Complete SEO Checklist For 2021
A complete hacking SEO checklist can save developers and bloggers time and money towards their traffic milestones. Search Engine Optimisation or SEO is an inevitable part of modern content development. Creating amazing content is no more enough. To be honest, designing and maintaining a website for your business is just the money you have to spend every year with no return unless you pull visitors in your website and turn them into on-demand customers using great SEO practices and strategies. At IT BOOST Australia, We have created the most comprehensive SEO checklist on the internet so you can go through it and apply it to your website. If you want to improve your page ranking in 2021, you will definitely love the practices in this checklist. Let's dive into it:
Basic SEO Tools & Prerequisites Checklist
First things first. Let's start with tools and plugins that you should know to get ranked in search, specially Google search engines.
1- Install Google Console
The Google search console is your best friend in SEO. It is a very POWERFUL free SEO tool provided by Google. It is a free SEO.
It allows you to track indexing status and optimize the performance of your site. GSC includes a range of useful features such as:
• Investigate keywords bringing you the most traffic
• Detect and fix crawling errors
• Submit a sitemap
• Monitor performance of each page
• Find out how Google sees your website
• A lot more
If you are serious about improving SEO ranking of your website, without a doubt, setting up a Google Search Console account is the first step.
2- Setup a Bing Webmaster Tools
Bing is the second largest search engine in the US. About one-third of all searches are done in Bing. Even if you are currently using Google Search Console, you should consider installing Bing Webmaster Tools as it provides additional data and Bing specific insights. It has also some useful features such as keyword search.
3- Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the best tool to visualize and explore how people find you and navigate your website. It can measure visitors and sessions of your website. To get the most out of Google Analytics connect it to the Google Search Console mentioned above. It enables you to see useful SEO information inside Google Console.
4- Create a Buyer Persona
Buyer persona is a fictional image of ideal customers. Having a deep understanding of buyer (or user) characteristics and demands is very important for you to walk any further in SEO.
In fact, the target buyer persona influences keyword optimization or personalised content creation.
Before you launch your website, you should collect some important information from targeted customers. Here are a few examples of your targeted customers information:
Next, focus on developing the content that suits this group, which eventually leads to more traffic and discussion on your site.
5- Configure Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager is an essential tool to understand how people interact with your website. Although Google Analytics is a very useful to measure user behavior, it has some limitations when installed alone. It's when Google Tag Manager comes into the equation.
Tags are small code snippets inserted into websites to collect user data and send it to third-parties. You tag a website to any sort of purposes such as monitoring event such as file downloads, survey and form submission or even adding or removing an item from shopping carts.
However, adding or removing tags may be an overwhelming task especially for non-programmers. With the GTM process of tagging source code of websites is drastically simplified.
Pro Tip for geeks: You can also install Facebook Pixel with GTM to track website users and target them with personalized ads. A super useful feature!
6- Choose a Brandable Domain Name
Choosing the right domain name is very important in any business. A well-branded domain name should normally be:
• Easy to read/spell
You should not include top keywords in the domain name until you have a very good reason. Remember that in 2012, Google changed its algorithm to reduce the rank of low-quality exact match domains (EMD) in the result.
To learn more, visit choosing a domain name which stands the test of time here
7- Register a Domain for Several Years
To show search engines that you are serious about your business register domain name you have chosen for several years (at least 5 years).
It also helps build a high authority domain name which can drastically increase the visibility of your website to search engines.
8- Use country TLD Domain Extensions
If you have a local business and most of your customers come from a certain country using a country-specific level domain name (such as .com.au .uk, .fr and .it) will boost your local search ranking.
But it comes with a cost. The global search ranking of your site will be limited. Therefore, if your audience is international using a .com extension is still a better choice.
9- Migrate to a High-Quality Web Hosting Provider
The hosting provider will indirectly impact search engine optimization of your website. A good hosting provider has a very low server downtime which leads to better indexing in search engines. At IT BOOST Australia, to ensure the satisfaction of our clients, we have chosen to host our websites with Crazy Domains whose data centres are located in Australia.
