will help Google make connections between the semantically-related topics within your content and showcase how relevant your information is to search queries.
A quick way to do some semantic keyword research is to use Google’s “related searches” function. Just type your seed keyword into the search bar and scroll down to the bottom of the search results page.
17. Integrate Keyword Groups
After you’ve created your list of keyword groups, the next step is to map them to existing content wherever possible.
Before integrating keywords into your content, pause and ask yourself, “Will this content provide answers to people looking for [insert your keywords here]?” Don’t be tempted to toss keywords into unrelated content just to show up in search results. Doing so will disappoint and frustrate searchers who’ve come to you for answers, and ultimately it won’t help you rank. Your goal is to enhance your content so it clearly answers a particular search query.
One more caveat to consider as you integrate keywords into your content: When you target the same keyword and search intent across multiple pages, you’ll unintentionally create a situation where your pages will compete against each other to rank. Not only does this confuse Google, it dilutes the ranking power of all your pages. Instead, concentrate related keywords on specific pages with relevant content.
If you have keywords groups you want to rank for that don’t correspond to existing content, that’s a good indication of the new content you’ll need to create.
18. Repeat Keyword Research
Like most things on this checklist, keyword research is not a one-and-done SEO activity. Implementing your first list of keyword groups will take time. When that’s complete, go back to the top of this basic SEO checklist template and start a second round of keyword research — applying what you’ve learned from the performance of your first batch of keywords.
SEO Content Checklist
To rank in Google SERPs, you need great content. All of your pages — not just blog posts — have to be optimized for search and engage readers by providing helpful and unique information.
19. Create New Content Based on Your Keywords
During your keyword research, you created groups of related keywords that speak to searchers who need your product or service. After integrating what you can into existing content, it’s time to create new pages for the remaining keyword groups.
If you’re unsure where to start, I recommend looking at competitor content that ranks well.
- How long is it?
- What format is it in?
- What information does it cover?
- Could you do it better?
Once you’ve written great content, add the keywords from your research. Remember to keep it natural! If you have keywords that seem to be an odd fit in context, reserve those to use in metadata and alt tags. (More about on-page SEO below.)
20. Update or Remove Outdated Content
When it comes to content, more isn’t necessarily better. If there’s content on your site that doesn’t rank or add value, you have two options: Improve it or prune it.
While we don’t know how Google makes domain evaluations, most strategists agree it seems to measure the overall quality of pages on a site and average it to determine a “domain quality score.” My experience absolutely supports this line of thinking. I’ve seen it time and time again — pruning low-performing content improves the general SEO health of a website.
Use metrics from your Google reporting tools to identify pages on your site that aren’t receiving much organic traffic or ranking well. Pull those URLs into a spreadsheet and determine what you can fix and what needs to be redirected and retired. Set a timeline to revisit existing content that needs improvement so it doesn’t linger, dragging down your domain score.
21. Boost Readability With Formatting
When people click through to your page from SERPs, they’ll first skim your post to see if you’re offering the information they’re looking for. You have less than 10 seconds to convince them to stay and read what you have to say. If you don’t satisfy their curiosity, they’ll leave immediately, signaling to Google that your content might not have been relevant to the query.
Because of this, formatting your content so searchers can easily find what they need is essential. Make your content skimmable by:
- Using clear — not cute — headings.
- Breaking up long paragraphs of text.
- Providing bulleted and numbered lists.
- Including images that clarify concepts.
- Directing the eye with bolding and blockquotes.
22. Enrich Your Content
“A picture is worth a thousand words,” and there’s no place more fitting to use that age-old wisdom than on your web pages. Enriching your content makes it more valuable to your prospects and helps them engage with your message.
Use any or all of these media to create a richer user experience on your pages:
Note: There are on-page SEO tips to consider when embedding media on your pages. (More on alt tags below.)
23. Keep Content Up to Date
What’s just as crucial as creating valuable content? Making sure it continues to provide value.
Creating a cadence to review and improve your content will keep it fresh and help it maintain its rank. Add regular content updates to your workflow and say goodbye to stale content.
