It’s impossible to overstate the significant positive impact that a well-thought-out SEO (search engine optimization) strategy can bring to the table for your site in 2020. But what are the most important aspects to focus on? We’ve written this ultimate SEO checklist to guide you through creating an optimized site from the second it’s live on the web through each piece of content you write for it.
Basic SEO Checklist: Here’s What Your Site Needs to Get Noticed
We’re starting with the very basics here to get your site set up and ready to roll in the SEO department. These search engine optimization features are necessary to understand before you can get into the more technical aspects of SEO:
1. Page Setup and Plugins
Planning your site’s SEO before it’s live can set you up for success in the future. First, set up Google Search Console and Google Analytics for your site. These necessary tracking tools let you see where your visitors come from and what they do on your website.
Next, add a plugin called Yoast SEO, which is basically a one-stop-shop for content SEO basics. Yoast lets you set a focus keyword for your content and track how well you’re creating content around that keyword. It also shows you how readable and scannable your content is, which is a crucial component of effective SEO.
Get your other plugins set up before you go live, too, but try not to get carried away with them. Too many plugins can slow down your site, which dings your ability to rank high in searches. Stick with only the necessities, like share buttons and a Google Analytics Dashboard that displays key SEO metrics right in your WordPress dashboard.
Contrary to popular belief, SEO isn’t all about keywords. But the right keyword strategy is necessary for upping your SEO game. Fortunately, Google provides a lot of free help to get you started. The Google Keyword Planner is a must-use tool that utilizes Google’s own search data to help you figure out what keywords to use based on competition, search volume, and other factors.
And don’t forget to use Google itself. Plug in a simple keyword relevant to your site, like “mortgage loans,” and you’ll get a list of long-tail keywords people also search for, like “mortgage loans near me” and “mortgage loans for bad credit.” Now you know what other phrases to target with your content, too.
Your website content is what people will find when they look to Google and other search engines for information, so it’s critical to make every piece of content optimized for those search engines. Your optimized content needs:
- A focus keyword: Your focus keyword is what you’ll plan your piece around. You should only use this keyword for one piece of content, sprinkled throughout that piece strategically, like in the introduction, conclusion, a heading, and within paragraphs.
- A catchy headline and meta description: Headlines and meta descriptions need to grab the attention of search engine users, so they need to be concise, engaging, and tell people what your content will be about. Use numbers, statistics, and powerful words to get people to click.
- Readability: Make your text easy to read with short sentences, simple words, and breaks with headings, bullet lists, and short paragraphs. The easier your content is for people to read, the longer they’ll stay there to read it (which, of course, is what search engines want to see!).
- Authority: Your content should be the best on the web. When it’s a go-to piece, people will automatically want to share it and link to it, which drives you up in the search rankings. The Skyscraper Technique is the perfect way to plan your evergreen content and write something even better than what’s out there.
4. Off-Page SEO
Off-page SEO is anything that you do outside of the boundaries of your site to get more traffic. Off-page SEO includes actions like writing a guest post, promoting a page on social media, and leaving blog comments on other authority sites. Having other places on the web that link to your website tells search engines that it’s important to others, too.
After focusing on on-page SEO, you can start building your off-page SEO strategy. Guest posting is one of the best ways to position you and your website as authoritative sources in your niche while getting a link back to your site within your guest post content or your author bio on that site. You can also use free platforms like Medium and LinkedIn to publish content that links to your site.
You can also send outreach emails to authority sites in your niche to kindly request a link to your relevant content. Remember: Sites don’t want you to send them content suggestions for competing content. Instead, your article should be supplemental to their content.
Armed with this basic SEO checklist, you should start seeing a boost in traffic once you get more engaging content on your site. You can also check out our guide to increasing traffic on your website for more SEO and other traffic-driving tips.
If you’re ready to get started with your SEO strategy, install our Google Analytics Dashboard for WordPress plugin. It’s easy to install, totally free to use, and saves you tons of time by giving you valuable insights on how your audience is engaging with your content right inside your WordPress dashboard – so you don’t have to waste valuable time switching between tools and browser windows.