Google's world is large and extensive. In order for your website to stand out among the many web presences, you need not only the right marketing, but above all a good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) checklist. Without SEO, your website is less likely to be found, clicked on and visited by customers. However, SEO not only affects the website itself, but also ads, landing pages and banner ads.
If you've only recently become involved with SEO, web design and marketing, the world of SEO may seem complicated. But good marketing with an SEO checklist is not that difficult. Above all, it is important that you know how Google thinks, ranks and evaluates pages.
In the past, it was enough to include as many keywords as possible on your page, also known as keyword spamming, so that it could be found quickly by users. However, Google has now recognized this trick and places significantly more value on good readability, meaning that keyword spamming can even worsen your ranking.
To help you avoid these and other pitfalls, we have put together an SEO checklist that you can use to optimize your site step by step.
SEO checklist - content and content
Even if a beautifully designed page attracts more visitors, your content is the most important pillar of your website. Fluent, appealing content keeps visitors on the page and ensures that they continue reading.
For this reason, search engine optimization places a great deal of emphasis on your content. Good content is your site's calling card, which is why you should focus on it before SEO.
One term that you will probably stumble across first is keywords. Keywords are key terms that users search for on Google and are therefore an important item on your SEO checklist. As a rule, customers do not enter whole sentences in the search bar, but search for specific keywords. For example, if a customer is looking for a travel blog about Asia, they will enter "travel blog Asia" or "travel diary Asia" into Google. This example shows you that keywords can be variable and that you should also use synonyms and related terms.
The first step is therefore keyword research. In this research, you search for the keywords that are most frequently searched for on Google.
One option is keyword tools, for example, where you enter a word and the tool shows you similar keywords.
Another option is to enter the keyword into Google and find further variations under "What others have searched for". In the case of your travel blog, for example, this could be specific countries or activities that your target group particularly likes to search for.
To successfully complete your keyword research, you must:
- Define your target group
- Analyze the outstanding search behavior
- Check online behavior
- check your competition
- Place keywords correctly.
Take a look at how well existing blogs or websites rank for their keywords and which ones they have chosen. This will give you an initial overview.
One point that is often overlooked on SEO checklists is the content of the article itself. Google recognizes so-called "duplicate content" (content that can already be found in exactly the same way on other websites) very quickly and very reliably. For this reason, copied texts and randomly placed keywords can worsen your ranking enormously. Therefore, take particular care not to repeat passages and not to overuse keywords unnecessarily. SEO tools that analyze and evaluate your text can help you find the right balance between keywords and content. Many SEO managers now recommend a keyword rate of 1 to 3 %.
Blocks of text reduce the overview and the pleasure of reading. Google particularly likes short sentences, clear paragraphs and lots of subheadings and bulleted lists.
Therefore pay attention to:
- No nested sentences, rather around 20 words per sentence
- Many subheadings
- Enumerations and lists with around 5 points
- Crisp headlines
- Tables of contents at the beginning of the text
- Graphics and images with appropriate captions
Accessibility is also a big issue on the internet. According to the SEO checklist, the aim is for everyone to be able to understand your pages, regardless of their personal requirements. To make your site accessible, you also need to get to grips with web development, as accessibility concerns so-called ALT texts, graphic settings and line spacing.
Internal and external links
Links are an important tool to ensure that visitors click through your website and stay on it if possible. To do this, you should also use targeted keywords that are integrated smoothly into the text and at the same time make users curious.
In addition, Google AI (artificial intelligence) reacts differently to internal and external links. You have to differentiate between the two:
- Internal links refer to various subpages of your own website. For example, you can use them to attract visitors from the "Asia travel basics" page to your "Camping adventures in the mountains" page. From this website, in turn, they go to your report on the river boat tour. This is how your visitors travel through your website.
- External links, also known as backlinks, attract your visitors from other websites to yours or lead them from your website to other websites.
The more internal and external links a website contains, the higher Google AI will rank it. However, make sure that the links fit your site and do not appear out of place or intrusive.
Sitemaps for crawling
With a sitemap, you create an overview of how many subpages belong to your website. Google uses this to learn which pages it can crawl (search the World Wide Web). If you use WordPress, for example, plugins such as Yoast SEO help you to create your sitemap, which you then submit to the Google Search Console.
To give you an initial overview of the search results on Google, Google shows you a small meta description. This is the small text under the website title that should give you a taste of the page. Your meta title and meta description should make your page interesting for visitors and encourage them to visit the page. With the right WordPress plugins, you can easily find out how good your title and description are.
Label images correctly
Google also ranks your page based on the images you use and their descriptions. With the right file names, you increase both your accessibility and your ranking. For this reason, you should not underestimate the importance of file names. Good file names describe the content of the image, such as "Image sunrise Bangkok".
With the ALT title you determine what people who are not shown the image read. This title can be a little longer and describe the content. An ALT title could be: "Picture of a tiger lying in the tall grass in the rain".
The ALT texts are read aloud to blind people, for example. This gives these people a better overview of your site and they can also indirectly enjoy your images.
Keep URL short and crisp
A URL should also be crisp and catchy to match the meta description. URLs like https://meinreiseblog.de/die-besten-reisetrips-nach-asien-2022 are too long. A URL such as "https://meinreiseblog.de/reisetrips-asien" is also found more quickly by Google and ranks better.
