SEO Website Checklist for 2020: 12 ways to get to the top
An SEO website checklist is a very useful thing to refer back to. This is especially true if you have just started your website and want to make sure you tick all the boxes to make sure your content performs the best it can. This post is going to be very in-depth, but it will help you get free traffic to your website. It may seem quite long winded, but once you have got in to creating content, you will start doing most of this stuff automatically. So stick with me to see my SEO checklist for 2020 to get your content to the top of the searches.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimisation. It is the process of creating content that search engines seem relevant to people’s search terms. By this, I mean what they actually type in to Google to find information.
How to Get Free Website Traffic With SEO
When we create SEO friendly content, we attract traffic to our websites for free. This is our reward for writing content that is relevant to what people want to know. The more relevant and well written our content is, the closer it is to the top of Google or whatever search engine people are using. Those websites at the top of search pages, are the ones that get the most traffic. This is because people very rarely go beyond the first or second page of a search engine. So, the websites at the top are the ones that have the most potential to earn money from all that traffic.
Following this SEO website checklist you will have a much better chance of getting your content to the top of search engines.
How to Use This SEO Website Checklist for 2020
Think of this as a to do list for every piece of content you create on your website. Some of these tasks are more important than others. So, you might not use all of these techniques all the time, but I urge you to try your best. The more you do, the more likely you are to get your content above competitors in search engines.
You need to make sure that your content is targeted towards your audience. Therefore, you need to do some proper keyword research. This will allow you to find out what people are searching for within your chosen niche. With this knowledge, you can create your content that answers people’s questions in a thorough and comprehensive way.
When you are starting out, it is a good idea to create content around long tail keywords. These may not be as popular as shorter keywords, but they are more specific. This means that the people that search for them have more intent, making it easier to reach people with your content.
For example, “mountain biking” as a keyword has lots of traffic. It has 10041 per month, but it has 280 websites using it as a keyword. Many of these will be well established authority websites, which are difficult to compete against. For a long tail keyword, you really need the average number of searches to be over 50 and less that 100 other sites competing for it. Therefore, if we look at “mountain biking tips for beginners”as a keyword has 88 searches per month, but only 61 other websites competing for it. This makes it more of an attractive keyword to create content around.
So the higher the number of searches and the lower the competition, the better the keyword. It is much easier to rank long tail keywords in search engines. Additionally, the topic is narrowed down, making it easier to write the content as the subject is less broad. This targeted method may reduce your potential audience, but it will benefit the people that it is most relevant to. This creates a good user experience and increased trust, which makes it more likely for them to spend money.
You need to make sure that you use your keywords properly. By this I mean that you need to place them in to your content wisely. Doing this helps helps search engines determine how relevant your content is, making it easier for people to find.
Don’t overdo it though. If you shoe horn your keyword in to your content too often, search engines penalise you for “keyword stuffing”, effecting your ranking ability.
When doing keyword research, you will find keywords that are not grammatically correct, but have lots of searches and very little competition. Don’t try to use these and weave them in to your content. Search engines use grammar to determine the quality of content.
Once you have decided on a quality keyword to base your content around, you need to put it in 5 different places:
1. Post Title
This will appear on the results page when someone does a search. So you need to make it clear what the topic of your post is. You also want it to entice the reader to click on it. So make it interesting and compelling.
2. In The Meta Description
This is the bit of writing you see under the title of posts on a search engine. This is something that you really need to fill out. It is 160 characters long and is a good opportunity to attract people to you content. When you squeeze in the keyword, it shows up in bold, showing the intent of your post. It is really beneficial if you can get it in there twice. A good SEO tool will make this easy for you.
3. In The First Paragraph of Your Content
Search engines look at your content from the top down. Having your keyword early on in your content shows them what you are talking about.
4. The Conclusion of Your Content
When you conclude your content, try to get your keyword in the last paragraph. This shows search engines that you have been relevant throughout your content.
5. Image Alt Text Attributes
I always used to forget to do this, but it is very important. When Google is looking at your website, it doesn’t look at the images themselves, but it looks for the alt text. Therefore, you need to describe what the image is. Ideally, you should put your exact keyword in the alt text for at least one image. If you are using a featured image, put it on that one. Also use variations on your keyword on additional images.
6. Use Keyword in Subheadings
Use H1 or H2 titles in your content and try to include the keyword. This confirms to your website visitors that they are in the right place. Also if other websites link to your page, they will use the title. The keyword in an H1 title will increase your chance of getting links with your keyword in the anchor text.
7. Use Variations of Your Keyword in Your Content
A lot of the time people won’t find your content from your primary keyword, but from variations. By dropping a few long tail variations of your keyword throughout your content, you can have a big impact how your content is displayed in searches.
2. SEO Plugins
There are a number of WordPress plugins that can help you with SEO. For example, Yoast is a very good free one. It gives you warnings if you have forgotten to perform certain SEO tasks. It also determines the readability of your content and suggests improvements. Yoast calculates the keyword density of your post, letting you know if you have mentioned it enough times throughout your post. It is really easy to understand, as it uses a traffic light system. Just make sure everything is green before you post. Another SEO tool you should check out, is the All In One SEO Pack.
3. Content SEO Checklist
1. Content Length
As a rule of thumb, your content needs to be at least 1000 words. However, you stand a much better chance of ranking if your posts have more. 1500 and above is a much better target to aim for, as long as your content is relevant.
2. Regular Posting
Posting regularly is also important. Search engines see that a website that is updated regularly is potentially a good source of information. You need to post consistently too. If you create a load of content and publish it all at once, then nothing for a few weeks, search engines can penalise you when it comes to ranking your content. So, keep publishing relevant content regularly.