As discussed in the technical SEO part, a low page loading time means a better rank in the search result. A high-quality web host generally has low latency and thus a better page loading speed.
In fact, where your server is located plays an important role. For example, if your server is in the US, when people are searching from the US your website will appear higher in rank. The location of the server affects also latency and page loading speed. If you have an international business, it is a good idea to setup a CDN with servers spread all over the world.
10- Create a Google Business Profile
Google My Business is the foundation of Local SEO. Configuring a Google My Business profile will increase your chance to appear in searches related to a specific location. Business Profiles are also shown in Google Maps.
It means that, whether be a restaurant or a local shop, an updated business profile in Google will bring you a lot of local customers and help you stand out among competitors.
Keyword Research Checklist
Keyword research is the steering force behind any SEO campaign. You should know the needs and desires of your customers to send them into your landing page. So, it is very important to know how to do this in the right way. We'll show how quickly and easily find keywords your customers search for.
1- Gather Five Long Tail Keywords Using Google Suggestion
One of the best tools to find long-tail keywords is using "Google suggestion". You may wonder how to use the advantages of Google suggestion: Simple! Type a keyword into Google but don't hurry for hitting Enter or search button. Google will show you a list of popular keyword suggestion to choose from. You have now a list of trustworthy longtail keyword straight from Google. The best is that long-tail keywords better represent a specific desire. Another free and great alternative to Google Autocomplete is keywordtool.io. The free version can extract up 750 long-tail keywords from Google suggestion.
2- Get Benefit from Google Keyword Planner
Officially Google keyword research tool Google Keyword Planner is a part of Google AdWords. But it is a very powerful tool to find appropriate keywords for SEO. It generates a super accurate keyword list.
3- Eavesdrop online communities
Online communities such as Reddit, Quora, Yahoo Answers, etc. are invaluable resources for keyword extraction. You can find very good keywords by eavesdropping on discussions in forums and social sites such as Reddit. Using this method, you can get keywords that even Google Keyword Planner is unable to find.
4- Find Low Competition Keywords
One of the best ways to rank among the top ten in Google is optimizing your website for low competition keywords. The reason: Low competition keywords are easy to the rank keyword. KWFinder is a freemium tool that helps you to pinpoint low competition keywords. The best is that it gives detailed information for each keyword. Just type a keyword and you will wonder how it gives tones of information: • Search volume • Keyword Difficulty • Trends • Estimated Visits
5- Identify the best Question Keywords
Question Keywords are excellent for blog posts and articles. A question keyword answers a commonly asked a question. For example: "How to repair a broken pipe?". One of the free tools to find question keywords is Answer the Public. This free tool shows you the most poplar questions people search for online. Answer these questions by your content and get ranked by search engines.
6- Hack Quora
Quora is a great question and answer site where people ask any sort of questions and experts answer them. Always look for popular questions on Quora. If you have an answer for those questions publish the complete answer in your website and optimize it for search engines. In this way, if people type that question in the search bar they will be guided to your website. Don't forget to post the answer in Quora too.
7- Tap into Wikipedia
You might be wondering how Wikipedia can be used as a keyword research tool. Don't forget that in most of the times the first result returned by google search is from Wikipedia. So, it a valuable resource for keyword research. Just type a topic in the search box and a bunch of related links will appear on the screen. Read the pages while you pay special attention to frequently used word and phrases. Those should be a good candidate for your website with a related topic.
8- Find Most Successful Keywords of Your Competitors
One way to hack the secret of online success of your competitor is to reverse engineer most profitable keywords of them. You have some tools such as Spyfu, SimilarWeb and especially SEMRush at your disposal to find out where their traffic comes from, where they get backlinks, what social media they use most, which country they target and much more.
