THE COMPLETE SEO CHECKLIST FOR 2021
HOW TO IMPROVE SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
At first glance, this list is going to feel overwhelming. Please pick one thing at a time to implement. You DO NOT need to apply everything on this list today. You’ll get immediate results in increasing your website ranking by spending just 10 minutes per day on SEO.
If you only have time for one thing right now, start with creating a list of keywords and key phrases—this is the foundation of your SEO strategy and will move you forward the fastest.
Side note: If you’ve just started a business or have been in business for a while and haven’t updated your ideal client avatar, begin with that first. It’s essential to know who your ideal client is and to have a good understanding of you how you can help them overcome their pain points before you start working on your keyword list.
- TIP #1: TARGET KEYWORD RESEARCH
- TIP #2: OPTIMIZE FOR VOICE SEARCH
- TIP #3: INSTALL YOAST PLUGIN
- TIP #4: OPTIMIZE YOUR IMAGES
- TIP #5: MAKE SURE YOUR WEBSITE IS MOBILE FRIENDLY
- TIP #6: CREATE EXTREMELY HELPFUL CONTENT
- TIP #7: BUILD BACKLINKS & INTERNAL LINKS
- TIP #8: REPURPOSE CONTENT
- TIP #9: START USING PINTEREST!!
- TIP #10: LOCAL OPTIMIZATION
TIP #1: TARGET KEYWORD RESEARCH
- Make a list of five to 10 relevant keywords and key phrases for your industry, genre, products, and service to use as a starting point.
- From there, spend some time doing keyword research using tools like ubbersuggest.com, Google Keyword Planner, and Keywords Everywhere for your industry, services, and products to find specific keywords and key phrases based on relevance and ranking.
- Use the search volume metric to create a list of keywords and keyphrases for your specific niche. If you’re a small business offering 1:1 services have a small client base, look for keywords and keyphrases with a 100 – 1K average monthly search volume.
- If you’re running a large business and need to generate thousands of leads per month, look for keywords and key phrases with 10K – 100K average monthly search volume.
- Go even deeper and create a list of short-tail and long-tail key-phases. These are longer phrases that your potential clients will type into the search bar when looking for specific services, products, and content. Example: “outfits for a headshot session.”
- Get into the minds of your ideal clients and use words that they would use. Think outside the box—think of words that regular people outside your industry-specific niche would use.
- Use these keywords and key phrases throughout your social media bios, on your website, blog titles, and in all of your content.
TIP #2: OPTIMIZE FOR VOICE SEARCH
- More and more people are using voice search through Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, etc.
- Voice search will impact search queries.
- Think about how your potential client will phrase a question or statement when looking for products and/or services. They’ll most likely use phrases as they would in everyday conversation. For example, “What should I wear for a headshot session?”
- Brainstorm some voice search phrases relevant to your business, and make sure to use these long-tail keywords throughout your content.
TIP #3: INSTALL YOAST PLUGIN
- Install the Yoast SEO Plugin (WordPress)
- Use keywords from your list to fill in the Focus Key phrase, SEO Title (around 65 characters), and Meta-Description (around 155 characters) on ALL pages, blog articles, categories, etc.
- Wix.com and Squarespace.com have built-in SEO tools, so there’s no need to look for third-party plug-ins.
TIP #4: OPTIMIZE YOUR IMAGES
- Make sure images are sized properly so your website loads quickly. The recommended image file size is less than 500 KB. Can use the plugin EWWW Image Optimizer WordPress plugin.
- Make sure images are relevant to the topic, genre, content, services, and products. Rename your images. Image file names should be relevant to keywords, genre, article topic, products, services, or geographic location.
- Embed keywords in the image metadata while in Lightroom or Photoshop.
- Go through your WordPress media library and add alt tag information, caption, and description for each image.
TIP #5: MAKE SURE YOUR WEBSITE IS MOBILE FRIENDLY
- Google is using mobile-first indexing to rank your website; how your site functions on a mobile device is more important than how it performs on a desktop. Use Google’s mobile-friendly test to check how your website performs.
- Make sure it’s easy to navigate via a mobile device.
- Make sure images load quickly. GTmetrix is a free tool to check website speed.
- Make sure all buttons are large enough and easily clickable on a mobile device.
TIP #6: CREATE EXTREMELY HELPFUL CONTENT
- Use one heading and make sure it’s optimized with keywords and search relevance.
- Make sure the page title is catchy, relevant to the content, and less than 60 characters.
- The word count for blog article copy should be at least 300 words.
- Write-long form blog posts regularly—once per week or once per month. According to SEMRush State of Content Marketing Report, articles of 3,000 words or more get 3x more traffic, 4x more shares, and receive 3.5 times more backlinks than shorter articles of 900-1200 words.
- Use main keywords throughout your copy; however, make sure your copy is readable and relatable. Do not use keywords in a robotic, nonsensical way; people will not read your material and will find a different site.
- Use LSI keywords (synonyms) in your article. This is how Google determines page relevance.
- Do not duplicate content. Each page should be unique.
- Make sure supporting/adjacent content is valuable, unique, and relevant to your genre, products, and services.
- Make sure Google has enough text to crawl. Write articles/blog posts regularly.
- Create a structure for posting blog articles—2X per week, 3X per week—and stick to it. People will get used to seeing your posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, for example, and will check back regularly.
TIP #7: BUILD BACKLINKS & INTERNAL LINKS
- Link to websites that are relevant to your genre, services, and products; however, be sure to use anchor text. Create content (text) around why you value that person, product, or services, etc., and then link to the relevant website (source). The anchor text shows Google that you’re in support of and value the source—it gives relevance to the keywords. DO NOT link to websites that are not relevant to your genre, products, and services, as it will confuse the search engines and will hurt your ranking.
- Make sure your website DOES NOT have any broken links. For example, if you’ve removed a blog post that was linked from another page, it’ll go to a 404 error page when someone clicks on the broken link. When that happens, there’s a good chance that a person will leave your site and most likely won’t return.
- Each page should have an internal link. Link to relevant blog articles, website pages, contact page, or free downloads within your own website.
- Add relevant and reputable external inbound links (backlinks) to your content. Comment on blogs relevant to your genre, products, and services.
- Write a guest post on blogs relevant to your genre, products, and services.
- Publish articles on Medium, Quora, etc., relevant to your genre, products, and services.
- Be a guest, and interview others on podcasts and Live videos that are relevant to your genre, products, and services. Make sure your hosts and guest link back to your website/content.
TIP #8: REPURPOSE CONTENT
- Create short pieces of content from each long-form blog article or video for use on social media: Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
- Republish old content.Go to Google Search Console >> Performance >> Pages
- A list of pages will come up starting with the most viewed.
- Go to pages two and three.
- Add 100 to 500 more words, graphics, and internal links to those articles.
- Link to underperforming pages from your best-performing pages.
TIP #9: START USING PINTEREST!!
- I cannot stress this one enough. Since using Pinterest, I get 2x the website traffic in comparison to both Facebook and Instagram combined.
- Pinterest is a search engine; it is NOT a social media platform.
- Your content is evergreen; once you post on Pinterest, your content remains there (unless you delete it, which I highly discourage). People will be able to find your content for years to come.
TIP #10: LOCAL OPTIMIZATION
- Set up Google My Business (download the app to your phone)
- Set up Bing Business
- Set up Yahoo Business