24. Write Evergreen Content
Without a doubt, you’ll want to create content for trending topics that interest your customers. But keep a place in your content marketing strategy for content that stays fresh.
Data from Ahrefs shows that the average age of content reaching the top 10 spots in search results is two years old. That means it’s in your best interest to create evergreen content with a long enough shelf life to build the authority and backlinks that can push it up in search rankings.
On-Page SEO Checklist
On-page SEO (also known as on-site SEO) covers all search optimizations implemented directly on your website. It includes everything from keyword integration and metadata optimization to how you organize and interlink your content.
Some strategists split everything related to improving the technical aspects of a website into a separate category and call it “technical SEO.” But because all those technical activities take place on site (rather than off site), I prefer to consider technical SEO activities a subgroup of on-page SEO.
Let’s start this on-site SEO checklist with:
25. Optimize Page Title Tags
Title tags tell search engines and searchers what a web page is about. Compelling titles will help your pages rank for their primary keywords and make searchers want to click through from SERPs.
To use page titles to their best advantage, make sure:
- Every page has a title.
- Each title is unique.
- Titles include primary keywords near the beginning.
- Page titles are descriptive and accurate.
- Title length is between 50–60 characters to avoid being truncated in search results.
- Titles are enticing — make them stand out.
If you install the Yoast plugin, it’ll show a preview of your title in Google search results and give you the green light if your title is good to go.
We use Screaming Frog to run a page title audit and identify titles that don’t follow the above recommendations.
26. Fix Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions show under your page title in Google search results and can encourage searchers to check out your page. Thus, your meta description should summarize what searchers can expect to find on your page.
Although meta descriptions aren’t a direct ranking factor, providing a rundown of the information you’re providing will inspire searchers to click through to your content.
Things to keep in mind when fixing your meta descriptions:
- Include your primary keyword. Why? Because Google will bold the keyword in your meta description when it returns your page in search results. At a glance, searchers will know that your content is relevant to their query.
- Don’t skip it. Google search results aside, social networks pull your meta description when someone shares a link to your content. If there’s nothing to show, people who see the shared link won’t understand what it’s about. On the other hand, an enticing, descriptive meta description encourages click-throughs on social media, just like it does in search results.
- Add a call to action. Try ending your description with a directive that leaves no doubt about what people should do next, like “shop today” or “get free shipping.”
- Watch the length. Google will truncate meta descriptions longer than 160 characters, so I recommend aiming for a happy medium between 120 and 145.
27. Double-Check H1 Tags
The h1 tag identifies the main heading of your content. It’s distinct from the page title, which is displayed in search results, and only shown on the page itself.
Make sure to:
- Use one h1 per page. More than one h1 per page will send mixed signals about your main topic, likely impacting that page’s rankings.
- Add keywords to your h1s. There are a couple of reasons to do this.
- Scannability: H1s prominently featured on the top of each page provide the perfect signpost to readers that they’ve found what they were looking for.
- External linking: People will often link to your page using its title. Including your keyword in the h1 will increase the likelihood of receiving links with your target keyword in the anchor text.
28. Complete a WDF*IDF Analysis
SEO strategists employ the WDF*IDF formula to determine if a page’s content includes a meaningful range of relevant terms without neglecting or overusing the primary keyword.
Running a WDF*IDF analysis provides insight into which semantically related keywords appear in competing content. Essentially, it highlights the words you should add to your content to improve how Google evaluates its relevance.
29. Optimize Images
Did you know your images can impact your SEO? Improve on-site SEO by optimizing your photos and infographics for search.
File Names & Alt Tags
An alt tag is an HTML attribute applied to image tags to provide a text alternative for screen readers and search engines. Since search engines can’t “see” visual content, they try to decode it by reading file names and alt tags. Plus, optimizing your images increases the likelihood they’ll rank in image searches, which is especially beneficial for product pages.
Make file names and alt tags accurately descriptive and include secondary keywords in both. Use dashes to delineate between words in file names. Alt tags don’t require any special delineation.