On-Page SEO Checklist
Over the past few years, Google has got smarter and on-page rules have changed drastically to ensure you are delivering the best results. That's why you should optimise each individual page to rank higher among other pages in search engines. Here is a handful of on-page SEO optimisation techniques in 2021:
1- Use SEO friendly URLs
According to Google: 3-5 word URLS are gaining more weight. Inserting your keyword in URL helps Google understand what your page is about. Use a short and sweet URL and avoid ugly and long ones. For example, if you are writing about SEO checklist you can include top keywords in the page URL this way:
Avoid using ugly URLs:
Or long URLs:
χ https://xyz.com // 8/6/16/ cat=SEO/ pageid=890.html
2- Start the title tag with a keyword
It is no secret that you should put top keywords in the title tag. The fact that most people don't know is where to put keyword matters. It is better to begin the title tag with a keyword. For example, a good title tag sounds like: "SEO case study".
3- Insert modifiers at front of title
Modifiers are words people often add to the base keyword to get more relevant results in search engines. They include adjectives, materials, slang, shopping terms or anything else that may bring you more traffic.
You can combine two or more modifier to get longtail keywords. Using modifiers like 2020, best, fast, cheap, etc. in the title tag to boost page ranking for long-tail keywords. See a full list of best modifiers.
4- Embed targeted keywords in the first 150 words
Google puts more weight on the first 150 words of your page. Be sure to use the keyword once here. For example, if your top keyword is "Best SEO checklist in 2021 ", insert it at the very beginning of the first paragraph.
5- Embed keywords in H1, H2 And H3 headings
Use your keywords in the heading and wrap in H1 tag. A subheading should include the keyword for the section and be surrounded by H2 HTML tag. The same rule applied for a H3 tag. As an example, including “SEO Checklist” in an H2 can help you rank higher for that keyword. This tip won't make a big difference in your Google ranking. But remember that when it comes to search engine optimisation every little improvement counts.
6- Optimise images with alt tag and filename
Unfortunately, google is not very good at understanding images. You could help Google by choosing a meaningful, short and SEO-friendly filename for your images and adding a brief description of your image in the alt tag.
For better results, you can even use targeted keywords in alt tag and filename if they are relevant to the content. For example, if my image is about a fried chicken, I rename my image to: "fried_chicken.jpg". Then I will add a descriptive alt text to the image: "fried chicken with vegetables recipe.".
7- Avoid keyword stuffing
Back in days, pages packed with keywords made sense for search engine ranking. It is not anymore. Today Google is smart. Using keywords out of context have a negative effect on user experience and thus page ranking. To avoid keyword stuffing use your keywords not more than 2 or 3 times per a single page.
8- Use synonyms and LSI keywords
The best remedy for keyword stuffing is using synonyms and LSI keyword. Instead of using a keyword 1000 times you can use synonyms.
Thesaurus and Powerthesaurus are very useful for finding synonyms. For instance, "How to start a blog?" can be converted to:
• How to launch a weblog
• How to create a blog
• Starting a new blog
• How to setup a blog
LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords are keywords semantically related to your target one. Google well understands the relevancy of LSI keyword to your context. You can avoid repeating your keywords by using LSI keyword throughout your content.
To find LSI keywords type in Google search and look for “Searches related to” in the bottom of the page.
Another useful method: LSIGraph.com outputs a bunch of related LSI keywords.
9- Add outbound links
To show Google that your content is deep and well-referenced insert high authority links to your content. As a rule of thumb, you should use 2-4 external links per 1000 words. For example, we have linked this page to trusted websites like Google.com and Wikipedia.
10- Insert internal links
Link to 2-5 related pages in your website. This strategy will help you improve SEO metrics such as dwell time. Use a keyword reach anchor to send users to other pages on your website to get more detailed information. For example, use the anchor text “on-page SEO” in your internal links.
11- Optimise for voice search
Today a big part of web traffic comes from mobile devices. According to Google: 55% of teens and 41% of adults use voice search at least once a day. You don't want to miss out on that traffic, do you?!
