Raise your hand if you wish SEO tasks were perfectly laid out for you.
That’s all of us, right?
Then everyone will benefit from Semrush’s newest master resource for your quest toward increased organic traffic.
Semrush created a complete, top-to-bottom SEO checklist featuring 44 best practices along with helpful tool reminders.
We could all benefit from getting back to basics, sometimes. A total view of everything your site needs for SEO can help reset your focus and remind you of the big picture while also checking off the details.
Get the official Semrush Ultimate SEO Checklist and follow along as we discuss the six checklist highlights.
In the checklist you’ll get:
- 44 exact steps you need to perform SEO.
- 27 tools to help you complete each SEO step.
Checklist Section 1: Start With The SEO Basics [7 Tasks]
If you’re new to SEO, start with the basics in this section, and work your way up.
If you’re a seasoned SEO pro, check out our tool recommendations and see how they line up with your marketing tech stack.
Prepare Your Website With A Solid SEO Foundation
Your first stop when kicking off an SEO project is to:
- Set up Google Search Console (GSC) and Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Set up Google Analytics.
- Install and configure SEO plugins.
- Generate and submit a sitemap.
- Create a robots.txt file.
Why: Your goal here is to check that these key SEO tools are configured each time you start a new website, move to a new project, or onboard a new client.
Plan Routine Maintenance
Every once in a while, especially when working on a new project or after any large changes, you should:
- Check GSC for manual actions.
- Make sure Google can index your site.
How: Detect crawling and indexing errors with Semrush’s Site Audit Tool.
Checklist Section 2: Create Your Strategy With Keyword Research [8 Tasks]
Keyword research is the basis for any successful organic SEO strategy. If you get it right, you’ll set yourself up for success when you execute your campaigns.
Targeting the right keywords doesn’t just help you get more traffic; it also ensures you’re connecting with the right users at the right time. This makes the traffic you do get higher quality and more likely to convert.
Perform Research For Your SEO Strategy
Create and tweak your strategy often based on these keyword research best practices:
- Identify your competitors.
- Find your main “money” keywords.
- Find long-tail keyword variations that help you capture high-conversion traffic.
How: Find your “money” and long-tail keywords with Semrush’s Keyword Overview tool & Keyword Magic tool.
You can run competitor analysis using the Domain Overview tool. Identify direct competitors in the space and see what keywords they’re focused on.
Once you’ve identified the keywords you want to target, it’s time to analyze your website and pages to make sure that there aren’t any gaps in your content.
You also need to make sure that your pages serve the needs of the users who search for your target keywords.
Business trends, customer needs, and what they search for are always changing, so understanding what people are asking and how difficult the keywords are will help you refine your content.
Refine Your SEO Strategy
Once you’ve established your keywords, it’s time to refine your strategy:
- Create a keyword map.
- Analyze the intent of pages that rank.
- Identify questions that are being asked.
- Understand how difficult it is to rank for your target keywords.
Checklist Section 3: Check For Errors & Perfect Your Technical SEO [12 Tasks]
Technical SEO is one area where a checklist is particularly helpful.
Technical errors are common. It’s good to check in on how your website functions regularly, especially after changes.
Perform Initial Technical SEO Checks
Your goal here is to ensure that search engines can crawl and index your site properly. It also helps you ensure that your site works well for users and you’re meeting Google’s UX goals.
- Make sure you are using HTTPS.
- Check for duplicate versions of your site in Google’s index.
- Find and fix crawl errors.
These first two are easy checks that every site should implement. Every site should use HTTPS encryption, and Google should only be crawling one version of your domain.
Fix Any Usability Issues
Google Search Console makes it easy to find crawl errors through the Coverage report.
- Improve your site speed.
- Fix broken internal and outbound links.
- Find and fix HTTP links on HTTPS pages.
- Make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.
- Use an SEO-friendly URL structure.
- Check the page depth of your site.
Long loading times, broken links, static layouts, and confusing navigation are all poor user experience. Search engines take them into account, but more importantly, poor user experience puts roadblocks in front of users.
Make It Easy For Google To Crawl Your Site
Structured data helps your pages stand out in results, and they provide users with immediate value while they’re searching.
Then, focus on page depth. A good rule of thumb for page depth is that pages shouldn’t be more than three clicks deep.