<img src="SEO-best-practices-checklist.jpg" alt="The Complete 2023 SEO Checklist. How To Implement SEO">
The filename, “SEO-best-practices-checklist,” is descriptive and contains a secondary keyword for this page. The alt tag, “The Complete 2023 SEO Strategy Checklist. How To Implement SEO,” is descriptive, contains a different keyword, and doesn’t use special characters.
30. Improve Internal Linking
Internal linking is precisely what it sounds like — the practice of linking from one page to another on the same website.
Internal links build a better user experience by presenting additional relevant content that might be of interest to visitors and help search crawlers find new pages on your site. The anchor text you use for your links provides context that helps search engines and people understand how the pages relate to each other within the larger structure of your website. Plus, internal linking is an effective way to share link equity between pages on your site.
Look for opportunities to link to existing content from new pages, and whenever you publish something new, make an effort to add a link to it from older pages. The easiest way to do that is by googling “site:yourdomain.com topic” to generate a list of internal linking opportunities.
- Internal Linking: A Guide to SEO Best Practices
- Anchor Text: Everything You Need to Know About Anchor Text SEO
- What Is Link Equity? (And What Does It Mean for SEO?)
- Dofollow vs. Nofollow Links: Everything You Need to Know
- How To Find Broken Links on Your Website & Fix Them
31. Find & Fix Keyword Cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization occurs when multiple pages on the same domain compete for the same keywords and search intent. When Google sees two pages competing for the same group of keywords, it splits page authority between them, and neither one of them will end up ranking well.
Even if individual pages seem distinct to you, Google may have difficulty differentiating them. This is especially true for highly specialized websites with subtle nuances between products that content non-experts (or crawl bots) may not recognize as different.
Google Search Console’s Performance report will tell you what Google queries lead to clicks to your pages. When you dig deeper into the “pages” tab, you’ll find a list of URLs ranking for a specific keyword. If there’s more than one page listed there, you might have a cannibalization issue.
Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to cannibalization. You might need to combine similar pages, delete old content, or change your angle on some pages to better differentiate them from each other.
32. Create SEO-Friendly URLs
Your URL is the first thing Google sees about your page, and as such, it has the power to help or hinder your SEO efforts. An SEO-friendly URL makes it easier for search engines to crawl your pages and figure out what they’re about.
SEO-friendly URLs should:
- Be descriptive and simple.
- Include a keyword to help with rankings and click-through rates.
- Use hyphens — not underscores — to separate words.
- Reflect the hierarchy of your content.
On-Page Technical SEO Checklist
This subset of on-page SEO addresses the best practices that make it easier for search engines to find, crawl, and index your website.
Though mostly invisible to casual visitors, technical SEO can make or break your search rankings. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to instill healthy habits for technical hygiene and keep SEO issues at bay. Our technical SEO checklist can help.
33. Use HTTPS
Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of the protocol over which data is sent between a browser and the website it’s connected to. HTTPS makes it possible to transmit sensitive data like credit card numbers securely. Since security is a top priority for Google, they’ve made it a ranking factor. That means if you’re not using HTTPS for your website, it’s going to impact where your pages land in search results.
34. Check Your Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals are a set of metrics Google uses to quantify user experience on your pages.
Core Web Vitals answer questions like:
- How fast does a page load?
- How quickly does the page become stable?
- How responsive are interactive elements on the page?
Optimizing for these factors improves the user experience and impacts your search rankings. Check out the Page Experience report in Google Search Console to identify and fix any issues that come up.
35. Monitor Your Page Speed
How quickly your page loads is a critical part of your Core Web Vitals, and it also plays a role in user experience. The longer it takes for the elements on your page to appear, the more likely it is a site visitor will bounce and head off to one of your competitors’ sites. This can impact your SEO. If Google sees people are leaving your site because it takes too long to load, they’ll drop your rankings.
Don’t let slow load times hinder your SEO progress. Monitor your page speed and follow our tips for getting your pages to load faster.