Some strategies to optimise your website for voice searches:
1. Answers to conversational questions
2. Develop a long content with a Question and Answer format
3. Write more local content
4. Reduce page loading time
5. Create blog posts answering your customers’ questions
12- Use descriptive meta tags
Meta tags are the first things search engines encounter, see and display from your page. Use a short and descriptive meta tag. Begin with a keyword and limit to 230 words. Try to talk about benefits, not products. Use modifiers like best "50+ advantages" at the front.
If you are keen to read more about onpage SEO techniques, see Effective On-Page SEO Techniques - 2020 Version.
Technical SEO Checklist
Technical SEO is a double-edged sword. It can build or break your rankings. Fortunately, Technical SEO is not as hard as the name indicates, especially if you follow this checklist.
1- Fix Crawl Errors
Crawl errors occur when Google has trouble viewing a page on your site. As you can imagine, if Google cannot see a page it will be removed from the ranking. You can easily identify crawl errors in Google Console in the "Coverage Report". Once you find crawling errors in your webpages, you should fix it as soon as possible.
2- Wear the Glasses of Google Crawlers
Some times Google has not full access to the website and thus cannot see everything in your site. To test that, just go to Google Console and click on “Fetch as Google”. Then enter URL of the page of your website. When you do, you will see the page from Google point of view. A very helpful feature.
3- Use Responsive and Mobile-Friendly Design
Today most people surf the internet using a cell phone. That’s why Google had launched mobile-first indexing and penalizes websites without responsive design. Make sure that your website is optimized to mobile devices. If a website is not optimized for mobiles, it not going to rank very well.
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to find out about your page mobile-friendliness easily. It displays a clear Yes or No answer for each page. If you prefer using WordPress, changing the current template with a responsive one helps you to get a better ranking in search engines.
4- Repair Broken Links
Broken links may prevent the search engine from indexing your website. Hence, they can put your SEO efforts on risk. That's you want to identify and fix them ASAP. The easiest way to do is scanning your website with Drlinkcheck.com.
5- Check for Spammy Links
According to Google Policy spammy links that have purchased from a backlink exchange network have a negative affect on your ranking. Use Google Disavow to find and remove spammy links reducing the page rank.
6- Switch to HTTPS
Using an SSL certificate sends a signal to Google that you pay attention to your costumers. As a reward, websites with HTTPS rank higher in Google. If you haven't already, it is the best time to move your website to HTTPS. It can be done easily within a working day without losing content.
7- Remove Duplicate Meta Tags.
Google hates duplicate meta tags. To get rid of them go to Google console-> “Search Appearance” –> “HTML Improvements”. It will show you whether or not your site suffers from duplicate meta tags as well as a lot of useful information about SEO of your page.
8- Check Page Loading Speed
Google favors websites with fast loading time and the same great user experience in each device. If your page takes too long to load, it may hurt your ranking in the Google results. Use PageSpeed Insights to get insights and boost loading speed of your website.
This free tool lets you check loading speed of your pages for desktop and mobile users and remove unwanted resources such as high data consuming images or blocking HTML or CSS elements.
Content SEO Checklist
As it is said: "Content is king in SEO". If you want to get a good rank in Google you should develop good content. In other words: "Publish or Perish." Tip and tricks in this section help you publish great SEO-friendly content.
1- Publish Great Contents With "The Skyscraper Technique"
In short, it an excellent 3 step formula to enhance your traffic. In some cases, this technique resulted in 110% increase in the organic traffic only in 14 days. Here is the process:
• Find a popular piece of content in your industry
• Create something better
• Promote that content again
2- Maximize Readability of Your Text
People hate reading a long block of text. Chunk your content to readable and short paragraphs. Use at most 2-3 sentences per paragraph. Using bullets and lists to makes your content more readable and mobile-friendly. Enhancing the readability of your text will also reduce the Bounce Rate.