Finally, for this section, evaluate your redirects regularly. Redirect errors can cause issues for visitors and search engine crawlers.
- Add structured data.
- Check temporary 302 redirects.
- Find and fix redirect chains and loops.
Checklist Section 4: Make Sure Your Content Meets The Right Needs With On-page SEO [6 Tasks]
Everyone knows content is king, and everyone is producing it.
Well, maybe not everyone. But everyone who you care to compete with is.
That being said, the phrase “content is king” can be a little bit misleading. Content for content’s sake isn’t the answer.
Effective content that provides good information and good experience can propel you to success. Mediocre content isn’t just wasted effort – it’s an opportunity for your competitors. They’re doing competitor research, too, and if they see weak content, they’ll take the opportunity to make something better.
Create The Right Content & Optimize It With SEO In Mind
- Find and fix duplicate, missing, and truncated title tags.
- Find and fix duplicate and missing meta descriptions.
- Find and fix multiple H1 tags.
- Improve title tags, meta tags, and page content.
Title tags, meta descriptions, and heading tags should be specific and unique. You want to tell search engines and users what your page is about and what it offers clearly and succinctly.
You’ve got enough competition out there, don’t make your pages compete with one another by having duplicate elements.
You can use Google Search Console to identify keyword opportunities on pages that you might have missed. Focus on queries and topics that you provide value for.
Use your keyword analysis, your research about your audience, and the questions they ask to make your content match their needs and intent as closely as possible. What value do your pages offer? How effectively do you communicate that value?
On-page SEO is a whole topic on its own.
Checklist Section 5: Assess Your Content Strategy [6 Tasks]
On-page SEO and content go hand in hand. But your content plan should be bigger than individual pages alone.
Remove Any Existing Content That Isn’t Performing Well
When you’re checking your content, make sure you’re considering how each page interacts with other pages on your site and whether it fits well.
- Run a content audit and prune content.
It doesn’t get talked about much, but pruning ineffective content is vital to SEO success. Duplicate content, thin content, or content that doesn’t provide value for the reader is bloat that you don’t need. And your competitors will thank you for the opportunity to beat you in search.
How: You can use Semrush’s Content Audit tool to discover which pages you should think about updating or deleting.
Clean Up Content That Passes The Test
Once you know which pieces of content are propelling your site forward, your next step is to:
- Ensure images use alt tags.
- Improve internal linking.
- Find and fix keyword cannibalization issues.
- Find and fix orphaned site pages.
- Ensure your site’s content is up to date.
You should regularly evaluate your internal linking to make sure everything has a home. And look back at your content as you create new pages to make sure they’re not in competition for keywords and the information is up-to-date.
Checklist Section 6: Create Your Off-Page SEO Campaign [5 Tasks]
And finally, it’s time to look beyond your website. Just as your pages have a place within your site’s structure, your site has a place on the web.
Acquiring links is one of the most difficult parts of SEO. This checklist gives you a place to start.
Analyze Your Competitor’s Backlink Profiles
The checklist covers all the key points:
- Analyze your competitors’ link profiles.
- Conduct a link intersect analysis.
If you’re not sure where to start, your competitors can tell you. Semrush’s Backlink Analytics tool can help you analyze your competitors’ inbound links as well as the outbound links of relevant websites. Then, you’ll have a baseline to build your plan.
- Turn unlinked mentions into links.
- Find new link building opportunities.
- Set up and optimize your Google Business Profile.
Semrush also provides tools that make discovering new linking opportunities easier. The Brand Monitoring tool and the Link Building tool can identify easy wins and good targets for your link building campaigns.
And if you’re a business with a location serving local customers, you can’t afford to neglect your Google Business Profile.
Start Using The Complete SEO Checklist
On its own, the checklist is a fantastic reminder tool. Keep it on hand and use it regularly.
If you’re new to SEO or you’ve gotten a little rusty, spend some time reading about each best practice.
The timing is up to you. Some of the early checks you might only need to do once, but many should be repeating tasks.
There’s a lot more to growing your organic traffic than following a checklist, but everyone needs a process. With a guide and the right tools at your disposal, you’re well on your way to better organic performance.
Looking for a complete SEO checklist
that will help you increase your site’s organic traffic and rank on Google?
The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor's own.