36. Get Mobile Friendly
Google rolled out mobile-first indexing in 2018. That means when they crawl your site, they’re using the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking.
If your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, it’s not going to rank well in search results — simple as that.
Fortunately, it’s easy to test your site’s mobile friendliness with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
If you discover your site isn’t mobile friendly, the fix could be as simple as switching to a responsive theme if you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, Squarespace, or Shopify.
37. Find & Fix Crawl Errors
Crawl errors prevent Google from viewing your content. If Google can’t crawl pages of your site, they won’t rank — plain and simple.
It’s easy to find crawl errors in Google Search Console’s Pages report (formerly the Coverage report). This report has undergone a couple of changes over the past year. Now, there are two categories: Not indexed and indexed.
Pages with an error that prevents Google from indexing them will appear in the ‘Not indexed’ section, along with pages you have purposefully blocked Google from indexing via robots.txt or a robots meta tag.
To identify and fix errors, scroll to the section titled ’Why pages aren’t indexed.’ Click on a line to learn more about an issue and the affected URLs. If you determine some of the listed URLs should be indexed, address the issue on your page and validate it through Google Search Console.
In addition to impacting whether your pages show up in search, crawl errors also impact how frequently Google crawls your pages (i.e., your crawl budget). Fixing crawl issues will help you maximize your crawl budget so Google can crawl your website more efficiently.
38. Add Structured Data
Structured data, which is sometimes called schema markup, is a type of code that helps search engines understand your content better and enhances the way it appears in SERPs.
Google has a markup generator and a testing tool to help add structured data to your content. Or, if you’ve already installed Yoast, check out the “schema” tab for a simple way to include schema markup on your pages.
To catch errors in existing structured data, check the enhancements reports section in Google Search Console.
39. Check for Duplicate Versions of Your Site
If users can access your content at more than one variation of your URL — without being redirected — that means there are multiple versions of your website accessible to search engines.
Having multiple versions of your site live and visible to search engines could create duplicate content issues and split your link equity. If you find that’s the case, make it a priority to implement 301 redirects to point all variations to one primary format (the canonical URL).
40. Check for Canonical Tags
While we’re on the subject of duplications, we should talk about canonical tags.
To be clear — I’m not talking about a duplicate version of your website, like in the section above. Here, I’m talking about duplicate content at the page level.
There are legitimate reasons to intentionally have pages with the same or very similar content to serve different visitors. For instance, you might want to send US-based searchers and Canadian-based searchers to different pages where the only appreciable difference is the currency.
On the other hand, it’s common for content management systems to generate multiple URLs for the same page of content automatically. Whether or not those additional pages actually exist, search engines interpret each URL as a different page and may be confused by what it interprets as “duplicate” content.
A canonical tag is an HTML element that tells search engines which URL is the main version of a page and should be presented in search results. In both of the above examples, you’ll want to use canonical tags to direct search engines to the one true source of that content.
41. Eliminate Redirect Chains
When multiple redirects lie between the origin page and the destination page, you get a redirect chain. Often created inadvertently, these chains can slow down your site and make it harder for search bots to crawl it. Plus, the increased page load time can frustrate site visitors, who may bounce before the final page loads.
Redirect chains can waste your crawl budget and link equity. Identify any on your site and edit the links so they go to the final destination URL.
42. Inspect URLs With Google Search Console
Google Search Console’s URL Inspection Tool will run a diagnosis on specific pages and report back issues you need to address.
While it’s not practical to use it for every page on your site, if organic traffic on a particular page has taken a nose-dive, it’s a great place to start troubleshooting the problem.
URL Inspection can catch errors related to:
- Structured data
43. Identify & Fix Broken Links
Broken links can signal a poor user experience. Since Google values a quality user experience, they’ll negatively impact your position in SERPs.
Fortunately, identifying and fixing broken links on your site is simple. Ahrefs has a free broken link checker that will generate a list of broken links on or to your website.
Once you have your lists, you can set about removing or updating the internal links that need your attention. Then, contact site owners with broken links to your site and provide the information they need to update them. (Twice the value with one free tool!)