As described above, headings should give your content a clear structure. To do this, you can categorize the headings with H1, H2 to H6 tags. This hierarchy should be strictly adhered to, as Google ranks the headings according to their keywords. The H1 heading, i.e. the main heading, must contain the main keyword. The subheadings such as H2, H3 or H4 should then contain the keyword at least occasionally according to the hierarchy.
SEO checklist - technology and website structure
SEO is much more than just headlines, content and keywords. An important aspect of the SEO checklist, especially for the ranking, is the user-friendliness of your website. Click depth, page speed and mobile displays are therefore factors that should not be underestimated.
Click depth of the web pages
In another article, I described the differences between a website, web page and homepage. Now it's important that your readers can also find the websites.
Readers should be able to find the web pages with as few clicks as possible. If they have to dig through subcategories with more than three clicks, this limits user-friendliness. In addition, this subordinate website is less likely to be found by Google crawlers. With your sitemap, you can quickly find out how many clicks away the subpages are from the homepage.
Pagespeed and image files
There is almost nothing worse than a slow loading website. Images in particular slow down page speed, as large image files take significantly longer to load.
Blogs that work with lots of images are particularly familiar with this problem, as are online stores. With WordPress, you can use plugins to automatically compress your images and set them to a size that improves the loading speed. Lazy loading also helps, because with this trick the images only load when the user scrolls down to them.
More than half of websites are now read on a cell phone or tablet. If you want to check your mobile settings, you can use the Google test on the "Optimization for mobile devices" setting to find out how your site is displayed on a cell phone or tablet. Due to high mobile usage, Google crawls mobile pages more frequently than standard websites. You should therefore not neglect these factors.
Redirects from websites
If you change your URL or move the website to a different domain, users will be redirected to the new one with the 301 redirect when they visit your old URL. The redirect also increases your ranking, as both users and Google will find the new URL more quickly.
SEO tools and help
If you have optimized and adapted your site accordingly, you can check over time how well your site is found and ranked. Such a review helps you to continue optimizing and constantly improving your site. You can also see how effective your SEO settings really are.
You can use this tool to monitor:
- How many visitors were on your site
- How they behaved there
- Which pages they came from
- Which keywords they searched for
Google Search Console
Google Search Console shows you free of charge:
- Your index on Google
- External links that lead to your site
- Evaluation according to the most important SEO factors
To use this tool, all you need is a Google account.
WordPress supports you with many free plugins that automatically display and evaluate the most important SEO criteria. An SEO plugin gives you an overview of whether you have placed your keywords correctly, how reader-friendly your website is and whether you have set your meta description appropriately, for example. Some SEO plugins use a score, for example, to show you which criteria are correct and which are still missing. Plugins should not be missing from your SEO checklist.
SEO plugins are for example:
- YOAST SEO
- The SEO Framework
Keyword tools fulfill various functions and support you in several areas, which is why you should include them on your SEO checklist.
These tools help you to find the right keywords, for example. For your travel blog, you can enter "travel blog" into the tool and it will find suitable keywords that other users have searched for. They use a table to show you the keywords and, in some cases, their search frequency.
Other tools analyze your own or even third-party pages for keywords. If you enter the URL or a sample text of the page, the tool analyzes the page for the keywords used.
But the tools can do much more. If you want to find out your keyword density, enter the relevant text section and enter your keywords. The program calculates the keyword frequency as a percentage. However, you need to be careful here, as not every tool recognizes loan words. For example, if you enter "travel blog" as a keyword, they often do not count plural or declined words such as travel blogs.
Conclusion of your SEO checklist
SEO is fascinating and not difficult to learn. Fortunately, SEO nowadays no longer means stuffing your site with keywords and being found quickly on Google. Good search engine optimization is more complex, but you will find plenty of support through tools and of course on this SEO checklist.
You can use this SEO checklist to optimize your site according to SEO criteria:
- Content and content: keep your visitors on the site with content that is fluid and exciting to read. For a good ranking, you also need suitable images with appropriate captions.
- Set the right keywords: You will be found more quickly with sensibly placed keywords. Also use loan words and synonyms that you incorporate into easy-to-read sentences.
- Unique content: Your site should naturally stand out from comparable sites.
- Structure texts: Short sentences, no long blocks of text and lots of meaningful subheadings.
- Accessibility: Images should also be labeled in such a way that people with visual impairments know what can be seen in the images using the read-aloud function.
- Sitemaps: Sitemaps show you the structure of your site and how many subpages you have.
- Label images: Graphics and photos also need suitable subtitles for the ranking.
- URL: Your URL is your entry ticket. It should be short and memorable so that your readers don't forget it.
- Headings: Use H1, H2, H3 headings to structure your headings.
- Pay attention to the technology: Your subpages should be found after a maximum of two to three clicks. Image files that are too large will also hinder your loading speed.
- Mobile settings and redirection: Your page should also be easy to read on cell phones and tablets. Pay attention to your mobile settings and consider automatic redirection when changing URLs.
- SEO tools and help: You don't have to be able to do it all yourself. You can use keyword tools, WordPress plugins or Google to search for specific keywords, track your ranking or have your search engine optimization analysed and displayed when you create the page.
If you work on your website using this SEO checklist, nothing should stand in the way of your visibility on the web.