3. Write a Compelling Intro
By writing a compelling intro, you have a good chance that users will stay away from the back button. An intro should resonate with the reader, build trust and promise that they will get their answer after reading what you have to say.
4. Work on Readability
Nobody likes to see a sea of text. It is harder to read, than it is broken up in to smaller chunks. This is why I have used lots of subheadings for this post. People like to see white space. They also like to read short sentences and paragraphs. So, try to use these whenever you can. Additionally, try not to get too technical with your jargon. People are coming to your website for information, therefore they may not know much about the subject you are writing about. Therefore, you need to keep it reasonably simple.
E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness. This is what Google apparently uses to find quality content. If you think about it, it is what people are looking for too. So you need to come across as knowledgable with conviction using language that builds trust with people.
4. Use SEO Friendly URLs
The URL of your posts, should have the keyword in it. This will be in the “slug” portion of the URL. It should also be easy to read with hyphens separating the words. This is usually looked after by your SEO plugin, but it is worth knowing about. You will probably have seen URLs with incomprehensible slugs made up of random letters and numbers. You really need to avoid these and put in proper text. This is because they can come across as span and people tend to avoid them.
5. Internal and External Links
Internal links are links that take the user to another page on your website. These can help get your message across to the reader and direct them to posts you can make money from. But they also give search engines an idea of the structure of your website.
Many beginner affiliate marketers litter their website with affiliate links, in order to monetise every post, this is not advised. If you have affiliate links on every page, your site may not rank very well, as this is something else search engines penalise you for. So you need to create content without affiliate links, but link to the monetised posts on your website. For example, I have affiliate links on my review of Wealthy Affiliate, but none on this post. Using a good internal linking strategy can improve your overall SEO.
External links are a good idea too. If you add at least two external links to authority websites to your posts, search engines see that your website is a good source of information, so it helps with your ranking. Just make sure you tick the “open in a new tab” box, so people are not taken away from your website. You can link out to authority websites such as Wikipidia or manufacturer’s websites for reviews. You need to make sure that your external links are relevant to your content.
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and it is one of the most important elements of online businesses. This is because it gives your potential customers peace of mind when they click on your website. It proves to them that your site is secure and this is also recognised by search engines. Google actually uses SSL within its ranking algorithm and Google Chrome alerts users when a website is not secure, which can panic them. Therefore, you need to make sure that your website is secure.
7. Create a Site Map
Site maps are what search engines use to crawl around your website. This is when they find the content and decide how relevant it is to its users.
You can find your site map at yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. If you’re a WordPress user, you can use Yoast or check out the video below.
8. Optimise Page Loading Speed
One of the biggest influences of site rank, is the speed of your site. If you are competing for a keyword with a another website, the faster one will come out on top. Additionally, if your website is slow, users will run out of patience and not wait the extra second or two for it to load up.
To ensure your content loads up quickly, you need to make sure that your image files are not too large. Having lots of plugins can also slow your website down (however, there are plugins that can speed it up). The biggest way of ensuring your website is fast enough, is to choose a good web host. My sites are all hosted with Wealthy Affiliate and I am pretty happy with the speed.
9. Make Your Site Responsive
My first website worked great on a computer, but it was terrible on mobile devices. This was a big problem, as 75% of visitors to my website were using their phones. I got round this by making sure the WordPress theme was responsive. “Responsive” websites work well for mobile devices, in their usability and speed. So when you create your website, one of the main priorities is its responsiveness.
10 Encourage Engagement With Site Comments
Search engines like a website that is alive and active. This is demonstrated by engagement, so you need to include a call to action (CTA) on each post that will encourage comments. Site comments are invaluable, you can answer questions and point visitors to other content and products on your website. This interaction helps to build trust with your audience too.
Also, comments are seen as relevant content by search engines and can help ranking, by adding more relevant keywords to your content.
11. Set Up Google Analytics
Google analytics is a great tool to see the behaviour of the visitors to your website. By seeing how people are finding your website, you can determine how good your SEO skills are. You can see lots of different details about your users, such as:
- How they get to your site
- What page they land on
- How long they stay on it
- What device they are using
- How they navigate to other pages
- The type of person and their interests
- The most visited content
- Track conversion
……And a lot more
12. Tell Google About New Content
Google should find your content on its own, but you can actually tell Google to have a look at your site when you create a new post. This should get it indexed and ranked quicker, making it visible to the world sooner.
You do this by setting up the Google Search Console, and if you haven’t done this, do it as soon as possible. In the console, you can use the inspection tool to submit new content for Google to crawl, putting it in its database straight away. This is no guarantee that it will rank straight away, but if Google never finds it, it never will. So do this for every piece of new content. Also if you make significant changes to a post, request the indexing again, this can help with ranking.
Where To Learn About SEO
Earlier in this post, I mentioned Wealthy Affiliate. This is the training platform that I used to learn all about affiliate marketing and how to get my content ranking high in search engines. This is also where I host my websites, it is pretty handy keeping everything in one place.
Wealthy Affiliate gives me access to a keyword research tool called Jaaxy. How to use it is covered in the free training. In addition to the Wealthy Affiliate training courses, there are weekly live training sessions to attend. These are also recorded, so you can watch them at any time. One I found very useful was when Jay, the trainer got a blog to the top of Google live and in real time.
That is my SEO Website Checklist
Following this SEO website checklist will give you more chance of ranking highly in search engines. Have I missed anything out? What are your thoughts and questions? Please let me know in the comments section below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.