44. Check Page Depth
Page depth refers to the number of clicks it takes to get from the homepage to a specific page on your site. Every page someone can access directly from your homepage is one click deep. Pages that users can only access from those level-one pages are two clicks deep, etc.
Google assigns less importance to pages the further away from the homepage they are. From an SEO perspective, anything beyond three clicks deep will have a tough time ranking. If Google assesses the “popularity” of a page based on the number (and quality) of the links going to it, you’re sending a clear signal to the search engine that the content isn’t valuable.
If people have to work too hard to get to your deep content, they’re likely to give up and go somewhere else for what they need. Flatten your site’s structure if those deep pages are strategically important to your business so they can see the light of day.
45. Find & Fix Orphaned Pages
An orphaned page is a web page that doesn’t have a link pointing to it. Without that link, search engines can’t find or crawl the page. And since pages search engines can’t crawl won’t be indexed, an orphaned page won’t appear in SERPs.
To make sure search engines and site visitors can find all of your pages, each one should have a link to it from at least one other page. Not sure whether you have some orphaned pages on your site? Learn how to find them with Screaming Frog below.
Off-Page SEO Checklist
Off-page SEO, also referred to as off-site SEO, includes activities that originate on other websites that can improve your search rankings and showcase your site’s relevance, trustworthiness, and authoritativeness.
Google cares about what other sites think of your content. When reputable sites link to your pages, they lend credence to the quality of your content, and some of their domain authority rubs off on you. While link building is the most commonly acknowledged tactic in off-page SEO, there’s much more you can do to improve your position in search results from outside your site.
46. Start With a Link Intersect Analysis
Conducting a link intersect analysis will reveal which sites link to your competitors but not to you — the easiest way to identify quick wins for your backlink profile.
Why? If a website is linking to your competition, chances are good they’ll link to you, too. In the listed results, you’re likely to find a handful of resource pages or product roundups that represent the best place to start your backlink outreach.
- What Are Backlinks & Why Are They Important?
- What Makes a Quality Backlink?
- Google Chrome Add-Ons for Analyzing Backlinks
- Anchor Text: Everything You Need To Know About Anchor Text SEO
- Bad Links: How To Detect Bad Backlinks & Fix Them
- Dofollow vs. Nofollow Links: Everything You Need To Know
47. Respond to HARO Queries
Help a Report Out (HARO) connects journalists and content creators with subject-matter experts who can act as credible sources for what they’re writing. When you respond to a pitch and get accepted, you’ll gain exposure for your business and possibly a backlink from the news source, as well.
Sign up to receive daily emails, and watch for opportunities to share your wisdom, earn a backlink, and boost your domain authority.
48. Reclaim Unlinked Mentions & Broken Backlinks
Link reclamation is about locating where someone else’s site mentions your content without the correct link or with no link at all.
Start by listing your product names, services, and well-known company representatives — like your CEO. You may want to include professional associations you belong to and any organizations you sponsor or support (like Little League teams) that might link to your website. Google the terms on your list and check the results for links.
Various tools, like those listed below, can help you find web mentions. The process is slightly different for each, but the basic idea is the same regardless of which you use.
Once you’ve identified missing or broken links, reach out and graciously supply the appropriate link. Most of the time, site owners are happy to make the update for you. The Slideshare linked below even provides some email templates for your outreach efforts.
49. Set Up & Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Formerly known as Google My Business, Google Business Profile is the platform that allows businesses to manage how their business profile appears in local Google search queries. Even if you don’t serve customers at your business address, having a GBP account is an effective way to build your authority with Google and improve your SEO.
Optimizing your Google Business Profile account will help customers find your business and shape their impressions of you through the information you choose to display in the Google Knowledge Panel — the information box appearing at the top-right of search results.
Benefit From the Power of Partnership
Improving your site for search is a long-term, ongoing process. I don’t think it’s possible to include everything you need to consider in one article, but I hope I’ve given you a solid foundation to start from.