3- Mitigate Bounce Rates
Bounce rate is the proportion of user that leave your page very soon. Google considers a high bounce rate as a signal for poor quality. You can decrease bounce rate using these tips:
• Always update your content
• Don't use a lot of popups or ads
• Write shorter and more readable
• Optimise your page loading speed
• Target external links in a new window
4- Improve Dwell Time
Dwell time is the time visitors spends on your page. The more, you get a better rank. To increase dwell time:
• Use effective images
• Publish longer contents
• Chunk your content
• Write about original topics
As you can see, improving dwell time will lead to reducing bounce rate.
5- Cover the Entire Topic In-Depth
A recent analyze over one million Google search results has revealed that a comprehensive in-depth content receives a better page rank. Instead of creating a topic like "5 Tips for on-page SEO" cover EVERYTHING about the topic. In this way, you clear your way to reach the #1 rank in Google.
6- Focus on Authoritative Original Contents
Make you stand out from your competitors by developing original and high-quality content. The content can come from your personal experience or you can invite some experts in your industry to write for you. Original research papers or tutorials are welcome too.
7- Impress Users by Multimedia
It has been proven that using images and multimedia on your page help you rank in Google. That's for two reasons: First, it simplifies makes the content better and decreases the bounce time. Second, images and other forms of graphics can improve the ranking of your page. You can use any type of multimedia including:
• Online polls and quizzes
8- Create A Lengthy Content, at Least 2000 Words
As it is well-known among SEO specialists: "Length is Strength." If you cannot cover everything in your top, you should try to write amazing content, at least 2000 words.
9- Add Social Media Buttons
Today most people spend a lot of time on social media. Social does not affects your page ranking directly but they can bring you visibility and traffic. Add social buttons to your page so that people can easily share your content on the related social networks.
10- Use Schema Markup
Google crawls millions of pages per day. Our job as a digital marketer is to make the job easier for Google by showing what is our page about using structured data. According to Google: Schema Markup Doesn't Give You A Ranking Boost but Can Help Rankings.
Off-Page SEO Checklist
It is not denying that off-page optimisation especially links building is key to a successful SEO. Google confirmed that backlinks are one of their 3 top ranking signals. Unfortunately, building effective backlinks are not so easy.
Our tips show you how to do it in the right way:
1- Create Powerful Backlinks by Guest Blogging
As you know, the right backlinks can improve your page ranking. One of the best ways to get backlinks is to write for a well-known and related blog and put a link to your webpages there. The wrong way is writing for every blog or putting your link in an unrelated guest post. Be cautious, it can be hazardous for your ranking. For example, if your blog is about technology and you get a backlink from a Food blog it may hurt ranking as google consider it as a spammy link.
2- Post on The Related Forum
Posting on forums and websites such as Reddit or Quora will increase your website visibility, traffic and consequently ranking.
3- Be Active on Social Media
Today, Social media is like a gold mine for traffic and sales. Post regularly on social networks. Put the summary of your content (not the whole content) in sites like Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter and redirect people to your page to read more. Don't forget to use effective keyworks to obtain even more reach.
4- Use Google Adwords
Google Adwords doesn't influence your organic traffic directly. But it increases your visitors leading to a better ranking in the results.
5- Hack Your Competitor's Backlinks
Reinventing Wheel is not a good idea. The best way is to discover your competitor's backlinks and try to get them as much as possible.
For that, you have tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs at your service. If you prefer free tools you can use Open Site Explorer. Then contact the site owner an ask them how to promote your content.
6- Promote Your Ranking with Link Roundups
This is the best way to get backlinks for new websites.
As you may know, Link Roundups are websites that their owners surf the internet to find last and best contents. They collect best links in a particular niche. Optimize your content for these websites and ask them for a backlink.
7- Avoid Link Exchange
Reciprocal links (I link to your site and you will link back to me) is against Google Link Schemes and can hurt your ranking.
As a substitute, try to get real high-quality backlinks with the aforementioned techniques. We provide a comprehensive checklist for SEO in 2021 in which we have covered all aspect of SEO including basics, keyword research, technical, on-page, and off-page optimisations.
Follow our checklist carefully and increase your chance of appearing on the first page of Google results.